We recently participated in the Worldwide Culture Swap, where families (or schools) exchange cultural packages and learn about another culture. The letter and package was so thoughtful, I though I would share it with you here. Emma’s mom is the founder of Be Bilingual and has written a fabulous practical guide for multilingual families.
Opening our letter and packages from Finland!
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
As Earth Day approaches, our attention is focused on tangible ways to help protect our environment. One easy and virtually free way for kids to go green is to start a backyard compost bin. Composting is a natural way for organic (previously living) materials to break down, into a nutrient-rich soil that we can use in our garden. Did you know that in the US we make about 4.43 pounds of waste per person each day? (see epa.gov) That is 250 million TONS of trash per day! We make too much garbage and 13.4% of the waste produced in the US in 2010 was yard trimmings, 13.9% was food scraps. We could be composting this waste, recycling it, and returning it to the ground!
Here are reasons why it’s important to compost, instructions on how to do so with kitchen scraps, and resources (books, clips, and games!) to learn about composting at home. Continue reading
I remember as a child I would be chastised to turn off the light and go to bed, but I would sneak in a flashlight, just to be able to finish the chapter of a thrilling adventure book. Books have the ability to transport us anywhere in the world. Multicultural books help us imagine what it would be like to experience life from a different perspective. Here are 6 reasons to teach our children using multicultural books. Continue reading
Often times, lessons to help kids learn about other countries are geared toward older children. This is a lesson plan to present a new country to kids as young as preschool- in a way that they will remember! They will explore and learn about other countries using their five senses: seeing, touching, listening, tasting, and smelling their way to discover a new place. I recently presented this lesson about Ethiopia in my son’s preschool class, and the kids loved it. It can be easily adapted to any country, with a bit of research.
Do your kids love to learn about penguins as much as mine do!? There are 17 different kinds of penguins, and although they look different, there are some similarities. All live in the southern hemisphere, normally on the coasts of: Antarctica, South Africa, parts of South America, parts of Australia and New Zealand, and many different islands including the Galapagos (where I swam with some!)! All penguins have blackish backs and white bellies, and are flightless birds who are excellent swimmers. They feed underwater on krill and other creatures, and their predators are orcas, sharks, sea lions, and fur and leopard seals. Groups of penguins are called rookeries. Today penguins are threatened because of reduced food supply (due to over-fishing and global warming), pollution (such as oil spills), and reduced habitat (due to melting ice from global warming). Learn more about penguins with these phenomenal resources:
Penguin Resources: Web Sites
Download a free, high-quality poster of the Emperor Penguin’s life cycle from the US government’s Antarctic Program. Continue reading
Posted in Animals, Australia, Australia and Oceania, Games and Toys, Literature, New Zealand, Polar Regions
Tagged education, non-fiction children's books, on-line activities, penguins, science
I am a strong proponent of getting kids outside, no matter what the temperature. As long as we’re dressed appropriately, I let the kids play in the freezing snow in Chicago, or at the park in 100+° in humid Houston- and I love to help them observe how nature changes with the weather. Last spring we made a duct tape bracelet on a nature hike, gathering treasures along the way. I wanted to display their nature collection this winter (on a visit to Chicago) and we found a great way to do so: ice sun catchers. Winter crafts for kids are more fun when you get the kids outside!
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!
They also included a brief article I wrote of 5 ways we’re teaching about culture at home. Though written for adoptive families, any family can follow the tips to learn about world cultures at home!
What do you think? Time was short, and I may have missed important ways to incorporate culture at home. What are your favorite cultural activities with your kids?
Migration of Monarch Butterflies, image credit: Harald Süpfle, creative commons use
It’s the migration season for 100 million monarch butterflies, as they fly from Canada and the northern US, south to Mexico for the winter. In February, they’ll star their journey back up north. Kids: can you follow their migration path on a map? Why would butterflies (and some birds!) go south for the winter? In Texas this October, we’ve seen the travelers pass through our garden to sip on some of our butterfly weed and lantana. Here are some great resources for teachers and parents to use to teach their kids about the amazing monarch butterflies. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered how to host an exchange student? Here are some wonderful programs available that allow families to host a student from another country for 2 weeks to an academic year! By opening your homes, not only do you share your knowledge about your own country, traditions, food, celebrations- you also get to learn about another culture and language firsthand. Continue reading
Have you ever seen the decorative floor art called rangoli? Rangoli art from India, a folk art used during Hindu festivals to bring good luck and welcome the Hindu deities. Check out these beautiful google images and then try out this stunning, colorful project with your kids. It’s a beautiful, hands-on, collaborative art project that engages kids and teaches about other cultures! Continue reading
We are so lucky to have an amazing public library system where we live, with lots of interactive and educational programs for children. This week we attended an event to learn more about Diwali, the Festival of Lights in India that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. One of the activities that drew the attention of all of the kids was making easy Indian sweets (mithai) called Doodh Peda or Pala Kova. Not only can the kids make these popular Indian sweets themselves- so easy!- they are delicious, don’t require cooking, and are often served during Diwali (plus they are egg-free and gluten-free!). Continue reading
Do your kids come to you, holding little surprises in their clenched fists? Or shriek that they caught something and want to show you? Though I am not too squeamish, I catch my breath for a second as they uncurl their muddy little fingers, in case their surprise decides to jump or fly away as I lean in. My kids really like to play outside, whether it be in our backyard, nearby parks, or visits to nature preserves. Inevitably, their play will somehow be interrupted by the discovery of “the coolest bug ever,” a frog, a gecko, a baby snake, ants eating a worm, or any other critter. We generally employ a “catch and release” policy, observing the creatures for a bit and then letting them go back into our garden (my daughter says “so they can lay more eggs and we can have even more!”). Here are 4 ways we encourage our budding naturalists to learn about the animals and insects in our environment.
Batik is a traditional textile made by hand where artisans use wax to create a design, and then dye the cloth, which resists the vegetable dyes. Originally from Indonesia, batik has symbolic meanings in its colors and designs, and people use the craft to express their creativity and even spirituality. In this easy project, kids substitute hot wax for Elmer’s blue glue and convey their own creativity by choosing images that represent themselves, and colorful paint that reflect their personalities. Continue reading
When I was little, I loved maps (I still do). As a mom of 4 little kids, I try to instill the same curiosity in geography in my kids. I recently saw a great idea on Grasping for Objectivity, that had the kids polling friends and family to see which states they had visited. I think this is a great activity for kids- whether they are just beginning to learn geography, or are experts. It was a concrete way for my kids to learned more about the states positions in relation to one another, to compare sizes of states, to talk about distances, and even to visualize where we had driven across the country. What a fun activity!!!! Continue reading