Chinese New Year & Dental Health Month: Discounts & Resources

bilingual chinese new year dental health monthPlan early – the month of February brings two great events to enjoy with the kids: Chinese New Year and Dental Health Month. Read on for discounts and free resources that will add a bilingual twist to your celebrations! (Read about other New Year celebrations around the world here.)

Chinese New Year

chinese dragon international holidays diversity

Chinese New Year is on February 19, 2015. Also known as Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is the country’s most important social and economic holiday. Traditionally, it is a time to renew and honor family bonds through elaborate rituals and feasts.

Celebrate this special holiday, at home and in the classroom, with the bilingual children’s book entitled Li’s Chinese New Year. Available in English and your choice of 10 different languages, the story follows Li, who is trying to decide what animal costume to wear to the school’s big New Year assembly. Will he be a fierce tiger or a strong ox? And what year will his new cousin be born in? Readers can find all twelve of the zodiac animals throughout the story, and discover facts and activities relating to the holiday at the back of the book.

Now through February 28, 2015 get 10% off Li’s Chinese New Year by entering discount code CNY2015 at checkout!

If you’re planning to teach your students about Chinese New Year, be sure to check out our FREE standards-based lesson plan that includes this holiday’s history, traditions and the many languages spoken in China. This great resource was created by our friends at West Chester University of PA.

Dental Health Month

nd strupler dental project

In February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors Dental Health Month. This year’s slogan is “Defeat Monster Mouth!” The goal of Dental Health Month is to promote oral health by establishing good habits early and getting regular dental check ups. The ADA offers free resources for parents and teachers, including a Planning Guide and activity sheets.

To help kids prepare for a trip to the dentist, Language Lizard offers the bilingual children’s book Sahir Goes to the Dentist. It tells the story of Sahir, who has lost a tooth, and Yasmin, who has a cavity. Both children visit the dentist and learn valuable lessons about how to properly care for their teeth. The book is available in English and your choice of 23 different languages.

Now through February 28, 2015 get 10% off Sahir Goes to the Dentist by entering discount code DENTIST at checkout!

Also, check out our post for 5 ways to turn kids’ post-winter break excitement into fun language opportunities!

Leave a comment below and tell us how you will be celebrating Chinese New Year and Dental Health Month with your students and family!

Dragon photo by Kenny Louie via Flickr, some rights reserved.

Toothbrush photo by ND Strupler via Flickr, some rights reserved.

A New Year’s Resolution for Language Learners

kid reading bilingual bookIf your plans for 2015 include learning a new language with your kids, or passing on your native language to them, there is one New Year’s resolution that will help your kids learn faster and also make the process more fun for the whole family.

Bilinguals: “Brain Bodybuilders”

Using Music to Help Children Learn Languages

In addition to the many and varied benefits to being bilingual, new research has found something new: bilinguals have more efficient brains that filter out important information from a mass of data faster than brains of monolinguals. This amazing brain benefit is seen as early as infancy. Babies exposed to more than one language have faster image recognition compared to their peers.

Increase Their Language Exposure – And Don’t Give Up!

Parents can become frustrated that their kids aren’t picking up the second language “automatically.” Aren’t their minds supposed to be like sponges? It may be that they need broader language exposure, in more areas of their lives. It’s estimated that kids need to be exposed to a language at least 30% of the time before they begin internalizing it.

There is a growing movement in Europe that disperses foreign language instruction throughout the entire curriculum, instead of keeping it isolated in a single language class. In the US, language immersion schools are becoming more popular, and their students are showing very promising results. True internalization happens when a new language reaches into all different corners of a child’s life.

Make a Resolution to Add a Self-Motivating Activity

In order to learn a new language, your child must learn its essential vocabulary. While this may sound like an enormous task, the bulk of any language is made up of a few hundred words, so you don’t have to know the majority of its words to communicate effectively. Knowing filler words like “and,” “but” and “so” are essential because they buy a few moments to think what to say next. It also helps to practice answers to the most commonly asked questions, like “Where are you from?” and “What do you like to do?” because it boosts a new speaker’s confidence.

To help your kids learn vocabulary faster, try practicing it in a way that is fun and self-motivating! By weaving language into activities they already love, new words will quickly become a real part of their lives. We know, of course, that kids of all ages benefit from the simple act of reading with their parents. Little ones also respond well to singing in a new language. Or, try turning a kids’ treasure or scavenger hunt into a language learning game!

springtime language learning: scavenger and treasure hunts

Parents can find a wealth of kid-friendly content online by using Google or websites like Youtube. Older kids might be interested in foreign kids’ TV shows, foreign music, kids’ blogs in foreign languages, cartoons, recipes, or even video games.

It’s also great to get your kid’s friends involved. You could have a foreign language movie night, or foreign language-themed party with word games like Pictionary and karaoke singing. If you can, set up a play date with other kids who speak fluently. Being in the midst of a foreign language play date can give your child a new appreciation for the language, and greater motivation to participate in the conversation.

Whatever fun, motivating activities you decide to take on in 2015, be proud that you’re making the effort to give your kids the gift of language and culture. Rest assured, it’s a gift they will benefit from every day of their lives.

What kind of language-themed activities do your kids love doing? Post below and share your ideas!

 

Classroom kids photo by caseywest via Flickr, some rights reserved

Scavenger hunt photo by Umair Mohsin via flicker, some rights reserved.

Celebrate with Holiday Foods from Around the World

International diversity foods pizza heart shape

photo by Anderson Mancini via Flickr

Your little ones are home for winter break, perhaps stuck inside because of bad weather. Or you have out-of-town guests visiting, and many meals to plan. Don’t let holiday stress get you down! Take a culinary journey by trying out these winter holiday dishes from all around the world. Use it as a creative potluck theme, and everyone can join in the fun! Follow up each meal with a storybook from the same part of the world, and your kids will have an experience that nourishes the body and mind.

India – Gulab Jamun

gulab jamun

photo by Premnath Thirumalaisamy via Flickr

In India, Diwali is the winter holiday known as the Festival of Lights. One tradition is to give sweets to friends and neighbors. (Find a great Diwali storybook here.) Gulab Jamun, which translates to “rose berries,” are deep fried dough balls covered in rose water-scented syrup. Here is a step-by-step recipe with photos.

Japan – Udon Noodle Soup

bowl of Japanese udon noodles

photo by Kamatama via Flickr

It’s believed that udon noodles were first brought to Japan from China in the 800s by Buddhist monks. Udon noodles, made from wheat flour, are thick and chewy. They can be served in a variety of ways: cold or hot, with sauce or stir-fried. Its neutral flavor matches well with a variety of ingredients.  In Japan’s cold, winter months, hot udon noodle soup is a popular comfort food. If you want to eat your udon the traditional way, don’t forget to use chopsticks, and you can show your appreciation with an enthusiastic slurping sound! Martha Stewart has a recipe for Udon Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms in Ginger Broth.

Mexico – Tamales

lucianvenutian via Flickr

photo by lucianvenutian via Flickr

Tamales have been eaten in what is now known as Central America since before 5,000 B.C. They quickly grew in popularity due to their portability and the way they can fill the belly. Made from masa dough that is filled with meats, cheese or vegetables, tamales are wrapped in a corn husk, then steamed or boiled. They are traditionally made during the holidays, because tamales take many hands to assemble, and are cooked in huge batches. Here is a great pork tamale recipe, courtesy of PBS.

Germany – Speckknoedel

speckknoedel in a bowl

photo by Christian Allinger via Flickr

Speckknoedel are the dumplings of Europe’s mountainous Alpine region. They were probably invented and then gained popularity as a winter food because they enabled people to stretch ever-dwindling meat and bread supplies in the cold months. Give this recipe for speckknoedel soup from Food Network a try.

Mongolia – Buuz  

Mongolian Buuz

photo by Аркадий Зарубин via Wikimedia Commons

Mongolian Lunar New Year, known as Tsagaan Sar, is considered one of the culture’s most important holidays. It is a time of year dedicated to family and feasts. (You can find a great storybook about Chinese New Year here.) Warm meat- and vegetable-filled dumplings called Buuz are a popular and delicious holiday treat. Here is a buuz recipe you can try at home.

Finland – Glögg

Glögg

photo by Mr. Choppers via Wikimedia Commons

During Yule, Finland’s midwinter holiday season, Glögg is a very popular alcohol drink that is served hot. It is made from red wine and a combination of spices, and can be combined with raisins, blanched almonds or ginger biscuits. This traditional glögg recipe it is sure to warm the spirits of your adult guests.

Give these international holiday foods a try this season, and your family can get a taste of life in another land. Don’t forget to check out our tips to having a Bilingual Staycation, or learn how people celebrate New Year’s around the world.

Comment below and share your favorite winter holiday foods and recipes!

 

Photo Credits

Pizza in heart shape photo by Anderson Mancini via Flickr, some rights reserved

Gulab Jamun photo by Premnath Thirumalaisamy via Flickr, some rights reserved

Udon noodle soup photo by Kamatama via Flickr, some rights reserved

Tamales photo by lucianvenutian via Flickr, some rights reserved

Buuz photo by Аркадий Зарубин via Wikimedia Commons, some rights reserved

Speckknoedel photo by Christian Allinger via Flickr, some rights reserved

Glogg photo by Mr. Choppers via Wikimedia Commons, some rights reserved

Language Lizard’s Bilingual Gift Guide for the Holidays

child holding wrapped gift
Research has shown there are countless benefits to growing up with more than one language. Better higher-level brain function, and improved communication and problem-solving skills are just a few. If you’re searching for a bilingual holiday gift, we can help you pick just the right item for that special language learner in your life.

Bilingual Families

bilingual very hungry caterpillar wheels on the busFamilies that already speak a second language will love the gift of a dual-language book. Language Lizard offers hundreds of titles, in over 40 different languages. Each page of these beautifully illustrated stories is told in both English and a second language of your choice. Reading aloud to kids leads to greater success in school and encourages a lifelong love of reading. A bilingual book is a gift of precious family time. Reading together as a family strengthens emotional bonds and improves kids’ social skills.

Bilingual book set of 10

Bilingual Book Sets are another great gift option for bilingual families, and an excellent value. Each set is hand selected to include our most popular titles. It’s a great way to help a family start its own bilingual library at home!

Families Learning a New Language Together

Bilingual CD and bookA bilingual story book with an accompanying audio story CD, or a colorful picture dictionary with a CDROM, is perfect for families learning a new language together. The family can listen to the text in the new language, while they follow along in the book. As many adult language learners will tell you, simultaneously hearing a language spoken and seeing it written is a great way to learn a new language faster.

Older Bilingual Childrenbilingual childrens book and poster

A bilingual book is clearly a great choice if you’re shopping for a child who can already read in a second language. You can search for books according to age or reading level. Language Lizard also offers a selection of colorful bilingual posters, which will appeal to kids of all different ages and interests.

Educators & Organizations that Support Dual Language Learners

bilingual book poster flash cards

Do you know someone who is working with students learning English or another language? Educators will love our selection of high-quality teaching cards, reference books and classroom posters. These products not only inspire students to learn a new language, they help kids connect with characters from other cultures. Language Lizard also offers free lesson plans based on a range of book titles and themes.

Language Lizard Gift Certificates

Language Lizard gift certificateLastly, gift certificates are always a great option for every kind of language learner. Gift certificates are available in any amount, and can be personalized with a message to the recipient. They are emailed within one business day (or you can choose the regular mail option).

For additional ideas on selecting culturally appropriate bilingual children’s books, please see the blog post: From Hiccups to Tuk-Tuks: Our Selection of Culturally Appropriate Bilingual Children’s Books.

Did you grow up bilingual, or even multilingual? Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite language-related gifts and memories from your childhood!

 

Tomorrow is the Last Day – Get 10% Off Gift Certificates! Give the Gift of Language & Culture for #GivingTuesday

Photo by peddhapati via flickr, some rights reserved

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Just a reminder that our special Language Lizard gift certificate offer will expire at the end of the day tomorrow, #GivingTuesday.

To receive a 10% discount on all Language Lizard Gift Certificates, simply add the item to your cart, choose the amount of your gift and the recipient, and use COUPON CODE LLGiving2014 upon checkout (by Dec 2nd 2014).

Language Lizard gift certificates allow you to share bilingual books with students, teachers, librarians, and others who support dual-language children. Your recipients can choose books in over 40 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Japanese, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and more!

You can also add a special note of thanks on your gift certificates, and have them sent via email within one business day!

Happy Reading!

 

Photo credit: Bhaskar Peddhapati via Flickr, some rights reserved

Now Through #GivingTuesday (12/2/14) Get 10% Off Gift Certificates! Give the Gift of Language & Culture for Less

hands holding the words give thanks

Most of us are preparing to give thanks for our blessings on Thanksgiving.  We at Language Lizard are grateful for all the work you do to promote language learning and multicultural education in the classroom and at home.

This year, we are thinking beyond Thanksgiving and the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping deals that follow. We are proud to be joining the many organizations around the world celebrating #GivingTuesday.  We’d like to help you get involved too!

What is #GivingTuesday?

#GivingTuesday was founded by New York’s 92nd Street Y, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, as a global movement involving over 10,000 organizations. As their website states, “We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.”

Join Us on this Special Day and Get 10% Off Gift Certificates

Are you interested in giving bilingual books to a school, library or organization that supports dual-language children? Or would you like to give a unique gift to a special teacher or child learning another language?

From Tuesday Nov 25th to Tuesday December 2nd 2014, receive a 10% DISCOUNT on all LANGUAGE LIZARD GIFT CERTIFICATES. Use Coupon Code LLGiving2014 upon checkout.

Gift certificates can be purchased in any dollar amount, and can be sent to you or to the recipient via email or regular mail. (Choose the email option and receive it within one business day!)

Simply go to our gift certificates page, add one or more to your cart and follow the easy instructions!

We wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!

5 Kid Crafts that Add Multicultural Traditions to Your Thanksgiving

little hands making heart over earth drawing

Bring cultural diversity and international flavor to your Thanksgiving with these five easy kid crafts. The best part? They can all be made with materials you probably already have. Plus, they involve minimal mess and are simple enough for most kids to complete on their own. (You can also check out our previous posts for ways to celebrate a bilingual Thanksgiving, at home or in the classroom.)

Thanksgiving: Here and Around the World

The first Thanksgiving was an occasion for people to gather together and celebrate a good harvest. Most cultures around the world have harvest celebrations, though not always in November. (Abraham Lincoln was actually the first US president to propose an official Thanksgiving holiday in our country. You can read more about Thanksgiving history here.) Harvest celebrations coincide with a country’s seasons and the kind of crop they are harvesting.

Thanksgiving Crafts Inspired By Multicultural Traditions

1. India: Pongal – Kolam Chalk Drawings

Kolam phot By Benedict (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Photo by Benedict via Wikimedia Commons

Kolam photo By Vishnu.116 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsPhoto by Vishnu.116 via Wikimedia Commons

Pongal, the harvest festival of Southern India, is celebrated in January or February. It celebrates the successful harvest of rice, sugar cane and tumeric. Kolam drawings are traditionally symmetrical and placed in front of doors. These drawings are believed to bring happiness and prosperity. For this activity, you just need some colored chalk and clear weather outside.

2. Israel: Sukkot – CD SuncatcherSukkot CD suncatcher diversity craft

The festival of Sukkot, celebrated in September or October, is a time to remember the culture’s agricultural roots. The holiday centers around a special kind of dwelling called a “sukkah,” which has a roof of organic material, like palm leaves. The inside of the sukkah is strung with bright, shiny decorations. Make this craft with old, scratched CDs, and anything shiny and colorful you have on hand.

3. Vietnam: Mid-Autumn Festival – Lanternsmid-autumn festival lantern diversity craftmid-autumn festival lantern cultural diversity

The Mid-Autumn Festival on August 15th celebrates a successful harvest and also honors children. Kids get special lanterns and take part in a parade. Our lanterns are made from paper and tape, and can inspire your own kids’ parade at home!

4. Portugal: Madeira Flower Festival – Headbands and Hatsmadeira hat multicultural craftmadeira hat instructions international craft

The Madeira Flower Festival takes place in the Spring, when flowers are abloom. The festival features a parade with floats and flowers everywhere, especially worn on clothing. Kids can make flowers out of any material you have: gift wrap, kleenex, colored paper, paper towels, or scraps of fabric. The flowers can be secured with pipe cleaner, tape, yarn, or rubber bands onto headbands, hats, belts or any article of clothing. If the weather is nice, the kids can have a parade, in true Flower Festival spirit.

5. United Kingdom: Harvest Festival – Corn Husk DollsUK Harvest Doll multicultural craftharvest doll instructions diversity craft

The UK’s Harvest Festival happens in September or October, and includes singing and decorating churches with baskets of food. One traditional harvest time craft is making corn husk dolls. Since I didn’t have corn husks on hand, I used scraps of fabric. Once completed, kids can make hair from yarn and clothes from felt.

Give these crafts a try this Thanksgiving, and add some multicultural traditions to your celebration. That’s one more wonderful thing to be thankful for!

New (Free) Lesson Plans Support Multicultural Education

Just when you’re looking for new ways to bring more multicultural education to the classroom while meeting the Common Core Standards, we are thrilled to announce that we have another wonderful lesson plan to share, created by our friends at West Chester University.

This newest unit uses two popular and beautifully-illustrated books, Handa’s Hen and Handa’s Surprise, to teach students about Kenya and, at the same time, to help them identify and use descriptive writing. Using this lesson plan, students will learn to distinguish similarities and differences in cultures and communities. They will also be able to hear some African languages spoken!

For those of you who don’t yet know, Language Lizard has many complimentary lesson plans available for teachers to download. There are lessons that are specific to certain holidays (Chinese New Year, Diwali, Ramadan, Thanksgiving) as well as those that focus on certain countries (India, Korea, Japan, Romania). Others teach about understanding and appreciating differences, or bullying and problem solving.  To obtain access to all the lesson plans, simply go to www.languagelizard.com/lessonplans.htm.

For those interested in reading more about the adventures of Handa, we are offering a 10% discount on both Handa’s Hen and Handa’s Surprise. You can receive the discount by entering coupon code CCS-HANDA upon checkout (offer good through Nov 30, 2014).HEN_book_image1

Congratulations to Winner of $100 Bilingual Book Grant

Thanks to all those who entered Language Lizard’s $100 Bilingual Book Giveaway!

Congratulations to our winner Robin Vander Groef from NORWESCAP Head Start in Newton, NJ!  Robin is planning to use the funds to buy books for use in the Head Start classrooms.  She is interested in bilingual children’s books in Spanish, Chinese and Urdu, and authentic books that represent the culture.

Based on the great response and the clear need for dual language books, we are planning on holding additional giveaways in the future.  To make sure you don’t miss any future giveaways, please sign up for our newsletter at http://www.languagelizard.com/newslettersignup.htm.  Giveaways are also announced on our Facebook page and via Twitter.

Celebrating Halloween Around the World

Kids love Halloween: the costumes, the candy, the parties! The excitement and holiday spirit surrounding Halloween provide an ideal opportunity to inject some multicultural education into the mix. We know that American children don costumes, carve pumpkins and go trick or treating, but where did this holiday start and what do other countries do to celebrate?

Also called Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, Halloween is observed in various countries every year on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. Devoted to deceased souls including martyrs, saints (hallows), and faithful departed worshippers, the festival starts with a three-day religious observance and ends with evening prayer. Many scholars believe that the celebration of “All Hallows’ Eve” developed from Celtic harvest festivals, whereas others contend that it originated independently of Samhain (the Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season). Early traditions included carving jack-o’-lanterns out of turnips or winter squash, and wearing costumes to ward off evil spirits.

In the 19th century, mass transatlantic immigration popularized Halloween in the United States and Canada. Gradually, commemorating Halloween expanded to places including South America, Australia, New Zealand and continental Europe.

How people celebrate Halloween differs from country to country. In Scotland and Ireland, children dress up traditional costumes, host parties, light bonfires, and enjoy fireworks. In Brittany, France, lighting candles in skulls in graveyards is a popular tradition. In some countries, people attend church services and light candles on the graves of the dead. In other parts of the world, these solemn traditions are less popular and people are more focused on wearing costumes, attending parties, and “trick or treating.”

When preparing for Halloween parties, teach students about the origins of the holiday and some of the unique traditions in other countries. You also can use it as an opportunity to teach about related holidays, such as Mexico’s El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a three day celebration that begins on October 31st. Consider having some of your students talk about any similar holidays in their home country or asking older students to do research on how Halloween is celebrated in another part of the world.

Make the fun multicultural!

For additional suggestions on celebrating global traditions in Autumn with your children and students, please see our earlier blog post: Traditions Around the World: Celebrate Autumn.

For more information on how Halloween is celebrated in other countries, you can visit the following sites:

–       www.novareinna.com/festive/world.html

–       www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/halloweenglobal.php

Share how you celebrate Halloween by commenting below.

(photo credit: hin255)