Category Archives: At Home

The Many Benefits of Bilingualism

Want your child to learn a second language, but wondering if it will be worth the time and effort? Kids’ schedules are already full of school and extracurricular activities, so parents must be selective when taking on anything new. Read on for some compelling reasons why bilingualism is definitely worth the effort.

Bilingual Babies: Cognitive Benefits from Infancy

Researchers have found that babies from bilingual homes have greater cognitive abilities, specifically with what’s known as “attentional control.” This difference occurs even when they’re too young to speak. Babies from bilingual households appear to be better than their monolingual peers at learning and anticipating new patterns.  

Young bilingual children have also been shown to have greater fundamental social and emotional skills that evolve from their attentiveness to social cues when multiple languages are spoken at home.

Infants are very open to learning new languages, especially when there is a lot of interactive dialogue between baby and caregiver(s). Studies show that the more back-and-forth interaction young kids are exposed to, the greater the academic and cognitive outcomes they have later, during school-age years. This type of interactive dialogue, in the form of playtime or when reading bilingual baby books together, is also quality bonding time, with huge emotional and psychological benefits for babies and parents.

For young dual language learners (DLLs) who speak the non-majority language at home, it is important to stress the benefits of bilingualism early on.  Even before entering school, framing bilingualism as an asset – and not a liability – gives young DLLs a boost when they enter kindergarten. When DLLs are given support in their home language during preschool years, they perform better across all academic and social measures after they enter elementary school.

School Years: Academic Benefits of Bilingualism

English learners who go through bilingual or dual language programs in school are more likely to graduate, go to college, and have higher-paying careers than their peers who lose their home language. Students are proud to see their home languages reflected in the classroom, whether it’s through bilingual booksmulticultural posters or class activities.

Students attending dual-language classes – whether they’re learning English or another language – also tend to be happier, have better attendance, fewer behavioral problems, and have higher test scores.

Across the country, more schools are embracing fluency in multiple languages by offering a special award called the “Seal of Biliteracy” that recognizes the hard work of becoming biliterate. Students who earn the Seal are more attractive to colleges and employers, leading to positive effects on earning potential over their lifetimes.

Adulthood: Bilingual People Become Global Citizens

According to the US Census, about 25% of Americans can converse in a second language. Compare that number to the 50% of people globally who are bilingual or multilingual. In some parts of Europe, that figure is actually closer to 100%.

From a strictly practical perspective, being a nation of monolinguals puts us at a disadvantage, not just in terms of the world economy, but in terms of our national security as well. It’s imperative that we have citizens who can clearly communicate with business and political leaders from around the world.

Not only that, bilingualism helps to bridge the divide across cultures and nations. Speaking other languages makes us better global citizens. At a time when tensions among countries and cultures runs high, knowing the language of another group of people is one of the best ways to understand their perspective, and find common ground.

For families who have recently immigrated, maintaining the home language is a way to connect younger generations to their families’ history and culture.

Lifelong: Potential Brain Benefits of Bilingualism

Studies have found that bilingual people are better at multitasking. Because their brains have a more robust executive control system (from switching off the language that is not needed), bilinguals are generally better at tuning out distractions, allowing them to focus on what is most relevant at any given moment.  

Researchers have also found evidence that speaking more than one language can delay the onset of dementia in Alzheimer’s patients by as many as 5 years.

These are just a few of the many amazing benefits of bilingualism. And the great news is, experts say you don’t have to achieve full fluency before you begin experiencing them. So sweep those hesitations aside, and set out on your language learning journey!

Multicultural Good Luck Charms

Have you ever picked up a lucky penny? Or rubbed a rabbit’s foot for good luck? Cultures around the world have different lucky charms. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a superstitious person, you may have “knocked on wood” after making a statement, or felt the urge to toss salt over your shoulder after it was spilled.

Whether you believe in good luck or not, here are a few lucky charms from around the world. The reasons behind them might be compelling enough to make you a talisman collector, too.

Acorns

England

Long before acorns were considered good luck, they were associated with magic between two witches. When passing each other in the woods, witches would hand each other acorns to let one another know who they were and that they were safe in one another’s company.

As a good luck symbol, acorns are said to protect one’s health. Carrying an acorn is believed to protect from illnesses, aches, and other pains. If you’re already ill, it is said to speed up the healing process and alleviate any pain.

Cornicello

Italy

cornicello-charm

This Italian horn known as “cornicello” has been used since ancient times to ward off the evil eye. It is still a common good luck symbol in Italy and is often worn by nursing mothers and pregnant woman. It was also used to maintain happiness in marriage, as many believe the evil eye can affect marriages and relationships.

The inspiration for the horn shape comes from many different sources. For some horns, the shape of a chili pepper served as inspiration. Historians differ, pointing to the African eland horn as inspiration instead. Over time, the cornicello has become more stylized and can appear in many different shapes, some of which no longer even look like a horn.

Dala horse

Sweden

dala-horse-charm

Dala, or Dalecarlian, horses were first carved hundreds of years ago as a Swedish pastime. Horses were considered a holy animal, so many Swedes would use scraps from wooden furniture and other projects to craft horse figurines.

Today, the horse is also a symbol of good luck. Dala horses are often quite costly, so many people will buy unpainted ones and add the art themselves. Typical colors are red, white, or green, and in addition to good luck, the horse is thought to bring strength and dignity. It is also recognized as the unofficial symbol of Sweden.

Dream catcher

United States

dreamcatcher-good-luck-charms

The Chippewa Native American dream catcher is used for those with trouble sleeping, specifically those with nightmares. When the person is asleep, the dreamcatcher is said to trap all the nightmares of the sleeper, to bestow good luck, and allow good dreams to flow freely.

Legend has it that when the sun rises, the bad dreams caught in the dream catcher dissolve, as they cannot survive daylight. The Chippewa, or Ojibwa, Native Americans designed these dream catchers to help protect their children. The tradition is associated with the Asibikaashi, or Spider Woman, a woman from Ojibwa legend who was a caretaker of all children.

Elephant

India and Thailand

Elephants as a symbol for good luck are common all over Asia, but they are especially prominent in India and Thailand. They symbolize strength, power, stability, and wisdom. Many people believe that an elephant facing your door will bring good luck into your home. As a result, many business owners in Asia will place elephants in the entrance of their shops for good luck.

The common belief is that the trunk must be up for good luck, and some go so far as to say that the trunk facing downwards brings bad luck. Others believe that a trunk facing down allows for good fortune to be passed freely among everyone, not just the beholder.

Four-leaf clover

Ireland

four-leaf-clover-good-luck-charms

The odds of finding a four-leaf clover is allegedly 1 in 10,000, which is why it’s considered so lucky. The four sides symbolize faith, hope, luck, and love, and anyone who finds it is said to have great fortune that day.

One Christian legend claims that Eve took a four-leaf clover with her after being banished from Paradise to remind her of it. Four is also considered a masculine number and relates to the four sides of the cross, so some believe that the four-leaf clover is a piece of Paradise or the Garden of Eden.

Hamsa

Israel and Middle East

hamsa-good-luck-charm

The Hamsa Hand, or Khamsa, is common in both Jewish and Muslim communities as a sign of good luck. This charm can be worn with the hand facing up or down. It is said to protect people from negative energy and bring happiness to the beholder.

Depending on the culture and community, the symbol of the hand bears different meanings. The word “hamsa” references the number five in Hebrew and is said to symbolize the five books of the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In Islam, the five fingers are associated with the Five Pillars of Islam. The eye on the hand represents an eye that sees everything and watches out for the beholder.

Jin Chan

China

jin-chan-good-luck-charm

A famous feng shui charm, the jin chan, or “Golden Toad,” is popular in China as a symbol of luck and success. The frog is said to appear during a full moon, bearing good fortune and warding off any bad news. With only three legs, sitting in a pile of coins with a coin in its mouth, this frog can be traced back to Chinese legends.

According to legend, Daoist God Liu Hai encountered a fox he wanted to save and transform into a beautiful woman who would help him become a god. For this to occur, he needed to trick a frog into going into a well, and did so successfully. He used the frog’s power, and now Jin Chan is supposed to be Liu Hai.

Maneki Neko

Japan

maneki-neko-good-luck-charm

The Maneki Neko cat statue is characterized by its waving paw. “Neko” means cat in Japanese, and “maneki” means beckoning. If the left paw is raised, it’s believed that the cat will attract customers and bring good business to shop owners. If the right paw is raised, it’s believed to attract money and prosperity, making it the more common Maneki Neko style.

The Maneki Neko can also come in many different colors: white signifies happiness, black signifies protection, green signifies health, and calico signifies extreme good luck.

Milagros

Mexico

milagros-good-luck-charm

Milagros, which translates to mean “miracle” in Spanish, are small religious charms depicting angels, crosses, arms, legs, animals, and other subjects. They are often nailed to a cross or other religious object or carried in one’s pocket for good luck.

Each subject carries a different meaning. Milagros are often used with the institution known as manda, where a person asks for a favor from a saint. Upon doing so, they will then leave a milagro at a shrine of the saint they have asked a favor for.

Nazar

Turkey

nazar-good-luck-charm

The Nazar, or evil eye, is an amulet for protection against those without good intentions. The origin of the Nazar hails from Turkey and its neighboring countries. Unlike the Hamsa, the Nazar has no religious significance. Because of this, it has become popular in countries all over the world.

In Turkey, the Nazar is usually a beaded, blue jewel that is worn or used on personal items for protection. Though its meaning has been adapted to different cultures, it is frequently associated with protection from the evil eye, a malevolent glare from an onlooker.

Nenette and Rintintin

France

nenette-rintintin-good-luck-charm

Nenette and Rintintin are Parisian yarn dolls with various origin stories, many of which begin during World War I. Nenette, the boy doll, and Rintintin, the girl doll, were given as good luck charms to French soldiers or worn by Parisians to protect them during World War I raids.

A piece of yarn links Rintintin and Nenette and should not be broken. Additionally, people believed that the good luck charms should never be purchased, only given, or they would lose their protective powers.

Pigs

Germany

pig-good-luck-charm

“Glücksschwein” is a German expression that translates to “lucky pig.” In Germany, pigs are associated with fertility and good luck. They are often featured on cards expressing best wishes, especially around New Year. They can also be found in candy and there are treats shaped like pigs all over Northern Europe. Norway and Sweden also have phrases that translate to “lucky pig.”

Another common association with pigs is wealth. People all over the world store coins in piggy banks to attract future wealth and protect their earnings.

Pysanka

Ukraine

pysanka-good-luck-charm

A pysanka is an Easter egg decorated with intricate designs using a wax-resist method. Ukrainians have been decorating these eggs for many generations. They represent health, fertility, love, and wealth.

As times have changed, interpretations of the pysanky decor have evolved. Many symbols, such as the fish and cross, are now interpreted through the lens of Christianity. In pre-Christian times, a fish signified a plentiful catch, but it has since become commonly associated with Christ, the fisher of men. Despite this evolution in meaning, the designs themselves still emulate the pre-Christian era.

Scarab

Egypt

scarab-good-luck-charm

The scarab beetle as a good luck charm dates all the way back to 2345 B.C. The amulet of this beetle represented new creation and eternal life, and is associated with the Egyptian God of the Rising Sun, Khepri.

This good luck charm first emerged in Ancient Egypt.  Egyptians observing the scarab witnessed it roll dung across the ground and associated this with the sun’s journey across the sky. The scarab would also lay its eggs in the bodies of dead animals, something the Egyptians connected with life being created from dead matter.

Worry dolls

Guatemala

worry-dolls-good-luck-charm

Unlike many of the other good luck charms you’ll find around the world, Guatemalan worry dolls are created to help someone fall asleep. They are particularly popular with children, though they are a common gift for anyone with mild anxiety who is struggling to fall asleep or who needs luck getting a good night’s rest.

As they are getting ready to fall asleep, the person holds the doll and tells it their troubles. The worries are then passed on to the doll and away from the person. However, some believe each doll can only manage one trouble at a time. For additional worries or fears, the person needs additional dolls.

Unique Good Luck Charms

We’ve created a visual with our favorite good luck charms. Next time you visit another country, be on the lookout for one of these good luck charms—and consider bringing along one of your own. It never hurts to trade a bit of good luck with a stranger, even if it’s just a lucky coin for them to carry in their pocket.

This article was adapted, with permission, from one originally posted on invaluable’s website.

This post was shared on the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop, a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids.

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Mungo Makes New Friends: New Bilingual Book!

We are thrilled to announce a brand new bilingual children’s book! Mungo Makes New Friends is sure to be a hit with the kids in your classroom and family.

Mungo Makes New Friends

Mungo Makes New Friends is a story about an old horse who, at first, is quite lonely on his own. He has seen better days, and thinks there isn’t much to look forward to. One by one, Mungo and the reader are introduced to brand new animal friends. However, when winter comes, and Mungo must move into the stable, what will happen to his newfound friendships?

This lovely story about the joys of friendship is written by Gill Aitchison. Jill Newton creates the story’s beautiful illustrations, set in the Scottish Highlands.

Read Mungo Makes New Friends with the children in your family or classroom, and open up a discussion about the value of friendship, and the importance of inclusion. They will love to follow along with the adventures of Mungo and his friends, while also building their literacy skills.

Mungo Makes New Friends is available in English with Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Farsi, French, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian and Spanish.

Chinese New Year – A Multicultural Holiday

Page from bilingual children's book Li's Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year begins on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. It’s a special time to honor ancestors and renew family bonds with traditional rituals and feasts. Also known as Spring Festival, for those who celebrate it, it’s one of the most important social and economic holidays of the year.

CHINESE NEW YEAR

Chinese New Year is tied to the Chinese lunar calendar. The celebration begins on the night of a new moon, and culminates with the Lantern Festival, when families gather in the streets with beautiful lighted lanterns.

Part of preparations for the new year is a thorough cleaning of the home, to invite good fortune in the new year. Each day of Chinese New Year is celebrated with friends and family, enjoying feasts, music, gifts, and red envelopes full of good luck money.

YEAR OF THE PIG

Page from bilingual children's book Li's Chinese New Year

This year will be the Year of the Pig! In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth and good fortune. According to legend, people born in the year of the pig are realistic, thrifty, and are sure to get enjoyment from their lives. They are never lazy, and bring enthusiasm to all their endeavors. The colors yellow, gray and brown, and the numbers 2, 5 and 8 are considered lucky for those born in the Year of the Pig.

MULTICULTURAL CELEBRATION IN THE CLASSROOM

Page from bilingual children's book Li's Chinese New Year

Celebrate this special holiday with the bilingual children’s book Li’s Chinese New Year. Available in English and your choice of 12 languages, the story introduces us to Li, who must make the important decision of which animal costume he will wear to the school’s big New Year assembly. Readers will find all twelve of the zodiac animals in the story, and discover facts and activities relating to the holiday at the back of the book.

Now through February 28, 2019 get 10% off Li’s Chinese New Year by entering discount code CNY2019 at checkout!

Share this fun multicultural holiday with your students by downloading our free Chinese New Year lesson plan so students can explore the holiday by utilizing geography, crafts and discussion. Compare similarities and differences between the Chinese New Year and the American New Year with a Venn diagram activity. The lesson also includes suggestions for teaching about world geography and population density.

The book Li’s Chinese New Year is the inspiration for this lesson plan. It introduces students to the Chinese New Year celebrations and ties concepts together in the lesson plan. Teachers can also use the story to introduce students to Chinese characters in the bilingual English-Chinese version of the book while reading the story out loud in English.

The primary focus of the lesson plan is to help children cultivate an appreciation for cultural and linguistic diversity. Through collaborative activities and discussions, students can build positive relationships with one another while learning to appreciate our world’s global diversity.

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? Comment below and let us know what your favorite part of the holiday is!

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
This post is linked with the monthly Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!

#CountAllKids – Why the Upcoming Census Matters

The 2020 US Census has been a hot topic in the news* because of a controversial citizenship question. The #CountAllKids campaign wants you to know why it’s absolutely essential that our nation’s children are counted.

Our Constitution mandates that the government will count its population once every decade, and our next Census will happen in 2020. Because of a controversial citizenship question announced by the US Census Bureau in March of 2018, there is the fear that millions of immigrants may decide not to complete their surveys. Already vulnerable, marginalized communities could go uncounted, leading to a massively skewed distribution of Congressional representation and federal funding.

There are also undercounting risks that will specifically hurt our nation’s children. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s website, “Researchers believe up to 2 million children under age 5 could be missed in the count…” Vital health insurance programs, foster care programs, low-income education programs, special education funding, and new school locations are just a few ways that children will be directly impacted by the Census results.

As the Count All Kids website states, “When we miss young children in the census, it has serious consequences for them, their families, their communities and our nation – with many of those consequences lasting for at least 10 years.” Go to their website to learn more about the upcoming US Census and to find out how you can support the #CountAllKids campaign.

*Note: At the time of publication, the ultimate fate of the citizenship question was still being argued in the court system.

Unique Multicultural Gifts for the Holidays

bilingual shirts and mugs

Celebrate diversity and show your support for bilingualism with these fun and unique gifts! Perfect for bilingual students and teachers in diverse classrooms.

Discounts on ALL Bilingual Book Sets – Available in 40+ languages!

We hand-selected our most popular titles for bilingual book sets to save you time and money. All books include English and one other language of your choice. Tailored to meet the language needs of teachers and librarians, they make ordering easy! Our book sets include the most accessible, popular, and culturally appropriate books for the children you want to reach.

Exclusive PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets are a great way to support dual language learners! We offer an extensive selection of literacy sets that include the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, along with our award-winning bilingual “talking books.”

Discount is applied during checkout – no code needed!

Multilingual Posters – Great for teachers with diverse classrooms!

To help you decorate your multicultural classroom or library, we are offering a discount on our multilingual poster 3-pack. This set of 3 posters lets you display “Hello,” “Thank You” and “Welcome” in over 30 languages. The discount is available online – no coupon code required.

Unique T-shirts & Mugs Celebrate Diversity and Bilingualism!

bilingual shirtsWe’re excited to offer new multicultural t-shirts that celebrate bilingualism and diversity with messages like: Welcome Your Friends (with “HELLO” in different languages), I’m Bilingual, What’s Your Superpower? and We All Smile in the Same Language.

There are many more design and color options available at our Amazon store, as well as bilingual, Spanish-only, French and German versions of some of the designs.

bilingual mugsSimilar designs promoting multiculturalism are also available on mugs! (Note that there are multiple pages.)

Gift Certificates – Let Recipients Choose What They’d Like!

Language Lizard gift certificates are great for students, teachers, librarians, and others who support dual-language children. Your recipients can choose books in over 50 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Japanese, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and more!

You can select gift certificates in any value, add a special note of thanks, and have them sent via email within one business day!

4 Musical Multicultural Kid Crafts

Music is an wonderful way to introduce kids to different cultures. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” It can evoke emotions that are at the heart of the shared human experience. Here, we offer four musical multicultural kid crafts that celebrate diversity and remind us of what we all have in common. Try them with your little ones at home or school! Continue reading 4 Musical Multicultural Kid Crafts

Bilingual Summer Reading List

Whether your summer is action-packed or laid back, there are stretches of time that are perfect for getting in some bilingual reading. But what books are perfect for the long ride to grandma’s, or the quiet afternoon by the lake? We’ve brought together some of our favorite summertime reads that are sure to appeal to kids of all ages and interests. Bonus: They’ll be improving their bilingual skills. Our titles are available in English with your choice of over 50 languages! Continue reading Bilingual Summer Reading List

5 Multicultural Games for Kids to Try This Summer

Kids playing outdoorsIf you’re looking for something fun to do this summer, give these multicultural games from around the world a try! From games that you can play in a group, to one-on-one games, they are perfect for all ages. Get your kids or campers outdoors to play a fun round of Catching Stars or a competitive game of Hoops! It’s a great way to stay active this summer while learning about different cultures. Continue reading 5 Multicultural Games for Kids to Try This Summer