Category: multicultural

Words – Language Bingo (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , April 5, 2009 9:50 pm

First of all, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Lynn of Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile for doing an excellent job of hosting the weekly Unplugged Project last week while I was away on vacation.  I really appreciate it and I hope it was fun for you!

We had a lovely time in Mexico.  The kids ran around on the beach and swam in the pool non-stop.  This was our first vacation with my youngest in tow where I was actually able to relax a bit.  My three year-old was finally independent enough to allow me to read two and a half books.  What a luxury.


Surprise!  We finally got to the Unplugged Project this week.  Although I hadn’t picked the theme words for any particular reason, it actually fit in perfectly with what we have been doing lately:  learning French.

I haven’t blogged about this yet, but this summer we are all going to France for three weeks where my two oldest children (6 and 8) will attend a language class.  I used to live in France, and am determined that my children learn French.  This is step one.  I’ll write more about it another day.

Anyhow, inspired by this wonderful French bingo game by eeBoo that we bought and love, I decided to make our own version.  I designed our own, changeable bingo game for learning lots of French words.

We gathered up some heavy cardboard, card stock, scissors a ruler and some old nature magazines.

First I cut the cardboard into three equal squares, one for each of my children.  My squares ended up being about 8 in. by  8 in. (about 20 cm by 20 cm).  It doesn’t really matter how big they are, as long they are square.

Using the ruler, I penciled a grid of nine approximately equal squares on each piece of cardboard.  These became the bingo cards.

We cut strips of card stock that were the same height as our rows of three squares, and slightly longer.

Next we cut some narrow ribbon in lengths just long enough to be slightly wider than the cardboard squares.

We put one piece across each vertical line on each card (two per card):

Then we taped the end securely onto the back of the bingo card:

Finally, the really fun part.  We searched the nature magazines to find some common animals to cut out, making sure that each animal photo would fit inside one of the nine squares on the card.

We pasted three animals on each strip keeping enough space between each animal for the ribbon.

Finally, we slid the strips under the ribbons to fill in the bingo board. The strips pass easily underneath the ribbons and the slightly longer length makes a nice tab for easy insertion and removal.

When the boards were done, we cut pieces of card stock into squares that were close to the size of our animal squares.  I wrote an animal name in French on each card.

Play proceeds like this:

The cards go into a bag.  The caller pulls out a card and says the name of the animal.  Whoever has it on their card says “moi!” (me) and places the card on top of the corresponding picture.  They also must say the name of the animal in French.  The winner is the first one to fill up his or her card and must then say the name of all the animals on their card in French.

One thing that is really fun about this is that you can rearrange the strips so the cards change combinations.

You can also make new strips for other categories of study.  We did animals, but you could do words having to do with the home, the body, school – whatever you want!  As vocabulary knowledge increases, you can mix the categories or words to make play more difficult.

The picture finding and cutting is fun and also provides an opportunity to learn the words before play.

For more advanced players, you could even do verbs and conjugations.


For those of you who did a word Unplugged Project this week, here is the linky.  Please link only if you did a word Unplugged Project.  Please link to your project post rather than simply your blog (I am trying build up an easily searchable archive).  If you did not do a word project, but want to learn more about how to join in, please read about it here. We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Have fun!



Happy International Children’s Book Day! (Book Recommendations)

By , April 2, 2008 2:29 pm

April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day, a worldwide celebration aimed at inspiring a love of reading and calling attention to children’s books. This annual celebration was created by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) a non-profit whose very worthwhile mission is the following:

– to promote international understanding through children’s books

– to give children everywhere the opportunity to have access to books with high literary and artistic standards

– to encourage the publication and distribution of quality children’s books, especially in developing countries

– to provide support and training for those involved with children and children’s literature

– to stimulate research and scholarly works in the field of children’s literature

Each year a different international chapter of IBBY hosts International Children’s Book Day. This year’s host country is Thailand.


In honor of International Children’s Book Day, I thought it might be fun to write a post about 7 children’s books that we have enjoyed – one for each continent of the world! I tried to pick a book that was from, or takes place in, each continent. So here goes:

North America:

How the Stars Fell into the Sky by Jerrie Oughton and Lisa Desimini

This beautifully illustrated Navajo legend of how the stars came to be placed in the sky, has an underlying deeper meaning. How did the world come to be the chaotic and adversarial place that it is today? Blame it all on coyote!

South America:

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

Marvelous illustrations tell the tale of rain forest inhabitants who each try to tell a woodcutter why he should not chop down their Kapok tree. Teaches about rain forest animals and their needs, as well as the interconnectedness of all living creatures. By the way, the ending is happy and shows the man dropping his ax and leaving the forest.


Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plainby Verna Aardema

An African folk tale about how Ki-Pat succeeded in bringing rain to drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. Told in a “House That Jack Built”-style rhyme that is fun to read.


Bonny’s Big Day by James Herriot, illustrated by Ruth Brown

I decided to change the tone a bit with this selection. Until I found this charming book at a thrift store, I did not realize that James Herriot writes stories for children. Having always enjoyed his country vet series of books for adults, I was eager to read this sweet tale to my children. This story of a gruff old man and his love for his horses seems to be another of Mr. Herriot’s true tales of his days as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales. Too wordy for very young children, but animal-loving older kids will definitely enjoy this series.


Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Jamel Akib

The poetic tale of an Indian girl anxiously awaiting the arrival of the annual monsoon rains. Beautiful written imagery combined with wonderful pastel illustrations vividly depict life in an Indian city.


Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft

(I guess I have a real rain theme going here!) Unfortunately, I must admit that we seem to have no story books from or about Australia in our home collection. Factual books about Australia? Yes. But stories? No. I am totally embarrassed, especially if any of you reading this are Australians. I did however, find this book online and it seems like a really good one. The story is yet another about waiting for rain! The intricate, aboriginal style illustrations are what really seem to make the book. According to the School Library Journal review on Amazon: “The text is well paced with a perfect rhythm for reading aloud, and the large, clean double-page spreads make for easy viewing.”


Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey

Ha!  I bet you didn’t think I could come up with one for Antarctica, did you!  Actually, Antarctica should have been my most difficult, not Australia.  But fortunately I had this book in the back of my mind all along. We just love this little book of funny and educational penguin poems. Each poem teaches something about penguins in a very humorous way. I really can’t recommend this one enough! (For more information, read my review here.)

Happy International Children’s Book Day to all, no matter what continent you call home!


More links of interest:

+ My post about last year’s International Children’s Book Day which has lots of links to websites and stores for finding multicultural and international children’s books.

+ My post about ways to foster international understanding and interest in your children.

Dona Nobis Pacem (10 Ideas for Fostering International Understanding in Your Kids)

By , November 7, 2007 12:59 am

Sometimes I am a glass half-full type of person, and sometimes I am more inclined to be a glass-half empty type.

About peace…I think I am running on empty. I feel that throughout history there never has been peace. There never will be peace in the future either. It is just human nature to fight.

Religion, which is supposed to be all about peace (no matter what the religion), seems often to make matters worse. The Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. I’ll stop my brief list there so as to not get myself into too much trouble.

The glass half-full part of me says: “Hey, wait a minute! Why not start with the children?”

Well, why not start with the children? What an excellent idea. If all the world’s children could learn about and appreciate other cultures, races, and religions, then wouldn’t there HAVE to be peace?

Glass half-empty says: “There is no way to teach every child in the world these things!”

Glass half-full says: “Maybe not, but the way to start is with our own children. Let’s teach them about the beauty of diversity.”

Yes let’s.


Here are ten thoughts on how to do that:

1) Have your child learn a foreign language, either through their school or through home, online or language school study. The US is one of the only countries in the world where a child/adult can get all the way through school, and even college and beyond, without learning another language.

2) Take your children to local multicultural events such as Chinese New Year celebrations, Greek festivals, etc. Check your local paper for details.

3) Travel with your children, which leads to the next suggestion:

4) Get your child a passport now so that he or she can travel with you when old enough, and the opportunity for foreign travel arises. Passport processing is taking a long time these days, so why not simply put it on your to-do list and get it over with right away. (Most US post offices can issue passports and even take the passport photos, it is very easy). By the way, passports are now required for air travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, even for infants.

5) If your children are teens and are interested…let them be an exchange student. I did it as a teen (twice) and it totally changed my life!

Youth for Understanding (the program I used)

AFS Intercultural Programs


6) Host an exchange student in your home (it doesn’t have to be for a year, it can be a semester, a summer, or even less!) Check out links above, or Google “international student exchange.”

7) Get your child a penpal. Google “penpal” for some sites that can arrange this. Being the paranoid parent, I would check it out carefully first though before signing up. I would choose a “snail mail” penpal over an email one, and would monitor the whole thing very carefully. Check with your child’s school too. Often penpal arrangements can be made through a teacher at school. If a teacher has contact with a teacher in a foreign country, many times classes can exchange letters.

8) Go to the library and check out an international cookbook. Cook an exotic foreign meal together, talk a little about that country, and find it on the map or globe.

9) If you and your family are really in the mood for adventure, either rent a house in a foreign country or do a house swap. A house swap is where you trade a month in your house, for a month in someone else’s house for example. Sometimes the trade even includes the use of a car. There are many websites dedicated to rentals and home swaps. The classifieds in the back of alumni magazines are also a good source. Many college alums prefer to rent their foreign house or apartment to another responsible alum rather than a total stranger.

Here are some house swap websites (note: I am not personally familiar with any of these):

HomeLink International

Home Exchange

Home Xchange Vacation

10) And of course the simplest and cheapest way to expose your children to other cultures, is to read to them. Go to the library. Read multicultural books to your children. Check my International Children’s Book Day post for detailed suggestions of books and web links to books for some ideas.

For inspiration, here are some of our favorite multicultural/international books. The last one is a real eye-opener: Material World: A Global Family Portrait, is geared more toward adults, but children will find it fascinating too, when read with an adult.

(For more info on two of these titles: I have written posts about Wake Up World, and Let’s Eat – plus another here about Let’s Eat)

Dona Nobis Pacem…Grant Us Peace – PLEASE!!!

Please visit Mimi’s Blog to find links to many, many, many more Peace Posts today.

Also, for more thoughts on peace, please visit my June Dona Nobis Pacem post.

International Music to Cook by (or For Any Other Time Really)

By , September 14, 2007 10:13 pm

Tonight we had our Friday Kids Cook Night which has fallen a bit by the wayside over the summer. My post today is not about Kids Cook Night however, but about the music that accompanies it.

I found the cassette version of Wee Sing Around the World (Wee Sing) for $2.99 last year in our grocery store bargain book bin, which, incidentally, has really yielded a surprising wealth of wonderful books! Unfortunately it is a tape and I have recently decided that we will definitely need a CD version due to all the use the poor old cassette gets.

I just found out that at Amazon, the CD and accompanying 64 page book is only $9.99, and is even eligible for the 4-for-3 promotion. I love that promotion. What a great excuse to by more fun books that I didn’t even know we needed! OK. So I am not exactly “simplifying my life” with this attitude, but it is all for my children’s sake really!

This collection consists of children’s songs from around the world. I count 40 countries on the list, most with one song, but the US has three (Native American, Native Hawaiian, and basic, classic kids’ song – “Eentsy Weentsy Spider”), India has two. When the songs are in a language other than English (as most are), then it is sung once in the native language and once in an English translation so we English-speakers can understand what it is about.

One of the things I like most about this collection are the introductions. Before each song the singer introduces him or herself by saying “Hello, my name is ____ and I am from___.” They first make their introduction in their native language, and then in English. So fascinating! I love hearing all the different languages, and so do my children. They often end up sitting on the kitchen counter top next to the speaker of our little counter top stereo so as not to miss a thing.

What a rare find, children’s music that I actually LIKE to listen to as much as they do. This is a very good thing since it is my 5 and 7 year-olds‘ favorite music, and has become our Kids Cook Night background music, and background music for many other moments as well.

The songs are all brief enough to accommodate short attention spans (even when sung in two languages). Since they hail from a wide range of different countries (Jamaica, Ghana, Iran, and Ukraine for example), they illustrate a variety of different musical styles.

One of the things that I hope to instill in my children is a sense of the beauty and variety of life around the world, yet the realization of how similar we all really are. I want them to understand for example, that while people from other countries might have different languages and different types of music, we all enjoy music and singing and dancing! I think that this collection is a great first step toward that very ambitious goal.

Photo thanks to and photographer clarita.

Celebrate International Children’s Book Day!

By , April 2, 2007 8:03 am



(Photo by DuBoix from

Today is International Children’s Book Day with celebrations being held at libraries around the world, as well as a “mini-festival” in Aukland, New Zealand (this year’s sponsoring country).

In honor of International Children’s Book Day, this seems like the perfect time for the post I had planned about resources for finding multicultural children’s books.

Here are some websites that promote multicultural children’s books:

1) For those interested in children’s books from and about the Pacific Rim and South Asia. They have featured books, author interviews, and my favorite: links to suggested reading lists by country and topic. (Note from 11/2016: The Papertigers website is no longer being updated but archives are still online and you can find lots of great information.)

2) A list of 50 Multicultural Books That Every Child Should Read can be found at the National Education Association (NEA) Website. This list is arranged by age and is merely a list of titles and authors, with no photos, descriptions or reviews. But, it could be a good starting place for a search for age-appropriate multicultural books.

3) Another interesting link is Growing Up Around The World – Books as Passports to Global Understanding For Children in the United States. This bibliography complied by the Association for Library Service to Children is arranged in downloadable PDF format by continent of interest. I downloaded the “Africa” list and found 8 pages of book suggestions broken down by country. Each book reference contains title, author, grade level, and a brief description. In order to promote cultural accuracy, all the books on this list were written by authors who have lived a minimum of two years in each culture. If you want children’s stories specifically about Cameroon or Tanzania for example, start here!

4) Lee & Low’s Blog (“A blog on race, diversity, education, and children’s books”):  A blog for Lee & Low’s Books (see below). Lots of information about children’s books with themes of diversity and multiculturalism.

Some stores that specialize in multicultural books are:

Culture For Kids
– Bilingual and multicultural books and videos.

Asia For Kids – Asian language and cultural materials.

Lee & Low’s Books – “Lee & Low Books is the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the United States. We are your diversity source.” Really huge selection of books.

Multicultural Kids – Books, videos, music, crafts, puzzles, dolls, gifts and educational materials. Also includes resources on related subjects such as self-esteem, adoption, differently-abled kids.

Brown Sugar & Spice – Primarily African-American, but some other multicultural books too, including biracial and adoption.

And finally, a multicultural magazine for kids:

Skipping Stones – I have not read this one but it looks interesting! It is an award-winning, nonprofit children’s magazine which is published bimonthly during the school year. It sounds so neat that I will simply quote the publisher’s description:

In Skipping Stones, you will find stories, articles and photos from all over the world: Native American folktales, photos by kids in India and the Ukraine, letters and drawings from South Africa and Lithuania, cartoons from China… Non-English writings are accompanied by English translations to encourage the learning of other languages. Each issue also contains international pen pals, book reviews, news, and a guide for parents and teachers. The guide offers creative activities and resources for making best use of Skipping Stones in your home or classroom.”

Plus, they accept original photos, artwork, and writing from all ages and in any language. If you have a creative child who is just dying to be published, this could be the magazine for you!

Our favorites: I can’t complete this very lengthy post without including a list of some of our favorite multicultural/international books. The last one is a real eye-opener: Material World: A Global Family Portrait, is geared more toward adults, but children will find it fascinating too, when read with an adult.

(For more info on two of these titles: I have posts about Wake Up World, and Let’s Eat – plus another here about Let’s Eat)

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