I am thrilled to introduce Jenny Buccos, the Series Creator & Director of the multi-award winning ProjectExplorer.org educational series. She began her professional career with Credit Suisse First Boston managing global media projects in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York. In 2003, before the existence of YouTube, she founded the online video site ProjectExplorer.org as a means to educate students about global cultures and histories. To date, she has directed/produced more than 400 incredible short films for students.Continue reading →
Are you looking for language resources of Chinese for kids? I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Manabu Nagaoka, the VP Executive Producer at Sesame Languages and Sesame Workshop. His team is working on a show called Fun Fun Elmo (乐乐Elmo), a new show with Mandarin-speaking Sesame characters that will introduce a Chinese tone, word, and stroke order of characters with animation and live action film shot in China.
A couple of months ago I was interviewed by MSN’s “Mom’s Homeroom” about incorporating geography lessons into our daily lives, and also teaching about culture at home. You can see the first video, plus silly pictures of the taping here. In the second video (click on the picture below) I give tips on how we integrate our sons’ birth cultures into our family life. You might notice me glaring over the camera at my 4 kids, who were precariously close to knocking over the lights while I was being interviewed:)- fortunately nothing was broken and they had a fun time playing with the microphones!
Recently I was interviewed by Mom’s Homeroom about how to incorporate geography and culture into your home, and my kids got to “play” in the video. The kids *loved* talking with the cameramen, playing with the lights and microphones, and thinking that we were famous.
If you would like to introduce your children to foreign films, I recommend “Like Stars on Earth” (Taare Zameen Par in Hindi). This heartwarming, Bollywood style film from India tells the story of 8-year-old Ishaan Awasthi’s (Darsheel Safary) struggles in school due to dyslexia, his parents’ frustration and attempts to discipline him, his journey to boarding school, and finally his fortunate encounter with incredible art teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan). Continue reading →
I am always on the look-out for films with positive messages, and especially when they give kids insights to another country or culture. The New Zealand film “Whale Rider” tells the story of 12-year old Pai, a Maori girl whose ancestor Paikea was the whale rider. While Pai lives in present day Whangara, New Zealand with her grandparents, Maori tradition maintains that the leadership should only be inherited by males. Koro, her grandfather, is the current chief and is adamant that she cannot lead her people because she is female. Continue reading →
Semana Santa, or Holy Week (the week preceding Easter Sunday) is celebrated by Catholics around Spain. In the 1500′s, the church was looking for a way to explain and present the story of Jesus, and his resurrection from the dead to the common people. The elaborate processions that carry religious figures through the cities to churches and basilicas have grown and now draw tourists from around the world. Here is my first “documentary,” introducing the famous and beautiful processions from Andalucía, the southern region of Spain (I have included both Granada and Sevilla). I am working on subtitles for those who do not speak Spanish- but everyone can enjoy the imagery and music:
I made this 10 years ago, and it was the first movie I had ever edited on the computer- so please excuse any messiness:).
Our family is a multicultural family, including Mexican, white, Chinese, and Ethiopian roots. Among others, our kids love Dora and Diego (yay for Latin culture and Spanish language!), Ni Hao Kai-Lan (another cheer for Chinese culture and Mandarin words!)… but our littlest guy Ricky was feeling a little left out (no African kids on TV!?). Imagine my surprise today when I discovered Bino and Fino- a cartoon produced in Nigeria about 2 adorable kids here from a “modern day city in Africa” to share with us:
African history, African culture, African maps, general black history in diaspora, general educational content such as grammar and arithmetic, life skills, African songs, African languages… fun and games from all over the world (from http://www.binoandfino.com)
I am so excited about this series: an educational, African kids cartoon!!!! Check out a preview of their first episode:
“Deep in the rainforest of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, in the shadow of his ancestors’ great stone pyramids, one of the last Mayan beekeepers guards an ancient secret. It was passed on to him directly from his fathers in the Mayan language from long before the time of Cortez. He is one of very few modern Maya upholding the beecraft skills of keeping stingless bees. All is unveiled as Emmy award-winning cinematographer Keith Brust (Planet Earth, etc.) takes us deep inside the bees’ hidden world and this ages old Mayan tradition for the first time.”
Check out this short film (~7 minutes) that shows Mayan, stingless bees up close and in their fascinating roles as guards and pollen gatherers. A feature-length documentary should be released in 2013:
If your kids love watching Planet Earth, Animal Planet, National Geographic, or even if they are just animal-lovers who haven’t ever seen a documentary before– The Story of the Weeping Camel is your next pick for family movie night.
The story tells of a mom camel, who rejects her adorable baby camel after a particularly hard birth, and the nomadic Mongolian family who try everything they can to help their animals bond and survive in the Gobi desert. Their final efforts include sending Continue reading →
Into the West (1993) is a beautiful adventure fairy tale of 2 boys Ossie (Ciaran Fitzgerald) and Tito (Ruaidhri Conroy), and their magical white horse called Tír na nÓg (meaning “Land of Eternal Youth” in Irish). Their mother died in childbirth, and so the boys live with their father Papa Riley (excellently played by Gabriel Byrne) in the gritty projects of Dublin. One day, a mysterious white stallion follows their grandfather back to Dublin and bonds with the boys, who then bring it back into their apartment. Continue reading →
One reason we share foreign films with our children is to get transported to another time, another place. Kids love screen time, parents would like to limit it and sanction the content, but diversifying movie night with a wonderful sister adventure story at least expands our little ones’ minds while they munch away on their popcorn.
Totoro on DVD
My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ Tonari no Totoro) is a stunning, animated film that takes us to the green countryside of 1950′s Japan. Two playful sisters Mei and Satsuki move with their professor father to an old house to be closer to the hospital where their mother is being treated. They meet a magical forest spirit named Totoro, who looks like a cross of an oversized rabbit mixed with a cat. Later, when Mei is worried about her mother and attempts to visit the hospital by herself, Totoro and a 12-legged “catbus” help to find her.
Not only was the story heart-warming and appropriate for all-ages, the subtle cultural references were fascinating. Genius director Hayao Miyazaki treats us to scenes of life in rural Japan as we glimpse inside their house (inhabited by friendly “soot sprites”) and a school, watch the girls frolic next to the rice paddies, over bridges, and in the forest. I was mesmerized by the setting and subtle details- Continue reading →
You might remember the quiet 1956 French film The Red Balloon from when you were younger. In this short fantasy film, red balloon follows around a young Parisian boy, getting Pascal into trouble at school, waiting outside his home when his mother won’t let it in, and trying to avoid a group of bullies with the boy. After a sad climax, there is a happy ending.
You can watch the entire film on-line here, buy a copy of the DVD, or take out a copy from your local library. Before watching the movie, get out the map and tell your kids that the setting is a neighborhood of Paris, the capital of France. The main character is a little boy named Pascal. I also showed them a flag of France, and told them to find the flag in the movie (it is displayed outside the school). While we were watching it, my daughters pointed out Continue reading →