More Than Warmth: a Quilt Project and World Culture Education

One of the more exciting places I’ve discovered on line that incorporates service, hands on projects and learning about other cultures:

More than Warmth


From their website:

More than Warmth is an educational project for students of all ages to learn about world cultures. It fosters understanding, knowledge and compassion among cultures through nonviolent, nonpolitical, and nonreligious means.

Complete lesson plans in the form of a unit study for elementary ages up through high school covering Visual Arts, Social Studies, Language Arts and Math, resources needed, and names of videos. Education materials are suggested, that you can use as a starting off point for you, as well as instructions on how to make quilts addresses to where the quilts can be sent.

Not sure how current this information is, as the copyright on the website is from 2004 to 2008 and the newsletter is said to have been updated in 2011. However, the information and ideas are enough to start something similar in your family or better yet, a co-op.

If you believe in extending caring and compassion beyond your home and borders — not instead of, but beyond — and want to impart those values to your children,  this can be a good resource in your inclusive home school.

Keep Learning!
~ Demian


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Photo by Don Waters

Photo by Don Waters

Learning about other people’s cultures and perspectives is not only important but crucial in a world that is getting smaller day by day. But it’s hard to really hear what others have to say when everything goes through our filters, clouding what we hear. We bring our own prejudices and expectations into any setting, and this happens with everyone.

The difference is that when you have power or come from a group that has power, it’s not just a language or cultural barrier between two cultures that’s a challenge. It’s the imbalance of power that ultimately means the one with the power gets to do the interpreting and defining.

Indigenous People, known by most as “Native Americans” of North America have suffered especially from this.

I know for many years I had struggled with the misguided notions of what it means to be Native American and often what I thought was honoring the various Nations was actually burying them deeper into stereotypes.

Many people take “We welcome all faiths” to automatically assume all faiths welcome us. They don’t.

Many of us feel that because we’re comfortable picking and choosing what’s right for us in terms of spiritual development and worship, that we somehow have a right to pick and choose from other people’s beliefs and customs. We don’t.

Many of think doing something that we feel is honoring someone else is good enough. It’s not.

I do believe most of us mean well, and I really do commend the desire to learn more about another culture. But the best source is the direct source, not watered down, mutated versions designed to be more palatable (i.e. marketable) sources.

If you want your children to learn about the First Nations living within the United States, then go directly to them.

Literature is one of the best ways to learn about another. It’s a look into another person’s world through story. But a lot of stories claiming to be about the lives of Native Americans are written either by non-natives or are stories served to a dominant culture like chop suey is created specifically to western tastes and passed off as Asian.

An excellent resource for learning about Indigenous People of North America is It’s a personal blog of passion written by Debbie Reese.

From the about page:

Established in 2006, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society.

It contains a wealth of information. You will find links to curriculum resources that Ms. Reese recommends and articles about those she doesn’t and why. Just perusing her website is education in and of itself.

I especially recommend exploring this site when so much is unfolding in North Dakota with the pipeline protests. It will help to have a better understanding of what’s happening now if you can put it within a cultural and historical context.

Keep Learning!
~ Demian Yumei

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Awakening a long dormant blog…

So when I started this blog, my youngest was just entering her teen years. She’s now a breath away from leaving them behind. So much has happened during this time and though technically I’m done with home schooling (though I am still very much involved in my daughter’s education at her request) I am never done with the learning process. So with this new shift of gears, I will once again attempt to share my experiences and resources on diversity and different learning styles.

I am, also, working on a book manuscript and write for two other blogs, while holding a full-time job as a single mom, so my goal is to post on a fairly regular basis… say more than once every four years, and make this blog one of my writing priorities for 2016!

Keep learning!

Note: I have temporarily suspended subscriber registration due to an incredible amount of spam users. I will set up a new feature that will make it easy to comment if desired but harder to spam.

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The Arts of the Islamic World – Smithsonian

Portrait of a Panter from Smithsonian One of my favorite ways to study history is through the arts. What better resource than the Smithsonian and their art exhibits? The Smithsonian Museum of Asian Arts provides a cornucopia of resources, including teacher’s guides and online tours.

Today I want to share with you the information they have about Islam, a religion most non-Muslims know little about. If western Christians and western non-religious folks know a little bit about Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, we know next to nothing about Islam, and what we do know is often tainted with fear and prejudice.

So I was delighted to find The Arts of the Islamic World. You can view the wonderful pieces the Smithsonian has through their online tour, which has gorgeous photos and corresponding information. To help you place the works of art within a cultural context, the Smithsonian offers a teacher’s guide.

Arts of the Islamic World – A Teacher’s Guide.
(Click on the photo for a screen shot of the Table of Contents)

The teacher’s guide provides a basic cultural and historical background, examples and background of various forms of art, as well as projects to do yourself. I enjoyed reading the first person accounts of what it means to be Muslim and how they practice. Various forms of Islamic art are explored and lesson plans are available for teaching different age groups or perhaps more accurately, levels of development and inclination so you can better modify it for your home use. It also contains a list of resources for further study and exploration.

We will be studying Islamic culture later this year, and when we do this will be one of the resources we use.

The Smithsonian is a great place to visit, and if you can’t, then using their online resources is the next best thing. Art creatively captures the unique perspectives of both cultures and individuals, at the same time showing us how similar we are in our humanity and dreams. I look forward to using this resource in educating ourselves about this fascinating culture, and will share other resources I find along the way.

If you’re aware of any other resources or have any favorites, please, don’t hesitate to share! Thanks 🙂

~Demian Yumei

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Lesson Plans for Spiderwick Chronicles

Here are some links to Spiderwick Chronicles lesson plans and worksheets.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster: Some nice suggestions for various projects you can pick and choose. I especially liked the one about making a faerie house from natural materials, and tying it in to a writing project.

CurriculumGuide.pdf .

The accompanying WORKSHEETS are of good quality. They go beyond matching or filling in the blanks or finding words in word search puzzles, addressing the more creative side of students, while honing academic skills. There’s a nice worksheet on deductive reasoning on this page.

More WORKSHEETS. Including a boardgame and trading cards you create.

Even though we’ve read this book some years back, it might be fun to share them with the grandkids. We can modify some of the activities.

For more lesson plans you can go to and do a search on Spiderwick Chronicles. They are not free, but the most expensive one I found is $7.00. Personally, I think picking a few activities from Simon and Schuster, and maybe keeping a log of new vocabulary words you come across is pretty much all you need to do. You can kill a book and interrupt the storyline by interjecting too many educational activities.

Discussion, encouraging my child to share highlights, to express her ideas and understanding as she goes through the book, and picking things apart to meet standards later, if you must, is my preference for younger students. High school is more appropriate for literary analysis, but again, not at the expense of destroying your enjoyment of a good read.

A good story has something to say to you. You have to be careful not to drown it out with too many “right” or “wrong” answers, because every story is a personal conversation with the reader.

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