Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
A place for poems, songs, rhymes and traditions from around the world for both kids and grown-ups to enjoy!
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Articles about 'Countries & Cultures'
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Vanuatu is a country that consists of a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. There’s a kids game that’s played there called, "What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?"  This game is played throughout the English-speaking world. How to play "What’s the Time Mr. Wolf": The kids go around in a circle like a clock. They say: One,...
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Sit back, relax and enjoy the sound of an instrument known as the "steel pan" that’s played in Sint Maartin.  The steel pan originated in Trinidad.  It was introduced to Sint Maartin in the mid 1900’s.   Now that’s the sound of vacation! Mama Lisa Image: Wikipedia
We are trying to find the lyrics to this lovely traditional song from Sierra Leone.  It’s in the Mende language. If anyone can help with the lyrics and/or a translation, please let us know in the comments below.  We would love to add this song to Mama Lisa’s World! Thanks! -Mama Lisa
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Mama Lisa’s World has been growing fast!  Lately we’ve made a particular push to put up more songs from Africa. Here are some of the more recent African countries we’ve added songs to on Mama Lisa’s World:  Kids Songs and Lullabies of Burkina Faso   Choosing Rhyme from Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)   Kids Songs and Lullabies from Ethiopia   Lullaby from...
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The Star Festival is held in Japan in July.  It’s called Tanabata. Tanabata means "evening of the seventh"… it takes place at night on July 7th every year.  Ayako Egawa wrote about it from Japan: "Tanabata is the Star Festival held on July 7th.  It originated in China.  We hang pretty fancy origami paper on which...
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For all of you who speak Spanish or French and are bringing up your children multilingual, check out Pluribus Linguis to see how one family goes about this ambitious task.  (The site is in French and Spanish.)  Feel free to share your own experiences bringing up multilingual kids in the comments below. Pour vous qui parlez...
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Here’s a quick podcast about why chopsticks became more popular for eating than silverware in some countries…
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Here’s a wonderful song for preschoolers and kindergartners to learn about the head and face. This song is sung in English in Cameroon, Africa.  It was sung for us by Nyango M. Nambangi. MP3 Recording of I Have a Head I Have a Head I have a head, a head, I have a head,...
Anigur is a traditional musical game in Mauritania that’s been around for a long time.  Two people dance and duel with sticks to a beat.  The spectators play the drums or clap to encourage them on. This game is played more for amusement than anything else.  It’s played at weddings and special events too. You...
John Ziak wrote asking for help with two childhood songs: Lisa, I have been searching for sometime to find a song/nursery rhyme that my grandfather sang to me when I was young.  He passed away 16 years ago and no one in my family can remember any more words than I.  The song originates from Czech or...
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Written by Sadao Mazuka in Japan. The tune to "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" comes from Europe in the 18th century.  It has travelled all over the globe, from France, to the US, to Japan.  Here’s a breakdown of the route it’s taken… 1752 (France) – Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau composed the original tune to "Go Tell Aunt...
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Eric Hill, author of the Spot the Dog children’s books, passed away this week at 86.  Hill created Spot for his young son in 1976.  In 1980, he created the first lift-the-flap book to ever exist called "Where’s Spot?".  He came up with the "lift-the-flap" design after he had seen it on advertising flyers.  What...
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Sadao Mazuka sent us this article about the rainy season of June in Japan… June is a rainy season here in Japan.  The English word “June” gives us a feeling of bright and refreshing air, especially with a word such as, “June-Bride”.  But in Japanese, it’s “6月(Rokugatsu = June)”.  It makes us think of a rather...
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The Persian New Year is celebrated on the first day of Spring.  It’s called Nowruz.  There are many New Year traditions, including throwing grass into a river or lake.  Here’s what Fatima wrote from Iran about some New Year’s traditions: In the last month of the Iranian year people shake up the house (i.e. they clean...
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The expression "to tie the knot" means "to get married".   There are several places where tied knots have been connected to marriage and love. During Roman times, brides wore a belt or girdle at their wedding tied in a Hercules Knot. Only the groom was allowed to untie it (the unloosening was supposed to be a...
Kim wrote asking for help with a Ukrainian rhyme her grandmother sings.  She would like the correct spelling.  Here’s Kim’s email along with a recording in which her grandmother sang the rhyme… Hi, My Grandmother was trying to teach me the words today to this Ukrainian rhyme. I do not speak Ukrainian, and she cannot spell or...
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Today is the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion (D-day)… which helped turned the tide of WWII in the allies favor. At this site, you can see interesting photos of Normandy on D-day and now.
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Shigin is a way of reciting poems in Japanese that most likely dates back to the 5th century.  The poems are chanted, often before an audience.    We’re lucky enough to have a Shigin recitation of the famous Haiku poem, “Furuike ya” (Old Pond).  The poem was recited by Shihoko Mazuka.  You can hear it below...
One of the most well-known forms of Japanese poetry is Haiku.  Yet there are many other forms of poems in Japan and it’s interesting to learn about them. Haiku poetry follows a pattern of 5-7-5.  That means the 1st line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 and the third line has 5 syllables.  Haiku...
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Eating bugs might sound disgusting to most of us today, but some people used to love it!  Maybugs or Cockchafers used to be a great nuisance to crops in Europe.  People were encouraged to hunt them down to lower their population.  There’s even a French song about hunting Maybugs called Il était un petit homme...

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