February was a great month to receive our World Celebrations kit from “Max and Mia” at Little Passports, since we could focus on a few big current events like Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year. Meanwhile we learned lots about celebrations that occur throughout the year. Travis knows by now to expect stickers in his kit, and eagerly finds the spot for them on his map…
….and loves each month’s flashlight adventures.
As always, there were great preschool-appropriate activities and information in our booklet. We especially liked matching up New Years’ foods around the world with the right flag!
Straight away, we put together the sweet little craft suggestion to teach about Dia de los Muertos: paper marigolds. Although not the right time of year, there’s never a wrong time to think about past loved ones. As we worked, we talked about how each flower was for a relative who wouldn’t be coming back. It turned into an unexpectedly beautiful way to teach Travis about a few of his ancestors.
To make the flowers, cut tissue paper into rectangles that are 8 inches long (they should be about 6 inches across). Travis loved helping with the ruler for this bit. Ideally you’ll have orange tissue paper, but yellow worked as variety so we could make more blooms.
Layer 4 sheets of tissue paper together, and fold up accordion-style.
Next, twist a green pipe cleaner securely around the center, pointing the “stem” downwards.
To make the blossoms, round the edges of the tissue paper slightly with scissors, then fan out and carefully lift up each of the four layers.
What a beautiful marigold!
We kept going until we had a whole bouquet.
It’s a bit of a stretch to call the other booklet activity science, but cooking is a bit of chemistry after all. We made potato latkes, and as we cooked we talked a little bit about Hanukkah. Travis loved this recipe because he got to help with two very grown-up kitchen tools: the peeler and the grater.
First, peel a potato.
Adults, cut an onion into quarters and remove the peel.
Grate the potato and 1/4 of the onion, and place the grated veggies in a bowl; reserve the remaining onion for another use.
Add 2 Ener-G eggs, a dash of salt, and a dash of black pepper to the bowl, stirring to combine.
Heat a layer of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the potato mixture in spoonfuls. Fry for 5 minutes, then turn over and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes on the other side, until browned. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Serve with applesauce. Travis was thrilled with our concoction. “I’ve been waiting for latkes!” he declared; it was priceless to see his excitement over something he hadn’t known existed prior to twenty minutes earlier.
I appreciated how interactive this month’s keepsake was: crowns to color in with descriptions of the five different holidays depicted: Bastille Day, Lunar New Year, Diwali, Dia de los Muertos, and birthdays.
One small gripe: we found that the provided colored pencils didn’t give very saturated color, and eventually just used crayons from home.
Celebrations Field Trip:
I was so pleased we had this kit in February because it made the obvious field trip an outing to a Chinese New Year festival.
Travis couldn’t get enough of the lion dance (we fed one a red envelope with green money inside for luck in the coming year) and the taiko drumming.
Celebrations Further Activities:
As always, we couldn’t stop there, and took the kit up on the suggestions in the back of the booklet.
First, we finished coloring in our keepsake crowns and dubbed it a family celebration. Hmm, what holiday could we mark on a random Tuesday? Thanks to the arrival of Girl Scout cookies in the mail, we dubbed it Girl Scout Cookie Day!
Everyone in the family colored a crown, grown-ups included.
And then we dined on cookies. Yup, Thin Mints are vegan.
And because we love music, we incorporated aspects of Panafest and turned it into a drumming and cookie-eating festival. Now we can celebrate Girl Scout Cookie Day as our special family day every year. What family holiday will you come up with?
The booklet also suggested flipping through a calendar to learn more about world holidays. This proved a bit underwhelming for Travis, since he can’t read the words yet, and the names of the celebrations don’t mean much to him.
So we supplemented with the Sticker Dolly Dressing Costumes Around the World from Usborne. Now he could learn a bit about some of the holidays in our calendar, and had a beautiful visual of the traditional clothes to match!
We were having so much fun that we kept up the exploration by heading to the library, selecting books on Diwali, Carnival, Irish festivals, and more.
A few weren’t in books so we continued the exploration online, including Waitangi Day, which we happened to look up on the exact day it’s celebrated!
Finally, we checked out Little Passport’s blog for a few fun holiday crafts. We considered making these lanterns for the annual Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan, which will happen on March 2 this year.
It was a bit too complicated a craft for Travis, other than dabbing some paint on wax paper, so I ended up making the lantern (see full instructions here).
We loved the glowing final product once a battery-operated tealight was inside!
Finally, just in time for Valentine’s, we tried out this traditional game from Denmark: write a Valentine’s poem or limerick, then send it to someone as a gaekkebrev, a “joking letter.”
Instead of signing your name, make one dot for each letter of your name (I guided Travis’s hand for this to make sure we didn’t have too few or too many dots).
Mail it off and see if your Valentine guesses who you are! If they do, you owe them an egg at Easter, so we’re stocking up on vegan chocolate eggs now.