Multilingual Resources for Kids

I am on the cusp of a new season in my life. This autumn, as my eldest prepares to transfer to the university and move away from home, I will be returning to a brick and mortar classroom full time. I will be working with English Language Learners as the K-12 specialist. As such, I am on a quest to build a multilingual classroom library.

 My students come from all over the world and are a diverse population of students. They speak a variety of native languages such as; Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Palauan, Urdu, and many more!

Today, I highlight a few of my recent multilingual resources that I have discovered. I am excited to share these with my students in a few months.

Multilingual Story Books

Dylan’s Birthday Present

Dylan’s Birthday Present by Victor Dias de Oliveira Santos is an adorable story about a young polygot who desires a pet chicken for his birthday. The illustrations are a delight and children will be drawn into the creative and out-of-the-box story.

Dylan and his best friend, Emma, live in the USA. Both children have parents who came to the United States from foreign countries. The parents speak to their children in different languages. Dylan’s parents speak Portuguese, Ukrainian, and English while Emma’s parents speak to her in Zulu and English. As a result, the two kids became polyglots, people who speak more than a single language.

Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

As children enjoy the story, they will identify with the characters, realize that having friends is a good thing, and become inspired to study (realizing that skills acquired by study can be very beneficial), and perhaps learn a new language.

The Fabulous Lost & Found and the Little Chinese Mouse

The Fabulous Lost & Found … series by Mark Pallis and Peter Baynton is another delightful story and it is available in many different languages. I had the pleasure to review the The Fabulous Lost & Found and the Little Chinese Mouse.

The story features a little mouse who enters the Lost & Found. The little mouse speaks only Chinese though and thus the proprietors – Mr. & Mrs. Frog – endeavor to figure out what the mouse is has lost.

There is a special magic about learning words another language and using them: I truly think it warms the heart. ~ Mark Pallis

The target age is 2-7, but my teen daughter enjoyed the story and remarked, “I actually know all the characters!” The unique ‘story-centered’ language learning method combines humor and emotion to gently introduce kids to 50 simple and fun Chinese words and phrases. 

Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

Multilingual Music

Una Idea Tengo Yo is the latest album by Latin Grammy winners Andrés and Christina – the music duo of 123 Andrés. The eleven songs feature upbeat Spanish language songs that seek to answer a child’s curious questions about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Available in CD or MP3

123 Andrés combine a broad sampling of rhythms and Latin American music genres with familiar tunes. The Farmer in the Dell, for example, becomes El Agua y el Viento with new lyrics to edu-tain children as they learn how water and wind affect the Earth’s topography.

Other STEM topics include the four seasons, outer space, matter, animal habitats, light & sound, and much more. Lyrics and translations are available online.

Frame from video for Diez Perritos

For more bilingual children’s music, check out my earlier post about  José-Luis Orozco.

You can also find their STEM videos on YouTube or visit their website 123 Andrés to see their other releases, including an adorable book Hello Friend, Hola Amigo!

Muévete con José-Luis Orozco: Songs for Healthy Bodies

One of the most enjoyable ways to learn or practice a foreign language is through music. Folk music and children’s artists like José-Luis Orozco are a great place to begin for young language learners.

Although my children are fluent in Mandarin, I myself, am fluent in Spanish. I began my own language journey when I was in high school and I continue to develop my language skills today.

When I was first learning Spanish, one of my class assignments was to memorize the lyrics to La Bamba. I had to work in the evening so I wrote the words out on paper and taped them to the wall where I could see them. As I worked I would look up and read a couple of lines and repeat it to myself several times. I would then add another couple of lines and repeat this process until I had the entire song committed to memory.

The movie, La Bamba, starring Lou Diamond Phillips had been released that year and the song was popular on the radio. Having learned it so well in high school, it became my “go to” song at Karaoke a few years later in college.

When the kids were little, we would borrow music CDs from the library featuring artists from the cultures we explored in our geography club.

Getting to Know José-Luis Orozco

One of my favorite children’s musicians is José-Luis Orozco. Born in Mexico City in 1948, Orozco grew fond of music at a young age. He learned many songs from his paternal grandmother.

José-Luis Orozco playing the guitar as he leans under a tree.

I received a copy of Orozco’s new CD, ¡Muévete! Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through which I will earn a small commission.

At the age of 8, he became a member of the Mexico City Boy’s Choir. He traveled the world to perform and gained the cultural knowledge he now integrates into his music.  

Orozco moved to California when he was 19 years old and earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He continued his education at the University of San Francisco earning a Master’s degree in Multicultural Education. 

After completing his Master’s program, José-Luis dedicated himself to what he truly enjoys — singing and writing for children. He began performing for children and included bilingual songs in his repertoire even though his audiences were not Spanish speakers.

Award Winning Music & Bilingual Books

In 1971 he signed with Bilingual Media Productions label and released the first of 13 volumes for children, Lirica Infantil: Latin American Children’s Music. The album featured classic songs from Mexican, Central, and South American culture,  including Guantanamera and Los Pollitos. 

He has also written several successful award-winning bilingual books that feature an extraordinary collection of songs, rhymes, tongue twisters, lullabies, and games from various Spanish-speaking countries. His DVD releases feature live action and animation – all celebrating Latino culture.

  • De Colores (Dutton 1994)
  • Diez Deditos (Dutton 1997)
  • Fiestas(Dutton 2002)
  • Cantamos y Aprendemos con José-Luis Orozco (2003)
  • Rin, Rin, Rin…Do, Re, Mi (2009) 

¡Muévete! Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

Earlier this month, his latest CD was released, ¡Muévete! Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body, produced by Smithsonian Folkways. 

This new album promotes fitness for children. It is the perfect complement to his earlier release, ¡Come Bien! Eat Right!, which promotes healthy eating habits.

Amongst the 18 bilingual tracks is Clap, Tap, Tralalá an original song by Orozco, encouraging kids to express themselves through movement and to learn new words.

Caution! His lyrics are catchy! I find myself singing this Clap, Tap, Tralalá as I go about my chores in the house. I know kids will love his music!

The ABCs of High School Electives: Translating Passions on Transcripts

As the academic year comes to a close, you may be thinking of nothing more than your summer bucket list. Many students however, like my daughter, have their eyes set on pursuing opportunities that can better prepare them for their career choice or expand their extracurricular experiences.

image of teen girl giving an oral presentation or speech

This past summer my daughter attended a week-long engineering camp at the university. This opportunity not only provided her with insight into her field of interest but also connected her to key personnel in the department. She emerged with a greater understanding of the skills she will need to succeed in her field. She also collaborated with another teen on an engineering project and gave a presentation at the conclusion of the course.

Summer camps like the one I described and short courses in art or sailing provide youth with hours that can be used for elective credits. Unlike required courses, electives are classes the student chooses based on her interests. It is the perfect way to customize a child’s education.

ABCs of High School Electives

While most high schools offer electives that cover a wide variety of topics, homeschoolers have the opportunity to craft a transcript that is unique and the most reflective of a student’s interests and future career goals.

This past year for example, my daughter has been actively involved in the Debate Club at the local community college. While it is an informal group (they haven’t competed against other schools), they are engaged in forensic experiences. The hours she attends and the research she invests in preparing her speeches can be applied to her transcript.

The possibilities are endless. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

A – Art & Graphic Design, Aeronautics, or Architecture

B – Birding (Ornithology) 

C – Culinary Arts

D – Drama, Drones (Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems)

E – Electronics 

F – Forensic Science

G – Game Design (Coding)

H – Homemaking

I – Interior Design

J – Journalism

K – Kinesiology (Sports Science)

L – Languages

M – Music (Performance & Theory)

N – Naturopathy, Nursing, or Nature Studies

O – Oceanography (Marine Science)

P – Psychology

Q – Quilting (Fiber Arts)

R – Robotics

S – Sociology

T – Toastmasters (Public Speaking and/or Debate)

U – Urban Studies

V – Venturing (Scouting)

W – Web Design 

X – Xeriscaping 

Y – Yearbook 

Z – Zoology

It would be impossible for any single school – public or private – to offer every elective on this list; there are simply too many. Schools are forced to choose which electives to offer based on a number of factors including location, student population, resources available, teacher expertise, and student interest. Homeschools, on the other hand, are not restricted by these factors.

Translating Elective Hours on the Transcript

Translating the hours a child has invested in a particular area can be done with ease. Simply keep an activity log as documentation of the hours invested. Click on the image below to download a FREE copy for yourself.image of an activity log used to track hours of instruction

In Oregon, 1 high school trimester is equal to 1 high school credit hour. This translates to approximately 55 hours of seat time/instruction. Thus, the 61 hours my daughter volunteered at the art museum last summer earned her 1 trimester credit.

These hours can be accumulated by watching instructional videos, TED talks, attending local seminars, reading informative texts, taking a specialized course (either in person or online), or any myriad of things related to the field of interest.

Use the course descriptions provided by local schools as a guide as you write your own. Keep in mind that electives can have different names depending on the school offering them, even if they cover essentially the same topic (for example, a culinary arts class could also be called cooking, foods, or something similar).

On a related note, forensics has long meant the art of speechmaking and oral presentation. Debate clubs, on the other hand, involve students in researching a pre-selected topic and then trying to convince people of their position. It’s a cousin of forensics but not the same thing.

To add to the confusion, Forensics Clubs and courses in Forensic Science are popping up in many modern schools, inspired by popular television shows. Using an optional course description can help to alleviate any confusion.

Developing Musicianship with Garage Band Theory

My son has had an interest in music since he was just four years old. While immersed in a theme study of classical music he stated, “I want to be like Bach. I want to play piano.” His persistence led us to begin private piano lessons with an instructor.

While he was younger, he would spend hours at the piano, practicing the pieces he was working on with his teacher and even composing his own Sonatas and Preludes. Though his knowledge of theory and composition were limited, his eagerness to learn and his ability to pick up new music was remarkable.

Reading sheet music has never been easy for my son. When he was an infant, he was diagnosed with congenital nystagmus, a condition whereupon his eyes move rapidly and uncontrollably from side to side. As my brothers are also afflicted with nystagmus, I had some familiarity with the condition.

His ability to play music has thereby always surpassed his ability to read sheet music. He has thereby learned to play by ear, a skill by which musicians learn to identify, solely by hearing pitches, intervals, melody, chords, rhythms, and other basic elements of music.

Garage Band Theory

We received a copy of Garage Band Theory in exchange for an honest review. I also received monetary compensation for my time spent in reviewing the product.  
All opinions expressed are true and completely our own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Learn to Play by Ear

When learning a new piece, my son’s piano teacher would first play a few measures herself and after watching carefully, he would imitate the fingering. Within a few tries, he would be able to also match the intervals and rhythm perfectly.

As he got older and he wanted to learn a new song, he would find videos on YouTube and would watch clips over and over until he could play each measure.

He recently took part in his first adjudicated piano recital. One-on-one with a master teacher, his technique, music theory, sight reading, rhythm reading, and repertoire skills were critiqued. In preparation for the Syllabus, my son’s technique and repertoire were determined to be three to four levels higher than his music theory and sight reading skills.

He thereby tested much lower than he could have. In writing a thank you note to his adjudicator, he noted that his goal for 2018 is to test at the higher level. To do so, he needs to bring his theory knowledge up.

Much to our delight, we discovered Garage Band Theory, a book that teaches traditional music theory with the purpose of helping students learn to play by ear.

As students work through the lessons in this massive book, they  develop a solid foundation of practical music theory. This will propel them further as they begin or continue with formal music lessons.

Author Duke Sharp has done a remarkable job of creating a guide that requires no previous musical experience. Best of all, it  is suitable for any instrument.

Garage Band Theory

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Play Multiple Instruments

Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on social media knows that I am a huge Prince fan. His musicianship is unrivaled partly because he was capable of playing just about any instrument.

What I love about Garage Band Theory is that it includes tabs for guitar, mandolin, banjo, as well as piano. It also includes various different scales, arpeggios, and songs. Students can quickly look at the musical staff and see how it relates differently to other instruments.

“Something for every musician at any level. Especially helpful is the musical notation and tablature for a variety of instruments. This book inspires me to learn and practice more.”  ~ Sam Bush

Collaborate with Others

To develop one’s musicianship skills, it is important to play with others. In addition to the many musicians who have played in his live band, Prince made a very large name for himself crafting some of the greatest songs for other artists.

In addition to private lessons, you’ll want to consider group lessons, ensembles, community orchestra. While my son has not yet had the opportunity to play with others, we do plan to join a community orchestra this fall. He’s apprehensive as he fears he is too young but the director and other members are excited for him to take part as they don’t have a pianist.

Learn Music Theory with Garage Band Theory

A professional musician for over 30 years with five CDs to his credit, Duke Sharp has taught music the past decade. He has invested 13 years in writing and editing Garage Band Theory. The definitive DIY guide to learning music theory, it is over 500 pages but is written in a conversational style.

Garage Band Theory will help you:

  • Master the two aspects of playing by memory: understanding what you’re doing and coordinating sound production
  • Analyze what your favorite artists are playing
  • Play any song in any key
  • Anticipate ‘what’s coming next’ — the key skill you need to improvise
  • Figure out chords on your own and play basic progressions for any musical genre

My son is just beginning to invest the time required in learning music theory. The concepts will definitely take time and effort, but with Duke as a mentor, he’ll be jamming in no time.

If you’d like to know more about Garage Band Theory, you can visit Duke’s Garage Band Theory website. You can also follow Duke at the Garage Band Theory Facebook page.

 

What I Learned About Life and Spirituality from Prince

When I heard that Prince had passed away, I was substitute teaching in a kindergarten classroom. My mother-in-law had texted me and I immediately pulled out my phone to confirm. It couldn’t be true.

It was the first time the death of a celebrity hit me in a real and immediate way. There was first disbelief, followed by dread and nausea. I struggled to keep it together until the dismissal bell released me. Then the tears that wrung out of my body were so strong it gave me stomach cramps.Prince Lessons

I drove home and immediately crawled into bed. I got a call from my mom asking if I was okay. She knew my heartache for she had experienced a similar loss when Elvis passed.

I am very grateful that my mother recognized his impact on my life very early. She purchased my first concert ticket for his Lovesexy tour in 1988 and drove seven hours one way to assure I could see him perform live.

“I’m a musician. I am music.” ~ Prince 

I would see him perform once more in Portland in 2004 for Musicology. I had hoped to see his Piano & a Microphone tour in 2016 but missed my chance.

Since his death on April 21, 2016, I have watched numerous video clips of his live performances, interviews, and amateur tour footage that have been shared online. The explosion of material now available have provided his #PurpleArmy with the solace we seek, an opportunity for one more connection with him.

Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents, Mattie Della and John Lewis Nelson, and grandparents were from Louisiana.  His parents separated when he was ten years and he subsequently repeatedly switched homes often as a teen. Yet music was always a strong element in his life.

Prince first began recording in 1975 with 94 East. A year later he signed a recording contract with Warner Bros whereupon they agreed to give him complete creative control.

His talent was limitless. He was a master composer, musician, and revolutionary artist. I dare say there is not a single artist in my lifetime who has influenced the sound and trajectory of music as much as he.

“I’m no different to anyone. Yes, I have fame and wealth and talent, but I certainly don’t consider myself any better than anyone who has no fame, wealth or talent. People fascinate me. They’re amazing! Life fascinates me! And I’m no more fascinated by my own life than by anyone else’s.” ~ Prince

A Legacy of Equality

I first discovered Prince while watching Night Tracks on TBS. They had aired two performances by him back-to-back, Little Red Corvette and 1999. I was immediately attracted to the music and his individuality. He was like no one else. He was different.

“I don’t really care so much about what people say about me. It usually is a reflection of who they are. For example, if people wish that I would sound the way I used to sound, it says more about them, than it does me.” ~ Prince

As the years progressed, his style evolved. Through it all, strong female musicians were an integral part of his band. They were not solely backup singers or dancers (though he did have those as well) but his partners – Wendy Melvoin, Sheila E., Rosie Gaines, and Candy Duffer amongst others.

Emma Garland recently stated that women are generally portrayed as passive objects in music, which is to not exist at all. “With Prince, they were addressed with awe and empathy. He wrote about women as real, powerful, complicated, sensitive, and sexual beings that he could learn from, and who enriched his life.”

Prince_FreeA Legacy of Freedom

He caught the media’s attention early in his career with his stage presence and outrageous costumes. Many of his songs were overtly sexual. Yet, Prince never made any apologies for who he was and always preached that the most important thing is staying true to yourself.

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.” ~ Prince

He showed me early the power of living one’s life by one’s own rules and no one else’s. He empowered me to walk my own path and to not be persuaded by others to follow the crowd.

Throughout every emotionally difficult time in my life, I’ve sang the lyrics to his songs in my mind. Repeating stanzas like a mantra. The song that had the biggest impact on me was most assuredly Free (lyrics shown above).

A Legacy of Compassion

Prince was also a secret philanthropist, supporting causes including youth empowerment, animal rights, racial justice, and clean energy for all. His compassion for the others was an important part of his legacy.

“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.” ~ Prince

The legendary musician was renowned for speaking out on behalf of those who were vulnerable and voiceless. According to federal tax forms, his charity, Love 4 One Another, gave more than $1.5 million between 2005 and 2007 alone.

A new mural of Prince has been unveiled from 10:10 on Vimeo.

The climate charity 10:10 recently commissioned a new mural in honor of Prince’s contributions to environmental causes in Camden, north London. The mural kicks off their six-week campaign to provide solar panels to food banks and charities – groups that reflect the commitment to community, creativity and humanity that Prince demonstrated in life with his secret philanthropy.

“If you ever lose someone dear to you, never say the words, ‘They’re gone.’ They’ll come back.” ~ Prince

When he gave, he made only one request, to not publicize it. He wanted no publicity or accolades for the gifts he bestowed. Many of those who were impacted by his generosity only began sharing of his compassion after he had passed.

A Legacy of Love

Throughout his career, he brought cultures together. Uniting sexes and working to instill his message of love for one another. His fans or #PurpleArmy continue to share his vision.

Spirituality has always been a part of his music. Prince’s musical and lyrical explorations of spiritual themes are evident in each and every album he released. More importantly, he embodied and lived by his spiritual principals.

So many reasons why
There’s so many reasons why
I don’t belong here
But now that I am I
Without fear I am
Gonna conquer with no fear
Until I find my way back home

~ Prince, “Way Back Home”

When I think of Prince, both his music and his life overall, I don’t so much think about religion. When I think of him, I think of love—not romantic or sexual love—but unconditional, human love. A love that transcends gender, race, or religion. A love not limited to one’s family, social circle, community or nation. A love we are most in need of cultivating if we are to grow and evolve.

Prince logo.svg

Like the Blues? Make Your Own Diddley Bow

The diddley bow is a single-stringed American instrument which influenced the development of the blues sound. It was traditionally considered a starter or children’s instrument in the Deep South, especially in the African American community. Other nicknames for this instrument include “jitterbug” or “one-string”.diddleybows

A local teacher has received significant acclaim for a folk instrument unit study he has implemented in his classroom. As a result, he has also coordinated with the local art museum to share his knowledge and skill with the local community. We were recently able to take part in his diddley bow workshop and what a treat!

What is a Diddley Bow?

The lineage of the diddley bow goes back thousands of years. The first prototype diddley bow (in the style also known as a Musical Bow) was painted on cave walls in France upwards of 15,000 years ago!

Here’s a video of American blues musician, Seasick Steve, doing what he does best on a diddley bow:

Traditionally, diddley bows were made using a plank with two nails/posts with a tightened string stretched between them. When that string is plucked or struck with a stick, and a smooth hard object is used as a slide and moved up and down on the string, different pitches result and melodies can be played.

How Does it Work?

The parts of the guitar change vibrations from the string into sound. The string diameter, length, and tension determine the note that is played.

Guitar strings come in various diameters. Thick strings produce low notes, thin strings produce high notes.

String tension is adjusted with the tuning peg. String length is measured from the nut to the bridge.

On a conventional guitar, the string length is changed by pushing the string against a fret. On a diddley bow, a slide is used to change the string length while playing.diddleybow3

Make Your Own

A Diddley Bow is traditionally made of spare parts and a wide variety of parts can be used. We started by choosing an old fence board as our base. We used a cookie or candy tin for the resonator. The instructor shared a few he had made that utilized a glass bottle and as Steve demonstrated in the video, even an old tin can will work.

We used a bulldog clip for the spacer, other workshop participants used a bottle cap and a screw. We also used guitar strings that were donated by a local music store but I’ve read that traditionally, the wire from an old straw broom were preferred.  Lastly, a corner bracket, an eye-screw, and an old fence board were all we needed to attach the string. Two 16-penny nails will also do the job.

diddleybow2Procedure:

  1.  Screw a small corner bracket onto one end of a recycled fence board, a couple of inches from the end. Screw an eye-screw onto the opposite end.
  2. Center the cookie tin atop the board just a few inches away from the corner bracket.
  3. Thread the guitar string through the center hole of the corner bracket and lay the string across the cookie tin.
  4. Thread the string though the eye-screw at the opposite side of the board and continue to twist the screw until the string is tight across the length of the board. The cookie tin will be held in place by this tension.
  5. Place a bulldog clip atop the cookie tin to lift up the string a bit. It is okay if the string touches the tin on the side closest to the corner bracket (the bottom side of the board). You don’t want it to touch, however, on the upper side. The bulldog clip is a spacer designed to lift the string up off the tin.
  6. Use a permanent marker to make marks on the board to indicated the different notes. This is done by ear. As you pluck the strings and slide a metal object (a small metal cylinder, for example) along the string, you can hear the pitch change as the string vibrates.
  7. Make a mark with a permanent marker to record the position of the bulldog clip. If it gets bumped and moved, it will change the position of the notes.

You can gather scrap materials yourself as we did or purchase a ready-to-assemble kit. There are several to choose from online, here are a couple to get you started:

Complete Cigar Diddley Bow Kit – This is a complete, ready-to-assemble cigar box diddley bow kit designed in the C. B. Gitty workshops to allow just about anyone to build a fun, easy-to-play instrument.  $24.99

Complete Cigar Box Guitar Kit – This kit contains all of the parts you need to complete your cigar box guitar – the box, neck, hardware and strings. Everything is pre-drilled and pre-marked, so that all you have to do is put in the screws, tap in the string ferrules, string it up and start playing. $79.99
Handmade Music Factory – Intrigued? Learn how to make eight of the most creative, unique-sounding, handmade instruments you’ll find anywhere with this fully illustrated guide. $17.57