I have been a fan of Zid Zid Kids for a long time, admiring the work of Julie and Moulay. They create beautiful items for play and home, all made in Morocco by hand. I find the pieces and overall aesthetic to be so charming.
Moulay and Julie live in Morocco and speak French, Arabic and Spanish to their children daily – so it was only natural that their next endeavor would be a creative hands-on language program for children! Petit Zarafa is a play-based multi-language learning subscription website for little citizens ages 2 and up.
My children have Chinese flashcards that they play with when their grandmother visits from Taiwan, but we haven’t picked them up in a while.
The combination of the activities with learning lessons, grasping different sounds with familiar tasks, is inspiring to me. My kids love playing with games and are currently learning letters & numbers at their own schools – it will be interesting to see what they gravitate to most with this program. In general, my kids love listening to stories… I’m sure my mom, a former French language teacher, would love to teach them French stories. It would be magical if they could speak a little bit of French when we visit my sister in Europe this summer.
Are you teaching your children a second language? What do you find works best? I’d love to know!
We’d be lying if we told you we never pass our little ones a smart phone or an ipad to keep them entertained. The truth is, sometimes it’s just easier – especially when traveling! With so many game apps available today, we thought it would be fun to share our top 10 favorite apps with you. They teach new languages, allow world exploration, help quiet loud nights, and make fractions fun! And remember, while a lot of these apps are over $0.99, in the end you’ll appreciate the ad-free, no fuss design the cost gets you.
Do you have a favorite that you don’t see here? We want to know! Leave a comment below.
1. Sleep Pillow Sounds$1.99 – Although this isn’t a game your children can play, we thought it was important to include. It can be hard to sleep in a new bed with unfamiliar sounds when traveling, but with the help of this app the foreign sounds will be quieted. We consider this to be a must when traveling with children.
2. Endless Alphabetfree – We must warn you that skipping the ad before you hand your device over to the kids is key to this ‘free’ app, and once you get to the drag and drop screen you might not want to let go! The idea is for your little one to match the letters on the screen to create a complete word. The longer you keep a finger on the letter, the longer the letter is sounded out (maybe headphones would be best in public?) and once you’ve completed it, the definition is acted out by your new colorful monster friends and you’re on to the next!
3. Toca Kitchen$2.99 – Your children will be preparing 12 different ingredients 180 ways in no time! Since this app isn’t a timed game, there’s no pressure to get to the next level – they’ll able to explore at their own pace. Prefer a vegetarian mode? No problem, they’ve got you covered!
4. Barefoot World Atlas$4.99 – Travel the world through your 4 inch screen with this beautiful app. Geographer and BBC TV presenter Nick Crane will be your guide as you fly around the (3D) world exploring oceans and continents, meeting different people and learning about their way of life. Explore and discover the big world we live in.
5. Petting Zoo by Christoph Niemann$0.99 – You may know him as an illustrator from The New Yorker, but here you will see his illustrations come to life through alligator’s teeth as guitar strings and octopus arms as a mandolin. It’s silly, charming, and perfectly entertaining.
6. Stack the Countries$1.99 – A wonderful way to help your little ones learn country capitals, landmarks, and geographic locations. Want to start smaller? Try the Stack the States app. They’re simple and effective!
7. PBS Parents Play & Learnfree – This interactive app is specifically designed for parents. Providing you with dozens of games, you’ll be able to connect every day “teachable moments” to math and literally skills, making trips to the grocery store more exciting for everyone! This free app can be toggled from English to Spanish – perfect bilingual families!
8. Learn Spanishfree – Or Japanese, French, Italian, German, Mandarin, or Portuguese with each MindSnack apps. With 9 different games, your children will build essential vocabulary and conversational skills. Unlock levels as you progress and watch your avatar grow smarter and brighter!
9. Peekaboo Barn$1.99 – Although language packages (other than spanish) are an additional $0.99 per bundle, we think this app is a wonderful way to learn animals and the sounds they make. You can also record voices so friends or visiting family can capture their own voice for your children to hear.
10. Oh No Fractions!$0.99 – Math isn’t always a favorite, but with this app it’s easy to see how fractions compare, add, subtract, multiply, and divide through visuals. Keep track of your child’s progress with the statistics feature. The design is sleek and simple, and will have fractions learned in no time!
We’re excited to have Julia Pimsleur Levine, founder of Little Pim as our guest blogger today. Little Pim is the ultimate language learning gift for babies, toddlers and preschoolers – to learn more, visit What is Little Pim.
As the creator of the Little Pim foreign language teaching series for kids, people often ask me if my own sons, 3 and 7, speak French. They do speak passable French, but what is more important to me than the number of words they know is that they have fallen in love, as I did, with the French culture, sights, smells and tastes. Learning conjugations can come later.
Below are some of the ways we introduced our boys to French culture, language, and of course, le chocolat, on a recent trip to Antibes, France. Take a little voyage right here avec nous! (with us)
When kids want ice cream is a great time to get them to use their foreign language words… Even the most reluctant young student of French, Spanish or Italian suddenly finds courage in the face of ice cream. “Une glace au chocolat, s’il vous plaît” rolled right off my children’s tongue when we got to France! By the end of our two weeks there, they could say all the flavors and colors, a yummy and lasting learning experience!
We also got to attend a traditional French marionette show, where we saw carefully crafted paper maché puppets made in the same way they have been made for the last 100+ years in France …. And probably told the same jokes they have told for the last 100 years too. My three year old laughed himself silly and my seven year old scowled and could only be persuaded to sit through it on the promise of mousse au chocolat after dinner. C’est la vie!
No trip to France would be complete without a ride on one of their ornate and spectacular Carrousels. These are nothing like the US mall version and are a great place to teach kids words like avion (plane), cheval (horse) and unicorne (an easy one!).
Ever since the trip, both boys greet me in the morning with a half-joking “Bonjour maman!” in unison, and thank me for their Cheerios with “Merci maman!”. And they don’t even realize that with all the amazing things they experienced this trip, the best is yet to come!
What language would you like your child to learn? Answer below for a chance to win a Little Pim Gift set in the language of your choice.
Congrats to Lisa Pelanne who will be receiving a Little Pim Gift set in the language of her choice! Thank you to everyone who participated. Please follow our Studio T blog for more travel stories, contests, and our Behind the Design inspirations. To learn more about Little Pim, visit their website at: http://www.littlepim.com/
I saw this shirt in a shop in Seattle with some friends last weekend. They were joking and asking what “62” had to do with Mexico, not actually expecting a response. I told them that there were more than 62 languages spoken in Mexico and they were rather impressed I had an interesting answer. They wanted to know where they could go to learn that kind of information about our designs. I told them to stop being bad friends and read my blog posts!
People often ask me how long it takes to design a graphic. There is no straight forward answer for this. Some graphics take days. This one is one of those serendipitous graphics that took about 5 minutes and just worked. Our designers happened to take a picture of hand painted house number “26” during the Mexico inspiration trip. We loved the numbers and the concrete created a perfect texture. All I had to do was swap the order of the numbers and done!
Behind the Design Wednesdays: Every week Tea writes about our designers’ inspiration for our current collection of clothing. For more Behind the Designs click here.
Today is International Literacy Day! Created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) in 1965, International Literacy Day’s goal is to emphasize and celebrate literacy around the world, for all individuals and in all communities. According to UN statistics almost 774 million adults throughout the world have at most only basic reading skills.
Many libraries and community centers around the country use this day as an opportunity to reach out for volunteers to tutor and assist adults and children in improving their reading skills (such as our local San Francisco Library). If you’re in New York City, check out today’s blog post about International Literacy Day, and see how you can get involved.
At Tea we celebrate reading through our Children’s Books. We donate the proceeds from their sale to the Global Fund for Children, which funds grassroots organizations throughout the world, and focuses on promoting education for disadvantaged youth.
If you want to find more ways to contribute to organizations that focus on literacy, here are some useful suggestions.
What were your favorite books when you were a child? What are your favorite books now? Leave a post in the comments below.
Last month, we took our six and a half month old daughter Amelie to meet some relatives who were in town for my cousin’s graduation. My side of the family is Vietnamese, and except for some early cooing from my parents when she was two months old, this was the first time Amelie was surrounded by her Vietnamese relatives, all who baby talked and interacted with her in their native language.
I never learned to speak fluent Vietnamese. As new refugees in this country just after the fall of Saigon, my parents felt incredibly self-conscious speaking English in public because of their perceived heavy accents. Determined that their own children wouldn’t experience the same prejudice they faced, my parents had decided to speak to my brother and me only in English. In retrospect, it has been a great disappointment not to communicate in the native language of my relatives and have the ability to pass it down to my own child.
Amelie loves attention and eagerly allowed herself to be passed around between her great aunts and great uncles. I sat listening to them chat with her, ask her questions and hug her. One of my uncles even pulled out the karaoke machine and sang Vietnamese love songs to her. She cried at the end, possibly because of the high decibels, but perhaps because the serenade was over. I was thrilled with the attention too, taking way too many pictures and video clips. Even though I knew she was too young to understand, I wanted to retain these memories for her, especially the words they spoke, which were full of love and history.
My parents remind me all the time that I could take language lessons. They are convinced the Vietnamese is buried within me, since I still can understand what they say to me—I just can’t generate the words to reply. But I don’t hear Vietnamese on a regular basis anymore. My parents tend to speak in English when we’re on the phone. So when I do hear it, either in passing on the street, or on the car radio, or in a restaurant, I sit transfixed, silencing everything else around me, attempting to translate and understand.
My husband and I have talked for years about taking Vietnamese language classes. My father is getting older and although he has spoken English for over thirty years, I know he feels more comfortable speaking in Vietnamese. I don’t want that kind of language barrier between us. We always found reasons to put these classes off, but this weekend convinced us we needed to make it a priority. Children retain languages best when they are young, and I want us to be prepared when Amelie is able to speak her first words.
I know it will be difficult. This is probably why I’ve been delaying it for so long. But I’d like to believe what my parents say, that my fluency will not be so hard to attain, after years of listening to my family.
Sometimes, I feel the language swelling up in me. Little endearments I remember my parents used to say to me, I now find myself saying to Amelie. Although I cannot literally translate even to myself what I am saying, I hope she can feel the affection in the words, and trust that I mean them.