Category Archives: World Culture

Happy Diwali!

Diwali is the festival of lights. It is one of the most popular festivals in India and extends over 5 days. We love the the significance of this occasion – it is the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, hope over despair. It is celebrated with candles and sweets, family and fireworks. Here is a Nat Geo Video that gives the highlights :0)

In honor of the very celebrated Hindu festival, (it’s also a festival for followers of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism!) we made our own Rangoli – an expression in temporary art, it is created from sand in bright colors, many times in a mandala shaped design. We created some last year, but we think we have improved!

We watched many videos on tricks to create our rangoli. We have included 1 we thought was lovely for you to see.

So! We wish you a Happy Diwali! We love to celebrate anything that focuses on hope, light, love and family!

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Maps!

This week, we made baby envelopes, magnets and an icosahedron made out of maps, which we learned all about before we took to them with scissors and glue! We learned how the legend or key works and guess what? They have icons for sunken ships, where moose and elk live and even native american tribes… How cool is that!?! We also discovered how the mileage calculation works, how colors represents denser populations and how font size is relative to the size of the city being named. Now, enough learning, onto the CRAFTS!!!

First we made little envelopes made out of the map using templates from Paper Source, scissors, a map, glue stick and our hands! Because the template is see-through it made it a lot easier to choose our favorite parts of the map. All we had to do then is fold on the edge and glue. You can also do this with drawings or book pages you don’t like any more. Super DUPER fun!!!

We also made these fun little magnets. First we traced around the glass circle where it touches the map then we cut it out – since they are all different we can’t use any pattern. Then we glued the map to the 3D glass object, after that dried we painted the back black and glued the magnet on. It’s that simple.

The last map project we created was the ever-awesome icosahedron map star. We found templates here and with patience (that’s a lot of cutting and folding for 20 points!) and glue you end up with this completely awesome little star to hang.

Well! That was our lesson on 2D maps – up next!? Topo Maps!

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This is where the crafting with maps began…

Baby and card sized envelopes!

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Easy to make out of any paper you have! Trace the pattern, cut and glue!

 

 

Map Magnets!

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And finally, a 20 pointed Icosahedron!!

 

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Behind the Scenes…

…At the Field Museum! We were so lucky to get the chance to meet with Dr. Corine Vriesendorp who is the director of their Andes-Amazon program. She is a field biologist and a plant ecologist…. and may we say – super FUN! She had just returned from a research trip in Columbia so we were extra excited that the timing worked out for us to go to Chicago (who doesn’t love Chicago!?) and meet with her.

We started our behind the scenes adventure in the Rare Book Room. We saw the Audubon Ottoman, (well, it had a cover on it, but we were able to see one of the 4 Audubon Double Elephant Folio books), a rare, historical piece that was donated to the Museum in 1969.

From there, we went to the bird specimen area. There we learned about the consistent way nature solves problems, how species are collected and how huge the Field Museum’s collection of birds is. We loved seeing all the tiny hummingbirds and the birds of paradise. They are so dramatic!!!

We also revisited the beetle room. The room where hard, detailed, and wildly smelly work gets done by flesh eating beetles, who, for a place to stay, will eat birds and mammals to the bone, ready for organizing and storing by the most patient people on earth! They sort the freshly cleaned bones, some tinier than we could believe existed, tagged them and placed them in boxes to add to their massive collection.

After our tour was complete, we experienced the Specimens exhibit and the rest of the museum, including, meeting another scientist who is an entomologist. We held hissing cockroaches, spiders and a giant millipede.

A SUPER inspiring trip to meet some amazing scientists and hear about their work. A special thank you to Corine for taking us behind the scenes of her workplace!!! IMG_3532FullSizeRenderIMG_3533IMG_3540IMG_3544IMG_3548IMG_3549IMG_3550IMG_3551IMG_3559IMG_3557IMG_3555IMG_3560IMG_3552

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Children’s Day!

Children’s Day in Japan is May 5th. While we celebrated it on the actual date, we have been slow to post our project!

It is a day of celebration in honor of….you guessed it – CHILDREN!  In Japan, cloth carp with streamers, called Koinibori, are flown on poles outside. It is supposed to bring good luck and fortune to the children inside the home. Koi Carp represent strength, and determination and are used as a symbol for the hope that children will also become strong and brave!!

 

We made our own Koinobori. Super fun and easy to make!

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Cinco De Mayo…

As most people know, yesterday was Cinco de Mayo {or the fifth of May in English}. It also happens to be our Aunt Nancy’s Birthday! According to the internet many think Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican independence day but actually it’s a celebration of winning the war against the French, which started when Mexico couldn’t pay the debt they owed.

So it ended up that the war lasted 3 hours, Mexico didn’t have very good quality weapons… the French did…Mexico had only a small fraction of the soldiers France did, but it turns out Mexico won.

For us, it seemed odd that it was considered a ‘win’ when they were unable to pay their debt in the first place, which prompted the attack from France. Is that really winning?

Regardless, of the beginning and the end of the story, we learned how to make the papel picados known to decorate many fiestas around Mexico. Easy and fun to make!

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Pysanky Eggs!

We tried our hands at making Ukrainian Pysanky Eggs which my Mom got a kit for. You can order your own here if you’re inspired to try it after reading this post!

The things we needed for this project were blown eggs of any sort, wax, kiskas {the tool you use to make the lines}, some dyes which come in the kit, a candle, loads of time and patience.

The first thing that happened was my Mom emptied out the eggs by making a small hole in the top and bottom and blowing then we left them in the oven on a super low temp to dry for 15 minutes. Then, we made template lines with pa encil before we began drawing with the wax and whatever layers we put on first would come out white because the eggshell is {most likely} white. We made sure that we plugged the blow holes with wax so the dye didn’t fill up the egg. We had to remember to work backwards with color in mind, starting with the lightest color (yellow) and moving on to subsequently darker colors. There is a video at the end of this post so you can see how it’s done.

We loved the smell of the beeswax. We loved drawing the lines. We loved the colors of the eggs. I think it is fair to say that we LOVED this project! We only dipped 3 colors for each egg, but there were many more to choose from. I am sure that we will make more of these little beauties since we were so happy with how ‘egg’celent they turned out!

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Fantasy Maps…

This month we have been learning all about the Eastern Hemisphere. Landforms. Cultures. Cartography. Geographers. Latitude and Longitude. Coordinates. Meridians. Anyway, you get the idea!

Our assignment? To create a Fantasy Map. We found some pretty cool tricks on YouTube. That good old YouTube: the best place to spend a lot of time learning new things! Now one of the ideas that we found is about making the border of a land mass or island for whatever kind of map you would like. You can begin with whatever you have on hand like a cup of rice or perhaps some dried beans – so basically, any kind of granular objects you can find around the house. Then, pour some of these granular objects onto a flat piece of paper {not a crumpled or rolled piece because that would be very hard to work with} now draw a border around them to make the shapes in any way you would like.

On my map, I put trees, lakes, rivers, a canyon and a nice long shore line. Olive decided to take letters from other languages and put them together to form a new language used only in these Fantasy Lands. Words that even she doesn’t understand!

Anyway, if you do decide to make one of you own, know that it can become addicting! The possibilities are endless – Happy mapping!

 

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Here Olive is drawing the border around her rice!

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This is our Learning Wall… 

This was a funny video we watched about Longitude and Latitude.