Winter Celebrations

Celebrate Winter Holidays!

Let’s Keep Celebrating Winter Holidays!

Learning about Hanukkah was so much fun, but there are so many more holidays to experience!

Next, we will learn about St. Lucia Day and Sweden! Another festival of light, St. Lucia is a woman who wore candles on her head so that her hands would be free to hand out food to the poor and starving. Originally, this holiday was celebrated using the old Julian calendar which meant Dec. 13th coincided with the Winter Solstice.

Today young girls are selected to represent St. Lucia by wearing crowns of lingonberry branches, with structure to support 7 candles. Battery powered candles are fine to substitute! Boys can dress up as Stjärngossar or Star Boys. Both the girls as St. Lucia and the Star Boys wear white but the girls also wear a red sash around their waist. The Star Boys have instead of a crown, a tall pointed hat (without a brim) decorated with stars. On the morning of the 13th, the girl who is acting as St. Lucia should wake everyone up early with St. Lucia buns, called lussekatters and coffee or hot cocoa. We encourage you to try out the recipe for your learning experience! Cooking helps with math and is fun!

The day should be spent singing St. Lucia songs and eating traditional Swedish foods like meat balls, St. Lucia crown cake and glogg. Once the sun has gone down, the spectators light and hold a vigil candle. All other light sources should be off. Then St. Lucia and her procession of maidens and star boys walk through with their costumes and candles lit singing a St. Lucia song. This symbolizes the suns return – light emerging from the darkness. This is a great holiday that I am excited to celebrate! You might want to purchase a book sharing this experience. One fictional story is available here.

Fun side note – in Sweden, the Tomten, or Christmas gnome is the one who delivers presents. He goes around with his with his goat to deliver the  presents to all the girls and boys, who leave porridge outside for them to eat instead of milk and cookies.

After St. Lucia Day, we rush into the celebration of Las Posadas! Las Posadas is a Mexican tradition that is observed from Dec. 16th – 24th. It recreates the story of the baby Jesus when Mary and Joseph were trying to find shelter. Generally there is a procession where people recreate the journey of the pregnant Mary and Joseph as they ask for shelter by walking down a street and knocking on doors asking for entry. Finally, someone grants them shelter. Children carry poinsettias and at the end of each evenings march, there is singing and celebration. Star shaped clay piñatas are filled with treats and then broken apart by celebrants wearing blindfolds. In many areas, local churches offer a Las Posadas celebration. You might be able to find one near you!

Consider joining our voyage so that you can participate with Global Learn Day all year long!

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Winter Celebrations

Celebrating Winter Holidays – Part 1

Celebrate Winter by Exploring Cultures around the World!

Fall winds are blowing and here in my house we are eagerly looking forward to the coming Winter and all excitement of the holidays. As a homeschool parent, this of course screams ‘learning opportunity’ so this year, I am going to go all out! We have chosen 12 different holidays/cultures to learn about. I am prepping materials to help us learn how the various cultures celebrate the many different Winter holidays.

We will explore Kwanza, Hanukah, and Yule/Winter Solstice. We will discover La Befona in Italy, Pere Noel in France, Christkind in Germany and Los Pasadas in Mexico. We are excited to learn about the Tomten and celebrate St. Lucia Day in Sweden (This is one of my sons’ favorite countries because of the Sami people. They keep huge herds of reindeer and live in the far northern parts of the country.). We are going to find out how they celebrate Christmas in Australia and Russia. Then we will finish our studies with a virtual adventure in China where we will learn all about the Chinese New Year which is one of the last holidays of the Winter!

We are going to have so much fun! I am excited that I am learning just as much as my son. He is 8 and will be the perfect age to really get into these activities. I have a giant inflatable planet with the political boundaries labeled on the continents, so we will be using that as a reference point and using tape and string to demonstrate how far away each place is from us in our cozy home in Eastern Washington. At the very end, we will measure the strings and see which country was furthest away!

Over the next two weeks I will be providing you, via these blog posts, with an opportunity to follow along and participate on our Winter Adventure!

Our Winter adventure will begin with Hanukkah. This year (2018) Hanukkah is celebrated on December 2nd and ends on December 10th. It is a beautiful festival of light that uses candles and a special candle holder called a menorah. The candles may only be lit after sundown and in a specific order. One candle the first night, and then two the following night until 8 days later all the candles are lit. Each family member is encouraged to have their own menorah, or a communal menorah can be used in which all the family members, including the children take part in the lighting of the menorah candles. The candles or lights must be on for at least 30 minutes and during that time, all attention should be on the candle flame with no other sources of light. Prayers are said over each candle as it is lit. You are encouraged to tell stories about the holiday and enjoy traditional food like potato latkes and sufganoit (doughnuts).

Menorah
Lit Menorah during Hanukkah

It is also customary to gift children with gelt after the candles have been lit to reward them for good behavior. The children are usually encouraged to use part of their received money to donate to a charity. Children will often play games with dreidels (spinning tops). The dreidels have four sides. On each side there is a symbol. Nun, Gimel, Hay and Shin. Nun stands for nes or miracle. Gimel stands for gadol or great. Hay stands for haya or was. And finally Shin stands for sham or there. The game that is played with the dreidel is a bit of a gambling game but lots of fun. If you roll Nun – nothing happens. If you roll a Gimel – you win everything! If you roll Hay, you win half of whatever was bet. If you roll Shin, you lose everything! You can imagine how exciting this game would be to play with little ones that have just been gifted with their gelt (money – often the golden chocolate coins that come in a bag).

Check out these Dreidels and get ready to celebrate with your children this year!

We’d love to hear what holidays you celebrate during this Winter Season! Reach out to us and be sure to Join the Voyage today!

 

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Meet a Presenter – Backyard Adventures

Adventure is everywhere when you are learning!

When young Liam Finn McCool began to show an interest in science his mother encouraged him by taking the time to explain in depth why something was the way it was. How does a flower create seeds? How does a volcanic eruption works? How were the people of Pompei frozen in time during the eruption in the first century of the Current Era? She recognized that even at the young age of three, Liam was interested in learning and would absorb information. So, she painstakingly took the time to explain in detail answers to his questions believing that what she was really doing was telling him that his interest was legitimate. She was right.

By five, Liam had begun sharing videos on YouTube where he gave information about different spiders and insects that he found in his backyard. Backyard Adventures with Liam Finn McCool had officially begun. Last Global Learn Day, inspired by videos his mother showed him, he asked if he could participate. They reached out to me and I said, “Of Course”. The result was this gem.

Liam loves the camera and he will learn more about any given topic if he knows that he gets to share that information with the world later on. Inspiring young learners always depends on the individual. What inspires a drive to learn for one child may do nothing for the next. As we go through Global Learn Day and enjoy presentations from around the world, we invite you to consider how to best encourage the children around you to love learning.

Liam is proof that it is never to early to begin sharing knowledge. At six years old, he is an educator and our youngest Global Learn Day Presenter. Recently, he launched his own website and this year he will be sharing another great video of a Backyard Adventure that he filmed for our event.

Liam is well on his way to being a Life Long Learner! Way to go, kid!

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summer adventure

National Parks and the South East

National Parks in the South East

The United States has been preserving National Parks, Historical Monuments and Battlefields for over one hundred years. In 2015, it was estimated that over 100 million people visited National Parks in the US (statista.com). These parks are often a huge bang for the buck while traveling and wanting to understand the history or natural wonders of an area. On our road trip, we have already been to five locations and at each spot, the kids participated in the Junior Ranger Program and earned a badge (i.e. free souvenir).

Exploring these locations was been an exciting part of our trip. If you have a child entering fourth grade, if you are a senior citizen, handicapped or a disabled veteran you may qualify to gain free or reduced rates at these National Landmarks. So grab a water bottle (because it gets hot), some sturdy shoes and your sense of adventure and get ready to learn!

 

history

New Orleans Jazz Historic Park

Most of my life I have wanted to go to New Orleans and so it was fitting that our first big adventure of this trip was a morning trip into the French Quarter. It was busy, hot and the parking was not cheap ($18 for two hours!). So, we wanted to do as much as possible. We started at the New Orleans Jazz Historic park, which isn’t far from Cafe DuMonde’ and the St. Louis Cathedral. They have free music programs throughout the day and as you enter the square where the offices are located local Jazz Musicians are playing. You get all of the feel good, deep south #NOLA vibes. Their Junior Ranger Program wasn’t very intensive and within an hour we had grabbed beignets and headed through Jefferson Square to St. Louis Cathedral. We definitely got the experience of New Orleans packed into that two hour day trip and the kids had earned their badge!

What was interesting was that we were also able to see and learn a lot as we headed in and out of New Orleans. We had prepared by reading an “I Survived” book about Hurricane Katrina. This book took my kids through a first person narrative of the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. This made Lake Pontchartrain very real to them. They were amazed that so many of the old buildings had survived in the French Quarter, but they could see others that were not nearly as lucky from the highway as we left town.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

This monument charges a pretty hefty fee for adults 15 and older. However, the amount of historical information you get and the experience makes it the perfect place for a family to explore. Everybody gets in for the price of Mom and Dad (and paid parking, which was reasonable). This monument is well kept and often has living history exhibits to really engage children. The Junior Ranger program they offer is phenomenal as well. It isn’t air conditioned, but being built out of limestone it isn’t miserably hot even in the June heat. We were able to see replicas of soldiers from different eras but what was really interesting was the life size canvases of different historical figures who passed through the Castillo. It was incredible and so informative!

St. Augustine is rich in history and we easily could have stayed for several days and explored. As it was just a day trip, the Castillo was our main focus. However, we walked up and down the streets in Old St. Augustine and explored the Basilica. The Basilica’s docents were very well informed and taught our kids about how the rock for the walls was quarried.

Junior Ranger in Progress
Working hard to get her Junior Ranger Badge!

Our summer adventure has been amazing… Next up, we will share a bit about Charleston and the adventures we found there.

Meanwhile, have you joined Global Learn Day? The big adventure happens this October so be sure to join the voyage!

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Adventures and Learning

Summer

There is something that just excites me about summer. The long days, warm sun and opportunities for childhood adventure seem endless. As a teen, I had the opportunity to go on an adventure exploring the Western United States with my family. Four people, a conversion mini van, no particular schedule and the great open road. I drug my feet and complained mightily about being away from my friends, but that trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my young life.

This summer, my husband and I have the opportunity to recreate this but in the Eastern United States. There will be five of us aged 15 months to 34 years, along with all of our luggage and a tent packed into a mini van with few hard dates and a month of open road. I’m, of course, worried that my tweens will bicker but I am more excited about the Adventure and Educational Opportunities that we are opening the doors to.

 

Budget

A month on the road will cost some money, of course. However, we have a few cards up our sleeves to reduce the costs that we are paying for our experiences. Stop one happens to be with a dear friend who is Active Duty Military, so we will be taking advantage of Blue Star Museums every chance we get. What are Blue Star Museums? These are museums who offer free admission to Active Duty Military and up to five guests all summer long. There are museums across the United States who participate and it is an excellent opportunity to learn, even if you aren’t straying far from home!

As a Disabled Veteran, my husband also has a pass to the National Parks System. This allows us to enter National Monuments, Parks, Battlefields and Museums free of charge. It is an excellent opportunity for our kids to take advantage of learning about our National Treasures, Ecology, Geology and History. We just need the gas to get there! If you have a 4th grader, there is a special program that allows you to also take advantage of free admission!

Finally, we will be spending sometime in Washington DC. The Smithsonian Institute, National Museums and National Zoo all have free admission. Parking can be an issue, so we will park and take mass transit into the city. This will be another learning experience for our kids as we don’t use this type of transportation at home.

That leaves us with food, lodging and gas. Food – well, we have to eat anywhere we go, so I don’t really factor too heavily into my calculations. Besides, we are happy with homemade sandwiches from an icebox. We drink lots of water, although there is definitely a coffee budget. Lodging – we will stay with family and friends at some points. Otherwise, we have a tent and will be teaching the kids how to properly set it up and break it down. You can camp at many State and National Parks for less than $20 per night! Gas – this will be our biggest expense outside of our normal budget. The gas to get from our home Out West to the East Coast will be a few hundred dollars but once on the East coast, everything is fairly close.

Goal Based Adventures

We have set goals for this adventure. These are educational objectives that we want to meet prior to our return trip home. Some of ours include:

  • being able to put up and break down a tent
  • calculating mileage and cost per mile
  • learning how to navigate public transportation
  • identifying key battles of the American Civil War, including where it began and ended
  • learning states and their capitals – we will do this by playing a car game where the state is named from a license plate and the car occupants then name the capital city
  • being able to identify different types of bodies of water and land masses
  • Using Car time to study for our Amateur Radio Licenses

We are so excited about this trip and sharing experiential learning with our children. Along the way, we will be updating Global Learn Day of our travels and experiences as part of our “Summer Break” series!

This was a guest  blog post from Mary Elizabeth over at 3TimesBlessed.

 

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the right addition

Learn to Cook from Scratch

Banish the fear and learn to cook from scratch

If you’re reading this you’re probably one of the 28% of Americans who can’t cook. Many of us grew up on ready meals or just not getting involved in the kitchen. If you’ve never made a meal from scratch with raw ingredients then it can feel as if you missed the boat and it’s not something you’ll ever be able to do.

Don’t allow yourself to fall for that way of thinking, though. It is entirely possible to get past your fears and develop those new skills. Very few people have a genuinely phobic fear of cooking – known as ‘mageirocophobia’ for the geeks amongst you. For most of us it’s simply something we’ve never done and don’t want to fail at publicly. Time to embrace imperfection!

Start small

Start by getting a good book. Make sure it’s aimed at beginners and start with the basics – like boiling an egg correctly – and work your way up at your own pace. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way; remember, it’s about progress not perfection.

Get the right kit

Next, you’ll need to equip your kitchen with the basics. Don’t worry, it isn’t necessary to have every gadget and foodstuff going; most dishes can be produced from a pretty simple line-up of kitchen essentials. Before you get started, make sure you have the following: A good sharp knife, a cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, kitchen scissors, a sieve, a can opener and a couple of mixing bowls.

It’s hard to be too prescriptive in terms of pantry essentials as so much is dependent on personal taste, but I always make sure I have the following:

  • Dry goods – flour, sugar, rice and pasta

  • Oils, vinegars and sauces – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and mayonnaise

  • Herbs and spices – sea salt, peppercorns with grinder, dried oregano, dried mixed herbs, vanilla extract and stock powder

  • Refrigerated goods – butter, cheese, eggs, milk and plain yogurt

  • Canned goods – tomatoes, lentils and beans.

Set aside time

Make a commitment to set some time aside each day to cook. That time should be non-negotiable and in the diary. Make a list of different things you plan on trying each day and stick to it. It’s important to banish the excuses – we’ve heard them all. Whether it be not having enough time or having a tiny kitchen.  They don’t wash. Like with everything, it’s about practice and taking things step by step. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Make use of online resources

Take a look at TV programs and online videos showing cooking techniques to inspire you. There are even some channels you can cook along with in real time. Watching someone else physically preparing food can be hugely helpful and show you exactly what you need to do in a way that a book sometimes can’t. There is a wealth of information and help out there – you just need to look for it.

Why it’s worth the effort

Remaining curious about the world and being willing to try new things is the secret to being a lifelong learner. It’s good for the soul and keeps our brains agile. Developing culinary skills, in particular, can help connect us with people from different cultures through the exploration of dishes from far afield. The joy of discovering new cuisines and tasting new things for the first time is not to be sniffed at.

It’s better for you. We all know that cooking from scratch results in healthier food without nasty additives and preservatives. The process of choosing fresh ingredients and working with them also connects us with the earth and seasons in a way that can be calming and grounding.

When you start cooking from scratch you make all sorts of unexpected gains. Like how to shop for groceries, how to read ingredients labels, how to slow down and be present in the moment while cooking, for instance. Once you start cooking you’ll find you taste food differently, appreciate knowing exactly what has gone into the meal on your plate and enjoy having friends round. All of this is great for your confidence and it can save you quite a bit of money too.

So don’t be held back by fear of the unknown and get in touch with the lifelong learner within. No more procrastinating – just do it. Becoming a competent cook can enrich your life massively. And the learning part is huge fun; Try to ditch any perfectionism and remember to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

This post was written by a guest blogger, Jane West. Jane is a freelance writer who reached out to Global Learn Day to write one of our featured “How to” Blogs! Thanks Jane!

We hope that this has inspired you to pick up a cookbook and learn a new skill!

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What are you achieving?

New Year, New Goals, New You

Many of our readers may be coming off the high of Christmas. In the US, following Christmas there are HUGE clearance sales and then a need to purge and prepare for a New Year. I’m always left feeling a bit anxious this time of year. I find myself thinking about my priorities. How can I learn more, improve myself and bring more good to the world in the upcoming year?
 
Of course, moving into the new year, many of us tighten our budget to prep for all our new year plans. Today, here are a few ways to improve yourself educationally, professionally and personally in a low cost way!

Think of it as Global Learn Day’s New Years Gift to you, our readers.

 

1. Improve your writing game.

Hemingway App is available for free when used online. It helps you improve your writing skills, focusing on readability and structure. In fact, I used it on this blurb! This is at a 5th grade reading level, for your information.There are so many uses for this both personally and professionally, no matter how old you are. Take some time and check it out!

2. Continue your Professional Development in January.

OnLine Training Institute is running a special on Professional Development Courses for the new year. Perhaps you see a need to improve your image or your ability to make successful business connections. These courses are self-guided ways to work on those things and many more. Use code SOCIAL through January 31, 2018 for 33% off!

3. Keep up with the Global Learn Day!

Did you know we keep a Learning Resources Page updated? GLD believes education should be available to everybody and we share free learning resources on this page as a way to help you embrace your full potential!

4. Live Your Truth!

Live Your Truth is a program by Carol Tuttle to help individuals learn how to dress comfortably and confidently. You may be asking why our movement that celebrates education would include a self improvement site. This course helps you learn about yourself and in doing so many have found that they are more confident.

5. Learn a New Language!

ASL University has free online courses to help you learn a new language! American Sign Language is a fantastic and often intuitive language used widely in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities. It is also useful for parents in theaters, museums, churches and virtually anywhere Silence is Golden because it is silent. This could be your year to learn a new language!

So, what are you doing in 2018! I hope we have inspired you to try new things, to learn even more and to embrace One Planet, One People in all that you do!

Happy New Year and keep learning!

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The Privilege of Education

Education may be a human right. Many contend that it is. The right to seek knowledge, to learn and become enlightened is often a key part of a free society.

However, education is also a privilege. I do not mean a privilege given to a certain race, sex or group of people. Education is a privilege you earn through learning. You get out what you put into your process.

Recently, my son came home from school very upset. He’s brilliant and information is often very easy for him to retain and regurgitate. I have watched for years as he took his education for granted in little ways. Refusing to study because he already knew the material, cutting corners, fighting my attempts to help him find a better way. This day, asI picked him up from morning school I noticed he was close to tears. ‘I got a 75 on the test. Don’t say anything because I studied.’

Yes, he had begrudgingly studied for a few minutes a day when he was pushed.

He had the opportunity to learn, but he did not earn the privilege of education. In his fights, he declined it. Now, he was reaping bitter fruit and he did not like it. I attempted to comfort him by sharing that in the future, he could try a different study method. I doubt it helped much, seeing as he was indignant that his 5 minutes of forced study a day did not provide him with the A he is accustomed to.

Later that same day, my daughter came to me upset. She was struggling with Math concepts and hoped I would help her understand more clearly. I sat down and worked with her, guiding her through her homework. She was earning her education.

How do we earn our education?

As I reflect on these two situations, I ask myself what I am doing to earn my education. Opportunities to learn surround me, am I taking them? Are you?

Today, I am focusing on taking in the information around me. I’ve taken to reading articles twice to be sure I absorb the knowledge available. I then save them for at least a week as I put the knowledge into practice.

After all… Knowledge is only powerful if you put it to use.

 

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Fun with Learning – The Raven

Recently, I was able to participate in a Global Learn Day Story time at our 2017 partner, Baby Cotton Bottoms. Education is fun for me, especially when I am able to work with people who are fully engaged. Excitement about a project often breeds the best educational opportunities!

So, as I planned our event for #GLD2017, I selected a children’s book I had not seen before. I chose “Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart” by Jennifer Adams. It is one of the Baby Lit First Steps Books that you can purchase through Baby Cotton Bottoms. To go with our story time, we needed a fun craft that kids and bystanders could work on. I loved the spooky theme of the book and tied it in with Halloween to create this!

These make great trick or treat bags and Halloween gift bags!

To make one…

  • Buy a pack of white or brown plain gift bags.
  • Black stick on felt paper. (These come in two packs – you can easily make a dozen with one pack.)
  • A stencil or cut out for the raven (we got ours here!)
  • Puff paint or other art supplies. (We had pipe cleaners, markers, extra scraps of the paper and google eyes in addition to the puff paint!)

To make things easy for our #GLD2017 event, I prearranged everything. Then, during the event we were able to read our story, which you can watch here and work on our craft. The kids had a blast!

Their finished products were each unique and one little girl even decided to take home supplies for her friend!

And just like that, we had introduced children to Poe and Literature while they had FUN!

Did you enjoy this craft or book? Let us know!

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