New Blog – Simply Multicultural

This is just to inform everyone that we have moved blogs to our more updated and very inromative blog called Simply Multicultural

Please head on over and follow us over there, this site will be closed in the coming month or so.

Many thanks JJ, Director Global Kids Oz

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Samoan Language Week

Samoan Language Week
Instituted by the Human Rights Commission four years ago, the Samoan Language Week is a unique initiative that was first promoted by Radio Niu FM as part of a series of Pacific language weeks leading up to Māori Language Week. It is believed that in Australia, there are more than 28,500 Samoan language speakers. This year the Language Week will run from Sunday, 29 May, to Saturday, 4 June, to overlap with the Samoan Independence Day that falls on 1 June.
The Theme
The theme for 2011 has been announced as Samoa Ola – Samoa Active. This year the focus will be on language, sport and healthy living, and linking Manu Samoa’s visit to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup.
Why Language Week is Important
Multiple languages are now the norm in many countries. A potpourri of cultures exists resulting in a wide range of languages being spoken. However, in countries where indigenous groups continue living, the language is at risk of losing out to globalization and development.
Of the 6000 and more languages in the world, one is said to disappear every fortnight. In lingusitics, language death (also termed as language extinction or linguistic extinction) is a process by which the level of linguistic competence that speakers possess of a given language decrease. This can eventually result in no native or fluent idioms and dialects remaining.
A few years ago, on the remote Timor Sea coast of north Australia only three speakers of Mati Ke remained. In a few more years, it is probable that there will be no native speakers of Mati Ke. The situation is not only sad but also desperate. The end of a language signals the end of a way of living, a culture and the traditions that make up that culture. In the context of the Samoan Lanaguage Week, it is all the more important that more such initiatives are started to preserve a precious wealth of words.
Saving A Language
Saving a language only needs a dedicated community and passionate individuals. In classrooms, teachers can set aside an hour a day to teach Samoan and/or other indigenous languages. At home and at learning centers, parents and care providers can use a variety of aids such as flashcards, storybooks and CDs to help them. Some are listed below:

1. Talia Book: Perfect for ages 3+, this heart warming story follows the experience of a girl named Talia, who is looking forward to going to Samoa. But when she arrives she doesn’t understand what anyone is saying and feels overwhelmed and confused.
2. Little Kiddy Samoan Book: A must-have book, Little Kiddy is a beautiful bi-lingual book that’s great for beginner kids as well as adults. The sections covered are Greetings, Colours & Numbers, Family, Days of the week etc.
3. The Samoan Picture Dictionary: An excellent resource for people beginning to speak or write Samoan, the dictionary contains over 1000 commonly used words, and words needing further explanation are given in English and Samoan sentences to aid comprehension.
4. Sina in the Moon, A Samoan Legend: Introduce young and older readers to Samoan legends to help them understand the culture better. Sina in the Moon, A Samoan Legend, is a bi-lingual book that introduces readers to a legend of how we see faces in the moon.
5. Samoan Alphabet: This book is part of the Island Alphabet Books series that features languages and children’s artwork from the U.S. -affiliated Pacific. The best thing about the book is the many examples that come with each letter and a word list with English translations.

We are never too old to learn something new or too young to understand the wonders of an ancient language. Learn a new language this Language Week. Here are some Samoan phrases to get you started.
Tulov lava – Excuse me
Alu ese – go away
Fa’afetai – Thankyou
Manuia lava – Fine thanks
Manuia le aso – Have a good day
Oute alofa ia oe – I love you
Manuia le po – Good night
Se toe fai mai lava – I beg your pardon
O lou igoa – My name is ……

Related posts; Matariki
Global Kids Oz Articles
Diversity & Multiculturalism in the classroom

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Matariki – The Maori New Year

Matariki – The Maori New Year
For the Māori in New Zealand, Matariki is a time of new beginnings. At the tail end of May each year, a cluster of tiny stars, known as Pleiades to astronomers, rises on the northeast horizon. The Māori call this constellation Matariki, and for them this is a signal of an ending and a beginning.
The meaning of Matariki
The word Matariki is commonly translated into English as “mata riki’ or ‘tiny eyes’ and “mata ariki” or ‘eyes of God’. For the Māori, Matariki signals the start of a new life cycle and hence is celebrated as a traditional new year. The new moon that appears after the Matariki marks the beginning of the celebrations.
Pacific names for the Matariki
• Matariki – Māori, Mangaian (Cook Islands)
• Mangarevan (Gambier Is – French Polynesia)
• Matali’I – Samoan
• Makali’I – Hawaiian
• Mataliki – Tongan
• Mataiki – Marquesan

The Māori and Matariki
New Zealand’s indigenous people prepared for the year ahead and celebrated the future during Matariki. Upon sighting the constellation, the Māori would begin preparing sufficient preserved food stocks to last them through to the next harvest.
They also believed that the visibility of the stars determined the growth of crops for the coming year. According to this belief, if the stars shone very brightly, the season would be warmer and therefore the crops would be plenty. Family gathering and feasting marks the Māori celebration of Matariki.
Once the celebrations were over, they would turn their attention to other tasks that bound the community closer together such as learning and knowledge sharing.

Matariki traditions

During Matariki, the Māori shared their plenty with others. They showered guests and visitors with gifts and prepared huge banquets known as hākari. Records and stories indicate that the people waited up several nights to see the stars as they rose. Once the constellation was sighted, they would build a small hāngī – earth oven to cook food with steam and heat from heated stones.

Then, as part of their customs, they would weep and tell Matariki the names of those who had died since the stars last set. The people then uncovered the oven so that the aroma of the food could rise to the heavens and strengthen the stars. Another custom known as mihi maumahara is also observed. The people pay tribute to the ancestors who have passed into heaven through the Matariki to join the other ancestors who have become stars in the sky—Kua wheturangitia ratou ki tua ki te Aara I Tiatia.

Present day celebrations
The Matariki tradition is very much alive and observed in modern day Aotearoa (New Zealand). Lively festivals, cultural performances and concerts and other entertainment mark Matariki celebrations across the country. Toi Māori (Māori Art) is also showcased along with Māori song and dance. Modern Māori celebrate this day with education, remembrance, and the planting of new trees. Art exhibitions, art and craft workshops, the sharing of myths and legends, Astronomy workshops, hangi and feasts, dawn ceremonies, family days, Whakapapa (Genealogy) workshops and cooking demonstrations are some ways to celebrate Matariki.
Matariki in the classroom
Matariki is a great time to introduce children to the Māori people. Here are some tips on how to do it:
1. Discuss the concept of New Year across various cultures and countries: New Year is celebrated across the world at different times and for different reasons. Discussing this topic in class is a fun way to get children to understand the diversity in the world.
2. Organize a trip to the local planetarium: Get your students together and take them to the planetarium to star gaze. Explain the traditions of Matakiri while getting them to drawn and label the constellation in their notebooks.
3. Choose a craft theme: During craft period, focus on the arts and crafts of the Māori .
4. Plan a storytelling session: Invite elders from the Māori and plan a storytelling session. Later, ask students to discuss what they understood from the stories.
5. Plant a tree: Plant a tree in the neighborhood or in the schoolyard.
6. Draw parallels: The Japanese call the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) ‘Subaru’. There is a distinctive myth behind this. Read out these myths in calls and discuss how the same constellation has different meaning across cultures.
7. Visually represent Matariki: Draw, or paint the constellation. Do a slide show in class or maybe create a small skit around it.
8. For a large range of resources that supports multicultural education on New Zealand and around the world feel free to go to our Global Kids Oz website

Remember, Tēnā ngā kanohi kua tikona e Matariki – Matariki will keep you awake.
Article written by Annie Besant on behalf of Global Kids Oz

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Music & Lyrics, the multicultural way

You don’t see the world in black & white. You see it in the many vivid colors of browns, beige, olives and yellows – a multicultural world. And you’re a born teacher too, always looking for opportunities to teach kids and adults about the importance of a multicultural society. Well, then, here is a great way to celebrate different cultures in any environment – Multicultural Music!

Why Music?
There is a staggering amount of human diversity on our planet. We might not always understand each others traditions, customs and beliefs but the one thing that has the ability to transcend everything is music. It is a very deep-rooted and valid cultural expression. Music, when played in a classroom it creates a fun and upbeat atmosphere, sustains student attention, improves concentration and increases interaction while building a classroom community. When played in the car, it can positively uplift you, reduce stress and relieve frustration.

How Music Benefits the Classroom
Learning through music is not a strict top-down activity; it’s multi-layered learning. Music is a natural way of teaching multiculturalism because it allows the listener to experience and feel the culture. Also, the learner is immersed in a safe environment while the learning is happening. Even if verbal exchange (between teacher and student) is minimal, it leads students into discovering and reflecting on the new experience. Playing music from a particular culture helps students imagine that they are part of that community and be a part of an aural tradition.

Incorporating Music in a Classroom Environment
Here are some tips on how to use Multicultural music in the classroom:
1. Multicultural music can be used to teach educational content. For example: When teaching rhymes to lower primary kids, consider using Karadi Tales Rhyming Book & CD Series to teach Indian rhymes. This will introduce the child to meter, rhythm pattern and context that would normally be out of their reach.

2. Use music to introduce a new language. If you have plans to introduce your classroom to a new language, begin by showcasing music that’s familiar, fun and easy-to-learn. This way, the chances of a child being open to a foreign language are higher. Recommended resource: German – Teach Me German Christmas Songs, Frohliche Weinhnachten Teach Me traditional Songs & Traditions, Worldwide – Latin Playground Activity Kit – Book & CD

3. Use multicultural music to enhance educational content. Music helps students get a deeper feel for and appreciate the educational content you are imparting. In your geography/ history classroom use Celebrate the Human Race CD and Book Kit to visit The Nile, Rio, The Grand Canyon, Iqazu Falls, Mount Everest, Yosemite Valley and many other exciting places around the world in song. If environmental concerns are what you’re highlighting, get a copy of Everything’s Gone Green, Environmental CD by the Fabulous Lemon Drops.

4. Create an atmosphere that’s conducive to teaching. Most students might fidget in class or complain of boredom when faced with reams and reams of text. Switch text with music for a more engaged learning process. For example: When teaching older students about the history of Aboriginal music, use Aria Award Winner – Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s album Gurrumul. The songs are largely sung in indigenous languages and you can challenge your students to identify them. If you are trying to teach your class the history of Africa, we recommend resources such as Songs and stories from Uganda Book and CD, African Playground Putumayo CD etc.

Music as a Important Multicultural Resource in Other Environments
Maybe it’s not a child but an adult who needs a multicultural exposure. Then, music is your best friend because you can take it out of the classroom to anywhere you like – car, home, work place, bus etc. Here are some tips on how to use multicultural music in other environments:
1. In the home. Music can be extremely stimulating as well as completely relaxing. To brighten up a kid’s play date, put on Sesame Street Playground CD in 12 different languages. If you’re winding up for the day, consider Celtic Dreamland Sleeptime CD which focuses on the softer side of Celtic music, harvested from the rich musical traditions of Ireland, Scotland, eastern Canada and beyond. The CD has songs that are perfect for the slumbering child, meditating mom and dad, or the weary worker desperate for a little quiet relaxation.

2. On a drive. Fill long trips with laughter and make it subtly educational by picking the latest release in the award-winning Playground CD series from Putumayo Kids. The new album presents a multilingual collection of animal-themed songs from around the world. Other recommendations are: Putumayo Hawaiian Playground CD with Hawaiian ukuleles, slide guitars, amusing lyrics and enchanting voices that will charm children and adults alike, Worldwide – Jazz Playground Putumayo CD and Worldwide – Rock & Roll Putumayo CD.

3. At the work place. Introduce your co-workers to sounds from around world with sources like Lietuviskos Polkos – Lithuanian Music, “Malk” Saltwater Band CD with Geoffrey Gurrumbul, Arabic Groove Putumayo CD etc.

4. In the day care center. Putumayo Kids’ Acoustic Dreamland and Multicultural Lullabies around the World CD are wonderful to soothe the tiny tots.

No matter what language we speak or where we are from, music binds us all. Music is also a great teacher of all things new and wonderful, so, pick up a multicultural CD to create a harmonious multicultural world.

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Diversity & Education in a multicultural classroom

Diversity and Education in a Multicultural Classroom
Legendary writer Maya Angelou once said that “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” This is true even in a multicultural classroom. Every year teachers are burdened with creating the right lesson plans for a class of 30-40 students each with their own learning abilities, thought patterns and interests. Throw into this mix students from different cultures – you have strengths as well as challenges to face that go beyond just drawing up lesson plans.

Identifying Multicultural Diversity
For any child the classroom is a second home where they spend half their time learning, communicating, playing, building relationships, forming an identity and forging a unique place for themselves. This makes it even more important for a teacher to understand the dynamics of diversity such as ethnicity, race, language, culture, education, religion, place of birth, Diaspora experiences, war memories, minority conflicts, socio-economic standards etc in the classroom.

Creating a Multicultural Classroom
The success of a multicultural classroom can be studied by the advancement of the educational goals of all the students, and the fostering of a supportive and respectful teaching environment. Some ways to achieve this:

1.Awareness of Learning Styles
Every culture has its own way of imparting knowledge which may be remarkably different from the dominant culture into which a child is thrust. Take for example East Asia: students from China, Japan and Korea are used to a teacher-centric, book oriented, rote memory learning style. The students themselves are introverted and are uncomfortable with public touch and intense displays of opinions or emotions.
Students from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will look to the teacher for constant guidance, and accept everything the teacher says as absolute truth. On the other hand, students from progressive western cultures are more comfortable with asking questions, challenging information, and communicating their displeasure with the teacher or the lesson. A teachers openness to and acceptance of the varied learning styles can make teaching in the classroom a more tolerant, inclusive and cohesive experience.

2. Communication Resource
As teachers, we want our children to learn in an environment where they can accomplish everything that is possible and feel loved and included while doing so. Unfortunately, in the world, discrimination and racial bias is a scarring reality. But a teacher can become a resource on a wide range of issues connected to diversity and multiculturalism for children and parents.

3. Diversity Awareness Activities
Encourage diversity rich activities in the classroom. For example: Create your own classroom library and encourage each child to contribute one book from their culture written by an author from their country. Then, take turns reading the books and have an open discussion about the content.
Plan a cultural exchange unit where students are asked to bring in something that reflects their heritage. This could be a piece of handicraft, food, traditional clothing, a song or speech recording etc. Open up a discussion, but sometimes such exchanges can become charged so administer strict rules about acceptable behavior before hand.
Hold these awareness activities on a regular basis, especially at the start of a school year, so that what is considered different becomes something familiar and exciting. Look for creative lesson plans and activities that will enrich the student’s learning experience.
4. Anti-Bias Education
Multicultural assimilation can begin at a very early age, they are extremely curious and often come up with their own surprisingly creative explanations to understand the differences around them. As a teacher you have an unique role in promoting all children’s chance to thrive and succeed in all areas of their life. When we make our classrooms an anti-bias classroom, we are helping children be proud and accepting of human differences. An anti-bias curriculum will also encourage them to assess their own identities and teach them to create, live and learn in an inclusive environment. So, if a 3-year-old in your class doesn’t want to sit next to a new arrival because they “talk funny” or “dress funny”, intervene immediately to send a positive message and counter the hurtful effects of those statements.

Understanding a multicultural classroom is the first step in effectively knitting together a multicultural blanket. Then, encourage appreciation of differences, avoid cultural stereotypes, acknowledge differences, and integrate new multicultural programs. We live in world brimming with myriad colors, let us make a rainbow out of it.

Books and other resources available for purchase for teachers and parents that reflect a variety of cultures which support Multicultural Learning are listed below. For the full range of over 1,200 Multicultural resources from over 145 different countries and cultures worldwide please visit <a href=";

New Zealand Maori – Koru mats
Australian Indigenous – Our World – Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon
India – Indian Tales
Samoa – Little kiddy Samoa,
Sweden – Tomten Book
The Middle East – A True Person or Middle Eastern Family Puppet set

Or to get a global perspective how about some of these wonderful resources that either cover a variety of languages or cultures all in one

Comfyland easy PC in 20 languages
Putumayo’s World Playground Activity Kit
My Granny Went to Market
or one of our range of Puzzles for kids to help teach them geography in a new and fun way
or this amazing new "Interactive World Map; that talks to you!!

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Tradional Siapo South Pacific and Maori recycled cultural play mats

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Siapo is typically a fine tissue like cloth made from the bark of the mulberry tree and is a symbol of many cultures in the South Pacific. Siapo mats were once used on a day to day basis in the … Continue reading

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Reading multicultural books to your children is a wonderful way to experience others cultures and customs

Why do we read? Why do we encourage others to read? The key to answering these questions lies in the early man cave paintings. The crude images they scratched on rocks told a story; explained history and culture to the immediate community and the outsider. Human beings have always felt the need to create and share. This desire evolved into cave paintings, storytelling, and oral traditions. When the written word permeated our culture, this desire manifested itself in print. So, we read and inspire reading in others, especially our children.

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) has been celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. In the present scenario, where multiple cultures mingle and grow together, the ICBS is a great opportunity to introduce children to multicultural worlds.

Children’s multicultural picture books occupy the pride of place in childhood classrooms. Various genres such as fiction, poetry and non-fiction give children a glimpse of the vast world they will one day step into. These books are also a crucial way in which they gain information, are entertained and add to their perspectives of the environment around them. Multicultural books represent individuals and or ethnic groups and give a complete insight into the workings of a different community.

In preschool, introduction picture books that depict a variety of racial, ethnic and cultural groups are an ideal way of helping them develop an awareness of others, while affirming the identities of children from different backgrounds.

Children’s books serve several purposes. Books can stimulate readers through text and illustrations. They draw the reader into the situations, scenes and story and help them participate through identification. Girls in the Kapahaka, a book by Angie Belcher, is a great example of a book that draws children into the world of the Māori. Indian Tales by Barefoot Books is a visual as well as textual treat.

A study conducted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese and published by Early Childhood Research and Practice explains that books also serve a psychosocial purpose. Stories give children characters and events with which they “can identify and through which they can consider their own actions, beliefs, and emotions.” Such stories encourage the child to see the world through another’s eyes and “further construct their own views of self and the world.” Fair Skin Black Fella, a story about Mary, a young Aboriginal girl who lives on a red and dusty cattle station and is shunned because of her fair skin, is a wonderful story to help kids observe and understand the psychological workings of an another culture. It also stimulates discussion about cultural identities.

Children’s literature should ideally reveal the truth about a culture and its experience, and avoid subversion as well as a glossing over of hard facts. Sabri’s Colours reveals a child’s yearning to draw. But as an underprivileged girl, Sabri can dream of drawing only with a rough chalk or her one and only pencil. Her dreams and yearnings intensify when she sees a plethora of colour pencils and paints at school. This book is a valuable tool to help children discuss what privileged and underprivileged means in various cultures. It can also be used to stimulate discussions about how “dreams and desires” differ amongst children from various ethnic households.

Books are also didactic in nature. In traditional literature, myths, sagas, classics, tales and legends serve to pass on ideas, morals and knowledge from generation to generation. We’re Sailing Down the Nile is a rhyming story text, followed by eleven pages full of educational information about ancient Egypt, gods and goddesses. It captures Egypt as seen through the many myths and stories surrounding it. Tales of Celtic Lands is another book that carries tales of the Emerald Isle.

Books are important catalysts employed in helping the child arrive at a knowledge base about people and world. So, it’s extremely crucial that the story a child is reading has high standards of accuracy and authenticity. Books also benefit language and literacy development. Zak the Yak, written in Seussical rhyme, and We are One, are books that are written to heighten cultural awareness and develop language development.

All the books mentioned in this article cross boundaries and can be used by children independently or along with a caregiver. Using multicultural books gives children the opportunity to see their own world reflected in different ways. So, this International Children’s Book Day, gift a child a multicultural book and stand back to see the world open up for them.

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