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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Monique and I have been adding a lot of Drop the Handkerchief Games to Mama Lisa’s World.  This got Monique thinking about the actual meaning of handkerchief in different languages.  Here are some of her thoughts… "I was thinking about the word for handkerchief in some languages and it’s funny what they literally mean. In English,...
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The word "lagniappe" is really fantastic.  It’s a small gift given from a merchant to a customer who’s buying something. "Lagniappe" comes from the Quechua word "yapa". We have some restaurants near us that give dessert as a lagniappe.  It produces a kind of "oooh" effect when you receive it, precisely because you weren’t expecting it...
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"Pumpkin, Pumpkin" is a cute little song that’s sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".  It’s perfect for October and Halloween. You can watch the video below and read along with the lyrics. Pumpkin, Pumpkin 1. Pumpkin, pumpkin on the ground 2. How’d you get so big and round? ...
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Can you believe that the American song "Yankee Doodle" is the music that played at the start of the revolution that lead to an Imperial Japan? ‘Yankee Doodle" is a song from prerevolutionary America. The British used it to mock the American Colonists. Then the Americans turned around and proudly claimed the song as their...
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Did you ever wonder whether specific proverbs and idiomatic expressions are still used in the English language?  Here I discuss some phrases that begin with the letter "A" and how well-known they are.  These proverbs are specifically about animals.  They can be found on the site The Phrase Finder.  The discussion here is specially from...
Joann wrote asking for help with a song she’s researching for a 90 year old friend.  Here’s her letter: Do you know of a song sung years ago in the USA, but possibly of Welsh in origin with the phrase, "Terunden, teroden"? The lady is in her mid-nineties, she gave more words but didn’t have any idea...
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Wynken, Blynken and Nod is a beloved bedtime poem about sailing in the sky in a wooden shoe and fishing for the stars.  The names "Wynken", "Blynken" and "Nod" represent a child’s sleepy eyes and head.  The wooden shoe symbolizes his bed.  He dreams of the stars while his mother sings him to sleep.  This...
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Design Resource has a great site about children’s games in India.  The site includes instructions for indoor and outdoor games.  The indoor games include hand-clapping rhymes and games played with stones and shells.  The outdoor games include circle games and other types of games played outside. Check it out! Mama Lisa
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Duck, Duck, Goose is a game every English-speaking kindergartener knows.  In other cultures, there’s a similar game called Drop the Handkerchief.  Here’s the difference… Duck, Duck, Goose To play Duck, Duck, Goose the kids sit in a circle except for the one who’s "It".  The person who is "It" goes around tapping each child’s head saying "Duck". ...
Bob Anderson wrote looking for help with a Swedish childhood rhyme.  Here’s his question: Do you know of a children’s verse my dad (born 1879) used to do with the grandkids?  He would bounce them on his knees, holding their hands, and at the climax, open his knees and drop them down as if to drop...
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Can you imagine seeing a Giant Rubber Duck floating in a river by you?  A Giant Rubber Duck has been sited in some major cities around the world! The Rubber Duck sculpture was created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.   It’s been part of a tour called "Spreading Joy around the World". The hope is to help...
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Sushi is a delicious cuisine from Japan!  Did you know there’s a right way to eat it?  Here’s how… 1. Pick up the sushi rolls (the type that’s wrapped in seaweed) with your fingers and dip one side into the soy sauce and put it into your mouth. The type of sushi that’s just rice and...
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"The Swing" is a poem that describes something all kids have thought of while swinging… What if I went really high up on the swing? What would I see? You can read "The Swing" below and listen to a wonderful recording of it. It was recited by a boy named Willy.  MP3 Recording of The Swing The...
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This video about local festivals around the world will surprise you.  The festivals include rolling cheese down a hill in England, a buffet for Monkeys in Thailand and a Yorkshire Pudding Boat race for kids.  (If I was a kid in that race I think I’d eat my boat!) Check out the video below… ...
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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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