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CultureGrams’ Teaching Activities: One Religion, Many Practices

Looking for new ways to incorporate CultureGrams into the classroom? Look no further than CultureGrams’ collection of over 75 teaching activities! This collection of educationally engaging activities is organized by grade level and activity type. Each activity also includes a national curriculum standard correlation.  If you don’t have access to CultureGrams, enjoy this free teaching activity today and sign up for a free trial of the product to access more.

One Religion, Many Practices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Standards for Social Studies

 Culture

  • Standard C [Middle Grades]: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity, so that the learner can explain and give examples of how language, literature, the arts, architecture, other artifacts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behaviors contribute to the development and transmission of culture.
  • Standard E [Middle Grades]: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity, so that the learner can articulate the implications of cultural diversity, as well as cohesion, within and across groups.

Developed by the National Council for the Social Studies

Standards for Geography Human Systems

  • Standard 10: The geographically informed person knows and understands the characteristics, distributions, and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics.

Developed by the National Council for Geographic Education

Grade level:

6–8

Objective:

Students will compare the practice of a single religion across multiple countries and interviews.

Time requirement:

Preparation: 10 minutes

In-class: 1 hour and 30 minutes, two different days

Materials:

CultureGrams World Edition

CultureGrams Online Edition—Interviews

Instructions:

1. Have students read three interviews with people who practice the same religion. The interviews featured below represent the perspectives of three Muslims from Kuwait, Mali, and Syria. Students can also find religion excerpts about Catholicism (Javier: Bolivia, Trina: Costa Rica, and Petrosse: Mozambique) and Buddhism (Sai: Cambodia, Dawa: Nepal, and Chhun: Cambodia) just to name a few.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. What differences do students notice in the way the interviewees practice their religion? Differences may be found in how often a person attends worship services, how important they consider religion in their life, ways they worship, and holidays they celebrate.

3. Now have students read the Religion section of each interviewee’s country in the World Edition report. What do these sections say about the religion? How does the information in the report compare to the information in the interviewees’ answers? How does the practice of the religion vary between countries?

4. Have students write a short essay on their observations about the ways a single religion varies in different areas and between individual observers of that religion. They may also speculate on why this could be.

Try out CultureGrams’ Teaching activities in your classroom and let us know what you think by tweeting us @CultureGrams.

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: American Samoa

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Flag of American Samoa, via CultureGrams

The new American Samoa report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about American Samoa:

  • American Samoa is home to only three kinds of native land mammals, all of which are bats.
  • American Samoa is the southernmost territory of the United States.
  • American Samoa uses the U.S. Postal Service for mail delivery and is small enough to have just one zip code.
  • One of the traditional symbols of American Samoa is the fue (coconut fiber fly whisk) crossed with a to’oto’o (staff). The fue stands for wisdom, while the to’oto’o represents authority.

Read about life as a kid in American Samoa, traditional foods, and the role religion plays in American Samoan culture, all in this colorful new report.

May Day

Renaissance fair-goers dance the maypole in New York. (Credit: Photo by KenL via Wikimedia)

Happy May Day!

May Day is a holiday with ancient pagan origins that marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. Traditional European celebrations, some of which continue today, include dancing and weaving ribbons around a maypole (United Kingdom), carnival-style festivities (Finland), the giving of lilies (France), bonfires (Germany, Ireland, and others), special feasts (Italy), flower wreaths (Greece), the making of clay pots for baking bread (Bulgaria), washing the face with morning dew (Romania), and the singing of popular songs (Spain).

In the United States, people used to commonly give May Baskets, baskets of flowers and sometimes goodies that were left on the doorsteps of friends and love interests. Though this tradition had mostly died away by the mid-20th century, it persists in some areas of the country. Read more about this fun tradition here and perhaps consider encouraging your students to revive this simple celebration of spring.

Dancing the maypole is another tradition that has gradually become less common in the United States. It involves a sometimes intricate choreography performed while dancers hold ribbons and move in a circle, weaving them around a central pole.

In modern times, May Day has been associated as much with labor as with spring, if not more. Since 1886, the first of May has been designated International Workers’ Day, or Labor Day in many countries.

See how workers are making their voices heard throughout the world today in this slideshow.

Are you doing anything to observe May Day? Let us know!

A Taste of Morocco: Recipe from CultureGrams

One of the best (and definitely the most delicious) ways to experience a new culture is by sampling the local cuisine! On a recent trip to Morocco, I seized every opportunity I had during my short stay to experience the many sights, smells, and flavors of Fez. My first stop was at a little restaurant where I was served a little bowl of spiced heaven, called harira. Many people have heard of Morocco’s famous chicken tagine and couscous but harira, a traditional Moroccan soup made from lamb, lentils, and chickpeas, is equally authentic and delectable.

With over 1,000 recipes from around the world, CultureGrams makes it possible for users to experience a new culture in their very own kitchens. Feeling adventurous as well as hungry? Try out this authentic Moroccan Harira recipe from CultureGrams and bon appétit! Or as they say in Morocco, Sahten! (صحتين), which literally means “two healths.”

Harira is the traditional meal eaten to break the fast during Ramadan; it usually is served with dates, figs, and special sweets called chabakiya. Photo by Jenni Boyle

 

Harira

Ingredients
Broth:
1 pound lamb, cut in small pieces
1 small onion, minced
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight (or from a can)
2 pounds canned crushed tomatoes
2 quarts water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
6 to 7 strands saffron (soaked in a few tablespoons of hot water)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 teaspoon ginger
1 cube bouillon (optional)
Salt

Other ingredients:
1/3 cup lentils
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup rice
1/4 cup broken up angel hair pasta
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
Salt
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg

Directions
1. Cook the lentils in salted water. When done, drain them and squeeze the lemon over them. Set aside.
2. Cook all of the broth ingredients in a soup pot over low heat for 50 to 60 minutes, or enough time to cook the meat and the chickpeas.
3. Add the rice, pasta, cilantro, and salt. Allow to simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Mix the flour with a little water to form a paste and then add this to the soup a little bit at a time; stir constantly to avoid lumps.
5. Add the lentils and let cook for another 5 minutes. Harira should be creamy but not thick. If it is thick, add water and cook for a few more minutes; if it is too thin, thicken with more flour-and-water paste.
6. Some break an egg into the soup during the last 5 minutes of cooking and mix it well to keep it liquid.
7. Serve in bowls with lemon wedges on the side for those who want to add it to their soup.

Have you ever tried making a recipe from CultureGrams? Tweet us @CultureGrams and lets us know how it turned out.

Identifying Patterns: Why Do Some Flags Look Similar?

Flag map of the world

Flag map of the world [via Wikimedia Commons]

If you look at any image gallery of the flags of the world (such as the one provided by CultureGrams), you’ll notice that while there are a wide variety of colors and symbols on the flags, there are also some obvious similarities, especially among flags from the same region. These similarities in flag design often reflect a common cultural, political, or religious heritage among the countries with those flags.

Help Students Understand 6 Common Patterns and Themes in World Flags
Use the CultureGrams Flag Gallery to get students started exploring similarities among the flags of the world. Can your students spot any patterns or themes in world flags? What do they think the reasons are for those similarities? (Tip: If students need help understanding the meaning behind the colors and symbols of world flags, check out the helpful explanation on each CultureGrams World and Kids country landing page.)

While there are many patterns to be found in world flags, here’s a quick overview of six common themes:

  1. The Union Jack. The Union Jack is the name of the flag of the United Kingdom, and variations of the Union Jack appear on the flags of some countries and territories that were formerly (or are currently) associated with the United Kingdom. These include Australia, Fiji, Montserrat, New Zealand, Tuvalu, and Niue.
  2. A star and the color red. Many current communist countries include a star/s and the color red on their flags. The star/s typically represent ideas associated with communism or socialism, and the color red stands for revolution. Countries whose flags incorporate this symbolism include China, North Korea, and Vietnam.
  3. The star and crescent. The star and crescent became common during the Ottoman Empire and are now considered traditional symbols of Islam. Flags that use these symbols include those of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives (crescent only), Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
  4. The Pan-Arab colors. The Pan-Arab colors are green, red, black, and white. These colors first came from the 1916 flag of the Arab Revolt. A subset of the Pan-Arab colors are the Arab Liberation colors (red, white, and black, with green less prominent), which came into use in the 1950s. Flags with Pan-Arab colors are those of Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Sudan.
  5. The Pan-African colors. There are two sets of Pan-African colors: (1) red, green, and gold, based on the Ethiopian flag, and (2) red, black, and green, based on the 1920 Pan-African flag. Countries may incorporate one or both sets of Pan-African colors into their flags. Not all countries that use the Pan-African colors in their flags are in Africa; some are countries elsewhere with strong African heritage. Flags with Pan-African colors include those of Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Guyana.
  6. The Pan-Slavic colors. The Pan-Slavic colors are red, white, and blue. The colors were decided on at the 1848 Prague Slavic Congress and were based on the colors of the Russian flag. Countries whose flags use the Pan-Slavic colors are Croatia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

What themes and patterns did your students find in the flags? Did they notice the six mentioned above? Did they find others? Let us know on Twitter how your students did by tweeting us at @CultureGrams!

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Passover 2017: Chag Sameach!

Jews Celebrating Passover. Lubok, XIXth century (image 1850), via Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish communities around the world are currently observing Passover (Pesach, in Hebrew)–one of the most important events in the Jewish calendar. So wish your Jewish friends chag sameach (happy festival)! Passover is a week-long celebration that takes place each year in early Spring, this year taking place between April 10-18th. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from ancient Egypt and God’s sparing or “passing over” Jewish homes during the final plague in Egypt. According to the Biblical story, the Israelites had to leave Egypt in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise, taking with them only unleavened bread. As a reminder of the Israelites’ exodus out of Egypt, Jews today refrain from eating anything containing leaven (chametz) during Passover, eating unleavened products such as matzah (a type of flatbread) instead. Jews also eat matzah with bitter herbs such as horseradish, in remembrance of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. Learn about Passover traditions in the CultureGrams Israel report.

Test your knowledge of Judaism with this quiz

Demonstrate Your Vexillological Prowess! U.S. State Flag Quiz!

CultureGrams — New Kids Country: Marshall Islands

The CultureGrams editors are excited to announce a new Kids edition country report!

Flag of the Marshall Islands via CultureGrams

The new Marshall Islands report includes detailed information on the history, culture, language, food, and daily life of this country.

Here are some interesting Did You Knows about the Marshall Islands:

  • The average elevation of each island is just 7 feet (2 meters) above sea level.
  • Marshallese society is traditionally matrilineal (based on the mother’s family line), and land is passed down from one generation to the next through the mother’s line.
  • Elugelab is an extinct island that was used as a hydrogen bomb test site by the United States military and was blown up in 1954. The blast left behind a crater more than a mile wide and 165 feet (50 meters) deep.
  • Similar to the Hawaiian word aloha, the Marshallese word yokwe means “hello,” “good-bye,” and “love.”

Read about the the Marshallese culture of sharing and caring for one another, life as a kid, and favorite sports, all in this colorful new report.

Virtual Sistine Chapel Tour

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Italy—in addition to the daily, ahem, twice-daily gelato runs—was actually not part of Italy at all. It was the sovereign state of Vatican City (or the Holy See). I have been interested in the world’s smallest independent nation since helping to create the World Edition CultureGrams report on it (we have a Kids report too!).

It did not disappoint. Located in the heart of bustling Rome, The Vatican feels like a different country once you’re inside its walls. It’s still very busy, of course, as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, but the presence of Swiss Guards (a small security force comprised of Catholic Swiss men), the magnitude of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the concentration of masterpieces in such a small area make the Vatican a truly unique place.

A Swiss Guard stands at his post. Photo by Aaron Thompson.

The culmination of any tourist’s visit to the Vatican is, of course, the Sistine Chapel. And though you’re allowed to take all the photos you want in the huge complex of museums you must (get to) pass through on the way to Michelangelo’s crowning work, once you enter the chapel you are greeted with several Italian guards booming out the words “No foto! No foto!”  I have to admit I didn’t fully comply with the rule, though no one yelled at me for looking down in a sea of people looking up.

The floor of the Sistine Chapel. Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

As cool as it was to see in person, you can actually get a much better view of it on an official virtual tour. In addition to being able to see the chapel completely empty (in person it’s shoulder-to-shoulder), you can zoom in on different pieces of the artwork or just contemplate it in silence, without anyone yelling at you.

And in case you thought I was kidding about the gelato . . .

Photo by Rachel Ligairi.

CultureGrams States Edition Data Extremes

People like knowing how things compare. They want to know who was first/last, who has the most/least of something, what is the highest/lowest or biggest/smallest, etc. Comparisons can be interesting trivia, but they can also help us put information in context.

CultureGrams makes it easy to discover comparative statistical information through our data tables, whether it’s our standard tables or through the customized data tables you can create for yourself. Take the States Edition, for example. Do you want to know the first/last state to be admitted to the Union? Would you like to find out which states have the largest/smallest populations or which are most/least densely populated? What about the states with the highest/lowest percentages of foreign-born residents, females, or high school graduates? We’ve compiled a list of such questions that could be used as a quiz or a research assignment. For answers to the questions and much more, check out our States Edition Graphs and Tables page (we’ll also include the answers in the Comments area of this post).

States Edition Graphs and Tables Page via ProQuest CultureGrams

  1. Which was the first state to be added to the Union?
  2. Which was the last state to be added to the Union?
  3. Which is the largest state in terms of total area?
  4. Which is the smallest state in terms of total area?
  5. Which state has the largest population?
  6. Which state has the smallest population?
  7. Which is the most densely populated state?
  8. Which is the least densely populated state?
  9. Which state grew the fastest between 2010 and 2015?
  10. Which state grew the slowest between 2010 and 2015?
  11. Which state has the highest percentage of females?
  12. Which state has the lowest percentage of females?
  13. Which state has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents?
  14. Which state has the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents?
  15. Which state has the highest percentage of people under 18 years old?
  16. Which state has the lowest percentage of people under 18 years old?
  17. Which state has the highest percentage of graduates from high school?
  18. Which state has the lowest percentage of graduate from high school?
  19. Which state has the highest median household income?
  20. Which state has the lowest median household income?
  21. Which state has the highest average travel time to work?
  22. Which state has the lowest average travel time to work?

Let us know how you do. And are you surprised by any of the answers to these questions?

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