Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Pirates

The Golden Age of Pirates was from 1560 to 1730 and many of the most famous pirates were based in the Caribbean.  The most notorious pirates lived around 1700 and include: Blackbeard (considered the most feared pirate), Calico Jack Rackham (who created the classic Jolly Roger flag with scull and crossbones), Henry Morgan and Bartholomew Roberts (both very successful pirates).

Fun Pirate Facts:

1. They Rarely Buried Treasure

2. Their Careers Didn’t Last Long

3. They Had Rules and Regulations

4. They Didn’t Walk the Plank

5. A Good Pirate Ship had Good Officers

6. The Pirates Didn’t Limit Themselves to the Caribbean

7. There Were Women Pirates

8. Piracy was better than the Alternatives

9. They came from all Social Classes

10. Not all Pirates were Criminals

Learn more about each of these facts at About.com.

Check out these and other books about Pirates at your local library.

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Pirate Crafts:

Pirate’s Hat

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Pirate Flag.

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Paper Plate Pirate

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Paper Plate Parrot

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Sunset Pirate Ship

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Pirate Masks

pirate-masks

Newspaper Pirate Hat

NewspaperPirateHat16RS6k[1]

Pirate’s Hook

pirate-hook-craft

Easy Catapult 

EasyCatapult13RS6k[1]

Pirate Activities:

How to Talk Like a Pirate

Sandpit Treasure Hunt

Online Pirate Quiz

Pirate Maze

Pirate Song

Pirate Poem

Pirate Snacks:

Pirate Ship Cheese and Apples

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Treasure Map Quesadilla 

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Pirate Sandwich

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Jolly Roger Sandwich

PirateLunchW[1]

Additional Lesson Plans:

Teachers.net

WorldHistory.org

YahooVoices.com

Au Pair International puts together weekly learning crafts and activities called Theme of the Week to help au pairs and host parents with ideas about educational and fun activities to do with their kids.  Want to learn more about au pairs?  Check out au pair profiles on our website.

Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Jellyfish

Jellyfish are beautiful marine creatures that can be found in oceans all over the world, even near Antarctica.  They can be found at the surface of the water or down deep in the sea.  They are very simple organisms that have an umbrella-shaped top and tentacles that trail below.  Jellyfish use their tentacles like a net to find food.  Their tentacles also are a great defense mechanism since they carry venom that is shot into a predator, temporarily paralyzing it and allowing the jellyfish to escape.

Did you know…

… some jellyfish are bigger than a human and others are as small as a pinhead?
… people in some countries eat jellyfish?
… that jellyfish have been on Earth for millions of years, even before dinosaurs?
… jellyfish have no brain but some kinds have eyes?
… that jellyfish are mainly made up of water and protein?
… a group of jellyfish is called a smack? (http://www.jellywatch.org/blooms/facts)

Want to learn more about jellyfish?  Check out these websites:

http://twistedsifter.com/2009/06/10-amazing-facts-about-jellyfish/

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/jellyfish/

http://www.jellyfishfacts.net/

Jellyfish Activities:

Make your own jellyfish lights.

make-your-own-jellyfish-lights

Check out this amazing jellyfish in a bottle.

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Create a fun jellyfish umbrella.

l in jellyfish

These are beautiful ribbon jellyfish.

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These jellyfish are easy for kids of any age.

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Pretend with this no-sew jellyfish costume.

jellyfish-costume

Make glow-in-the-dark jellyfish.

jellyfish 8

Jellyfish Song and Video:

The Jellyfish Song

Jellyfish Poem:

The Lost Jellyfish

Jellyfish Snacks:

Jello Jellyfish

jello jellyfish

Hot Dogs Jellyfish

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Jellyfish Sandwiches

JELLYFISH-SANDWICH

Jellyfish Lesson Plans:

Westfield

Bright Hub Education

Suite 101

Books about Jellyfish:  Go visit your local library to find these and other books about jellyfish.

book4 book1 book2 book3

 

 

 

Theme of the Week:  Au Pair International developed the Theme of the Week to give au pairs different ideas of things to do with the kids they take care of.  If you are interested in learning more about the Au Pair Program, contact Au Pair International.

Au Pair Advice, Host Family Questions

6 Traits of an Amazing Au Pair

Having worked with host families and au pairs for over 5 years, I have had many opportunities to see wonderful matches where the host family and au pair end up truly caring for each other like family, and I have also seen matches that haven’t been as wonderful.  While each match is unique with its own set of pros and cons, there are some common au pair traits that seem to help ensure success.

An interest in children:  I know that it has been said that you don’t need a burning love for children in order to be an au pair, but you do need a general interest in them.  Potential au pairs whose main concern is what there is to do in the area and how much time they will get off generally don’t get chosen to be the au pair.  Families want to know that their au pair has a genuine interest in children and their well-being.  Let’s face it; most au pairs are alone, in the house, with the children, all day long.  If the sound of a child’s voice grates on your nerves like nails on a chalkboard, then this probably isn’t the right path for you.

This goes for after arrival, too.  If an au pair acts interested in the children and their activities when communicating with them before she arrives, but then doesn’t have time for them once she arrives, the family feels deceived  and wonders what else the au pair has misled them about.

Truly successful au pairs are the ones who take their job seriously and are invested in the children.  They get down on the floor and play trucks, they have tea parties, and they read the kids the same book over and over and over again.  In a nutshell, truly successful au pairs are the ones who do the things with the children that the parents would do if they could be home.

Patience: Anyone who thinks that working with children all day is easy, hasn’t ever done it.  It takes patience for crying, sticky fingers, messes, crying, toys everywhere, homework battles… oh and crying.  Au pairs need to be prepared that most days will be pretty good, but some days will be very hard.  Patience on the hard days will be rewarded when the children put their arms around you and tell you how much they love you.

Flexibility: There are certain rules put in place to protect the au pair and host family.  It is very important that those rules are followed, but there also needs to be some flexibility.  Sometimes schedules change.  Sometimes parents are late.  Illnesses happen and life is sometimes just crazy.  If an occasional bending or breaking of a rule happens, then you need to talk to your host family about it in a casual way.  If your host family repeatedly disregards the rules, then that is another issue entirely and should be discussed with your agency.

Interest in the family: Most families really want their au pair to be a part of the family.  If the au pair is distant or spends little of her off-duty time with the family, the family feels that she only matched with them to get to come to a new country and not because she wanted to participate in a cultural exchange program.  I worked with an au pair once who would go up to her room as soon as her shift was over, and wouldn’t come out for the rest of the evening.  The family would ask her if she was hungry for dinner or wanted to do activities and she would decline and then sneak down after everyone was in bed and go find something to eat.  Needless to say, this match didn’t work out.

The best matches are the ones where everyone really cares for each other.  This is demonstrated when the host family invites the au pair along to different activities or does extra things to help her feel at home, like introducing her customs into their household.  I once had a host family who had a traditional German Christmas for their au pair.  This helped her feel loved and accepted.

Au pairs show their appreciation by pitching in and helping when it isn’t required.  Just because you aren’t on duty doesn’t mean you can’t help with the dishes or play with the kids or attend a child’s recital.   Now this doesn’t mean that au pairs should spend all their free time with the family.  It is important for them to get out, explore, and meet people.  It is very important to find the balance between the two.

Initiative:  Families don’t want to have to tell au pairs to do every little thing.  If the baby needs changing, the families want the au pair to go change him.  If the kids have homework to do, the au pair should make sure that happens on time.  If the kids are bored, the family wants the au pair to come up with activities to do.  You are in charge during certain hours of the day, so take charge.  Make sure the children are well-cared for and engaged and if you are off-duty still be attentive to the children’s needs, like you would as a member of the family.

Maturity:  There is a reason that au pairs must be at least 18 years old.  Families are not looking to bring another child into their home; they are looking for an adult to help make their lives easier.  Successful au pairs are the ones who take responsibility for their needs and happiness.  If you have a problem, don’t expect your family to solve it for you.  First, you will need to research your options (the internet, your agency and fellow au pairs are good resources for this), come up with some possible solutions, and then go to your host family and discuss with them what will work best.  They are there to help you, but not solve your problems for you.

Now, I know I have just focused on what qualities are important for an au pair.  There are just as many qualities that are important for host families to have, the most important being dependability, compassion, appreciation, and trust.  In my experience, matches that have these qualities are amazing experiences for everyone involved and result in life-long friendships.