(J, working on creating a plaster mask.)
So, what's wrong with what I did? The programs were both of good quality (I wouldn't have signed them up for them otherwise!), and the boys really enjoyed both. But it was a peek at two other cultures, without any deeper connection for them, and worse yet took them out of the culture that I'm currently trying to immerse them in (Western European) before I've even firmly established that culture (this is only our 3rd week working with it).
(Zoo Boy modeling his cloth mask.)
My goal is to allow the boys to thoroughly sink into the culture they are working with via our curriculum stories, by exposing them to the crafts, foods, and music of that culture. To support that, I have to do a better job of considering which "extra curricular" activities I'm choosing for my guys. There are plenty of quality options available -- J's formal choir class at a christian church, sword classes for Zoo boy, visiting the Italian Renaissance art exhibit at the local museum: these are all supportive of sinking into and experiencing the targeted culture. Mardi Gras mask-making and Chinese New Year celebrating, just the opposite is true.
Were the programs a bunch of fun? Yes! Is there anything wrong with having fun? Well, no. However it's entirely possible to have fun AND keep within the culture we are working with. And that would be much more nourishing for them for many reasons.
So from now on I'll try to do a better job of keeping our target culture in mind when scheduling classes and activities!