Field Work Friday – Korea

This week we had a special guest – a friend of mine who has taken two trips to Korea.

She gave us the scoop about Korean culture.

This is the Korean flag.  Korea is a republic whose government is set up much like ours.  The outfit on the right is a traditional young boy’s outfit, the kind that is now worn for special occasions.  The rest of the time, Koreans wear clothes much like us.

Korean money is fancier than ours and is called the wan.  It is quite pretty – and 1000 wan is approximately equivalent to one dollar.

We saw a picture of a gas station, and the price of gas was shocking – over 33,000 wan per unit!  And we thought we paid a lot for gas!

The coins are fractions of the wan – so the top one is about half a dollar, and they decrease in value fractionally with each coin going down the column.

These are wedding ducks, a gift traditionally given to a newly married couple.  They are displayed inside the home, and each duck represents part of the couple – I think the one on the right is the groom?

When the ducks are positioned facing each other, as they are in the picture above, then the couple has a happy relationship.  When the ducks are positioned facing away from each other, then things are not so happy.  I wouldn’t want to come home and find that my husband’s duck had turned away from me – but maybe it makes it easier to figure out problems somehow!

These are traditional handmade theater masks in miniature – not meant for wearing.  Theatrical productions in traditional costumes with real masks remain very popular.

Pottery and art is very popular.  We looked at this fancy vase – another traditional wedding gift – and a jewelry box that was inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  It must take a long time to learn how to master these trades!

My friend also brought an album with pictures of her travels to Korea.  My Little Man was fascinated with pictures of the ancient palaces.  The artwork on the walls and ceilings is incredible!  The palace guards also made quite a sight in their traditional red dress.

The pictures of traditional furniture were neat, too.  Many people – even in restaurants – still eat at low tables while sitting on the floor, and bedding is often stored in special chambers during the daytime – no ‘beds’ as we know them used.

There were also pictures of street evangelists.  About 1/4 of all Koreans are Christian, and they take their mission to spread the Gospel very seriously.  The largest Christian church in the world is in Seoul, the capital.  Of the remaining Koreans, about half are undeclared, and the other quarter are Buddhists.

She then broke out a box full of wooden blocks with Korean letters, words, and pictures on them.  She found the letters My Little Man needed to spell his name, and with blank paper and crayons we practiced writing the Korean letters (found in the bottom left hand corner of the above blocks).

After coloring a picture of the flag and choosing a blank map to bring home, our time in Korea ended.

As My Big Helper climbed in the car after school, My Little Man started yelling, “Guess what we did today?  We learned about K’rea!  And the people are very nice there and their things are BEAUTIFUL!”

Enough said.  🙂

Field Work Friday – The Culture of India

This week we continued our world tour with a stop in India.  A local pastor, Philip Chryst, of Warren’s Grove UMC, came to share with us about his experiences in India as a missionary.
Reverend Chryst brought along this bamboo painting to use as a springboard.  He showed the children the style of artwork and pointed out that it was painted on thin strips of bamboo instead of the paper or canvas we might commonly use.
Reverend Chryst shared stories of hiking in remote jungles and being without interpreters.  He also told us about what daily life was like for people living in rural India.  
We learned about the dung huts that he stayed in for most of his visit, and how the dung was ‘refreshed’ for special guests, as the missionaries were considered to be.  He shared that the smell was once so strong that they dragged their beds outside and slept under the stars that night.
At the kids’ request, he told us about the foods he ate most often there – about rice and beans, about using a type of flat bread as a fork, and about the popularity of goat meat and the rarity of beef.  He explained that curry is a very popular spice, and that chai tea is prepared with cream and sugar in it – it’s not possible to ever have a cup of ‘plain’ tea.
Pastor Chryst showed us that many many more Indians are Christian than are commonly believed to be, but there are also many Hindus throughout India.  His stories challenged my popular beliefs of this country – and the children were wide-eyed at the stories of tigers, wild and free, and goat for dinner.
Every once in a while, it’s good to shake up our ideas and wrap our brains around something new.
Is there anyone in your community who has been someplace ‘exotic?’ How do you teach your children about other cultures?

Field Work Friday – How Old Is That Tree?

We’re a part of a botany co-op this year, and we’ve begun to study trees – their parts, what they do, and their part in our natural world.
We decided that this would be the perfect time to take a field trip back to see Park Ranger Mike DiFabio at Little River Regional Park.  He’s wonderful with our kids and always fascinates them with great information and field-specific tools, and he was certainly on the ball this time.
Photo by Susan B.
He began by reviewing the parts of a tree with them – the crown, trunk, and roots, as well as the xylum, phloem, cambium, etc. – and what each part does.  Mike got the kids talking about photosynthesis and the giving off of oxygen, and they were excited to share what they knew.  Then they moved on to aging trees.  The kids were excited to share that they knew about tree rings, and they were even happier when Mike showed them this tree ‘cookie.’
They weren’t sure how to find out the age of a tree without hurting the tree, however, until Mike showed them this special bore – and immediately found a tree to try it out.


Mike had the kids line up and let each one take a turn extracting a sample from the center of the tree out.  


He showed them how to count the rings to determine the age of the tree, and also what the varying distances between the rings might mean.


After that the group returned to the pavilion, where Mike gave the children their own tree “cooky” so they could count the rings themselves.  It’s definitely harder to do as the wood ages!

Mike outdid himself, as usual.  His lesson meshed perfectly with our studies and provided hands-on experience that we couldn’t give our children.  They were fascinated with the tools of his trade and excited to share about the new things that they’ve learned.  Thanks, Mike!

Field Work Friday – How to Write a Story

This week we met at our local library to learn about story writing.  Children’s Librarian Amanda Weaver started out by reading a Toot and Puddle book, and then she shared a story that she had written as a child.


Next she talked with the children about the important parts of a story: the characters, the conflict, and the resolution.  They also discussed the parts of a printed book, such as the cover, the spine, the words, and the illustrations.
Amanda had prepared simple story pages for each child, and after distributing the pages and crayons, the kids set out to write their own story.  They had some really creative ideas and were eager to share their work, so they decided to read them to each other.
Even the very youngest of children had something to say, and with a little help, they got their words on paper and shared them with our group.
It’s never to early to begin writing!

Field Work Friday – Golfin’ Buddies

This week, our activity was a bit different from the usual … my men went off on a golf date.
I realize that might not sound very educational, but I beg to differ.  Not because golfing is chock full of physics – though it is – or because the best players are very strong and fit – because they should be – but because it provides an awesome opportunity for my guys to bond.
They need that.
My husband is a decent golfer, and he wants our children to learn the sport.  Both of them love it, and our Little Man received a set of real golf clubs from his grandparents this past Christmas.  Between the extreme cold and then the crazy mud, they have had few opportunities really to play – until today.
Daddy slathered on the sunscreen, and we packed water bottles and snacks for the outing.  
Isn’t he handsome?  So ready for his big day!
I have no other pictures of the outing itself.  I couldn’t bring myself to send along a camera when my men would be so busy with their clubs.  
They came home with wonderful stories, though.  The men who followed mine play every day, and they were quite impressed with how well our Little Man hit the ball.  He was able to recognize that he acted shyly towards them, so we got in a lesson on stranger danger afterwards.  My Little Man gleefully told about the time that he hit the ball down a hill, across a bridge, and up the other side – and Daddy’s went into the creek.  He loved that one!
After returning home, our Little Man had to show me how he hit the ball.  He practiced with a ping pong ball in the front yard.  I have a feeling that will be happening much more often.
Putting his club back in the bag.  He was sad to stop so soon – but tired enough for a three-hour nap!
Daddy dates are very important.  It gives fathers and children a chance to bond, to learn each other’s personalities, to establish a trust that can continue to be built upon throughout life – and that will be there when the tough times come, as they always do.  Daddy was very impressed with Luke’s behavior on this, their first golfing outing.  Our Little Man was proud and excited to be his daddy’s golfing buddy.  He’s already asking when they can go again.
I foresee many more golf outings in the future!
How do you date your children?

Field Work Friday – Playing the Guitar

Musical instruments are exciting.  Hard to play, perhaps not exciting to practice, but always exciting to be able to hang out, make music, and bring people together.

Pastor Jason, a Duke seminary student interning at Warren’s Grove UMC  this summer, is a great guitarist.  He’s also wonderful with children, and so he agreed to give us a group guitar lesson.

He began by teaching us about different types of guitars – classical, electric, and acoustic.
Then he taught us about the parts of the guitar, how to place our fingers to make chords, and then he gave each child a chance to strum his guitar.


Pastor Jason also knows how to play the drums, and he brought along an African drum.  He taught the kids how to make different sounds with it by tapping it with different parts of their hands.


Each kid got a chance to try that out, too ….


and they really liked it!


Then Pastor Jason taught us how to make patterns and rhythms by tapping on our legs and imitating his drums.


He closed by playing Down in My Heart and letting us all sing along.  The kids loved it, and it was a great way to hear how the guitar could pull our voices and chords together.
Thanks, Pastor Jason, for sharing your time and talents with us!
Do you play an instrument?  How did you learn?

Field Work Friday – The Fire Station

The fire station has been, in my opinion, one of our most informative visits so far. Maybe that’s because one of their main goals is to educate so that they aren’t needed – but at any rate, the firefighters who visited with us were wonderful.

The fire fighters took us back to their training room first and we watched a short cartoon about how quickly a fire can engulf a house and how make an emergency plan – planning an escape route, meeting place, and knowing the exits from each room of the house.
Then they modeled their gear and let us hear how the air tanks sound. They gave each child a backpack full of coloring books, stickers, informational pamphlets, keychains, cups, etc. My little firefighter wears his backpack – ahem, his air tank – around the house now when he’s fighting a fire!
After that we went out to the bay and got to climb on some trucks. The firefighters answered questions about various parts and purposes and let the kids really check it all out.
Some even posed for pictures.
We decided that the giant bumpers made great places to pose for pictures. What cute firefighters!
This small vehicle is ridden by the fire chief in parades. This was by far the kids’ favorite – it was more their size!
My little firefighter became so into fire safety during our study of it this week that we ended up having a whole family discussion about it after visiting the fire station. We designated a neighbor’s porch as our emergency meeting place and even practiced climbing out of a window (to alleviate our daughter’s fears of how it would work). Our smoke detectors have new batteries and we still pray that God will guard us from a fire, but should it happen, my short fire crew of fire fighters knows what to do.
If you’ve never visited your local fire station, give them a call. Who knows – you might learn something, too!

Field Work Friday – Ethiopia

This week we had a very special guest – a local man who has made several mission trips to Ethiopia – and is planning his next one.
Jason began by telling us a bit about himself and how God has led him to Ethiopia.  From there we learned about its location and climate.
Ethiopia is a land-locked country west of the Horn of Africa.  It’s dry most of the year but does have a rainy season, and while many people think of animals when they think of this country, there are far more animals in Kenya to the south.  Despite this, snakes and hyenas do populate the country.  Hyenas are dangerous to people and in some places towns consist of ‘compounds’ with guarded gates at night where hyenas roam the streets, searching for food.

It takes 16 hours to fly from North Carolina to Ethiopia’s capital city and then another 16 hours to travel by Land Rover to the southern villages where Jason works.  Outside of the city the roads are rough dirt and full of potholes, people, and animals.  He said that honking is an acceptable means of asking people to watch out!

Ethiopia is the only African county that was never colonized.  Because of that, and because an Ethiopian man visited with Paul in the Bible and there were early Christian settlements there, Ethiopia is quite friendly to foreign missionaries.  It is not the only faith there, however; another popular one being Islam.


Jason brought along a laptop and showed us pictures and videos of his travels.  Despite the extreme dryness, the landscape was very green and beautiful.

These mission trips each serve a specific purpose and help established Christian groups in Ethiopia.  The extreme poverty of the rural areas makes communication and shopping difficult, and so Bibles are in short supply.  Armed with an arsenal of Bibles, Jason’s group gets to distribute them – but the demand is great for Bibles in their own language.  While they pass them out for free, they need a way to decide who gets each limited quantity, so the requirement is the recitation of a scripture passage.  People wanting to get a Bible borrow one from a friend, learn the required passage, and then come to the distribution point and recite it.  In this picture, you can see the elders standing around a man reciting his passage and going up to receive his Bible.
What was especially humbling about watching this video was seeing the man dancing in his excitement, reciting his passage, and knowing that he would walk hours home carrying it – after walking hours to get there.  Bibles are so rare and precious that the people are willing to put that much effort into acquiring one – and there were crowds of people waiting for this chance.  How often do I claim I’m too tired – it’s too hard to understand – I don’t like this translation – and not even pick it up?  To me, this was convicting.
Because people are poor and many live far away from commercial businesses, they are skilled at making things for themselves.  (There is a market day in each town to buy, sell, or trade for the goods they need.)  This hat was an example of something that they made to fill a need – and the craftsmanship was beautiful!
This shirt was another.  It was subtly colorful and had embroidery on the collar and cuffs.
Jason purchased this ball on one of his trips for his son.  The embroidery on each circle features letters of their alphabet.
This is an Ethiopian coin.
Jason went waayyyy above and beyond the call of duty.  Not only did he make time in his busy schedule to speak to us, but he also brought an Ethiopian dollar for each of the children.

He brought a favorite Ethiopian snack, too:  /fond-i-shaa./  (No idea how to spell that – but that’s my phonetic version.)  Popcorn!

My Little Man is excited about his popcorn.  He’s also been telling everyone about the bumpy roads and grassy houses of “Indotheopia.”  I’m sure he’ll figure out the name soon.

I hear that there’s an Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh. Maybe one of these days we’ll venture down and try something new!

I didn’t realize I had so many preconceived notions about Ethiopia until I heard Jason speak.  It sounds like a beautiful, friendly, wild, hardworking nation.  

What nation would you like to learn more about??

Field Work Friday – Eating Egyptian

Whenever we study a specific culture or country, I try to find a place where we can eat something with the particular spices or preparations from that place.
Finding Egyptian food wasn’t exactly easy, but we found a Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Raleigh called Shish Kabob.  Since Egypt is bordered on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, we thought they might have something Egyptian-like to offer – and at the very least, it would be a new food experience for us.
We weren’t mistaken.
We chose to order two different dishes and share them among us.  (I didn’t think to take pictures until after I had divided the dishes.  The original portions were much larger.)
Our marinated and flame-grilled beef kabobs came served with spiced rice, a sauce, and warm pita.


A falafel was a very new dish to me.  It was served in a long hoagie-style roll with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki  sauce.
While the basic ingredients weren’t too foreign to us, we weren’t sure exactly what spices were in things or what the sauces might be like, and so we had lots of questions.  The man at the counter was very patient with us and answered all of our questions.  He even gave us a stuffed grape leaf for free so that we could try it!  We appreciated his kindness – and the opportunity to try something we might not have otherwise.



Shish Kabob is a carry-out restaurant at the downtown Raleigh location, but the weather was beautiful and there are lots of tables just outside, so we enjoyed a picnic dinner with friends.   I divided our food among us and we dug in.
The kids loved the kebobs.  It was straight-up delicious meat, tender and flavorful.  They loved it.
They thought the rice was okay.  I thought it was rather exotic.  We were all curious to know what spices it contained, as it had a very unique flavor, but when we asked, we were told “seven.”  I guess it’s their secret blend!
I particularly enjoyed the falafel.  Rather like a vegetarian meatball, it was crunchy on the outside but warm and soft on the inside.  It had a surprising kick of spice to it, which I liked a lot – but the kids didn’t.  It was too much for them.  
Their favorite item was the pita.  It was soft and warm, and both kids wanted extra.  It was definitely an exciting find.
We don’t have a Shish Kabob location near us, so it isn’t a place we’ll be able to visit too often.  Our dinner was so yummy, though, that we’ll definitely be back.
Have you ever eaten Egyptian food?

Field Work Friday – Scavenger Hunts at Duke Gardens

This week we ventured to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, part of Duke University.  I planned several scavenger hunt sheets so that our children, who usually range in age from 1 to 8, could all participate in some way.

Because the temperature was supposed to get into the mid-90s, we met at 9 AM.  After arranging our meeting places and picking up maps, we headed out into the 50+ acre garden.

While I was excited about searching out different items with My Little Man and then discussing them with the group as a whole over a picnic lunch, I was very excited to introduce my friend Noelle to our group.

Noelle has been honing her photography skills for years and agreed to take pictures of our children while we hunted throughout the garden.  Because this particular garden is so diverse and has so many fountains and special features, it makes the perfect place for special pictures.

(If you would live in our neck of the woods and would like fabulous pictures of  your children or next event, you can check out Noelle’s blog.  Contact her for more information!)

We’ll have Noelle’s pictures back soon, but you can see some of the topics for the various scavenger hunts.  We didn’t do all of these, but we found pieces of them all ….

For those of us doing the number hunt, we found a plant with ONE main base.

For those people doing the color search, we found an animal with RED wings.

We found a rock that could be used like a chair, just as Jessie did in The Boxcar Children, for those people doing the literature hunt.

We found SPHERICAL flowers, a shape needed on the shape hunt.

Of course, all that hunting made us very hot and thirsty ..

It was tempting to just step right off those stones …

but we stuck to our water bottles, instead.

If you would like to take these scavenger hunts outside yourself, you can find copies of them here.

Have you done an old-fashioned scavenger hunt lately?  What interesting things can you find in your backyard or local park?