Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dolls for Haiti

If you are a crafter and want some way to send a bit of homemade love to children in Haiti, then this may be the organization for you.

Through the Abundant Ground Foundation is a wonderful organization that has an orphanage in Haiti housing 181 children between the ages of birth to 12. They also provide food and necessary items to displaced families through their Abundant Ground in Haiti program.  They would love to be able to give Dolly Donation Dollies top all of their orphans and will ship them to Haiti on the 14 March 2010.

They need 103 Girl Dollies and 78 Boy Dollies.  If the organizers exceed the target, the dolls will be distributed to other Haitian orphanages and organizations so that they get into the hands of the children who need our love.

The blog, linked above, has patterns, tutorials, FAQs and the mailing address for the donations.

I have been thinking about the children of Haiti every day, wishing there was some tangible way to send our love.  I'm so glad to have found one way.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ways to celebrate National Literacy Day

Today is Canada's national family literacy day and there have been events at libraries, schools and community centres across the country. In addition to revelling in some favourite books, today is a great day to talk about how important literacy and education are in changing the world.
Did you know that as of the year 2000 almost a billion people are unable to read a book or sign their names?  Or that what the world spends on weapons each year would have been enough to put  every child into school by the year 2000? And yet it didn’t happen.*

What can you do as a family to make a difference?
~ Organize a book drive to benefit your community. Check with literacy centres, public health, libraries, food banks or schools to find appropriate recipients.

~ Donate to literacy charities. Through Care Canada $36 will send a child to school for a year. Or you can donate a set of textbooks for $7  through the American version of the Care website. Greg Mortenson's organization is another excellent one to choose. Or donate to local literacy organizations and programs. One of our local used bookstores allows you to donate your credits to the local literacy council, which provides them with funding and a source of discounted books on topics relevant to their needs.

~ Buy your books from Better World Books which supports literacy programs around the world.

~ Volunteer to read at a school, senior's centre or adult literacy centres. Become a tutor or a reading buddy.

~ Celebrate literacy with your own children. Have poetry tea parties, throw birthday parties for favourite characters, frame illustrations from favourite but worn out books, start a book club or a book review blog, bake cookies for your favourite librarian, provide allowance in the form of book store gift certificates.

~ Write your politicians about the importance of education in eradicating poverty, disease and violence around the world and urge them to support local and global programs with those goals.

~ Read.

The Wednesday surprise by Eve Bunting, Eve,
The day of Ahmed's secret : Florence Parry Heide, 
Read for me, Mama by Vashanti Rahaman, 
The lion's share by Chris Conover,
Raising Sweetness by Diane Stanley,
Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest, 

Aunt Chip and the great Triple Creek dam affair by Patricia Polacco,
Listen to the wind : the story of Dr. Greg and Three cups of tea by Greg Mortenson,

* statistics from here

Howard Zinn 1922- 2010

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
~  Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, author, historian, and social critic died Wednesday of a heart attack.

We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.
~ Howard Zinn

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

National Red Scarf Day January 31st, 2008

In 2008, Hannah Taylor, Founder of the Ladybug Foundation, which works to support the homeless community, was invited by the Senate and all the Members of Parliment to Ottawa to launch Canada's first ever National Red Scarf Day on January 31st, 2008.

History was made in Ottawa on that day when all the Senate and Members of Parliment gave a standing ovation in support of the same cause on the same day. Together Ottawa and Canada showed their support by wearing Ladybug Foundation Red Scaves on January 31st.

What can you do?
~ Buy a scarf to support the Ladybug Foundation.
~ Collect winter clothing, boots, gloves, and hats and donate to a shelter.
~ Help your children make red scarves from fleece to donate and raise awareness.
~ Read to your children about homelessness.

Hannah's Story

At the age of 5, Hannah Taylor spotted her first homeless person in the back alleys of Winnipeg. This experience not only troubled her, but it drove her to do nothing less than change the world. The Ladybug Foundation, the charity Hannah helped establish, has raised over a million dollars to date. With her huge heart and can-do attitude, she preaches a simple message of "Share a little of what you have and always care about others." As this short documentary proves, we all have a lot to learn from Hannah's story.

Watch on Canada's NFB Website

Read more about The Ladybug Foundation here


Whenever we visit a larger city we inevitably end up having a conversation about homelessness with the kids.
As with so many social issues, it can be hard to convey the nuances of the situations with the kids. The root causes of homelessness are huge. However, over time, I've grown to appreciate how sophisticated my kids are in their ability to understand and think through these sorts of issues.

These encounters have sparked so many interesting conversations. We have talked about how illness, either mental or addiction, is at the route of so much of the homelessness. We have talked about the supports our community and governments put in place and how they help, and why they fail sometimes. We've talked about choice and rights. Should homeless people be allowed to live on the streets? How much authority should a government have over some one's choices - should we be able to force them to go inside when it is cold? We've talked about what is helpful. Should we give money or food to homeless people directly knowing it may actually encourage them to stay on the streets or should we support shelters and other programs that work to get homeless people off the street?  How do homeless people feel when we help them or when we walk by them?

In talking through these issues with the kids, we get a chance to think critically, to try to imagine what issues the homeless in our communities face and we can brainstorm about ways we can help.

Here are a few ideas we have talked about in order to help:

~ With your kids, research what support services are available in your area and see how you can help through donations, volunteering or activism.

~ Make up personal care bags with things like warm socks, gloves and hats, granola bars, bottled water, tooth brush and tooth paste, comb or brush, small first aid kit, shower curtain or rain poncho, gift cards for restaurants and have them to give to homeless people you encounter.

~ Gather unused winter clothing, boots, shoes, hats, gloves etc and donate to a shelter.  Run a blanket or sleeping bag drive if there is an organization that can use them.

~ Model treating all people with respect and dignity. One of the kindest things you can do is acknowledge them and teach your children that their compassion is a wonderful gift.

Fly away home by Eve Bunting, (good activities page to accompany this)
Lily and the paper man by Rebecca,Upjohn, 
The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern
Fly! by Christopher Myers, 
The teddy bear by David McPhail,
Great joy by Kate DiCamillo,
A Kids' Guide to Hunger & Homelessness: How to Take Action! ~ Cathryn Berger Kaye

For older kids
Gracie's girl by Ellen Wittlinger,
Shattered by Eric Walters,
December by Eve Bunting,
Lives turned upside down : homeless children in their own words and photographs by Jim Hubbard,

LinksTalking to your kids about homelessness
Fact Sheets for Kids on Homelessness  (American information, but age appropriate)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tasting activism

If you give me a fish you have fed me for a day. If you teach me to fish then you have fed me until the river is contaminated or the shoreline seized for development. But if you teach me to organize then whatever the challenge I can join together with my peers and we will fashion our own solution. 
~ Ricardo Levins Morales
Saturday I took three of my kids to the political rally to protest the prorogation of Parliament. We've been watching Rick's Rants and talking a lot about how our government works and the kids were quite disturbed by Prime Minister Harper's... ahem.... approach to democracy and felt we should do something to voice our concern. So we did.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Luck of the draw

(A 5 minute exercise to get the feel of what extreme poverty is like:)

In our world, one of every six people lives on less than a dollar a day.
What does it mean to live on less than a dollar a day? What would your life look like?

Greg Mortensen on CBC today

Sunday Edition's Michael Enright interviewed Greg Mortensen, author of Three Cups of Tea, Listen to the wind: the story of Dr. Greg and Three cups of tea, and Stones into Schools (which I am not so patiently waiting for from our library). He's fascinating and inspiring, and I often wonder if he is a bit overwhelmed by the fame generated through his good works. Listening to him explain why he won't accept government money or a movie deal based on his books and his work only made me admire him more.

Note: the audio hasn't been loaded to Sunday Edition's site yet but I expect it will be tomorrow.

Raising Global Citizens - Cultivating Geographical Awareness

When Socrates was asked where he came from, he said that he was a citizen of the world. He regarded himself as a citizen of the universe.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Understanding physical geography is the basis for understanding culture, politics, climate. It provides a mental for history and current events and a context for environmental science.

Here are a few ideas and resources for learning physical geography.

Get your hands on a good globe and large world map and have them handy. Some friends put world map under plastic on the kitchen table, some place them strategically in the bathroom or turn them into shower curtains, or on the ceiling in a bedroom. But any wall space will do.

Use the map to locate and mark any number of things - where friends are traveling, locations of current events, the settings of favourite stories or movies, the path of the Olympic flame, where Matt has been, the migration paths of favourite animals, birds or butterflies, the contents of a stamp collection, the country of origin for all the ethnic restaurants in your city.

Join a postcard exchange. Once you have put the word out to relatives, friends, relative and neighbours, there are plenty of groups on line which will allow you to send and receive postcards from around the world. One of my favourites is this one. And here's an article from Home Education Magazine about using postcards to enhance geography knowledge.

Play Extreme Geography. Using a good atlas or Google plot the locations of the hottest and coldest places on earth, the longest river, highest mountain, biggest lake, smallest country, most remote island, most and least densely populated cities, active volcanoes.

Use passions to relate to geography. Love hockey? Then find out where players on your favourite team were born. Collect stamps or coins? Do you have one from every continent or every capital city in Europe? Follow a certain band? Find out where are they touring this year.

Send in a formal request the international Tooth Fairy who will bring coins from the countries she has visited that night.

Learn to geocache and letterbox.

Put together geography puzzles. We have a few favourites including one of 200+ flags of the world and this one and some regional Ravensburger puzzles.

Play Globetrotting (a twister like game using a world map rather than coloured dots). After the game leave the map on the floor and build the CN Tower and the Great Wall of China, put your toys trees in the rainforest or Redwood forest and lay out your shell collection in the Great Barrier Reef.

Other good physical geography board and computer games we've enjoyed:
Where in the World? by Aristoplay Games
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
DK Become a World Explorer.
There are lots of options online as well.

Make a rhyme. The other night the kids were asking me where I was going after dinner. We had been discussion geography so I started rhyming our friends names with places in the world: Mozambique with Monique, Bali with Molly which sent them scurrying for the atlas to see what else they could come up with. Some fun geography poetry books:
A world of wonders: geographic travels in verse and rhyme by Patrick Lewis,
Got geography!: poems
Wish you were here (and I wasn't) : a book of poems and pictures for globe-trotters by Colin McNaughton,

Friday, January 22, 2010

If The World Were a Village

As our budget doesn't allow for jetting around the world, we use a lot of books and dvds to travel the world and learn about diversity and the things we have in common.

This is one of my favourite (and my kids' favourite) books:
If the World Were A Village and DVD which you can preview here.

There are educator resources available at the author's website.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Haiti Resource

Teaching for Change is offering this book as a free download.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Our city is in the process of cutting 52 mature 100 year old trees from the park along the river. It will radically change the look of the park as 15% of the trees will be gone within a week or two. There were injunctions, protests, consultants, vigils, lots of letters to the editors and now the trees are marked with big orange Xs and hung with signs of appreciation and poems.

I took my kids to see them today and take some pictures of the park which has looked the same basically all my life.

And we talked about what we could do to help the park and the urban tree canopy in general. We have plans for more tree planting in the spring but will be looking for other things we can do as well.

~ The man who planted trees (CBC video)
~ Behold the trees by Sue Alexander,
~ The forgotten forest by Laurence Anholt
~ Someday a tree by Eve Bunting,
~ Wangari's trees of peace : a true story from Africa  by Jeanette Winter,

National Geographic's Geography Action

National Geographic's Geography Action is an educator's resource which includes huge downloadable maps and hands on activites to learn about the geography of the continents.

Every Culture

Every Culture is a great place to find information on (almost?) every country in the world.

All Roads Film Festival

National Geographic's All Roads Film Project provides platforms for international, indigenous and underrepresented minority culture artists to showcase their stories through the power of film and photography.

You can buy a compilation dvd here or check your local library or independent video store for these titles.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grinning at Joy

This is the best kind of voyeurism, hearing joy from your neighbors.
~ Chuck Sigars,

This video has made the internet rounds for well over a year. We watch it regularly at our house and often trace some or all of the journey on a map or the globe. It's a fantastic way to travel the world in a few minutes.

But it is more than that. It has a power and a lesson that goes deeper. It shows people from countries and cultures all around the world, who look a lot like us and our friends, dancing, joyfully, acting silly, grinning at the opportunity to be a part of something larger than themselves and make a connection, both local and global. It never fails to make me and my kids smile and make us feel connected to everyone else who has grinned and danced with the video on the computer.

Watch more of Matt and his journey here. (Note: not all content/language on the journal is young child friendly.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Something to think about today

I believe that it may be only the power and nurturance of mothers that can heal our planet right now. As mothers we must refuse to raise our children to kill other mothers’ children, assert that there is more than enough to go around and figure out how to get it around, and commit to the safe development of every mother’s child. I believe we have a sacred obligation to envision and then work towards a tomorrow that is full of possibility for all.
- Susan Hay and her son Reilly from mothers acting up

Visit mothers acting up and sign up for their daily call to action.

Free the Children

Mark and Craig Kielburger's Free the Children Charity has spun off a campaign called 10 in 10. By committing to up to 10 actions to make the world a better place, you can generate funds for the charity's overseas community development work through the Aviva Foundation.

Find out more here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Power of Generosity

I've been reading the Power Of Generosity by Dave Toycen and came across this quote:

Children have an uncanny way of connecting their thoughts with their actions. For them, if you really mean it, you will do something about it. As adults, we sometimes fail to act because we see all the complexities. It's not uncommon for our knowledge to paralyze our expression of compassion... Connecting even the deepest of our motivations with a tangible expression brings integrity to what we feel A simple generous act frequently cuts right to the heart of the matter.

I am often amazed at the generousity of children around me, of their ability to give in a way that is truly free and based on meeting an immediate need. Before reading this quote I hadn't considered why it seemed harder for adults to trust that first instinct to give and yet it makes perfect sense. In talking to my kids about issues they distill it down to the core very quickly. Someone needs something we have to give and so we give it. Someone needs help and so we help. Something needs to be done and so we do it. (why doesn't that apply to cleaning their rooms?).  They are clear that we do these things simply because we can. My own thinking gets murky with thoughts of intention, logistics, conservation of our own resources, and my good intentions are often hobbled by it.  I learn so much from my kids.

Small change

Yay for generous neighbours. The kids spent an hour today canvassing the neighbourhood with the goal of raising $50. They came home with more than $135 in coins to donate to the Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund. Only about one half of the neighbours we visited were home and so they have plans to head out again tomorrow with their buckets, their rehearsed spiel and the small painted hearts with hand lettered thank yous that they gave after every donation. There was more than one occasion when I felt the lump rise in my throat as our neighbours greeted the kids warmly and thanked them genuinely for their efforts to make a difference. The largest donation they got was $5 or so, and so we were pleasantly surprised at the finally tally. The donation will be matched by Kevin's employer and then matched again by the Canadian government program, meaning that in an hour they generated more than $500 worth of donations for Haiti. For them, it's a great lesson about the power of small change, a little legwork, and the value of a connected community. And it's a good reminder for me about how easy and empowering it is to support their natural inclination towards generosity and compassion.

We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.
~ Mother Teresa

ETA - the penny drive has continued and they have surpassed the $250 mark. Even more importantly their friends are all getting in on the act and these kids are doing such amazing, inspiring work.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A little

The greatest mistake is to do nothing because you can only do a little.
~ Sydney Smith

Everything feels little in the face of the incredible tragedy in Haiti. I've chosen not to watch the news and only read a few headlines on the computer. I can't comprehend the magnitude of this tragedy and I don't know that looking at images is going to make it any more real than it already feels.

I've talked to the kids about the earthquake and how devastated it has left Port au Prince but we have decided at this point that that will be enough information for them. We want to leave them feeling empowered to help rather than overwhelmed.

And so we have been talking with friends and around the table about what we might be able to do to help. Donating cash seems to be the most appropriate response at the moment and we've already sent some to the Red Cross. But we also want to find a way to do something tangible as a family so we are floating up ideas:
~ a penny drive?
~ asking for donation for carrying bags at the market or shoveling snow?
~ some kind of craft sale?
~ organizing a valentine's family dance?

We've been in touch with the warehouse of a local charity where we have volunteered to see if there is anything we can do, perhaps packing boxes again like we did before Christmas.

I find that the hardest thing in supporting my kids through this kind of heartbreaking tragedy is finding the balance between giving them enough information so that they can reach out and protecting them and their sense of safety, and optimism, so that they don't become overwhelmed.

In the end I think that for them, like for me, it is important to know that even though our gestures feel small when compared to the scope of the situation, we aren't powerless and we can make a difference.

What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Resources for teaching about Haiti

5 Ways to Teach About Haiti Right Now - New York Times Learning Blog
UNICEF lesson plan about Haiti (pre earthquake)
Colouring Pages
Lesson Plan Haitian Art (uses Running The Road To ABC by Denize Lauture as a starting point)
Festivals and Activities to celebrate Haiti

Book Lists

Non Fiction:
~ Haiti by Trudy Hanmer,
~ Haiti by Bob Temple, 
~ Haiti in pictures by Margaret Goldstein,
~ A Haitian Family (Journey Between Two Worlds) by Keith Elliot Greenberg (for older children)
~ Cultures of the World- Haiti

Fiction and Folktales:
~ The Magic Orange Tree by Diane Wolkstein.  (collection of Haitian folktales)
~ Please, Malese! : a trickster tale from Haiti by Amy MacDonald,
~ Anacaona, golden flower by Edwidge Danticat,
~ Tales of wisdom & wonder by Hugh Lupton,  (contains the Haitian folktale Monkey and Papa God )
~ Selavi, That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope by Youme Landowne  (teacher's guide)
~ Tap-Tap by Karen Lynn Williams
~ Running The Road To ABC  by Denize Lauture

DVDs and Music:
~ Haiti a painted history [Videotape]
~ Putumayo presents Carnival

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr Day

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Day is a wonderful time to talk to your children about racial issues - those in the past and those we still collectively face. It's also a great springboard for discussion peaceful methods of protest, and the power of dreams.

~ In remembrance of Martin [videorecording DVD]

~ Paths to peace : people who changed the world by Jane Breskin Zalben
~ Ten amazing people : and how they changed the world by Maura D Shaw
~ Martin's big words : the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport

~ Coretta Scott: Poetry by Ntozake Shange
~ As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson
~ Our children can soar: a celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the pioneers of change by Michelle Cook
~ A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson

holiday zone pages - excellent resource for activities and discussion starters for children
I have a Dream speech - transcript
link to video of I Have  a Dream speech
Seattle Times Education Pages - excellent resource for older children, includes timeline, background, articles and study guide
long list of links for teacher's lesson plans

more lesson plans
New York Times resource page

Civil Rights and Race

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr is a powerful one but even moreso if it can be put in context of what was happening in the struggle for equality and civil rights. Here are some resources to help put that quest in context.

Books for parents
40 ways to raise a nonracist child by Barbara Mathias,
Race: a history beyond black and white by Marc Aronson, 

Books for younger children
This is the dream by Diane ZuHone Shore, 
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni,
The Boycott Bluyes: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkey
The bus ride that changed history : the story of Rosa Parks by Pamela Duncan Edwards,
Freedom on the menu: the Greensboro sit-ins by Carole Boston Weatherford,
Through my Eyes by Ruby Bridges

For teens and adults
The Rosa Parks Story (dvd Xenon Pictures, [2002] )
A dream of freedom : the civil rights movement from 1954 to 1968 by Diane McWhorter, 
Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Right's Movement (dvd)
The untold story of Emmett Louis Till (dvd)
4 little girls (dvd)
We shall overcome by Herb Boyd,

Pledging Non-Violence

One of the ways to honour Martin Luther King Day is by talking to your children about non-violent or peaceful means of meeting our needs. One excellent tool is the Family Pledge of Non-Violence which families can read and sign together.

Celebrating MLK Day respectfully

Some links from Teaching Tolerance:

A Dream We Can All Share
Like King's dream, the events and people celebrated during February's Black History Month belong to all of us — they are lessons we all can learn from and take pride in.
For all children to appreciate this shared history, parents and caregivers must regularly reinforce those lessons at home.
No matter your color or background, here are suggestions to help you and your family embrace the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month — beyond any single day or single month.

Do's and Don'ts of Celebrating MLK Day
The holiday must be substantive as well as symbolic. It must be more than a day of celebration . . . Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress."
~ Coretta Scott King

Monday, January 11, 2010

Can you imagine

If all your energy needs were supplied by pedal power?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

One Small Change

Hip Mountain Mama is hosting One Small Change to encourage all of us to make the commitment to changing one thing in our lives which will allow us to live more lightly on the earth. Each month from now until Earth Day, participants will choose an action and follow it through. By blogging or emailing what their family is doing, they will be eligible for wonderful prizes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Raising Global Citizens Part II- What does that mean?

In their dwelling, they love the earth;
In their heart, they love what is deep;
In personal relationships, they love kindness;
In their words, they love truth.
In the world, they love peace.
In personal affairs, they love what is right.
In action, they love choosing the right time.
~ Lao Tzu

For me, raising global citizens means helping my children understand their place on earth and the role they can play. As Rex Murphy said: If you were born in the West, you've won the only lottery that really counts from the very first moment you take air. We are blessed with so very many gifts and I think it is important for my children to understand those gifts come with the responsibility to use them wisely and widely to benefit those who aren't so lucky.

In order to use our gifts to the best of our ability, we need first to be aware. Aware of the challenges we all face socially, environmentally, culturally, religiously, racially, and economically. We need to recognize and nurture compassion and empathy. We need to be environmentally responsible in how we use the earth's resources and how we allow our economic decisions to impact the earth. We need to be tolerant and open-minded about the views, experiences, and needs of others. And we need to be able to see the connections between all these things. Decisions which are good for the environment are often also respectful of different cultures and economic realities. Social issues are can rarely be teased apart from issues relating to race, religion or cultural perspectives.

But being aware is only part of the journey. We need also to be able to use that awareness to motivate our actions and interactions with others. I think all kids have an innate tendency towards altruism. As parents, I think we can nurture and support our children's natural abilities to connect action with intention by helping them feel confident in their ability to make a difference, even if that means they can do nothing more than offer kindness.

Good intentions are at least, the seed of good actions; and every one ought to sow them, and leave it to the soil and the seasons whether he or any other gather the fruit.
~ William Temple

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Worldview Radio Show

Chicago Public Radio has an interesting show called Worldview which has some fabulous programming.
Jerome McDonnell hosts Chicago Public Radio’s long-running global affairs program Worldview. From Nobel Peace Prize winners to Nicaraguan sweatshop workers, Worldview highlights a range of voices that go beyond the headlines.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Got a bit of wanderlust?

Then reading about this family's 3+ year long world tour may not help. What a great opportunity for their daughter.

Or you could follow this family as they bike from Alaska to Argentina with their young sons.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cross Cultural Classroom

Article from the New York Times that reinforces the need for religious literacy for adults and children.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Felice Nuovo Anno!
Prosit Neujahr!
Nakutakaia Heri Ya Mwaka Mpya!

However you say it, New Years is a great time to celebrate.

Happy New Year Everywhere by Arlene Erlbach is a wonderful book that teaches kids about New Years celebrations around the world. The section on each country or region includes some background about the tradition, when the New Year is celebrated, how to pronounce the greetings, and what the cultural traditions are for that particular celebration. Each section also includes an activity for kids to do. There are crafts, recipes, songs and games.

While you are organizing your calendar you can use the Kindersley's book Celebrations to plan some celebrations of your own for the coming year. The authors of Children Just Like Me have featured 22 different cultural celebrations and traditions. Children from around the world are pictured celebrating everything from N'cwala (Zambia's Harvest Festival) to Egemenlik Bayrami (Turkey's Independence Holiday) in traditional clothing with notes about the food, music, dances and activities for each celebration.

Other great sources of information are the Multicultural Diversity Calendar and the Earth Calendar.

Sal -e- no mobarak!

Raising Global Citizens

How can we raise children to be socially aware, religiously tolerant, environmentally responsible, culturally sensitive, with a deep sense of themselves and a meaningful connection to their communities?

How do we balance honouring our children's innate curousity and ability to connect with the need to protect them from becoming overwhelmed by all the work there is to do in this world?

Where do we start when we aren't really clear on all the complexities of issues ourselves?

How can we foster that generousity, volunteerism and altruism in our children when our days are full now?

How do we talk to  kids about sensitive issues without scaring or overwhelming them?

All I know is that we can't do it alone.  My goal is to use this blog as a place to explore these sorts of issues.  Through interviews, resource reviews, suggestions for activities and discussions about what is involved in educating and parenting our children for a different world, together we can explore the many facets of raising global citizens.

Friday, January 1, 2010

This Path

Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.
~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.
~ Maria Montessori

If we wish to create a lasting peace we must begin with the children.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Twenty years ago, when I was finishing university as a Business Major in the age of Gordon Gecko, I aspired to a corner office, a BMW and annual vacation on the Riviera.

Ten years later I aspired to be a good mother while juggling a part time job - the last vestiges of my business career.

Now I have given up high heels in favour of hiking boots, a BMW in favour of a minivan with more orange peels and wayward socks hidden in the seats than I can imagine, the nanny in favour of homeschooling and my goal of being financially rich in favour of the goal of making a difference with, for and because of my kids. I aspire now to becoming a Raging Granny someday.

This path I am on has taken me places I never would have imagined. The ground is shifting under my feet and I can see that my dreams for my children are causing me to change my direction again. I am learning that the things I want for them can not be achieved in isolation. If I want peace for them, clean water, social justice, tolerance and acceptance, I can not work towards those things without doing it on behalf of all the children. I am learning I can not teach them about peaceful solutions, critical thinking or the need for action without demanding the same of myself.

I am not an expert on any of this - on parenting or social justice or environmentalism or peace activism. My knowledge of history and geography are far less developed than that of my 11 year old son. I took marketing in university while my more enlightened friends studied women's issues and community development. I attended my first rally of any kind when I was well into my 30s. Every day I learn more from my children about generosity, compassion, kindness and the need for action than I can ever hope to teach them. This blog is my way of collecting and sharing resources that are changing the ground under my feet and helping me prepare my kids for a world I can't even imagine. I'd love it if you would join me on the journey.

Do not hang back from involvement in addressing the problems of the world, waiting to become an expert. You are expert enough. Take your part in the great dramas and the great struggles now still in their opening acts in this world. It is the part where you storm on stage with a confused but mischievous look and the audience cheers you madly. Don't wait to know the part too well, or the moment will pass without you.
- Doris "Granny D" Haddock, 93