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February 2017

January 2017

Backward Day - How We celebrated in 2017 with Haida Painted Sticks

January 31st is Backward Day -  a day to do everything backwards! You can try reading backwards, eat your meal starting with a dessert, walk backwards, talk backwards, or play a game backwards: from the finish line to the start. Your imagination is the limit! To commemorate the day, Adrian is wearing his sweater and his cap backwards, while spelling his name using painted Haida sticks assembled as the letters of his name A-D-R-I-A-N. The trick is however, to spell his name backwards!

DSC_0062This activity is very easy and fun. A child gets to use his/her imagination while decorating a popsicle sticks (or any other craft sticks). American Indian Crafts Kids Can Do! book (buy here) has a lot of fun craft ideas, and today, we are using color markers (buy here) to decorate Haida sticks, which were used by Native Americans like we use playing cards. Haida people lived along the northwest coast of Alaska, and they were known for their wood carvings. Craftspeople carved cedar trees, and then painted their carvings with minerals mixed into mashed salmon eggs. (Adrian was fascinated to learn that at some point, people did not have paints, crayons, markers or pencils readily available to them.) 

DSC_0062All you need is popsicle sticks and markers. You can also use colored pens or paints, or even make your own paint from food juice (like beats) or food coloring. 

Once children had satisfied their creativity and finished decorating Haida sticks with markers, they assembled them to represent the letters of their names. It was a great language and alphabet letter recognition exercise as well, as Adrian had to figure out how to make sticks to look like A-D-R-I-A-N. 

DSC_0109Children used glue, tape, and cloths pins to hold the sticks together. 

And, to commemorate the Backward Day, Adrian is spelling his name backwards! 

Art, craft, language, letter recognition, memorization of reverse sequential order - all in one! Can I wish for more? 

DSC_0062NAIRDA is ADRIAN backwards!

DSC_0094Adrian even wore his shirt, sweater and a tie backwards. 

Backward Day is a lot of fun for children. Did you do anything backwards on January 31st? 

A Tea Party ๐Ÿต to conclude our Chinese ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ New Year ๐Ÿ‰ Celebration

To conclude our Chinese New Year celebration, Julia and Adrian decided to have a tea party. China is notable for its ๐Ÿต green tea, and Julia remembered from the presentation at her school (read a post here), that China (along with Hong Kong, Korea and Macau) get three days of public holiday. So, today's tea-party, concludes our three-day Chinese New Year๐ŸŽ‰ celebration.

DSC_0257Julia was excited to use contents of our China Continent Box (read a post here) to make the tea-party as authentic as possible!

DSC_0260-2Julia decorated the table with a dragon-craft children made earlier (read a post here).


A perfect compliment to green tea: Chinese red bean cake and berries.

DSC_0257"More tea anyone?" We are using this gorgeous child-size porcelain tea set from Germany.

DSC_0305Why not wear Hanbok to celebrate the occasion in the spirit?  


Chinese people regard red as a symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. Sending red envelopes is a way to send good wishes and luck. Wrapping money in red envelopes is expected to bestow more happiness and blessings on the receivers, wishing them another safe and peaceful year.



 Why a Year of a Rooster?

A very old custom is to name the years by one of 12 animals in Chinese zodiac cycle. The Year 2017 is the Year of the Rooster, the 10th animal in the cycle. A story tells, that a long time ago, Buddha called all the animals to help protect the year. Of all the animals, only twelve answered the call. In order to establish an orderly sequence, a race was called. In the race, the Ox would have taken the honor of taking first place had it not been for the clever and cunning Rat who rode on the back of the Ox and jumped forward at the finish line to steal away the top award. The rest of the animals battled one another, and this is how the ranking of the twelve animals came to be: (1)Rat, (2)Ox, (3)Tiger, (4)Hare, (5)Dragon, (6)Snake, (7)Horse, (8)Ram, (9)Monkey, (10)Rooster, (11)Dog, (12)Boar.


 HAPPY NEW YEAR of a ROOSTER! Let prosperity, good luck, and health be with you! 

p.s. Read here about our China Box, and the introduction to Montessori Cultural & Science Lesson on Continent Boxes.

National Puzzle Day

January 29th is National Puzzle Day! Whether it is a jigsaw, crossword, word searches, brain teasers or Soduku (a number puzzle which is the most recent puzzle rage), puzzles put our minds to work! They range from easy to hard, satisfying the need of every person and every skill level. Today, Adrian is exercising his brains with a 48-piece Solar System jigsaw puzzle (buy here). This was the first time Adrian was working with so many pieces, and the first time he was assembling this particular puzzle. It was challenging, but after 18 minutes of brain stimulation, he did it! 

DSC_0005Impressive 2 x 3 feet puzzle - beautiful original artwork of our Solar System.

Studies have found that when children work on jigsaw puzzles, they use both sides of their brain, and spending time daily working on puzzles improves memory, cognitive function and problem-solving skills. Puzzles stimulate the brain, promote hand-eye coordination, keeping the brain active and functional! Can we ask for more from a fun activity?

DSC_0007We also talked about the Moon in light of a recent Lunar New Year (read a post here).

DSC_0007I purchased this amazing hand-made Solar System set from wool and organic cotton here.

DSC_0007"I love our Planet Earth!"

Some people like being mindful while doing a puzzle. Others like the challenge of completing it, graduating to evermore complex and difficult puzzle solving levels. While others do puzzles to keep their mind sharp, or to learn new things. Whatever the cause for your interest, doing puzzles is fun, so spend National Puzzle Day doing puzzles!

See here Adrian at 34 months putting together a 25-piece puzzle, where I also wrote about the importance of jigsaw puzzles for a toddler.

Chinese ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ New Year ๐Ÿ‰ of a ๐Ÿ“ Rooster - How we celebrate

Happy๐ŸŽŠ Lunar New Year of a Rooster! Rooster ๐Ÿ“ is smart, independent and full of energy! Wishing everyone fortune and good luck!  

Every 12 years (i.e. 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029) there is a Rooster year, beginning at Chinese New Year. In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year is not just associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth.


Both the zodiac sign and the element shape the astrology of the year, and the year 2017 is a Fire Rooster year. Fire rooster is trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work. (Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years.)

DSC_0220Have you heard of a "red pocket"? During the Chinese New Year celebration, children receive a "red pocket" filled with money: the more family and friends they visit, the more "red pockets" they collect.

Dragon is a legendary creature in Chinese mythology, traditionally symbolizing potent and auspicious powers, particularly the control over water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it. The myth is that there was a very scary monster - a dragon, who petrified Chinese people. So, during the Chinese New Year celebration, people use different devices to scare away that monster dragon - the louder the noise, the more chances of scaring it away! (Similar to Halloween in Western Hemisphere).

DSC_0220 DSC_0220


DSC_0220 DSC_0220

So, today, to commemorate the Chinese ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ New Year, children are making a ๐Ÿ‰ dragon paper-craft. The craft can be enjoyed by a three year old (Adrian) to seven years old (Julia) and up (even I made one.) You would glue two strips of paper as if you were to make a 90 degree angle. "Red" color in Chinese culture represents good luck, and "gold" represents fortune. So, we are using those two traditional colors. Once the ends are glues (or taped), the child would fold over, and fold over ... You can make the dragon as long as you want. Traditionally, though, the dragon should be long enough so that a person holding the popsicles, which are glued to the ends, can dance with it. 


Chinese New Year is celebrated in many Asian countries, including South Korea. So, children decided to wear Hanbok (traditional Korean dress), which my Mom got for them, to celebrate the occasion and get into the spirit.



Image-1 copyRead here about a Chinese New Year Celebration at a Montessori School.

Chinese Tea PartyTo conclude the ๐ŸŽŠ celebration, children decided to have a Tea Party (read a post here).

 Chinese New Year

This picture my Mom took of the actual Chinese New Year Festival.

Read here about our China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Box - Montessori Cultural & Science Lesson on Continent Boxes.

How do you celebrate Chinese ๐Ÿ‰ New Year?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Birthday - How we celebrate

Today, January 27th, is Wolfgang Amadeus  Mozart's birthday! Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756โ€“1791) was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. He wrote over 600 pieces of classical music from the classical period. He started composing music very young: at the age of five! By the time he was six, he was playing music for kings, queens, princes, and other royalty all over Europe! His "music" memory was unbelievable: he could listen to music just once and then write it down without any mistakes! Mozart was one of the greatest composers of the classical music ever!

DSC_0240To learn more about music and the instrument, we are using these Musical Instruments. We are also using our favorite Can You Hear It? book (see a post here) to learn more about the classical orchestra instruments. 

We also read a book Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers (buy here). The "Getting to Know" series is a wonderful way to introduce children to famous artists, painters, musicians, scientists and more! We simply love all their books! 

Below is a video of Adrian playing the violin at 39 months. He is still learning to hold the violin and the bow properly, and to  play one string at a time in the middle without crossing the bridge. He sees Julia practicing every day, and every day he pulls out his violin and practices side by side with Julia (the advantages of an older sibling :) 

My children grew up listening to classical music all the time. We have it playing in the house, and the car's radio is always tuned to a classical music channel. Our two favorite musical pieces by Mozart are:

Symphony No. 25 in G minor, which Mozart composed when he was only 17!

And Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, I. Molto allegro:


Thank you for all your contributions to classical music!