People celebrate carnival around the world the week before Lent, a Christian period of fasting and reflection. Traditionally held in areas with large Catholic populations, carnival often includes a parade with costumes and music- yet each country has their own unique traditions. Let’s look at some unique ways people celebrate carnival around the world.
This weekend we visited MECA in Houston (Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts) for their annual Día de los Muertos exhibit and celebration. Here is a slideshow of what we saw. Look for:
Ofrendas (the altars families made for their loved ones)
When people hear that I’m a Spanish teacher, or that we speak Spanish at home with our kids, I am immediately asked for resources that I recommend to introduce their kids to Spanish. When searching for bilingual stories, you will find millions of books written- or translated into- Spanish. The huge majority of these books are at a language level that only Spanish-speakers would benefit from. How could an English-speaking parent read “Curious George” in Spanish, if neither she nor her child understands the language?
You will also find thousands of picture dictionaries… and one word per page boardbooks… and textbooks. There are also terrible translations (Azul el sombrero, verde el sombrero being my biggest pet-peeve!). What my friends are looking for are none of the above. They would like simple stories that teach a little Spanish (but are not too advanced that the parents can’t read or understand them!): here are my best recommendations.
“Jesus is my shepherd” Antigua, Guatemala. Photo credit: Nancy Hoffman.
This week in Guatemala, hundreds of adults and children are staying up all night or waking up early to work on street “alfombras,” in preparation for Holy Week processions.
These special alfombras, the Spanish word for “carpets,” are elaborate street decorations made of colored sawdust, flowers or flower petals, pine needles, sand, rice, or even fruits or vegetables.
Nancy Hoffman of GuatemalanReservations.com, a travel agency specializing in family travel and personalized trips to Guatemala, shared these wonderful photographs with us of the 2012 procession on Palm Sunday in Antigua, Guatemala. All photos are taken by Nancy Hoffman, and have been used with her permission. Enjoy these beautiful images of Antigua, Guatemala! Continue reading →
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 →
I was in the doctor’s office the other day, when a woman heard me speaking Spanish and struck up a conversation. I learned that she is from El Salvador, and that we both love to cook. The next obvious question was “Can you tell me your favorite Salvadoran dish?” She raved about pupusas, round, corn-dough-cakes that are stuffed with cheese, cooked on a comal, or griddle, and then topped with a delicious homemade tomato salsa and curtido, a pickled cabbage. She explained the pupusas are a favorite breakfast food, but are sold in “pupuserías,” and from street vendors at all times of the day in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. My mouth was watering as she described how to make the curtido first, to allow the flavors to set, and then to have the kids help roll masa into balls, flatten them into flat disks, and stuff them with cheese. Continue reading →
In my ESL class, my students needed to take out simple biographies from the library, do some research on-line, and write a one page report about someone famous that they admire. I had numerous athletes and movie stars, and too many repeats! The following year I decided to give them a list of suggestions from around the world, and I had the class sign up so I wouldn’t be reading the same people regurgitated over and over. The next time your child needs to write about a famous person, broaden their horizons. Rigoberta Menchú, from Guatemala, is a leader, an advocate for Indian rights, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. I made the following very short presentation as a mini-biography to introduce her.