Monday, September 15, 2014

P is for Plátano: Discovering New Foods

Hispanic Heritage Month: Exploring Different Cultures Through Food

Food, books, music and language are the primary ways we enjoy learning about the world as a family. In April, we traveled to the Dominican Republic, where my husband's mother was from, for a family wedding. 

My boys can be picky eaters, so one of the things I worried about the most was that they would turn their nose up at local food and not respect that their relatives were cooking food for them and learn about another culture through food.

Much to my surprise, they both gobbled Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice), fish straight from the ocean and cooked up beachside and served with fried dough, Dominican salami and eggs for breakfast, and plátanos (plantains) -- both served up as tostones (crispy fried plantains) and fried sweet plantains. Of course, they also ate chicken nuggets and pizza while we were there! 

Learning about plátanos/plantains is a great way to explore Hispanic culture. Plátanos are from India and the Caribbean. Discussing the origin of the fruit allows children to learn about the rich diversity of the Caribbean. Often, especially in Southern California, the focus on Hispanic culture and heritage centers on Mexico and Central America, but there is a rich Hispanic history in the Caribbean because of Christopher Columbus and the many other Spanish Explorers who colonized the islands. (We saw family home of Columbus when we were in Santo Domingo). 

When the boys first saw plantains, they immediately assumed they were bananas -- and they are right! They are both in the banana family and are just different varieties, like apples. Comparing them to apples that come in many varieties made this easier for the boys to understand. A fun activity is to look, touch and taste both plantains and bananas and compare how they are alike and how they are different, and to explore how differently each are prepared and eaten. For children who are old enough, it could be fun to make a chart and write the differences and similarities side by side. It's fun to also map your fruits and vegetables, including your bananas and plantains like Kids World Citizen did here.  

We can find plantains at all of our groceries stores, probably because we live in Southern California, but if you do not see it at your local grocery store, see if there is a Hispanic grocery store or market in your town/city and look there. 

Do you explore cultures and world geography through food? If so, what have been some of your favorite recipes and/or food learning experiences? 

Please tell me how you explore different cultures, and please enjoy the Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Blog Hop hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs including an amazing giveaway that you won't want to miss! I'm linking this post to this awesome blog hop!

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 every year, “celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America” (from

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Kid Yoga - Mommy & Son Yoga Time with Kids Yoga Stories

Hello, Bali: A Kids Yoga Island Adventure Book 

When Wild Thing (almost 5) brought home his school work at the end of preschool last year, many of the pieces surprised me. In his PreK journal, he wrote often about doing yoga with me. I had no idea how much he enjoyed our Mommy and Me yoga. It made me realize that the older he got (and further away we went from Mommy and Me Baby-Style Yoga), the less and less often we did yoga together. Yet, it was something he truly enjoyed. I realized that I needed to make yoga time together something we did more often. 

Hello, Bali: A Kids Yoga Island Adventure Book from Kids Yoga Stories was the perfect way for us to engage in yoga together again. Wild Thing loves learning about new cultures, and he loves yoga, so this book is perfect for him. Some of the poses were easier for him and some we will need to practice and practice to get right, but that's what makes it fun.

He's always enjoyed yoga as something he gets to do with mommy, but this book allowed him to enjoy it in another way as well. He loved going back and forth between the yoga mat and the book, and we got lucky because the book contained many letter S words, which we happen to be focusing on right now too. 

We've also been discussing meditation a lot, which is a byproduct of his interest in Star Wars, so he enjoyed learning some of the poses that lend themselves more toward meditation, in particular Hero's Pose. 

He struggled a bit to keep his shoulders down.
We focused on deep, slow breaths and worked on calming our mind and body. I'd like for Mother and Son Yoga to be something that we do regularly again, and I know that using this book will help us.

I also loved the way the sun was a point of emphasis in many pages of the book as the sun's rays shine through on the mountains, ocean, statues, etc. It reminded me of a wonderful sun inspired journal activity we did this summer as we participated in Mama Scout's Family Journal Jam. 

We painted the sun together and brainstormed sunny words -- I think this exercise is a great one to do in connection with the book and the sun of Bali. 

Do you do yoga with your kids? If not, would you like to try it? If so, please check out Kids Yoga Stories, which is an amazing resource for all things kids and yoga! 

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