10 Websites and Genealogy Resources for Kids

This past autumn, we enjoyed a family holiday on the East Coast of the United States and were thereby afforded with numerous educational experiences exploring our nation’s history. One of our most anticipated visits was to Ellis Island and the Museum of Immigration.
genealogy for kids

While here, we enjoyed a guided interpretive walk with a park ranger and thereafter enjoyed the many exhibits on our own. Amongst the highlights of our visit was seeing Norwegian bunad and langeleik, a stringed folklore musical instrument also known as a droned zither. As both my husband and I have Norwegian ancestors, seeing these personal artifacts brought the experience alive for us.

Genealogy Resources for Kids

Genealogy has always been fascinating to me. I grew up listening to stories my dad would share of his childhood and the stories that had been passed on to him by his Uncle Sam who had emigrated from Norway in the early 1900s. We’ve explored many of the branches of our family tree over the years. Today, I share some of our favorite genealogy resources for kids.

World’s Largest Online Resource for Family History

This is a subscription based, very user friendly site that is great even for a novice. This is the site I have used the most in my research. It includes records, links to other users, family trees, resources, pictures, and cemeteries.

Family Search

Family Search is a nonprofit family history organization maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since the Latter-day Saints are dedicated to preserving the records of their ancestors, they provide this service free.

Resources for Genealogists

Free database for genealogists that includes immigration, naturalization, military, passport, land, and bankruptcy records.

Researching Records and Archives

A low priced paid subscription web service that provides the user with an abundance of archived records of their ancestors.

Ellis Island History Center

Free immigration information for any ancestors that were processed through the Ellis Island and the Port of New York between 1892 and 1924, during their years of operation. Even if the relatives did not go through the port, it is an excellent source with links to other helpful sites.

genealogyforkidsGenealogy For Kids Forms

This site is geared for children with adult help. It has several links to forms kids can use, questions that they would find helpful while interviewing relatives and even a ‘cousin calculator’ that will help figure out how family members are related.

Genweb Project for Kids

This site is a good place for younger kids to start. It has links to several sites that would be helpful, however several of the links aren’t working. As with all internet usage, parental monitoring is needed.

Washington State Genealogy Resources for Kids

Excellent resource for students as well as adults with a wealth of information on researching the family tree.

Climbing Your Family Tree

This is an excellent source of worksheets for children to use when charting their family tree. It has PDF files to be used when interviewing family members.

Companion Website to be Used with the PBS Program Ancestors

An online companion to the series of 13 episodes presented by PBS on researching your ancestry. Each episode takes the viewer on a journey closer to finding their family’s story.

We’re Rolling in the Dough! Lefse Dough, That Is and It’s Delicious

When I recall the holiday gatherings when I was a little girl, I always remember a large platter of freshly baked lefse on the table. Grandma Margaret spent days in the kitchen preparing all the wonderful dishes we would enjoy on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lefse has always been one of my favorites.

I sadly never had the opportunity to learn how to make lefse with my grandmother but as members of Sons of Norway, my children and I have learned this culinary tradition. We delight in spending an afternoon or two each year rolling out the lefse dough, enjoying a few warm samples throughout the day, and ultimately covering every surface of the kitchen in flour.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.net

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Our lodge families recently gathered for their annual lefse baking day and while we were unable to join them in person as we now live several hours away, we joined in the festivities and baked a batch for ourselves.

We really got into the spirit of things and even sang along with Alexander Rybak, a Belarusian–Norwegian musician and actor. Her favorite album, pictured here, is Fairytales.

His music is upbeat and vibrant. I love that he plays the violin and has inspired Geneva to work harder at developing her skills as a violinist.

We had a lot of fun and developed a system that was efficient and quick. Follow along with me as I will walk you through the process of making lefse, step by step. I have included photographs and will soon be creating a video.

Lefse Tools & Materials

To make lefse, there are several tools you’ll need. You can purchase these in a starter kit like the one pictured at left or purchase items individually.

The items I feel are critically important are a corrugated rolling pin, turning stick, and pastry board and cloth.

Having the right tool for the job makes the work so much easier.

Optional items include the lefse griddle (you can use a pancake grill but it limits your size), potato ricer (helps eliminate lumps), rolling pin sock (helps prevent sticking).

Lefse Recipe & Instructions

Ingredients

1-10lb bag of Russet potatoes
2 sticks of butter
All-purpose flour
Makes approximately 54-60 depending on how thin you roll and the diameter of each

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Prepare Potatoes for Lefse

For 10lbs. of potatoes – Peel, cut and boil in a large pot of water until done but not mushy. Drain well. Mash or rice until all lumps are gone. Add 2 sticks of butter, BUT NO MILK OR CREAM!  Cool and store in a loosely covered dish. I generally drape a clean dish towel over the bowl. Plastic-ware can sweat, adding unwanted moisture.

You’ll find that every lodge or family has their own version of this timeless recipe. Some add a little whipping cream to the dough. Play around and find what version you like best.

Add flour, one cup at a time, and blend by hand. Continue to add flour until the mixture “feels right”. You’ll develop a sense of this with more experience but essentially you want the mixture to be moist but dry enough to roll out without sticking to the pastry board or turning stick.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Roll the Lefse Dough

When the dough is ready, we like to portion it out into small balls (pictured above). Each ball is approximately 1/4 cup in quantity. I generally do this as Geneva begins to roll.

She sprinkles flour onto the pastry board surface and first flattens the ball with her hand. She then begins to roll the dough, turning it several times so it doesn’t stick. She aims for a diameter of 12″ or more. Presently, we do not have a lefse grill and are thus limited by the size of our pancake griddle. Not perfect but it works.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Cook Lefse

Cook each lefse on a flat grill (pictured below) until lightly golden brown. Flip with the turning stick and repeat. Lay upon a towel to cool.

Once the lefse are cool, depending on the diameter, you should be able to store 6 lefse in a gallon size zippy bag. They freeze well so don’t worry if you have extra. 

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Serve Lefse

Everyone of course has their favorite ways to enjoy this Norwegian delicacy. We generally spread a little butter and then either sprinkle cinnamon sugar or lingonberry jelly and then roll. Delicious!

Bowls of Happiness: Exploring Chinese Culture through Books

I feel very strongly that a comprehensive world view is important in today’s society.  In our homeschool we strive to develop an awareness of other cultures and lifestyle choices by reading great books, diving deeply into history, and immersing ourselves in other cultures through our travels around the world.

As our communities become more diverse, many parents are looking for literature and other tools to help their children develop a deeper understanding of their neighbors.

Through our studies of Mandarin language, we have developed a greater understanding of the Chinese culture than I had dreamed possible. My children enjoy cooking Chinese foods and celebrating many of the holidays unique to China (Mid-Autumn Festival, for example).

multiculturalbooksdayI received these books in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions below are mine and I was not required to write a positive review. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Exploring Chinese Culture with Children’s Books

One of the best ways to learn about another culture is through children’s books. China Institute has published four hardcover books about the Forbidden City, one of the world’s most fascinating landmarks. Each of the books will have its own interactive e-book app, which will feature a bilingual option to toggle between reading and listening in English and Chinese.

For Younger Readers

Bowls of Happiness: Treasures from China and the Forbidden City by Brian Tse  teaches children about Chinese artwork and culture and their universal spirit of generosity, love, and respect for nature. The loveable illustrations are coupled with photographs of porcelain art found in the Palace Museum’s collection.

After reading the story, my kids both wanted to create their own bowl of happiness. We went to a local pottery studio and painted our own. I’ll be posting pictures about this experience on Facebook and Instagram very soon.

Brian Tse has also authored This is the Greatest Place! The Forbidden City and the World of Small Animals. This charming book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture the majesty of both the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps.

multiculturalbooksdayFor Older Readers

In the book What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? Life in China’s Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu and Eileen Ng readers will journey through the average life of an emperor and learn about the real people who lived in the palace, including the prince who fought off a rebel invasion, the palace maids who lived in the Inner Court, the emperor who ruled twice, and the emperor who loved crickets. This book can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, with lively illustrations that encourage reader interaction.

In the Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu is a large format book which conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous foldout spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely.

Be sure to check out the lesson plans and interactive activities that accompany these delightful books.

forbiddencity

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

The Mission

The mission of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD) is to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book.

The annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day is made possible by a team of 12 amazing Co-Hosts (you can view them here), the initiative’s non-profit status, and 200 participating bloggers like me.

We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

The Reading Challenge

The Multicultural Children’s Book Day Classroom Reading Challenge is a special project connected to Multicultural Children’s Book Day ~ 26th January 2016 ~ that gives classrooms the opportunity to earn a FREE Diversity Book for their class!

The goal of the reading challenge is to help teachers build their classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! This special project is free of charge to all teachers and schools and helps MCCBD achieve their mission of getting multicultural books into the hands of young readers and teachers. The MCCBD 2016 Classroom Reading Challenge has begun, learn more here.

MCBookDay-white-21-300x234Special thanks to all our Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors:

Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press * StoryQuest Books * Lil Libros
Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk * Candlewick Press
Silver: Lee and Low Books * Chronicle Books * Capstone Young Readers
Bronze: Pomelo Books * Author Jacqueline Woodson * Papa Lemon Books * Goosebottom Books * Author Gleeson Rebello * ShoutMouse Press * Author Mahvash Shahegh * China Institute.org

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Finnish Christmas Stars

It is a tradition in Finland, I understand, to not serve holiday baked goods until Christmas Eve. When these preserve filled stars or Joulutortut come out, it signals the beginning the høytiden.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement for more information.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Finnish Christmas Stars @EvaVarga.net

Finnish Christmas Stars

I read in The Great Scandinavian Baking Book (from where I found this recipe) that the day after Christmas is a day for visiting and comparing the quality of stars from one household to the next! Well, we certainly have not perfected this recipe yet but it is one of our favorites.

Pastry

2 cups pitted prunes
water to cover
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 cup softened butter

Glaze
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons milk
Pearl Sugar or crushed sugar cubes for garnish
Cover the prunes with water in a saucepan and simmer slowly until very soft. Puree and add the lemon juice and sugar. Cool.

For the pastry, mix the flour and baking powder. Stir into the whipped cream and knead in the softened butter. Shape dough into a ball and chill 1 hour.

On a floured board, roll out pastry to 1/4 inch thickness. Fold dough into thirds, folding first one third over the center, then the opposite third over the center. Roll out to seal the layers. Turn dough and fold again into thirds, making the dough into a perfect square. Roll out, retaining the square shape to make an 18″ square.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls @EvaVarga.netCut into 3″ squares with a sharp knife. Make cuts (approx. 1″ – 1 1/2″ long) from the corners toward the center of each square. Place a spoonful of the prune filling onto the center of each square. Shape into pinwheel stars by lifting every other corner toward the center onto the filling.

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease them. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place filled stars on the prepared baking sheets. Mix the egg and milk and brush stars with the glaze. Sprinkle with pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes.

Bake 7 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

~ ~ ~

Thank you so much for joining me this week. I hope you have enjoyed the recipes I have shared – our favorites for the Christmas season and all year!

Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls
Nordic Almond Bars
Lefse
Norwegian Heart-Shaped Waffles

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden (Norwegian Holiday Season) … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls

As you may have guessed from my post yesterday featuring Norwegian Heart-Shaped Waffles with Lingonberries, I absolutely LOVE lingonberries. Abundant in Scandinavia, they are a vibrant red fruit known for their tart juiciness. They are similar to cranberries though much smaller – and in my opinion, much sweeter!

Lingonberries are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Magnesium.

The recipe I share today is relatively new to us as it was published in the March 2015 edition of Sons of Norway’s Viking magazine. When it arrived in our mailbox and we caught a glimpse of these mouth watering rolls gracing the cover – we immediately went to the kitchen to try our hand at baking them. We were not disappointed!! So yummy!

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls @EvaVarga.net

Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls

Dough

3 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
Zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons fresh ground cardamon
1 packet instant yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Filling

3/4 cup lingonberry jam

Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls @EvaVarga.netMix the flour, sugar, cardamon, lemon zest and yeast together in a large bowl. Combine the water, melted butter, salt, and eggs together and then add to the bowl of flour. Stir until a soft dough forms and then turn out onto a well floured board and knead dough for a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover the dough and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, butter a 9″ x 9″ baking pan and set aside. After the dough has rested, place onto a well floured board and roll into a 8″ x 14″ rectangle. Spread the lingonberry preserves evenly on the dough and roll up jelly-roll style, pressing the edges to seal. Cut the roll into 9 equal pieces and place the slices cut side facing up in the pan. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise until double in size, about 1 hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the rolls have risen, place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow the rolls to cool for 15 minutes while you prepare the glaze. Mix the powdered sugar with the butter and then stir in the milk and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle the rolls with the glaze.

~ ~ ~

In case you missed my earlier posts this week, you will love this easy recipe for Nordic Almond Bars. If you feeling up to a challenge, I encourage you to try the popular Norwegian flatbread, Lefse.

Join us tomorrow as we highlight another Christmas favorite – Joulutortut or Finnish Christmas Stars.

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden (Norwegian Holiday Season) … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes: Norwegian Waffles

Have your tastebuds been watering? Mine sure have. I love the smells of sweet breads and cookies baking that mingle through the house – especially during the cold months of the holiday season.

Today, I share a favorite recipe that is traditionally for breakfast but also makes a wonderful treat to enjoy with coffee or tea any time of the day, Våfflor or Heart-Shaped Norwegian Waffles.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement for more information.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Våfflor @EvaVarga.net

A traditional Scandinavian waffle iron makes individual heart-shaped waffles. You can certainly use a standard waffle iron, though they may be slightly thicker and not quite so light. If you want to stay traditional, I recommend the Chef’s Choice 830 WafflePro Heart Waffle Iron. It is well constructed and takes a beating (my son actually knocked it off the counter once).

Våfflor

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons melted butter
butter for brushing the iron or non-stick spray
powdered sugar
lingonberry jam or fresh berries to serve with the waffles
whipped cream to serve with the waffles (optional)
Gjetost Goat Cheese (optional)

Stir flour and cardamon together and set aside. In a small bowl or electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together at high speed for 10 minutes until mixture forms ribbons when beaters are lifted.

Sprinkle flour mixture over eggs; stir the sour cream until smooth and add to the mixture, folding until batter is smooth. Fold in the melted butter.

Place the waffle iron over medium heat and heat until a drop of water sizzles on the griddle. Brush the griddle with butter or spray with non-stick spray. Spoon in the batter. Bake according to waffle iron instructions or until golden brown.

Remove from iron and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately with lingonberry or other jam, fresh berries and whipped cream, or thin slices of gjetost goat cheese.

~ ~ ~

Earlier this week, I shared a recipe for our favorite Norwegian cookies .. Nordic Almond Bars .. as well as a traditional flatbread that is popular in many Norwegian American homes .. Lefse.

Tomorrow, I bring you yet another recipe featuring Lingonberries .. Lingonberry Cardamon Rolls. Mmmmm .. I can smell them baking already.

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!