Village in Bloomingdale to host Multicultural Fair
The children at the Village Early Learning Center have been busy studying different countries in preparation for a multicultural fair for the public Saturday.
The students at the Village Early Learning Center in Bloomingdale West are spending the week traveling to Scotland, Hungary, the Philippines and other countries without ever leaving their classrooms.
Thanks to a $500 grant from The Mosaic Company, the preschoolers are exploring customs, stories, foods and geography of various countries in preparation for a Multicultural Fair for the public on Saturday, March 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school at 3741 Canoga Park Dr., Brandon.
"Putting on a multicultural fair just made sense for us," said Village director Susan Miller. "Between staff and families, we have 26 different countries represented at the school. This was a chance for the children to learn about the countries their parents and teachers come from."
Teacher Teresa Harwood has been teaching her preschoolers about the country of Israel.
"We've learned about the Passover; we've talked about the olive tree and the Star of David; and they've learned about the Dead Sea and camels," said Harwood. "And on Friday, they'll get to sample some matzo bread."
On Tuesday, the students were busy placing pieces of sandpaper on a map of Israel, representing the country's vast deserts. They followed up the lesson by creating Israeli flags featuring the Star of David.
For teacher Debbie Garrigues, educating her students about the country of Scotland has included reading stories such as "Wee Willy Winky," counting to 10 and learning to say "Hello" and "Goodbye" in Scottish and creating a model of the Loch Ness Monster.
A class mom made Scottish plaid skirts for the girls and plaid scarves for the boys to wear on Friday when the children will eat fish and chips and shortbread cookies.
"I taught the children about kilts, but none of the boys wanted to wear them," joked Garrigues.
Teacher Jennifer MacLoughlin taught her students all about India. They made flags, learned about the national bird, the peacock, and on Friday will taste an Indian staple, the mango.
Other countries explored by students included Norway, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Ireland, New Mexico, El Salvador, Ethiopia and South Africa.
Each of the classes has created an information board containing facts and photos about their chosen country, explained Miller. The information boards will be on display at the multicultural fair.
"The grant from Mosaic was donated to our nonprofit, the Village Family Foundation, and paid for the food from different countries," said Miller.
She noted that, throughout the year, the foundation hosts Bedtime with Books in which children from the community are invited to the school one Friday a month to hear and bedtime story, receive a snack and take home their own book to encourage early literacy.
The United States was among the countries included in the children's studies. The school invited the Bay Area Twirlers to the school to teach the children square dancing. Both the Bay Area Twirlers and students will perform square dancing for the public on Saturday.
"We'll also be demonstrating square dancing at various nursing homes in the area in the coming months," said Miller.
In addition, there will be dancing and music from other countries, ethnic and international foods from a variety of Brandon area vendors and a display of cultural and native costumes from all over the world during the free fair on Saturday.
Children from the community attending the event will be given a "passport" that will enable them to travel from country to country within the school and hear stories, make crafts and see items from countries the preschool has studied during the previous week.
"We've really gotten a great response from our parents and hope to make this an annual event," said Miller.
Any international community members, organizations or groups that wish to participate can contact the school at 813-651-0779.