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November Is Native American Awareness Month


November is Native American Awareness month.  I can not think of a more fitting month for this awareness since Thanksgiving is also celebrated in the month of November,  Well known to most Americans but probably not as much to people from other countries, our Thanksgiving and its history evolves from the Pilgrims giving a celebration and day of thanks for the Native Americans. In the United States,Thanksgiving is commonly observed on the fourth Thursday of November every year.

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According to Wikipedia, “”the event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and was attended by about 53 Pilgrims and 90 American Indians. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.”Although the holiday was first celebrated in 1621 on the Plymouth Plantation as a harvest feast after a successful growing season, it was sporadic in the following years as an impromptu religious observance and later as a civil tradition. It was proclaimed as a national holiday in 1863 during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the holiday.  Thanksgiving remains to the one of the major federal and public holidays and the beginning of the holiday season that runs through Christmas and New Years Day.

 The nomadic ancestors of modern Native Americans hiked over a “land bridge” from Asia to what is now Alaska more than 12,000 years ago and many thousands of years before Christopher Columbus’ ships landed in the Bahamas. Scholars estimate that more than 50 million people were already living in the Americas by the time European adventurers arrived in the 15th century AD. Some of these 10 million lived in the area that would become the United States.

Although most Native Americans now live their daily lives in modern-day customs, many choose to remember their traditional history and celebrate at Pow Wows that are held regionally  all over the USA. The celebrations are alive with rich Native American traditions customs, and native regalia.  The photos and videos shown in this blog post were from the Stone Mountain Park, Ga. Pow Wow in November, 2013.


Highland Games

Last week the Highland Games was held at Stone Mountain  Park, Ga..  I knew it was a Scottish festival and celebration but not much more.  Wikipedia describes the events as :

“Highland games are events held throughout the year in Scotland and other countries as a way of celebrating Scottish and Celtic culture and heritage, especially that of the Scottish Highlands. Certain aspects of the games are so well-known as to have become emblematic of Scotland, such as the bagpipes, the kilt, and the heavy events, especially the caber toss. While centered on competitions in piping and drumming, dancing, and Scottish heavy athletics, the games also include entertainment and exhibits related to other aspects of Scottish and Gaelic culture.”

As I did further research I found that the Highland Games at Stone Mountain have been a tradition for 41 years.  Other locations for the games have include many locations in the USA and in other countries throughout the world.  The largest celebration remains to be  The Cowal Highland Gathering, better known as the Cowal Games, held in Dunoon, Scotland, every August.

Although music and dancing are a part of the celebration also, the athletic games are considered to be the main events. Some of the more popular and traditional  athletic events for the Highland Games are:

The two athletic games that I saw were the caber toss and sheaf toss. The caber toss is remarkable to watch. Different participants carry a long 8 foot pine pole and try to toss it so it lands on the opposite end.  not only is it very difficult to execute but also it is very dangerous and I noticed that each athlete had someone to spot them as they had their turn throwing the pole/caber.  The sheaf toss is 20 pounds( for men and 10 pounds for women) placed in a burlap bag and is tossed with a pitch fork over what looks like a bars that are used in a pole vault.


International Friendship Day

International Friendship Day
International Friendship Day

Friendship should never be taken for granted.  The value of having a friend  and especially a best friend is a true treasure. I was thrilled to see that there is a day to honor and cherish all the qualities that friendship embodies and that the scope of the holiday has been broadened to include opening the avenues of understanding to all nationalities and ethnic groups around the world.

Friendship Day was first proposed on 20 July 1958 by Dr. Artemio Bracho during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. The World Friendship Crusade was formed from this meeting of friends.  It promotes friendship and fellowship among all human beings regardless of race, color or religion.  Since that day July 30 has been designated as Friendship Day in Paraguay and also adopted by several other countries.

In the USA, Friendship Day was first promoted by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards in 1930.  August 2 was chosen as the day for the celebration because it was in between other holiday celebrations.  People felt like the holiday was too commercial and by the 1940’s, interest in it had almost disappeared. Although there the interest in the holiday has never surfaced and taken hold in Europe, there has been an interest shown in Japan and several countries in Asia have adopted it.

In 1998, an interest in the holiday again emerged when Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations. The World Friendship Crusade has lobbied the United Nations for many years to recognize July 30th as World Friendship Day. Finally on 20 May, General Assembly of the United Nations decided to name 30 July as the International Day of Friendship. All Member States were invited to observe the International Day of Friendship in accordance with the culture and customs of their local, national and regional communities.  Educational and public awareness-raising activities about the holiday are encouraged.

According to the Huffinton Post, “Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently issued a statement to promote international solidarity on this special day.

“The International Day of Friendship is an important opportunity to confront the misunderstandings and distrust that underlie so many of the tensions and conflicts in today’s world,” he wrote. “It is a reminder that human solidarity is essential to promoting lasting peace and fostering sustainable development.”





May 5 is Cinco de Mayo



May 5 is the day that Cinco de Mayo is celebrated each year.  What is the history of this traditional Mexican holiday? Cinco de Mayo is one of the more well-known Mexican holidays, but most people assume that it is celebrated to commemorate Mexico’s independence.  Actually it is to commemorate a largely unknown conflict between Mexican patriots and the invading French forces in 1862. Napoleon III set out to expand the French empire by sending the army to occupy Mexico City and install a proxy ruler. The undermanned and under trained Mexican forces under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza repelled 6,000 of Napoleon’s finest troops outside the city of Puebla on May 5. Mexico did win the battle but it was only the beginning of a prolonged occupation of the French that ultimately ended in 1867.

How is this holiday celebrated in Mexico?  There are parades to especially honor the military. Celebrations also take place in a Zocalo which each city has as a place of celebration. A fair with rides may also be available for the celebration. There are sometimes reenactments of the battle of Cinco de Mayo. People also enjoy music, laughter, and decorations with bright, vibrant colors, and food. One of the more popular traditional dishes is mole poblano. It is a thick spicy sauce made from than 40 ingredients. It is served on top of turkey or chicken with Mexican style rice. Cinco de Mayo celebrated on May 5 is a holiday rich in tradition and Mexican culture that all people can enjoy.


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Leprechauns – St. Patrick’s Day Folklore And History



Part of the fun surrounding St. Patrick’s day is the legend and folklore of the leprechauns. As a teacher I would have fun with my elementary students by talking about leprechauns and how they might come around when we least suspected it for a little mischief.  The morning of St. Patrick’s day, I would scatter green glitter around the classroom and put green food coloring in the toilets in the bathroom.  The children would gasp and ask what was going on. I  relied that it must be those mischievious leprechauns.  As the day progressed we would have projects involving activities for St. Patrick’s day and then during recess, I would have another teacher watch my students while I went back to the classroom and rearranged things including putting trash cans on desks and putting things out of place.  The kids’ reactions when they came back in the room was so much fun to watch.  One little boy said that he did not believe in leprechauns so he figured the only ones that could possibly upset the room and be so mischievous were the hamsters the class had as pets, but then how did they get out of their cages?

I thought it would be interesting to find out what is the history and folklore involving leprechauns.  According to Wiklipedia, the name leprechaun is derived from the Irish word leipreachan  and is defined by Patrick Dinneen as “a pigmy, a sprite, or leprechaun.”  The character is described as a solitary small person around three-foot tall that spends his time making and mending shoes as a cobbler.  He also loves practical jokes and is known to be mishievious but not totally good or evil, but a degenerate fairy. Wikipedia also states,

“The earliest known reference to the leprechaun appears in the medieval tale known as the Echtra Fergus mac Léti(English: Adventure of Fergus son of Léti). The text contains an episode in which Fergus mac Léti, King of Ulster, falls asleep on the beach and wakes to find himself being dragged into the sea by three lúchorpáin. He captures his abductors, who grant him three wishes in exchange for release.”

This is most likely where the three wishes part of the folklore was established. As the story goes the leprechauns also store their gold coins in a big pot and hide their treasure at the end of the rainbow.  If a human finds the treasure, the leprechaun has the power to grant the human three wishes.

The appearance of the leprechaun with the orange/red beard and green suit and hat is actually a stereotype of the leprechaun and in Ireland the appearance varies to  which region of Ireland you are in. In some of the regions the clothes are a red coat, white pants and a white beard, a fare departure from what is normally associated with our visual image of the leprechaun and the history and folklore.











February – African American History Month- African Masks Art Lesson Plan

The month of February is African American history month.  I observed first hand when I was teaching inner city schools the pride my students experienced when their heritage and history was recognized and honored. I developed several art lesson plans that I would teach during this time frame. One lesson plan that the students enjoyed creating was African masks. I would show them a Power Point with photos of African masks.

IMG_0105 IMG_0106 IMG_0108The process of creating the masks can offer variations and be changed from year to year by either using colored construction paper and the students draw with markers or craypas or using white paper and the students painting the designs.  A pattern for the masks is provided so that the size and placement of the eyes will be correct.  After the masks have been cutout and decorated with surface designs, other materials can be added by gluing.  Assorted materials can include but are not limited to, cut construction paper in different colors, twine, yarn, moss, etc.  The art work was then displayed and  many times the students asked when they would be able to take their finished artwork home so they could proudly show their parents.  This art project is adaptable for all ages of students.  My students never tired of this project from year to year and looked forward to it because each mask was different.  They especially enjoyed adding materials for hair which can be yarn or moss, but also can be folded strips of construction paper cut in thin strips  or for curly hair show them how to wrap it around a pencil and pull tight.

For detailed information and materials for this project with a list of curriculum standards, please sign up for my mailing list.

Martin Luther King, Jr., And Famous African American Collages

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is celebrated on January 15 and a wonderful classroom project to commemorate the event is to have the students create famous African American collages.  When I was teaching art in inner city school, I would always try to start the art projects early enough in January to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday, but to also begin a display that would commemorate African American History month which is recognized each year during the month of February.  I found that all children love to learn about any holiday or event that is recognized, but especially if represents their race or heritage.  Although I introduced these activities in art class, they would be suitable in any classroom situation. I wrote the lesson plan for African American History collages for elementary school aged students, preferably for third through fifth grade but this could also be used for middle or high school aged students.  I came up with the idea after observing that the children were very frustrated when trying to draw portraits of famous people because they rarely resembled or recognized the person.  I had an idea about creating collages with printed images that I found on the internet.  I would search on Google and then save the images and combine as many images as I could on one page and the print the images in black and white.

African American History CollagesThe students were instructed to create a background for their collage first. If time is not a factor and there is plenty of time, a background can be painted using watercolor or tempera paints.  Time should be allowed for the background to dry if choosing this method.  The other method of creating a background can be using scraps of colored paper that the students cut and glue to a heavier piece of paper or tag board.  Each student is then given a choice of five printed images of their favorite African-American heroes which have been previously cut loose, but not in detail. Next they should be instructed to cut very carefully around the figure so it will show up well and with good detail on their collage.  Markers can be used to add lines of contrast if desired.  The students have always been very proud of their creations and also learn to identify African-American heroes.


Welcome to the first post for the Educational Support For World Tolerance.  My idea for this website/ blog is to provide free information to help create better understanding and tolerance for all ethnic groups and religions from all over the world. I plan to set up a category for each country so it will be easy to find the  information needed.  Pictures and videos will be included when possible.  My hope is that this will be a great resource for teachers and anyone wanting to learn more about the cultures and countries of the world.