Raleigh Easter 2016

Easter Egg Hunt

photo credit: IMG_3276 via photopin (license)

Easter is coming soon, and you may want to find some fun activities to do with your family. I’m going to tell you about one activity your whole family will enjoy – Raleigh Easter.

Raleigh Easter is an annual (every year) event in downtown Raleigh. It is the largest Easter event in the city. The city of Raleigh has small events in various parks, but if you want to see a bigger event, you should check out Raleigh Easter.

What can my family do at Raleigh Easter?

Raleigh Easter has many fun activities for children. They can jump in an inflatable (filled with air) bounce house, they can play games, they can get free balloons, and they can find Easter eggs with toys and candy inside. There will be 7 different times for egg hunts and 60,000 eggs to find!

I’m worried that my young children will get hurt by older children.

Don’t worry. Raleigh Easter has special times for young children to find eggs without older children around. Your little ones should be very safe.

How much does it cost to participate?

Raleigh Easter is FREE! When you arrive, you must go to the registration table to get a wristband (a plastic bracelet like you get at a concert or the hospital). The wristband will help the volunteers to know your child’s age so that he/she is in the right egg hunt group.

When and where is Raleigh Easter?

This year, Raleigh Easter will be on March 26 at Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. Halifax Mall is located at 423 N Wilmington St. The first egg hunt starts at 10:00 a.m., but go early to register and play!

Questions and Answers about Easter

With a partner, practice asking and answering these questions about Easter. For each one, “Q” means question, and “A” means answer. Take turns asking and answering the questions.

Easter Eggs

photo credit: Merry Easter! via photopin (license)

1. Q: What is Easter?
A: This year, Easter is on Sunday, April 5th.

2. Q: What is Easter?
A: Easter is an important Christian holiday. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

3. Q: What does “resurrection” mean?
A: “Resurrection” means returning to life. Christians believe that Jesus died and returned to life.

4. Q: What do people say on Easter?
A: On Easter, people say, “Happy Easter!”

5. Q: How do people celebrate Easter?
A: People celebrate Easter by going to church, eating a special meal with family, and coloring eggs.

6. Q: Why do people color eggs for Easter?
A: The egg is a symbol of new life. In many spring festivals, people color and decorate eggs. Then they give the eggs to friends and family. Christians believe that Jesus gives them new life.

7. Q: What is an Easter egg hunt?
A: An Easter egg hunt is a game for children. Adults hide Easter eggs, and the children find them. Often, the eggs are plastic and have small toys or candy inside.

8. Q: What is the Easter Bunny?
A: The Easter Bunny is a holiday character like Santa Claus. Santa brings gifts at Christmas, and the Easter Bunny brings gifts at Easter. Most American children believe in Santa Claus, but many American children do not believe in the Easter Bunny because their parents do not tell them that the Easter Bunny is real.

9. Q: What is Holy Week?
A: Holy Week is the week before and including Easter. It begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday.

10: Q: What is Palm Sunday?
A: Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. On Palm Sunday, Christians remember the day when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.

11: Q: What other important days are in Holy Week?
A: The other important days in Holy Week are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

12. Q: What is Maundy Thursday?
A: Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, Christians remember the the last meal that Jesus ate with his friends before he died. After this meal, his friend Judas took soldiers to Jesus, and they arrested him.

13. Q: What is Good Friday?
A: Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, Christians remember the death of Jesus.

14. Q: Why is school closed on Good Friday?
A: Good Friday is a state holiday in North Carolina. Government offices, courts, post offices, public schools, and some banks are closed on state holidays.

15. Q: What can I do in Raleigh for Easter?
A: You can go to a Christian church. You can also take your children to an Easter egg hunt. The city of Raleigh has plans for several Easter egg hunts in parks all over the city. (Click here for more information.)

Your Turn

Take turns asking and answering the questions with your partner. Ask your teacher to help you with your pronunciation. Make a video of your class talking about Easter!

St. Patrick’s Day Is March 17

photo credit: cobalt123 via photopin cc

photo credit: cobalt123 via photopin cc

On March 17, we will celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.

Right now, you might have two questions:

  1. What is a patron saint?
  2. Why do American’s celebrate an Irish person?

Good questions. I will try to answer them and more.

What Are Patron Saints?

In the Catholic faith, saints are people who talk to God about specific things. If you are taking an airplane trip, the patron saint of air travelers (Joseph of Cupertino) can ask God to help you stay safe. If you are getting married, the patron saint of marriage (John Francis Regis) can ask God to help your marriage. Irish Catholics might pray to St. Patrick, asking him to ask God to help their country.

Who Was Saint Patrick?

St. Patrick was a real person who lived in Britain and Ireland around the 5th century. He was born in Britain during the time of the Roman Empire, and later in life, he lived in Ireland as a Christian missionary. Historians believe that he died on March 17, 461.

As a missionary, St. Patrick used shamrocks (small plants with 3 leaves like the ones in the picture above) to explain the Christian idea that God exists in three forms. Because of this, Irish Catholics attached shamrocks to their clothes. These days, people wear green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day.

Why Do Americans Celebrate an Irish Holiday?

As you know, people come to the United States from many different countries for many different reasons. In the mid-1800s, about a million Irish immigrants came to the United States because there was not enough food in Ireland. At that time, the population of the United States was only about 17 million, so the arrival of 1 million people was a lot. It was enough to change the culture of the United States. Those Irish immigrants brought their culture, holidays, and traditions with them, and we still celebrate one of their holidays – St. Patrick’s Day – today.

How Do Americans Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

photo credit: skeggy via photopin cc

photo credit: skeggy via photopin cc

Over time, the traditional Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has changed a lot. Americans (even Americans with no Irish heritage at all) might celebrate Irish or Irish-American culture on St. Patrick’s Day by:

  • wearing green clothes
  • pinching people who don’t wear green clothes
  • drinking Guinness (or other Irish) beer
  • marching in or watching parades
  • carrying Irish flags
  • dressing like leprechauns
  • eating corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes

 St. Patrick’s Day in Raleigh

Raleigh will have a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, March 14 at 10:00 a.m. After the parade, there will be a festival in City Plaza (at the south end of Fayetteville Street). Check out this website for more information on the parade, the festival, and St. Patrick! There will be food, live music, and dancing, as well as Irish jewelry and other small items for sale. The parade and festival are free, so put on your green clothes and go enjoy an Irish-American holiday downtown!

For more information on St. Patrick’s Day, check out this fun video made by History.com!

It’s Valentine’s Day!

Oh students, this week I have something WONDERFUL for you! It’s a vocabulary and pronunciation lesson about Valentine’s Day, which is on February 14. At the end of this post, you will find a video. The video is a rap song about Valentine’s Day. You can listen to it while you read the words. Then you can practice with the music at the end of the video. Before you watch, though, there are some words you will need to know.

  • sweetie pie – a person you love
    Example: My sweetie pie gave me flowers for Valentine’s Day! He’s so sweet!
  • honey – a person you love
    Example: I’m going out of town with my honey for Valentine’s Day.
  • gal – girl
    Example: Did you see the beautiful gal I took to the party?
  • guy – boy
    Example: Did you see the weird guy at the party who wouldn’t leave me alone?
  • the apple of your eye – the most important person in your life
    Example: Lauren’s son is the apple of her eye. She loves him more than anything else in the world.
  • main squeeze – the person with whom you are in a romantic relationship
    Example: Angelina is Brad’s main squeeze.
  • soulmate – the perfect person for you
    Example: When Andy met his wife, he knew that she was his soulmate.
  • a good catch – a good person to be in a relationship with
    Example: My husband brings me flowers every week and tells me I’m beautiful every day. He’s a really good catch!
  • chemistry – strong feelings people have for each other when they get along very well
    Example: Kelly thought that she would like Eric a lot because they had many similar interests, but when they met for dinner, she discovered that they didn’t have any chemistry.
  • catch a movie – see a movie in a theater
    Example: Are you busy this weekend? Maybe we can catch a movie on Saturday.
  • matinee – an afternoon show or performance (before 5:00 p.m.)
    Example: I’m busy on Saturday night, but we could catch a matinee.
  • to have a crush on someone – to have a romantic interest in someone
    Example: Katie has a crush on Jason, but Jason is interested in someone else.
  • to ask someone out – to ask someone if they want to go on a date
    Example: Jason is going to ask Phoebe out.
  • to play hard to get – to pretend you are not interested in someone when they ask you out
    Example: When Jason asked Phoebe out, she played hard to get because she wants him to work harder to get her.
  • to turn someone off – to make someone uninterested in you
    Example: Phoebe’s love games turned Jason off, so he asked Katie out, and she agreed immediately.
  • to turn someone down – to refuse someone / to tell someone “no”
    Example: Phoebe asked Jason out, but he turned her down because he was dating Katie.

Now you’re ready! Watch the video as many times as you want. Practice with the rapper, and then try it on your own. Have fun, and happy Valentine’s Day!


Groundhog Day

An interesting holiday is coming on Monday, February 2 – Groundhog Day. Groundhog day is not a federal or religious holiday, so there is no vacation from work or school, but it is an interesting day to learn about.

What is a groundhog?

A groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, is a small, furry (covered with hair) animal that looks like a very fat squirrel. It can weigh 5-9 pounds (2-4 kg), and it lives under the ground in a hole. In the fall months, the groundhog eats a lot and gets very fat. Then it hibernates (sleeps) through the winter months, like a bear.

What is Groundhog Day?


photo credit: Eric Bégin via photopin cc

Groundhog Day is always on February 2, which is about halfway between autumn and spring. On Groundhog Day, the groundhog tells us if winter will continue for six more weeks, or if spring will come early. Here is what happens:

  • The groundhog comes out of its burrow (a hole in the ground where a groundhog lives).
  • If the groundhog sees its shadow, then winter will continue for six more weeks, it gets scared and goes back into its burrow to sleep some more.
  • If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, then the groundhog comes out of hibernation, and we know that spring will come early.

How do we know whether the groundhog sees its shadow or not?

A groundhog cannot talk, so we have to guess a little based on the weather. If the day is very sunny, we say that the groundhog saw its shadow, which means we will have six more weeks of winter. If the weather is cloudy or rainy on Groundhog Day, then the groundhog cannot see its shadow, and spring will come early.

Where did Groundhog Day start?

American Groundhog Day started in Pennsylvania in the 1800s. We believe it was a German custom, and when many Germans moved to Pennsylvania, they brought this custom with them.

Your Turn

Did you learn something new about Groundhog Day? Take this quiz to test your understanding!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American pastor (preacher, minister, church leader) in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a famous speaker and a political activist. An activist is someone who works very hard to change something in society. Dr. King worked very hard for civil rights (the rights of all U.S. citizens), especially equal rights for black and white Americans.

When Dr. King was a boy, schools, churches, restaurants, toilets, and even water fountains were segregated. That means that white people and non-white people were separated. This was the law until 1954, when the Supreme Court decided that it wasn’t right or fair to separate the races. A lot of people were very unhappy with the court’s decision to integrate (mix together) black and white people, but Martin Luther King believed that different races could live together and share peace in society.

Dr. King believed very strongly that people should protest (say they disagree or don’t like something) peacefully, without violence. He said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” That means we cannot end darkness with more darkness. We need to turn on the lights. And we cannot end hate with more hate. We need to give love. He also said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” That means it’s easier to love than to hate. If I hate someone, it causes too much stress, it hurts me. Dr. King wanted people to change the world, and he believed that love and education were the best ways to do it.

Martin Luther King’s most famous speech is the “I Have a Dream” speech. He gave it in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963. You can click here to read and listen to the whole speech. In it, he says, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dr. King’s dream was that all people would be judged equally, based on who they are on the inside, not what they look like on the outside.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated (killed) in Memphis, Tennessee, but his dream of peace and equality continued. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan created an official holiday to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. His birthday is on January 15, but we celebrate his life each year on the third Monday of January.

When President Reagan created Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the band U2 wrote a song called “MLK.” The words of the song are simple:

Sleep. Sleep tonight, and may your dreams be realized.
If the thunder-cloud passes rain, so let it rain, rain down on him.
So let it be.


Your Turn

Wake Tech’s ESL classes will be CLOSED on Monday, January 19 for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While you are at home, visit this website for more information about Dr. King.

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!

image by Wake Tech instructor ecparent

We hope 2015 is going well for you so far! What traditions do you have in your country when a new year begins? Do you eat special foods? Do you have a party? In the United States, people make New Year’s Resolutions. A resolution is a decision or a plan to do something in a new or different way. People believe that a new year is a good opportunity to make changes in their lives. Some of the most common resolutions are:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Eat Healthy Food
  3. Save Money
  4. Pay Off Credit Cards
  5. Quit Smoking
  6. Volunteer to Help Others
  7. Get a Better Job
  8. Get an Education
  9. Take a Trip
  10. Try a New Hobby

Unfortunately, many people make plans in January, but give up quickly. In January, gyms make a lot of money because new people join, but by the end of February, many of those people have stopped going to the gym regularly. In January, people volunteer once or twice, but then many of them don’t volunteer again for the rest of the year.

Americans know that New Year’s Resolutions are rarely successful, yet every year, they try again.

Your Turn

Leave a comment with your answers to these questions:

  • Why do you think Americans make New Year’s Resolutions every year?
  • Do people in your country do this?
  • What resolutions will you make for 2015?

What do Americans do on Thanksgiving?

You know the history of Thanksgiving, and you’ve heard about some of the food that people eat at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. But maybe you’re still curious. What do Americans do all day? What is happening in an American home on Thanksgiving?

I asked some American friends to share with you their family traditions. Here’s what they said.


My favorite memories include my mom teaching me how to clean and prep a turkey, how to cook a pie without burning the crust, and how to do “the oven dance” with all the food so it all ends up hot and on the table at the same time.”  ~Chelsea

In this sentence, “prep” means prepare. Chelsea’s mother taught her how to prepare a turkey before putting it into the oven. “The oven dance” is the act of putting food into the oven, taking other food out, and putting some things in at the same time. You might need to move things inside the oven to make more room for other things. When the food moves around the oven and the kitchen so much, it’s like a dance.

One of my favorite recipes is the creamed Vidalia onions my grandmother used to make (my mom’s mom). I now make them.”  ~Webb

In many American families, several people make and bring food to share at Thanksgiving. Webb’s grandmother made a special onion dish when she was alive, but now Webb makes it.

Turkey Stuffing

photo credit: Alexandra Moss via photopin cc

We usually have turkey with dressing, green bean casserole, corn pudding, strawberry gelatin and sweet potato casserole. Desserts are pecan pie and apple pie with ice cream, of course!”  ~Kate

When you hear the word “dressing,” you probably think about salad dressing. Kate is talking about turkey dressing, which is also called “stuffing.” It is made with bread, broth, onions, spices, and sometimes pieces of turkey or sausage.


Grandma's Turkey Bowl

Grandma’s Turkey Bowl – Photo by WTCC Instructor A. Thompson

We usually watch football games on TV.”  ~Kate

Football is played mostly in the fall, and there are a lot of big football games on TV on Thanksgiving Day because nobody is working. Everyone is at home relaxing.

We have a big football game, with a trophy and everything. It’s Grandma’s Turkey Bowl.”  ~Angela

The most important football games of the year are called bowl games (the biggest one is the Super Bowl). The winner of a bowl game gets a trophy. Angela’s family plays football together on Thanksgiving, and the winner gets a trophy just like the professionals!


We do a big family shindig. My parents have been hosting these past few years, and every family unit brings something to contribute to the meal. Usually it’s assorted family members, but some years friends join as well. If it’s a large enough crowd (and when the whole family comes, it is), we set two tables, and the rule is you have to sit with different people for dessert.” ~Megan

A “shindig” is a party. Megan’s family is large, so they use two tables, and they change places between dinner and dessert. When she says, “every family unit brings something to contribute,” she means that she brings food, her brother and his wife bring food, her aunt and uncle bring food, her cousin and her husband bring food, and they share all the food.

My favorite is when all the family can visit.”  ~Kate

Kate and her husband have two children and four grandchildren. She loves the years when everyone can come to visit. Sometimes her children spend Thanksgiving with their in-laws, though, so they don’t always get to be together on Thanksgiving.


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

photo credit: gigi_nyc via photopin cc

We watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!”  ~Olivia

Many cities have a parade on Thanksgiving, but the most famous one is in New York. You can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV this year just like many American families!

Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving

Many students know the history of Thanksgiving. Pilgrims (people who left England for religious freedom and new opportunities) moved to the northeastern part of the United States to start a new life. It was very difficult in the beginning, and a lot of people died. However, the British and the Native Americans became friends, and soon, there was enough food for everyone. They celebrated their success for three days in 1621, and that was the first Thanksgiving.

Here are some things you might NOT know about Thanksgiving:

  • The pilgrims probably didn’t eat many of the foods at the first Thanksgiving that Americans eat now. They probably did not have turkey, pumpkin pie, or potatoes!
  • George Washington announced the first national Thanksgiving holiday in 1789, 168 years after the pilgrims celebrated the first time.
  • In 1829, a woman named Sara Josepha Hale started writing letters to the president because she wanted Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. At that time, each state decided when it would celebrate. She wrote letters for 30 years! She wrote letters to at least five different presidents.
  • Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the whole country would celebrate Thanksgiving on the final Thursday in November. This happened during the Civil War, and President Lincoln was trying to keep the country together. Maybe he hoped that a national holiday would help everyone feel united again.
  • In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Thanksgiving one week earlier. This was during the Great Depression, and Roosevelt wanted to give people more time to shop for Christmas presents so that businesses could get more money.
  • In 1941, Roosevelt officially changed the day of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November.
  • Every year, the president pardons (forgives, or gives no punishment to) a turkey on Thanksgiving. That turkey gets to retire on a farm instead of being eaten by a family.

This video includes all of the information I just gave you. Watch, listen, and see how much you can understand.


Your Turn

The answers to these questions are also in the video. Write a comment, and tell us which ones you heard!

  1. How many deer did the Indians kill to give as gifts to the colonists?
  2. What do we call the meat of a deer?
  3. How did the pilgrims eat cranberries at the first Thanksgiving?
  4. Why did Sara Josepha Hale want to have a Thanksgiving celebration?
  5. Name 3 recipes written by Sara Josepha Hale.
  6. How did people feel about President Roosevelt moving the date of Thanksgiving?
  7. Who was the first president to pardon a turkey?

Veterans Day – November 11, 2014


Here’s why…

“A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” (Quote from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website)

Seven months before World War I ended, the fighting stopped on November 11, 1918. That day was called Armistice Day because an armistice is an agreement to temporarily stop fighting a war. This day was remembered and celebrated for several years as Armistice Day, which became a national holiday in 1938. However, after World War II and the Korean War, Americans felt that the holiday should celebrate all American soldiers, not just those who fought in WWI. Therefore, in 1954, President Eisenhower signed the legislation that changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Every year, on November 11, Americans take time to appreciate and thank all the members of our armed forces – Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard. We celebrate our soldiers with parades, speeches, flowers placed on the memorials and graves of soldiers, and of course, a day off from work or school.

For more information on Veterans Day (and some great listening practice too!), check out this video: