Category Archives: At Home

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

Diverse Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week & to Celebrate Bilingual Students

Spring is a great time to celebrate the outstanding educators and language learners in your life!

Teacher Appreciation Week & More!

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11. It’s the perfect opportunity to say “thank you” to the teachers and school staff that work tirelessly to make a difference in our children’s lives. Continue reading Diverse Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week & to Celebrate Bilingual Students

Home Language Maintenance Strategies

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the benefits of home language maintenance. However, many parents struggle to maintain the home language (HL) for a variety of reasons. Here, we offer some concrete suggestions that parents can use with elementary-aged children, to ensure they receive the cognitive, cultural and professional benefits of bilingualism.

Teachers can share the following strategies with parents and even provide assignments that will support HL maintenance. Educators can also build bilingual book libraries to provide resources for children to read at home in the HL, and at school in English.

  • Require your child to speak to you in the HL while at home. Give praise for doing so, and do not punish the child for wanting to speak English. Children will need several daily reminders to speak the HL.
  • Have one parent do homework with the child in English (as that is the language at school).
  • Provide grade level-appropriate homework for your child in the HL. If possible, coordinate with the teacher to select homework that is related to what they are doing in class. If there is not enough time to do this on the weekdays, pick a weekend day to do it.

1. Incentivize your child. Example: If you do this homework, then we’ll go to the_____________. If you don’t finish, we cannot go.

2. During the summer, do homework in the HL on a regular basis (if possible, work with your child’s teacher in determining summer assignments.

  • Find cartoons, music, movies, multicultural books, apps and educational shows to play for your child in the HL. Screen time should be limited.
  • If possible, send your child to your home country.  If you still have family there, you may be able to arrange a home stay where the child gets maximum exposure to the HL.
  • Explain to your child why it is important for her/him and your family that he or she speak both languages. Young children can understand and think critically about the importance of bilingualism, such as:

1. Maintaining the family’s native culture.

2. Maintaining communication with family who only speaks the HL.

3. Having pride in where you come from.

4. Being wll prepared for the future and a bilingual world and workplace.

  • Give age appropriate examples of how others value their bilingualism. Examples: “My friends at work wish they spoke two languages,” or “your teacher is so proud of you and impressed by your bilingualism,” or “I got my job in part because I speak two languages.”
  • Provide a print-rich environment for your child in the HL: Have your child help you choose fiction and non-fiction books in the HL, make grocery lists, write letters to relatives, and do other writing tasks in the HL. Reading and writing in the HL takes time and effort, but is important.
  • Stay firm, confident and proud of your “HL Only” rule while in the house. Children in elementary school are much more likely than middle school or high school children to eventually accept the rule and adapt to it.
  • Think of HL maintenance as part of parenting – you’re the enforcer!
  • Do not get discouraged when your child doesn’t want to speak the HL. If your child is just making the change to home language use, start by having your child speak to you in the HL for an allotted amount of time each day.

1. Be creative and pick a phrase in the HL that your child must use a couple of times a day for that week, for example.

2. Tell your child it’s like a challenge or a game: “If you speak to me in Spanish after school for 20 minutes and during dinner, you’ll be rewarded with _____.” Sticker charts, point systems, and more will show your child how s/he is progressing and s/he can earn something after reaching a certain point.

  • Do not criticize your child for using incorrect grammar, having an accent, or using the wrong word when speaking the HL. It’s natural to make mistakes, and you can gradually correct him or her with gentle reminders.
  • If you have an infant as well, have your elementary school child speak to the baby in the HL only (for the benefit of both children).

Don’t be afraid and don’t get discouraged if the time and effort to implement a plan seems overwhelming at first. It will become part of your routine, just like anything else you’ve established in your home. Reach out to other parents who are in your situation, join online communities of bilingual parents, and do your own research if you have the time. There are many resources out there that can help you! It’s very rewarding when your child can speak to you and to others in your native language.

Guest author Emily Enstice is a former teacher at Willow Creek Academy, a K-8 charter school in Sausalito, California. She received her doctorate in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco.

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

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

“Facts About Languages” by Elaine Smith via Flickr is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) https://flic.kr/p/VoddCu

Benefits of Home Language Maintenance, From Parents’ Perspectives

Nearly one in three U.S. children live in a household where a language other than English is spoken, but are the same number of children fluent in their home language? Actually, many parents struggle to maintain the home language for a variety of reasons: when spoken to in the home language, children respond in English; some teachers encourage English only at home (the perception that another language confuses children is false); parents, their children and many societal groups view home languages as inferior to English. These examples of parent struggles with home language maintenance resonate with immigrant families across the U.S. Continue reading Benefits of Home Language Maintenance, From Parents’ Perspectives

25 Must-Read Multicultural Books for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Set of 25 multicultural children's booksLanguage Lizard is thrilled to offer a new, exclusive collection of must-read multicultural books for preschool and kindergarten children! This set of books gives you an instant, award-winning library of diverse books for your classroom or home. No need to search around! We’ve selected 25 of our favorite multicultural stories that expose children to cultural and ethnic diversity and celebrate differences.

The books portray children from various backgrounds, including African American, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, Asian and Native American. The set includes stories related to the immigrant experience, books that help children embrace their unique heritage, and folktales from around the world. 

The entertaining and well-reviewed stories help students appreciate diversity and build community with those around them. Children in diverse classrooms will build self esteem as they read/hear books in which their culture or ethnicity is represented. (Note: All books in this set are in English. Educators looking for bilingual multicultural booksclick here or visit Language Lizard’s language-specific pages.

Stories Included in the Collection

  • An Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner that explores the similarities of two children who live in very different communities across the world.
  • A child revels in who she is despite her differences. An ode to self-esteem, with fun and silly illustrations.
  • An Asian folktale in which a young child is rewarded for his honesty and loyalty. An IRA-CBC Children’s Choice and An American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists.”
  • A sweet story in which a girl helps her Tia (aunt) earn money for a new car (since much of their savings goes to relatives who live far away). Winner of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, an Amelia Bloomer List Selection and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book.
  • An introduction to Ramadan in which a young boy shares his experiences of this special time and wants to try to fast like the grown-ups do.
  • A book that looks at children all over the world and illustrates our common humanity.
  • A child is teased for looking different and learns how to celebrate his differences.
  • A book celebrating non-violent social change and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, illustrated by a three-time Caldecott Honor Recipient.
  • A Latino boy “conquers the world” (except his sisters!) while teaching kids about a theatrical, action-packed sport that is popular in many Spanish-speaking countries. A Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and an ALSC Notable Children’s Book.
  • Observing the features that make us unique, a story that celebrates what makes each child special.
  • A Chinese girl learns to appreciate what her culture has to offer during an “American” holiday. An IRA Notable Book for a Global Society.
  • A simple introduction to racial and ethnic diversity that teaches children that you can’t tell what someone is like from the color of their skin. An ALA Notable Book.
  • A book with diverse characters that inspires and guides young children to recognize their self-worth and develop confidence in themselves. Includes a section of discussion questions, activities, games and tips.
  • A trickster gets into trouble when he tries to do what goes against his nature. Winner of an ALA Notable Children’s Book, an ABA Pick of the Lists, and a National Parenting Publications Gold Award.
  • A story that uses colors as the backdrop for sharing Muslim culture, with artwork that brings classical elements of Islamic art into a modern setting.
  • A classic Chinese legend in which a poor boy helps thwart a greedy emperor’s plan.
  • With bright, bold illustrations, an artistic child notices and appreciates the colors of her friends.
  • A young girl delights in her favorite Korean dish… with details about how readers can prepare it themselves!
  • A reassuring book that encourages kids to embrace their individuality and celebrate multiculturalism.
  • A lovely Native American folktale that cautions children against bragging and teasing. An NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and a Parenting Magazine Reading-Magic Award Winner.
  • A look at different families around the world, what they do and how they help each other.
  • A Caldecott Medal winner, magical woodcuts are used in an Indian fable that explores big versus little, and the nature of pride.
  • A book celebrating different cultures illustrates that the things that make us different also make us special.
  • A simple story about friendship with culturally diverse characters and suggested after-reading activities.
  • A lovely book about the children of the world and their inherent similarities. Supports The Global Orphan Project.

Just a Few Reviews of the Books in this Collection

  • “Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love.” – Kirkus Reviews
  • “With its universal themes of wanting to fit in, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, this read-aloud is sure to strike a chord with many young readers/listeners, and on a variety of subjects, not just race.” – School Library Journal
  • “Explores the child’s experience of straddling two cultures – and serves up an ending as satisfying as sweet-and-sour pork and crusty dessert.” -The Washington Post
  • “A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as the simplicity of its story.” – School Library Journal
  • “Children will appreciate the warm, personal narrative, as well as the connections with Muslims all over the world.” – Booklist
  • “Beautiful full-color illustrations portray this ancient Chinese folktale…” – Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  • “A splendid tale, perfectly paced for an amusing read-aloud” – Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
  • “… strong, dramatic woodcuts perfectly interpret the old fable.” – School Library Journal
  • “[An easy read] with child-friendly illustrations and easy-to-understand examples of real-life situations.” – Skipping Stones: A Multicultural Children’s Magazine.
  • “Expressive, child’s-eye watercolors get in on all the activity… in this celebration of a well-loved cultural dish” – Horn Book
  • “… [focuses] on positive thinking and assertive, kind behavior that can bolster children’s mental health, their relationships, and their performance in school.” – Sean Covey, best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Happy Kids
  • “Beautiful…. This will enrich and spark discussions of diversity.” – Booklist
  • “The Strength of family and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams are the bedrock of [this…] picture book.” – Publishers Weekly
  • “An essential book that acknowledges in the simplest of terms our common humanity.” – Kirkus Reviews
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Unique Children’s Books About Diversity

 Children's Books About Diversity: English-only Multicultural Book Sets

Language Lizard is excited to offer new sets of Multicultural Books in English. They are a great way to introduce kids to new cultures and traditions, and to celebrate diversity in the classroom and at home.

New Multicultural Book Sets

CULTURAL HOLIDAYS: DIWALI, EID & CHINESE NEW YEAR (3 BOOK SET)Our Cultural Holidays set helps children learn about 3 important holidays around the world: Diwali, Chinese New Year and Eid. Each of the books in this set is used in our multicultural lesson plans about these important holidays. Readers can download the multicultural lesson plans for free.

CHILDREN'S BOOKS ABOUT DIVERSITY: FOOD, GAMES, TRANSPORTATION (3 BOOK SET)Our set of Children’s Books About Diversity: Food, Games, Transportation takes kids on a trip around the world, exploring the rich diversity of children’s lives. Kids will learn about exotic dishes, different games children play and the ways people get around in different countries.

Bilingual Multicultural Books

Please note that in addition to these English sets, we continue to offer bilingual multicultural books in 50+ languages! Readers can easily search by language on our site to find the right books in their languages of interest.

Being Bilingual in America: Statistics & Benefits of Bilingualism

What kind of people are most likely to be bilingual? What motivates them, and what benefits of bilingualism do they enjoy? Whether you’re bilingual, in the process of learning, or just curious about learning a new language, you’ll want to check out these interesting stats regarding bilingualism in the US.