Thursday, January 28, 2010

Τα Ελληνόπουλα της ξενιτιάς

It's Greek Letters week! The Metropolis of Chicago annually hosts a week long celebration of Greek education and honors the Three Hierarchs: St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil and St. Gregory. Εvery evening during the week, various churches around Chicago host programs and speakers that have the same message... the preservation and continuation of the Greek language. Most Greek schools host their own programs showcasing their students, but there is also a Metropolis-wide program that brings many schools together to perform and present traditional songs, dances, skits and poems. The week ends with a Greek Letters luncheon where Hierarchs, clergy, Greek teachers and students enjoy an afternoon together and honor those students who excel in learning their "Greek letters".

Last Saturday the Metropolis-wide program was held, and as always, the children inspired us with their ability to sing, dance, speak and recite the Greek language. I have fond memories of the same type of performances in my youth ... but things were different, I was second generation Greek-American. My parents came to America in the 1960's and Greek was the language spoken at home. Many of these children on the stage last Saturday were 3rd and 4th generation Greek-American (and in many cases a little Italian, Irish, Polish, Mexican etc) They learn Greek at Greek school, and it is not necessarily spoken at home... and yet, their performances were fantastic! There were no stutters, or funny accents, only confident children proud of their Orthodox faith and Hellenic heritage.

Last fall, while attending a Greek school teachers seminar, a word came up... one that I don't particularly care for...τα Αμερικανάκια. Perhaps it is my own sensitivity to the word, being called that many times in my life, but the term Αμερικανάκι does not have a pleasant connotation to it... it implies that children of Greek heritage living in the United States are not quite Greek, but as many of us know, are not quite American either. We live in this limbo where the homeland of our ancestors doesn't quite understand us and the country that we live in find our faith, customs and traditions strange (don't believe me? Just take a walk with an Orthodox priest in his cassock to see how unaccepting America still is). What should we be called then?

I received a nice comment from the author of the blog To χαμομηλάκι where Time for Greek School readers were greeted as τα Ελληνόπουλα της ξενιτιάς beautiful is that?! It is a term that unites children all over the world who go to regular school and then go off to afternoon school to learn about a distant land and language. It unites all of those who left Greece to go to America and Australia, Germany and England, South Africa and Brazil, Hong Kong and Russia... we are all Ελληνόπουλα της ξενιτίας.. united by faith, language and culture. Lets keep all these Ελληνόπουλα in our prayers this Saturday as we attend Liturgy in honor of the Three Hierarchs of our church.

To learn more about the Greek experience in the diaspora, take a look at these books produced by Ε.ΔΙΑ.Μ.ΜΕ

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Passport please

Wall in my classroom depicting various traditional costumes from Greece

The first semester of Kindergarten/Νηπιαγωγείο is dedicated to learning the alphabet and letter sounds. Each class session, we review a letter and break up into stations to do various activities related to that letter. Thanks to my parent volunteers, these stations usually include: a craft/project related to the letter of the day, letter recognition and reading skills with me, a game, and writing. Last Monday, we learned our last letter... so now we will be starting the fun stuff!

The second semester, we re-visit our letters, but also add in units that build vocabulary, counting skills, and general knowledge of Greece and Greek culture. In the next few weeks we will begin "traveling" to different parts of Greece. Each child will be given a "passport" to help them remember places they have visited. We discuss traditional costumes, local customs, as well as landmarks and history. I am often amazed with what my students remember, and what interests them.

Γεωγραφία Ε' Δημοτικού
Μαθαίνω για την Ελλάδα
comes in handy when I prepare my lessons.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alphabet Work in class

We use many kinds of manipulatives in class to help us learn the alphabet and letter sounds. Here are some of my favorites....
Alphabet Wall: This is one of my best teaching tools! Children take turns using the alphabet wall to point out letters and for reference when doing their work.

Stamping: I have found so many uses for these Greek stamps! One of my favorite activities is having the children use this alphabet chart to match lower case and upper case letters!

Alphabet Bingo: Children take turns pulling a piece of the Greek alphabet puzzle out of a bag and call out the sound the letter makes.

Alphabet magnets with a magnetic board: These help children learn letters, spell words and match upper and lower case letters.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Στο Ζωολογικό Πάρκο...At the Zoo

From the Attica Zoological Park (Αττικό Ζωολογικό Πάρκο ) , print out a copy of the park map with animals labeled in both Greek and English here and learn about the animals here.

From Sparklebox, print out animal masks to use in class, or for fun here.

From the Μαργαρίτα book series a unit on the Zoo here.

From Alphabet Soup, zoo animal coloring pages here.

From ESLjunction, animal images (can be used as flash cards, just remove english text) here

From Dover Publications, some cute zoo animals here

From Printables4Kids, print out this two copies of this zoo printable, color in the pictures and cut out. Use for a memory game.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Τα παιδια ζωγραφίζουν στον τοίχο

For the students in my Greek school class. Please practice this song for the Three Hierarchs Program on January 24th.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Σήμερα τα Φώτα....


Σήμερα τα φώτα και οι φωτισμοί, Κι χαρές μεγάλες κι αγιασμοί. Κάτω στον Ιορδάνη τον ποταμό κάθετ' η κυρά μας η Παναγιά. Καλημέρα! Καλησπέρα! Καλή σου μέρα αφέντη με την κυρά! Όργανo βαστάει, κερί κρατεί και τον Αϊ-Γιάννη παρακαλεί. Άϊ-Γιάννη αφέντη και βαπτιστή βάπτισε κι εμένα Θεού παιδί. Ν' ανεβώ επάνω στους ουρανούς να μαζέψω ρόδα και λίβανούς Καλημέρα! Καλησπέρα! Καλή σου μέρα αφέντη με την κυρά!