Food is the easiest way to share our culture with friends and classmates but sometimes children feel a bit apprehensive when opening themselves and their culture up to others. “Rice & Rocks” by Sandra L. Richards highlights the anxiety that the main character Giovanni experiences when introducing his friends to his grandmother’s traditional Jamaican dish of -rice and beans (and stew chicken). Will his friends like the food? Will they pick out the rock?
The beauty of our world is that each of us has the opportunity to share our cultural experiences with our friends and neighbors.
The combination of Sandra L. Richards’ words and Megan Kayleigh Sullivan’s images work in concert to transport the reader around the world so well that you can almost smell each dish! This story is an excellent way to start a classroom or home conversation on cultural sharing.
Find the book on Amazon here!
We closed Black History Month with an extra special celebration at our school, a “Black History Live” show with Culture Queen. Culture Queen is an award winning, cultural performer who teaches children about their “royal heritage”. The performance was interactive, engaging, colorful, and very well done. My daughters could not stop talking about how beautiful Culture Queen’s dress was; how much fun they had; and how surprised they were that they learned so many cool facts about African American trailblazers.
We had no clue what we were about to experience, but we were so excited to attend- and boy were we provided an amazing show. Culture Queen worked the room, was a high energy performer, and provided the audience with continuous movement, and call and response engagement. Her songs included uplifting messages and catchy rhythms. My daughters loved the performance so much, that they fell asleep with her music on repeat that night.
We highly recommend catching a Culture Queen show. It’s a wonderful experience for families with kids of all ages. The integration of educational content matched with the catchy tunes made for a very unique and worthwhile experience.
I come from a family of people where glasses, glaucoma, blindness, color blindness, cataracts, and eye surgeries are reality. To say that my biggest fear is an eye injury or going blind is an understatement. In my mind, eyesight equals freedom. I see color quite vividly, even though I'm severely nearsighted and most of my memories are remembered through the color of my surroundings over how I felt when I experienced them. Visual messages are important to how I interpret the world and I try to make sure I take care of my eyes as best as I can, since genetics have dealt me an interesting deck of visual cards.
I've worn glasses for as long as I could remember. I remember my first pair being red plastic rimmed glasses, with Lucy from the Peanuts engraved on the side arms near the joints. They were awesome but I remember not wanting to wear them, being called "four eyes" is no fun no matter how stylish your specs are.
Moving into middle and high school wire frame glasses were all the rage in the 90s but our insurance at the time allowed for only plastic rims. Still expensive but outdated, I used to dream of the day when I would be able to afford my own glasses. I had plans for my style when I was all grown up. Funny enough I now buy the same large plastic (hipster) frames I wore as a kid and was made fun of for. Funny how fashion changes. For me, contacts were never an option. I hate touching my eyes. As a child I recall my father wearing the glass contact lenses. I'd imagine what would happen if they shattered... it freaked me out.
Being an athlete and being relatively blind was not a great combination. From middle school through college I played "blind". I recall feeling my way around the volleyball and basketball courts. I used my spacial awareness and developed my peripheral vision to a point where I earned double digit assists, steals, and points in many games. Yeh I could've worn rec specs and at times I wore a glasses strap on my plastic frames during games, but it got glasses fog up and they jostle around on the bridge of your nose, so lame. I left my glasses in my locker during games and practices. Playing "blind" was my best choice, though once again I'd fantasize about how much better I would've been had I been able to see.
We took the kids with us to buy a family car. If you've ever bought a car you know that the process from test-drive to purchase can be a long drawn out process. Add kids without devices and it's enough to make you crazy. I won't get into the nitty gritty of the experience but I will say that the kids were so in tune to what was going on that they were inspired to write about it the next morning. The teacher in me was beyond thrilled by their eager excitement to "journal" this experience.
After we took a moment to reflect on the experience, what they enjoyed most, basic observations, and any lessons learned, we moved forward with writing prompts. Each kid wrote their prompt on paper and then typed their essay on a computer or iPad. Little sister transcribed her essay on the iPad which has auto complete. This was actually really helpful for an early reader/writer. I'll blog more about this in a later post. Here are their essays below, unedited:
"What Buying A Car Is Like"
Big Sister (age 9)
Yesterday i went car buying with my family it was a very interesting experience because... First, you pick the car you are hoping for and take on a test drive to see if it works. Second , you have to pick your favorite top two cars and compare and contrast how fast it is and how much money it is.
Also, you have to talk more about what the comfort levels are like is the car big enough? Or Does it fit car seats? Is it comfortable in the front and back.
Then, you go with a man to fill out 1,million forms about credit, the bank ,and permission to use your credit card.
In Addition , the final step is you go with a lawyer guy to fill out and they ask if you need safety stuff like if you bump a curb they will send a tow truck. Last, you get the walk out price and you drive out with the car.
In my opinion car buying is for people who have patience because there are hours of waiting two observations i've made are 1: only men work at car dealer and 2: was that car buying is super STRESSING! In conclusion car buying is a very stressing and an interesting experience
"My Opinion About Buying A New Car"
Middle Sister (age "8")
I think buying a new car is for people who have patience. First, you have to fill out dozens of paperwork about the car. Next, you have to talk a lot. Third, you have to test drive all of the cars you want. Fourth, I saw that only boys were selling cars. Fifth, you have to wait,... A Lot! Sixth, you have to see a lot of cars. Seventh, you have to see if the car is comfy. Eighth, you have to see if at least a family of 5. Ninth, you have to see if it can fit a few people. Thats why I think car buying a new car is for patient people.
"Buying A Car"
Little Sister (age 6)
It was so awesome because it had a moon roof. We got to go on a test drive and it was a lot of waiting and it was fantastic. I loved it. My favorite part was when we got to go on a test drive. We had burgers for dinner. Mom and dad made a good choice.
Reflection is an important part of life. Reflecting on experiences allows us to retain important information, meditate on our choices in that moment, and creatively think about new possibilities for the next time we are in a similar experience. Having kids write reflections allows them to take time to think about the process of an experience from start to finish. It gives them the medium to express themselves and share their opinions about an experience. It provides a creative outlet and the opportunity to practice creative writing techniques.
My kids were so engrossed in the car buying experience in ways I didn't realize at the dealership. Reading their prompts was very illuminating for me. They remembered some very key moments of buying a car (I was impressed). I encourage everyone to get their kids writing more through reflective writing prompts. You'll be surprised by what they produce.
Black History Month the school hosted a Fashion Show that encouraged students of African ancestry to share what inspires their style. There were so many beautiful costumes and decade inspired styles brought to the show. We decided to represent Trinidad and Tobago this year (our father's side). I made costumes inspired by Trinidad's colorful Carnival women...
All Caribbean carnivals originated from Trinidad and Tobago's first official present day-like event in 1833. Carnival celebrations happen all around the world. You can think of Carnival like Mardi Gras but possibly bigger. You can read more about the history of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival here. I tried to capture the colorfulness, the playfulness, and the textures of the event through the girls' costumes.
Here's a quick video of the entire thing...
I think my models were very happy with the end result. Honestly that's all that matters. They walked for 30 seconds but this was time well spent. I learned that I could take on a project of this magnitude and that if I put my mind to it, I can actually do cool, crafty things, even though I don't consider myself particularly artsy fartsy. Would I do it again... ABSOLUTELY!
November is the time of year when everything becomes a blur of parent teacher conferences, report cards, holiday preparation and reflective thinking in preparation for the upcoming new year. I found myself caught in this redundant and turbulent whirlwind as the date for our biggest conference of the year quickly crept up on my iCalendar. Mentally frazzled but very excited, I packed my belongings for a trip to New Orleans, anticipating the things I love about my job- meeting new people, making connections, and managing our social campaign.
We recently took a family trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA. What a treat! Thanks to Granny (who bought the tickets in advance), we were able to surround our selves with the wonders of our oceans and other aquatic life. We've visited other aquariums as a family, but found that the immersive nature of the layout of this aquarium provided a very up-close and personal opportunity for learning. Check out our video below!
We took a family trip to visit the Hirshhorn museum in Washington, DC. (One of my favorite museums). This was a great opportunity for me to guide my children through their understanding, interpretation and appreciation of what each artist was trying to convey through their chosen medium.
Museums are mini wonderlands filled with hidden treasures in plain sight. Whilst walking through, one could easily pass by a really inspiring experience. Here is a bit of advice for parents with toddlers and young elementary aged children, who want to appreciate a museum that is, as my middle child said, a "hands-free and not for kids, adult museum".
In my former teacherly way, I asked the girls questions as we watched the exploding colors dissolve into the night. They told me that the fireworks looked like glitter bombs. I never thought about that at all, but it is so true; the falling fizzling light does look like glitter. I felt like a kid again.
Aside from the perfect temperature; the tarp we were laying on; and the amazing light display, it was the experience of community that got to me most. All of the people spread out on the lawn or hill together, eyes to the sky, hearts pounding. It's funny how you can share an intimate experience with your family surrounded by a massive crowd of people. This reminded me that moments like this are what I live for as a parent. We encourage you to experience the night as we did on the 5th.
Check out our other fireworks experience from 2013 here: 4th of July!
Big Sister brought home a class assignment... Make something out of recycled objects. What??? OMG... Well, recently her class took a field trip to the local recycle facility and I'm certain this project brings the learning full circle. We had a lot of fun with the project. We hope you enjoy our journey.
It's really important to provide "organic" experiences by taking your child places that will stimulate their 5 senses.