La Loteria & Vocabulary Learning

I won the lottery. No seriously I did! Of course it was at the expense of my two girls 6 and 3.5, and my mother-in-law. Somehow the victory just wasn’t as sweet as I expected. And instead of money I got to eat a caramelo.

We’ve just come back from two months in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. This trip was two-fold. First we wanted to introduce the girls, now of an age where they will remember the trip,  to their grandmother. Secondly, we desperately needed to jump-start their Spanish.

Living in Thailand, it has been difficult to get them the exposure they need. Their father, the only fluent person in our house, works insanely long hours. My Spanish had been stalled at an advanced beginner level since forever. Without loads of spanish-speaking people around, or access to telenovelas, I found it hard to motivate to learn and get past that present tense barrier. And of course the distance and cost meant we haven’t been able to get back as often as we’d like.

This trip was the moment for Mama and las niñas to finally really immerse ourselves in Español! The first thing I figured out is that they learned vocabulary best by playing games and doing every day projects and crafts vs. ‘learning’ the language.

Our Abuelita, who was beyond excited to see her nietas, was well prepared with various games including La Loteria. The girls loved playing the game, except when I won. Maybe my happy in-your-face dance was a bit too much when I shouted “Tabla llena!”.

Of course some of the cards were a little questionable: El Borracho? Ok well technically that applies to my father so it could come in handy. El Negrito? Is it just me or is using a diminutive here -well racist?.  But fear not, I was able to find other Loteria games that focused on the alphabet, numbers, baby items, you name it!

Loteria sheet Borracho y Negrito

Another big win were the mini Tortilla Makers. One was the traditional square wood shape and the other the round metal one. Both made small delicious tortillas de maiz.

Tortilla makers wood and metal

Kids know when you are trying to teach them something. One of my girls initially refused to speak to her teachers in Spanish at the local kindergarten they attended. On the other hand, she happily chatted with Anna, the young woman who came to clean the house. The girls love to do chores and the only way to help Anna was to speak Spanish.

This applied to me too! Learning as I made my way around the city or learned to cook new dishes was way more effective than sitting down reviewing conjugations. And it goes without saying that little shot of tequila also did wonders for my fluency.

 

This blog post was written for the August edition of  Multicultural Kids Blogs Carnival hosted by Multilingual Parenting. A huge thanks to Rita for hosting this month’s Carnival.  Please check out the many other wonderful contributors.

Shocking Everyone at the Pool with Our Phoques.

The haiku of blog posts in honour of this month’s Raising Multilingual Kids Carnival. The Carnival will be out around the 24th. Sign up at the link above to get it while it’s hot!

Edvar Munch's The Scream

Edvar Munch’s The Scream via Wikipedia

There were times I thought I couldn’t possibly embarrass myself linguistically more than accidentally telling my boyfriend’s mother that I was muy embarazada or ‘very pregnant’. Her genuine excitement put her in my good books forever. Anyone who can set aside religion to embrace an accidental baby is my kind of gal. And now she takes everything I say in Spanish with a grain of salt.

Embarrassment-babies aside, I did manage to take my verbal gaffs to a whole new level — this time involving my kids to boot!

Here’s how we became total social pariahs at the pool. Was it my penchant for topless sunbathing? Nope. I packed those babies away after they decided to go South for the winter and never return home.

It was the little seal toy Pea and Plum were given in Singapore by their swim teacher as a parting gift. It’s also a toy Pacifique wouldn’t leave the house without, a toy she loves to cradle and calls: Phoque-y which is pronounced FUCK-Y.

Picture a lovely crystal blue pool, sun shining, kids splashing happily. And then imagine an argument break out between two sisters over a toy:

“Give me back my FUCKY!”

“No it’s my turn for FUCKY!”

Blah blah blah Fuck, blabla bla fucky. One ends in tears, the other holds the prized possession.

“Oh my sweet little fucky. I love you little fuck. Isn’t he cute?”

Un phoque in French is –as you’ve probably guessed by now –a seal.

And that lovely happy scene I painted? It turned to an expat poolside version of Munch’s Scream. Me? I was left nervously laughing and mumbling about the joys of multilingual parenting whilst packing the pool toys, cradling my boobs, and glancing around for a guard to call me a tuk-tuk home.

What painfully awkward moment would you like to share? I promise, it’s feels good to let it out. And yes you should trust the woman who vlogged about diarrhea and car journeys.

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This month’s Carnival is hosted by The European Mama. She is a rock star on so many levels, I don’t know where to start. Not to mention the incredible Annabelle from PiriPiri Lexicon who revived the Carnival. If I didn’t like and admire these women so much, I’d cower in a corner, yellow with envy at their unbelievable productivity and kindness. Please check out all their hard work showcasing a bunch of great entries!

Teachable Moments: Pillow Math & Other Opportunities Abound.

We are finally back from our big adventure at PunPun, a sustainable farm one hour north of Chiang Mai. Our stay was spectacular in so many ways and I will be writing a more comprehensive post about our time there. Here’s a sneak peek: Photo by my 5-yr-old

PunPunFarm Kids CC

While I am still catching up on the backlog of emails and commitments after an amazing break from wireless and unlimited kbps lands, I want to share an important lesson I re-learned during our trip.

Teachable moments are everywhere.

Sometimes as homeschooling parents –based on my vast experience of stalking online groups– we worry we aren’t giving our kids enough, that we aren’t prepared enough, that we don’t have all the things we need in order to teach them what they need to learn. When I started out this year, I was obsessed with lesson plans, curriculums, and having the right manipulables. I worried how I would manage with a limited budget. (Read anyone who wants to donate or gift me a Montessori moveable letters set, don’t hold back!) But in truth I was worrying for nothing; some of you may already have realized I could get paid for worrying, I am such an expert at it.

When I stopped trying to bring school home and let go, things naturally started to happen. Once I was fully oxygenating my brain instead of panicking about how much I was covering and just watching my kids play, I could jump in when they asked and see where I could naturally fit in letter, number, language learning among other things.

Here are a couple examples:

1. From a morning chat to vocabulary building & basic math concepts.
Mondays are French days in our house and I was talking with P while halfheartedly trying to make my bed. I am not sure how, but I used the word plus in French, meaning which means both more and “+”. My daughter asked me to explain the word. I used moins or less as a contrast but it wasn’t enough for her to understand. Finally I looked around and grabbed the four pillows I was fluffing. We divvied them up a few times, with her having more and then less than me.  We talked about adding them to her pile. We also had equal amounts. I then talked her through other verbal examples of more or less things, like who got to hold the chicken more at the farm, etc. Finally we found a pen and paper and looked at the + and – signs and wrote out the basic pillow additions we did. Ending the lot with a small pillow/tickle fight.

Teachable: Pillow Maths

2. I wanted to review some letters with something other than paper letters. As I was re-organizing toys, I came across a travel scrabble set we have yet to use. The girls loved grouping similar letters. Then counting how many of each they had and then putting them into order. Yes the star and pink boxes distracted them briefly, but hey, it’s all a work in progress.

Teachable, Scrabble Letters Alphabet

And yes, we always play scrabble in pink ballroom competition dresses. Don’t you?

I’ll put more examples in the comments as they crop up. I am just so tired I can’t think of them now. And please share your own!