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!

Aug
13
2014

Back to School Traditions Around the World!

Around the world, kids are getting ready to go back to school. Some are picking out fresh boxes of crayons and pencils, while others are getting new lunch boxes and backpacks. Here’s a look at what students in different countries are doing to prepare for a new year of learning!

 

First Day of School in Japan

In Japan, children carry all of their school supplies in a randoseru to school. This hard-sided backpack is filled with books, origami paper and a special pencil case called a fudebako. For students who bring their own lunch to school, the tradition on the first day, thought to bring good luck, is to bring a lunch of rice with seaweed sauce and quail eggs. Also, since outdoor shoes are not permitted inside the school, students will bring their own pair of slippers.

First Day of School in Holland

In Holland, bakfietsen, or cargo bikes, are frequently used by parents to take their kids to school.  These bikes have a large box that sits on one or two wheels in front of the rider. Bakfietsen owners love that they are eco-friendly and don’t require a parking spot. The bikes are so popular with parents that nearly all bakfietsen are used to tote around the kiddies! On the first day back, students are sure to be rolling up to school in one of these smart inventions.

First Day of School in Germany

For a very long time now (200 years!), kids in Germany have been given a Schultuete (pronounced shool-too-teh) on the first day of school. A Schultuete, which translates to “school cone,” is a large, decorated paper cone filled with school supplies, small presents and sweet things to eat. Sometimes they’re nearly as large as the child!

First Day of School in Russia

To celebrate the beginning of a brand new year of learning, the first day of school in Russia is called the “Day of Knowledge.” On this day, children traditionally give colorful bouquets of fresh flowers to their teachers and receive balloons in return.

What’s YOUR back to school tradition? Tell us in the comments!

Explore more fascinating back to school traditions from around the world on our Pinterest board: http://bit.ly/1phq4mD

Aug
7
2014

Celebrating Family at the Obon Festival in Japan!

Join Sam & Sofia as they talk about their plans to celebrate Japan’s Obon Festival with friends!

Next week from August 13-15, the Obon Festival will take place in Japan. This is a special three-day Buddhist celebration during which Japanese families have reunions to honor their ancestors. This year our friend Nanami has invited us to join her family for the festivities!

Members of Nanami’s family will come from all over Japan to her home near Tokushima to take part in the tradition. Namani says her grandmother Amaterasu always decorates the house for Obon with beautiful flowers, special plates of delicious summer vegetables and fruits like suika (watermelon) and lots of decorative paper lanterns.

On the second day of Obon, we’ll head into Tokushima City for a traditional bon odori (folk dance). (In Tokushima the special name for the dance is awa dori). Nanami says there will be more than a million people there to celebrate!

Just like other traditional Japanese festivals, the streets of Tokushima will be lined with stalls called yatai which sell food like okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), cotton candy and chocolate-covered waffle stick. Plus we’ll get to play Japanese festival games like yo-yo fishing and bouncy ball scooping. There will be even be dancers and musicians parading through the streets until the sun goes down.

When the sun has set, the city center shuts down and becomes a huge dance stage. Hundreds of dancers, performing on multiple stages, will break into rhythm to the sound of gongs and drums.  For one dance, called the “Fool’s Dance,” they will chant something that translates to “the dancers are fools and the watchers are fools. Both are fools alike, so why not dance?” Just as they say, we in the audience may be invited to join the dance with them!

At the end of Obon, we will be able to participate in the toro nagashi, or floating of lanterns, which is a ceremony meant to remember our ancestors. We will walk from Nanami’s house to the Yoshino River where we’ll launch glittering paper lanterns on the surface of the water and allow them to float gently to the ocean.

It is truly amazing to think that the decorations, the dance and the festivities have been evolving into the current celebration for more than 400 years. But the most important part of Obon has remained the same, and that is celebrating the importance of relatives, home and the traditions of families.

Discover more about Japan and its culture with our World Edition

Jul
17
2014

3 Tips for Traveling Abroad with Kids

- Meet Candace Thomas, a stay at home mom of two boys and editor-in-chief of the lifestyle blog Luxe…With Kids. We asked her to share her thoughts on why traveling abroad with kids is so important.

My family recently took our first European vacation with our sons, aged two- and four-years old. It was their longest flight to date, and first major time zone change! Traveling the world with small children can be intimidating and demanding. But you’re giving your children a wonderful gift, both in terms of memories and in the sense of widening their perspective. It’s amazing to watch them develop the ability to appreciate their own culture, and also start to recognize common cultural differences. When you introduce your children to the world, you’re inspiring a curiosity and sense of wanderlust!

Here are three ways to inspire your global citizen before, during, and after your journey:

1) Before: Visualize Your Upcoming Trip

We love to look at maps and pictures, especially large world maps. Kids are instantly drawn to the different colors, shapes, letters and symbols. We point out where our family is from and talk about our heritage. We also talk about friends from school, people in our neighborhood, and others with whom we’ve crossed paths. You will be amazed at how many people you know from all over the world.

We have our Little Passports World Map on the wall, and the first thing our five-year old said when we announced we were going to Switzerland and England was, “let’s go look at where it is on our map!”

 


2) During: Think ‘What’s Different?’

What’s different about walking around in Vevay, Switzerland, compared to walking around in Houston, Texas? Well… they are speaking French, there are mountains AND they have Kinder Egg chocolates (a child’s fascination with a Kinder Egg knows no end). One of my favorite reasons for traveling is not only seeing new places and experiencing new cultures, but also to view home with a fresh set of eyes. We constantly ask our kids “what’s different”, “what do you like about it”, “how does it taste different”, “what do you think about…” These are engaging questions that help you see the impression travel leaves on your children’s thoughts. Don’t shelter them from what is different, highlight and celebrate it!

3) After: Remembering When You’re Home

Each of our boys picked out a special stuffed animal from Hamley’s, the incredible five-story toy store on Regent Street in London, as a souvenir to take home. They named their teddy bears ‘London’ and ‘Hamley’. When our older son returned to school, his teacher asked him to share his favorite thing about Switzerland. His reply? Playing in the snow.

Yep, he did play in the snow…in the SWISS ALPS! We still talk about Big Ben, double decker buses, the accents, the ride on the “tube” and eating fish and chips. We use the stuffed animals we brought home as a prop to engage them in a trip down memory lane. It’s not just a teddy bear, but a representation of the entire adventure!

The Bottom Line

Traveling internationally can be a great experience for kids. Don’t let long flights and time zones deter you; children are resilient and adjust quickly. Inspire your children to explore the world around them and instill a lifelong desire to travel!

 

About the Author:

Candace Thomas is a stay at home mom to two boys and editor-in-chief of Luxe…With Kids. Follow her and her family’s adventures on facebook , twitter and instagram.