Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy October

Hi Everyone!!

I haven't posted for awhile, so I thought I would give you an update and, for those of you new to the site, share some of the fun places we visited LAST October!!

The kids are growing up too fast for me!  My daughter is in 1st grade and seems to be really enjoying herself.  Her favorite part of 1st grade????  THREE RECESSES :)  She's my daughter alright.

My son is four in Pre-K and his teachers have commented on the impressive vocabulary and knowledge he has on many subjects!  I'm gonna take some of the credit for that from all the exposure to new things we had during the past year, but I think I also have to share some credit to shows like the Wild Kratts and Octonauts. 

I went back to work part-time as a teacher at my son's preschool.  Not in his classroom, but close enough to see him a few times a day :)  I'm hoping to incorporate some of our travels into the class's curriculum but I've only been there a short time ...

Since the blog is still getting a lot of hits, I thought I would direct you to some of the fun we had last October!  We tried to visit some of the more "spooky" countries. 

Be sure to check out our visits to:
  • Egypt    We visited an amazing museum to see a real mummy, made scarab beetles and built pyramids.

  • Romania  Vampires. hand-painted pottery and cabbage rolls...what's not to love?!

  • Scotland  We found the legendary "Sock Ness" Monster, played a round of golf and had some awesome Haggis.  Yes, I used the words "awesome" and "haggis" in the same sentence!

  • Mexico   A great education on Dias de los Muertos when we visited a festival.  Tips on homemade tortillas and, of course, the Chupacabra!!!!

Looking back on these posts fills me with so much joy!  We had so much fun doing all those activities and trying the new food.  In fact, we still love making our own tortillas, the vampire project is proudly displayed on the porch and that Sock Ness monster keeps rearing her head every once in awhile :)  I hope you try some projects and make some memories yourself!! 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!! 


Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School- German- Style!!


Did you hear that?!  That is the sound of a mother who, although she loves her children dearly, is super-excited that they are going back to school!!!  We had a great summer and, in some ways, I will miss our lazy mornings and fun times, but the kids are tired of each other (and me) and not having enough structure in their day.  They might argue about that structure part, but I can see how much they need to go back to school.  My daughter, who is going into 1st grade (!!), doesn't go back until after Labor Day, but my son started his Pre-K class today.  Where does the time go?  I swear I was just posting cute infant pictures on Facebook yesterday!!  Anyway, we saw a cute idea in Family Fun magazine about a German tradition for the first day of school.  It's called a Schultüte (literal translation- school bag) and it's our new family tradition.

A Schultüte, sometimes also called a Zuckertüte (sugar bag), is a cone-shaped paper goodie bag given to children to celebrate the first day of school.  Traditionally, the first day of 1st Grade, but that seemed unfair so both my kids are going to get one.  I can't take any more cries of unfairness this summer! 

The tradition dates back to the early 1800's and started as a way to make the young children more excited about starting school.  The cones are usually filled with treats, small school supplies and other goodies.  Where were these things when I was growing up?!? 

Here is how you can make one for your darlings to celebrate the happiest time of the year (for parents anyway!).....

 For the project you will need:
  • large thick paper or poster board
  • strong tape or stapler
  • tissue paper
  • glue
  • scissors
  • stickers, markers or other decorations
  • treats, school supplies, various goodies
  • ribbon or yarn
1.  Take the heavy paper and twist it into a cone shape.  Tape or staple it so it will stay put.

2.  Take a piece of tissue paper about the same circumference of the open end of the cone and glue it on.  If your cone is really big, you might need another piece.  If it's a small cone, cut off the excess...they're gonna rip it off anyway, so don't get too fussy.

3. Decorate the cone anyway you want.  Or you could have wrapped it with some pretty gift wrap before the tissue paper.

4.  Fill your Schultüte with all the goodies and then tie up the end with the ribbon or yarn.

5.  Now you are ready to present your kid (who you actually kinda missed) with a wonderful treat to celebrate a great first day at school!  

They grow so fast.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Weekend Fun!!

Festivals, Festivals, Festivals!! 

I realize not everyone lives in the SF Bay area, but if you do this is a great weekend to get out there and learn about another culture or to celebrate your own!  I'm torn between which of these 3 festivals I should go to....

Pistahan Festival -  This (according to the website) is the largest Filipino Cultural Festival and Parade.  Now, I don't know if they mean in the world, or just the U.S., or even just the Bay Area, but it looks like fun!  It's a free event taking place at Yerba Buena Gardens, in SF, on Sat. 8/10 and Sun. 8/11 (2013).  There will be performances of both traditional and current music, an Adobo cook-off, traditional games and the opportunity to learn about the folklore and other aspects of the Filipino culture.  And I bet lots of YUMMY food!!!  If you can't make it to SF though, here are some links to FUN Philippines projects we did earlier this year.
Korean Day FestivalYet another fun sounding event to go to!! This is also a free event on Sat. 8/10, 2013, but at Union Square, San Francisco, starting at 10 am.  This festival is going to have lots of traditional folkdances with costumes, Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, and, this sounds fun, a Rice Cake Kneading contest!  There will be lots of traditional foods there too, like kalbi, bibimbop (how fun is that word?) and gochujang! We never really studied Korea for an entire week, so I don't know what any of that food is but I'm sure it's delicious :)  We did learn a bit about Korea during Thanksgiving time so here was the project we did.

Origami-Palooza- This event sounds like fun too, but only if you have the patience for origami (Japanese paper folding).  My kids DO NOT so we probably won't make it to this one, but it's taking place on Post St., in San Francisco's Japantown, on Sat. 8/10 from 1-5pm.  This 1st annual event will have different booths teaching different origami creations and there will also be a Paper Airplane Contest :0)  Sounds like it could be fun!  One of the projects will be making cranes to display at city hall's World Tree of Hope.  I didn't know there was a Tree of Hope!  I foresee another field trip!!
If you'd like to have your own Japanese fun at home here are some of the Japanese projects we did.

I hope you have a great weekend no matter what you do!  But just remember, there is a whole world full of interesting things to see and do-- ENJOY!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The End

A learning experience

I thought I knew a lot about the world, and I felt like this project would be a breeze.  Well, as I've done the last 52 (!!) weeks of learning about the world, I've realized that I had and still have a lot to learn.  If anyone takes anything away from this blog I hope it is the lesson to NEVER STOP LEARNING!!  I am so glad we took this challenge.  Yeah, I wanted to make a million dollars and have a million fans (doesn't everyone?) but I am more than happy knowing that the family has stepped out of our comfort zone on many occasions and learned more about the different cultures of the world in the past year than some people learn in a lifetime. 

I hope I have started a love of learning in the kids that lasts forever.  I hope we have inspired you to try that new exotic fruit or restaurant, to go to that festival or store, to visit another country or learn a new language.  I hope we gave you some new dinner favorites or fun ideas. We have really enjoyed this experience, in fact, my son asked if we could start all over again.  But, we've been on our journey long enough.  I will continue to update the blog as ideas, recipes, amazing facts or field trips happen, but we won't be doing a country each week.  Probably, never say never, right?

We live on an amazing planet with AMAZING people, places and animals - get out there and check them out- you'll be glad you did

Thank you for following along on our adventures!!  It was the thought that people were actually reading this that made me keep it up on those days when it got to be a lot of work.  I hope you got something out of the experience :) Please use this blog as a resource but know that most, if not all, of the information was taken from the internet and, even though I saw the same info on multiple sites, I cannot verify it's factualness.
Is "factualness" even a word?  See? Never stop learning :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Saving the Earth...

The FUN way!!

If there is one thing I think we can all agree on, it's that the Earth is a beautiful planet.  But, I must say that we (humans) are acting like spoiled teenagers- leaving our stuff laying all over, selfishly using whatever we want and not thinking about leaving any for others, basically, taking our future for granted because we think we will live forever!  Well, it's time we all grew up and acted our age, well, maybe not 2.5 million years old, but you get my point!  We need to think about what we are doing to the planet and not worry so much about money and the power that comes with it.  Don't worry, that's about as political as I'm going to get.  We all know deep down what we need to do, we just need to, well, DO IT!!

So we visited a place in San Francisco that is doing their part to keep usable items out of landfills.  It's called SCRAP and it is cool!!  You know that drawer (or in our case, room) where you put stuff that isn't really needed but you just don't want to throw out?  This a whole warehouse of stuff like that!!  Companies, individuals, stores, etc. donate items that they no longer need and SCRAP sells the items to teachers, artists, or crafty people who can use it.  And they sell it cheap. We've been there a few times (and every time we come back with fun stuff) and I don't think I've ever spent over $20.  Here are a few shots of some of the finds we saw and then the details on the project we made.

Who doesn't need a coconut monkey?

or a headless mannequin?

Perhaps some items for dress up?

You are sure to find something useful (or maybe not useful but fun).  We went with the goal to find things to make an "Earth".  You never know what items will be there, so we went with an open mind.  We decided to make a fabric collage using scraps of fabric and a large rattan round platter, or lid, or, well, I don't know what it was supposed to be used for ?!  Anyway, here's what we made...

Recycled Earth
For the project you will need:

  • something round that would normally have ended up in the trash.
  • scraps of paper or fabric that don't have any other use.  Greens, blues, white.
  • Glue *
  • scissors

1.  Cut up the scraps into small pieces.  You will need a lot of blue since the Earth has so much water :)
2.  Spread the glue on the round "thing" and place the blue fabric scraps all over. * We planned on gluing everything but I decided that it would be more recyclable (sp?) if it was reusable. We are going to use it like a flannel board and make different scenes, so we didn't use glue.

3.  At both the top and bottom make some polar ice caps.
4.  Using green scraps make the land masses.  We tried to make it look like North and South America but with minor success.

It turned out really pretty, but since we didn't glue anything down it's only ours for a little while.....kind of like the real thing :)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Around the World in 1 Day!!

Field Trip :)

We started our week of fun field trips with one of our favorite places-- the Zoo!!  Sure, it's fun just to look at the animals and ride the carousel, but there is so much to learn at the zoo.  Since this was a special trip to commemorate finishing our year-long journey around the world, we really focused on WHERE the animals came from.  We checked the informational signs at each enclosure and we were able to check off every continent!!  I was so proud that the kids were even able to tell me some of the homelands without looking and my 6 year old could name the continents by shape.  We have ALL learned so much this year!

Here are some snapshots of the day and an animal we found from each continent-

Here is one of the Magellenic penguins found in the most southern parts of South America and Antarctica.

Of course, the beautiful giraffes from Africa!  It's hard to tell from the picture but this is a baby giraffe born about 1 1/2 months ago.  The SF Zoo also has an amazing Lemur exhibit, and we know that lemurs only live in Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa.

They were all snuggled up because this is San Francisco in the summer, which can be foggy :)

You can't talk about Australia without mentioning Kangaroos but have you ever seen a Cassowary?? 
They look like something from the dinosaur era! They are also found in Papua New Guinea.

South America is represented by the Alpaca we found in the petting zoo and the beautiful flamingoes. 

I love flamingoes!  I got into a little debate with an 8 year old over whether or not flamingoes could fly.  FYI- they can :)


The kids found a very tame camel from Asia- just kidding it's a sculpture of a one-humped Dromedary camel. They are found in the Middle East which is considered Asia, but also found in Africa.  The 2-humped Bactrian Camel is found in other parts of Asia. 

The beautiful snow leopard can also be found in Asia.  Did you know that it has the softest fur of any animal?  The chinchilla has the second softest.

For North America, we visited the always adorable prairie dogs! 

They even got to pretend to BE prairie dogs :)

The zoo also has a great Grizzly Bear exhibit!  These bears are so beautiful but I sure wouldn't want to come across one in the wild!!

This polar bear can be found in both North America, Northern Europe and Russia, so we are using it as our representative from Europe.  This is one BIG animal!!

This super fluffy owl is a Eurasian Owl.  It is so beautiful and soft but the claws are crazy-long!!

That's our trip around the world in one day!!  Want a fun way to teach your kids about the animals and areas of the world?  Print out a map of the world, head to the closest zoo and check off as many continents as you can.  If you check off all the continents treat yourselves to something fun!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 52!!!

It's A Small World After All!!

Well, we did it!!  We spent 52 weeks learning about different countries, cultures, cuisines and crafts, and you know what we learned?  That it really is a very amazing planet we live on.  The diversity of animals, climates, landscapes and cultures is just overwhelming when you really think about it.  This one planet holds so much amazing-ness (is that a word?) that "The Earth" is going to be our theme this week

 We are going to go out in style this week....that means FIELD TRIPS!!!  Yeah! ;)  For those of you who don't live in the San Francisco Area, sorry you won't be able to join us, but go out and find some new exciting adventures wherever you live!  Just be outside in this great big wonderful world!! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Art: Antarctic Style

When life hands you ice....

.... Do ice painting, of course!!  If there is one thing Antarctica has more of than penguins, it's ice.  A layer of ice permanently covers 95% of the continent and can reach a thickness of a mile.  So you'd think that the only color as far as the eye could see would be white, right?  Actually, the ice reflects the sky and beautifully creates shades of blue that are amazing.

The water runoff when the ice melts, and the surrounding seas are so pure and clean that the water is the clearest shade of blue you'll see.  Cold, but beautiful.

So we made a project.

Antarctic Ice Painting
For the project you will need:

  • ice cube trays or small disposable cups
  • water
  • blue food coloring
  • white paper
  • toothpicks
  • cling wrap or foil
1.  Pour the water into the ice cube trays (or small disposable cups) and add a small amount of blue food coloring to the water to make various shades of blue.  So pretty.

2. Cover the tray with wrap and poke toothpicks through for handles.

3. Put into freezer.  Wait, wait, wait.

4. When properly frozen, use the ice to paint all over the paper to make beautiful shades of blue.  We went through a few sheets of paper just painting and then I drew an orca so we had an underwater scene to paint.

This is a very relaxing painting activity that would be great on a hot day or with different colors to show color mixing.  Clean up is easy and leftover "paint" can be used to cool off your drink :)

Cheers to Antarctica!