Posts Tagged ‘kids’

New Year Traditions Around the World

New year in Kiev [CC BY-SA 3.0 tov_tob Wikimedia Commons]

New Year in Kiev [CC BY-SA 3.0 tov_tob Wikimedia Commons]

New Year’s (Jan. 1) is the most widely celebrated public holiday around the world, and in addition to staying up till midnight and partying with family and friends, many countries have their own unique traditions and customs to mark this holiday. Here are our top ten favorite New Year holiday traditions from around the world. Find more in the Holiday sections of CultureGrams World and Kids Editions.

1. Colombia

Colombians wear yellow underwear on New Year’s because they believe it will bring good fortune.

2. Guinea-Bissau

A common traditional belief encourages Bissau-Guineans to take a bath right at midnight in the New Year in order to cleanse one’s self of bad luck and pass into the new year with a fresh start.

3. Czech Republic

Czechs exchange small marzipan candies or paper cards in the shape of pigs for good luck in the new year.

4. Ecuador

Some superstitious New Year rituals include burning and jumping over the año viejo ( an effigy, literally meaning “old year”) for good luck, eating 12 raisins to ask for 12 wishes for the new year, wearing red underwear for good luck in love, and running around the block with an empty suitcase in hopes of travel opportunities in the new year.

5. Spain 

The Spanish wait for midnight and watch New Year’s television programming to see the clock strike 12; with each stroke, each person eats a grape.

6. Japan

The Japanese visit shrines and relatives during this time. Children receive money from their parents or grandparents. Families put up special decorations and eat special foods, such as mochi (pounded sticky rice).

7. Tonga

On New Year’s Eve, Tongans typically attend a midnight church service. Afterward, church groups proceed to the palace, where they greet and present gifts to the king. People also pay visits to family members and close friends, exchanging kisses to welcome the new year.

8. Russia

Almost every Russian family decorates a fir tree a week or two before the holiday and decorates it with glass balls, toys, and garlands. Underneath the tree, families place a figure of Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz). Russians traditionally exchange and eat mandarin oranges on New Year’s Day.

9. Bulgaria

On New Year’s Day, Bulgarian children go door-to-door, wishing good fortune to friends and relatives. The children carry a small decorated stick (survachka) which is used to tap people’s backs in exchange for candy and money.

10. Philippines

In the Philippines, everyone watches a fireworks display in town plazas or parks at midnight. Fireworks displays are traditionally thought to banish the bad spirits of the previous year.

Share some of your traditions with us. We would love to hear from you. Happy 2017!

What Are Baby Animals Called?

Kids love learning about animals. It’s a fascinating topic for children of all ages. One question I get from my kids is “What are baby animals called?” Some answers are easier than others. For example, cats are called kittens, dogs are called puppies, and so on. But some are not so easy to guess and might take a little research to find.

To celebrate our SIRS Discoverer Animal Facts feature, here are 10 examples of what some baby animals are called.


Animal Facts via SIRS Discoverer

Swans are called cygnets.

Alligators are called hatchlings.

Eagles are called fledglings or eaglets.

Goats are called kids.

Otters are called whelps.

Platypuses are called puggles.

Rats are called pinkies.

Spiders are called spiderlings.

Turkeys are called poults.

Gooses are called goslings.

When doing assignments on animals, direct your students to Animal Facts for all the information they need for an elementary-level research project. You’ll find Animal Facts on the front page under Explore Features on the updated interface of SIRS Discoverer.

Garden for Wildlife Month

“Be it an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, any space can accommodate a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas. By providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young you not only help wildlife, but also qualify your garden to become an official Certified Wildlife Habitat. During May, the National Wildlife Federation sponsors this month to inspire and assist anyone who is passionate about wildlife to make a difference right in their own backyard.” (Chase’s Calendar of Events 2015)


Photo by Robin Koch, USFWS Volunteer [CC BY 2.0]

This website has inspired me and my kids to participate in the “Garden for Wildlife” initiative. We are going to visit our local plant nursery or garden center and choose some plants that will attract wildlife. We only have a small space of dirt to work with, so I’m going to add potted plants and trees to enhance our patio area. My kids also help with their school gardens. They plant flowering plants, seeds, vegetables, and more. It’s wonderful for them to learn how to create a garden and help wildlife at the same time. Plus gardens make surroundings beautiful.

Community gardening

Community Gardening
Photo by Brett Billings, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A great resource for learning about gardens and gardening is SIRS Discoverer. Here are some examples of our articles for students:

Get Outside: Butterfly Garden National Geographic Kids

Green Scene: Create a Hummingbird Garden! National Geographic Kids

How are your students learning about gardening this month? Share with us in the comments below.

Back-to-School with SIRS: Healthy Behaviors to Boost Academic Success


Strawberries by Unsplash [Public Domain] via Pixabay

Hello educators! The beginning of the school year is a good time to remind your students about healthy habits to alleviate back-to-school blues and promote academic success. Three important—and interwoven–healthy habits are good nutrition, adequate sleep and physical exercise.

Just how important are these three healthy habits for academic performance and well-being?

The benefits are many and include alleviation of stress, improved physical and mental wellbeing, and better concentration and critical thinking ability in the classroom.

With SIRS Issues Researcher, set your students on the path to academic success and good health by having them research the benefits long-term healthy behaviors. Here are some subject headings to get them started:

  • Children, Health and hygiene
  • Children, Nutrition
  • Exercise for youth
  • School children, Food
  • Sleep deprivation

Students can enter one of the subject headings above into the search box or use keyword/natural language searching to retrieve newspapers, magazines, multimedia and more.

Good classroom debate topics that relate to health and wellness are covered in our Leading Issues under the Drugs, Health and Wellness group, and include topics such as Fad Diets, Obesity and Sports for Children.

We wish you and your students a happy and healthy school year. Share with us in the comment box below what you are doing to promote healthy habits in your classroom!