France is not flat and I have proofs!

Hello dear readers! When Leanna (All done Monkey) told me that a post about Geography was authorless for the end of October, I jumped on the occasion to talk about my home country, France. In a fun way, because French people are not known to be boring… (right?)

France is not flat -pinterest-

For two weeks I had the great pleasure to travel across the country to see some family members and friends: Paris, Toulouse, Perpignan, Chateauneuf-sur-Loire (near Orléans). As you will see on the map below, it was quite the journey with our two young children in our car – loaded with luggages, of course – under a mostly blue sky and high temperatures for the season. We had 28°C one day! It made me rather nostalgic of my childhood’s mediterranean weather. The land of Hessen, Germany – where I live now – can have beautiful sunny days, but overall it’s colder and greyer than in Perpignan.

MKB France geography French map

Two weeks in France, more than 3000 km in a car (our daily visits are not on the map), 2 rented appartements, 1 stay in our family and 1 night in a hotel. Lots of good food and sun. Some sickness but mostly great fun!

Paris:

How many people are surprised to discover that the streets in Paris are not all flat and wide as the Champs-Elysées? Well, to tell the truth, even the Champs-Elysées is a sloping street… If you rent some Vélib’ – the biggest bike-sharring in the world – you will feel the climbs and descents, and most of all the “faux-plats” (false sense of flatness). During my stay, we strolled through Montmartre which is one of Paris’ hills.

7 hills can be found on the right river bank of La Seine: Montmartre (131 m), Belleville (128,5 m), Ménilmontant (108 m), Buttes-Chaumont (103 m), Passy (71 m), Charonne (69 m) and Chaillot (67 m); and 4 on the left bank: Montsouris (78 m), Montparnasse (66 m), Butte-aux-Cailles (63 m) and Montagne Sainte-Geneviève (61 m).

I have walked around all these hills while I lived and worked there. My daughter was born near Montsouris (there’s a park on this hill), my children played in Belleville’s playground or in the park atop the Buttes-Chaumont, we visited the Père-Lachaise (one of Paris famous graveyard) in Ménilmontant, the hill Charonne reminds me of my ophtalmologist (the best I had so far) who worked near the metro station “Charonne”, I took the train several times to meet my grand-parents at Montparnasse’s train station, we ate some crêpes at the Buttes-aux-Cailles, visited the Panthéon situated on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, ran to take the “Metropolitain” at Passy after a spouses’ night out, kissed during New Year’s Eve at Chaillot, and of course visited the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre!

If you want to see the topography of Paris, I will recommend you to go on topographic-map.com where you will be able to have the altitude of each street of the French capital city… and whatever place in the world you would like to discover!

Paris B&W 1

Street in Montmartre

Paris B&W 2

Sorry, it’s a dead end cars!

Paris B&W 3

See these stairs? It’s near the Funiculaire of Montmartre. My son thought it will be funny to run down the side of the stairs where it’s all slippery and without a ramp to hold on. It was kinda a miracle he did it all the way down in one piece. My heart was not in such a good shape after his quirk!

Paris B&W 4

Not for baby stroller!

On the road near the South: While we were on the road to Toulouse, we drove near the Gorges de l’Aveyron. We didn’t go there but look at these landscapes! It’s on my to-do list of places to visit in France! Not flat at all, isn’t it?

Trou de Bozouls.

The village of Estain, one of the most beautiful village in France. from the website genie-vacances.fr

Video taken at a highway rest area near Cahors “La Combe du Tréboulou”:

Pyrénées-Orientales:

from: canalmonde.fr

Céret is my hometown. I grew up there from 18 months to 18 years old. The town is built near the valley of “Le Tech”, a river coming from the mountains and finishing in the Meditteranean See.

Panoramic view from the North. By Fabricio Cardenas, used on Wikipedia.

Céret

Three bridges are at the entrance of the city. I’m on the one for the cars, and in the back you see the ancient one for the train (not used anymore). Behind you can glimpse the mount “Canigou”, surrounded by clouds.

The 3 bridges: le Pont du Diable = Devil’s bridge (there’s a story about how it has been built), the road and the train bridge. photo from “Autour de”

Going on small treks in the surrounding mountains was a common activity during my schoolyears. Pic-nics at the Falls, walking to the Tour de Mir, or climbing the Canigou are part of my childhood memories.

Força Real, hermitage at 507 m heigh and a radio telecommunication relay on the nearest peak, was a new spot for me. I never visited it when I was a kid. I’m glad we did it with my son and husband (my daughter was napping in the car on the parking lotand we had to take turns to go on the top). They had a wonderful view of a part of my region.

Força Real

Panoramic view I took that day. It was quite a windy day and I thought I would lost my footing and fall from the cliff!

Massif Central: it’s one of the oldest mountains ranges in France.

We drove through it on our way to see my father. We took some much needed air at the small rest area “Marvejols”. It was windy and the sun was covered by the clouds, however we enjoyed the sight!

I could tell you about all the other hills, mountains and peaks we have in France… althought it would be a bit too long for this post. However, if you’re up for another in a near future, I would be glad to show you more of my definitly not flat country! Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy our MKB Geography Month which is starting today.

Eolia livesP1000308 - Copie near Frankfurt, Germany for one year now, with her husband and two young children. She blogs at La Cité des Vents about her life as a french mom discovering her new country, enjoying her kids shenanigans and staying true to her faith. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Choosing A School for Kids of Color: 5 Things To Consider

Note: I wrote this post as a momma to two mixed race boys (white/African-American) and so you may notice this piece focuses largely on race, but I hope that some of questions and ideas shared will be relevant to parents of multicultural children too! 

Last spring our family moved to a new home. We didn’t move far – just far enough to change school districts. I’ll admit that the opportunity to choose our “dream home” was appealing, but the real reason we moved was for our kids: We wanted them to attend a school with more diversity.

I realize that when it comes to choosing a school for kids of color, some families don’t have much of a choice. Geography, jobs, finances, and other family circumstances can all influence where we live and the options we have for where our children spend their school days.  But, if you do have some choices, there are things that parents raising multicultural kids or children of color might want to consider. And, even if your options are limited, these are still things you’ll probably want to keep on your radar, so I’ve made sure to include some tips and resources on the list too!

Choosing A School for Kids of Color: 5 Questions To Consider

1.  How diverse is the student body and what does that diversity look like?

As teens, youth of color often begin having personal, direct experiences with prejudice, stereotyping, and racism. As part of the process of racial identity development, they often respond to this increased awareness of racism by rejecting white culture (for a time), exploring their heritage and culture, and focusing on relationships with other kids in their same ethnic group. (This is called Immersion in models of black racial identity development.) I want my boys to have the opportunity to develop friendships with kids who can relate to their experiences as mixed race individuals and African-Americans, who will “get it”  when they have difficult race-related experiences, and who can be sources of support as they figure out what it means.

Beyond having classmates from the same racial or ethnic group, going to school with kids from a variety of backgrounds can help kids understand that there are many ways to be in the world, that our differences are part of what makes us each unique and interesting, and that we are more alike than different. I am thrilled that, by changing schools sooner rather than later, my boys have the opportunity to experience diversity and have friends with variety of backgrounds from an early age.

Tip: Demographic data for school districts can be easily found on-line, often through the state Department of Education or websites like School Digger or Public Schools K12.

Resource: I’m currently reading “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?” by Beverly Tatum and highly recommend it for insight into racial identity development across the life span and among teens in particular!

2. How diverse is the school staff?

Research hasn’t really delved into whether teachers of color are more effective role models for kids of color (e.g., more motivating, more inspirational), but just as I want my children to grow up with a diverse group of peers, I also want them to be influenced by adults from a range of backgrounds!

In addition, a diverse teaching staff may be one solution to the discouraging problem that keeps coming up in the news: Research shows that educators often have lower expectations for black and brown students. Research has also shown that black and Hispanic students often perform better academically in schools with a diverse teaching staff, particularly when they have teachers of the same race/ethnicity. There are a number of possible reasons for this. For one, same-race teachers generally have higher expectations of their African-American and Hispanic students than do white teachers. In addition, teachers’ ability to “match” the students culturally, creating a bridge between home and school, and the potential for teachers to serve as advocates within the school benefit minority students’ school adjustment and academic work.

Tip: Finding a school with a truly diverse teaching staff may be a challenge, but we can do our best to fight the possibility of low expectations by developing positive, collaborative relationships with educators at our school and cultivating a strong home-school connection.

Resource: Check out “Diversifying The Teaching Force: An Examination of Major Arguments” by Ana Maria Villegas and Jacqueline Jordan Irvine for an overview of the impact of teacher race.

diversity & school

3.  Are school personnel sensitive to culture and race?

This isn’t something you can likely determine by digging around the internet, unless your potential school has done something newsworthy (good or bad). Talking to other parents, particularly parents of multicultural kids or kids of color, and asking about their experience can shed some light on how tuned in school staff tend to be. You might also ask whether teachers receive any specific training or support to increase their cultural awareness and sensitivity.

When we finally settled into our new home in our new school district last spring, we soon realized that attending a more diverse school does not necessarily mean that incidents of racism or insensitivity will never occur. They will. I now assume that situations will arise and that we will need to be the family that speaks up to help raise sensitivity and awareness. At our old school, the situation was an activity at the end of a unit studying the Underground Railroad – a school-wide scavenger hunt which included some kids pretending to be slaves. (Yep, seriously.) At our new school, a PTA letter announced an upcoming “Chinese Auction.” In both cases, the school was responsive when we gently and respectfully explained why there was a problem – I think being gentle and respectful is the key.

Resource: Check out “When It’s Time To Talk Race With The School” about our experience with the Underground Railroad situation and how we handled it.

4. To what extent does the school use materials and a curriculum that honors different cultures and experiences, as opposed to a Euro-centric point of view?

Find out by asking school administrators, teachers, or department chairs directly. If your child is already enrolled in a particular school, pay attention to the schoolwork and materials he or she brings home. Ask questions to find out what she learned about Martin Luther King Junior or Christopher Columbus or winter holidays. If you are really proactive, ask the teacher how a particular topic will be approached before it is taught in the classroom. I was so happy to learn that my son’s first grade teacher didn’t paint a heroic picture of Columbus, but actually talked to the students about the experiences of the Native Americans when Europeans arrived in North America!

Tip: Share resources with teachers! Frances has a great post right here on Multicultural Kid Blogs with ideas for school staff that could be shared at the start of the school year. She also suggests donating books, if you are able, which is a great way to introduce more diverse materials into the classroom!

Resource: SETCLAE (Self-Esteem Through Culture Leads to Academic Excellence) is an Afrocentric, multicultural, language arts and social studies curriculum that has been adopted in over 5000 schools and is popular among black families that homeschool. I bet some of you have some great resources you can share as well!

5. What are the school’s discipline policies? Are they clear, fair, and reasonable?

Research has also shown that black and Latino students are more likely to be suspended and expelled than white students (“disproportionate exclusion”), and it isn’t simply because they misbehave more. As a mom, I worry about whether my boys will be treated differently if they get into trouble, because their race may affect how school staff perceives their behavior. It’s a frustrating thought, but I take comfort in knowing I will be my child’s biggest advocate when I need to be!

While schools aren’t likely to publicize data on discipline of different racial groups, you can certainly ask a school administrator things like:

  • Do you have any positive behavior programs in place in the school? (Research suggests that programs like School-wide Positive Behavior Support may help reduce disproportionate exclusion.)
  • How often are students suspended or expelled? Under what circumstances? (A recent letter from the Obama administration to school officials cited a study finding that 95% of out of school suspensions are for minor infractions – which should not be the case! Policies that limit suspension and explusion to extreme, specific situations will probably reduce the likelihood of disproportionate exclusion.)

As parents of multiracial or multicultural kids, there is so much to think about when it comes to our children and their school environment, much of which goes beyond the formal education that they will receive!

My final tip: Get involved. Volunteer in the classroom if possible. Attend school board meetings and join the PTA. Cultivate collaborative relationships with teachers and administrators. This will increase our awareness and understanding of what goes on in the school, and by establishing ourselves as true partners with the school we put ourselves in a position to help create change when and where it is needed.

What questions or suggestions would you add to the list? Do you have other concerns or worries about school? 

You can also read Ellie’s companion article: Thoughts on the Value of School Diversity

Ellie - Musing Momma

Ellie blogs at Musing Momma, where she shares inspiration for happy parenting and reflects on life as momma in a mixed race family.  She has a Ph.D. in psychology and worked for several years as a child therapist, which was great preparation for motherhood but still no guarantee she knows what the heck she’s doing at any given time. Ellie resides in central Pennsylvania with her husband, their two adorably mischievous boys (ages 4 and 8), and their sweet, arthritic dog (age 84, in dog years). Ellie’s favorite place to hang out on-line (besides her blog) is Facebook and she hopes you’ll join her there!

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Top 10 Gifts For Global Kids

gift

It is that time again in the year where we are approaching a Holiday Season. Multicultural Kid Blogs Community is also participating in the festivities and today we are offering you Top 10 Gifts For Global Kids.

Disclaimer: this is merely a small fraction of what there is to offer. If you want to get more ideas, please visit our page for the full Multicultural Kids Gift Ideas guide which we compiled last year!

It was really hard to choose from all the gifts and products MKB members and others have to offer! So I very randomly picked 10! Here they are:

1. Global Education Toolkit – A wonderful resource that integrates global learning activities into elementary classroom or elementary levels of homeschooling.

2. Matryoshka Cultural and Nationality Art Prints and PDFs –  Matryoshka artwork celebrates women of all ethnicity and nationalities, introducing your child to various cultures around the world.

3. Daria’s Little Village Store – Daria’s multicultural music and DIY gift ideas are a great way to introduce your child to the concept of the diversity!

4. Kids Yoga Stories – An excellent resource combining travels around the world with yoga and fun ideas.

5. Plushkies – Plush characters are snuggly toys that will take your child around without leaving the house.

6. Aisha The Indian Princess –  A collection of books, toys and clothes for global kids

7. The Tender Sapling – Eco-friendly clothes and gifts for all family

8. Little Passports – A great gift to your child to travel around the world without leaving the house!

9. Barefoot Books – Great books and apps that introduce the wold and cultures to your children.

10. Putumayo – songs, games, stories from around the world

Feel free to add more ideas in the comments – we always welcome new resources to be added to our collection! Happy Holidays from MKB!

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Butternut Squash Pancakes with Crème Fraîche

Butternut Squash Pancakes with Crème Fraîche | Multicultural Kid Blogs

In Bavaria Germany, every season brings with it a new fruit or vegetable to celebrate and just like most of the US right now we are busy in our kitchens cooking and creating with the many different varieties of pumpkins and squash from our local farmers markets.

Pumpkin stands are everywhere along the less busy roads, usually close to the farmers land. There are usually two giant bins, one for Butternut, one for Hokkaido pumpkins and a stand-up display full of the small decorative pumpkins for making decorations for doorways and center pieces.

When we stopped to buy our pumpkins, I was surprised there was no one there to collect money, turns out no one minds them because payment is on the honor system. There is a metal box with a price list and you are expected to take as much as you want, tally it up and leave the correct amount in the box, simple as that.

I scooped up SIX, they were simply too pretty for me to leave behind. I started with a beautiful butternut and gave a new and delicious twist to the well known Potato Pancake recipe. I hope you love this incredibly easy recipe as much as my family did!

Butternut Squash Pancakes with Crème Fraîche

1 Small Butternut Squash
2 Large Eggs, Whisked
2 Small Shallots, Minced
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Freshly Ground Pepper
8 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Crème Fraîche (or sour cream)
1/4 cup Chopped Chive

Peel and grate Squash. Squeeze any excess water from the squash and place in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk eggs, shallots, flour, salt, pepper (to taste) and cinnamon, once well mixed pour over grated squash, mix well, set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once butter has a nice sizzle, without burning scoop roughly 2 Tablespoons of the squash mixture into the sizzling butter.

Flatten with a wide spatula and cook for 3-4 minutes, you want it nice and golden before turning, once you’ve achieved this turn and cook till both sides are crispy.

Working in batches of 3/4 pancakes at a time, repeat.

Serve the pancakes straight from the skillet, nice and hot with a scoop of crème fraîche, a dash of sea salt and chive.

I promise your house is going to smell divine, enjoy!

About the Author

imageHi, I’m Adriana, creator of Changing Plate. In 2012 I left my busy city life and my twenty three year career as a stylist in the USA and moved to Germany, my husband’s home country, in search of a fresh start and renewed identity. Since then I’ve had a beautiful baby girl and jumped into a life of travel through Europe and Central America with my little one by my side. I blog as I watch my new journey unfold, and the wonderful people I meet along the way that teach me about the new world around me and themselves through their food and culture with plenty of laughter and good times. Join me as I travel, cook and eat my way into a new life!

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Fall Recipes with Apples, Pumpkins & Figs

autumn collage

After the warm and busy long Summer holiday, Autumn (or Fall) in France is calmer and cooler. With the children at school and the last of the summer tourists gone, the trees turn to their deep shades of brown and red. Our sideboard at home becomes a nature table for all the treasures found on regular walks, from conkers and acorns, to birds’ nests, leaves and sticks. The markets at this time of year are at their best as stalls are overflowing with seasonal produce. We go to many seasonal markets that celebrate food available only at this time of year, such as sweet chestnuts and truffles.

We’ve chosen 3 of our favourite recipes to share with you using produce available at this time of year…apples, pumpkins and figs. Get kids of all ages involved by encouraging them to weigh out the ingredients, with the chopping and mixing, and of course the eating and sharing with friends and family!

IMG_3672Apple Cakes
In our local markets you can find entire stalls dedicated to apples as they are so abundant at this time of year. Did you know there are thousands of different types of apples in the world? This simple recipe is a great way of using some of them up.

Ingredients: 1 egg, butter, sugar, flour, pinch of cinnamon, grated apple
Weigh your egg (intact with shell) and you will need the same amount in weight of butter, flour and sugar. Cream together in a bowl the sugar and butter, add the egg and mix well, before adding the flour and cinnamon. Grate some apple into the bowl and mix together. Bake in the oven until ready. Top with icing sugar and pieces of apple!

IMG_3666Pumpkin Pancakes
We love sweet pancakes for breakfast at the weekend, and often have savoury versions for lunch. The great thing about pumpkin pancakes is that they can be both! You can top them with honey or add a more savoury bacon and cheese filling. Here we take our classic pancake recipe and add a cup of pumpkin puree.

100g flour, 1 egg, 250ml milk, 1 cup of pumpkin puree, pinch of nutmeg
Mix together the flour, egg and milk and nutmeg. Add the pumpkin puree and mix again well. Fry in a pan with a little oil turning to ensure both sides are cooked. Add your topping or filling of choice!

IMG_1132Fig Jam
We’ve been slowly perfecting our jam making since moving to France just over a year ago, with fruit from neighbours’ gardens, foraged from local walkways, and with tomatoes that we’ve grown ourselves. Making jam is not as complicated as it might seem, especially if you use special jam sugar which already contains the necessary agents needed for that all important setting point. We can find jam sugar easily in our local supermarkets.

Use 1kg figs for 1kg bag of jam sugar. Cut the top off the figs and then chop to desired size. I like to cut them in half and then each half into quarters, but you may like your chunks bigger. Mix the chopped figs in a bowl with the sugar, cover and leave until the juices start to ooze out from the figs. Transfer into a pan and boil for at least 15 mins until setting point has been reached. To test for setting point I put a dollop of the mixture onto a plate that has been chilled in the fridge. If it cools to the consistency of jam then it’s ready. If it’s still too runny, keep boiling. Transfer the jam carefully into sterilised jars. Enjoy for breakfast or add pretty labels and give away to family or friends as a gift! Jam should keep for up to 6 months.

Happy Autumn Cooking!

Rue Du BelOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvedere is a family blog by Becky Brown. In 2013 the Brown family decided to move from London, UK, to a small village in the Tarn-et-Garonne region of South West France. Becky, who alongside bringing up 2 boys, teaches music and English classes to children, blogs about French village life alongside recipes, crafts and gardening adventures for all the family!

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Call for Bloggers: Dances of India World Book Tour

Maya and Leela Present: Dances of IndiaWe are so pleased to announce the launch of a world book tour for Maya and Leela Present: Dances of India by Kyra Khanna, Malini Sekhar, and Alyssa M. Torres, part of our Multicultural Kids Product Promotion Services!

Join the World Book Tour

If you are a blogger, join our world book tour to promote the incredible board book Maya and Leela Present: Dances of India. Sign up below to participate. Once you receive your copy of the book, write a review on your blog and Amazon and promote through at least one social media platform. Once you have completed your promotion, email your links to multiculturalkidblogs(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hard copies will be mailed to reviewers in the US.  An e-book will be emailed international reviewers.

DEADLINE to complete your promotion: December 3, 2014.


MayaProfileAbout the Book

Maya and Leela Present: Dances of India follows sisters – Maya and Leela – in their delightful exploration of the rich and diverse dance traditions of India. Guess which dances they will explore! This board book integrates playful, engaging, and interactive elements, providing readers with clues throughout that direct them to descriptions and pronunciations of each of the dances on the back cover. Great effort has been put into synthesizing what are considered to be highly involved dance forms into something simple that will generate interest in both children and adults. Keeping with the spirit of authenticity, the authors have also done their best to ensure the illustrations accurately capture the unique artistic components that make up each of the dances – from the hand positioning to the characters’ expressions. Discovering has never been so empowering!

Maya and Leela - Free Your Dance!Take learning outside the book by visiting the Little Loka website to learn even more about the dances of India and to Free Your Dance!

What Others Are Saying:

Dances of India takes kids on a journey throughout the musical subcontinent, as they discover four very distinct forms of dance.  I can only imagine how difficult it must be to make this vibrant art form come to life from the flat page, but that’s exactly what happens.  [My son] always bounces in his seat as we read this one!  What really stands out about Dances of India are its lively illustrations and a rhythmic text that fairly dances off the page.  It is so fun to read!  – Leanna of All Done Monkey (read the full review)

Amazon reviews:

-You have cleverly brought dance and music alive using vibrant colors and movement via this wonderful book. My children love all the characters and imitate the movements by drumming, dancing, jumping and spinning. They learn concepts while having fun and request to hear the story more than once. Great job and beautifully illustrated. 

-A wonderful way to bring the cultural richness of India and of dance to children. A perfect “board book” to offer to young friends who will enjoy seeing the playful illustrations and hearing the rhythmic story over and over again!

-As a grandmother of bicultural children and avid reader I am well aware of the vacuum of multicultural books for the preschool level. Maya and Leela is charming, fun and beautifully illustrated.

-I purchased this recently and am so glad to have found such a beautifully done children’s book! It’s great quality for the little ones (so they won’t tear it apart easily) and offers a wonderful opportunity to expose young kids to the multi-cultural world we live in. Highly recommend!!

About 2Lokas

The Little Loka Series2Lokas – the venture behind the Little Loka Series (™) – is a newly launched children’s book venture aimed at providing children between the ages of 0 and 4 with an engaging and exciting multicultural learning experience through print and digital books – all authored and illustrated by the 2Lokas team! Although there’s a plethora of wonderful books out there focused on cultural topics for older children, there appears to be a notable gap for the 0-4 age group. From there, the idea of 2Lokas and eventually The Little Loka™ Series was born!

They believe strongly in the power and beauty of an open heart and mind at all ages.  Their aim is to facilitate and encourage the exploration and learning process as much as possible.

And, finally, because they’re incredibly passionate about social change and making a difference in these beautiful yet complex worlds of ours, they aim to provide a pre-determined portion of the proceeds to young social entrepreneurs who are pursuing their own innovative projects and dreams, both in the United States and around the world.

 

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Teach Kids About Africa As If Our Lives Depend Upon It – And Maybe They Do

On top of the shear panic unleashed by the horrific spread of the Ebola virus from West Africa, an astonishing amount of ignorance has reared its ugly head. As some have commented, this ignorance may be more dangerous to millions of people than the actual virus, and the unfamiliarity could even make matters worse, by focusing our concerns in the wrong direction.

When my family was getting ready to live in West Africa a few years ago, it felt like everyone would ask us about the animals – but that part of Africa has virtually no exotic animals roaming around and “it’s not the Lion King set!” as my then-eleven year old daughter would exclaim in exasperation. The other common reaction revolved around the astonishment that we were going to “Africa, Africa?!” “It’s so far away.” “I can’t imagine ever going there.” Or “That’s my life-long dream to go there” (often followed by a sigh that it would never happen).

In reality, as lapses in wisdom over air travel among some passengers have shown, people are going back and forth all the time, making the continents feel like they are closer together, and seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world this year are in Africa. Yet popular media rarely cover that story, and instead often reinforce the pity and ignorance, from now-famous pronouncements that “these countries they do not believe in traditional medical care…” (In reality, as many kids aren’t vaccinated in wealthy pockets of Los Angeles as in South Sudan or Chad, among the poorest, most war-torn countries in Africa.) And a virtual army of emergency workers and law enforcement greeted a plane landing in LA from NY after learning a woman coming from “Africa” had been vomiting on the flight – in reality she had air sickness (and a history of air sickness), and came from South Africa. Johannesburg is farther away from Freetown, Sierra Leone than Dallas is from Lima, Peru, in the middle of South America.

Ignorance on such a basic level as each of these examples feeds prejudice, hurts economies that are actually rebounding from their own difficulties (e.g., bookings for safaris in East Africa are way down, let alone a standstill in West Africa’s commerce and investment), and can fuel fanaticism by preventing personal relationships and trust from forming, not to mention the commentary on our global and geographic illiteracy.

This is all the more frustrating since this type of ignorance literally could be stamped out by Kindergarten.

Next time you have an opportunity to teach or learn about Africa, consider these points:

  • Go beyond the animals and the tragedy. It’s common for U.S. schools to teach about Africa through “safari” animals.  This could turn into a valuable lesson on biodiversity and protecting their environment, but wildlife in Africa shouldn’t be the sole focus of a study on culture or a continent. Other times, children hear about poverty or disease, like the AIDS crisis and now Ebola, which exist in some regions but do not define an immensely diverse continent.
  • Fight the urge to refer to “Africa” as a country or single entity. Did you know Africa has over 2,000 languages and many more ethnic groups, in its 54 countries? So, when teaching about the region or a specific country, be careful not to generalize information and refer to “Africa” unless you are consciously referring to the continent.
  • Get to know how big Africa really is, relative to other countries and continents: (Just pause and take this in for a few minutes. It’s true that the West African region struck with Ebola covers a land mass comparable to the southwestern US, but look at all the other countries and regions that fit inside this one continent!)

    Figure 1: Kai Krause, "The True Size of Africa"

    Figure 1: Kai Krause, “The True Size of Africa”

  • Dispel stereotypes by teaching a variety of stories from different countries in the continent.  One book that counters stereotypes, “Africa is Not a Country” by Margy Burns Knight and Anne Sibley O’Brien, gets to the heart of modern Africa: rural and urban families, living contemporary and traditional lives, and the children in their homes, enjoying their families, going to school, and playing with their friends. As an introductory activity (the book touches on 25 out of the 54 countries in Africa), kids can listen to the book and then can locate and color individual countries on a printable map of Africa as they hear them mentioned in the story; then when they really learn the geography, they can color blank maps. (Here’s a resource for labeled and blank maps of continents and regions). The entire activity is explained here on this Kid World Citizen page.
  • Choose a specific country and dive deep. Look for books that showcase rural and urban kids, fiction and non-fiction stories, folktales, biographies, history, and stories on innovation. For example, this list helps children explore many aspects of South Africa through appropriate children’s literature, and the Global Education Toolkit’s multicultural book list has dozens more. Use Google Earth streetview to take a “walking tour” of major cities, national parks, and landforms. Find some major festivals and talk about the values and traditions that are celebrated, and for higher grades, look at the role of religion.
  • Tie in lessons to your curriculum: if you are studying biographies, read Nelson Mandela’s abridged biography for kids, or learn about the other TEN Nobel Prize winners from South Africa. Other important biographies can include Nobel Peace Prize winners like Wangari Maathai (Kenya), Kofi Annan (Ghana) and Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) or Nobel Literature laureates like Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) and Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt). Apartheid and various nations’ independence movements can illuminate a study of Civil Rights. Science classes can look at poaching of the rhinos, desertification, water resource challenges, alternatives to the electric grid in the United States, or compare National Parks in various countries.
  • Make it personal. When kids feel a personal connection to a place, ideally through a friendship or someone’s life they connect to through blogs, stories, social media, art, music, food, and sports, then empathy, compassion, and respect can build. It starts to feel silly to generalize a whole continent when your friend, favorite team, or artist is Nigerian or Gambian, Tanzanian or Congolese. Thanks to digital technologies, it’s never been easier to connect to real people and make friends.

 

What are some of your favorite ways to dispel myths about Africa? Do you have a favorite book, resource, recipe, or song to recommend?

The suggestions in this piece are derived from The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners, which includes many more ideas for lesson planning, technology integration, classroom and school-wide projects, parent engagement and service-learning.

Homa S. Tavangar

 

Written by Homa S. Tavangar, Author, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World (Random House/Ballantine Books) and The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners (Corwin Press, 2014), www.growingupglobal.net @growingupglobal

 

 

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Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #20

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop Featured Post #20Hi, and welcome 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:

finished-craft

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Spanish Mama put together a tutorial with free birds printable for this great tropical birds mobile inspired by the tropical birds in the jungles of Peru.

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

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Chestnut Zoo: Fall Crafts with Kids

There is something about having children that makes you think back and reminisce about your own childhood. Taking our baby daughter for a walk through the park on an uncharacteristically lovely North German autumn day, hubby noticed the abundance of chestnuts on the grass. “Have you ever made little animals out of chestnuts?” he inquired. “I don’t think so…” I replied but, as he continued explaining what exactly he means by chestnut animals and how they are made, old memories begun resurfacing.

Of course I know what chestnut animals are! However, in my childhood autumn crafts I used acorns more often than chestnuts. In fact, one of my favorite childhood stories was about the adventures of a little acorn man, “Zīļuks” in Latvian.

Chestnut ZOO

We spontaneously decided to gather some chestnuts and acorns to make fall decorations for our home. Who cares that our baby daughter is still too small to participate, it should not stop us from reliving our childhood memories, right?

We had a lovely evening creating little animals from the chestnuts and acorns. Half the fun was trying to figure out what it is that we had made: is it a caterpillar or a snake? A goat, a horse, or a donkey? Hubby even created the little acorn man from my childhood fairytale!

Making little figurines out of acorns and chestnuts is a typical activity for kindergartners’ and pre-schoolers’ both in Germany and Latvia, and I am sure also many other countries. It gave us adults a lot of fun and it is a truly great fall activity for doing with kids: first you get to run around in the fresh air to hunt down the nearest chestnut trees and oaks, and then you can work together and let your imaginations run wild to create the cutest little animals or other figurines. Here is how.

necessary itemsYou will need:

  • Chestnuts and/or acorns
  • Toothpicks or matches
  • A tool for boring small holes
  • A scissor or a nail cutter
  • Some glue
  • (optional) glueable googly eyes
  • (optional) a white or silver permanent marker

The creation process is fairly simple and straightforward. Both chestnuts and acorns are soft so holes are made easily. You can make holes in each side of the chestnuts to connect them to one another with the help of matchstick or toothpick pieces to create a caterpillar or a snake. You can make many little holes and stick in toothpicks to create a hedgehog, or put a chestnut on four skinny legs and attach an acorn head to create a four-legged animal of your choosing.

If you have also found some acorn tops, they make great hats or shoes for the figurines and are best attached with some glue. Once your little animal is done, you can decorate it with a pair of googly eyes or draw its eyes, nose, and mouth with a white or silver permanent marker. It gives them more personality, don’t you think?

This is our little zoo:

zoo_togetherHave fun creating your own chestnut and acorn animals! If you need more inspiration, just do an image search for “kastanientiere“.

******

Ilze IevinaIlze is a social researcher, a mom, and a blogger. Originally from the small Baltic country Latvia, her path of education brought her to Northern Germany where she met her future husband and decided to stay for a little longer. Ilze blogs about her adventures in expat life, as well as trilingual and multicultural parenting at Let the Journey Begin. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Families Around the World – MKB Instagram Blog Hop!

Families Around the World: MKB Instagram Blog Hop!We here at Multicultural Kid Blogs are in party mode! We are celebrating our second anniversary. We are so thrilled that our community has grown to include bloggers and families from all over the world! These last two years have given us opportunities to learn from each other, support each other and help us in our mission:  raising world citizens, through arts, activities, crafts, food, language, and love. 

Being a part of this group for me is very special. I love hearing how parents from all over the world nurture and care for their children… while our methods might be different depending on where we are, one thing remains true… all roads lead to the same place: we all want healthy, happy children. We all want to keep our children safe and give them a good future.

So to celebrate the beauty in our diversity, we are hosting an Instagram Blog Hop to celebrate Families around the World.

Personally, I’m super excited because I LOVE photography and I love INSTAGRAM. Capturing moments through photography is something that I’ve always been a fan of, even since before we had digital equipment or smart phones. I think I owe this to my mother, who took many pictures of us growing up, and who also shared many pictures of her youth with us. Pictures allow us to share with our little ones special moments in time. They can evoke all sorts of emotions and they can transport us to a special time and place. They help us remember loved ones and keep traditions alive.  It’s true what they say, a picture is a thousand words.

 

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obligatory family vacation picture #findingdutchland #travel #Italy #athomeintheworld #CinqueTerre

View on Instagram

A family is the basic building block of our society. A family is the place where children learn to interact with the world around them. Families may be big or small, depending on cultural or religious traditions, or where you live…. but do you know what binds families together? That all families, whatever their size, color of skin, religion, ethnicity, location, or composition usually have one thing in common: they are made up of loving people who may disagree, and not want to share their toys, and argue at times, but families are full of love.

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Earlier today spending time with his Papi. #familia #Guayaquil #abuelos #babyenzog View on Instagram

We want to see your family, and the beauty of diversity… help us showcase families from all over the world! Join us for an Instagram Blog Hop honoring MKB’s second anniversary and families around the world!

How to Join In

Be sure to visit our wonderful co-hosts, plus enter our giveaway and link up your Instagram profile!

Follow and use #mkbkids on Instagram!  We’ll be sharing our favorite Instagram photos with this tag on the MKB website and Facebook page!

Blog Hop Co-Hosts

Be sure to follow them all in the linky below (#1-18)!

Multicultural Kid Blogs
LadydeeLG
Sand In My Toes: Five Traveling Families on Instagram
Mama Smiles: Families Around the World
Kid World Citizen: Follow Global Families on Instagram
All Done Monkey: Top Hashtags on Instagram for Multicultural Families
In The Playroom: Multicultural Kid Blogs and Instagram
the piri-piri lexicon: feeling homesick?
Finding Dutchland: Families Around the World
MarocMama: Travel Around the World on Instagram
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Happy Anniversary MKB!
Lou Messugo: Instagramming Families
American Mom in Bordeaux: Global Families
The Mommy Factor: Connecting with Other Mixed Race Families on Instagram
Chasing the Donkey: Multicultural and Expat Families to Follow
For the Love of Spanish: Travel the World with Families Around the World

Smart Tinker: Our Family Across the World in Pictures
Raising World Citizens: I Travel Around the World Every Day
Entre Compras y El Hogar: Celebrate the Beauty in Diversity

Our Prize Package – Enter for a chance to win!

One winner will receive this fabulous prize package!  It includes:

Green Kid CraftsA 3 month subscription to Green Kid Crafts, valued at $60.  For three months, you’ll receive a different-themed Discovery Box packed with 3-4 unique and engaging activity kits designed to foster a child’s creativity and confidence while helping to raise the nation’s next generation of creative leaders. For kids ages 3-10. US Shipping Only

Little HumansLittle Humans by Brandon Stanton, donated by Smart Tinker.  From the author of Humans of New York, this new work from photograph Brandon Stanton focuses on “littlest humans of New York – the ones who get back up when they fall, who have an impeccable taste in fashion, and who love with all their hearts. With spare text and a mix of all-new exclusive photos and fan favourites, Little Humans is sure to appeal to fans of HONY and those who have yet to discover it.”

Birds of Love | Elika MahonyDigital download of the album “Birds of Love” by Elika Mahony.  “Birds of Love” is a treasury of uplifting words and inspiring songs on the theme of love and marriage. It includes a diverse five song album from varied sources with five additional instrumental tracks for live performances and background at special events.

Please note: The subscription for Green Kid Crafts is for US shipping only.  In the event our winner is located outside the US, s/he will receive the remaining items, and we will draw another winner from the US for the Green Kid Crafts subscription.

 

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