Feb 19

Taking Time for Family

Author: Dana Matthews



It is interesting how children put your life into perspective!

Growing up, both my parents worked and were also pursuing advance degrees. Needless to say they were busy! When I was 8 and my sister was 6 we had a favorite commercial. I still remember the chorus to the song:

“Take the time to give and care for kids sake.
Make the time to live and share for kids sake.
You’ll feel better when you see them grow,
Take the time to give and care for kids sake…”

One day my mom and dad were studying but my sister and I wanted to go to the zoo. But they were studying so hard! Five minutes later my sister started singing the “For Kids’ Sake” commercial to my mom, with emphasis on “you’ll feel better when you see them grow!” My mom turned to my sister and said “get your shoes—we’re going to the zoo!” Who knew that would work!

From then on, whenever we wanted to do something, we sang the “For Kids’ Sake” song. As children, we never understood why it worked.

For nostalgia’s sake, here’s the "For Kids’ Sake" public service announcement:


Fast forward 30 years...

Now I have a daughter age 6. My husband and I both work full time and I was pursuing my Master’s degree. (Interesting how things come full circle.) I was busy writing a paper but my daughter wanted to go skating. I politely said that I have to finish my paper. My daughter turned to me and said “Why are we so busy?” All of a sudden, I recalled the "For Kids’ Sake" song and how it made my family spend quality time together. I told my daughter to get her shoes on and that we were going skating—we had so much fun! And yes, my paper was still completed on time.

It was at that moment that I understood why the For Kids’ Sake song worked for my parents. It helped them (and me!) realize that the most important moments are spending quality time with your family. We learn so much from our children!

Jul 31

How to Make a Fortune Teller

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

In the spirit of summer, Jump! Immersion is changing the focus of the blog to give families some ideas for hands-on activities and conversation starters. We hope the ideas are lighthearted and fun!

For the Dreamer: A Paper “Fortune Teller"

Do you remember these? A home-made paper trinket to pass away the time? 

In Spanish, begin the conversation identifying this contraption with Comecocos de Papel (a Pacman of Paper) or even a Sacapiojos (Lice Remover!). Also known in English as Cootie-Catchers, Chatterbox or Fortune Teller, while the name changes, the thoughts behind it are the same: creativity, socialization and distraction. This activity is highly adaptable for preschoolers (use colors and stickers to make it appropriate for them) up to lower elementary students. 

Creating the project requires folding, and playing the game requires hand & finger movement as well as fine motor skills. In a nutshell, you fold a piece of paper into four triangle-type shapes. The “toy” will fit over your thumb, index and middle finger so you can “open” and “close” it. Your friend will answer a series of questions to get an answer… or a prediction. Younger children can begin by picking a color as well, and use the syllables.

Supplies Needed

  • Paper
  • Writing/Drawing materials
  • Imagination!

Folding Instructions

Scroll to the bottom of this site. This appears to be a neat website, with lots of information. There are also a few pre-printed ones and videos of how to fold in Spanish or in English on YouTube.

If you prefer pictorial instructions, try this site

Playing the Game

This is a good language activity and can be adapted in many ways. Answer a question, do an action, describe the person answering the questions, favorite food, etc.

Ground rules: make sure the person asking the questions knows how to ask a question in the language, such as “Which one?” or “Choose one.”

In Spanish, you can say “Cual quieres?” or “Escoje uno”

One can either break up the word into syllables to “open” and “close” the opening, or a complete sentence can be used for greater vocabulary. For example, Red versus The color is red.”  You can even spell the word (like R-E-D). It all depends on the age and language level of the players.

Check out this page which has some great ideas for writing some “vague” Spanish fortunes, such as “something exciting awaits you in your immediate future.” Sounds good for tweens. I want to explore this site further. (Do not be put off by the name of the website as I was, momentarily; it describes the “hyphenated” bicultural child, of Latin-American of Hispanic origin being raised in an English-speaking environment. Peruse and judge for yourself.)

My children have used the “fortune tellers” in the car, waiting in line at the grocery store, outside on the lawn or inside the house in a reading nook on a rainy day. I remember letting my imagination run wild... with boys I would marry or adventures that I would go on or misfortunes that might befall me.

All you need is paper, writing/drawing materials and your imagination…

...One, two, three, four you will enjoy a tropical vacation on your private island soon …

Jul 22

How to Make a Friendship Bracelet

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

In the spirit of summer, Jump! Immersion is changing the focus of the blog to give families some ideas for hands-on activities and conversation starters. We hope the ideas are lighthearted and fun!

For the Artist: Bracelets made of Thread

I have friends from Colombia and Costa Rica that have given these away as token gifts upon their return from their country of origin. This is an activity that can be done inside or outside the house while taking a break. Children that are into creating things and/or expressing themselves love these projects. Suitable for both boys and girls, starting with elementary-aged children (for longer attention spans, as a general guideline).

Before you conclude that this is “just” Latin American-inspired, did you know that there are some similar knots/decorations in China and Japan? See the decorative knots of China, (Chinese: 中國結; pinyin: Zhōngguó jié) and the Japanese “Kumihino” braiding that coincidentally use a circle loom.

To start the friendship bracelets, I went to the local craft store to get some pink/purple yarn or embroidery string for one of my children and some green/gray ones for the other child that is obsessed with Minecraft. Do not feel obligated to buy a “kit” from the local craft store or toy store unless you want/need that peace of mind; the supplies are minimal.

Supplies Needed

Your supply list for the first simple thread bracelet:

  • Small piece of cardboard
  • A round object
    such as a drinking glass to use the rim as a guide to make a circle
  • Pencil
  • Button
    A “cool” button to use to secure the bracelet
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery String
    4 colors, at least 25 inches long

Click Here for one great “goof-proof” video tutorial (even I understood it!:-)

Caveat: Parents, you may want to watch any opening YouTube advertisement videos or side ads before your child watches to determine your comfort level with ad content. You can also search for other DIY Bracelet videos; you will be spoiled for choice.

With that said, the instructions are clear, the video is upbeat and engaging for children/tweens and I can’t help but feel chipper with the blogger.

Just as the “Rainbow Loom” craze of two years ago (which still lives on), children will love to make these for family and friends who will wear them with pride! An ecologically sound gift—hand crafted and made with love. At least, that is our theme in our home—“made with love.” Priceless.

Video/Photo Credit: DIY Friendship Bracelets. 5 Easy DIY Bracelet Projects! by SaraBeautyCorner

Jun 19

Double Fifth Festival... the Food!

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

Now that we have all read an abbreviated notation of the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the "Double Fifth," let's go eat!

Food. Sustenance. Delight.

The key component, no matter if you live by the water or deeper inland, is food. The main component of any culinary gathering is the "zongzi" dumpling, so named for the long leaf (similar to a bamboo leaf) in which it is wrapped [粽子].

Food, and our olfactory recall, is intricately tied to our memory. For some Americans, they can remember going to sleep on Thanksgiving Eve, with the mouth-watering smell of pumpkin pies baking in the oven. For many Chinese, youngsters can remember going to sleep smelling the zongzi cooking in the kitchen to be devoured the following day for breakfast.

Zongzi dumpling

Indeed, the maker of the zongzi is held in high esteem in many Chinese families, as this is a "one day only" item to eat. This honor can even cross gender lines.

Process: The process of zongzi making takes several hours, beginning with boiling and then soaking the bamboo-type leaves overnight to reconstitute them. Then, the special rice needs to soak for 3 hours or so. Meat (usually pork, so abundant) is condimented and cooked; later combined with the rice. Many families nowadays buy the "salty egg" yolk (could be duck or chicken) because that brining process takes a few weeks. The actual shape of the dumpling can vary depending on the length and width of the leaves used—some look more like bulging triangles, others look like delicate isosceles triangles, just a few degrees wide.

Regional Differences:

Of course, there are town and regional differences. (Who can forget the famous zongzi of Jia Xing?) Northern China serves savory zongzi; the South, in this instance, serves salty ones. In a Southern metropolis like Shanghai, that generally loves the slightly sweet/savory juxtaposition, one can find:

  • "Salty" varieties (containing pork, and/or "salty egg" yolk, which is quite traditional)
  • "Sweet" varieties (containing red bean paste, jujube or even dates). There is even a variation of "sweet" zongzi: a plain rice zongzi dipped in sugar or honey.

What a treat!

New World Varieties:

After viewing some pictures of "zongzi" online, I am reminded of the Cuban "tamal" made with reconstituted corn husks, yellow corn meal, and pork filling; the Nicaraguan (and Honduran) "nacatamal" made with fresh banana leaf, white corn meal, and a meat filling. Let us not forget the Mexican "tamal" as well. This type of cooking and food preparation must surely be the origin of "food on the go," a meal neatly packaged in a biodegradable leaf!

*  *  *

Here at Jump!, culture is deeply embedded in food offerings. Our native-speaking teachers revel in sharing the culture, music, rhymes, holidays, and food of their home countries. Any food presentation will be the culmination of a thematic presentation on a specific country, region or town, or a holiday. A few examples: the "Rosca de Reyes" or "Kings' Bread Ring" presented during Three Kings' Day in Latin America. Or the "Pan de Muerto" [a bread roll] offered during the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead, right around Halloween. How about a simple quesadilla for Cinco de Mayo? Food is truly a delightful way to "build bridges" and see, smell and taste how people eat in a different part of the world.

Jackie Sanin, the school's CEO, hopes that our students, whether they have spent 1, 2, 3 or 4 years at Jump! Immersion School, can blend in with locals during their travels or studies and not skip a beat. As a parent, I daydream about that. Be open to the possibilities.


Be sure to check out yesterday's post about Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the "Double Fifth"

Jun 18

Double Fifth Festival or Make it Rain!

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

An abbreviated history and key items regarding the Dragon Boat Festival or Duan Wu [端午节]

Thanks to my Shanghainese friend, I have a clearer insight on the different aspects of the Dragon Boat Festival... and a growling stomach yearning for good food to eat!

The Dragon Boat Festival is a multi-layered fête celebrated in China and other countries with ethnic Chinese. The Chinese government officially declared it a holiday in 2007. The race festivities typically occur near rivers and ports.

Historical Origins

The historical origins revolve around a minister and poet, Qu Yuan, who so loved his state that he drowned himself in the river (fearing dominion by the neighboring state of Qin). His poetry is cited in ancient texts but the language itself has been lost to history. To avoid the river fish eating his body, the townspeople threw food such as eggs and dumplings called "zongzi" into the river, all the while scouting the river for his remains. This is one event to commemorate during the Festival period.

Religious & Folk Origins

Religious/folk/agrarian origins: Another layer of the Festival reveals folk traditions that are alive and well in modern China. The Chinese have been racing for thousands of years. Typically, the Festival [五月初五] (or the 5th day of the 5th month) falls around mid-June. Regardless of the exact date, what you can count on is the start of warmer temperatures, and rice planting in south/central China, where this Festival originates. What do farmers do during this time?

The Dragon Deity

Ask for rain from the Dragon deity that watches over water. Although there are Mountain and Sea Dragons, even the Ni'an of Chinese New Year, their mythical role is to control water of all kinds: river, lakes and oceans of the earth as well as the water in the sky (hence the rain). Dragons [龙] traditionally are not seen as malevolent but beneficent. Dragons represent the Emperor, and the Chinese also like to associate themselves with the powerful Dragon (compared to the other ordinary animals of the Zodiac). Rain is needed for the rice crop, so the Dragon must be invoked.

The Cleansing Element

Putting aside crops for a moment, one can also use the boat races as a cleansing element as the summer is ushered in. The physical and mental effort necessary to race a "dragon boat" is said to keep disease away. For an interesting detailed description on the mechanics of "paddling" the boats, this writer encourages you to begin your research here. Crew lovers will love it!

(i)  Regular folks who do not partake in the races will still "protect" and strengthen their bodies with a fortifying wine, translated as a "Realgar Wine." [雄黄酒] I do urge you to look up a fairy tale for mature audiences, called the "Legend of the White Snake". [白蛇传] It is about a man that fell in love with a changling sorceress. Part of the story takes place in Hangzhou, at the West Lake, relatively near Shanghai. All I will say is that sometimes, drinking (in excess?) will show a person's "true colors" or true form.

(ii)  For young children, who do not participate in these demanding races, families would place small aromatic pouches with herbs, e.g. mint, to keep children healthy and safe. These pouches are worn continuously until they fall off (although they may also be placed bedside at night). This is Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM), which could be a whole different post.


(iii)  Not only is the body cleansed, but living quarters are cleansed as well. With warmer temperatures arriving, agrarian peoples would routinely witness a certain group of five poisonous animals crawl into homes: snakes, centipedes, scorpions, geckos and toads. [蛇,蜈蚣,蝎子,壁虎,蟾蜍] These animals are considered physically dangerous (i.e. poisonous) but also harbingers of evil spirits. People would also hang mugwort leaves and calamus from doors and windows to help keep these animals at bay.

Check back tomorrow to read about some culinary treats!

Jun 11

Dental Health for Kids

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

As I was bemoaning the fact that my six-year-old did not brush her teeth well (i.e. thoroughly enough for my taste), a pediatric dentist that I know, Dr. Mouli Patel of Pediatric Dentistry of Union, shared some great advice with me.



She said to use this general guide:

If your child can tie her shoes, then she can brush her teeth alone.

More than a general correlation to age, Dr. Patel said that much of the manual dexterity in tying shoelaces also assists with all the angles needed to brush all sides of the teeth. Who knew?! That's your tip of the day!

Now, if you are looking for manual dexterity, our dedicated teachers at Jump! help pre-writers get ready to have proper pencil grip with scissor cutting and pincer work, to name but a few examples.

Come visit and see what our smart students can accomplish, as they "play!"


Let's Brush Our Teeth!

Pictured: Heather Miele, a dental hygienist from Tender Smiles 4 Kids taught Jump! students all about the mouth, its hinge, and proper brushing & flossing techniques.

Instead of peering into an actual mouth or using a small plastic mouth as a sample, several children volunteered to line up as "teeth" and Miss Heather showed how to brush (using a 4-foot tall inflatable toothbrush!) and floss (using a strip of cloth!).

Thank you Miss Heather for the fun and informative visit!

Jun 01

Movies & TV Shows Children Watch in China

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

I polled teachers here at Jump! Immersion School to compile this list of movies & television shows for children in Mandarin Chinese--this is what children watch in China. Again, it is a work in progress, so input is gladly accepted!

(Pictured is a scene from an episode of the series"Pleasant Sheep & Big Bad Wolf".)

Note: You can find these on YouTube. It's best to preview or talk to your child's Mandarin teacher for the "green light."

Preschool & Up

    English Name
Format Mandarin Name Pinyin Topic
    "3 Monks" (movie)
Cartoon 三个和尚 sān gè héshang Shows teamwork. 1 monk comes down the mountain to gather water; 2 monks shoulder the burden together, but what do you do with 3 monks? You fight!
    "Baby Tadpole Looks for Its Mother" (movie)
Cartoon 小蝌蚪找妈妈 xiǎo kēdǒu zhǎo māma Tadpole asks animal friends who is his mother. Shows life cycle of frog.
    "Pleasant Sheep & Big Bad Wolf" (TV series)
Cartoon 喜羊羊和灰太狼 xǐ yáng yáng hé huī tài láng Mr. and Mrs. Wolf have one idea on their minds—eat the sheep! The sheep create ingenious ways to escape Wolf's traps. Discusses community, teamwork, etc.
    "Big Head Son, Little Head Dad" (TV series)
Cartoon; at least 150 episodes 大头儿子,小头爸爸 dàtóu érzi , xiǎo tóu bàba Good for preschool & elementary school crowd.Discusses community, family.

Elementary School, 7-12 years

    English Name
Mandarin Name Pinyin Topic
    Changjiang Qihao
长江七号 chángjiāng qī hào A coming of age story about a boy, his father and a small alien. Boy is raised by his dad who is absent for many hours due to work. A kind teacher and an alien show the boy what is important in life.

Middle School, 15+ years for economic and cultural themes

    English Name
Mandarin Name Pinyin
    Not One Less
一个都不能少 yīgè dōu bùnéng shǎo
    The Way Home
回家 huíjiā
    Beautiful Mother
漂亮妈妈 piàoliang māma

*Older kids in China will watch Japanese anime translated into Chinese.

Be sure to also check out our list of movie classics Jump! Immersion teachers grew up watching in Spanish!

Jun 01

International Children's Day

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

Did you know?

Today is the June First International Children's Day in China [六一国际儿童节 or liù yī guó jì ér tóng jié]. Children 14 years and younger are given a "pass" on school work and are taken outside the confines of school for the day. Schools typically sponsor field trips to such places as a local park, or a zoo or even an amusement park.

Children's Day Celebrations Worldwide!

Children’s Day is celebrated in many countries. The roots of the commemorative day were initially to bring awareness to children's rights, the importance of education, safety, sanitation, and even life itself.

Festivities can run from January to December, with the Bahamas starting the party on the first Friday of January (typically the 1st through the 3rd), to the island of Dominica on the last Friday in December (typically the 25th through the 30th). The Spanish-speaking countries refer to this day as el Día del Niño.

This year at Jump! Immersion School we opted to celebrate the Mexican holiday on April 30th. Our students were thrilled to have popcorn, dancing, and a special visit from not one... but TWO guests: Mickey Mouse and a Friendly Clown! It was the talk of the hallway during pick-up in the afternoon.

Jump! Immersion School values festivities celebrated around the world. We like to occasionally take the time to engage in festivities during our Spanish and Mandarin Chinese language track programs and even our summer camp programs and weave in laughter and play... lest we forget we are working for children. We follow the founding principles of Jackie Sanin, the CEO, to make time for a song or a dance to lift our overall spirits!

May 22

Movie Classics We Grew up Watching in Spanish

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

A few months ago, when I found out about the NYC Children's International Film Festival (or perhaps it was during one of the many snow days here in New Jersey!), I started to think back to what movies or television shows I saw as a child in Spanish.

Very fuzzy memories... the character "Chapulin Colorado" of Mexico? The shows did not appeal to me at the time. But now I have children of my own and I would like them to see movies/TV shows from other parts of the world. I ask myself, how many Disney or mega-production company-fueled movies can I stomach?

I searched the Internet—strangely, in this New Age where we seem to list, post, and pin seemingly everything, I found nothing! So, I decided to informally poll the teachers here at Jump! Immersion School. I caught them off guard during drop-off and at pick-up, but then they started to remember. The list I have compiled is at the end of this post—it is a work in progress, so input is gladly accepted!

Parents, many of these movies can be found on sites like YouTube. Others exist on parallel Spanish-speaking sites. I would simply caveat that you should either review the movies (at least visually) or sit with your child during the first 10 minutes. (When I was trolling through YouTube for "Heidi," I found an "anime" version that looked a bit too violent for my taste.)

It would also be wise to give a short introductory speech or disclaimer to your child to remind him/her that certain phrases or actions were appropriate in times past, but opinions change. This would be particularly beneficial when watching "clean" but "slapstick" comedy shows. Something akin to "Benny Hill"or "Mr. Bean" for the Anglophiles. Parents will differ, but whenever time allows, I prefer to watch movies with my children, to share my insights in real time (a.k.a damage control).

Learning Language through Movies... and Songs too!

Seeing "authentic" movies is but one example of an activity to supplement learning language and finding a way to link your child's study to native students in other countries. I personally have a daydream from time to time, of watching my children at a park or resort overseas making new friends in Spanish, but also picking up the country-specific ties—be it songs, poems, books, or perhaps even an action hero.

If you want more information, Jump! Immersion School envelopes your child with songs, poems and subject matter from the native-speaking teachers' countries of origin. You might hear children practicing tongue-twisters in Spanish at recess or singing "Happy Birthday" as they do in Mexico. It is a beautiful thing... come see!

María Chucena techaba su choza
y un techador que por allí pasaba le dijo:
"María Chucena, ¿techas tu choza
o techas la ajena?"

"Ni techo mi choza ni techo la ajena,
que techo la choza de María Chucena."


Movie Classics We* Grew up Watching in Spanish

Teachers Country Movie or TV show
Specials Colombia
  • El Chavo (Mexico)
  • Chapulin Colorado
  • Abeja Maya
  • Jose Miel (the friend of Abeja Maya, a spin off)
  • Candy
Pre-K4 Mexico
  • El Chavo
  • Chapulin Colorado
  • Candy
  • Capulina (the stage name for actor Gaspar Henaine)
  • Marcelino, Pan y Vino (a Lenten story; an orphan meets God in the attic)
Kinder Colombia
  • Abeja Maya
  • El Viento en los Sauces (The Wind in the Willows)
  • Topoyiyo or Topollillo
Admin Director Peru
  • Candy
  • Heidi
  • Marco or Marcos (friend of Heidi, spin off)
  • La Niña con la Mochilla Azul, a Spanish movie by Pedro Fernandez
  • Topoyiyo or Topollillo
  • The show of Tio Johnny (his signature was drinking a glass of milk at the end, with a cow mooing)
  • The show of Yola Polastri, a great singer
Spanish Programs Director Costa Rica
  • La Ballena Josefina
  • La Casa de la Pradera (Ah--Little House on the Prairie!)
  • Mujercitas (Little Women, what a classic!)
  • Heidi
  • Pequeño Poni (or Pequeño Pony)
  • Gems
  • Abeja Maya
  • Marcelino, Pan y Vino (the Lenten story)

Spain Under Construction--check back shortly!

China

Click Here!

*We are the teachers and staff at Jump! Immersion School!


Be sure to also check out our list of
movies and TV shows children watch in Mandarin Chinese!

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