I’ve picked 5 toys that every little kid loves to play with (blocks, instruments, dolls, play food, games) and then I’ve chosen a version that has a global twist. Internationalize your toy box at home or at school with these great picks!
A trip to the Rio Napo, Ecuador in 1996.
Last year, my kids and I studied a different biome each month. When looking at biomes, the world is generally divided into 5 major types: aquatic, deserts, forests, grasslands, and tundra. The plants and animals in each biome have adapted to their environment with special features that help them survive. Under the forests category, it is sub-divided into different types of forests, such as tropical rainforests, temperate forests, and boreal forests. Because I have visited parts of the Amazon as well as Costa Rica, I was excited to share what I had learned and they were really excited to take a closer look. We took a month to read books, watch films, and do some art projects related to tropical rain forests. Here are the resources we used. Continue reading
Posted in Africa, Animals, Around the World, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Games and Toys, Geography, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Panama, The Americas
Tagged biomes, education, educational technology, on-line activities, rainforest, science
How well do you know world geography? Can you locate countries and capitals on a blank world map? How about your kids? Who would win a challenge in parents/teachers vs kids? Try these popular on-line quizzes to test your geography knowledge.
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.
Whether you’ve got budding geographers, you’re a family that loves to travel, you’d like to make your classroom more global, or you just want to spark an interest in the world, these 5 map gifts will pique your curiosity as well as your children’s.
1. FAO Schwarz Big World Map. Kids and adults love to place the Velcro labels of continents, countries, animals and bodies of water onto this large, felt wall map. I love this idea: the huge, eye-level, colorful map draws kids in, and keeps them coming back for more.
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.
A Tegre (mancala-type) game board we bought near Dorze, Ethiopia
When I was a teenager, my parents bought my little brother and sister a game called Mancala: “one of the oldest board games from Africa,” claimed the box. Mancala is the name that anthropologists have given to a type of board game that is played throughout Africa, and some places in Asia (from The Complete Mancala Games Book by Larry Russ). They are usually made of wood that have various numbers of holes carved in them. Seeds, beans, or stones are moved around according to different rules, and victory is achieved when one player has captured all of the seeds.
The boys in Dorze who taught us to play Tegre
Fast-forward to 2008, and my husband and I were traveling in southern Ethiopia. In a small village called Dorze we became friends with a group of boys who were interested in showing us their ping-pong table, their instruments, and their “Tegre” game. This was like the mancala game I had when I was younger! With deft hands and broken English, the boys explained how to play, while quickly scooping up seeds and depositing them around the board. There are many ways to play, but here are the rules they explained to us, instructions for an easy-to-make game board, and even an on-line mancala game to try.
The other day I was asking my friend, who is originally from India, about typical games kids would play. I thought it would be fun to learn a simple game from another country, that doesn’t require special equipment. She mentioned a game called “kabaddi,” which is like tag with a twist. I was wondering if I would be able to find any rules or information on-line and imagine my surprise when I found the International Kabaddi Federation. Not only did I find out that they host the Kabaddi World Cup, but it is going on right now, and you can stream the World Cup games for free here until November 20, 2011!
So what is kabaddi, and why is it so popular?
Cane takraw ball from www.thaicraftwarehouse.com; image used with their permission
Get your shoes on, grab your jackets, and let’s go outside and play a game popular in Thailand and Malaysia, among other SE Asian countries. Sepak takraw is a ball game played over a net: think volleyball meets hackey-sacking, with some gymnastics moves thrown in. Sepak is the Malay word for “kick,” and takraw is the Thai word for the special woven, rattan ball that is used. This fast-paced game is played on a rectangular court that resembles a badminton court, and traditionally uses the small ball shown above. Watching the players defy gravity with their bicycle kicks that swing over their head is exciting- and intimidating. With any part of the body except hands or arms, players have 3 “touches” to attempt to deliver the ball over the net onto their opponents’ side and try to make it un-returnable (similar to volleyball). Continue reading