Monday, November 4, 2013

Italian Crafts: Blackbirds and The Torre di Pisa.

The littles and I went to the craft store trying to be inspired by some kind of medium to create some Italian crafts. As some of you may remember, I have a special place in my heart for creating projects using Sculpey, but my kids don't feel the same. They find it too hard to work with. So, when we did our "tour" of Panama, we created little frogs using Crayola Model Magic. I like it because it's still sculpting and they like it because it's much softer and therefore easier to manipulate. So, yes, my friends, we are sculpting again. I would call it an illness, but it's too much fun for that :) 

This time around, I thought it would be fun to try to sculpt the Torre di Pisa (The Tower of Pisa). Aiden thought it would be a great idea to sculpt little black birds, inspired by the story that we read and I posted about last time, where the white birds turned black in the chimneys while trying to stay warm. 

So, here are a few pics from our sculpting adventure. We kept the details simple, I mean.. really... who could reconstruct The Tower of Pisa? 

Aiden working on his Tower.
Eliana adding details to her Tower of Pisa with  a toothpick.
Eliana's Torre di Pisa.
My completed Torre di Pisa
Blackbird making
Aiden thought his bird should be perched on top of his tower. That is one BIG bird! 

Eliana's Blackbird. Isn't it cute????

The completed birds and Towers.
Not surprisingly, the towers leaned quite well on their own and we actually had to lay them down to dry, or they would have tipped over all on their own. Clearly, we are not architects. 

While we were sculpting, we talked about The Tower of Pisa and we spent some time on Wikipedia learning some of the details about the structure (I'm sure there will be some questions about it when it comes time for us to have our dinner and our Italy Trivia ;) )

As we are wrapping up our learning and crafting, we are beginning to think about our Italian dinner and we have also recruited a "Traveling Friend" to be our guest on the blog soon. I hope you'll continue to enjoy these travels with us! 

Thanks for popping by! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stories of Italy

When we went to the library a couple of weeks ago to pick up books for our "Tour of Italy", there were two that I was absolutely certain that I wanted to look for. The first being part of The Cultures Of The World series. We always borrow books from this collection and they are super informative and really well written for children to be able to understand. 

The second, was part of another series that we have borrowed before as well. This series is what I can assume would be called the "Favorite Fairy Tales" series. We borrowed a Favorite Fairy Tales book when we learned about Scotland and we really enjoyed reading the tales that have been handed down through generations and modified as time passes. Once we had those two books, we started browsing for other books that would be fun to read and learn more about Italy and it's culture. 

I really wanted to start this book review out with some stellar review about "Favorite Fairy Tales Told In Italy" Retold by Virginia Haviland. My littles and I sat down with the book and snuggled in close to each other under a blanket (really, those moments are the best aren't they???) and opened the book. I started reading the first story and it was a variation of a Cinderella Story. I thought it was interesting because last year, I participated in a "Cinderella Around The World" book review with several other bloggers and I reviewed a Caribbean Cinderella Story. At that point we did read several of the other Cinderella stories that other bloggers reviewed, so we decided to skip to the next story. 

The next story was about a King whose three daughters went missing and as he was so tormented with worry, he asked for help finding his daughters, the reward being one of his daughters' hand in marriage. When I got to that part, my skin began to crawl and then my quick witted Eliana said, "Hey! I don't like that!" "Why not?", I asked. "I wouldn't want someone telling me who I had to marry." (Have I mentioned how much I adore this kid?) So, collectively we agreed to skip that story as well, when the third story we read started out with a man trying to find a missing woman to win the reward of her hand in marriage (yes, this is another story all together), we decided to stop reading the book. So, I apologize that I am unable to offer any real kind of review on that book, though if you're into the fairy tales where a man rescues a woman and her dad forces her to marry the hero, you should check out this book. 

After that, I was thrilled to open another book that we found while at the library, Days of The Blackbird by Tomie dePaola. This book is a fictional story based on a true tale that is told in Northern Italy. Aiden was really excited about this book, because at school a couple of years ago, his class learned about Tomie dePaola, so now whenever Aiden sees anything by him, he acts like he is his best friend. BFFs til the end my friends ;)

The tale of the blackbird is that the birds started out white, but when winter came it was so cold that they would hide in the chimneys to stay warm, thus turning black. In Tomie dePaola's story, there is a man who lives with his daughter and they enjoy sitting and listening to the bird songs. Especially that of the white songbird. When the cold weather moves in and the birds start to leave for warmer weather, the father falls very ill and the daughter begs the white bird to stay through the winter so that it may sing to her father help his health. 

This story was a delightful story and the father didn't even make the daughter marry the bird after they saved his life, so that made me even happier ;) All in all, I give this book the honor of being my favorite Italy book that we borrowed from the library. Of course, I am still very fond of the Cultures of the World series, but Days of The Blackbird is nice little story that was enjoyed by all three of us. 

***Just in case you missed it, Mamacita Spins The Globe has a new sponsor. Check out Buckwheat Babies cloth diapers.***

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A New Adventure. A Fresh Start.

Here we are again. Making a fresh start. There are a lot of changes happening here and we are pretty excited to be back to our cultural exploration. Last week we went to the library and picked up some new books to start learning about a new "destination". I know that many of you have been waiting for a new post from me and I apologize for being so absent in the blogosphere. I have missed this immensely. 

Now, to give you a brief intro intro to some of the new changes happening. Both of my kids have greatly enjoyed learning about the world and all of the various cultures that this wonderful world hosts, but they also have many other interests. I have been trying to figure out a way to work in some of their other interests so that I can continue to share our adventures. One of the things that has been a really big interest for Aiden as he is getting older is that he loves to read. He loves to read about history and he loves science as well. So, I have figured out a way to meet his interests and still keep us in the hands on learning mode, while connecting all of that to our global studies. There will be a full post soon about that, but in the mean time, I hope that you'll be able to sense my optimism and feel as eager to see what's next as we are. 

With all of that said, I posted yesterday on my facebook page a picture of some construction paper, announcing that we were making a flag and suggested that people try to guess which country we are focusing on now. Many of you guessed it right, and I got a lot of other guesses that I think I will add to our list for future adventures. If you guessed that the new country is Italy. You were right. We're pretty eager to learn about Italy and I have a few potential aces up my sleeve to make this an exciting tour (though these potential aces could just be jokers and that would be a bummer, so I'm not sharing that yet ;) ). 

Here is a photo of the littles with the flag. Some flags we have made have been very detailed and time consuming. Italy is not one of them. The flag of Italy was a quick one to make. Since I knew it wouldn't take too long to make, we also read some books about Italy which I will share with you in an upcoming post. 

The little bonus here is that my kids actually look like they love each other in this pic (and I didn't have to take 85 shots to get it). 

If you're still reading my blog, if you have been patiently waiting while I work through some real world stuff, thank you for being here. Thank you for reading. A big thank you to those who have hounded me looking for me to post something new. I hope you all enjoy following along as we embark on yet another new journey. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


In my last post, I told you that we were back and that we had set our sights on a new country. Now, you get to see which one. In case the title didn't give it away, we are taking a virtual tour of France. 

A while ago, I had seen this really cute project on Pinterest that I was really wanting to make with my littles. 

*** This is not my photo. I found it on Pinterest, pinned from Craft ***
However, as soon as I told them that France was our next country, Aiden eagerly jumped up and down saying, "Can we build an Eiffel Tower with popsicle sticks?" Since this whole adventure is geared toward giving them experiences that they enjoy, I love when they have ideas of ways to do that. So the sugar wafers will not be brought to our house this time around, instead, we are using some serious hard core building materials. ;) 

I forgot what it's like to have Preston around for our craft projects, and as I mentioned in my last post, he is going to college and his hours are such that he is home a lot more right now. So, I asked him, "What kind of glue do you think would be best for this?" If you know my husband, you know this is a silly question. He immediately starts riffling through his glue supply: super glue, Gorilla Glue, etc. I laughed and reminded him that our littles would be using the glue at the same table that we eat at and he put his glue away.  After settling on the "right" glue (tacky glue), we sat down with our materials and a photo of the Eiffel Tower. 

Next up was cutting some of the popsicle sticks. I asked Preston to cut them. He started looking for .... wait for it.... a saw! (Are you seeing a pattern here?) I told him that probably my pruning shears from my gardening box would suffice for cutting popsicle sticks. 

Aiden started sorting the popsicle sticks (aka craft sticks) into piles of "straight" and "not straight". So that we would be sure to only use ones that were straight. 

Believe it or not, constructing The Eiffel Tower with popsicle sticks was harder than we had imagined. We played around the sticks before coming to the conclusion that we needed to create four sides, then attach them to each other. We made sure that we measured them so when we put the four sides together they would line up correctly. 

After the glue was dry on our four sides, it was time to put them together. My little El loves to glue, so this was her job. 

Putting it together took the grown ups though. The littles couldn't quite get that part. 

After it was standing, Eliana added glue to the edges. 

The picture below is actually before the glue went on, but I wanted to put this here to share with you that we were planning to leave it like this, but once we saw it standing up, it looked like it was missing the very top part. 

After brainstorming some ideas, Aiden and Eliana glued 8 popsicle sticks together and we slid them into the gap at the top.

We might end up painting this black for authenticity, but we haven't decided yet. 

What structures have you created with popsicle sticks? Have you built bridges like these fun ones that I found on Pinterest a couple of days ago? Or do you stick to making popsicles with them? 

Of course, I'm also dying to know if your significant other always goes for the "big guns" (or do you?) when tackling a project, or is it just my hubby who goes a bit overboard in this department? 

(For fun facts about The Eiffel Tower, we visited this site, and of course, we checked out what Wikipedia had to offer for information as well.)

***Don't forget, the highlighted blue words are links :) ***

Monday, January 7, 2013

We're Back!

Some of you may have noticed that I have been MIA from the blogosphere since October. As I mentioned in my last post, I found myself too busy to keep up with everything. I have been wanting to come here and update you all about what has been going on, but I keep hearing my friend Andrea's words, "You will never be able to have a blog that is ONLY about your world studies." As much as I hate to admit it, I think she may have been right. We were so busy with other bits of our life that we had to hit the pause button on our world "travels", thus leaving me without any blogging content.  

I could have told you about how Eliana and I participated in a flash mob, or about how I am now working full time outside of the home and Preston is about to become a full time college student after spending too many years in a profession that he didn't love.

I could tell you that my littles have started swimming lessons and they are doing SO fabulously well that we are dreaming of their future with a local swim team. BUT, I didn't share that with you because it was irrelevant. 

That's my Eliana, swimming underwater. 

To add to all of that, the truth is, my littles were not enjoying learning about other countries any more. I tried and tried to figure out why since even though the idea was born out of MY love for travel, THEY ignited the fire with their eagerness to "do this thing". Ultimately, I figured out what went wrong. When we first started our "virtual tours", I was not blogging about it. We would sit and learn organically. We would create fun crafts and I never worried about the outcome. Once I started blogging, I felt this pressure to create perfection in every craft project. I felt like in order to build a solid base of loyal readers, I had to have a strict blogging schedule. I was forcing the projects and learning to fit with my blogging schedule instead of with our real life schedule. One day, after begging and pleading with my kids to smile for "just one more picture", I just stopped. I didn't want to make this an awful experience for them. As much fun as we were having, it was all being tarnished by the "quick, let's recreate that really fun moment that just happened so that I can get a picture for the blog." I decided that I needed to listen to my family and just ... pause. 

I have really missed our world "tours" and I have missed blogging and believe it or not, my family has missed the experience as well. So I am now coming back to the blogosphere to tell you that our travels are not over. We are not quitting. However, we are not following my self-imposed rules anymore either. We will create projects and I will take pictures and write about it, we will sample foods and include as many real life adventures as we can, but we will do these things on a real life schedule. Sometimes a project will have to get bumped back a day or two because Aiden has to study for a spelling test. Sometimes we'll have to wait on making our snack because my littles feel like learning about the phases of the moon that day, instead of spending time in the kitchen. 

What I can say for certain is that when we do some culture explorations, we will share what we're doing and learning with you. I have no idea what my blogging schedule will be, but I can promise that we will be learning on some kind of schedule, and when we do something, I will share it. 

To those of you who have hung around waiting and/ or watching for a new post from me, Thank you. Thank you for hanging in there and sticking with me. We're going to do our best to give you some stuff worth looking at. 

Oh and... we have selected a new country and we are pretty eager to get going on our journey. See you soon! 

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