Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snow and Pumpkins: A Unique Vermont Halloween

A spooky pumpkin gets cold, too!
Visiting Scholar Lu Jianhong, who is currently at Putney Central School, shares her thoughts about a Halloween that has both snow and spooky ghosts! Lu Jianhong celebrated the event with her host family and the ASOP curriculum coordinator, Gerry Gatz. 
Read Lu Jianhong's reflection here:

It is Halloween today. With the greetings “Happy Halloween!” or “Merry Christmas!” the kids merrily came into the classroom with a full backpack. I was greatly surprised because it was not Christmas yet. They laughed and said it was white with snow outside.
In the afternoon we held a party in the classroom and I showed the kids how to use chopsticks to pick up candies. Children could only eat candies if they picked them up with chopsticks. It was great fun for them.
After school Angela and I drove to Gerry’s home to enjoy Halloween night. When we arrived we were delighted to see a big pumpkin, lit up, carved by Gerry. After 5 pm children began to knock at the door and say “trick or treat”. Some were small kids, only about 4 or 5-years-old while some were high school students. Most of them were dressed up. When a woman dressed up in something like grapes appeared and claimed herself grandma without bringing children with her I was amused. Some children also raised money for UNICEF. Gerry was busy giving out candies from 5:00pm to 8:30pm. While this is a completely new experience for me, I think it may also be a completely new experience for some kids. Maybe they need to gather up their courage to say “trick or treat”. It is also a way of cultivating their ability to communicate with different people.
On my way back to the host family around 9:00pm, I saw some kids still walking in snow playing “trick and treat” in the icy weather.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thai Shadow-Puppets and the Creative Spirit at EES

During the week of October 18th, students at Essex Elementary School Learning Center had a wonderful surprise. Each class entered the Learning Center to find the lights dimmed, beautiful Thai music playing softly, and Mrs. Scrimgeour, Mrs. Doble and Cherry dressed in festive Thai costumes. The children were introduced to traditional Thai shadow-puppets, and then watched a shadow-puppet show of the story “Why Frog and Snake Never Play Together,” a pourquoi-style of tale that explains why something is the way it is.  

Read Thitima’s reflection of sharing Thai art and culture at EES, and follow the link at the end of the reflection for the EES Learning Center link to see more pictures.

Thai House
Thai Paper-cutting
I had a chance to work in the Essex Elementary School Learning Center for the last 2 weeks, and it was great. I have met every student in school. This week I worked with the art teacher. The students in the kindergarten worked on Thai tie dye and this time I let them tie the string by themselves (which is too difficult for them). With the 1st graders, we worked on Thai paper cutting with the Lai Thai and making shirt. With the 2nd graders, we worked on traditional Thai house and decorated with the Thai style. It was fun and I was learning from my mistake. Every day is like a new day for me.

Happy Halloween!

Every country has its own traditions and cultures, and none is as uniquely American as the tradition of Halloween and trick or treating. This year, the US spent $6.5 billion on candy, costumes and decorations for Halloween. The Visiting Scholars across Vermont got to enjoy the traditions of pumpkin carvings, candy corn, and haunted houses. Read the reflection by Crystal Chen as she comments on a Vermont Halloween:

Every year, Americans celebrate Halloween on October 31st. On this day, young people wear masks and costumes. Boys and girls dress as witches, ghosts and other characters. Children like to wear their costumes to school, where there is often a special party. Adults may wear something orange and black, the traditional colors for the special day. I bet pumpkin socks sell well during this period.

At C.P.Smith School, I celebrated my first Halloween with the 2nd graders. A mini-party was held after lunch in the classroom. Mrs. Pallutto (a class teacher) prepared a lot of things such as cake, cookies, fruit and juice so that each kid could have their own plate of food. We said "Happy Halloween" to each other and started to enjoy the food. Music was turned on and a story about Halloween was read by Mrs. Pallutto. Later on, a boy named Rory gave every kid a pumpkin pencil as a Halloween gift. In addition, they each got a toothbrush from a girl in another 2nd grade classroom, because her mother is a dentist. Kids had much fun at school. I received a pumpkin painting from Nash, a lovely little boy.

In the evening, families put their jack-o'-lanterns in front of their houses with a candle inside and leave dim lights on in the house. Children of all ages wear their costumes and carry bags to their neighbors' houses. They knock, and when the neighbor opens the door, they shout, "Trick or treat!" Then the neighbor puts fruits or candy in the kids' bags.

There is no doubt that the Halloween evening belongs to kids and teenagers because they can collect a heavy bag of candy that night and indulge themselves in enjoying a variety of candy for several days with their parents' permission. But remember to brush your teeth carefully after eating candy, and try to control your appetite as too much candy can really do harm to your body.