Elephants are the largest land animal and can live up to 60 years. There are 2 basic species of elephants: the African elephant (whose ears are larger, look like the continent of Africa!) and Asian elephants (whose ears are smaller, and look like the shape of India!). Asian elephants are an endangered species, with only 25,000 wild elephants living in: Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, and southern China.
We saw this lovely elephant at the St. Louis Zoo (Missouri, US).
Elephants have been highly regarded to Asian culture for thousands of years; here, elephants have been domesticated and are used for religious festivals, transportation and to move heavy objects. Other fun facts:
- they are vegetarians, and eat 400 pounds of green leaves, bark, branches, fruit and grass daily- they weigh over 10,000 pounds!
- they have 6 sets of teeth that wear down and are replaced
- the tusks are actually incisor teeth that elephants use to dig in the ground for roots and break apart tree bark. In Asian elephants, only the male has tusks
- the elephant’s nose has 40,000 muscles and can pick up tiny objects
Here are some wonderful books whose main characters are Asian Elephants! Continue reading
Posted in Animals, Asia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Literature, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam
Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity.- The Dalai Lama
With so much violence in the world today, it is our duty as parents and teachers to teach our children about compassion, showing them kindness and respect, and giving them examples and role models to follow. Studying great leaders who embody peace helps kids to make better decisions and learn from others wisdom as well as from their mistakes.
The Buddhist religion was founded in India over 2500 years ago, and is currently practiced by over 500 million people all over the world. The countries with the largest number of Buddhists are: China (especially Tibet), Thailand, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Viet Nam, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Laos, and Nepal among others. Every country has different ways to worship, but the universal goal of Buddhism is to achieve a state of enlightenment- freedom from suffering- through acts of compassion on all living things.
The Dalai Lama: Peacemaker from Tibet, a biography by Chris Gibb.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, though Buddhist around the world follow his teachings of non-violence and kindness.
Dalai is translated from Mongolian as “ocean” and lama in Tibetan Buddhism is “perfect teacher.” In fact lama refers to a religious master, specifically a Tibetan or Mongolian Buddhist monk. Continue reading
Posted in Around the World, Asia, China, India, Japan, Literature, Malaysia, Nepal, People, Thailand, Tibet
Tagged biography, buddhism, education, famous person, multicultural
We are getting ready for our school’s International Week at our house, and I have volunteered to set-up tables for Ethiopia and Mexico, and also will contribute to the China table. This weekend we began to make some materials for our “touch tables.” You might have seen 3D Salt Dough Maps before- they are made by mounting self-hardening dough onto cardboard, forming the mountains and other physical landforms, and then allowing it to dry so you can paint it. Kids (and adults!) learn just as much in the process- or more- than from the final product, and you end up with a beautiful, handmade display item that is just perfect for an International Week at school. Continue reading
It’s Monday, January 23, 2012 and Lunar New Year is here! For the next 15 days billions (literally) of people will be celebrating 2012, as the year of the dragon. Here are two of our favorite books about Chinese dragons!
For an introduction to Chinese dragons, there is no greater book than Jin Jin the Dragon. Beijing-native Grace Chang has crafted a magical story about a dragon who is searching for his identity. With help from many wise animals he meets on his quest, he gets a name, and learns what he can accomplish with his inner strength and courage. Continue reading
This guest post and giveaway is written and sponsored by award-winning multicultural musician “DARIA-” Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou.
One great way of sharing cultures is to explore the different instruments that are found in various countries around the world. If you were to visit the area around China, Tibet, Nepal or Northern India, you might see some really unique instruments including a bowl that sings and small cymbals attached to a string that are carefully struck together to make a sound like a beautiful bell.
First there’s the singing bowl. Here is a picture of four of my favorite singing bowls – each only has a different size, shape and decoration, as well as a unique voice when played with a wooden stick. No one actually knows how old this instrument is but most historians think it was probably created about 3,000 years ago when the bronze age began in ancient China.
Our guest writer, internationally known folksinger Daria has traveled the globe for the last two decades, learning, sharing and making music while building communities and encouraging a new view of hope and peace for all the world’s children. She writes an excellent blog called “Making Multicultural Music: Sharing Diversity Through the Arts,” and also shares her songs, videos, and instrument on her web site “World Music for Children.” Today she is sharing with us how to make a Chinese gong for Chinese New Year.
What is a gong? It’s a large hanging percussion instrument that you strike with a stick or a beater for a wonderful, loud resonant sound that will definitely make anyone around you sit up and take notice. In ancient China, it’s said that gongs called farmers in from the fields and some were so loud that they could be heard almost 50 miles away!
Supplies: a metal, disposable roasting pan; pipecleaners or yarn; a cardboard tube from wrapping paper; paint, stickers, glitter, glue, or textured paint for decorating the gong; 12-18″ wooden dowel; electrical tape. Continue reading
“Chinese New Year,” as it is known in English, is also known as the more encompassing name “Lunar New Year,” or the “Spring Festival” (春節 in Chinese). Besides China, it is celebrated in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Tibet, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Many countries with large Chinese populations (such as Australia, the US, and Canada) also have large Chinese New Year celebrations. Despite the diversity of the people who celebrate this widespread holiday, and their varied traditions, it is universal at this time of year to gather with family to start the new year. Teaching kids about celebrations around the world broadens their minds and increases their cultural awareness.
I have used this lesson plan for the past several years in my kids’ classes with success- the kids love the props, remember the different elements, and are engaged and having fun while learning about a very important holiday. I’ve included books, crafts, and adaptations for different grade levels, so all ages can learn about Chinese New Year! Continue reading
Posted in Asia, Celebrations, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, The Philippines, Tibet, Vietnam
Tagged Chinese New Year, education, multicultural
There are so many great ideas for Chinese New Year crafts! Hands-on crafts help make the celebration come alive to your children. Once your class has discussed the Chinese New Year celebration and the many symbols of the festival, it is time to make a craft. There are several simple crafts that I have used with children, from preschool through elementary.
Spring blossoms: simple painting project with brown and pink paint, paint brushes (for the twigs) and cotton balls (for the blossoms).
The same project for slightly older kids: Continue reading
(As always, the pictures in this article were taken by me unless otherwise stated. Most of these were taken in Chicago’s Chinatown, or in Beijing in the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. For permission to use them, please email me.)
Chinese dragons (龙 lóng): kids, teens, and adults love them and they appear everywhere from books to tattoos to Chinese New Year Parades. Unlike European dragons, who breathe fire and must be defeated, Chinese dragons are well-meaning mystical beasts who breathe clouds, often appear in human form, and are frequent characters in ancient stories.
I love the anatomy of a Chinese dragon:
the head of a camel,
the horns of a stag (male deer),
the eyes of a demon,
the ears of a cow,
the neck of a snake,
the belly of a clam,
the scales of a carp,
the claws of an eagle,
the paws of a tiger. Continue reading
Photo credit: Becky Morales
Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world (followed by Spanish, and then English), with over 1 billion speakers in Mainland China alone. Many experts say that China will likely be the biggest economy in the world this century, and because of this, many parents and schools are encouraging their children to learn Chinese. In fact, Mandarin language programs in US schools have increased by 100% in the last 2 years, according to “Asia Society,” a non-for-profit educational group that promotes understanding among the people and institutions of the US and Asia. The US Department of Defense has classified Mandarin as a “critical foreign language” and in 2007-2008 put about $10 million into Chinese-language programs, from grade schools through colleges (see this article in USA Today for more information). The largest Chinese program in the US, the Chicago Public Schools, started teaching Mandarin in 1999 and now has 8000 students studying the language, in 30+ schools (with 30 more schools on a waiting list to begin).
What if you are not a native speaker, and your school does not have a Mandarin program? This is the case at our house- and yet we are very interested in our children learning Chinese. Here are some ideas and resources for introducing your children to Mandarin.
Although the origin of this game is uncertain, many people say this simple game probably came from a game in China called Jian Shi Zi, or “picking stones.” Historians have found similar games in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, as far back as the 15th Century and all with slightly varying rules. One unproven, but palpable theory is that the game might have spread via the Silk Road in China. Whatever the case may be, your children will learn the rules of this strategic game quickly and be able to play anywhere, any time, with only 16 small objects.
The rice cake gets away!
A simple and clever way to incorporate another culture while engaging kids in one of their favorite activities is to choose colorful and age-appropriate stories from around the world. This past February, I found a great book that does just that while captivating my kids.
In The Runaway Rice Cake, Chinese author Ying Chang Compestine pairs whimsical illustrations with a twist on the classic Gingerbread Man story for a new adventure that takes place during Chinese New Year. With the small amount of rice flour the Chang family has, they manage to make a single rice cake, which of course escapes by running away. After the adventurous chase, the story has a happy ending (for the people) that incorporates a lesson on sharing with those less fortunate. Continue reading