Inspiring passion for the world through foreign language learning, books, music, food, and travel!
Posts on this blog may contain affiliate links. Please be assured that I only suggest products I believe will be helpful to readers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! and a fb fan freebie: "Any Language" Charades Game

In our family, growing up, the Thanksgiving turkey, however delicious, was always overshadowed by two things. One: the annual drive through horrendous weather up into central Minnesota, and Two: games!

Yes, a big part of every Thanksgiving weekend was dedicated to family game time, with the game du jour (or game d'année, as it were) often being the latest in family gaming... before "gaming" was ever a word, and of course before screens had any part of things. One year, it was Boggle, another Uno. In later years, maybe Scrabble, then Trivial Pursuit, and my favorite, Pictionary!

This year, Mag is suuuuuper into charades. (Fellow language lovers are probably getting excited at all the linguistic implications of this hobby, right?!) We have found that at Mag's age, charades with pictures work well... but have run out of picture cards, right before our big weekend of family game time. Ack!

And thus was born my latest facebook fan freebie, called "'any langauge' charades."


Would you like to play with your family this weekend? Or with your language class next week? To access, simply head to my facebook page - be sure to "like" and "follow" it! - and look for the "free downloads" button in the left sidebar. Then download, print, and play.

Perfect for family game time, and ideal for promoting use of your family's second (or third!) language. Also fun for foreign language classes, to keep students engaged in these final weeks of the semester.

I hope you enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Celebrate Christmas Around the World! with Multicultural Kid Blogs

I've not made a secret of how much I love globes and maps, and all things "world," I know. But have I ever mentioned my other love (well, besides clip art, food, and travel!)? CHRISTMAS!

Yes, I am one of those adults who just never outgrew the magic of the Christmas season. (I know, we really annoy the bah-humbuggers out there, don't we?!) And so, it has been my utmost pleasure to spend these past few weeks working with two fabulous fellow bloggy-packet creators from Multicultural Kid Blogs (Judith of Little Bilingues and Monica of Mommy Maestra), creating a "Celebrate Christmas Around the World" packet!


Just released today, "Celebrate Christmas Around the World" introduces the Christmas traditions and celebrations of six countries:

Brazil, France, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Sweden

For each country, you will find:

♦ a cover page
The cover page features the country's flag and a Christmas greeting in the language of the country.

♦ a page of country facts
This page includes the country's official name and common name, its location circled on a world map, capital city, location, population, official language(s), and an interesting fact.

♦ 2 pages on Christmas celebrations
These two pages share the important and traditional celebrations of the country, and include cute graphics for students to color.

♦ a Christmas activity
The activities range from a word search to a DIY board game!

♦ a special holiday recipe
Make and taste a traditional holiday recipe from each country.


After completing the packet, students will have the opportunity to show what they have learned by answering 12 comprehension questions, 2 for each country.

We truly hope you and your students enjoy this peek into Christmas celebrations around the world! On behalf of all of us at Multicultural Kid Blogs, we wish you a wonderful and multicultural Christmas season!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Día de los Muertos: los altares

When Becky of Kid World Citizen recently reminded me that Chicago is home to the National Museum of Mexican Art, I mentally filed that under "check it out someday soon!" So when the NMMA's "Rito y Recuerdo" exhibit topped Aimee's (Raising World Citizens) list of Chicago's "must-do's" for Día de los Muertos, we were ready to go!

Wow!... or "¡Guau!" What an impressive display! More than 60 artists participated in the creation of this exhibit, which includes "altares y ofrendas," installations, and popular art. We maximized the exhibit by joining a guided tour, and learned so much more than the "altares" basics we knew upon arrival.  

Here are the highlights, for other Día de los Muertos neophytes like us:

An altar would traditionally be constructed in 3 tiers, each tier making an important representation: the underworld, earth, and heaven. Of course, in all things Día de los Muertos, the underworld is not depicted as a horrible place full of misery, and on Día itself, its residents are always seen celebrating!


Along with photos, personal mementos and trinkets, each of the 4 elements - earth, air, fire, and water - are commonly represented in the items chosen for the ofrenda. Fire and water are easy to spot in the candles and drink offerings. Fruits and grains, and even clay pots, can represent the earth. Air can be a bit of a stretch, at least in the "altares" we saw, where altar shawls and "papel picado" that blow in the wind symbolized air.


I imagine there was plenty more to learn, but 6 year olds don't necessarily enjoy the lengthy nature of guided museum tours, so that is the extent of our "altares de muertos" knowledge acquisition for this year.  Never mind, though: we have already decided on a return visit to the NMMA for Día de los Muertos 2015! (And next year, I have a feeling the then-7-year-old will bring enough money to buy a bigger sugar skull!)

*     *     *     *     *     *
If you've enjoyed this peak into "altares y ofrendas" and are ready to try your own, MommyMaestra is running an Ofrenda Photo Contest. To make it more fun, one of my favorite books is included in the prize pack!

Excited to teach your kids or students more about Día de los Muertos? Be sure to check out my Día de los Muertos Bilingual Activity Pack, with a book, mini-books, and activity sheets, all in English and Spanish!



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

3 Tips for Dealing with Fire Safety Week in a Second Language

Fire Safety Week - La Semana de Seguridad Contra Incendios


Anyone who ever was in grade school probably remembers Fire Safety Week. Field trips to the local fire station. Rolling around on the classroom floor to practice "Stop, Drop, and Roll!" Mimeographed Sparky the Fire Dog coloring sheets. (You remember mimeographs, right? Purple ink. Damp paper. A certain intoxicating smell.)

As a child, it is a fun and memorable week at school. Now as adults, we also understand what an important week it is for our children and their safety and well-being. And we realize that to reap the full benefits of this fun week at school, our children most certainly need to understand all of the information coming at them.

So what, then, about children in Dual Language and Language Immersion programs? Can our children absorb all of this critical information if it's coming at them in a non-native language? How can we ensure their comprehension of this potentially life-and-death topic?

First: Talk with your children at home (in your home language) about fire safety.

Don't remember all the basics yourself?
Jennifer at The Good Long Road shares 10 tips directly from a fire fighter here.
I must admit, a couple on the list were new to me (or new-again to me). Very interesting, the benefits of keeping doors closed! (#10 on Jennifer's list)

Second: Help your children attain a good grasp on fire-related vocabulary in the language of their schooling

In this way, their energies won't go toward new-vocabulary-acquisition during Fire Safety events at school; rather, their minds will be ready to absorb the critical safety information.

Need some help in this area? Check out my a mini-pack of printables in Spanish, to give our younger elementary students a firm grasp of the vocabulary and concepts they'll encounter throughout Fire Safety Week. (Click image for the full listing in my TpT store.)


Jennifer from Spanish Playground also has links to various free Fire Safety printables in Spanish here, including a great document from The Hartford here.

Finally: Reach out to an area fire station for more activities and resources.

If you feel the language barrier, or any other challenge, has prevented your child from fully grasping the important safety messages of the week, contact your local fire station. (Don't call 9-1-1 for this! Check the phone book or online for a station house number.) Depending on your area, materials may be available in multiple languages. And if you get the right person on the phone, you might even be invited by the station to visit (or at least to pick up the materials, which is still exciting for the kiddos)!


And now, to paraphrase an old saying, left-over from my lifeguarding years:

"Okay, Parents, let get out there and save some lives!" 


Any other great tips to help multilingual kids maximize the lessons of Fire Safety Week? Share your experience in the comments!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apple Foods and Fun... International Style

We're just crazy about apple season in our household! You might have noticed from my APPLE-themed facebook FREEBIE, my Spanish kindergarten APPLE packet, and my FREE Life Cycle of an APPLE Pop-Up Book. I just love this season, and this fruit, so much that I asked a few international blogo-friends to share their apple experiences and ideas.

Glittering Muffins' Valerie remembers childhoods in Quebec where farmers and neighbors would let you just pick apples right off their trees. (Valerie admits that was a few decades ago. It might not fly today!)

Now in Alberta, Valerie keeps the apple-picking tradition alive with her husband and their young son (who has been picking apples since infancy!). Inspired by her mother's Austro-Bavarian "scheiterhaufe" recipe, Valerie and family share their recipe for a delicious looking crock pot apple pie bread pudding. Find it here. Mmmm.

As a Polish woman with a German husband, Olga (aka The European Mama) has not one, but TWO great recipes to share. The first one I'm going to taste-test will be "szarlotka," or Polish apple pie (recipe here). With a crusty bottom, a meringue top, and apples in between, you can't go wrong!

Check out that same post for Olga's German MIL's recipe for a German covered apple pie. I feel myself embracing the German side of my Alsatian heritage at this very moment!

On a less international note (and less calorie-ridden, too... because, yes, there is more to life than food... who knew?!), Jaime has about a buzzillion ideas for apples and kids on Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.

Painting with apples, apple scented dough, apple books, apple crafts, apple treats... you name it, and if it's about kids and apples, she's got it! I'm kind of intrigued by the apple volcanoes, but I'm pretty sure I know which one Mag will want to try first: apple sparkle slime!

If you have great apple ideas and recipes of your own, you know I want to see them!

Until then, happy picking. And baking. And eating...


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Apple Season is Here! ... a product and a FREEBIE!

For yet another year, the Midwestern summer weather has been a bit strange, having felt like fall for much of the summer... which might be why I feel extra ready for: APPLE SEASON!

This year we missed opening weekend at our favorite local apple orchard. But we did arrive by their 8th day open, so we got all the excitement of the beginning of the season, with a bonus of employees who know how to work the registers! (Last year's note to self: if you head to any seasonal attraction in the first hours of their openness for that season, be prepared for just about everyone working there to have to call for someone else to help them with their job. Be it ringing up your order, knowing how to make the hot chocolate, how much things cost, or where the restrooms are... you name it, they're still training for it!)

Anyway, so yes, we did make it to the orchard and had tons of fun... and tons of apple cider donuts! And thus, upon arriving home, I couldn't help but create a few apple-related products.

This first product is a FREEBIE! And a fun one, at that: a 4-page "Life Cycle of the Apple" pop-up book... in four languages! You can find it here, in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.


I've also been rounding out my Spanish Dual Language/Immersion Kindergarten series of products, which just didn't seem complete without an apple packet! With this apple packet, I am one step closer to having a complete kindergarten series. Yay! You can check it out here. (Designed to support Common Core targets!)


In Kürze (German="coming soon"): more apple fun from around the world!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"The Happiness of Pursuit" ... released today!

"Finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life."

Wow! A quest that will bring purpose to my life? Sounds great, doesn't it? The sentence above is the by-line from author and travel guru Chris Guillebeau's latest book, released today: The Happiness of Pursuit
I received an advance copy of this book, for review purposes, under the sole obligation to provide my honest opinion. I was not required to give a favorable review.

Well, on the one hand, Happiness did not disappoint! In relating a series of interviews with "ordinary people completing extraordinary quests" (like the family of four who spent 33 months biking from Alaska to Argentina!), Guillebeau extrapolates a series of lessons to stimulate all readers to find and follow the dream of their lifetime. Interestingly, the stories themselves are so inspirational that the lessons were almost superfluous. (I mean, really, could dating get any more fun than 50 dates in 50 states?! Twelve years ago, I wouldn't have needed a list of lessons to make that happen; just the idea itself!)

And so there is that side of the book: the side that makes you want to just get out there and do something fun and adventurous. Off the couch. Into the big wide world. Prove something to yourself. Or to others. Or find yourself. Or shock your friends. Or simply break up the routine. Whatever you've been needing, or wanting, or dreaming of. That side of the book makes it a terribly enjoyable read, such that you might even be tempted to complete the book in one sitting (although, at 263 pages, it would, admittedly, be a very long sit).

And then there is the other side of the book: the side that saddens. Yes, Happiness follows along on some very exciting and inspiring quests. But in it, we also are shown the emptiness of the quest. We meet several seemingly misguided souls whose quests evolved out of avoidance of pain, or fear, or even immaturity. Dealing with a terminal diagnosis? Avoid the emotional trauma by distracting yourself with a quest, even to the extent that your children feel ignored. Carrying the teenage need to "fight the man" into adulthood? Don't explore the underlying reason for your pre-teen attitude; simply "show them all" by questing to live in silence, speaking to no one (including family!) for almost two decades. (Be assured that this particular quester himself admits to using his silence to "fight the man." -pg231- I did not arbitrarily designate that as the reason for his silence. Imagine refusing to speak to your loved ones for 17 years, just to assert your independence... not as a 12-year old boy, but as an adult man. Very sad.)

Nonetheless, despite the few stories that emoted a hopeless disengagement from reality, taking into consideration the entirety of The Happiness of Pursuit, I can't help but say I found it an engaging and entertaining read. Happiness has inspired me, not to create a quest to give my life purpose as its by-line suggested, but to make a few fun changes in my every day life. I am grateful for the several questers who have stirred me to explore and develop dreams that have been latent in recent years. And grateful to Guillebeau whose book brought those inspiring stories to me!

Now off to learn photography and improve my Spanish...