A Guatemalan Christmas

A Guatemalan Christmas


Lets take the imagination train to Antigua, Guatemala, on a beautiful Christmas Eve day. Now it doesn’t snow in Guatemala, so it is not a winter wonderland, a white Christmas. What a Guatemala Christmas has is tradition and so much of it: the sights, sounds, aromas and unity. Imagine walking down cobblestone roads, taking in the aromas of Manzanilla (chamomile) rings and at last you reach the main plaza where it is a magical twinkling park of joy.

You meet up with your family, friends, new friends, head to a free holiday concert, enjoy the the sounds and pick up a bunuelo (fried bread with a sweet glaze) as a treat. After the concert you go find a special gift and to your surprise when you enter one of kind shop you walk on top pine needles and the aroma is spectacular, like breathing in Christmas.


The artisan gift you bought is for the host of the gathering you are heading to, to celebrate until the strike of midnight and what a treat you are in for. Upon arrival you are greeted with warm hugs and welcomed to relax as if this was your home. The main attraction of the night is Guatemalan tamales, delicious corn dough wrapped in a banana leaf. After your meal you all chat, mingle and have a good time awaiting the strike of midnight. It comes, and it comes with a big bang! At midnight each household, each area puts on a firework show. Imagine the biggest, most spectacular firework show you have seen, and now imagine it on every single block, amazing – not the safest situation but amazing! You party until the wee hours, taking in the beauty of unity, friendship, family.


Crowds during Christmas in Antigua Guatemala

A Guatemalan Christmas morning has come and you continue to celebrate with others, spending quality time, time for a traditional family day. You unite for breakfast eating plantanos and frijoles negros before heading to church to give blessings and enjoying once again fireworks at noon and 6pm. A Guatemalan Christmas is truly one of a kind filled with comfort, love and culture – this journey is just a small glimpse of all that fills a Guatemalan Christmas.

We recommend the colorful and informative website Antigua a Daily Photo for a further look into Guatemalan traditions of Christmas and other days.

Thank you for taking this journey with me and please visit and like Ana & Zelli – Gracias!

Hi there, I am Ana from Alarcon Restaurants and I write a friendly blog about sharing the random little adventures my daughter Zelli and I take. Spreading the joy of exploring unique places and our true experiences at fun events/activities in Wisconsin and other places with YOU, our lovely followers. Myself originally from Guatemala and my husband (Ben) born and raised in Wisconsin with German & Irish backgrounds, we do our best to instill the importance of heritage and culture to Zelli (a Wisconsinite) and what a great state we live in with so many cultural events to part take in and do. We look forward in sharing our passion of finding happy spots and fun times with YOU and invite you to please join us in our adventures and lets have a good old time. We aim to BE HAPPY together!



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Calling All Multicultural Families – We Need Your Food Stories!

sasha-is-a-cousinThe food we share unites us across borders – and yet it is also unique to you and your personal experience. Your food (and the stories behind it) connects you to your family in a very special way.

NY Times Bestselling author AJ Jacobs and the entire Global Family Reunion team want to hear your food story in anticipation of the world’s biggest, baddest family reunion to be hosted in NYC. The reunion – which attempts to prove we’re all cousins – is being filmed by Morgan Spurlock, of Supersize Me fame. MKB’s own Sasha Martin (that’s me!) will help select several stories to include in the Global Family Reunion cookbook that will be seen by thousands of people around the world.  For details and to submit your story, simply fill out the form

On a personal note – I’m so honored to bring this opportunity to the MKB community. It’s the perfect group to contribute stories to a global event. After all…

We celebrate diversity in heritage.

Even as Americans, my husband and I have very different backgrounds: my grandparents were from Hungary and Italy – my husband’s from the British Isles. Our cherished family recipes are very different – I eat tons of chicken paprikas, stuffed cabbage leaves, pasta, and cannolis. He’s meat and potatoes all the way! I’m sure you can relate – perhaps your heritage spans entire continents. Sharing these sorts of food stories is perfect.

We represent diversity within community.

Moving abroad creates a abundance of new food experiences. For those living in a new country even grocery stores become schoolrooms. When I lived in France, the cheese aisle of the grocery store was an endless fascination. But equally enjoyable was the simple act of eating a baguette, still-warm from the boulangerie. If you’ve lived abroad (or are living abroad) what food stories hold a special place in your heart?

What is your food story? Share it today.

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Crafty Lesson for World Toilet Day!

World Water Crafts

This year the theme for the Brownies (part of the Girl Scouts in the USA) is the “Wonder of Water.” As an advocate for clean water in the developing world at World Moms Blog, I wanted to find a way to teach kids about the importance of clean water on the planet. One thing led to another, and before you know it I was making model toilets with my daughter’s Brownie troop on a Friday evening…

Why Toilets? 

 Did you know that 2 out of 5 people on the planet do not have access to a flushable toilet?

When I gave the girls, aged 7 and 8 years old, this statistic, it looked like this:

Doll Statistics

Showing the population as dolls really helped the stat resonate with the girls. Although, they explained that Rapunzel had magic hair, so she could probably get water, so she had to be in the group that did have water. So, I had to switch her over…

The next point I wanted to get across was that without access to clean toilets, disease can spread. For this topic, I read the group the first 4 chapters of a book called “Mimi’s Village”.

Mimi's Village

The story is about a girl in Kenya who had to fetch water (the thought of fetching water daily surprised the girls in the USA, yet, it’s a reality for many girls on the planet), and she was so thirsty. Her sister told her that she had to wait until the water was boiled to drink it. But, then the girl dropped her water on the way home, and had to return to the brownish stream to refill her jug. Being even thirstier, she took a drink of the water and became sick from it. We followed her story to the health clinic in the town over and beyond…

After the book excerpt, we talked about ways to make water safe for drinking, such as boiling. I showed them a picture of a Life Straw, an invention that filters the water, making it safe, right on the spot. We talked about how inventions can solve world problems. Which led to how the toilet was invented over 150 years ago!

Next, came the toilet making. I had contacted Hallie Tamez of WaterAid earlier in the week, and she sent me to a link with ideas for teaching kids about clean water. I chose “The Physics of Flushes and Flows” project, the perfect science and water experiment!

I asked the girls, “Who knows how a toilet works?” And before you know it, we were crafting our own model toilets to recreate the siphoning action — physics in action!

We had such a great experience at the Brownie meeting, so I am sharing this project, for sure!:

What you’ll need:

  • paper cups x 1 for each child
  • flexible straws x 2 for each child
  • tape
  • waterproof molding clay 
  • scissors
  • basin or sink
  • water

First, I poked holes in the cups toward the bottom ahead of time to make the process speedier. One cup for each girl.

Water Craft 1

Next, we took one straw and cut it on both ends, so there was one inch of straw on each side of the flexible bit. (See the pink straw in the photo below.)

For the second straw (the green straw pictured below), we left the long end of the straw intact and cut the short end of the straw, so it, too, equalled one inch from the flexible bit.

Water Craft 2

Next, we inserted the small side of the long straw into one of the ends of the shorter straw and taped the “pipe” connection. The girls really liked the idea of being plumbers!

Water Craft 2

Now that the pipes were complete, we inserted the small end of the straw contraption into the cup as pictured and used a piece of modeling clay for where the straw met the cup on the outside to prevent the cup from future leaks.

Water Craft 4Water Craft 5

Next, we headed to the sink to fill up our cup. When the water level in the straw became higher than the water level of the toilet, the water in the cup began to siphon out, creating the powerful “flush” that empties and cleans the bowl!

The girls got in a line at the sink, as I tested each of their model toilets, and they cheered when the tanks emptied! High-fives all around!

(TIP: The molding clay was a bit tricky and I couldn’t find the waterproof type recommended at the craft store. Using less of it seemed to work best. But, if you’re not winging the experiment for the first time as you are presenting it like me, then you have time to see what works best beforehand.)

For a full description and printable pdf on how to make a model toilet in your classroom or scout meeting check out WaterAid’s link of activities to do with children to teach about the importance of clean water.

If you try out this project, we want to hear all about it! And please tell us where on the globe you did it, too!

And yes, today IS World Toilet day. Remember the importance of each flush and help spread the word.

Photo credits to the author.

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Call for Bloggers: Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style

Call for bloggers to review Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style | Multicultural Kid BlogsAs part of our new Multicultural Kids Product Promotion Services, we are excited to announce the opportunity to review and promote the new anthology on expat life in the Netherlands, Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style.

Call for Bloggers: How to Participate

If you are a blogger, sign up using the form below. Once you receive your electronic copy of Dutched Up! do the following:

  1. Write a blog review
  2. Write an Amazon review
  3. Promote through at least one social media platform
  4. Email your links to multiculturalkidblogs(at)gmail(dot)com.

DEADLINE to complete your promotion: December 19, 2014.

About the Anthology

Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style is about expat life in the Netherlands, as seen through the eyes of expat women bloggers.  The book covers a wide range of topics about everyday life as seen through the eyes of a foreigner. Some are funny. Others have a wealth of professional information. Yet other stories are sad, shocking or surprising.

This is a wonderful book for those who have lived in the Netherlands, have ever lived or traveled abroad, or who are interested in the human experience, as seen through the prism of these diverse lives.  This book will help you appreciate the many moments of beauty, learning and growing.Dutched Up! is a collection of tales by some pretty amazing women who have learned to rock their clogs, expat style.

The Authors

Dutched Up! was primarily edited by Olga Mecking and Lynn Morrison, with contributions from the following:

The European Mama – Olga Mecking
The Nomad Mom Diary – Lynn Morrison
Stuff Dutch People Like – Colleen Geske
Finding Dutchland – Rina Mae Acosta
The Three Under – Farrah Ritter
Neamhspleachas – Molly Quell
Currystrumpet – Deepa Paul
George With Ears – Zoe Lewis
Dutch Australian – Reneé Veldman-Tentori
Expat Life With A Double Buggy – Amanda van Mulligen
2 Little Monkeys in Breda – Rosalind Van Aalen
Olympic Wanderings – Caitlyn O’Dowd
Smart Tinker – Lana Kristine Jelenjev
Expat Since Birth – Ute Limacher-Riebold
Life In Dutch – Aislinn Callahan- Brand
The Non-Hip Hippies - Alexia Martha Symvoulidou
Naturally Global - Katherine Strous
Amayzmom – Shivangi Tiwari
Naija Expat In Holland - Tamkara Adun
Amber Rahim – Amber Rahim
Amsterdam Mama – Catina Tanner
Like A Sponge – Marianne Orchard
The Tini Times – Damini Purkayastha
Bardsleyland - Donna Stovall Bardsley
Foodlovas – Kerry Dankers
Social Fusion Amsterdam – Iulia Modi Agterhuis

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Bread Around the World: Recipes and Traditions

Bread Around the World

Whoever said that we’re all made of the same dough, we’re just baked in different ovens, has never made bread from scratch. Because there are just so many types of bread. It can be soft or crunchy, big or small, round or twisted into the most amazing shapes. It is also almost always delicious and comforting. There are practically no cultures that don’t have any kind of bread at all.

But with all this variety, what is bread, really? According to Wikipedia, bread is a mix of liquid and flour. The most common flour is wheat, the most common liquid is water. But sometimes, other types of flour are used: rye, corn, teff, chestnut, almond, rice and many others. Sometimes, the flour is very fine, other times it is coarse and whole grain.Some recipes call for milk, beer, or other liquids instead of water (for example this recipe calls for pickle brine and this one for broth)- depending on the taste and texture you want to achieve. Besides, check out Food Retro for other great bread recipes! For example, adding milk will result in a softer dough-these pain au lait look fabulous! Sometimes, fat (like oil or butter) are added as well.

sourdoguh bread

While many breads are unleavened, some calls for addition of raising agents. The most known are yeast, sourdough (which is practically wild yeast), baking powder, soda (like this Irish soda bread) or beer (which also includes yeast). Eggs can be used as leavening agent as well.To help with this process, sugar is added as “fuel” for the yeast.

rye sourdough

This is my pet. It is called Sourdough.

Speaking of sugar, I am amazed what the name bread refers to. For example, in English, bread can be sweet (like pumpkin or banana bread), while in Polish, ciasto drozdzowe (yeast cake) would be translated into English as bread.

Sometimes, other ingredients are added to the bread: nuts, olives, raisins, dried tomatoes, herbs and spices (caraway, z’atar, rosemary, fennel, sesame or poppy seeds and others). Sometimes, pulp of cooked vegetables or grains are used: pumpkin, potatoes, kasha, rice, nuts. Sometimes, even chocolate, marcipan, dried fruit or even strawberries. Some are mixed directly into the dough, while others are sprinkled on top (like on pizza). Cheese is a common addition to breads:yum!

Pumpkin Bread

Savoury pumpkin bread. Delicious!

As for shapes, most bread come in the loaf form we know so well. But there are plenty of ways breads can look like: flat and round like roti, naan and parathas. Sometimes, they are huge and flat, like Turkish breads- or this First Nations bannock. Others are crescent-formed (like croissants or Croatian Klipici rolls), long and slim like baguettes, braided like challah, Bretzels, round with a hole like bagels, or simple buns, or heartshaped like this pleteno srce (which means braided heart). Sometimes, they are more like little balls like this huckabuck bread. The possibilities are endless.

The taste and texture is different too. For example some are soft and chewy, others are fluffy, yet others are harder and grainy.

And there are so many things you can do with bread! In some countries, it is eaten for breakfast and/or dinner. Check for example the German Abendbrot! Sometimes, it can be eaten with a topping, like pizza (the recipe linked isn’t for classic Italian pizza but looks delicious nonetheless) for dinner or lunch- or first course. Sometimes, it is used in place of a spoon, to scoop up food. Sometimes, it holds a surprise like a filling-I would love to try these empanadas! it can also be used to wrap up a delicious filling, the way burritos do. The Dutch love to eat it for lunch (yes, with knife and fork) and it is topped with ham, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes and egg- a version known as gezond (healthy). In other countries, bread accompanies every meal like in Italy or France.

Twaróg - Polish Curd Cheese

Oh and did I mention the preparation methods? Some breads are baked, but what about fried breads? What about steamed bread like for example these Chinese steamed buns?  What about bagels or soft pretzels which you need to kind of cook first and then bake them? Some are also shaped into balls and then deep-fried, like krafne.And of course let us not forget the good old bread machine! This is a very basic recipe for bread maker bread.  And the cool thing is that a bread machine allows you to make other things, like brioches! So many great ways to make bread.

Best Buns

Yummy buns. I love how you put them apart from each other and they grow together while raising and baking.

And let us not forget the many traditions about bread. In Poland, newlyweds are welcomed with bread and salt. Also in Poland, a very Catholic country, bread was considered sacred and when it fell to the floor, it was supposed to be picked up and kissed! Again in Poland, it is a Christmas tradition to break the wafer before the meal: you can read about the whole tradition here.

Some cultures make special breads for special occasions. For example in Poland, special croissants with marcipan are made for St Martin’s Day, or Jewish people traditionally make challe for holidays. Even the German Abendbrot becomes more elaborate on holidays and for special guests.

And what to do with bread leftovers? Again, bread is the gift that always keeps on giving. How about this pudding? Or these Czech dumplings that are totally delicious? You can also add breadcrumbs to coat fried meat, to cover casseroles or stuffed vegetables, or add to meat when making meatballs.

In short, no bread is like another. With so many delicious and flavourful breads to choose from, one can never be bored! And I hope this post will inspire you to start making your own bread.

Besides, if you’re looking for great simple and diverse bread recipes, go no further than Babble!

What is your favourite? What are the traditions and recipes from your culture? How do you like your bread? Let us know in the comments!

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Geography Apps: Real World Tools Engage Kids


Geography apps for teaching children  about the planet with real world tools.

Technology has radically changed how we see the earth and how we present information about the planet to children. For centuries, our view was limited to the immediate surroundings and abstract, static representations of other places. Now, technology lets us see much of the world in real time and observe how people work and play. These geography apps are real world tools that show children how the world connects and what is happening across the planet.

There are many geography apps in game formats, designed specifically for kids. Games are great for memorizing countries, states, and capitals, but real information captures the interest of children in a different way. Real information has a context and a purpose. It is not so much about labeling places as about how people interact with those places.

Below you will find several types of real world geography apps that appeal to kids and give them a better understanding of geographical concepts. They include geography apps for tracking flights and ships, photography apps and a variety of apps related to time and weather. I have included links to specific products, but there are many similar alternatives. Some of these geography apps have associated websites that let kids access the information from a computer, too.

An important note; these applications are NOT designed specifically for children. If you get the free versions, there are ads. There may be in-app purchases. The apps could include links that can take kids online. These are real world tools and, as with other tools, children should be supervised when they are using them.  

With time, these apps help children understand the geography of our planet. Places start to repeat and connections develop. Real world geography apps may not have the immediate entertainment appeal of games, but they add a dimension of reality and relevance that enhances learning immensely.

Flight Tracking Geography Apps
These apps let you identify planes flying overhead by pointing your phone to the sky. You can also watch planes move in real time on a map. The apps let you tap on a plane for flight and aircraft information. I confess that the first time I looked at these maps, the dense mass of planes in the air astounded me!

Flight Radar 24
See the map on the web.

Plane Finder
See the map on the web.

Ship Tracking Geography Apps
We spend a lot of time in Manzanillo, Mexico. It is a major commercial port, and that is where I first began to use Marine Traffic to identify ships. Marine Traffic, and other ship tracking apps, display real-time positions of ships worldwide. You can browse interactive maps with real-time ship positions.

Marine Traffic
See the map on the web.

Ship Finder
See the map on the web.

Photography Geography Apps
Photographs are one of the most effective ways for children to get a sense of place. Many talented photographers generously share their pictures of different locations through apps.

I like the photo viewer for Panoramio as a geography app. Panoramio is a photo sharing mashup owned by Google. Accepted photos can be accessed as a layer in Google Earth and Google Maps. Find the app here: Photo Viewer for Panoramio You can also check out the Panoramio website.

Stuck on Earth is another wonderful app for exploring the world through photographs.

Time Zone Geography Apps
Realizing that it is day in one place while it is night in another is how children begin to understand the movement of the Earth. Time zone apps let children see and compare time around the world.

The World Clock has a wonderful day/night map. You can scroll the darkness with your finger to convert the time. It also has information about selected cities.

Geography Apps for Weather and Natural Phenomena
Kids can learn a lot of geography from apps that track weather, earthquakes, and volcanoes.

World Weather Radar shows you the current weather conditions and the moving map for your location or a preferred location worldwide.

Volcanoes shows volcanoes on a map and provides information about them. It shows over 2000 currently active volcanoes.

QuakeFeed is an earthquake app with a variety of different map options. It uses feeds from the USGS and is an excellent educational tool.

The apps I mentioned are directly related to geography, but there are many others that include geographical concepts to present information about a topic. Consider your child’s interests and look for related real world apps. You will find tools for fishing, following soccer leagues, bird watching and more. Tapping into technology you can help children better understand how places and people connect.

Photo Credit: flickingerbrad via Compfight cc

Spanish for Kids on Spanish Playground.


Jennifer Brunk blogs about strategies and resources for teaching Spanish to children on Spanish Playground.



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Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #21

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #21 | Multicultural Kid BlogsWelcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can’t wait to see what you share this time!
Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son’s Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.
This month our co-hosts are:

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It’s very easy, and simple to participate!
Just follow these simple guidelines:

  • Follow us via email, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you’re following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
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  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don’t be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you’re featured, don’t forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
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Here’s my favorite from last time:

Mongolian_yurt2013The project Around the World in 12 Dishes introduces your children to the culture of different countries through their food. I learned about Mongolian buuz and lapsha and why Mongolians don’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Thank you for linking-up, and we can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

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DIY Christmas Ornaments Inspired by World Cultures

Multicultural Ornaments Collage

This post is part of the Festive Family Holiday Hop. Find more DIY ideas and a great giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Making your own Christmas ornaments is a fun family activity while preparing for and enjoying the Christmas season. Here at Multicultural Kid Blogs, we aim to raise global citizens who celebrate diversity while recognizing the universal values that connect us. The following are five different ornaments you and your kids can make, either borrowing from an established Christmas tradition or inspired by cultural handicrafts & symbols. All of these ornaments symbolize universal values that engender love, peace and goodwill – values that transcend all borders; values that embrace the spirit of Christmas.


Danish paper pleated heart ornaments

Julehjerte are a traditional Danish Christmas tree ornament made from interwoven red and white paper, the same colors as the Danish flag. Jule means Christmas, and hjert means heart, giving us Pleated Christmas Hearts in English. The oldest known julehjerte were made by Hans Christian Andersen in 1860. Children in Denmark make these at school and many families set time aside to make these as a family Christmas tradition every year. This heart shaped ornament is a wonderful symbol of love and interconnection.

To make Julehjerte, you’ll need two contrasting colors of paper, scissors and the template. Traditionally, they are made with red and white paper. The paper should be sturdy enough to hold its shape and hold candies, but not so stiff that there is no flexibility in the weaving. The one above was made with scrapbooking paper that wasn’t as stiff as cardstock. Use the template found here and get a little extra help with the tutorial found here. I’d recommend trying one first before making one with your kids – it’s fairly easy once you get the hang of it, but it might seem a little confusing at first. Once complete, kids especially enjoy filling them with candy!


Japanese ornament

There is a Japanese legend that promises to grant a wish to anyone who folds 1000 paper cranes. Cranes are considered holy creatures in Japanese culture, and are traditionally given as gifts to newborns and newly weds as a charm for happiness, long life and prosperity.  What draws our family most to these cranes is that in their understated beauty, they also represent peace. There are temples in Japan that have eternal flames for peace and people often donate coils of paper cranes to add to the prayer for peace. What brought origami cranes to my attention many years ago is the story of Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes. This story is based on the true story of a young Japanese girl who contracted leukemia as a result of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. When hospitalized, she begins making these cranes with the aim of folding 1000 in hopes of being granted her wish for health. She passes away before having a chance to fold all one thousand of them, and her classmates fold the rest, to be buried with her. It is a sad story, but one that has inspired many around the world to pray for peace, with the crane as its symbol.

This is one of our family’s favorite Christmas ornament – we have a few in the family tree, large and small, and each of my daughters has one in her bedroom tree. We have made them and given them out over the years to our friends and family for their Christmas trees. They can either sit on the branch, or be threaded to hang. All you need to make on is a square piece of paper, some patience and a tutorial. These are not the simplest of origami creations. I recommend you try one out first, then follow along with a tutorial with your kids. There is a picture tutorial here and a video tutorial here.


Mexican Felt Poinsettia ornament

In Mexico, poinsettias are known as ‘Flores de Noche Buena’ or Flowers of the Night. They are native to Central America where they flower over the winter. There is a lovely Mexican legend about the poinsettia, making it a beautiful symbol of love, generosity and gratitude.

“Long ago, there was a young girl and boy, who were very poor. They looked forward to Christmas, with the many celebrations, parades and the beautiful village manger. It was tradition to bring gifts to the baby Jesus during Christmas Eve, but the young children had nothing to give. Though embarrassed at having so little, they wanted to show their love and so picked a bouquet of weeds growing by the roadside. As they placed their bouquet in the manger, the green top leaves turned into bright, red petals and the manger became surrounded by beautiful star-like flowers we know as poinsettias.”

You can read the legend of the poinsettia in Tomie dePaola’s lovely picture book and learn more about Christmas celebrations in Mexico at Kid World Citizen.

Poinsetta ornament Collage

To make this poinsettia ornament, you will need red & green felt, gold or yellow tissue paper, ribbon, a piece of cardboard and glue (I used a hot glue gun). I used the template and mostly followed the tutorial found here. I did not cut holes in the felt or use a pipe cleaner. I used a dab of hot glue to attach crumpled balls of gold tissue paper, and as it was bonding, bunched up the felt around the center by pinching the bottom (see photo, top right). This can be done with white glue but would take longer. Then I cut a circle from a cereal box and glued it to the back. Ribbon was affixed to the cardboard.


Adinkra Salt Dough Ornaments

These ornaments are inspired by Adinkra cloth – a traditional Ashanti cloth from Ghana.  Adinkra are not associated with Christmas in Ghana, but the symbols are so rich with meaning and culture, they are a great way to incorporate more diversity into Christmas ornaments. There are many adinkra symbols that can be used for this project, and you can find dozens here. I chose the Adinkra symbol for Unity. It is called Nkosonkonson and is associated with this proverb: “We are linked together like a chain; we are linked in life.” This symbol is a reminder that the unity of a community can be realized if we see ourselves as responsible to each other. It portrays the strength found in unity and the connection found in interdependence.

You can read more about Adinkra cloth and learn how to make your own here.

Adinkra inspired ornaments Collage

To make an Adinkra stamp, you’ll need this Adinkra ornament template, craft foam, thick corrugated cardboard, scissors and glue (we used hot glue). Cut out the “unity” adinkra template and trace over the craft foam. It’s easier to trace the pattern by gluing it first with a glue stick onto the foam. This way the pattern doesn’t move, and it doesn’t matter if the paper stays on, that can be the side glued to the cardboard. Also, as it’s just going to be a stamp, if your kids find it tricky to cut out the white from the middle of the template (especially with the foam), cut the symbol in half horizontally, cut out the white, and glue back together onto the cardboard (as seen above).

To make the ornaments, you’ll need salt dough (flour, salt, water), a cookie cutter or glass, your stamp, 2 contrasting colors of paint, a fine paintbrush and thread. First make a batch of salt dough. We used this recipe, and cut it in half with plenty to spare (which we used to make salt dough gift tags). Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness and cut out into circles. A 3″ diameter cookie cutter was used to make ours, but you could also use the rim of a glass. Stamp the adinkra into the dough – push it in hard, or even go over it with a rolling pin. Skewer a hole at the top, and bake at 200 for approximately 1 1/2 hours, turning the ornaments over half way through. If you want to bake them faster and you don’t mind them browning, you can increase the temperature to 350.

Once baked and cooled, paint the background first (we used white, and needed two coats). Once dry, paint in the adinkra symbol in a contrasting color. Decorate as desired. You can also paint the word “unity” on the back, or glue the proverb included on the template.


Filipino Parol ornament

Christmas in the Philippines is celebrated for months, starting in September, and the most iconic symbol of Filipino Christmas spirit is the parol. These star shaped lanterns are found outside homes and along village & city streets for months leading up to Christmas, their importance comparable to Christmas trees in Western cultures. The parol represents star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men. Making, lighting and decorating a parol is an expression of faith, hope, goodwill and the triumph of light over darkness.

Parols are traditionally made from bamboo and rice paper in the shape of a five pointed star. They are now made in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. These ornaments are based on the traditional five pointed star shape with tassels. Since we can’t light them, the use of translucent paper and yellow tissue paper gives a bit of the effect especially if in front of Christmas lights (though make sure your Christmas lights do not generate much heat!). Take a look at photographs of parols here.

You can read more about Christmas in the Philippines at Open Wide the World.

Parol ornament Collage 1

To make your own parol ornament, you will need two 12″ strips of cardboard * (we cut ours from a cereal box), glue, paint, a ruler, scissors, ribbon to hang it and tissue paper (two 7″ squares, yellow and contrasting color + more for fringe) or a coffee filter and yellow tissue paper.There are two variations pictured above as to the front of the parols, one with tissue paper, and the other with a painted coffee filter. If you want to include the creativity of painting swirls of color, use a coffee filter. By using thin papers, Christmas tree lights can shine through. The back of both parols are made with yellow tissue paper to increase the feeling of a lighted lantern. *The width of your strips are up to you – in the parols pictured above, the blue one is made with a 3/4″ wide strip, and the red one with 1cm wide strip.

Start by painting the coffee filter if you are using it. While it dries, paint your cardboard strips. Once they are dry, measure two inches from the end of each strip.

Parol ornament Collage 2

Fold the strips accordion style. Glue the two strips together, each end firmly glued inside the other, keeping the folds all at the same 2″ length. You can adjust this folded circular shape into a five pointed star. Determine which two points will be the bottom of your star and cut out a notch in each, which is where the tassels will be inserted.

Parol ornament Collage 3

Put a bead of glue all around the edge of the star, and turn over onto a square of yellow tissue paper. You will likely  need to adjust the strips to stay into a star form, which is fine – you can wipe away the excess glue or let it dry. While the glue is drying, make your cutout pattern for the front of the parol, like when you are papercutting a snowflake. Fold the coffee filter or colorful tissue paper in half diagonally (to form a triangle), then in half again. Cut a few shapes along the inner edges – be sure to stay within 1″ of the point. (See middle picture above). Fold in half again, and cut another small shape along that edge – again stay within an inch (See right picture above). Unfold your paper and admire your design.

Parol ornament Collage 4

By now, hopefully the glued yellow tissue paper is dry. Cut out along the edges of the cardboard star, cutting away excess tissue paper. Now glue your cutout pattern (coffee filter or tissue paper) onto the star. While that dries, make two tassels: fold a piece of tissue paper in half – it’s length will be the length of your tassel. Cut in strips stopping before reaching the folded edge. Curl into itself, creating a tassel. Once the parol is dry, once again cut away the excess paper from the edges. Put a dab of glue on the end of each tassel and insert them in the notches. Glue a loop of ribbon to the top (we used hot glue) and hang! It’s lovely to see light shine through.

Parol ornament Collage

I hope you enjoy a wonderful Christmas and holiday season filled with light, love, peace, hope, unity and gratitude – at home and in the world.

Marie-Claude is theIMG_2714 parent of two teen girls. Over the years, they have immersed themselves virtually in various cultures. This year they have been exploring the cultures of West Africa, which is being chronicled on her blog at mariespastiche.blogspot.com.


Festive Family Holiday hop

We’ve partnered with 30+ fabulous bloggers to bring you a special holiday series packed with crafts, activities, and festive family traditions. We’ve put together a phenomenal giveaway to help knock out your holiday shopping. From 11/3–11/17, you will have the opportunity to win 1 of 4 prize bundles for men, women, kids, and babies! The 4 prize bundles, valued at over $1,800, include gift certificates, toys, jewelry, and more!

For more details, be sure to visit Bare Feet on the Dashboard, the creator and host of this event.

Today’s posts are about DIY Holidays:

10 DIY Keepsake Ornaments from Bare Feet on the Dashboard

Handmade Kid Ornaments from Hand Made Kids Art

10 Christmas Tree Crafts for Young Children from Crystal’s Tiny Treasures

Handmade Christmas Decorations from Peace But Not Quiet

Keeping a Houseful of Family Happy from Gypsy Road School

Christmas Fabric Wreath from The Chaos and The Clutter

Kid Made Salt Dough Paper Weight from Lemon Lime Adventures

DIY Shabby Chic Gift Wrapping from She Lives Free

Follow Festive Family Holiday on Pinterest for all these great holiday posts in one place:

Follow Becca Eby ~ Bare Feet on the Dashboard’s board Festive Family Holiday on Pinterest.

Don’t forget to enter the Festive Family Holiday Giveaway! There are over $1800 in prizes. Click on the following link for your chance to enter:

 Rafflecopter giveaway


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Books and Toys that Teach Children About the World

Gifts that teach global awareness

It’s holiday season, and in many homes that means gift shopping! I’m excited to share some great books and toys that teach children about the world – and that your kids will LOVE! All of these products are kid-tested and kid-approved by my four kids (aged 8, 6, 5, and 2) as well as many of our friends.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.

Books that Teach Global Awareness

Beautiful Rainbow World is a wonderful book featuring stunning photos of children from all over the world. My two-year-old especially loves this book, which I reviewed on my blog last month.

The National Geographic Kids Beginner’s World Atlas is the perfect Atlas for kids who love photos! My eight-year-old loves looking through our copy of this book!

We have the 2014 edition of the National Geographic Kids Almanac, and this is another book that my eight-year-old reads constantly!books that teach kids about the world.

Usborne Books is one of my favorite sources of books that teach kids about the world, particularly for early elementary school aged children! Here are a few that my five-year-old and six-year-old particularly like:

Toys that Teach About the World

The LeapFrog LeapReader Interactive World Map is a toy that my kids use a LOT – and they learn about countries in the process! You will need to buy a LeapFrog TAG Reading pen if you do not already own one.

GeoPuzzles are a wonderful way to teach kids about the location and shapes of the world’s countries! They are also a great parent-child learning activity.

Flag Frenzy! is my favorite way to teach kids how to recognize flags from around the world, as well as where these countries are! This game is like Spot It – you need to find the flag on your card that matches one of the flags on the card that is already on the table. We play so that you also have to point to where your matching flag is on the included map of the world.

What are your favorite books and toys that teach children about the world?

maryanne at mama smiles

MaryAnne was raised in the United States, Guatemala, France, Bolivia, and Austria. Her first daughter was born in Scotland, and she now lives with her husband and their four children in Silicon Valley, California. You can find MaryAnne writing about education, crafts, and parenting at Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting.


Gift Guides for KidsWe’re excited to be a part of the Gift Guides for Kids from Kid Blogger Network, this year coordinated by our member Erica of What Do We Do All Day!  We are especially looking forward to Multicultural Gifts from Africa to America, Gifts that Celebrate World Cultures from Kid World Citizen, Gifts that Give Back from The Good Long Road, and Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids Gift Ideas from Kids Yoga Stories.

Find all the gift guides on the main page and even more ideas on our group Pinterest board!

  Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Gift Guides for Kids on Pinterest.

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Call for Bloggers: Happy Heart Kid

Call for Bloggers: Happy Heart Kid | Multicultural Kid BlogsAs part of our new Multicultural Kids Product Promotion Services, we are excited to announce the opportunity to review and promote Happy Heart Kid, the line of kid friendly products that make character building activities fun and interactive for families!

Call for Bloggers: How to Participate

If you are a blogger, sign up using the form below.  You can do one of the following:

  1. Full Review: Write a blog review a Happy Heart Kid kit, with a story, craft, activity, and extension ideas based on a character trait such as empathy.  Once your review is complete, promote through at least two of the following social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest (Google+ and Instagram optional). Hard copies will be mailed to reviewers in the US.  E-copies of the written material will be emailed international reviewers.
  2. Social Media Only: Promote Happy Heart Kid through at least two of the following social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest (Google+ and Instagram optional).  E-copies of the written material will be emailed to those doing ONLY social media promotion.

Once you have completed your promotion, email your links to multiculturalkidblogs(at)gmail(dot)com.

DEADLINE to complete your promotion: December 5, 2014.

 Thank you all for your interest!  We are no longer accepting new participants.


Call for Bloggers: Happy Heart Kid | Multicultural Kid Blogs

About Happy Heart Kid

Sesame Street meets Montessori Education served in an easy to activity use kit for families with young children.
Happy Heart Kid’s mission is inspire families to engage in Character Building Activities through play. Our products aim to empower young kids with strong character traits in the hope of creating the next generation of leaders and change makers.
Happy Heart Kid is a line of kid friendly products that make character building activities fun and interactive for families. Their line of products create a simple way for parents and children to learn everyday values together in a non didactic manner. Happy Heart Kid’s products aim to spark curiosity, engage children and help develop their social and emotional intelligence while continuing to improve their spatial, language, fine motor, cognitive and artistic skills.
Connect with Happy Heart Kid:
Product website: http://happyheartkid.com/
Kickstarter website: Coming soon!


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