Oct
29
2014

Get Crafty this Día de los Muertos

Halloween night is coming. You’ve carved a scary pumpkin and pinned a skeleton to your front door. These decorations, as old superstitions say, will help scare off the dead during the spooky holidays. But what if you wanted to lure the dead spirits to your house? Sounds odd, right? Not in Mexico.

The Day of the Dead, or el Día de los Muertos, goes back to the vibrant Aztec culture of Mexico. It was a month-long celebration intended to honor ancestors and the continuation of life. It’s the perfect extra holiday to add to your Halloween plans!

In the 16th century, when the Spanish defeated the Aztecs and began to rule their land, they needed to bring the two cultures together. One way of doing this was by joining Aztec rituals with Catholic holidays. Día de los Muertos was moved from its original date to November. This allowed the holiday to coincide with All Souls’ Day, which is still celebrated in many parts of Europe on November 2nd.

Today, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico and many parts of the United States. (It’s Halloween’s holiday neighbor!) People continue the old tradition of offering delicious foods, drinks and flowers to their loved ones. The main flower of the holiday is the marigold, which was an important part of Aztec medicine, culture and ceremony.

The most popular place to celebrate Día de los Muertos? A cemetery. But if you don’t feel like sporting a skull in the graveyard, you can still honor the tradition by baking a skeleton and making a marigold! Celebrate Halloween and Día de los Muertos with these fun family activities.

Recipe Time:  Spooky Skeleton Cupcakes

For kids’ holiday desserts, we love Annabel Karmel! In honor of el Día de los Meurtos, we’ve taken a twist on her Halloween Eyeball Cupcakes. We have made all of ours look like skeletons!

Spooky Skeleton Cupcakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

What You Will Need

  • 125g soft margarine
  • 125g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tub creamy vanilla frosting
  • Assorted candy for decoration

Instructions

  1. Mix the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the eggs one at time together with a tablespoon of flour.
  3. Add the vanilla essence and fold in the remaining flour.
  4. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases and half fill each case with the mixture.
  5. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes or until golden.
  6. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Decorate with the vanilla frosting and candy. We spread the vanilla frosting on top of our cupcakes. Then we used two chocolate chips for the eyes, raisins for the nostrils, and three candy corns for the teeth.

Craft Time: Marigold Tissue Craft

To bring a bit of Ancient Aztec culture to your holiday, follow the steps below to create tissue paper marigolds. Make as many as you want. And, hey, who says they have to be red and gold? Use your favorite spooky colors and make whole bouquets in honor of Halloween and the Day of the Dead!

Marigold Tissue Craft

What You Will Need

  • Yellow, orange or red tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Pipe cleaner (any color; chose green to look like a plant stem)

Instructions

  1. Fold a sheet of tissue paper in half, “hamburger style”. (The two short ends meet.)
  2. Fold in half again, the same style.
  3. Starting at one of the shorter edges, make a paper fan (or accordion). Fold the short edge over 1/2 to 1 inch. Turn your paper over and fold the same edge again, making another 1/2 inch fold. Continue turning and folding until you’ve completed the accordion effect.
  4. Wrap one end of your pipe cleaner around the middle of your tissue paper accordion.
  5. Round the corners of your tissue paper by trimming with a pair of scissors.
  6. Spread out your accordion until it forms a flat, circular shape.
  7. Pull the first layer of tissue paper up toward the center of your accordion, all the way around the circle.
  8. Pull up the next layer of tissue paper the same way, toward your first layer. Continue pulling and fluffing your layers.
  9. Your paper flower is finished!

Oct
22
2014

Take Our United Nations Quiz!

This year, United Nations Day is celebrated on October 24th. The United Nations is an organization that was created to promote international cooperation. In 2001, they even won the Nobel Peace Prize! Many believe that the organization is an important force for peace around the world.

Listen up, Globetrotters – it’s time to test your United Nations knowledge:

1. When was the United Nations Formed?

a.  1925
b.  1935
c.  1945

2. How many original member countries were part of the United Nations?

a.  20
b.  51
c.  67

3.  The following are all missions of the United Nations; fill in the blank to complete the sentences:

a.  To keep _______ and security around the world.  (peace, love or cheer)
b. To develop friendly relations among all ____________.   (countries, cities or nations)
c.  To help improve living standards of all ________.  (kittens, people or humans)
d.  To _________ Human Rights.  (serve, protect or earn)

4. There are 6 official languages used at the United Nations. Fill in the missing one:

Arabic, Chinese, English, ____________, Russian and Spanish. (Portuguese, French or Hindi)

5. On the United Nations flag, what is surrounding the World map?

a.  Doves
b.  Olive branches
c.  Hearts

Check back for answers in the comment section tomorrow! 

For those global citizens who would like to learn more, you can check out the UN website.
You may also look into whether or not your school has (or could create) a Model United Nations organization.

Happy United Nations Day – October 24th 2014!

Oct
15
2014

Make Your Own Diya for Diwali

Namaste, explorers! The time for Diwali is nearly here!

Diwali is the five-day Hindu Festival of Lights. Homes are cleaned and decorated with diyas, strings of lights, flower garlands and paper chains, and doorstep designs are made for good luck with colored powders called Rangolis. Popular activities include playing card games, dressing up in new clothes, exchanging boxes of sweets and worship. Our friend Kim, from “The Educator’s Spin On It,” celebrates with her family by making their own diyas. Read more and learn to make your own!

Make Your Own Diya

Diyas are a small type of lamp, lit on Diwali for worship and decorative purposes. Diyas come in a variety of options: they can be plain, colorful, simple, fancy, big or small! Traditionally they are made out of clay and then filled with oil to be lit. They are lined up on building edges and windowsills and illuminated during Diwali.

Here is a fun way for you and your little one to create your own diya for Diwali:

Materials Needed:

  • Small beads
  • Air Clay or Playdough
  • Rolling pin
  • Plastic knife
  • Stamps
  • Ink Pad
  • Small bowl
  • Paint or markers
  • Votive candle or battery operated candle

 

Directions:

Roll out the air clay or play dough to a smooth thin layer.


Place a bowl upside-down on top of the clay, and cut around the bowl to create a circle.


Stamp the clay using a pre-made stamp or carve out by hand.

Include ink to add colors. (Optional)


Take the clay circle and gently set into the small bowl to form the bowl shape of the diya.  Add small beads for decoration. Allow clay to dry overnight. Remove from bowl to complete drying.


Once dry, paint the bowl for added decoration. (Optional)  Add the candle to the diya and illuminate at night on Diwali!

 

Kim Vij is an early childhood educator and mom of three. She shares her “Educator’s Spin” on parenting issues and how to make everyday moments into learning opportunities at The Educators’ Spin On It and award winning Pinterest Boards. You can connect with Kim on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Google+.

Oct
13
2014

Thanksgiving Day in Canada

Did you know that the first North American Thanksgiving didn’t involve Pilgrims, or a big ship called The Mayflower, or even take place in the United States? It’s true! In fact, the earliest-known version of Thanksgiving in North America actually took place in Canada more than forty years before the Pilgrims arrived in the New World.

In the 1570s, an English explorer named Sir Martin Frobisher made three voyages to North America. He was in search of an Arctic sailing route to the Far East and India called the Northwest Passage. Frobisher was the first European to sail into what would later be called “Frobisher Bay,” a large inlet on Baffin Island which is located between Greenland and mainland Canada. It was during the third trip in 1578, upon the expedition’s safe return to Newfoundland, that Frobisher and his men celebrated their good fortune with thanks.

In 1879, drawing on Frobisher’s history, as well as the Pilgrims’ 1621 harvest celebration, Parliament proclaimed that Canada would have a “day of General Thanksgiving” each year on the second Monday of October. In America, the shopping phenomenon of “Black Friday” occurs on the day after Thanksgiving, when people swarm the stores and shop for holiday sales. However, that has not caught on in Canada yet. Canadians have those kinds of sales on the day after Christmas, December 26th, also known as Boxing Day. http://bit.ly/1o48qpE

Despite the differences between the two Thanksgivings, what Canadians and Americans do agree on is the food! In both countries, families gather to eat pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and lots and lots of turkey. French-speaking Montréal is one exception, though. Thanksgiving is called “action de grâce” and the celebratory meal is quite different. You are more likely to find smoked mackerel on the tables there than turkey. The mackerel can be folded into warm potato salad, formed into cakes and topped with tartar sauce, puréed into pâté, or served on toast with cream cheese and pickled onions.

Maybe this year you should suggest adding smoked mackerel to your family’s usual Thanksgiving menu!