Tag Archives: Music

A very German Easter

As a German-English family we like to include traditions from both cultures in our Easter celebrations so we celebrate both a German Easter and English Easter.

The first Easter I spent in Germany, I was astounded by all the beautiful Basteln (crafts) and Osterschmuck (Easter decorations). Walking around the neighbourhood, I saw many Osterbäume (Easter trees) festooned with Ostereier (Easter eggs). Many of the houses also had beautiful Fensterbilder (homemade window decorations).

I love crafts and decorating so I brought home many materials, magazines and templates to make our own Easter crafts.

In the week leading up to Easter we go up into the loft to bring down our decorations, which grow in number each year. Last year we were in Germany for Easter, so we brought home some beautiful decorations. My favourite is the Osterkranz (Easter wreath): I love the pastel colours and it is something not often seen in the UK. It was also an absolute Schnäppchen (bargain)!

 

We love to decorate a branch with brightly coloured eggs. We decorated our own plastic ones with pens the first few years. We’ve bought more plastic ones to add to our collection in following years. As we decorated it this year, my older daughter started to talk about the Osterbaum. I was surprised she still remembered the word.pic

In our home we know it is almost Easter as Oma’s Osterpaket arrives from Germany. It is brimming with lots of yummy German food and chocolate, ready for Easter.

Pic

Before Easter my girls often make Easter bonnets to wear to school.

On Karfreitag (Good Friday) we go to church as a family to think about Jesus’ death on the cross, and what that means to us personally.

My husband has described Karsamstag in Germany to us, with the lighting of the Paschal candle to mark the period from Easter to Pentecost. Many churches also have an Osterfeuer, which dates back to pagan times: a time for the young people of the church to have fun together.

On Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) our children get up to find their baskets filled with Chocolate (Osterhasen) Easter Bunnies (must be Milka) and lots of delicious things zum Naschen. We also buy them an English Easter egg in a box. Maik, my husband, always had a few small gifts for Easter so we’ve continued this tradition with our own children – usually a book, stationery, or something they have asked for in the run up to Easter.

We all head to church together to celebrate Easter with our church family. It is a very special service with music, dance, and readings where the whole family is involved.

At some point in the weekend we have an Easter egg hunt in the garden.
As spend time playing games together.

As Monday is a Bank holiday in the UK, we take time to have a roast dinner together and head out for a walk in the afternoon.

Some years at Easter, we have visited my family in the Yorkshire Dales. My parents have friends who are sheep farmers, so we have been lucky enough to watch a lambing and help bottle feed the orphan lambs.

To me, Easter is a time of hope, of celebrating that the dark days of winter are over and the days are getting lighter and longer.

As we have two cultures and languages in our family, I think we are so much richer for embracing them both.

How does your family celebrate Easter?

Girlie headphones review

We’ve been reviewing these headphones for just over a fortnight now. We travelled up North for family wedding so they were great so stop arguments about who chooses the music and save us a parents from the umpteenth rendition of “Let it go” or the sound effects of Crossy Road or Dumb Ways to Die. We stayed at Ibis Shipley so you may recognise the hotel in the background.
Over to Josh our tech reviewer.

These headphones are good quality for the price. This is because:
I think that the design of the EasySMX Kids headphones is very fun and colourful, this makes sense as these headphones are designed for children. The headphones have a pink faux leather headband which feels rugged and cushioned enough, the earcups are the same colour as the headband but plastic with purple and white hearts this suits the headphones as they are designed for girls in both design and size of the headphones. A feature that shows that these headphones are designed for children is that the headphones’ do not go any louder than 85db, which is about the same as a food blender at its maximum settings from a metre away. This is so that children do not listen to music too loud and damage. their hearing. There is not much bass in these headphones which was expected as they are designed for younger children which do not typically listen to bass heavy songs, the mids and highs sounded decent and overall just sounded a little bit muddy. Overall these headphones are of decent quality for the price as they have an alright sound and build quality for the price that they are.


The girls managed to dislodge one of the headphone covers, we were really pleased to find (from a very helpful member of Ibis hotel staff) they are really simple to reattach.
The headphones arrived in a solid cardboard box with a plastic insert. It was well designed with a child friendly theme.

So over to the girls….

Jasmin
These headphones are good for children as they do not go too loud. I like the design. I’m glad I have the girls design. When I use other headphones they are sometimes crackly but these headphones have clear sound. I would like it better if they were Bluetooth because the wire gets in the way.

Emily
They have good sound. I liked taking them on holiday, especially on Valentines day because they have got hearts on them. They are good because I can choose my own music in the car.

Disclaimer
We were given these headphones in return for an honest review.

Thanks to Ibis hotel Shipley for a making us feel so welcome on our stay there.

If you’d like to buy a set for your family simply follow the link below.

Inspirational mum Michelle from 1st early education

Each month we interview an inspirational mum in business. This month we have Michelle from 1st Early Education. I’ll let her introduce herself.

Hi I’m Michelle and I am originally from Dublin now living in Co. Wicklow Ireland with my family. I have a daughter in her early twenties and a teenage son.

What’s your career background?
I am a creative writer and storyteller and am trained in the Montessori method of education. I have been working in the field of childcare and early education for over 25 years.

where did the idea for your business come from?
I have always liked the idea of running my own business. When I found out I was unable to renew my contract because of a government embargo I decided to combine my experience of teaching and working in early childhood education and my love of creative writing and storytelling to create an online resource for parents and teachers called 1stearlyed.com. I have had great reaction to the audio work and have now launched my first album called ‘Fun in the car’.

Who are your target audience?
Parents of young children , The parent who values listening and sharing time with their little ones, wanting them to have lots of fun and learn making the most of this most valuable time in their formative years.
It appeals to preschool teachers as well as it is fun with an educational twist. The poems and stories you hear on the album compliment what they learn in their early years.

How do you spread the word about what you do?
Word of mouth , when people hear my album they tell others which is great, Because it is online through social media channels I am able to reach people all over the world which is fantastic, I have a lot of contacts in the early education sector and go to conferences and seminars spreading the word.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Believing in myself and having the confidence to put my work out there.

And your proudest moment/biggest success so far?
Launching my first album ‘Fun in the car’

Why is work so important to you ?
I am very lucky in that I am passionate about what I do. I love my work. I absolutely love writing and creating material for children in their formative years.

Who inspires you ?
I have to say the little ones I have worked with over the years. I can see their little faces as I write and create the audio, it’s magical.

Balancing work and life.
Working on this because a lot of my work is online. I need to make sure take time out for myself and my family. Live every minute to the full.

The album consists of 9 tracks which can be downloaded. The tracks are full of original poems and stories narrated by Michelle with lovely background noises. They can find out about Teddy and all the adventures. Teddy loves playing hide and seek. The children can listen and interact learning about different places they may go and things they may see. The great thing is there are lots of little facts incorporated so along with improving their listening and observational skills ,plus enriching their vocabulary, they will be absorbing knowledge in a fun way.
On the site you will find resources to do with your children and activities to compliment what they hear about on the album. Keep checking back as it is always being updated.
You can find out more about the album and resources at www.1stearlyed.com

facebook 1stearlyeducation/

twitter @1stearlyed

If you want to buy your own copy of this great resource check out Fun in the car CD

Can you get great sound and great style?

This week we have a first blog from Josh. A tech review on a set of Bluetooth headphones. So over to Josh.

Hi I’m Josh, the eldest child in the Lingotastic family, I am also a student and like looking at technology and the big advances in the technological world. I am currently doing my A-levels and one of the subjects I am doing is computing. I have been into technology from an early age. When I was around 7 years old I loved going on the computer, taking photos with my dad’s digital camera. I was also fascinated by mobile phones at the time, ever since I have enjoyed looking at the advancement of mobile phones from phones with physical keypads, through the early touch screen phones to now with phones which have high quality cameras built in. I like listening to music and headphones have very useful for me in the past as I have wanted to listen to music but not out loud as the rest of my family have different music tastes to me. I specifically like Bluetooth headphones as they have no cables to get caught on something while listening to music. Also because you can have your device on the other side of the room while listening to music, so when I was offered to review the August EP636 I couldn’t say no.

These headphones are very good quality headphones for the price they are as Bluetooth headphones. This is because:
Firstly, these headphones are very compact. In other headphones, I have used in the past, being compact can sometimes mean that the manufacturer has compromised on the build quality to make the headphones more compact, but in this case August hasn’t reduced the build quality of these headphones that much so that they are more compact. To further test build quality of the EP636 I then tested the quality and strength of the headband of the headphones. I could stretch the headband quite far without it feeling like it was going to break. During my time testing the EP636 at one point, they fell onto the ground from a meter high (3.28084 feet). After this drop happened the sound and build quality was not affected in any obvious way. The build quality isn’t all completely good though because when testing the headphones after an hour of listening to music with them it started to get a little bit uncomfortable, this may be because I have a fairly big head but I don’t think these headphones are designed for people with bigger heads.

The earcups move around a little too much for my liking this might be because they are on ear headphones, people want to adjust the angle and positioning but for me, it moves around too much. I really like the positioning of the media control buttons on the EP636 as they are exactly where I would expect buttons to be on Bluetooth headphones. Whereas in previous Bluetooth headphones I have used the media control buttons weren’t that intuitive to use. The addition of NFC to these headphones made it really simple and easy to pair the headphones to my phone as I just had to tap it against the back of my phone to connect and tap it once more to disconnect.

I liked the design of these headphones as I got the matte red version. I prefer a matte finish on headphones as the finish looks cleaner and smoother. I don’t think that there is enough cushioning on the earpads as they got slightly uncomfortable after an extended period of use. The sound quality of these Bluetooth headphones is reasonable for the price they are sold at. The bass is quite powerful which for the price of these headphones was quite unexpected, the mids and highs were not as clear and sounded quite muddy. I have not fully tested how long the battery on these headphones last but I have used them for a whole day without the headphones running out of charge. Overall these headphones are very good for the price as have a very good build quality and sound quality for a low budget.

Josh blogs about tech on https://joshtechcentral.wordpress.com/ Thanks Josh, we look forward to reading

Want to get your hands on a pair of these speakers with 40% off? Click here to get your discount code.

Then follow the link below to the Amazon product page

Disclaimer, we were offered these headphones at a reduced price in exchange for an honest review.

How do you teach Arabic to your Children?

This week we have a guest blog from Nadine Ismail, from Reinventing Nadine . She lives in the USA and faces the same language challenges as parents the world over.

I am born and raised in Lebanon, a tiny country in the Middle East. Moved to the USA when I got married to my American born husband (He is of Syrian heritage). My native language is Arabic, but I went to French School (so all material were taught in French) and then went to the American University of Beirut, where I did both my BA and MA in Public Sector Administration with emphasis on Human Resources. I always loved languages and while in college, I also studied German for 3 years at the Goethe Institute and finished Elementary level. I worked on projects with the World Bank, UNDP and then moved to the private sector and worked in multinational companies where English was the official business language.

When I moved to the US, I decided to leave the corporate world and focus on what I enjoy doing, being a mother and wife. My blog started as a way to document my journey from a single working young woman in the Middle East to a Mom and a wife in the USA. It started as a food blog, then as my daughter grew, I started teaching her Arabic Language. I discovered how little are the resources out there for mothers like me. I started reaching out to other companies and authors who make products/wrote books and reviewed them and come up with creative ways of using the products. I became involved in my local Arabic school and helping out with the events, the curriculum and started a new Arabic Culture and Heritage class that I teach every Sunday.

I am also a blogger at Arab America ) where I blog about being a bilingual parent, tips about teaching kids/adults Arabic language and heritage. I am involved in a unique Middle Eastern Youth Singing Ensemble that teaches youth to sing classical and folkloric Arabic Songs. I am working on a course to teach adults the language with emphasis on Spoken Levantine dialect. The Arabic language is a beautiful and rich language but it is difficult and challenging. I am currently learning Spanish and Turkish. My daughter who is 7 now, can read and write in Arabic. Here is a video of her reading a book.

My website is now more about celebrating the Arab Heritage and culture through food, arts and the language. I also do traditional Middle Eastern embroidery and share that one my Instagram. In my opinion, the language is the gate to the culture, it opens up all the other doors.

Please find below links to some of my articles and collaborations:

With Arab America:

1.Teaching Kids Arabic
2. Arabic Back to School
3. Alef Baa in Songs
4. An interview with Joudie Kalla, the author of “Palestine on a Plate”
5. 10 Games in Arabic to fight Winter Break Boredom

With Arabic Playground:
My Arabic journey alphabets.
Summer workbook, my journey alphabets.Writing Arabic

Are you learning Arabic or teaching it to your children? Have you come across any other good resources? We’d love to know in the comments below.

How do you get great sound in your bag? #Giveaway

As a language teacher I use music all the time so needed some small powerful Bluetooth speakers.
I was sent these ones free of charge in exchange for a review a year ago.So here it is…

As I opened it I was really impressed at the packaging. The cardboard box had a hard plastic packaging which held two speakers, an audio wire and a charging wire. I was really impressed to see that both speakers can be charged with a mains plug adaptor with a USB socket on it. The two speakers have a matt black finish and their triangular shape means they can be used on the side for sound into the room or standing on the base for sound above. The size of one speaker fits into a cup holder in the car when I want to listen to music from my phone whilst driving to my class. I easily connected my phone to the speakers by switching on the left speaker and searching for the device on my phone. I then simply clicked on the correct device and it was connected. I can also be connected to laptops and tablets by searching for the device.

I was really impressed at the clarity of the speakers. At first I was a little surprised there was no volume control on the speakers themselves but quickly figured out how to use my phone to control the volume. The rocker switch on the back of the left speaker can be used to change tracks on the device. I rarely use this function.
I was amazed at the volume I could get from the speakers and when the second one is connected it is even better. The first time I used the speakers at my class one of the parents commented she was surprised that clarity and volume came from such little speakers. I’m really impressed at the battery life in the speakers. I only need to charge them weekly with use in classes and at home. I’ve sometime forgotten to charge them ahead of time so was really pleased to find you can recharge them whilst you are listening. The speakers are brilliant for what I need. Small, compact and lightweight with great volume. I’d strongly recommend them for other teachers of children’s classes. If you looking for a good sound, and a very good priced speaker that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, this may for you. It also makes a great little gift! So after a years use I am happy to report I still feel the same. The battery life is just as good after a year.

I spoke to August and they’ve given me a set of speakers to giveway. To win your own simply enter via the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to buy your own set click here.

Around the world on a Black Horse

This week was my birthday. If you follow our blog you’ll know we love to experience other languages and cultures whenever we can. We found out a local pub The Black Horse was holding a polish meal, it was on my birthday so the perfect excuse for a night out with my hubby. So the babysitter was booked, and we headed out in our glad rags.

German and Polish food are very similar,  so we were excited about what we’d have to eat and we were not disappointed!

It was the first “Around the world on a Black Horse.” A chance to celebrate the different cultures around the UK, I love the idea! We have such a rich cultural and food heritage in this country and the more we can understand each others culture the better we can get on together.

This was the starter.

starter

What you cannot see in the picture was lots of warm, fresh sourdough toasted Chleb. Delicious. The pickled mushrooms were new to me as was the smoked cheese. The platter was in interesting mix of smoked,salty, sour and sweet and the vegetable salad really balanced the other flavours. There was also lots of Vodka on offer as with any Polish celebration!

 

The main dish was two pork schnitzel, mashed potato and picked red cabbage and carrots.

schnizel

 

 

The meat on both our plates was as much as I’d usually use for a family of five, obviously lots of meat on the menu in Poland.

There was some traditional Polish music being played, it sounded good but I didn’t understand a word!

 

pudding

 

The desert was delicious, as you can see mine had a birthday candle in it :0. It was a sort of pastry croisont with chocolate sauce inside served with raspberries and cream.

 

When the guitarist heard it was my birthday I was treated to my first ever hearing of Sto lat the Polish birthday song wishing a hundred years of life.

You tube

It was a brilliant evening with lots of delicious food and a chance to experience some polish culture. The next around the world on a black horse event is an Indian evening and I’m really looking forward to it! Book in with The Black Horse .

 

 

It’s Lingotastic’s birthday

It’s our birthday!

This week we celebrate Lingotastic’s third birthday!

I can hardly believe my dream of encouraging and supporting family language learning would come so far!

Here are the photos of our first ever class in the newspaper

laterneumzug

 

  • Thanks to our weekly Lingotastic classes:
  • A number of children have started school already able to communicate simply in four languages.
  • Parents have grown in confidence in their own language skills and ability to pass on these skills to their own children.
  • Bilingual families have found others to share their journey together.
  • Families have found books, songs, toys and simple activities which they can use day by day in their family language learning journey.
  • Families have experienced the joy of singing together (whatever the language)
  • Children have had their eyes opened to other languages, cultures and traditions which leads to a greater acceptance and understanding of others. (So needed at this current time)
  • Children are able to sing in many languages with almost a native accent!
  • My own family have also been learning the songs and sharing the stories from the classes and are really progressing in their language learning.

Lingotastic provide weekly language classes, school lunchtime clubs and private classes in German, French and Spanish. We simply make, play, sing and have fun with languages together and it’s amazing to see the results.

Classes run in Bucks, and Herts.

To help with your language learning at home we’ve produced as CD of songs in German, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. Available on www.Lingotastic.co.uk/shop

To celebrate our birthday, we have three copies to giveaway. Do you want to win your own copy? Enter in the rafflecopter below. You can get up to 12 chances to win. Good luck!

It’s our birthday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Holidays – The perfect time for a Dinosaur Dance!

When-I-was-Your-Age-NathaliaSummer is a great time to learn languages together as a family. I’ll be reviewing a few great resources over the next few weeks.  The first is a  brilliant new CD by Nathalia. When I was your age. Cuando era Pequeña.
We were really lucky to win this CD on a giveaway on Instagram. If you’re not following us on Instagram then click here

 

There are 10  brilliant songs on this album.

 

  • Dinosaur Dance
  • Señor Opuesto
  • It’s My Birthday
  • Pesadillas
  • Qué llueva
  • When I Grow Up  
  • La Iguana Pepa
  • Oh Math
  • ¿Qué me dices tu?
  • Otra Vez

 

As a family, Spanish is our least used language,  so when I started to play the CD in the car I did not know how my kids would get on with it. I need not have worried though!To start with I was listening with my teenager (who will not tolerate rubbish music) and he enjoyed it- high praise indeed!

To start with my girls only wanted to listen to the English songs. After a few listens, the bilingual “When I Grow Up” is a firm favourite. My 8 year old even said mid song, the Spanish word for world is mundo !

 

Want to have a listen for yourself? Listen to a sample of the album and purchase it here.

The album has a real mix of styles across many genres of music, from swing in dinosaur dance to Latin fiesta feel  in Señor Opuesto  to Gypsy Kings style in Que Llueva.

My personal favourite is Otra vez, a rousing African style song encouraging listeners to get up and try again.

We really enjoy Pesadillas with it’s very catchy summer vibes, the girls were singing along, in Spanish, very quickly.

There is so much variety I can’t do it justice in a review, you need to listen to a samples here.

The songs flow seamlessly from Spanish to English and back again. It would be a great addition to your CD collection if you are a bilingual Spanish English family. It helps children realise it is normal to speak two languages.

This CD has many styles and does not get boring, no matter how many times you have heard it. Because of this CD my girls (and me) are singing along in Spanish so improving our Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary whilst having fun singing .

 

If you are a GCSE Spanish teacher this CD would be a great resource to use in the classroom. The when I grow up song has a lot of vocabulary on jobs and great repetition of future tense. “Cuando será grande”

 

The CD is available to download  here. as well as physical copy from Nathalia’s website.
Keep the learning going this summer with great resources like this and get your kids up, moving to the dinosaur dance (plus many more) and singing in different languages!

Song translating fun.

Savez-vous-planter-les-chouxThe songs we use in our classes are a mix of those familiar English nursery rhymes and songs like Incy Wincy spider and traditional songs in the target language to help the families appreciate that culture. We have a few French songs I’d love to use but we’ve not yet got English translations that can be sung to the same tune to help introduce the song. We’re also starting working on our French CD so it all becomes a bit more urgent!

We were sat round the table having Sunday tea and I asked my family for ideas. This is how it went…

The first song was Mernier tu dors

Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop vite. (roll arms)
Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop fort
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms faster)
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms backwards)
Va trop fort.
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop fort.

My eight year old started and after five minutes we had this translation which can be sung and keeps the feel of the song.

Miller, wake up
The wind it is blowing
Miller, wake up.
The wind it is strong.

Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill, your windmill,
is too strong.
Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill your windmill,
is too strong.

It you don’t know the song here is a live version we recorded last year.

This second song, I’ve wanted to use for ages. It has a fun tune, is silly and is a great way to learn body parts. It must be fairly old as my mum learned it at school!

Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode, à la mode
Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le genou
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le genou
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le nez
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le nez
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le coude
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le coude
À la mode de chez nous

The google translate of this is hilarious !

“Do you plant cabbage
Fashionable, trendy
Do you plant cabbage
The way we do it at home”

After a few minutes we came up with.

Cabbage planting is such fun
Like we do it, like we do it.
Cabbage planting is such fun,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our nose,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our nose
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our elbow,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our elbow
Like we do it, come along.

Next term’s French class we’ll be reading “la petit poule rousse” The little red hen. We’ll finally we using this song.

I need to find a cabbage prop! Any ideas where?

Do you use songs in your language learning? Do you have fun translating them. Let me know in the comments below.

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