Special Guest Thursday: When Good Friends Have Babies {Journeys of the Fabulist}

I am really enjoying these Special Guest Thursdays which will stop for the time being in a week or two.
Today I am happy to introduce Bronwyn from Journeys of the Fabulist. She is currently in Singapore which is in the same time zone as China making her one of very few bloggers I know in South East Asia.
Bronwyn is sharing her thoughts and ideas on postpartum “traditions” in this area and where she is from. It is quite near and dear to my heart as I had 3 babies in China and observes friends having babies here as well and what happens in the first month after birth.

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We have rituals for these things. Your neighbour has a baby, you turn up with a casserole. Your neighbour eats the casserole, because she is so desperate for prep-free food that she will even eat your casseroles. When you collect the dish, you stop to vacuum the hallway, entertain her toddler, or hold the baby so she can shower for once. Everyone wins. Everyone’s happy.

Then you move countries and you don’t know what to do any more.

One of the things that throws me off-kilter about Singapore is the change of new-baby rituals. There’s no need for casseroles, because a maid or confinement nanny does the shopping and the cooking. Or you’ll order from a confinement food service/the local hawker centre.

And between grandparents, nannies, maids, a typical schedule of children’s enrichment classes, and some controversy surrounding the necessity of showering, it sometimes feels as if there’s not much left to do.

And this is all great news for new parents, of course. I don’t want to make it sound like The Help is handling things while mum goes to lunch with the girls. Mum is concentrating on resting, breastfeeding and recovering – that should be enough for anybody. There’s no shame in hiring an extra pair of hands or having Grandma around – a newborn will keep everyone busy, especially when Dad works long hours and travels often.

I just do wonder where I can fit in sometimes.

Which is why I’m glad to be writing this post. In the first place, I love being able to deliver the online equivalent of a casserole, especially since my blog posts are better than my cooking, from which you can draw your own conclusions about my cooking. But also, I thought you might be able to give me some novel ideas on what to do, when everything seems to be taken care of.

What do people do for new parents where you live? As a new parent, is there anything you’d like people to do for you?

Posted in Baby Care, Baby Shower. Tagged with .

China 101: Moon Festival

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I am sure you have heard it all about Chinese Moon Festival: it is celebrated anywhere in August, September or October. Traditional food is mooncakes – stuffed cakes, that often contain preserved eggs or two (significant to Chinese tradition and the history of the Festival).
However,  you may not know that Moon Festival is the time these mooncakes are heavily… traded. Yes, I didn’t make a mistake. We have ourselves have “recycled” the mooncakes since the number of boxes we have received in the past was simply overwhelming. I remember few years ago we had about 10 boxes plus several coupons to receive more boxes. So we gave many of them away,  shared with friends who came to visit and ate them ourselves.
In 13 years in China I only tasted 2 types of mooncakes which I could honestly eat and eat and eat: one was given to my husband by his school. Each teacher only got 1 mooncake as apparently it was from some very expensive bakery (we were never told the name!). And no wonder – it was so tasty, it was literally melting in my mouth!
And the other one  – Häagen Dazs ice cream mooncakes. Now, those were absolutely delicious!
If you are eager to try the mooncakes, there is one tip from me to you: don’t ask detailed list of ingredients unless you are allergic to something and don’t want it to be there. Some ingredients might kill your desire to eat a mooncake (e.g. pig fat, also known as lard).
Other than that, enjoy the holiday if you are celebrating and be careful in crowded places and lock your bikes extra well – holidays are always the time when pickpocketing and bike stealing are on the rise.
Happy Moon Festival to you all!

Posted in China, Moon Festival, mooncake. Tagged with .

China 101: Tips And Experience Sharing {Intro}

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I have been getting an increasing number of inquiries from expat families  planning to move to China, in particular to Zhuhai,  where we currently reside. I have also been told I should write a bit more about our hands – on experiences here with schooling,  birth, medical care and whatever else would be beneficial to families and/or single expats planning to come here.
So I have decided to start China 101 series in order to share this useful information.
Meanwhile if you have questions about life in China and Zhuhai in particular – welcome to contact me and I will do my best to share the necessary information!

Posted in China, Zhuhai. Tagged with .

Special Guest Thursday: Super – Noche {Kid World Citizen}

Welcome to Special Guest Thursday!
When I first started blogging seriously I virtually met some incredible bloggers and even wrote guest posts for them. One of them is Becky of Kid World Citizen – a blog and an amazing source for everything in regard of raising global citizens. I was impressed how easy going Becky was and how multicultural and accepting her family was.
Today I am very happy to have her as a special Thursday guest. Being a mom of 5 she shares some insights on and importance of family traditions and how to organise a date night with children!

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Becky is the mom of 5 multicultural kids, an ESL teacher, author of The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners and founder of KidWorldCitizen.org. She is passionate about activities that teach kids cultural and global awareness, and shares them on TpT, facebook and twitter.

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Wherever I go, I am asked if I own a daycare or run a school. It could be because I have 5 kids (it’s only five though, we’re not as large as the  Duggar’s!)… or because the kids look like they are all almost the same age (our 9 year olds are 3 months apart and our 7 year olds are 1 month apart.. and we are fostering a baby boy). Probably though, it’s because our family has a mixture of cultures, and kids who are both biological and adopted, and it’s hard to believe: “they are all yours!?”

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When we were trudging through the immense amount of papers and social worker visits in order to be “approved” as an adoptive or foster family, we had to take hours of training on raising children. Due to the nature of adoption, our kids have been through traumas that have changed their little hearts and minds, in order to protect themselves.

The most important job of any parent is to surround our children with unconditional love, so they feel (and are) protected, attended to, accepted, and adored. Because the bonding process is intensified with kids who have lost the only family they have known, our training included ways to facilitate attachment, and to connect with our children. One of the most important ways to do so is to spend one-on-one time with each of your children, on a consistent basis- no screens, no phones, no interruptions.

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Agreeing that it’s necessary to give individual attention is one thing, but going through with it is the challenge- we’re all either working, hustling through chores, chauffeuring kids to sports and dance and violin, trying to get dinner on the table, helping with homework, etc. The list is endless! And yet- whether you are an adoptive family, whether you work inside the home, outside the home, whether you have 10 kids or a singleton, whether you’re a single parent, or you have grandparents nearby (well, then I’m really envious), – all of our kids can benefit from a little dedicated, individual attention.

One way our family has fun with this is to plan a“date night”— or as we call it in our house a “super-noche” (Spanish for “super night”).

We started off when the kids were little, as a way for either me or my husband to take one (or sometimes 2) of our kids on a special outing at night- sometimes even on  school night! Sometimes it’s dressing up and going out for ice cream or hot cider, other times it’s going to see a show, go on a long bike ride, or go dancing in the Town Square. It doesn’t have to be expensive- in fact my sons’ favorite super-noche is to go to a nearby stream and throw rocks in the water. We have spent hours walking by the water looking for baby alligators (we live outside Houston!) and talking about “stuff.”

Without the interruptions of the other kids, and with no hurry to get back, the conversation flows easily. We made a rule that anything we talk about on a super-noche is a secret from the other kids, and all of a sudden I’m hearing stories from school and the playground that they didn’t want to share at the dinner table: who likes who, or something embarrassing or silly. 

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Our date nights have become a family tradition that I hope we will continue throughout their lives. With our busy schedules and homework and crazy running after school, these special times are one way we reconnect with each of our kids. Thought our super-noches might only last about an hour, we hope the memories of the special times last much longer.

Posted in Bilingual, Dating with children, Family, Multicultural, Multilingual. Tagged with .

Special Guest Thursday: First Day of School {Russian Step by Step Children}

In some places school already started,  in others it is the middle of the term or the school is about to start.
Today I would like to share insights on First Day of School by my special guest – Anna from Russian Step by Step Children.

Anna has shared more insights on the subject over at Kid World Citizen,  so please stop by and check them out!

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Anna Watt is originally from Russia and majored in Education and Linguistics there.  She lived in France where she received her Master’s Degree in International and Interactive Communication.  Anna speaks fluent Russian, English and French and also knows some Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian.  Anna loves education, languages and technology, so she is always involved in all three.  Anna has always been involved in supporting and promoting the study of the Russian language, as well as introducing Russia’s language and culture to a variety of people world-wide.   As a mother of young girls her recent project is books and a blog Russian Step By Step Children geared towards kids living outside a Russian-speaking country. You can follow Anna on Facebook , Twitter , Goggle+, LinkedIn and Pinterest

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A while ago I came across a fun article on the blog of Transparent Language about a great first day of school tradition in Germany and their sugar cones [Zuckertüte ]. It was different from what we have in Russia, but still a definite celebration. As I met many people from different countries around the world I was surprised to find out that first, the tradition to celebrate the first day of school is not part of the norm in a lot of countries, and second, when and how the first day of school goes in different countries is different and interesting.

So I decided to share with you the information on the celebrations of the first day of school in some countries. The information I gathered was mostly from my friends but also from the students from the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

While some are rather informative, other are not, and depending on the age of the writer might be more outdated, but I found them fun to read and watch, hope you will too!

I will have a longer more detailed series of articles about the first of school celebration in Russia on my website Russian Step By Step Children.

Russia

Anna, Russian Step by Step Children

The school year always starts on the first of September. Always. Even if it’s a week-end. It is also sometimes called The Day of Knowledge. The school year ends either end of May or sometimes in June (if you are in a grade that requires graduation exams, they all happen in June).

The celebration takes place outside in the school courtyard. My very first day of school everyone still had to wear uniforms (brown dress with white apron for girls and blue pants and jacket for boys), later on, just nice celebratory outfits. Girls, especially with long hair, used to wear quite elaborate hairdos with lots of large ribbons made into huge bows.

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Our school housed 1st through 11th grade (all in one building). Each grade was divided into several groups (A, B, C, etc.). Each group will have a lead teacher. In the elementary school that is the teacher who teaches most of your classes. In higher grades it can be a teacher of any subject but he/she will be your group’s supervisor. Every group has exactly the same schedule: so you go to all the classes with your group and most of the time you stay with the same group from the first to the 11th grade. There might be exceptions when your group (usually about 30 people) is divided in half for some classes, such as foreign language. Otherwise you are always together.

On September 1st you are lined up with your group, usually the 1 graders are in front. You have your group teacher there with you and you always bring a bouquet of flowers for her/him. Everyone lines up in the school courtyard and there are some speeches given at the front steps of the school by the principle and sometimes some other teachers.

Then the first bell is rung. It is done by a first grader who is sitting on the shoulders of a student from the graduating class (usually a boy). The first grader has a metal bell that she (in my memory – always a girl) rings while being carried around along the front row of all the students lined up around the courtyard.

Usually all the students are coming with their parents. But the first graders can be accompanied by their expended family: grandparents, siblings, etc.

After the celebration is over the kids go to their classes but usually not much is done. General information about the curriculum, introductions of the class and other light activities are all that is done that day. The school lasts only for about a couple of hours, when everyone heads home.

It is a very big celebration and I was always looking forward to the day, the flowers, music, the feeling of comradery and seeing my school friends again after a long summer break. It was a fun day and a great way to start a school year.

Kuwait

Mohammad, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school year in Kuwait starts in mid-September and goes until June.
There is no special first day of school celebration, but there is preparation for that day in every family. First of all we have to buy new uniforms and when we get to school on that day we are excited to meet our friends. We start school at the age of 6 (or if you were born before April that year you can start at 5) and girls and boys go to separate schools, except for the International schools. Like in the US we have elementary (5 years), middle (4 years) and high school (3 years). Each takes place at a separate building that can be located at different places. Most classes will have 30-40 students. Everyone wears uniforms and for boys it is a white shirt and dark silver pants.
Republic of Congo

Marina, Learn French Like a Native 

The school year starts in October and end in mid-June. School starts at the age of 6 and is compulsory until 16 (six years of primary and seven years of secondary school).

There is a tradition in all public schools. All students from K-12 grade clean their classroom on the first day of school. A team of about 5-6 students is put together to clean the classroom throughout the year. The students choose which day of the week works best for them.

I was really ecstatic to go back to school, since we usually had a 3 months break—rightfully called “les Grandes Vacances” French for the Greatest Vacations.

The first day of school or should I say the first week of school was a no brainer. On the first day of school, the students were asked to write on a piece of paper, their name, dad name’s and job, mom name’s and job, their address and finally their age or date of birth. This information varied slightly per the teacher; like in middle school where students have an average of 10 different teachers, in different subject.

Then each teacher dictated or wrote on the blackboard a list of tools, notebook (number of pages) and the book needed for the subject they taught.

Finally, by the beginning of the afternoon, each teacher, started class by revising what was taught in the prior grade—which usually extended to the end of the week

South Korea

Shawn, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school starts in March and ends in November. The long holiday takes place during the winter months. There is no celebration for the first day of school but a lot of great traditions for the end of the year. Normally the parents will bring the children to the elementary school and help them find their classes. The first day is usually awkward as you do not know anyone yet.

Here is a short interview with Shawn:

Iran

Saman

First day of school starts on first day of fall in Iran, but usually first graders’ first day is one day earlier than other students. The reason for this is that the principal, teachers and other staff spend more time with first graders to welcome them to school, to give them time to adjust to these changes and also explain to them the concept of school. On this day students get lined up based on the class they belong to, in school’s playground and listen to principal’s speech. After the speech, and the greeting celebration they follow their teachers to the class.

In the class, usually the teacher starts with introducing herself and then asks each student to introduce herself. (I have to mention that in Iran, schools are separate from elementary to high school for girl and boys). Usually first day for first graders is not a whole day. Usually is just couple of hours to get to know the school and their teacher.

During the celebration, before and after principal’s speech, there are some entertainment programs, like music about education and school. What I can recall from that day is, exactly the day after my first day of school was holiday. So when school was over, I was so happy that tomorrow would be holiday and I didn’t need to go to school, even though I was so excited to go to school. I remember I was singing “fitile Farda tatile”, which means “Hooray tomorrow is holiday”.

Last day of school in Iran is between the last two weeks of spring.

France

Marie, Teacher of French and Spanish at a high school in Remo, NV.

School starts early September, ends early July. First day or week of school? Nothing AT ALL. Everything is very low key, “discreet”. We do not like the “obnoxiousness”, loudness. At the same time, we do not have any school sport team. We do not do anything to create a “family” feeling among students and teachers. It does not feel like a community at all, compared to the US. I like the idea of getting up in the morning and going to work with a “community” where people actually care about you. However, I can never get used to the cheering and sport craze of the assembly, the popularity of such and such. I remember being excited to get to see all my friends again, since I did not see a lot of them outside school during summer break.
One memory as a student, starting 1st grade in a new city at a new school. I had jumped a year so I was 1 year younger than any other kid. I was at the end of the line of students before entering the room. 2 boys were in front of me. One of them turned around and called his friend, pointing at me. He said, laughing: “Hey! Look how small she is!”. I was traumatized! I still remember it, 32 years later, as if it were yesterday. I am still the smallest person in the room! I got over it

Diana, Translator, lives in Anger, France

It is true that there is nothing going on the first day of school but the children are happy to see their classmates and catch up.
At the end of the previous school year each teacher gave a list of supplies that are needed for the next school year and parents and kids buy those supplies, backpacks and new clothes for the school year. The books are usually provided by the school but in a lot of cases there are no books, but just pages that the teacher gives to the students to work on.  It is extremely low key. On a normal school day you bring the child to the gate of the school and they go inside by themselves, on the first day of school parents are usually allowed to enter the gate and get the student to their teacher, but that is it.

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Thank you,  Anna! I enjoyed reading this post and it brought back a lot of memories from my childhood!

When is the first day of school in hour country and how do you celebrate it?

Posted in First Day of School, Guest post, Korea, Multicultural, Multilingual. Tagged with .

Special Guest Thursday: Game For Preschoolers {La Cité des Vents}

It is ironic how I fought to be put in French learning group at school, then went to a University insisting on majoring in French, just to end up finally speaking more English and being mostly an English teacher. I always feel a wave of warmth whenever I speak with French speakers or read something French.

Hence I am very pleased to introduce Eolia from La Cité des Vents, a fellow MKB blogger, with a simple but engaging game for preschoolers: differences and similarities.

P1000308 - CopieEolia is a french expat near Frankfurt (Germany) for 10 months now. She likes to explore her new living area, raise her two young children and share her thoughts and discoveries in her blog La Cité des Vents.
You can follow Eolia on her FB page, Twitter, Pinterest and G+.
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The toys are having a picnic! Look closely at the two pictures and answer the questions.

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1 / Find the SEVEN differences in these two pictures.

2 / Complete the following table with the elements you see on the both pictures:

Object Quantity: picture on the left Quantity: picture on the right
Red    
Yellow    
Green    
Blue    
Orange    
Purple    
White    
Pink    
Animals    
Crockery    

 

Answers:

1/ not in the same place: garlic, blue duck, green paprika; switched: red and green cups, carrots; added orange bowl; without a red wooden cube.

2/ Picture on the left: red 5, yellow 6, green 9 (8 + ananas leaves), blue 8, orange 3, purple 1, white 3, pink 4, animals 11, crockery (11 + pan).

Picture on the right: red 4, yellow 6, green 9, blue 8, orange 4, purple 1, white 3, pink 4, animals 11, crockery (12 + pan).

 

 

La Cité des Vents

Posted in Games, Language development. Tagged with .

Special Guest Thursday: Macadamia Anzac Biscuits {threefootcooks}

As you can see, Special Guest Thursdays took a bit of a break. Well, it was really me who had a break from blogging as life with 3, plus ongoing vacation is what we’ve been busy around with here!
Today I am happy to introduce Maree from threefootcooks who shares a recipe of Anzac Biscuits  and also gives us a bit of sneak peaks into life over in Australia and the history of these cookies!
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cooked anzac biscuits
Over here in Australia we are currently in the middle of the winter season. However, since my family and I live in the Northern part of Australia it doesn’t really get cold in winter.  We have had a couple of nights where the minimum temperatures were around 6 degrees Celsius, and most days the maximum temperature is in the low 20 degrees Celsius.  So we have the best of both worlds at the moment.  We can enjoy soups and stews for dinner at night but still play outside and enjoy the sunshine during the day.  Summer, however, is a different story.  Nights are hot and humid and you try and keep out of the sun during the day. Typical Australian weather – lots of extremes all over our country.
The biscuits that my daughters Bear and Bee have made for this guest post are typically Australian too.  Anzac Biscuits are associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War 1.  There is much debate over the true origins of the Anzac Biscuit recipe and what it was originally like.  However, if you were to ask someone from Australia or New Zealand what was in an Anzac Biscuit they would agree on rolled oats, sugar, golden syrup, flour, coconut, butter, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water.  The biscuits are crunchy and don’t contain eggs; so they stayed fresh longer while being sent to soldiers in care packages during World War 1.
This recipe for Anzac Biscuits has only 2 additions to the original list of ingredients.  We added a small amount of ground ginger and chopped macadamia nuts for extra flavour. Macadamia Nuts are a native Australian nut from the North East coast of Australia (the area I grew up in). Macadamia nuts were responsible for lots of sore fingers in my family (and others like ours) when I was growing up.  The macadamia nut has an extremely tough shell which needs to be cracked open with a large rock or hammer.  Thankfully, there are many versions of nut crackers readily available now that can be used to crack the macadamia nut open.
To make a more authentic version of Anzac Biscuits just leave out the ground ginger and macadamia nuts.
Macadamia Anzac Biscuits
Makes 50 approximately
Ingredients
2 cups (250g) plain flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 and ½ cups (135g) desiccated coconut
2 cups (180g) rolled oats
1 cup (200g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (125g) macadamia nuts, chopped
200g butter, chopped
½ cup (175g) golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup (125ml) boiling water
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 180oC/160oC fan forced.
2. Line 3 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ginger, coconut, oats, sugar and nuts.
dry ingredients for anzac biscuits
4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
5. Place the butter, golden syrup and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Don’t use a small saucepan even though it is only a small amount of ingredients.  Trust me; you will see why in step 7.
mixture for anzac biscuits
6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter has melted.
7. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in bicarbonate of soda.  The mixture will foam up as you stir it which is why it is important to use a slightly larger than needed saucepan.
foaming butter mix for anzac biscuits
8. Quickly pour the foamy butter mixture into the bowl containing the flour mixture and mix well until all ingredients are combined.
9. Roll 1 tablespoon of mixture into a ball and place on prepared tray.  Flatten slightly with your fingers.
anzac biscuits on tray
10. Repeat with remaining biscuit mixture.
11. Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch.
12. Remove trays from oven and allow biscuits to cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Please note.  I would recommend that only an adult completes steps 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the recipe.  The way the butter and syrup mixture foams up when the bi-carb soda is added is really cool to watch but it is also very hot. Once you have mixed all the ingredients together it should be cool enough for your child to help roll the mixture into balls.
I hope you enjoy making this little taste of Australia with your child.
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maree mortimer bio photo“My name is Maree Mortimer and I am a stay at home mum with twin 4 year old girls.  My blog threefootcooks is about the cooking adventures I have with my girls.  I hope to inspire more parents to cook with their children on a regular basis. “
You can follow Maree through her FB page, Pinterest, Twitter and G+
Posted in baking, Cooking. Tagged with , , , .

Special Guest Thursday: Learning New Words Through Drawing {Multilingual Parenting}

Today I have a very special guest – Rita Rosenback from Multilingual Parenting!  Rita is a fellow blogger from Multicultural Kid Blogs Community I am also a part of. She is also a specialist in bilingual matters and I am very glad she agreed to share her wisdom with us!

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Children (and adults for that matter) learn better when they are having fun – this applies to any subject and for language learning this is particularly true. As a parent you are trying to come up with ways to engage your kids to learn, and especially if you are the minority language parent, you are constantly looking for ways to increase the language exposure time and to make sure that your child acquires an as extensive and varied vocabulary as possible.

One excellent way of learning new words is to draw a picture story together with your kid. – Before you say anything along the lines of “I can’t draw!” or “I wouldn’t know what to draw!” let me tell you that everyone can draw and your child will be delighted with anything you come up with. If you are really struggling with the start, cut our some pictures from a magazine or comic and build on those to make a combined storyboard and drawing. Also, don’t worry, your child’s imagination will lead the way in choosing what to add to your masterpiece!

Ask your child to choose a character who will be at the centre of your story, then place this animal, person, plant, car of whatever was chosen in the middle of the paper. Start expanding on your story by asking questions about your character. If you have a certain vocabulary topic in mind, steer the story towards it by making the questions lead the way. Let’s say you want to introduce different vegetables and fruits, make your character grow, eat, buy or sell them in your story. Or maybe your character could be a fruit looking for new friends! To make the words even more memorable you could have some of the fruits and vegetables ready as a snack for the day.

When speaking about the character use a lot of adjectives describing what it looks like: tiny, happy, surprised, yellow, round, soft and so on. Also make the verbs, the words for the action, more interesting by replacing the common ones with new ones: for example leap, bounce, skip, canter for jump; or stroll, step, march, stride for walk or go. If your child is a bit older you can use a dictionary to look up synonyms together.

After you have done this a few times you will have many lovely picture stories which you could put together as your very own picture book. Wishing you many creative moments with your little ones!

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The illustration is from Rita’s book “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” with the subtitle “Navigating the Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration.” (picture © Rita Rosenback 2014)

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Rita Rosenback is the author of “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” and she blogs at www.multilingualparenting.com where you can find tips and advice on raising your children to speak the family languages. She also visits schools and community groups to give speeches and lead workshops for parents and teachers on the topic of bilingual children. Rita was born in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland and now lives in Derby, England. She is the mother of two adult daughters who speak Swedish, Punjabi, Finnish and English.
You can connect to Rita and follow her over these social networks –
TwitterLinkedInFacebookPinterestGoogle+

Posted in Art, Bilingual, Creativity, Drawing, Language development, Multilingual. Tagged with .

Cooking Series: Homemade Pizza

For the next couple of weeks I am taking a step away from Creative Tuesdays and instead posting for Cooking series. In fact, since the next 2 posts are directly related to creativity and creative thinking, I decided just to go ahead and post them on Tuesdays anyway.
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So, today I will share how we made homemade pizzas in my ESL class. We used my grandma’s recipe for the yeast dough which I prepared in advance since there wasn’t that much time to sit and wait around for the dough to rise!
Let me say something first: children ALL love getting their hands “dirty” with food items. They may not necessarily even eat what they make but making things, well, food of course, with their own hands is a world of experience to young children, as well as older ones. Though it is always easier to engage younger ones in food making process as they are still exploring and are curious about how things work. Making pizza is a very very simple activity you can offer you children which is full of sensory, smell, taste and visual experiences. Also, it helps with language development, creativity, fine motor skills development – you name it! And of course, then pride and satisfaction of making this small pizza and the happy faces and sparkly eyes – I would make pizzas in every class if I could just to see those faces!
How to set up this activity:
1. Work space should be cleared and clean and covered with a waterproof sheet. Some might want to use disposable sheets, I use a regular one which I can wash and reuse easily.
2. Prepare pizza toppings in advance if you are making pizzas with more than 2-3 children: you won’t have time to cut everything up and younger kids will get bored watching you cut stuff! Here are the toppings I prepared for my students: sausages, corn from a can, sliced and cooked mushrooms, chopped up tomatoes and green peppers, grated cheese, portions of tomato paste, some olive oil to brush the pizza base with.
3. MAKE SURE THE CHILDREN WASH THEIR HANDS THOROUGHLY. Yep, I am really really mentioning this!
4. Demonstration: first of all, go slow. Show children how to flatten the pieces of dough for pizza base. Give them time to experiment. Ask them if they want your assistance – most of them probably will. But if they are anything like my toddler and 5 year old, they might just say “no” no matter how hard it is for them or how weird their pizza base looks like! Help them brush the dough with oil and then with tomato paste.
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5. Make sure each child has his/her own plate with toppings he/she likes. And I would also make sure the toppings don’t touch each other on the plate as most of the children really wanted.
6. Give them time to set their toppings.
7. Allow them to watch how pizza is being baked if you have a chance (e.g. through the glass window of your oven). Children kept asking me every 2 minutes if pizzas were ready.
8. Important – have fun!
How do you like your pizza?
Posted in Cooking, Cooking series, Creativity, Fine Motor Skills, Language development, Pizza. Tagged with , , .

Special Guest Thursday: Teaching Kids to Choose Love {All Done Monkey}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am posting a bit later this time as my hands were literally busy with a new bundle of joy!
I am so excited for this Special Guest visiting my blog – my dear friend and one of my most favorite bloggers, Leanna of All Done Monkey! She visited my blog twice before with a fun Daffodil activity and a Fruit Pizza recipe! Please don’t follow by Leanna’s FB page, Pinterest, Twitter and G+ to keep up to date with her posts and activities!

Teaching Kids to Choose Love - Alldonemonkey on Creative World of Varya

Starting last fall we began teaching a character-building class for my son and several of his preschool aged friends. Here is one of our recent lessons, on love:

I wanted to give the kids some real “skills” in showing love and choosing to be loving.

We started by discussing what love is (caring about someone, really liking to be with them and do things with them). This was a bit abstract, so I asked them to name people they loved. (Parents and pets were the big winners! I was also so pleased that several shouted out the names of other kids in the class).

Then we discussed ways to show love. We talked about giving hugs and kisses, sharing toys, giving gifts, playing together, doing something nice for them, and telling them “I love you.” While we didn’t discuss the love languages directly, I did keep them in mind so I would be sure to include ways that all of the kids could relate to, rather than assuming they all like to give kisses or say “I love you.” I had drawn some cards illustrating some of these ways and asked them each to put a heart sticker on the card that reflected how they most liked to be shown love. (I thought the moms would be interested to see their answers!) Unsurprisingly, at this age the most popular response was getting gifts :)

Teaching Kids to Choose Love - Alldonemonkey on Creative World of Varya

Then we switched to thinking about showing love. I had asked each of the kids to bring a favorite stuffed animal or toy, which we used in some pretend play to practice showing love. Each kid partnered up with his/her mom to practice showing love to the stuffed animal in the ways we had discussed. Afterwards, I asked them to put a heart sticker on the card that showed the way they most liked to show love.

Next we talked about choosing to show love instead of anger when someone does something we don’t like. I gave them each an “angry” mask and a “loving” mask, and we used them to practice different ways to react in disappointing situations.

Teaching Kids to Choose Love - Alldonemonkey on Creative World of Varya

Such as, “Your mom says it’s time to go to bed, even though you’re having so much fun playing. What’s an angry way to react? Now, what’s a loving way to react?” The kids had a lot of fun with this part, especially acting out the “angry” reactions, which seemed to inspire a lot of Hulk imitations :)

Our quote for the day was “In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love” (Bahá’u’lláh), so we talked about what kind of garden we wanted to grow in our heart and how we could grow a beautiful garden by choosing loving reactions instead of angry ones.

Teaching Kids to Choose Love - Alldonemonkey on Creative World of Varya

Earlier I had taken an egg carton and cut a slit in the bottom of each cup. I flipped this over and asked the kids to “plant” their angry masks. Next we tried planting our loving masks and talked about how much prettier the garden was. But we had to be careful to keep trash (mean thoughts, etc) out of our garden. To illustrate these we crumpled up paper and tossed it into our garden, noticing how the trash made it so much harder to see the garden.

For our craft, they each made a bag of love for someone they cared about. (Most chose to make one for their fathers). They decorated the bags and filled them with little pictures of things they loved about the person or activities they loved doing with them.

Teaching Kids to Choose Love - Alldonemonkey on Creative World of Varya

I was so happy with how our love lesson turned out, and the kids really enjoyed it. I really hoped it drove home the point that we choose to love every day, often when we are in difficult situations and would rather respond with anger or disappointment. How are you teaching your kids about love?

O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold. -Bahá’u’lláh

LeannaLeanna is a stay at home mother to a sweet, funny, rambunctious four year old boy and his adorable, smiley baby brother. She draws inspiration from the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith and tries to raise her Monkeys in a fun, spiritual, loving environment. She and her husband, who is from Costa Rica, are raising their boys to be bilingual and bicultural but more importantly to be “world citizens.” Her blog All Done Monkey is dedicated to sharing this journey with you!

Leanna is the co-founder of Bahá’í Mom Blogs and founder of Multicultural Kid Blogs.

Posted in Love, Virtues. Tagged with .