Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

Follow along with us as we explore World Cultures - subscribe by email


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sundays in France: Recipe for French Crepes

Crepes, a type of thin pancake, are a quintessential French snack. We are no strangers to crepes in many guises, and in France they can be stuffed with sweet (nutella, jam, bananas) or savory (ham, cheese, eggs) fillings. They are such a popular street food in Paris that you can find a crepe stand on almost any street. Towns throughout France have "creperies", quaint little restaurants with crepes - and many possible options for fillings - as their main menu items.

Crepe stand in ParisPhoto Credit: Serge Melki (CC)

The French don't typically eat crepes for breakfast, but as a snack or lunch. As a snack, a French crepe is most often enjoyed in its simplest form, with a dusting of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice (ok, Nutella's a pretty big hit too). 

Sundays in France: Get to Know the French language

When learning about a different country, it's fun to learn a few basic words. You likely already know that French is the official language, but did you know there are other regional languages still spoken in different areas of France? There's Breton in Brittany, Flemish in the Northeast, German in the Alsace region, Spanish dialects in the Southwest, and Corsivan in Corisca. Prior to learning more about France, I hadn't even heard of some of these languages. 

Having said that, with French being the official language, here are a few resources with basic words to introduce kids to French. And if they show an interest in learning more, it's worth encouraging as it's the 6th most widely spoken language in the world, and the official language in 29 countries.

French was international language of diplomacy for 3 centuries

French greetings

Bonjour is the most basic French greeting, and it's used all the time, in many different situations in France. It means Hello, but it's also considered an important word for proper daily etiquette. It's important to start an interaction with the word Bonjour and wait for a reply before launching into whatever needs saying. It's also considered proper etiquette to say bonjour as a general greeting to all those present when walking into a shop.

Here's a video to hear how bonjour is pronounced.

Here's a cute video with different French greetings for kids in song.

Basic words

Here are two printable resources for kids with basic French words: 

Here's a printable I put together.

Here's a printable from Happy Adventure.

A bientot!

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop | #27

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop! This month I'll be joining Multicultural Kid Blogs and various excellent bloggers in co-hosting a blog hop featuring what I love most: learning about different cultures with kids. This link up is an excellent resource for virtually traveling the world - I hope you'll join us.

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time! 

Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.

This month our co-hosts are:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Exploring Switzerland with Kids | Poya Festival & Folk Art Inspired Project

As part of our afternoon jaunt in Switzerland, we learned about the Swiss living tradition of the poya and did an art project inspired by Swiss poya folk art. 

Poya in Gruyere region
Photo Credit: Pierre Schwaller (CC)

Each spring in Switzerland, it's traditional to take dairy herds up to the mountain pastures when the weather turns warm. This ascent is called the poya. In celebration of the cattle and their new found freedom, the cows are decked out with flowers and large cow bells, often with beautifully embroidered belts that have their owners initials on them. 

Traditional Swiss cow with bell
Photo Credit: Gerald Davison (CC)

In the town of Estavannens (in Gruyere), every few years they hold a large festival in honor of poya. Thousands attend for the parades of cattle herds and bell ringing, festivities and food. 

Poya painting
Photo Credit: Romano1246 (CC)

Poya also refers to simple folk paintings that depict this seasonal ascent. These paintings began in 1800 when herdsmen painted them during the procession up to the mountain as an inventory of the herd. They were then hung on their home's facade or over their windows as a sign of prosperity. There are nearly 800 of these paintings today in the Gruyere area.

Exploring Switzerland with Kids | Food, Activities & Art

Gruetzi! Hello! This year, I'll be taking my 7 year old niece, Kay, and 5 year old nephew, Nox, on afternoons "Around the World". In April, we made our way to Switzerland for another fun afternoon. We tried everyday snack foods Swiss kids enjoy, played a popular chocolate game, created a folk art inspired painting and learned a bit about Switzerland and its traditional culture. Here's what we did, with a few added resources for a quick, virtual jaunt you can take with your kids. 

I'm joining Crafty Mom's Share in exploring Switzerland - I hope you'll join us!
There's a link up at the bottom of this post where you'll find more resources to explore Switzerland - and add your own!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Why This Mother's Day, I'm Asking For the Gift of Clean Birth for Moms in Laos

Pea & I in 1999

Although parenting is always at the forefront of my thoughts, there are two days a year that I truly reflect on that pivotal day, nearly 17 years ago when I gave birth to my daughter: her birthday and Mother's Day.

I don't often write about personal details on this blog, and I have to admit that I feel nervous about doing so now. But we all have our stories, and reflecting on mine has led to me to recognize how precious a gift motherhood is, and the importance of supporting those who could needlessly have that gift taken from them.

I was 18 years old when I became pregnant with Pea, at a point in my life over the course of a couple of years when I was making some rather self destructive choices. I had left a perfectly loving home at 16 to move in with my uncle and be "closer to my friends" over 1000 miles away from my parents. I stopped attending classes, resulting in expulsion and was spending a fair bit of time doing things I'm not proud of today. When I became pregnant with Pea, I had no high school degree, was working for below minimum wage and in a volatile relationship. You can imagine the degree of stress and worry I felt every moment of each day. 

I was incredibly lucky in the support we received from both mine and his parents, but we still were rarely sure we'd have enough food at the end of each day. In fact, I was incredibly adept at worrying, and worried about every aspect of mine and my unborn baby's life - from our health to finances to a rather terrifying future. There was one area though that never even crossed my mind to worry about, and that was the care we would receive at the hospital while giving birth. As Canadian citizens, I knew without even having to think about it that we would be provided with a health team and a sterile hospital room with access to anything we'd need should any complications arise. Even when considering a doula (midwife), I knew she would be expertly trained and that should complications arise, we could be quickly whisked off to the hospital. With these safety nets provided for us, my baby girl, the light that continues to brighten my life each and every day, was born safely.

Four generations

We in the West are so fortunate to have access to health care. But what about those mothers in the developing world? Can they be assured a safe, clean birth? Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, approximately 1 million women and infants will die every year after birth simply due to infection. For every woman who dies, 30 more will suffer debilitating illness or permanent disability due to infection. Such needless suffering.

A mother and her three lovely children in Laos
Photo Credit: © Kristyn Zalota

This is why for Mother's Day, this year and here on out, I'm asking for the gift of clean birth for moms in Laos. The gift of a healthy new beginning for other moms and their infants. These deaths can be prevented with a simple yet life saving kit that for $5 can save two lives, a mother and her infant. 

“CleanBirth.org works to prevent the needless deaths of mothers and babies in Laos, where maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. In the villages where we work, women often give birth alone in the forest. To make birth safer, together with our Lao non-profit partner, we provide life-saving Clean Birth Kits and train local nurses in the distribution of the kits and the WHO’s Essentials of Newborn Care.”

Clean Birth kit provided by CleanBirth.org

This fantastic organization provides training to local nurses in the Salavan Province. Nurses are trained in the use and distribution of Clean Birth Kits, which are life-saving birth supplies proven to prevent infection. The nurses then educate mothers about birth kits and safe birth. Through an alliance with Yale University School of Nursing, they also train the nurses in the WHO's Essentials of Newborn Care.

Beautiful hand stamped bag containing a donation card from CleanBirth.org

What better time to think of the many other mothers, all with their own stories and struggles, who deserve the precious gift of motherhood.

I'll be honoring my mother this Mother's Day (who lets face it, had plenty to worry about for years with me as a daughter!) with a donation card from CleanBirth and I've talked to Pea about how great of an honor it would be to receive the same, knowing this simple gift can have such a lasting impact. 

Consider honoring your mother or grandmother this Mother's Day with a beautiful CleanBirth.org hand-stamped bag containing a donation card, an e-card or a printable card. When you do, you'll provide moms in Laos with Clean Birth Kits and education. They'll have what they need to protect themselves and their babies from life-threatening infections.

You can read more about this wonderful organization at CleanBirth.org. You can purchase their lovely mother's day cards and sachets at their Etsy store.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!
Blog Design by Delicious Design Studio