Growing up in Michigan, I don’t remember hearing the term “Mardi Gras” much. The parades, King Cakes, and purple beads weren’t at all familiar to me.
No, in MI Fat Tuesday is lovingly referred to as “Paczki Day”, thanks to the large Polish population found in and around Hamtramck. Pronounced “poonch-key”, these rich little jelly or custard filled doughnut-like pastries are definitely worthy of their own holiday.
Unfortunately, for all the years I spent in Kentucky, I never saw a single Paczki. I guess we were close enough to Louisiana that only Mardi Gras was recognized. BUT, here in Colorado, they apparently know a sweet opportunity when they see one. I saw these tasty treats advertised, and immediately set out pick some up.
If you’re committed to introducing new foods the way we are, this is a good chance for your kids to be exposed to something new. If you’re a homechooler, you can totally use this chance to ignore the ### calories, and call it an educational experience.
You can find out more about Paczkis at this about.com page where they even have a video on how to make them. Enjoy!
YEY! Did you know that January 26th is Australia Day! Get ready to party!
(Yes, I know today’s date. I’m giving you a heads up so you can prepare!)
Here are some fun activities to help you celebrate. Alternately, you may want to incorporate some of these into your lesson plans for a unit study on Australia if you do one at home or in a co-op class.
- First of all, did you know that although Aussies speak English, you may not actually understand them? For instance, if I told you, “Hey Bloke, I’m feeling peckish. Let’s go to Macca’s and get some tucka”, would you know what I was saying?
Start out Australia day with this fun Aussie slang/American term match-up:
Aussie Slang Match-Up
AussieMatch-Up Answer Key
- Another Australian phrase is “Fred Nerk”. Basically Fred Nerk is like “John Doe” or “Mr. Nobody”. Whatever happens on Australia Day, you can use this to get off the hook–
“FRED NERK DID IT!”
-Two players throw a ball back and forth.
-When 1 of the players drops the ball, both, say down, down, down.
-After that, the player who dropped the ball gets down on 1 knee, elbow,or chin, etc.
-The game continues on like this until one of the players cannot go “down” anymore.
- Next it’s time for a little art—check out this great Aboriginal Australian dot art, and try some of your own. For EVEN MORE fun- grab some face paint and use each other as canvases! 🙂
- Now for the sounds of Australia:
The Kookaburra is a funny Australian bird who “laughs”. Listen to him here:
The Didgeridoo is a fun instrument to listen to (you already got a small taste when watching the art vid). Check out this music!
- Check out some books from your library. Try these:
Are we there yet? : a journey around Australia is a great book that follows a family on vacation & describes all of the different and diverse places you can find in the land down under!
Aboriginal Australians is an informative book about the indigenous people of Australia, and I like it mainly for the pictures.
- If all this fun is making you hungry, try this recipe for ANZAC Biscuits. (If you took the quiz above, you know that biscuit does NOT mean biscuit.) ANZAC is the name of Australia and New Zealand’s Army Corp, and rumor has it that these were invented so that folks back home could send the troops a treat that wouldn’t easily go stale. I wouldn’t know. When we made them, there wasn’t an opportunity to see if they’d go stale…I don’t even like coconut and frankly the batter hardly made it to the cookie sheet…YUMMY!
- While you are in the mood for taste-testing, you may want to make a run to a place like World Market or other international food store to pick up some VEGEMITE! (You can also order it online.) This is another Australian favorite, but unlike the ANZACs…it is…less than tasty. Much less. However, it’s fun to try. Use caution and spread only a THIN layer on a piece of toast.
Unfortunately, you can only complete this last step if you visit or live in the state of Kentucky…
- Visit Kentucky Down under where you can actually PET A KANGAROO (I know, how cool is that?!), watch some border collies and their sheep-herding action, laugh out loud with a Kookaburra, and see and hear a didgeridoo up close. It’s a little expensive, but sometimes they run great specials on sites like Groupon. They also have a good discount during some months if you simply show them proof that you homeschool. With the discount, KDU is WELL WORTH IT!Check out their website: http://www.kdu.com/
This should get you started. If you come up with some other activities, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.