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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fun ways to learn phonics

5 Fun Strategies to Develop Phonics Skills

Phonics Skills are the backbone to all reading.  There are workbooks, DVDs, music CDs and videos all devoted to teaching phonics to young children.  Many of these are great, but for some children even the best of these isn’t enough.  Everyone has their particular learning style and for many young children the method that works best is a tactile, hands-on one.  We have been teaching subjects like science and mathematics like this for years.  But have you ever considered teaching reading hands-on?  Well, you can and here are five ways how.

 

  • There are two basic sets of rules for phonics, the long vowel rules and short vowel rules.  These rules are represented below by combinations of consonants ( c) and vowels (v)

Long vowels:

        • cv- Whenever a vowel comes at the end of a word or syllable it is long as in the word “he.”
        • cvce – This is the magic “e”  or silent “e” rule.  The “e” makes the preceding vowel long but is not pronounced, like in “cake.”
        • cvv—Two vowels went walking and the first one did the talking.  The first vowel is long and the second is silent.  Think “sea.”

Short vowels:

  • vc—With the vowel before the consonant, in words like “at,” the vowel becomes short.
  • cvc—Same as the rule above. The middle vowel is short as in “cat”

Now, here’s the hands-on part.   Create two signs on typing paper or index cards, one for each set of rules.  Then purchase or make flash cards with a variety of short words.  Explain the rules and then show how a sampling of words, one for each rule, follows the rules.  Then have your child sort the remaining cards according to rules.  Sound out the words together.  This turns rule memorization into a game instead of a chore.

 

  • Word families are another way to teach phonics and boost vocabulary.  Make a simple wheel game by using two circles cut from poster board.  On one circle cut out a small window and write the word family next to it (-at, -an, -ug, etc.).  Around the other write letters that when placed before the word family ending create a word.  For instance, for the –at family write b, c, f, h, m, p, r, s, and v.  Just make sure you are creating child friendly words.  Place the window circle on top of the other and push a brass fastener through the center.  Now you have a wheel.  Spin the wheel and create new words.

 

  • Have your child illustrate her first book.  Fold a sheet of typing or white construction paper in half forming a card.  Using short words that are easy to sound out and the child’s name create a little story with one sentence on each “page”.  (Example: Mary ate cake.) Have your child sound out the words, with your help as needed, and read the sentences. Then, have her draw a picture of what she just read on each page.  Kids love having their own books.

 

  • Plays Guess that Letter.  With your child facing away from you, trace a letter on his back.  Have him tell you which letter you just traced.  It may take a couple of tries but once kids get the hang of this game they love it.  Next, switch places (you may need to sit down to make it easier for your child to reach your back) and tell your child a letter sound, like “ah” for short “o.”  Have your child trace the letter that corresponds to the sound on your back.  This is a game that is sure to result in giggles and learning.

 

  • Find that letter!  Write each letter of the alphabet on an index card (to make this even more hands-on create tactile alphabet cards using items that begin with that letter, like cotton balls for “c” to create the letter) and place them in a large shoe box.  Shake the letters around to mix them up well.  Then say one of the letter sounds and have your child dig in the box to find the correct card.  You can advance this game by giving your child a short word to spell and having her find the correct letters and, using clothes pins, clip them to one side of the box in order.  Best of all, once the lid is replaced; everything is safe and sound for next time.

 

Phonics is a great tool and once the world of reading is unlocked for your child the potential for learning is endless.  With a little creativity and basic art supplies, you can create a learning experience that will last the rest of their lives.

Do you know fun ways to learn phonics?

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