Making Summer Count (1)

I’ve been MIA again for a while, but I wanted to check in and say hi!  So much to do this summer and so little time to just sit and write but I promise we have been trying to keep up with our Spanish every day.  Here is a little recap of the fun we have been having with Spanish.  I hope to find the time to get into more detail on them soon, too.

  • We went to Mexico City and Cancun.  The kids were able to meet a TON of family and really fell in love with the culture and language.  This visit especially made them really excited to learn more!
  • We started Spanish Immersion Summer School (just two weeks, but still a good program).  They came home singing songs and told me how excited they were to count to 100 in Spanish.  Nice! We also took a couple of fields trips with the school to learn about different cultures.  I love that!
  • I also ordered Kids Start Spanish Series.  The boys like the memory game and the flash cards.  The videos are a little repetitive, but then again, repetition is always good, right?
  • Oh, and I ordered Whistlefritz Lesson Plans and hope to be able to summon the teacher spirit that runs in my family somehow to keep them engaged.

What have you been up to this summer?  Any tips to keep your kids on the right track for learning languages?  How do you keep up with individual lessons when school starts?  All suggestions welcome! Hope to chat soon!  Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

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

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 

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

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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!


Showing Love And Affection Around The World!

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Hello World! Hope you are having a LOVELY day!  This month, I am the host of the blogging carnival for Multicultural Kid Blogs and I couldn’t be happier. Although I am not one to celebrate Valentine’s day, as it turns out I AM a bit of a sucker for love. That means this month’s theme is quite fitting.

In this post I will share with you how my fellow multicultural bloggers and I do just that as well as where you can find them. You will read posts about how people greet each other where they are, how parents show love to their kids, how extended multicultural families show their love, how families kiss, greet each other and much more. So let’s get started.

First, let’s learn how to say I Love You around the world!  Check out it out HERE!

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Kissing is a common way of showing love all over the world.  But how many kisses are expected depends on where you live. The Piri Piri Lexicon wrote this funny post about kisses in France. Bisous? 1, 2, 3, 4? French greetings: how many kisses? 

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Here is a hillarious one also about kissing from Sarah at A Life with Subtitles An American Girl’s Guide To Kissing How many awkward kisses have you experienced?

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Showing love to kids will help them grow up unafraid to show others love as well. Not only that, but it will help them be comfortable enough to show their other emotions as well.  Leanna at All Done Monkey has a very cute post on showing kids love that I will definitely try: Monkey Kisses and Dinosaur Hugs: Creative Ways to Show Kids Love 

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Here is a beautiful take on love wherever you are from thanks to Olga at European Mama: Rethinking Intercultural Relationships

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If you speak Spanish or have heard it being spoken, you know that we love our nicknames. They are more than just nicknames to us, though, they are truly affectionate terms.  Elisabeth at Spanish Mama wrote this great post on just that: Terms Of Endearment In Spanish-Speaking Countries 

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Here are some more, this time from Puerto Rico thanks to Frances at Discovering the World Through My Sons Eyes. Puerto Rican Terms of Endearment and Expressions of Love 

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Can’t forget Valentine’s Day!  Here is a post from Lisa at Cooking With Languages just in time. Valentine’s Day: Showing Love and Affection in Spain 

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I also wrote this one for MKB last year on Valentine’s Day Around The World with some great ideas (also thanks to many of my MKB friends): Please do check it out.  

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Here is an educational one on co-sleeping with your baby from Lisa at Lisa Lewis MD: Sharing Love: Co-Sleep Safely and Affectionately! As Lisa says “HAPPY SNUGGLES”

I hope you have enjoyed our February Blogging Carnival for Multicultural Kid Blogs! Please follow the group on the MKB site and Facebook page as well as all of our fabulous contributors!  We Love to Share the Love All Around Our Beautiful World! 

How Do You Show Love?

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Goodnight Around the World!

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One of the most beautiful moments of being a parent is being able to tuck your little ones in for the night.  Most parents I know have a set night time routine that helps get their babies to relax and to understand that the time for games is over for the day. Night time is also the best time for some one on one cuddles.  I don’t know what I will do when they outgrow them.

Our night time routine is pretty much set in stone.  My husband and I run around with them after bath time to let them get that last bit of energy out. Then when it is time to start winding down, we sing a song and say a poem.  The song I chose was one of my favorite songs from when I was growing up. It is a song by Topoyiyo called “A La Camita”.  This song has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  We watched the show of this little silly mouse when I was little. When I was in high school it was the last song the played at night clubs across the border as a way to let people know it was closing time.  I thought it was such a cute idea that we even chose it as the last song of our wedding reception. And now I am passing it on to my little ones.

After that, each child goes into his own room and my husband and I tag team. He goes into my oldest’s room first and I go in with my little one. We each read them stories and sing songs. I sing to them in Spanish while my husband sings in English. The songs I sing are a montage of songs from a cd that that mom gave us from a group called Grupo Tihui from the album Arrullos Tradicionales De México. It was a gift and I could not find a link to it, sorry.  I highly recommend it, however, if you can find it. It has magical powers.  I would play it for both boys when they were infants and it would instantly calm them down.

After we are done, we trade and do it all over again with the other child.  Well, my oldest and I do shadow puppets for a bit then have a question and answer session where he asks me anything he can think of and I try to answer it to the best of my ability.  (Thank goodness for google!) Last come our goodnight kisses for both and everyone goes to bed happy.

I thought it would be fun to see how the parents around the world on  say goodnight, so I reached out to my friends at Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Here is what they shared.  One thing is universal, songs and lullabies are one of the most beautiful way to cuddle with your little one and teach them a little music while you are at it. Hope you enjoy!

Galina Nikitina (Trilingual Children) shared her routine with us:

We read books and then kids go tho their beds, I tell them a story. They tell me who will be the story characters and I have to come up with the rest. If the kids are still up after the story, I sing to them.

Our family says “Good night!” in three languages: “Buona Notte!” in Italian, “Spokojnoj Nochi!” ( Спокойной Ночи!) in Russian and “Good Night! in English.

She also has a post about Russian lullabies (written in Russian) that you can find HERE.

Lana Jelenjev (Smart Tinker) from the Philippines shared a lullaby called Sa Ugoy ng Duyan

Audrey Kratovil (Españolita…¡Sobre La Marcha!even included a video from YouTube for us to take part in the lovely song Cinco Lobitos

From Morocco, Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki (Marrakech Food Tours) wrote:

We always read a book and say a prayer of protection, tuck them in and then recite a duaa from the Quran to protect the kids and keep bad dreams away. They actually recite it we just help them. (wink)

Rita Rosenback (Multilingual Parenting) added:

The last thing I have said every night to my girls is “Good night, sleep well, sweet dreams” (in Swedish: God natt, sov gott, fina drömmar). My girls are now 22 and 29 and we still do it.”

She even mentioned it on her post HERE. 

A lovely night time routine was shared by Marianna Hennig Du Bosq (Bilingual Avenue):

Both my husband and I put our little one to bed every night (she’s two). We take turns wishing her good night and sweet dreams in English and Spanish and she responds “I love you” to Daddy and “Te quiero mucho” to me. She puts her hands together (like in a prayer) … that’s our sign for “Bendicion” or bless me in Spanish and then I respond by saying “Dios te bendiga.” The last thing I say is what my mother always said to me “Que sueñes con los angelitos,” meaning “May you dream with the little angels.” I am from Venezuela and my husband is American, we live in Germany.

Maria Babin (Trilingual Mama) shared this sweet routine:

Sometimes a bath, then jammies on, brush teeth, a few books and sometimes family prayer. Into the turbulette (a kind of sleeping bag for babies), doudou (stuffed animal), two cars (for my 2 year old Rémy) and a kiss! Good night or buenas noches!

Olga Sokolik (Milk, Crafts and Honesty) shared this Polish night time saying “Dobranoc, pchly na noc, karaluchy do poduchy a szczypawki do zabawki” (Goodnight, fleas for the night, cockcroaches to the pillow and earwigs to the toys)

Haboona Abdullah Hussein (The Ramblings of a Saudi Wife) included that in Arabic people say in the evening “mesa el khair” (evening of good) and the reply is “mesa el noor” (evening of light).

Anna Watt (Russian Step by Step) shared this fun nighttime routine:

(In Russia, you say) Спокойной ночи (spokOJnoj nochi) which literally translates as have a calm night. Some kids love watching a kid tv show that runs right before the bedtime and has the same name. We live in the US now and will do shower/books/lie down in bed together/kisses and hugs and then goodnight in both English and Russian.

Charu Chhitwal (Ketchup Moms) let us into this traditional routine:

In India of most us say Good night to kids after maybe reading their favorite book to them. But when my twins were 8 months old, I had started singing the Gayatri mantra for them. It is a chant that is considered very powerful, protecting and Peaceful. (Find link HERE) Although I had stopped, will start now.  Good night in literal Hindi translation means- Shub Ratri.

Eolia Scarlett Disler (La Cité des Vents) shared this sweet good night:

Personaly, I do this routine: we read them a book/story, pray together, kiss them good night and some evenings I sing a song or two. In French: “Bonne nuit! A demain matin. Dormez-bien mes chéris.” (Good night, see you tomorrow. Sleep well my darlings.)

Tamania Jaffri Naqi (UrduMom.com) added:

In urdu we say ‘shab-be-khair’ that means good/peaceful night. The lullabies sung at night are called ‘looris’.

These are some great examples of how similar we all are no matter where we are from. Our babies are our lives, our hearts and souls. We will sing, read, and be silly for them for as long as they let us. Be free, and be happy and be as childlike as you can be. Enjoy every moment you can with those sweet little ones. My hope is that they will remember the silly times. Hopefully we will have the ability to carry it on for generations to come. I would love to hear your routines.

How do you say goodnight?

Check out these goodnights from around the world (as shared by our Multicultural Kids Blog Family)

Thank you Multicultural Kids Blog families for letting me see into your traditions. I love learning from you all.