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Teach Kids About Southeast Asian Food with a Tasty List Poem

I have been in Southeast Asia for nearly ten years. My children were born in Singapore and we currently live in Thailand.

Many popular children’s books focus on Western experiences that children growing up in Asia cannot relate to. However, one book has become a favourite in my household—  Sing a Song of Hawker Food: Humpty Dumpty & Friends Have a Singapore Hawker Feast. This book features catchy nursery rhymes about Singaporean cuisine and encouraged us to explore the local hawker centres when we lived in Singapore. We even filmed our own rendition of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” featuring char kway teow, a yummy noodle dish with a smoky flavour and succulent prawns.

Engaging children in the world of Southeast Asian cuisine through a list poem activity can broaden their cultural horizons and develop their sensory appreciation for food.

Write a Tasty List Poem

To engage children and enhance their writing skills, I created a fun and educational activity – writing a list poem. This activity encourages children to think about their favourite cuisines while introducing them to various literary devices. Specifically designed for children aged 5-7, the activity takes around 40 minutes, offering the following learning outcomes:

  • Appreciating the sensory elements of food
  • Exploring the uniqueness of specific regional cuisines
  • Learning how to structure a list poem
  • Introducing the concept of onomatopoeia

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Activity

  1. Select a cuisine or regional food that interests your child or class—for example, Singaporean hawker food, Thai street food, or Japanese ramen.
  2. Explain to the participants that food is a sensory experience, meaning that its taste is just one aspect of what makes it delicious. Encourage them to explore the textures, smells, and sounds of the chosen cuisine.
  3. Together, compile a list of foods from the chosen cuisine. Each item on the list should be accompanied by a sound related to cooking or eating that dish.
  4. To receive the list poem template and full activity instructions, click here.

Engaging children in the world of Southeast Asian cuisine through a list poem activity is one way to broaden their cultural horizons and develop their sensory appreciation for food.