Nov
17
2014

A Montessori-Inspired Approach to Little Passports

This week, we’ve asked Deb Chitwood of LivingMontessoriNow.com to share the fun and educational ways that you can use Little Passports with preschoolers. Read on to see examples of her creative ideas!

It’s fun and rewarding to incorporate Little Passports packages into a Montessori-inspired geography curriculum. I’m sharing some ideas using Montessori principles that show ways you can use the Little Passports World Edition packages with preschoolers.

Montessori-Inspired Little Passports Global Adventure

Preparatory Work with Globes, Maps, and Continent Boxes

The activities below work well if you homeschool your child or your child attends a Montessori school. You just need to choose the activities that work best for your own child and family.

The Montessori preschool geography curriculum introduces the Montessori land and water globe and continent globe before the world continent map. You could make DIY Montessori globes, or just point out the concepts of land and water and the seven continents on your globe at home.

Continent map work is easier to prepare. While starting with a globe is best, you could start with a Montessori continent map to introduce the continents at home.

Continent Map Labeling Tray Continent Map Labeling Tray

I designed a continent map tray that was prepared by using free printables. This is helpful to have on your shelf throughout the year. I recommend introducing the continents before your child receives the first Little Passports package.

Montessori continent boxes (or continent baskets or trays) give preschoolers a hands-on way of experiencing each continent. I like to include hands-on continent activities before studying the individual countries. You’ll find lots of ideas for hands-on continent activities in my continent box posts.

If you have a homeschool, you’ll find it helpful to introduce some continent box activities before introducing the related Little Passports country package. If your child attends a Montessori school, you might find that you only need to emphasize the name of the continent related to your current Little Passports package.

Montessori-Inspired Little Passports Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I’ve prepared Montessori-inspired activities to go with the Little Passports World Edition packages. You’ll find links to activities for each of the first-year subscription packages in my Montessori-Inspired Little Passports Global Adventure post. I’m gradually including activities for each of the second-year packages, too.

Montessori-Inspired Little Passports Activities - France

As an example, for the Little Passports France package (package four) I prepared some map work, a photo-booklet-making activity using the Little Passports online Boarding Zone resources, and two activities extending the camera/photo focus from the package. The activities used free printables I found online (with links included in my posts).

Montessori-Inspired Global Adventure Pinterest Board and Related Continent Resource Boards

Follow Deb @ Living Montessori Now’s board Montessori-Inspired Global Adventure on Pinterest.

Be sure to check out the Montessori-Inspired Global Adventure Pinterest Board and each of the related continent educational resource boards (which include resources for the related countries included in the Little Passports World Edition packages). The Pinterest boards contain ideas and activities that can be used to create continent boxes and complete unit studies for a variety of ages to go with your Little Passports packages. I add geography resources to Pinterest each month.

Here are links to each of the Pinterest boards in the order the continents are introduced through Little Passports:

 

Little Passports Early Explorers and Montessori-Inspired Activities

I’m excited about the new Early Explorers packages for children ages 3-5! The activities I’ve prepared for the World Edition work well for preschoolers and are a great way to include preschoolers in a homeschool unit study of a particular country. The Early Explorers packages focus on themes that are different from the World Edition packages. Early Explorers packages can also be used to create activity trays and can be used instead of or in addition to the World Edition activities I’ve shared.

The Need for Repetition

Montessori education emphasizes the young child’s need for repetition to meet the needs of sensitive periods. By making activity trays with the Little Passports materials, your child can enjoy doing the activities over and over and maximizing the educational benefits of Little Passports. One of the best benefits is that Little Passports combined with Montessori ideas can give your child a lifelong love of geography.

About Deb Chitwood
Deb Chitwood Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego.

On her blog at LivingMontessoriNow.com, she writes about Montessori activities and ideas, homeschooling, and parenting. She also helps parents and teachers feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12 in her eBook, Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy (2013, Spring Snow Publications). You can connect with Deb on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.

Nov
5
2014

Thailand Festival of Lights

Every year in Thailand, fireworks crackle, candle-lit lanterns lift into the night air, and tiny rafts bearing candles – along with wishes and prayers woes – float away into the dark. This is the Thailand Festival of Lights!

Despite its name, the Thailand Festival of Lights is actually made up of two different festivals: Loi Krathong, the most widely celebrated throughout the country, and Yi Peng, which is commemorated in harmony with Loi Krathong, in Northern Thailand. The dates change every year, but because each one is determined by the full moon, they always occur at the same time – usually in November. This year, they fall on November 6th.

So, what are these festivals all about? Though their origins are unique, over time, they have come to share similar meanings.

Loi Krathong’s history is still up for debate, but many believe it started as a Brahman ritual which, over the centuries, evolved into a celebration of Buddha. During Loi Krathong, people create rafts called krathongs, made in the shape of open lotus flowers, the symbol of Buddhism. They are decorated with flowers, incense and candles. Traditionally, these vessels were made from banana leaves, but today you’re just as likely to see krathongs fashioned from bread!

When evening falls, the maker of the krathong lights a candle and thinks of a wish or prayer before gently pushing it into the river. If the krathong disappears before the candle burns out, it’s believed that the wish comes true. Krathongs carry more than wishes! Oftentimes, celebrants place locks of hair into the baskets, believing they will whisk away bad luck.

Traditional believers set a coin in the middle of the krathong as a tribute to the Thai goddess of the river, Phra Mae Khongkha. Because of this, festival-goers may hear the splish-splash of children diving in the water to fetch the coins before they float away!

Yi Peng is marked by the Lanna, or Northern Thai, calendar, and has always been a tribute to Buddha. Yi means two, or second, and Peng means full moon, so the holiday is always celebrated during the full moon of the second lunar month of the Lanna calendar. Instead of krathongs, lanterns take center stage in this festival! There are carrying lanterns that migrate from parades to temples, elegant hanging lanterns and vibrant spinning lanterns, and–most famously–the sky lanterns.

Known as khom loi, these sky lanterns mimic hot air balloons. Many people say a short prayer before lighting their khom loi, while others write notes or addresses onto the lanterns.

Because Chiang Mai celebrates both festivals, the city is regarded as one of the most spectacular places to partake in the festivities. Here, onlookers enjoy multiple days of events, which include beauty pageants, parades, fireworks, and, of course, the lighting of candles and lanterns. On the night of the full moon, the city is glowing with light, reflected in the water and sky. It’s a magical sight!

Learn more about Thailand by subscribing to our World Edition!

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
8
2014

Ancient Egypt Activity Sheet

As Halloween approaches many of us are on the hunt for the perfect mask, but did you know that in Ancient Egypt masks and headdresses were worn by different members of the Royal Court year round? Download this activity from our World Edition’s Egypt package and learn about the different headdresses that were worn. You might even find some inspiration for your own perfect Egyptian costume!

Download our free printable activity sheet here:

Still looking for Halloween costume inspiration? Check out our Pinterest board filled with global themed ideas for the kiddos: http://bit.ly/1xmz0dla

 

Oct
1
2014

It’s World Vegetarian Day!

Sure, you know what broccoli looks like. And just last night, you tried to sneak your green beans to your cat. But can you picture a kohlrabi? Did you know that in Mexico, it’s common to serve cactus for dinner?

In honor of World Vegetarian Day on October 1, we went digging for the globe’s most interesting vegetables – and how to eat them. Here, we offer up some of our favorite discoveries. We guarantee you won’t be trying to hide any of them beneath your mashed potatoes.

Tiger nuts


Though they look may look and taste like nuts, tiger nuts are actually tiny tubers – the part of a plant that stores nutrients. Tiger nuts belong to a family of grass-like sedge plants. An important food for the ancient Egyptians (tubers were found in tombs dating back some 6,000 years), today they are cherished in Spain and Nigeria, where they are used to make a sweet, milk-like drink, often flavored with cinnamon or vanilla. Both countries have a unique name and recipe for the delicious drink. Try it both ways!

Kunnu Aya (Nigeria): http://bit.ly/ZibYZX
Horchata de Chufa (Spain): http://bit.ly/1nBhemo

Kohlrabi


Just about every part of the kohlrabi plant can be eaten (raw or cooked), from its leaves to its stems to its bizarrely-shaped root. In the same family as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, kohlrabi is particularly popular in Kashmir, the northwestern region of India. It also appears in nutritionist Jonny Bowden’s book, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” in which he describes this curious-looking vegetable as a “cross between an octopus and a space capsule.” You can prepare kohlrabi in tons of scrumptious ways. Our favorite? Home fries.

Kohlrabi Home Fries: http://nyti.ms/1CByWtc

Nopales

It might seem strange to put a prickly pear cactus on your plate, but if you’re digging into nopales, you’re doing just that (don’t worry, the prickles are removed). A native of Mexico, nopales frequently star in stews, salads, chilies and eggs—and as soon as they’re grilled, their name changes! Cooked nopales are called “nopalitos.” We like them best that way, especially when wrapped in a tortilla and served taco-style.

Nopales Tempura Tacos: http://bit.ly/1rz0cVE

Romanesco

This edible flower would ace math class. Its electric-green, intricate florets comprise a naturally-occurring Fibonacci fractal (think repetitive, spiral patterns). Cultivated by Italian farmers as far back as the 1600s, Romanesco (like kohlrabi, above) is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Season it with red pepper flakes, lemon, and garlic, then sauté it in olive oil for an irresistible dish.

Sautéed Romanesco: http://bit.ly/1qP49QZ

 

Do YOU have a fun vegetable recipe? Tell us in the comments!

 

Sep
24
2014

Welcoming Fall with a Little Leaf Peeping

Autumn leaves keep falling on my head but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red. Why? I’ll be too busy practicing my fractions.

As the Fall season approaches, we watch countless leaves fall from the trees and fill up our yards. Here’s an activity from the New Hampshire State Journal from our USA Edition using falling leaves to help us learn about fractions. Download our free printable activity sheet here:

Learn much more about New Hampshire with with Sam & Sofia! Subscribe to our USA Edition today.

Sep
15
2014

Turkish Treat

During their trip to Turkey, Sam and Sofia tried Turkish bread, called “ekmek.” People in Turkey eat it with soups and stews. Sam and Sofia learned a recipe for Turkish bread “pizza.” Pick up some Turkish bread from the grocery store and follow the recipe below for a tasty Turkish treat!

Turkish Pizza Bread

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 4

What You Will Need

  • 2 loaves Turkish bread, medium thickness
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives, kalamata or black
  • 8 fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut each loaf in half (lengthwise) so you have 4 flat pieces. Drizzle the bread with olive oil.
  3. Evenly crumble the feta cheese over the bread.
  4. Slice the grape tomatoes and olives in half and place on top of cheese.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle fresh basil leaves on top. Enjoy!

Sep
10
2014

Raising Global Citizens in Paris!

What’s it like to be an American raising a family in France? We asked guest blogger Mary Winston Nicklin, a travel writer based in Paris, and mom to 4-year old Jane and 1-year old Cecilia.

Little Passports:  What’s it like to be an American raising kids in Paris?

Mary Nicklin:  There’s been a lot of buzz about the book Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, which explores a lot of the French-American cultural differences in parenting. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Paris is a fantastic place to raise kids. The cafes are children-friendly, and there are so many attractions! One favorite of ours is the ice skating rink set up in front of the Hotel de Ville, which is free (skate rental costs 5 euros). We can also walk to the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, which has got to be one of the most charming zoos on the planet. The original animals were Marie Antoinette’s at Versailles, and the focus is on biodiversity with exhibits featuring protected species from all over the world.

LP:  As a travel writer, what’s the most interesting place you’ve written about?

MN:  What a question! I feel idealistically about travel and consider it critical for cultural understanding. The places I’m drawn to are the ones with authenticity, where sites haven’t been trampled, local cultural traditions thrive, and there are opportunities for meaningful exchange. It doesn’t have to be “exotic” – I’ve been affected by trips to rural Virginia (my home state) and also the villages in “la France profonde.” I feel lucky to have lived for awhile in El Salvador, the tiniest country in Central America which also has the biggest heart. Now I’m obsessed with the Maghreb, and Tunisia specifically. From the oases in the Sahara to the whitewashed coastal towns on the Mediterranean, Tunisia is one of the finest places I’ve ever traveled, and I’m inspired by their newly ratified Constitution, which is a model for democracy in the Arab world.

LP:  As a mom, how do you encourage your kids to learn about the world and other cultures?

MN:  Travel is eye-opening, but there is so much for us to discover right in our own backyards. I think the key is to look at your hometown with the eyes of a traveler, completely open to discovery. I find myself marveling, alongside my daughter Jane, about certain French customs. For example: The other day after school (yep, school! The French start ‘em young- at 3 years old!) Jane got really excited about some music she heard on the street. We kept walking, and as we rounded the corner we stumbled upon a veritable orchestra making their way down the street. French horns, trumpet players, all tipping a hat towards the tall apartment buildings for residents to toss down coins. We ran after them and danced along and dropped a few coins in the hat, bien sûr. I’ve seen this several times around the Paris streets and I think it’s marvelous.

Paris is a cosmopolitan city, so we like to get out and explore other cultural celebrations. They have a fabulous Chinese New Year fete in the 13th arrondissement, complete with booming firecrackers and a parade with dragon floats. We’re also learning some Arabic words from moms whose kids go to school with Jane. (It’s really multicultural.) Some of the moms are from Mali but they’ve given up on me; the sounds are so different and I’m hopeless!

LP:  Thanks for sharing!

Mary Winston Nicklin is a writer based in Paris, where she is raising her two daughters. She has been published in many top media outlets, such as Condé Nast Traveler, Afar, USAToday.com, Jetsetter.com, and France Today. You can learn more about Mary on her website.

Sep
4
2014

A Grandparents Day Reading List for Kids!

Grandparents Day is a special day for Little Passports. It’s a day we strongly believe in celebrating!

We encourage all of our young Global Citizens to ask their grandparents (or an elderly person they have a special bond with) about their childhood. Ask them where they grew up and what their town was like. Ask them about their favorite travels and adventures! They’ve been explorers for many years, and will have some exciting stories to share with you.

Speaking of stories, we wanted to share our own Grandparents Day Reading List, with some of our favorite books involving Grandparents.

1.  Pirate Gran, by Geraldine Durrant

Gran is no ordinary gran, she’s been a pirate since she was a young girl. She still wears her pirate hat around the house, carves the roast with her cutlass and even keeps a pet crocodile under her bed!

2. Our Grandparents, by Maya Ajmera, Sheila Kinkade and Cynthia Pon

This photo album captures relationships between kids and grandparents around the world. Flip through the photos and feel the love kids and grandparents share.

4. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

This is a tale of a joyful orphan sent to live with her hermit-like grandfather in the Swiss Alps. There, she helps change the lives of not only her grandfather, but many others.

5. The Moon Lady, by Amy Tan

On a rainy afternoon, three sisters wish for the rain to stop, wish they could play in the puddles, wish for something, ANYTHING, to do. So their grandmother, Ying Yang tells them an old tale about the night she met the Moon Lady, who grants the secret wishes of those who ask.

Enjoy these other great reads involving grandparents:

  • Here Comes Grandma, by Janet Lord
  •  Me With You, by Kristy Dempsey
  • The Mitten, by Jan Brett
  • The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flournoy
  •  Phoenix (5 Ancestors Out of the Ashes Series #1), by Jeff Stone
  • Abuela, by Arthur Dorros

 

To all the grandparents around the world – we honor you today and every day. We thank you for the wisdom you impart,  the love you provide, and the stories you tell!