LAKEWOOD RANCH — Take a school filled with kids wearing homemade costumes depicting the world’s cultures. Add the singing of “It’s a Small World” as the kids hold hands in a unity circle.
Then blend in about 200 zany parents recording every moment on their cell phones, digital cameras and camcorders.
What you have is undeniably the annual Celebrating Cultures event at Primrose School at Lakewood Ranch.
“We just love it,” said Natasha Bullas as she watched her 4-year-old, Darcey, proudly sing “It’s a Small World” with all her might in the school’s playground area moments before a storm rolled through Friday afternoon.
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“For the last month, she’s been singing in the car, everywhere,” Bullas said of Darcey. “She absolutely loves this day of the year. They all look forward to it every year. Darcey knows that song by heart.”
In fact, Natasha has been humming it for days.
“It gets in your head,” she said with a grin.
Every year on the same day, at the same time, all 200 Primrose schools in the United States do the unity circle and sing “It’s A Small World” in the playground.
“That’s 28,000 children all singing together at the same moment,” said Robin Forrester, the school director at Primrose.
For about a month leading up to the big day, the students learn about other cultures. They study the different foods children eat and the customs they follow in places like Japan, Italy, Spain, Greece, Mexico, Colombia and France. Then, a few days before the event, costumes are made with creativity the hallmark.
“It helps them realize there are cultures that are different, but that kids play the same way,” Forrester said. “It leads to respect and understanding.”
Candace McElyea, the new spokeswoman at Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, said she was amazed what her daughter, Paige, 3, came home knowing.
“They do this every year and they get to learn so much,” McElyea said. “Paige can count to 10 in Spanish forwards and backwards.”