Holiday Crafts for Kids: Christmas Around the World

christmas-crafts-kids

Looking for some fun holiday crafts for kids during Christmas Break? Christmas Around the World is always a fun theme to incorporate into your holidays. Kids love learning about other cultures and countries and how they celebrate the holidays this time of year. Not only are crafts from around the world fun, they’re educational as well. What more can you ask for?

Before you dig out the paper, glue, and scissors, do a little research. Decide with your children what countries you want to learn about and make crafts. There are all kinds of wonderful resources on the internet for you to use in your research. Once you decide on which countries you’d like to learn more about, you can get started on the crafts. Try some of these fun ideas.

Flags of the World Ornamentschristmas-ornaments

Use real ornaments or make paper ornaments with the countries flags on them. For this activity, you can also head on over to your local craft store such as Michaels Arts & Crafts to buy supplies to paint your own flag ornaments. They will have plain ornaments that you can paint on. For a image database of the world flags and countries, visit this website from the CIA.

 

 

Traditional Holiday Crafts

During your research, find traditional decor or a tradition the country enjoys during the holidays and recreate it with crafts. For example, The Nutcracker is a traditional ballet done in Russia. Design and create your own nutcracker using things from around the house like milk jugs or cartons, paper rolls, Legos, or wood pieces. For ideas, check out this great post from Multicultural Kids on DIY Christmas Ornaments Inspired by World Cultures.

Holiday Nature Craftspoinsetta-crafts

Many countries have “treasures” that come from nature that you can recreate at home. For example, Poinsettias come from Mexico. You can make paper or tissue paper Poinsettias after learning about Mexico. Christmas trees originally came from Germany. In the link above, there is a beautiful Mexican Felt Poinsettia you can make with the kids. Do you have any Christmas crafts that you do with your kids that you can share with the Little Pim community? There are tons of fun Christmas tree crafts to make! Share your traditions in the comments below.

 

Holiday Dress Crafts

Many countries have traditional clothing they wear during the holidays. Make paper dolls or clothes pin dolls with the traditional clothing worn from the country you researched.

Paper Crafts

Make crafts of the countries you researched out of paper and hang on a tree or decorate your home. Origami is a great idea for Japan, or make paper chains from Sweden. Let your imagination run wild!

Whatever crafts you decide to use for Christmas Around the World, you know your kids are having fun learning and creating great crafts! For more fun activities, print out our Winter Coloring Pages or fun Hanukkah Crafts for Kids.

Explore Winter in Ukraine with a Craft Based on this Clever Story

winter-stories-kids

The Holidays are easily the most magical time of year for a child. Make it even more magical by exposing them to another culture, like that of wintry Ukraine! In Eastern Europe, Christmas is not heavily celebrated. Instead, it is the coming of Father New Years that brings anticipation to children everywhere. That doesn’t mean that there’s any less winter wonder!

The Mitten is a common folktale for Ukrainian families to read to their little ones during the holidays. With such cold winters, it’s no wonder that the main feature of this tale is a group of animals trying to stay warm!

  • Explore Winter in Ukraine with this printable craft based on the classic Ukrainian children’s story, The Mitten.

The story starts with an old man in the forest losing one of his mittens. As animals in the forest find the mitten, they scurry inside to enjoy its warmth. The story begins with small animals, such as frogs and badgers, and works its way up all of the way to a bear. In the end, it’s a little mouse that “breaks the camel’s back,” so to speak; causing the bear to sneeze and all of the animals to fly out of the mitten.

Engaging your child with The Mitten:

 

 

  • Read the story with your children.
  • Ask them, “Why do you think the smaller animals let the bigger animals take up the room in the mitten, even when there were too many?” This will help connect your child’s mind to the abstract concepts of the reading.
  • Color and illustrate pictures using your kids’ imagination of the different animals mentioned in the story. Learn how to say the names of each animal in different languages.
  • Discuss Eastern Europe and its Holiday traditions; its climate, its animals, and the similarities and differences between our stories and theirs.

For more phenomenal winter crafts, stay tuned to the Little Pim blog! Happy Holidays!

Fall Holidays From Other Cultures to Promote Bilingualism

fall-holidays-kids

One of the most magical aspects of the last three months of the year is the many holidays observed around the world.

From the time of the fall equinox until the New Year begins, there is an added element of excitement and sense of the fantastic, especially when there are children around. Make the most of the holidays by expanding your child’s bilingual education to include learning about the customs, holidays and fun that are part of the culture of your child’s second language.

When learning a second language, observing traditions and understanding celebrations, helps a child’s vocabulary grow as his well as providing a connection to the culture.

Here are two celebrations that will help your bilingual child better relate to his or her adopted or first culture.

  • Día de Muertos — If your child is learning Spanish talk about Día de Muertos, a Mexican Holiday that coincides with All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day.  Some traditions include personal altars called ofrendas set up in homes. Visits to the graves of loved ones are featured. Gifts of sugar skulls and marigolds are presented along with personal items that once belonged to the loved one. To read more about Día de Muertos browse this informative article from Huffington Post.
  • Chongyang Festival ( 重阳节 ) — is celebrated in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Japan. This holiday, which began before the Han period, is still celebrated today. Also known as the Double Ninth Festival, this celebration has many traditions you can do with your family to learn more about the culture. One tradition is climbing a steep hill or mountain to symbolically defeat evil. The festival occurs on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is believed that the day contains too much yang and so brings trouble. You can read about some of the traditions, myths, and ceremonies, and the reasons behind them in this article.

There are many holidays, celebrations and traditions to be explored. Take some time to browse the internet for information on these.

  • A good starting place for your search is to type into the search engine: _______ Holidays. (insert: Chinese, German, Portuguese, or the country of the language your child is studying).
  • Select one holiday or festival and enter that name in your search engine, e.g., Chongyang Festival, for more information about the holiday.

You will soon have a long list of holidays, traditions, and adventures to extend your child’s learning.

For more information on how Little Pim can support and contribute to your child’s bilingual education visit our website and browse our blog posts today.

Continue reading “Fall Holidays From Other Cultures to Promote Bilingualism”

A Family Friendly Chinese New Year Celebration

chinese new year

 

Streamers? Check. Noise makers? Check.

Don’t put away your New Year’s decorations just yet — January 31 marks the start of the Chinese New Year and it’s a great excuse to have a fun-filled celebration with your family.

This year is the Year of the Horse and will be celebrated with parties, food, dragon dances, and fireworks both in China and in Chinatown’s throughout North America.

Chinese New Year is also called the Lunar New Year because it’s celebrated on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar – and this year’s celebration will ring in the year 4712.

Want to celebrate the Year of the Horse? Here are 4 easy ways to join in the fun.

1. Learn a bit of Chinese:

Kung Hey Fat Choy! Means “Happy New Year!” and is the standard greeting throughout the holiday.

2. Dress the part:

Don whatever red clothing you have — red is a lucky color in Chinese culture.

3. Decorate for your celebration:

Paper lanterns are a perfect project for craft time with your kids (although they can be any color, consider red to keep the new year’s theme).

4.  Wok up a family-friendly Chinese dish:

The Lunar New Year is a usually celebrated with a big family meal.

Fried Rice is a great option to make at home with your family – let your children add their favorite veggies and practice picking up larger pieces of veggies with chopsticks while you cook.

CHINESE NEW YEAR FRIED RICE

(The vegetables below are just a guideline, feel free to substitute or add your favorites) 

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet.

Add 1 chopped onion and 2 small cloves of chopped garlic. Cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add approximately 1 cup of chopped pepper, carrots, celery or sliced snow peas. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix in 2 cups of cooked rice and stir until vegetables are fully mixed in.

Create an open hole in the middle of your pan and add 1 tsp of oil, then add 2 beaten eggs. Scramble eggs in hole, then mix into rice mixture.

Finally, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and stir through rice mixture until full seasoned.

Here’s one more Chinese phrase you’ll want to know when you’re done eating:

Nn, mìan hăo chī! 嗯,面 好 吃! Mm! It’s good!!

Holiday Treats From Around the World

If you’ve been looking for some new treats to get your holidays off to a sweet start, all you need to do is spin the globe. We’ve found a selection of easy, and delicious, international treats that your whole family will enjoy both making and tasting for the upcoming holiday celebrations.

7-SAV1210_images-SAV1210-kitch-basler-brunsi-p.jpg
Courtesy of Saveur.com

Swiss Basler Brunsli

(Courtesy of Saveur)

These gluten-free chocolate-almond-spice cookies from Switzerland taste like chewy brownies. Note: Be sure to use the parchment paper when rolling out your dough to avoid sticking.

  • 8 oz. whole blanched almonds
  • 1 ½  cups sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ½  tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½  tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  1. Finely grind almonds and sugar in a food processor. Add chocolate; pulse until finely ground. Add cinnamon, cloves, and egg whites; pulse until dough comes together.
  2. Sprinkle a large piece of parchment paper with sugar; transfer dough to paper. Lay another piece of paper over dough; roll dough to 1/8″ thickness.
  3. Cut out cookies with star-shaped or other cutters; transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 1″ apart. Reroll scraps and repeat. Let dough dry for 3 hours.
  4. Heat oven to 300°.
  5. Bake until cookies are slightly puffed, 12–15 minutes.

French Palmiers (Elephant Ears)

(Adapted from Saveur)

Easy baking alert! You can make these light and crispy French pastry treats with just 2 ingredients!

  • 1 package puff pastry dough
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  1. Cut dough square in half and roll out ¼ inch thick, sprinkling with sugar as you work. Roll or fold the short ends 2 or 3 times inwards to reach the middle. Fold the dough in half along the center and press gently to seal. Repeat with remaining half of puff pastry. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Slice the rolled dough about 1/3 inch thick and sprinkle with more sugar. Place dough on an ungreased baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, turning the cookies once halfway through.

 

Norwegian Crowns

Melt in your mouth butter cookies from Norway.

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1 ¼ cups sifted all purpose flour
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Cream butter with an electric beater and then gradually add sugar. When mixed, add the egg and the almond extract.
  3. Slowly add the sifted flour.
  4. Fill cookie press and use a half moon shape to create crowns.
  5. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden.

 

Thanksgiving at Little Pim: What We’re Thankful For

thanksgiving baby
thanksgiving baby
Flickr: Alexander N.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the topic of what we’re thankful for has been front and center in our minds this week.

So we polled our staff and Little Pim parents and had them fill in the following blank:

“THIS YEAR I’M THANKFUL for__________________”

 

Here are just some of the responses we received. What would you add?

… my mother taking my kids to cultural events like classical music concerts. That when my kids get sick I can take them to the doctor (thinking of countries where kids have to travel far away to get help). That my boys are each others’ best friends  – Julia, LP founder and CEO

… the super nice people that I work with at Little Pim.  They all make me laugh and work so hard.  I’m also thankful that I don’t have to fly this holiday and that family is coming my way – – Alyson, LP senior vice president

… my family and my health –Heidi, parent

… living in New York. Even though I grew up here, everyday I am surprised by how easy it is to meet people from all different backgrounds and who speak a variety of languages. Only here would it be this easy for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger in French! (Yes, it’s true; New Yorkers like to have conversations just like everyone else.) –Thea, LP product development & social media

… as always, having my work, family and friends. A warm bed and a place to call my own.  Also, my good health and the means to keep it –Tommy, LP web developer

…. my amazing son. His love of learning anything new, from Spanish to piano, completely dazzles me every day. And I’m also thankful for the amazing educators in his school who work together to help him grow and succeed — Melissa, LP blogger

…. My friends and family; decaf Nespresso; the never-ending possibilities of things to do in NYC and having Instagram to capture them all – Staci, LP digital marketing

… having more free time to spend with my family – Ken, parent

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! from the Little Pim Staff

Halloween food around the world

For most American families, Halloween “treats” mean one thing: candy – mounds of bite-size morsels heaped into kids’ bags in exchange for that magic phrase: “Trick or treat!” Other cultures, however, celebrate All Souls’ Day, All Saints Day or Dia de Los Muertos (Nov. 1 and 2), from which our Halloween (All Hallows Eve) is derived, with different sorts of treats. Why not expand your family’s cultural horizons this Halloween by trying some of these traditional sweet treats from around the globe?

halloween highway 510476 lw resized 600

Here are a few ideas about food from Halloween around the world – about what people eat in other countries, and recipes to go with them.

Soul cakes (England and Ireland): These sweet, round cakes were traditionally given out in England and Ireland on All Saints Day or All Souls’ Day during the Middle Ages to those who went door-to-door saying prayers for the dead in what may be the forerunner to today’s trick-or-treating. They can be made with raisins and currents and aromatic spices like allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. (Soul cake recipe)

fava dei morti

Fave dei morti (Italy): In Italy, All Souls’ Day may be celebrated with delicate cookies (sometimes white, brown or pink) – made with almonds and covered with sugar – called Fave dei Morti or Ossei dei Morti, whose name translates to “Beans of the Dead” or “Bones of the Dead.” (Fave dei morti recipe; Ossi dei Morti recipe)

Pan de Muerto (Mexico):  This soft sweet bread is a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) tradition in Mexico, sometimes eaten at the grave of a loved one or placed on an altar. It may be flavored with orange zest or decorated with a teardrop or bones, perhaps placed in a circle to represent the cycle of life. Some people even mold the bread into animals, angels or other evocative shapes. (Pan de Muerto recipe)

dia de los muertos resized 600

Guagua de pan (Ecuador): These “bread babies” – sweet rolls molded and decorated to look like small children or infants – are part of the Day of the Dead tradition in parts of South America. Often made of wheat and sometimes filled with sweet jelly, they may be exchanged as gifts between families and friends or used ceremonially. (Guagua de pan recipe)

So what are you waiting for? Put down those miniature chocolate bars and start baking. These tasty treats will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but your appetite for cultural exploration as well.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Today commemorates the unexpected 1862 victory of the Mexican army over the French army in the battle over the city of Puebla. I’ve compiled some Spanish vocabulary words that follow the theme of today’s festivities.

La batalla – battle
La revolucion – revolution
La bandera – flag
El heroe – hero
La independencia – independence
La victoria – victory

Get the kids together and practice your espanol today! If you’re heading out to a party, I’ve included a guacamole recipe below that will entice even your pickiest eaters.

Yummy Guacamole

Ingredients

2 large ripe avocados
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

Cooking Instructions

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, and peel them. If they are ripe, the peel should come off easily. Dice the avocado flesh, and dump into a bowl.

Add all the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine without mashing. The ingredients should remain separate, and the salsa chunky.
Serve with tortilla chips for dipping, or as an accompaniment to tacos or burritos.

Servings: Makes about 2 cups (500 mL).

recipe from Kaboose.com

Halloween Around the World

Halloween traditions from around the world:

Mexico.

In a lot of Latin American countries, All Soul’s Day on November 2nd is a recognized religious holiday, but nowhere is it celebrated quite like Mexico.  In Mexico, the day is known as Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).  Some traditions – such as kids dressing up in traditionally skeleton motifs and eating  an awful lot of candy – may be familiar to those who celebrate Halloween, but Dia de los Muertos is actually a rich mixture of Aztec and European tradition.

 

The Aztec festival was a week-long celebration when the souls of the departed would return to the realm of the living, but with the arrival of the Spanish, the colonial rulers of Mexico tried to co-opt this festival into the celebration of the Catholic All Saints Day and All Souls Day.


Japan

The festival of the dead in Japan is held in August rather than October, and is known as Obon.  As with many such festivals, this day commemorates the return of the dead to the land of the living, but unlike Halloween, the returning spirits are not malevolent. On Obon, the spirits of the dead return to visit their loved ones, and many Japanese Buddhists prepare special food for the returning spirits, which they place in temples and in their homes.  Obon is also known as the Festival of Lanterns, because the celebration ends with families sending paper lanterns down Japan’s rivers, to guide the spirits back to the realm of the dead until the next year.

China

In China, the Hungry Ghost Festival also features use of lanterns but rather than a single day, the festival lasts an entire month, during which time the souls of the dead are free to roam the earth. Rather than guiding benevolent spirits back to the realm of the dead, the lanterns are used to ward off potentially malevolent spirits.   Like in Japan, food and gifts are also offered to family members who have passed.  Offerings are also made to other, unknown wondering spirits to placate them, and prevent them from coming into a household and brining bad luck.

Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine

In certain countries in the Middle East, Arab Christians celebrate Eid il-Burbura (Festival of Saint Barbara) on December 4th. As with Halloween in the US, children dress up in costume and go from door to door.  The holiday has its origins in the story of Saint Barbara, who took on many different disguises in order to evade the persecution. According to the story, Saint Barbara ran through a freshly planted wheat field while fleeing the Romans, which grew instantly to cover her path and help her escape.  Today, seeds are planted ceremonially, and harvested in time for Christmas when they are used to decorate the nativity scene below Christmas trees.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman

Qarqu’an is a traditional holiday that has existed for hundreds of years, and is celebrated annually in many Arabic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman.  During the month of Ramadan, children dress in traditional clothing and gather in front of homes to sing in order to receive candies, sweets, and nuts.  Although similar to Halloween, the tradition is not connected to death, but is rather is intended to spread happiness and affection among adults and children.

How Do Kids Celebrate Holidays Around The World?

In FRANCE families eat a special dessert at holiday time called Bûche de Noël (pronounced “booche de no-el”) which means “Christmas log”. It’s a very sweet cake, shaped like a log from the fireplace! It’s made of sponge cake and has lots of chocolate icing. Here is a picture:


 

Want to make your own?

 

 

In MEXICO a big party for children usually includes a Piñata, (pronounced Peenyata, for it has an ñ, not an n), filled with peanuts in the shell, oranges, tangerines, sugar canes, and candy. All the children sing while one child at a time tries to break the Piñata with a stick while he/she is blindfolded.

 

 

 

Although Piñatas started in Italy, today they are a Mexican tradition. Mexican piñatas are usually made out of cardboard and paper mache and decorated with crepe paper.

 


Decorate your own pinata:
: http://www.expertvillage.com/
video/14795_pinata-making
-warp.htm

Or fill a store bought
one with your favorite treats HERE.

 

In CHINA, s

ince the vast majority of the Chinese people are not Christian, the main winter festival is the Chinese New Year, which takes place toward the end of January. Kids decorate by lighting their houses with beautiful paper lanterns. Many Chinese children also hang stockings and await a visit from Santa Claus, whom they call Dun Che Lao Ren (dwyn-chuh-lau-oh-run) which means “Christmas Old Man.” Santa Claus may also be called Lan Khoong-Khoong, “Nice Old Father.”

 


 


Make your own lantern: