Monday, 8 May 2017

May Day Parade: A Unique Tradition in the Twin Cities

Similar in Spain, there are several festivals in May throughout the United States. Different states have their unique traditions and the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, have one of the coolest festivals around!

Minneapolis is located in the state of Minnesota, which is in the north-central part of the US.

On May Day, which is the first day of May, hundreds of people dress up in costumes and walk in the parade. The processions comment on current social and political issues. For example, this year, there were many processions about domestic politics, including the election of Donald Trump and immigration. 

This photo is from the 2016 parade. This puppet commemorates the death of Prince, a famous musician that was from Minnesota.

After the parade, there is a big ceremony called the Tree of Life ceremony. The ceremony consists of a story told with children, dancers, puppeteers, a live orchestra and four giant puppets who represent the Prairie, Sky, River, and Woods. The story is about welcoming warmer weather and celebrating the joy of no more winter!

This is one of the major puppets from the Tree of Life ceremony! 

These are the Prairie, Sky, River, and Woods puppets in the Tree of Life ceremony


1. Where is the May Day parade located?
2. What does the parade celebrate?
3. What is the main idea of the ceremony after the parade?
4. If you had to participate in the May Day parade, what would you dress up as?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Imperial vs. Metric System

Have you ever heard of pounds? Inches? Feet? Miles?

If so, you have heard of the imperial system! Americans, along with a few other countries in the world, use the imperial system to measure objects rather than the metric system. There is no real reason that we use this system other than tradition!

The map above illustrates the countries that use the imperial system and those that use the metric system. There are only three countries that use the imperial system.

A few examples of the imperial system are:

1 yard (yd) = 0.914 meters (m)

1 inch (in) = 2.54 centimeters (cm)
1 pound (lb) = 0.45 kilograms (km)

1 ounce (oz)  = 28.35 grams (g)
1 gallon (g) = 3.78 liters (l)
1 fluid ounce (oz) = 29.6 milliliters (ml)
Using the conversions above, can you answer the following questions?

How many yards are in 5 meters?

How many inches are in 10 meters?
How many kilograms are in 3 pounds?
How many ounces are in 500 grams?

Comprehension questions:

Why do Americans use the imperial system?

What are a few examples of imperial measurements?

Which countries use the imperial system?

Name three countries that use the metric system (other than Spain). 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Groundhog Day

America is a diverse country with a plethora of traditions. Groundhog Day is among the most widely celebrated, and strangest, customs.

What is Groundhog Day?

On February 2nd, Americans celebrate Groundhog Day, which is the day that we find out whether there will be six more weeks of winter or the early arrival of spring. It's not like normal when a weatherman gives the forecast. Rather, a groundhog, called Punxsutawney Phil, emerges from his burrow to forecast the weather.

Groundhog Day takes place in small town in Pennsylvania called Punxsutawney (punks-a-tone-y).

Punxsutawney Phil!

How does the Groundhog tell us the weather?

According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges, then the spring season will arrive early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

This photo illustrates organizers giving the forecast of Punxsutawney Phil.

How do we celebrate Groundhog Day?

Thousands of Americans watch the groundhog on TV with their family and friends. There are also social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and plays are performed.

If you want to learn more about this quirky tradition, you can watch the film Groundhog Day. Here is the link to the trailer:

Monday, 23 January 2017

Inauguration Day

This past Friday, the United States witnessed its 45th presidential inauguration. Although the president himself is controversial, the inauguration contains many traditions.

What is Inauguration Day? 

Inauguration Day marks the swearing-in of the incoming president. 

Thousands of people attend the Inauguration and fill the National Mall, which is the center of Washington D.C..

What Happens on Inauguration Day?

Before the president and vice-president are sworn-in, they drive to the Capitol together. Although they may not speak to each other during the ride, they carry out an important gesture that symbolizes a peaceful transfer of power. 

Once both elected officials arrive at the Capital, they are sworn in. After the vice-president is sworn in, the president-elect takes the Oath of Office administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Afterwards, the new president makes his inaugural speech.

After that, the president and vice-president attend a lunch hosted by senior Congressional officials.  

Once lunch is over, the president walks from the Capital to the White House, where he will be living and working for the next four years. 

After he arrives at the White House, a parade begins on Pennsylvania Avenue, which includes dancers, singers, military displays and floats. People from all over the country see and participate in the parade.