viva-la-vida

Celebrating Life

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Saturday was a wonderful day! We were lucky enough to celebrate with some amazing friends in the morning in our full Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) attire ready for a full day of festivities.  The real Day of the Dead is on November 1st, but because that is a Tuesday, the parade and festival was held on the 29th.

El Dia de los Muertos is a beautiful way to pay tribute to our loved ones that are no longer with us. It is not about sadness, but about celebration of life.  I love that I live in a place where these amazing traditions are honored. In Austin, there is a long standing celebration called Viva La Vida (Celebrate Life) where people can show their love for traditions together.  It is on it’s 32nd year!  Now that is an extraordinary feat in itself! Here is a quick description from their site:

Viva la Vida is Austin’s largest and longest-running Day of the Dead festival featuring Latino artists and entertainment, an exhibition, and educational programs in the heart of downtown.  Part of the proceeds will benefit the education programs of Mexic-Arte Museum, whose mission is to enrich the community through education programs and exhibitions focusing on traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture.

Being able to share moments like these with my littles makes me one happy mama. My little loves know how much I love the fact that it is about celebrating life and they celebrate it with me.  We have a mini altar for those we love and miss in my house and my boys know all abut this special day.  Here are some fun pictures from the day. I hope you enjoy them!

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Special Guest Post! Keli Garcia Allen

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Hello everyone! Today, I am so fortunate to share with a very valuable post on how we can help our kids become Bicultural.  I talk about being bilingual, but being bicultural is just as if not more important as it helps people not only understand the language, but understand  how amazing other cultures can be.  Please read her post and enjoy!  Don’t forget to follow her on her links at the end of the post.

Beyond Bilingual: 7 Ways to Help Your Child Become Bicultural 

Foreign language teachers often talk about the importance of learning about culture when studying a language. For students, it’s often the most exciting part of a class! Listening to the music, eating the food, and participating in the celebrations of a particular culture make language study exciting and can entice even the most reticent of learners to participate. Learning about the culture may in fact be just as important as learning the language. The goal is to inspire students to not only become bilingual, but also bicultural, or at the very least, respectful of the culture. Below I examine the true meaning of biculturalism and highlight 7 awesome strategies you can use to guide your children on the path of bicultural education.

What Is Biculturalism?

Biculturalism involves the adaptation of two cultures into a mix that will be unique to an individual. It occurs when a person has cultural behaviors such as language use, choice of friends, media preferences, cultural practices, values and identifications that are influenced by two distinct cultures. So, it doesn’t only mean behaving in ways that are influenced by two cultures (i.e. speaking Chinese and English), but holding values from both cultures (such as strong family loyalty as well as an independent spirit) and identifying with both cultures (like identifying as “Mexican-American” as opposed to just Mexican or just American).

What Are The Benefits Of Biculturalism?

Although we may be somewhat unfamiliar with the terminology, the benefits of biculturalism have long been known. People who are bicultural feel comfortable in both settings, use coping strategies from both cultures, are able to interact with people from both cultures and can even act as intermediaries. They have a greater number of social networks, they are aware of cultural differences and they can enjoy the richness of the life of multiple cultures. Research has even demonstrated that bicultural individuals are more likely to display advanced reasoning (e.g. seeing both sides of an argument and understanding multiple perspectives on complex social issues) and that they are characterized by superior creativity and professional success.*

How Do We Help Our Children Become Bicultural?

Many believe that becoming bicultural is an effect of the circumstances that surround a family. If a family is in a city with a large number of individuals who share the same heritage culture, they will maintain their culture more easily. Therefore, if they are in an area where they are isolated from their culture, they will most likely adapt to the surrounding culture.  However, the family does not simply act as a conduit for the environmental and cultural influences at large. Rather, parents can actively decide how they want their children to acculturate.

Parents can choose to raise their children one of three ways: they can raise their children in a way in which both the heritage and receiving cultural streams are emphasized and valued, they can emphasize the heritage culture more, or they can actively encourage their children to adapt to the mainstream culture. If you want to ensure your child’s biculturalism, then the first option is the one for you.

If you are in an area where your heritage culture is present, then you will have a lot of support from the community, and you can easily emphasize and integrate both cultures into your family life. However, if you are in an area that is devoid of your cultural heritage, then you will have to make a greater effort to teach your children about the customs, traditions, and other cultural markers of your heritage.

One of the most obvious ways of doing this is through language. However, as I said above, culture is more than language, and we must step out beyond in order for our children to learn about their roots. Here are a few ideas to help your child connect with your heritage culture:

  1. Read Authentic Books

Not only is reading essential for language learning, but it is one of the greatest ways in which we can transmit ideas, cultural norms and traditional stories to them. Reading together, especially from a very young age, can also create a strong bond and feelings of well-being between you and a child.

  1. Listen To Music & Explore Other Artistic Traditions 

Music is an amazing cultural experience! Not only is it enjoyable, but it can emit feelings and thoughts in a way that no other medium can. But a culture’s artistic heritage is not limited to music; exploring dance, arts and crafts, sports and martial arts can all bring a sense of national, ethnic and cultural pride and understanding.

  1. Cook & Eat Traditional Foods

Food can truly be a part of who we are. The smells and flavors that emanate from a kitchen can create such strong memories! To this day, anytime I smell lemons I think of my Abuela, who had a lemon tree and used the fruit for everything from cooking to cleaning. Share the richness of your heritage through food with your children and not only will you be filling their bellies, but you will be creating memories.

  1. Seek Out Other Members Of Your Cultural Group 

One of the best ways to connect with your culture is to spend time and create bonds with people who share the same heritage. Having family and friends with whom you can practice language and effectively model cultural characteristics with will be a great way for your children to learn. Making a space where it is not only acceptable, but actually encouraged to celebrate their heritage can make a big difference for children.

  1. Travel

For many people travelling “home” is not always possible. However, if you ever have the opportunity, showing your children where their roots lie will be an unforgettable experience that can really bond them with their heritage.

  1. Participate In Festivals & Celebrations

If you are in an area that holds festivals and celebrations that are meaningful to you, by all means participate! If you aren’t, but can travel to an area that has them (especially if you cannot go back to your country of origin) then I encourage this as well!

  1. Discuss & Teach Some Of The Important Beliefs & Cultural Norms 

Having conversations with our children about our beliefs and norms is so very important. Teaching them wrong from right, teaching them manners, etc. starts at a young age. Don’t miss out on opportunities because you think they won’t understand, even from a very young age, they will always gather a lot from their conversations with you!

As parents wishing to raise bilingual children, It’s important to remember that bilingualism and biculturalism are not the same thing. We may speak to our children in different languages, but if we fail to present the culture in an authentic manner, our kids may miss out on the true depth and richness of our language and heritage. Even if the language you are teaching you children is not part of your heritage, always do your best to include culture into their learning. It’s the best method you have for creating an interest in others and for bringing up compassionate and caring children who will want to experience and explore the world.

We want to hear from you! Are you raising your children to be bicultural? How are you going about it? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Keli Garcia Allen is a certified Spanish teacher and works as a Preschool teacher in a bilingual classroom. She is the Head of Content for Learn Safari and is currently working on Spanish Safari, a Spanish Learning game for children 5-9 years old. You can follow her and the rest of the team on their Website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

* https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual/201304/advantages-being-bicultural

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Review of Language Together’s Spanish Books!

Hi!  It’s me! How have you been?  I hope everyone is fabulous!

I wanted to pop in and let you know about a great program for kids to learn Spanish. I was lucky enough to be able to share these awesome books in Spanish with my littles and now I get to share them with you! 

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Language Together offers programs in different languages for kids. We used the Spanish set, of course.  The set comes with 10 super cute books that introduce new words to kids in a fun way. 

The books are easy to read, have drawings the kids really like because they are funny and the stories are short and sweet.  Since we got them, my boys each get to pick one before nap. I read each page to them and they repeat it back to me. Sometimes we make it fun by saying it as loud we can, singing it or acting it out just to make it fun. I really think it is helping them not only identify words, but build their vocabulary to form clear sentences in Spanish.  This was something I struggled with as they only really wanted to give me one word answers to my questions before. 

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My boys love how silly the books are.

The books are very kid friendly which means the boys do not find them intimidating in the least.  Other programs I have tried have SO much information that they find it overwhelming. That can make learning seem like a chore.  These are little books just the right size for little hands that they can take to their room to browse.  They can share them, trade them and even copy them on their own paper. 

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My oldest is 6 and practicing his reading.  The way these books are written are perfect for him to practice his reading skills as well. I think these may be just what we need to learn to read in Spanish, too! I am very excited about this!

Here is Language Together’s decription of why they work (and I totally agree).

Step by step, our deceptively simple Flashcard Stories introduce new words and phrases. Target vocabulary is woven into short, clever stories that make kids laugh — and forget they are actually learning. Students pick up language naturally, effortlessly, through repeated exposure to comprehensible input.

Click HERE to find out more about the company. 

I completely recommend these books for your little ones.  Making a game out of them makes learning a new language not feel like a task. It’s a great program.  I wish there were more books!

Hope you like my review.  Have a wonderful week! 

Amazon link: Language Together 

Let's Explore the World

New Project for Learning about The World!

Let's Explore the World

Time has gotten away from me. I have no other excuse for not keeping up with the blog.  Summers are busy days for playing with my boys. Sometimes, instead of me wearing them out, they wear me out so much, that their nap time becomes mine as well. I can’t complain about that. I do love my naps and that I am able to spend my days at home with them. I know I am lucky. Things do tend to get in the way of my working on my various projects, though.  I will attempt to do better.

I think I have found the perfect way to do so. One of my fellow Multicultural Kid Blogs Contributors from Kid World Citizen has created the coolest Diversity Calendar out there (in my opinion) and I can’t wait to start celebrating some holidays that are new to me, but important around the world.  Here is the description from their website.

Diversity Calendar

Our Diversity Calendar is a month-by-month, thorough collection of holidays around the world! For the past three years, we have interviewed religious leaders from all major religions, and heavily researched our calendar to assure that the most important holidays have been included (and are happy to include any additional festivals or holidays our readers add in the comments!). This fabulous diversity calendar includes 285 special days including:

•multicultural and ethnic festivals

•religious holy days from all major religions

•environmental days to celebrate and honor our planet

•United Nations International Days such as “Global Youth Service Day“

•fun holidays that celebrate friendship, empathy, and kindness.

Even though it is probably intended more for teachers and homeschoolers, I know that my boys and I can come up with some fun things to do with it. From World Friendship Day to International Talk Like A Pirate Day and so many animal appreciation days, I think this will be a fun project!  I’m excited to show them how beautiful the world is in all of it’s celebrations.  Want to do it with me? I’d love to find ideas on how to celebrate some of these with you!

If you would like to purchase your own calendar you can do so HERE.

Let’s Celebrate Each Other!  

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Excited to Add New Things to Our Celebrations!

 

 

Teacher Thank You

Easy and Cute Teacher Gift!

Teacher Thank You
Hi!
The kids and I got crafty for Teacher’s Appreciation Day and we wanted to share it with you.  I saw this on Pinterest (of course) and had to try.  The post I saw used shadow boxes, but that is way to pricey for my budget so we used canvas instead.  Here is what you need:
  • Canvas (I used 8 1/2 X 12 at $7.99 for a 5 pack)
  • Crayons (2 boxes of 64 count total $3 a box)
  • Glue Gun and Glue Sticks (I already had these)
  • Rope of ribbon of your choosing (I used rope I had)
  • Paint (optional) we used Dot Paint for a pretty finish
Because 3 of the things used are standards in my craft room, we spent a little over $1.50 per gift. Not bad for a days work!
First print or draw the letter you want to use as a guide for your product on a sheet of paper. Copy that same letter onto your canvas.  I cut the printed letter and used it as a stencil so they matched.
Second start arranging your crayons to fit the letter and cut them to size.  I just used a sharp knife, but you can use a small electric saw if you have one and are comfortable using one.  I am not, so I stuck to what I felt comfortable with.
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Once you know how you want them, start transferring them over from your sheet to your canvas and gluing them with your glue gun. I recommend doing one at a time. I tried to make a line and quickly setting more than one to go faster, but the glue dried before I could get them over.  Oops!  One at a time works better for me. Because I had to to them this way, I didn’t let the boys use the glue gun this time around.  Way to easy to burn your fingers when you are holding the crayon.  Not much room for error, ask my fingers.

Transfer Letter to Canvas

Once they were dry, I gave the leftover crayons to the boys and they went to town on the canvas. Here is where our Spanish Lesson came in.  We reviewed our alphabet and then named the letters we needed. We reviewed our colors as they picked their crayons and named the ones that were glued.  They also got to count the amount of crayons used. Learn & Play, I say!  
They loved the idea of drawing with crayons around crayons for their favorite teachers.  Sweet Boys!  For the finishing touch, we used the dot paint to make the pictures pop. 
4 letters finished
Once everything was set, I glued a piece of the rope to the top for hanging. Wrapped them up and Ta-Da! Pretty gifts!

Final Teacher Gift

You could do everything in a day (though the cutting was the must time consuming task so be prepared for that).
Hope you like it!  Happy Teacher Appreciation Day to all of the Fabulous Teachers out there Past and Present!  
Hugs to you all! 

 

Favorite Times-2

Favorite Times

Favorite Times-2

Hello!

Life gets crazy sometimes and there is really nothing we can do about it but try to keep up.  The saving grace for me is the time I get to spend with my littles.  There is just no other feeling like that love you feel when it is just you and your kids, cuddling, chatting and giggling. 

One of my favorite times is night time or as we call it “nite-nite time”. I get to cuddle with my little ones individually, read stories, sing songs and TICKLE! I love their giggles and just having that special bonding time with each of them. It fills my heart.

I have sang the same Spanish songs to both boys since they were born.  My mother gave me a CD from Grupo Truhui when my first was born and it was like magic.  It truly did help him calm down and fall asleep. Not only that, but it worked with my second, too! Because of that, I learned some of the songs and created a mashup version that I now sing to them every night. 

The other night, my oldest was playing with the camera on my phone while we were getting ready for bed and decided to make a video of our songs. I wanted to share it with you because it means so much to me and I will cherish this video and our memories always. Sorry for the bad lighting (night time) no makeup look, goofy faces and the not-so-perfect singing from me (I do not claim to be a good singer).  But M IS in my opinion, so concentrate on him.  He just makes me smile!  I hope to one day make a singing video with my little one as well.  When I do, maybe I will share it, too!

Thank you for reading and may all your nights be filled with song!