The children are the future, and as parents we want to prepare them for it and inspire kids to make the world a better place. But often parents struggle with how to talk to their children about real problems faced by the world today in ways that are age appropriate. That is why I am so pleased to share with you a wonderful new resource aimed at parents and children, designed to inspire the next generation of world citizens through teaching them about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Disclosure: This blog post was sponsored by Mattel but all opinions are my own.
5 Ways to Inspire Kids to Make the World a Better Place
We all want to raise children who will make a difference in the world, but often we don’t know where to start. Luckily, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Everyone’s favorite tank engine has teamed up with the United Nations to educate families about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Thomas & FriendsTMinteractive Global Goals website has resources to help parents and children learn more about six of these goals:
Clean Water and Sanitation
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Responsible Consumption and Production
Life on Land
For each goal, the All Aboard for Global Goals! website provides a Thomas & FriendsTM video Life Lesson, Parent Tips with conversation starters and activities to educate about the goals and get kids excited about achieving them.
Here are 5 tips on how you inspire kids to make the world a better place through using this incredible resource.
1. Educate Yourself
It’s impossible to teach what you don’t know, but this doesn’t mean you have to be an expert. What you do need is some background knowledge and – even more importantly – the right tools to teach the whole family.
One thing I love about the All Aboard for Global Goals! website is that is designed to educate parents and children. It gives you the materials and language for talking to your child about these important issues, so that you can learn about them together.
2. Talk About Real Issues – in an Age Appropriate Way
If we want to inspire kids to make the world a better place, we can’t shy away from the tough issues we face globally – but we must do so in ways that are appropriate for young children. That is why the format of these upbeat Thomas the Tank Engine videos is so effective: they present the material in ways that children can easily understand without becoming overwhelmed.
The information and activities come with suggestions for older and younger children, so you can adjust to what is appropriate for your child.
3. Use Media Thoughtfully
Children immediately warm to familiar characters like Thomas & FriendsTM, and using the videos as part of your discussion will help children get excited and engaged with the material. Rather than being asked to sit through a dry lesson, you will be playing together and watching a short video with some of their favorite characters! My favorite is the one on “Gender Equality,” which uses the examples of different tank engines from the show to demonstrate that girls and boys can do the same jobs!
4. Nurture a Sense of Empowerment
For each of the UN Sustainable Development Goals presented, the All Aboard for Global Goals! website offers ways that children can get involved and make a difference. At every turn they are invited to see themselves as having an important role. For example, for “Life On Land” (about caring for the environment), children can plant seeds and learn to care for their seedlings, while in “Gender Equality” they are asked to dress up as a superhero and think of tasks they would perform as a hero.
5. Keep It Fun
More than anything, for young children it is important to learn through play, especially when talking about potentially difficult topics. This wonderful resource means that you can engage with your child in fun learning activities that will inspire kids to make the world a better place.
Join Thomas as he learns about the Sustainable Development Goals! Learn together with your child through fun videos, meaningful discussions, and playful activities on the All Aboard for Global Goals! website.
As a Spanish (non-native) speaker, I have mostly blogged about my experiences teaching Spanish to my children. Last year, however, we decided to try something new and add French to our repertoire. I have always wanted to learn myself, and it has been a very different experience learning a language alongside my children instead of teaching them from years of experience! Here are our favorite resources to learn French no matter what your age!
And don’t miss out on receiving a FREE code for a French learning app for kids! Details at the end of the post.
Disclosure: I receive complimentary copies of many of the products below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Learn French as a Family: Favorite Resources
I am so excited to learn French with my kids! It is a language I have always been fascinated with, but I have had only limited exposure over the years. I have no formal training in French (I studied Spanish and a little Portuguese in school), so there were many surprises for me. (Did you know that when you say eighty in French you are literally saying “four twenties”? And why do they pronounce so few of the letters in their words??)
Beep Beep In Paris is a very sweet picture book about a little car who is off having adventures in Paris. It is a wonderful way not only to practice French but also to learn about famous landmarks of Paris. As we are just learning French, it is very helpful to read a bilingual book like this, so we can check our understanding without missing the flow of the story. Be sure to enjoy with a warm cup of chocolat!
At Home with Betty & Cat is part of a series of unusual bilingual books. Most bilingual books have the complete text in one language alongside the complete text in a second language. Yet the concept of these clever books is based on how children often play with language, frequently switching back and forth between languages (“code switching”). In the Betty & Cat stories, the dog in the story speaks one language, while the cat speaks another. This language distinction is just one of the differences between the pair!
This series is available in a variety of combinations (we chose Spanish and French!) The ideal reader is one that already has a basic understanding of the target language, though this need not be perfect. Especially great for kids that have started at an immersion school, whose grandparents speak another language, or whose families are bilingual.
Apps & YouTube
Gus on the Go is a super fun, play based app that will have your children learning and playing with French words right from the beginning! Your child does not need any prior knowledge of French to get started, as vocabulary is gradually taught with fun visuals and games. But as they work their way through the levels, they gain nearly 90 new words in French!
My kids took to this app right away. They thought the games were really fun, and they loved earning rewards – always a great motivation!
Now you can try out this app, too, just by being one of the first to comment on this post! (See details at the end).
Another great language learning app is Duolingo. In fact, it keeps popping up in chat groups as an app that works well for adults as well as older children. It is easy to use and very engaging. I love that it utilizes several different kinds of questions to learn the same vocabulary – matching, translating to/from French, writing what you hear, and so on. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t actually explain the rules of the language. For an analytical person like me, it’s easier to be told the grammar rule rather than just having to guess it from the examples.
Which is why I also love Learning French with Alexa on YouTube. Alexa has a very funny personality, with well organized lessons. So you can systematically go through them, or jump right into one that grabs your interest (or that you didn’t quite understand from other sources). Also, I love getting more exposure to proper pronunciation, as this is a real challenge for me coming from Spanish.
All you have to do is scan the QR code on each flashcard to hear a native speaker pronounce the word. (Btw this is a great way to engage tech-loving kids! Mine love scanning the code themselves). And in the time since I reviewed their Around the Spanish Flashcard Game (read my full review), Linguacious has come out with their own app to scan the QR codes. It works so much more quickly, making learning new vocabulary even easier than before!
Now, if you are like me and want to feel like you’re taking a class (without actually having to take a class), I recommend Living Language French, Essential Edition: Beginner course. It comes with a coursebook, 3 audio CDs, and free online tools. Last summer I spent time reading the book and doing the exercises, but what I really loved was listening to the CDs. It was so easy to put them on when we were running errands, and, though it is aimed at adults, it was great to expose the kids to more French!
There are so many wonderful language learning ideas out there. Find even more on these Pinterest boards – I’m always finding something new!
The Thunderbird is an important symbol found in legends throughout North America. Sometimes friendly, sometimes threatening, this awe-inspiring bird was a supernatural creature that derived its name from the flapping of its powerful wings, which was said to produce thunder. Read on to find resources to teach children about this widespread Native American legend, as well as a new middle grade fiction series that celebrates mythical creatures.
The Thunderbird appears most frequently in legends of the Pacific Northwest, yet it can be found throughout North America. It appears in songs and oral histories, even in ancient stone carvings. With the flapping of their powerful wings and the lightning that would shoot out of their eyes, the Thunderbirds were said to bring rain and storms.
A Note About Sources
When learning about Native American cultures, it is extremely important to interrogate your sources. This is a highly sensitive topic among Native communities, and with good reason. For hundreds of years outsiders have appropriated and interpreted Native culture. Even when done with good intentions, this can distort the original context, so it is important to make sure that your source is reputable and respectful.
For example, when searching for resources on the Thunderbird legend, I came across many entries from “cryptozoology,” a branch of pseudoscience that attempts to prove the existence of creatures from legend. As a result, there is a lively search for the “real” Thunderbird, sometimes thought to be a surviving pterosaur and sometimes a monstrous creature related to the condor.
You also run into a lot of links about the cars and the airplanes named after the powerful Thunderbird!
As a result, I’ve collected for you reliable resources about the supernatural Thunderbird from Native American legends, so you can learn more about it with your children. Keep in mind that the Thunderbird appears in legends across North America, so you will run across some variation.
I also found a beautiful book at our local library, called Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird: Tales of the People. This traditional Absaroka (Crow) tale is here retold by Joseph Medicine Crow. It is an example of how the Thunderbird often is friendly towards humans and can help them. It is part of the Tales of the People series created with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
If you have a child that is fascinated by mythical creatures, then you don’t want to miss the wonderful new middle grade series The Unicorn Rescue Society. In the first book, The Creature of the Pines, we meet Elliot, a bookish boy starting his first day at a new school. He quickly teams up with Uchenna, his polar opposite in many ways except for how neither of them seems to be a bit of a misfit. But my favorite character is the wild-haired Professor Fauna, a mysterious teacher feared by most students. But when the children find a mysterious creature on a school field trip, they find that Professor Fauna is the only person in whom they can confide.
And thanks to him, they are introduced to the Unicorn Rescue Society – much to Elliot’s chagrin and Uchenna’s delight. Young readers will delight in their adventures with the Professor, and travel along with them to save a dragon in the just released second book in the series, The Basque Dragon. Highly imaginative book for anyone who believes (or wants to believe) that mythical creatures might still exist!
This book is part of the Basque Dragon book tour. Find out more in the links below!
The wedding season is upon us, highlighted by the recent royal wedding. But if you are invited to a wedding from a culture other than your own, it can be difficult knowing what to expect – especially if you have children. Are children included in the invitation, and if so, how are they expected to behave and dress? I’ve asked parents from around the world to share their tips for wedding etiquette for families from their own cultures, and it’s a fascinating view!
Many thanks to those that graciously shared their experiences with me for this article! Share your tips on wedding etiquette for families in the comments, and don’t miss my review at the end of the post of a new children’s book about Indian weddings!
Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families
What to Expect
India: Sumiti: “I grew up in a big Punjabi family. And weddings were a big affair. It was minimum 4 days affair (could go up to a week) and the relatives and friends from across the world would stay at our house. The meals (breakfast/lunch/supper/dinner) were catered for all or women of the house would take turns making meals.There is one big evening only for Henna Ceremony, where men are at the bar and women are getting henna done and it’s an evening of dance and fun. All the neighbors are invited for the functions and are treated as family.”
India: Puneeta of Maple and Marigold: “Indian wedding celebrations traditionally carry on for many days. Close family and friends will often travel far distances to attend…Mid-morning naps, dinner before you leave home and comfortable shoes, all work for kids. And parents too. There’s usually loud music so carry headphones for the little ones.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “A Chinese wedding is like marrying two families. It is a huge event, and it often starts from the engagement ceremony and the delivery of engagement cookies with fancy packaging to relatives and close friends. A Chinese wedding can be extravagant, and it can easily have several hundred guests in a hotel ballroom, a restaurant, or a huge block wedding feast with live music entertainment.”
Mexico: Becky of Kid World Citizen: “There is a lot of dancing, and the party goes on very late.”
Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “There is a mass or wedding vows at a town hall and then a wedding party at a ball room/hotel,etc. Loads, loads of food. Traditionally people had a band playing live music instead of a DJ. Many still do. Tons of food and vodka during the whole night. Hot food is served all the time. It’s not a single dinner. There is often a brunch on the next day also involving alcohol.”
Fiji (Indian): Ashi: “Indian weddings in Fiji are traditionally multi-day affairs which encompasses many elaborate ceremonies such as putting hardi (turmeric) on the bride and grooms body, henna (mehndi) which is painting beautiful designs on the hands and feet of the bride, prayer ceremonies and etc. I would say, the weddings are divided into three segments, pre-wedding, main-wedding celebration and post-wedding celebrations. For each daily festivity, they expect close to 100 people to show without any RSVP. In Fiji, people do not believe in the concept of RSVP. My grandma always said to us guests is like gods. They’re okay having extra food prepared but no one should leave the wedding functions hungry.”
Mexican-American: Chantilly of ChantillyPatino.com: “People stay forever, eat, drink, dance, visit, etc. A wedding is an opportunity for community and reuniting family you might not have seen in a while. There’s usually recuerdos, candies, cake or centerpieces to bring home. Nobody goes home empty handed.”
Russia: Varya of Creative World of Varya: “In Russia the wedding is celebrated 2 days – first day at the bride’s home where her parents give her away, second day – at her new home, where the groom’s parents receive her into the family. Lots of food, dancing, some love inviting entertainment.”
Across the board, the safest bet is to not wear white – no matter what the bride is wearing! Rita of Multilingual Parenting shares, “I once wore a cream dress when the bride had chosen dark red and felt a bit awkward.”
USA: Even within the US, there is some debate about what is appropriate to wear. Diana of Ladydeelg in NYC thought wearing black was very chic, while Mary-Helen, who grew up in New Orleans, said that “In the South, wearing black to a wedding is a passive aggressive way of saying that you REALLY are unhappy with this particular union” and are treating it “as if there has been a death in the family.” Instead, one should wear something “floral or happy looking.”
India (Punjabi): Sumiti: “Wearing black and white outfits to the wedding or reception is a total No No. The outfits should have bold colors and ladies were expected to wear heavy jewelry.”
India: Puneeta of Maple and Marigold: “Since Indian wedding usually involve dancing until late in the night, comfortable shoes are great for kids and adults. Wear leggings underneath the lehenga (Indian skirt) in case a quick change of attire is needed on the dance floor.”
India: Charu of Ketchup Moms: “In India kids are expected to be dressed in Indian attire for weddings mostly. And interestingly a young boy from the immediate family of the groom’s side is dressed just like the groom and then he ride on the horse with the groom (another custom) to the house of the Bride to marry her. He is called ‘Sarwala’.”
Mexico: Becky of Kid World Citizen: “People get VERY dressed up. Here in the Yucatan, men always wear a guayabera, but everywhere else it would be a suit or tux.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “You will see children dress in new clothing to attend a wedding. Red is always a good color but any bright happy colors are good choices. No black clothing for children or adults.”
Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “You should not wear white to the wedding. Or black (brings bad luck).”
Read about the tradition of a “cake pull” in the US South!
Should Kids Attend?
One of the most hotly debates aspects of wedding etiquette for families in the US is about including children. As we saw at the recent royal wedding, children are often included in the wedding party at British weddings, while in the US they are often not even invited! So how do you know whether or not to bring your kids when you receive an invitation? It depends on where you are:
India: Sumiti: “Children are expected to attend, and it is a fun event for all ages.”
India: Vandana: “Kids are a part of the celebrations and very welcome. When we give the invitation, it’s implied that it is for the whole family, unless specified, which is very very rare.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “Children are always welcome to the wedding. You will see children dress in new clothing to attend a wedding. Children are an important part of a Chinese wedding because they bring happy spirit to the bride and the groom. They are also a reminder for the bride and groom of having a family. There is a Chinese tradition that one healthy happy little boy of a close relative of friends will be chosen by the bride’s or the groom’s family and this child will jump on the bed of the newlyweds prior to the weeding banquet to symbolize the couple will have happy healthy kids.”
Latvia: Ilze of Let the Journey Begin: “In Latvia kids are welcome to all weddings, have never heard of asking people to not bring their children to the wedding (or a part of it) as it sometimes happens, e.g. in the US. Most commonly, the wedding takes place in one location and then the party at another with accommodation included (hostel-style and free of charge for the guests). So many parents just let the kids stay up until they drop, put them to bed, and continue celebrating. On the second day of the wedding, as the guests are slowly getting up, having breakfast and getting ready to leave (noon-ish) you’d usually see children running around and playing.”
Fiji (Indian): Ashi: “When people give out wedding invitation cards, they generally expect everyone from the family to attend most of the festive activities. They’ll invite everyone they know (the whole village). Kids are the blessings of the family and they’re included in all the wedding festivities.”
Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “Kids used to take part in the wedding, but many parents including us do not bring them. Preferably I prefer to have fun on that night, drink, dance and not to chase after my kids. Only took them to one wedding when they were small and didn’t enjoy it at all.”
USA: In the US, it is mixed whether or not children are included in a wedding. Many report that children are often excluded from weddings, while others say that they are usually invited to daytime weddings. Often people assume that children are not invited and so leave them at home. Even Martha Stewart (or at least her organization) weighed in on how to decide whether to include children at a wedding. Your best bet? Unless it is specifically stated on the invitation, be sure to ask.
But keep in mind this is not true for many groups in the US. Chantilly of ChantillyPatino.com shares that for Mexican-American weddings, “Many times it’s expected that you’ll be bringing the little ones, grandma, etc. I’ve heard that in many American weddings (at least those uppercrust ones) that people have to request to bring their kids. In MexAm culture, for most, it’s expected you would bring them…from newborns to teens. This is a family event after all.”
How Are Kids Expected to Act?
If you do take your children, what behavior will be expected of them? Here are tips on wedding etiquette for families from experienced parents!
Mexican American: Elizabeth says, “Kids were always included and expected to act like kids – dance silly, run around, fall asleep.”
China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “Children love going to the wedding as well. They always have fun with the candy and soda provided on each table prior to the beginning of the 10 or more dishes are brought to the table one by one. The tips for bringing kids to a Chinese wedding is to make sure they sit through the wedding ceremony (it can go up to an hour) before the banquet starts.”
Latvia: Ilze of Let the Journey Begin: “On the second day of the wedding, as the guests are slowly getting up, having breakfast and getting ready to leave (noon-ish) you’d usually see children running around and playing.”
Fiji: Ashi: At a wedding in Fiji “you’ll hear screaming, crying, whining, kids running around but we’re all accustomed to all these noises. Children are considered blessing, they’re included in all the functions in Fiji Islands.”
New Children’s Book About Indian Weddings
I received a complimentary copy of Let’s Celebrate an Indian Wedding for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
And now you can share the joy and beauty of an Indian wedding with your children thanks to the new children’s book Let’s Celebrate An Indian Wedding! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 9). This book is a great way to prepare if you are attending an Indian wedding or simply want to learn more about it. This is the latest installment of the adventures of Maya and Neel, and it does not disappoint!
I love the emphasis on the diversity of Indian weddings. While Maya and Neel are attending a wedding in New Delhi, there is also information about weddings in other regions, such as Tamil Nadu, where the bride and groom sit on a beautifully decorated swing!
Maya and Neel get to participate in all stages of the wedding, including of course lots of dancing! Kids will love learning about lovely traditions such as stealing the groom’s shoes in order to get a treat!
This is a wonderful book to share with children if you are attending a wedding this summer, or if you’d like to learn more about Indian culture!
What are your best tips on wedding etiquette for families?
Are you homeschooling Spanish for multiple children? It can be a real challenge to meet the needs of all of your children at their different stages of learning.
Visit us on Spanish Playground today to find out what works for us! I’m sharing tips for how you can balance group activities with individual attention and an immersive environment so you can meet the needs of all your children and their learning needs:
South Asian culture is so rich and diverse, that it is a fertile topic to return to again and again with your students. Whether you are interested in religion, history, the arts, food, or folk traditions, there is so much to explore. Here are some wonderful new children’s books about South Asian culture that you won’t want to miss!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Learn About South Asian Culture Through Books
Let’s Celebrate Vaisakhi! is the latest Maya and Neel adventure, this time exploring a joyful spring harvest festival from the Punjab state in India. Fans of Maya and Neel won’t want to miss this latest adventure into the rich traditions of South Asian culture! Punjab, which borders Pakistan, is known for its large Sikh population, so Let’s Celebrate Vaisakhi! features a section on Sikhism as well as information about the food and dances associated with Vaisakhi. As always, the illustrations are so beautiful and engaging, and the wealth of information is presented in a way that is easily understood by young readers. I love how there is an emphasis on the natural world of the region and how it is showcased in the various aspects of the Vaisakhi festival.
One aspect of South Asian culture that cannot be glossed over is the caste system, which historically designated people into a rigid hierarchy from birth. The Boy Who Asked Why: The Story of Bhimrao Ambedkar is a beautifully done book about a civil rights hero you probably have never heard of who fought against this hierarchy and the injustices it engendered. Bhimrao Ambedkar grew up in the early twentieth century, when the caste system was still entrenched. As an Untouchable, the lowest caste of all, others were not allowed to touch or even interact with him. Overcoming incredible odds, Ambedkar pursued his education and became a successful lawyer, but he still faced many prejudices despite all of his achievements. He led a movement to break down the barriers that held the Untouchables back. Great book to inspire children to allow ask why in the face of injustice.
One of the smaller countries that makes up South Asian culture is Bhutan. In the West, it is principally known for its use of the “Gross National Happiness” instead of “Gross National Product.” This joyful, kind attitude can be clearly see in the lovely folktale Room in Your Heart. Can you imagine going to a country with no hotels, where instead visitors could stay with a local family? This was a reality until the mid-twentieth century in Bhutan. Inspired by this tradition, Room in Your Heart is a beautiful story of a woman who, despite having so little herself, welcomes those in need who appear at her door. Wonderful way to teach children about generosity, and that “there will always be room in your home, as long as there is room in your heart.”
Are you teaching your child to speak Spanish? Here are some ideas on how to help him with his pronunciation in Spanish and some general thoughts about when and how to do so. Share your own tips in the comments, and don’t miss an exclusive discount code for a fun new product to help with Spanish language learning!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary set of flashcards from Linguacious for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Pronunciation in Spanish: Tips for Helping Your Child
One challenge of teaching your child to speak Spanish is helping her to pronounce the words correctly. Especially if you start when your child is older, but even if you start when they are young but they are immersed in an English-speaking culture, pronunciation in Spanish will inevitably present some difficulties. Yet there are some simple ways you can help!
But first, some general cautions:
Multilingual Parenting has an excellent article on whether to correct your bilingual child’s language. As a parent and educator, our relationship with our child is much different than that of a teacher and student in a traditional classroom. She cautions strongly against constantly correcting your child, instead focusing on encouraging them when they use language correctly. As she often reiterates on her blog, as a parent you also must focus on your relationship with your child as well as the child’s long-term enthusiasm for learning the language.
So be careful about when and whether to correct your child’s pronunciation in Spanish. As a general rule, the more self-conscious they feel when they speak, the less enjoyable it will be for them and the less they will want to continue.
If you are a homeschooler, you may be at a slight advantage because your child is used to seeing you as a teacher who will be providing instruction in Spanish as in other subjects such as math and history. As a result, when you are in “class mode,” they may be more open to having direct help with pronunciation.
And now, for some fun ideas to help with your child’s pronunciation in Spanish – sometimes without them even realizing it!
Rhymes are a great way to help with a child’s pronunciation in Spanish, as they must attend to the sounds of the words and listen carefully for similar sounds. Here are some printable rhyming words, including links to traditional rhymes in Spanish.
Using music to teach Spanish works on so many levels – it’s fun, it teaches culture, and – it’s great for pronunciation! Music often contains repetition of important words and phrases, and children often “get” pronunciation better when it is set to music. Again, it is a way of encouraging them to really listen to the sounds in words. Spanish Playground also has some wonderful hand-clapping games that work to teach pronunciation in a similar way. You can also find cute musical videos to help teach pronunciation.
3. Focus on Syllables
Spanish letters have much more uniform sounds than in English, which can be really helpful when teaching pronunciation in Spanish! When children really understand how Spanish syllables are pronounced, it makes it easy for them to confront long and more complex vocabulary later on. So try breaking the language down into syllables and help teach pronunciation using tools like this printable syllable wheel. Clapping activities can help them learn where to put the correct stress.
4. Mouth Exercises
Did you know that you can actually do simple mouth exercises with your child to help them with their pronunciation? Here is an article by a speech language pathologist on mouth exercises that help with clear speech. It includes a special note on the Italian “r,” which is similar to the Spanish “r.”
5. About those “R’s”
If there is any aspect of pronunciation in Spanish that gives a child trouble, it is sure to be that rolled “r”! (The flipped “r” is a bit tricky as well but easier to teach and correct). Here is a collection of ideas from parents and educators on how to help kids to roll their “r’s” – although the main message is to not worry about it too much, as even native speakers have trouble with this when they’re young!
6. Exposure to Native Speakers
For me, one of the most important things you can do to help your child with his pronunciation in Spanish is to expose him as much as possible to the speech of native speakers. The more he hears the language, the more his ear will become accustomed to it and the more natural the correct pronunciation will sound to him. And while it may take him a while to be able to replicate the sounds himself, this is a small challenge compared to those children who simply don’t know how words should be pronounced or who cannot remember because of lack of exposure.
If you are not a native speaker yourself or even if you don’t speak Spanish, there are still many ways you can make sure your child is exposed to the speech of native speakers. And even if you are a native speaker, it can be very helpful for your child to listen to other native speakers as well, so they can hear other accents and listen to vocabulary and speech patterns you perhaps don’t use as much.
Obviously, if you have friends or relatives who are native speakers, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity for interaction. If you don’t have access to native speakers your child can meet face to face, you can still listen to Spanish language radio, Spanish music, and Spanish language media.
And I’m also excited to introduce you to a brand-new way to reinforce correct pronunciation in Spanish: through these wonderful new flash cards from Linguacious!
You may think, what do flash cards have to do with pronunciation?
These well-made flash cards (available in dozens of other languages as well) were developed by PhD linguists and tested by real families. There are many different games you can play with them, so it is a fun way to learn and practice vocabulary in the target language. The photos are clear and colorful and help kids learn practical vocabulary.
But what my kids really love is that you can scan a QR code on each card and hear the pronunciation! This is wonderful for tech-loving kids, but also for parents who aren’t native speakers themselves. You know your child is being exposed to the correct pronunciation in Spanish by a native speaker!
Do you wonder how you can celebrate diversity with your kids because you live in a fairly homogeneous area? Here are great tips from guest author and mompreneur Kamilah of Many Shades Club, a unique children’s book delivery service featuring books with diverse characters and families of all kinds.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary subscription box from Many Shades Club for an upcoming review; however, I received no compensation for this guest post on how to celebrate diversity with kids, a subject dear to my heart.
When my husband and I (who were born and raised in the D.C. Metro Area and spent most of our adult lives living in Brooklyn, NY) moved to Florida, we were in for a bit of a shock. We were, in essence, city folk. We were used to having access on a regular basis to just about all kinds of people, food, languages, accents, complexions, genders, family make-ups, and socio-economic statuses that you can imagine.
We knew we valued “diversity.” But we never really appreciated just how much until it became less a part of our everyday lives and more something that we had to put quite a bit of effort into trying to find.
Throw kids in the mix, and for us it no longer was a wish, but an imperative. We felt that our regular access to diversity as kids had fundamentally shaped the people we became and the way we engaged with the world. Bringing this sense of awareness and regular access to all kinds of people and families (especially while living in a much more homogeneous place) is now priority #1 for us now as parents. Here are five things we’ve tried as ways to celebrate diversity in a place where it takes much more effort.
5 Ways to Celebrate Diversity (When Everyone Around You Looks the Same)
1) Regularly attend cultural events and celebrations that are different from your own
Local Diwali Festival? We’re there! Japan Association hosting a day of demonstrations and exhibits? Sign. Us. Up.
There’s something very mind expanding about being in places where you are in the minority. Not only does it give you a sense of awareness and a taste for what it’s like for people who may be in that position on a daily basis in their places of work, school, worship, etc, but there are valuable lessons in the discomfort that may be felt initially and the potential gradual lessening of that discomfort as you continue to expose yourself to different cultures. More than anything else, it’s just fun, and interesting, and cool, and lights up parts of your brain that might not otherwise be lit.
Sign up for email lists, social media groups, etc for community events to make it easier to find things to do.
2) Constantly seek and read books that show characters from all backgrounds, and in casual and age-appropriate ways, talk about what you see
And especially for older kids and adults, read books about the experiences of different kinds of people written from the voice and perspective of the people actually living those experiences. Think critically and mindfully about what you’re reading.
3) Try taking public transportation
When you don’t live in a city that relies on public transportation for the majority of the population to get around, taking buses and trains can lead to some interesting conversations and broadening perspectives about the ways that people live, possible disparities, and appreciation for what you do have. Do it on a day when you have time to spare, and start with a short trip (to the library or grocery store, for example). Many cities with public transit have websites with trip planners, or you can also use Google Maps.
4) Expand your social circles and open your home to people for a meal
When our kids are in their comfort space of home and see all kinds of people regularly welcomed into our home, we can’t help but to think and hope it makes some sort of impression. It is also a wonderful way to teach by example about acceptance and welcoming people of diverse backgrounds.
We regularly search and venture to new neighborhoods to try new restaurants that specialize in foods that we’ve never tried before. These are awesome places to both meet new people and raise adventurous eaters.
At the end of the day it’s really all about exposure. It can start with surface-level exposure (just being in the space where there are different kinds of people), but the goal for us is for it to expand to more substantive engagement—actually getting to know people and experiences and being comfortable around all kinds of people and experiences, which we hope will grow into an appreciation for and an awareness of self and others. While it definitely takes extra work to celebrate diversity when everyone around you looks alike, it can be done. And we’re choosing to believe it’ll be worth it.
All images courtesy of Many Shades Club.
Kamilah is an Orlando based nature-loving, travel-seeking wife and mother of two, and the mom in the ‘Mom & Pop’ duo behind Many Shades Club, a diverse children’s book delivery service. Many Shades is a unique children’s book delivery service. Every month children receive a high quality book, carefully curated by us, that features diverse characters and families of all kinds. We do the searching, shopping, and shipping for you, bringing compassion and awareness right to your door.
Looking for a great diverse chapter book for your elementary aged child? Here is a wonderful new title that imaginative kids will love! And don’t miss details at the end of this post on Multicultural Children’s Book Day!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Diverse Chapter Book Your Imaginative Kids Will Love
Do your kids love pretend play as much as mine do? Every time I turn around it seems I face a ninja, a storm trooper, or a pair of puppies! Now kids can read a diverse chapter book with a hero that also enjoys imaginative play: Pedro really is Pedro the Great, since in each chapter he explores a different persona, from a pirate to a ninja.
I was so excited for the opportunity to review the early chapter book Pedro the Great from Capstone Publishing, a Silver Medallion sponsor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (see below for more details!). I was familiar with the popular Katie Woo series, so I was eager to read a book that focused on one of its supporting characters.
As a mom of Latino boys I was thrilled, of course, to see such a great book that features a brown-skinned boy named Pedro who liked to do the same things that my boys do, like play pirates or pretend to be a star of a ninja movie.
I also appreciated that the themes of Pedro the Great are problem-solving and friendship. When Pedro and his friends all want to be the captain of the pirate ship, they have to work together to come up with a solution. And when Pedro gets lost on his school field trip, he uses quick thinking to make his way back to his classmates.
This diverse chapter book is great for kids ages 6 – 8 who are just starting to read more “grown up” books but aren’t ready for the topics often covered in books for older kids. This book manages to be full of action and surprises without being too mature for younger readers.
I highly recommend Pedro the Great for anyone looking for a diverse chapter book that will capture their child’s imagination!
I am proud to once again be a co-host for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18). It is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s the perfect time to talk to children about love and how it unites us as one human family. I wanted to emphasize that no matter how different we may seem, we all experience love, so I created this free printable Valentine’s Day mini book that teaches how to say “love” in five different languages. It’s a fun way to celebrate the holiday and to teach children an important life lesson. Scroll down to download your copy!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Love for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Valentine’s Day Mini Book: Speaking of Love
When teaching children about the world, it’s important to emphasize that despite our differences, we have so much in common. Love is one of the most universal qualities that we share, and this free Valentine’s Day mini book shows children how to say “love” in five different languages: Spanish, French, German, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese.
There is also a matching page (with answer key), so it is easy to use as a fun classroom activity.
And thank you to EduClips for the lovely bird clip art I used in the Valentine’s Day Mini Book!
Another great way to teach kids about love as a universal language is the gorgeous new children’s book Love from Matt de la Peña, author of the acclaimed children’s book Last Stop on Market Street (read my full review). This lovely new work focuses on how we all experience love in its myriad forms – from a beautiful sunset to laughter or the sound of a parent’s voice. I love the emphasis on recognizing love in the simple, ordinary moments, like playing in sprinkler during the summer or lying in the grass and looking up at the trees.
But love is more than just sunshine and rainbows – it’s also the hug when you’re scared or someone waking at dawn to go to work. This book doesn’t shy away from childhood fears and tragedies, but it handles them gently and reminds children that through it all, they are always surrounded by love, love, love.
And of course I adore the diverse images in the books – in particular a girl in sneakers and a hijab enjoying the beauty of a spring day. The illustrations go a long way towards helping children understand that no matter how different we may look, we all experience love and the simple joys of life.
I highly recommend this book as a wonderful way to celebrate the love that surrounds us and remind children of the beauty in the ordinary.