Living Language Blog

Mother’s Day Around the World!

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Celebrating Mothers!

It’s that time of year when we say Thanks for all that our moms do for us! Showing gratitude to one’s parents is something that takes place in nearly all world cultures. You can check out a map of Mother’s Day dates in countries around the world. If you are a mom, perhaps it’s time to plan a long trip to take advantage of the multiple celebrations! Here are a few stops you might consider making on your journey:

Ireland

The origins of Mothering Day in Ireland begin in medieval times. Children in poor families were often sent to work as servants for the rich. During Lent, the children had a day off to return to their ‘Mother Church’ and then visit their own mothers after the service. After World War II, the celebrations took on a more modern feel, with children giving gifts or flowers to their mothers (and living under the same roof!)

Mexico

Churches play a role in Mother’s Day celebrations in Mexico. After a special mass, an orchestra plays “las mañanitas” and then ‘tamales’ and ‘atole’, the traditional early-morning meal, are distributed to all local mothers. Children also present gifts and schools organize skits or presentations for moms.

Australia

One tradition in Australia is to wear a carnation in honor of your mother. Colorful carnations indicate that your mother is still living, while a white carnation means that she is no longer living. Gift-giving, flowers, and special meals are also part of the celebration.
To learn more about how Mother’s Day is celebrated in other countries, visit 10 Other Mother’s Days or Mother’s Day Around the World

What special tradition do you have for celebrating your mother? Share with us in the Comments!

Spring’s Renewal

Learn to say “It’s sunny” in:

Arabic إنها مشمسة
French Il fait du soleil.
German Es ist sonnig.

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth in nature, so it is not surprising that many of the world’s religions have ceremonies and rituals to renew the spirit that occur at this time of year. In the Christian tradition, many youngsters celebrate their first communion or confirmation, marking an important step in their spiritual journey.flowers
Here are some ceremonies from other world religions that represent important moments and milestones.

Buddhism

Two Buddhist celebrations occur in May: The Ploughing Festival and Veska. The Ploughing Festival commemorates the moment of young Buddha’s first moment of enlightenment at age seven. Veska celebrates Buddha’s birth, life and death on the first full moon in May. Learn more about Buddhism at Buddhanet.net.

Judaism

When a Jewish boy or girl is about thirteen, they celebrate a Bar Mitzvah (for boys, or Bat Mitzvah for girls). This ceremony marks the moment when the child becomes an official follower of the commandments laid out in Jewish Law. During the ceremony, prayers are read and the child will recite portions of the Torah, the Jewish religious text. Afterwards, family and friends often attend an elaborate party with music, food, and gifts for the child.

Shintoism

Shinto is a Japanese religion with roots dating back to the very beginning of Japanese culture. Some consider Shintoism a way of life rather than a specific religion as the rituals and practices are so integrated with Japanese culture. Families will go to Shinto shrines to celebrate important life events such as births and weddings. One month after a baby is born, the family will bring him or her to a Shinto shrine to receive a blessing from the priest. Many wedding are also held at Shinto shrines.

Hinduism

In ancient Hindu practice, when a boy of the upper classes in society reaches adolescence, he takes part in the Ceremony of the Sacred Thread. He shaves his head, wears a saffron robe, and receives a thread with several strands from a guru, or spiritual teacher. The sacred thread symbolizes the connection of the boy to his youth and his devotion to Hindu religious teachings. Although replaced at regular intervals, the boy will wear the sacred thread for life.

Do you practice a special spiritual ceremony for youth? Share your traditions with us in the Comments section.

Meeting new friends…exploring the world

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Welcome, Friends!

Meeting new people is a great way to learn more about the world. Whether a new friend has a great skill to share, a recommendation for a new restaurant, or a delicious dinner recipe, we can learn something new by connecting with others. So…let me introduce myself! I’m Kennedy and I’m happy to share my journey with you!

My blog is all about making new connections and exploring the world of language and culture with your family.

Kids are the ultimate ‘explorers.’ Their curiosity is boundless! But you don’t need to plan a round-the-world trip to explore language and culture….just take a look around! There are bilingual store signs, grocery foods, and ethnic restaurants right in your own backyard, providing opportunities to learn more about the world. My goal is to help you find everyday moments to explore global cultures.ExplorAWorld Mascot

My blog provides ideas and engaging activities for kids and families to share. Whether it’s a new game played by kids in Africa or a holiday celebration from Peru, learning about the world gives us a new perspective on others, as well as a new appreciation of our own traditions as well. So subscribe to my blog in the sidebar and stay tuned for great ideas and fun ways to Explore the World with your family!

Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter–and tell your friends to help us all connect! Merci!

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5 Fun Culture Activities for Spring Break

Crafts

World Crafts

Looking for a way to channel your kids’ Spring Break energy into something fun? Here’s 5 ideas for crafts and activities that take on a cultural twist!

Let’s JUMP into Spring! Learn to say “Jump!” in:

Italian Salta!
Chinese

Sidewalk Chalk Art Gallery

Weather permitting, you can create a masterpiece on your driveway or sidewalk, finding inspiration in the great masters! ‘Paint’ an Impressionism landscape like Claude Monet; have friends pose for a portrait like Rembrandt; or maybe Egyptian cave drawings are more your style. Whatever art you choose, be creative and have fun expressing yourself!

World Music Dance Party

When you are tired of dancing to the rock stylings of One Direction, try your moves to world music on iTunes or Pandora. TheMaking Multicultural Music blog by Daria also has great videos of world musicians and information about unique instruments.

Make a Difference in the World

Take a minute to reflect on how kids around the world might be spending their days. It can be overwhelming to consider the difficult and dangerous situations many of the world’s children find themselves in every day. Kids can help by contributing to charity or simply being kinder to the earth to help make the world a better place.

Hopscotch…around the World

Learn the words for 1-10 in other languages and see if you can hop and speak as you go. Learn variations of Hopscotch and play like they do in Italy, Albania, the Netherlands, or the Czech Republic.

World of Snacks

After all this activity, you’ll need to refuel with some great food! Why not try some kid-friendly snacks from different cultures? Who knows, you might find a new favorite from Thailand, Japan or Italy to eat after a long day at school.

What will YOU do on Spring Break? Share your ideas and activities in the Comments below!

5 Websites for World Stories

Once upon a Zzzzzz….

When my oldest child was very young, he would wake up ready to play at 5am every morning. To give myself a little more time to rest, we would snuggle while I told him a story or two—half-asleep—to keep him busy while my brain functions kicked in. The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, Jack & the Beanstalk…..stories I could tell in my sleep (literally) and pass along to my kids as part of their traditional fairy tale education.
Did you ever wonder if these same stories are also told by sleepy parents in France, Australia, Russia, or Peru? What stories do parents in Tanzania tell when their little ones are restless?
BlogShel

The Story of Stories

Storytelling is an art that has served many purposes: passing down family history from generation to generation, cautioning youth about the dangers of the world, and teaching moral lessons. And entertaining kids, of course! Some familiar stories might have a slight variation when told in another country. Others are unique to a culture and contribute to a child’s worldview as they grow up. Reading stories from around the world can help kids connect to the experience of other children in the world, gaining an understanding of cultures that are different from their own.

5 Great Sites for World Stories


International Digital Children’s Library
has collections of books from around the world, digitized for easy reading on-line. The advantage of this site is that you can view illustrations from the books as well, providing a fun visual support for the stories. You can search by categories including language, story character, child’s age, or fiction/non-fiction. Stories are available in multiple languages, with some dual language books.

World of Tales
focuses on folktales that have been passed down for generations in cultures all over the world. On this site, you can search by continent and country/culture to display a list of tales to read (in English).

WorldStories by KidsOut
, a children’s charity in the UK, is a fantastic site that includes traditional and newer stories in 27 languages. You can read them on-line in either English or the story’s native language, and you can also listen to the stories or download the mp3. The site has resources for both parents and teachers, and kids can send in their own stories and illustrations to be displayed on the website!

StoryNory
publishes a new story each week. There are collections of fairy tales from around the world, as well as historic stories about King Arthur, St. Patrick, and Greek mythology. All stories are in English and you can read them on-line, listen to the audio in the browser or download mp3 files to play later.

The Literacy Shed/Other Cultures is a great site designed for primary school teachers that includes visual media and short films about other cultures. Video clips are embedded on the site and they include multiple suggestions for extension activities that help children reflect on the cultural story through writing, discussion and projects.

Do you have a great World Story resource for kids? Please share it with us in the Comments section! Happy reading!