Election Day

Campaign Signs

photo credit: thisisbossi via photopin cc

You’ve probably seen signs everywhere – in yards, outside of stores, beside the street – with names of people on them. They are many different colors and have many different names. Why are these signs everywhere?

These are campaign signs (signs of people who want you to vote for them). They are everywhere right now because this Tuesday is Election Day.

Election Day is on the first Tuesday of November each year.

Why do we have Election Day every year?

You may know that we vote for a new president every 4 years. In North Carolina, we vote for the governor at the same time. However, other offices have longer or shorter terms (lengths of time one person can have that office/job). Senators, for example, can stay in their position for 6 years before they must run for re-election (try to get people to vote for them again). Representatives run for re-election every 2 years.

We have an Election Day every year because there’s always something or someone to vote for. Even if we do not need a new president, governor, mayor, or congressman, we sometimes need to vote about local or state laws.

What are people voting about this year?

This year, North Carolinians are voting for senators, representatives, and several judges. In Wake County, we are also voting for some local officials, including a sheriff.

Who can vote?

Voting is a right of United States citizens only. If you become a citizen, then you will be able to vote.

Where do people go to vote?

Each person votes in a place near his/her house. The place where you go to vote is called your polling place. If you move to a new house, your polling place will also probably change. If you see a polling place on Tuesday, you will know because there will be many people there and MANY campaign signs.

Halloween Safety

Halloween is coming THIS Friday, October 31!! This is a fun holiday for children, but getting hurt is not fun at all, so here are some tips (suggestions/ideas) for staying safe and enjoying Halloween.

Costume Safety

reflective tape

These cones have reflective tape, so you can see them in the dark.
photo credit: giveawayboy via photopin cc

  • Make sure your child’s costume fits. If it is too long, or if the shoes are too big, your child might trip and fall down.
  • Make sure your child can see. If your child’s costume has a mask, check that the holes are big enough and that the mask fits the child’s face correctly. If your child’s costume has a hat, make sure the hat is not too big. You don’t want it to fall down and cover your child’s eyes.
  • Make sure other people can see your child. If your child goes trick-or-treating (going to different houses, asking for candy) in the dark, he/she needs to have bright clothes or reflective strips so that drivers can see him/her.
  • Make sure all face paint is safe for skin. Look for “Non-Toxic” on the package to be sure it is safe to put on your body.
  • Make sure everything is flame resistant. “Flame resistant” means it will not catch fire easily. Jack-o-Lanterns are very common at Halloween, and most Jack-o-Lanters have a candle burning inside of them. If part of your child’s costume falls into a Jack-o-Lantern, you don’t want the costume to catch on fire. Flame resistant costumes and make-up will help to keep your child safe from fire.

Trick-or-Treat Safety

  • Most children go trick-or-treating between 5:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. After 9:00, it will be darker and more dangerous.
  • An adult should always go with young children.
  • Older children should have an approved route (path/way/trail) and a time to come home. Make a map of your neighborhood. Mark the direction your children will go and the houses they will visit. Decide what time they should come home, and give them a mobile (cell) phone in case of emergency.
  • All children should know how to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency. Talk to your children about different kinds of problems and when to call 9-1-1. For example, if a young child falls and hurts his knee, don’t call 9-1-1, but call a parent. If someone breaks a bone, call 9-1-1 AND a parent.
  • Only visit houses that have their porch lights on. If a house does not have its porch lights on, then the people are not home, or they do not want children to trick-or-treat there.
  • Never go into the house of a person you don’t know very well. Children should use the toilet at home before they go trick-or-treating. If they need to go while they are out, they should ask to use the toilet at the house of a friend.
  • Stay with a group. Children should never go trick-or-treating alone, and they should stay with a group at all times, especially when crossing the street.
  • Do not walk through yards. Stay on sidewalks and walkways. People might have garden hoses, sticks, or other things in their yards that children can trip on. Also, some people don’t like it when someone walks on their grass.
  • Do not eat any candy before you get home. Parent should look at all candy to make sure it is not open or rotten.

Halloween Health

  • Think about buying treats that are not candy. Pencils, stickers, small toys, or coloring books are great treats, but they don’t have all the sugar and calories of candy.
  • Check your child’s treats before they start eating. Make sure the candy has not been opened. Make sure it looks fresh. Make sure it doesn’t look strange in any way.
  • Save some candy for later. Your children might receive a lot of candy, and they will want to eat all of it immediately. However, think about allowing them to eat some now, but save the rest for later. It is healthier to eat 1 piece of candy every day than to eat 30 pieces at one time.
  • Give kids a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating. This will help them not to eat all of their candy right away.

Indoor Trick-or-Treating

If you don’t think your neighborhood is safe for trick-or-treating, or if the weather is bad, you can take your children (ages 10 and under) to the mall closest to you, and they can trick-or-treat in the stores!

  • Cary Towne Center – 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Crabtree Valley Mall – 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Triangle Town Center – NO TRICK-OR-TREATING
Happy Halloween

image by instructor ecparent

Learn about Holidays

As we learn about the calendar,  we also learn about holidays. Holidays are  days that we celebrate or honor a special event or person.

  • Some holidays are religious like Christmas or Easter.
  • Some holidays celebrate historic figures like President’s day (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln) , Martin Luther King Day or Columbus Day
  • Some celebrate a historic event like the 4th of July (America’s Independence Day) and Thanksgiving
  • On some holidays we honor and remember groups of people like Memorial Day (America’s soldiers), Labor Day (workers) or  Mother’s and Father’s Days.
  • Some holidays remind us of the nations that Americans came from (St Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo)
  • Some holidays are just plain fun (St Valentine’s day, Mardi Gras,  Halloween, New Year’s Eve).

We don’t always have a day off for a holiday but on federal holidays, banks and most government offices are closed.

Here is a short video that goes over the major U.S. holidays

Write a comment and tell us about your favorite holiday and why you like it so much.

Labor Day Holiday

The first Monday of every September is a federal holiday in America  that honors all the workers in our nation. It is called Labor Day.

Most other holidays honor an event, a war  or a person from history,  but Labor day honors the ordinary person whose everyday work makes this country great. Labor day is for  our construction workers, our police officers, our cleaning staff, our teachers, our medical  workers, our fire fighters, our farmers, our waiters,  and many more including ourselves.

Labor Day also is the unofficial end of summer.  Many workers take a long vacation or go traveling on this long weekend. Once Labor day is over, it’s back to work for the laborers  or back to school for students.

Learn more about this holiday with this El Civics lesson =>   Labor Day

…… and listen to this video for the history of Labor day

Independence Day! The 4th of July is America’s Birthday.

The 4th of July is a very important holiday in America.  It honors the day, July 4, 1776 that America as a nation was born.

We celebrate that birth with  parades and picnics on the Fourth of July. At night there are often  concerts and fireworks.  It is a very happy and noisy holiday

What happened on July 4th, 1776 ???

Over 200 years ago, there were 13 English colonies in North America.  England and its king, (King George III) owned  the colonies and made the laws that the colonists had to live by.  In 1773, England made many tax laws to collect money from the colonists. The colonists did NOT like these laws and many would not pay the taxes that they did not vote on.

Over time, England sent soldiers to force the colonists to pay the taxes and the colonists grew angrier and angrier. Soon there was fighting and English soldiers killed some Americans.

In 1776, the American colonies had a big meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to see if they could repair the problems with England.  They could not and decided to fight for independence from England.  They asked Thomas Jefferson to write the reasons why the colonists wanted to be free and what they wanted in their new nation.  He wrote the Declaration of Independence which has some of the key ideals that America still lives by “…that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….”  .

It was very dangerous to sign this Declaration. If England won the war, the signers would lose everything, even their lives.  But the men representing the 13 colonies did sign the Declaration  on  July 4th, 1776 and declared a war of independence against England.     It  took seven years to win the war, but America did become independent and  a new, wonderful nation was born.

So on this Fourth of July, have a great time and remember to wish America a Happy Birthday / Independence day.

What do YOU wish for America on her birthday?  Write a comment and tell us.

To learn more about the Fourth  click on this El Civics lesson

Here are  song videos that show the great beauty of this country and the spirit of her people.

The first is “America the Beautiful”

The second is “This Land is Your Land” – It has lyrics so sing along with it.

This is another version of the same song but sung by Bruce Springsteen. It’s a bit slower and very peaceful


(Credits to ESL Teacher’s Holiday Activities kit – Claire  and American Holidays- Klebanow & Fisher)

Memorial Day

Next Monday, May 26, is a national holiday called Memorial Day.  It is always celebrated on the last Monday in May.   On this day, we remember the soldiers and  Americans who have died while  serving in the Armed Forces .  We remember them in many ways:

  • Many towns have parades with bands playing marching music. Soldiers and veterans march in these parades.
  • People visit cemeteries  and put flowers and flags on the graves of fallen soldiers.
  • The American flag is flown at half- mast ( mid way on the flag pole) until noon.
  • The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol and is televised to the nation.

Learn more about this holiday and practice the vocabulary used to describe this holiday at this site => ESOL Courses – Memorial Day    and at the El Civics  site.

This video from the History Channel tells us how Memorial Day became a national holiday

and this video wordlessly makes us realize the tremendous sacrifice that our military service people and their families have made for America.


Is there a special day, like Memorial Day , in your country to remember the soldiers who have died?  What are the customs in your country to honor them?


On a lighter note, Memorial Day creates a three-day weekend for many people and marks the unofficial start of summer. Many beaches and parks open up for the summer on Memorial Day week-end.

What will you do on Memorial Day?


Get Ready for Mother’s Day

Every year in America we honor mothers on the second Sunday of May. Not every country celebrates it on the same day (i.e. Mexico celebrates it on May 10) but many countries have a similar holiday. Across the world it is a day that we want to make Moms feel special and let them know how much they are loved and appreciated.

On Mother’s Day, we usually send or give our mothers cards, flowers and other gifts. Often, family members will prepare breakfast for “Mum” so she can stay in bed a little longer. Restaurants are VERY busy that day as families treat their mothers to a delicious lunch or dinner.

However you celebrate, be sure to let your mother that how much you love her. It will be better than any other gift you can give her. If your mother is no longer living, take a moment and remember the many memories you have of her. Perhaps do something that she taught or shared with you ( like making her recipe for a favorite dish) and keep her with you forever.

For more information on this holiday, click on the EL Civics’s Lesson.

Perhaps these videos can help you celebrate Mother’s Day:

Here are the lyrics to the last video:

Mother’s Day Song

Mommy, mommy
I love you mommy
This is your special day
Flowers and presents
And breakfast in bed
Whatever you wish for
I’ll give you instead

Mommy, mommy
I love you mommy
No chores for you today
Bear hugs and kisses
To show how I feel
I love you mommy dear

Baking, cooking
Washing and working
Making our house a home
Always helping
Care for my well being
I never feel alone

Mommy, mommy
I love you mommy
In all your special ways
So on every second
Sunday in May
We’ll celebrate
Mother’s Day
Mommy I love you
You know we love you so!
Mommy I love you so


April Fool!

When April begins, you may hear “April Fool” a lot and not know what or who to believe since some folks may play tricks on you.  You may ask  what is happening????

The first day of April is called April Fool’s Day and is a day to play jokes.   On April Fool’s Day, people tell lies to fool other people and play  harmless tricks. If someone believes the lie or  trick,  the joker will say “April Fool” and everyone will laugh.  A fool is someone who is silly and easily believes things that are not true. If you “are fooled”, you believe something is true when it’s not.

No one is sure how April Fool’s Day began.  People have been silly in spring for a very long time!

Here is a  video explaining April Fool’s and using expressions like “I’m kidding!! that we use all the time but especially on April Fool’s day  => April Fool’s Day Mini Lesson

Luck of the Irish – St Patrick’s Day

Sunday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day which many people in the U.S. celebrate.  In 432,  St. Patrick came to Ireland as its bishop. He traveled all around Ireland converted its people to Christianity.  He is the patron saint of Ireland and in Ireland, March 17th is a religious holiday.

Here in America, there are many people have a family member that came from Ireland and they celebrate March 17th as a cultural holiday.

It’s  a day where Irish and non-Irish people can enjoy the food, music, dance and drinks from Ireland.  Everyone can be Irish for a day and people often wear something green on this day.  Symbols of the day are shamrocks (a green three-leaf clover) and leprechauns (tiny little men with magical powers). People can fun by:

  • dancing an  Irish jig (see below)
  • eating  a traditional meal like  Irish  lamb stew
  • singing a Irish ballad like O Danny Boy
  • raising a glass of traditional  Irish beer – Guinness

In many cities (like New York City), there are parades and special events that feature  Irish music and dance . 

Many shops and cafes prepare food that has a green color for the holiday – you see green pasta, green ice cream, green milkshakes and especially green beer.  Some traditional Irish food that people eat are corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread.

To learn more about the holiday  click here =>  El Civics lesson  and   here =>  History Video

Click on this St. Patrick’s Day Reading Lesson to learn even more about this holiday. After you read the story, be sure to click on the tabs above the story to

  • learn new words and then take a fun picture quiz
  • do a word search on your new words and then see if you can spell them correctly
  • fill in the missing words from a set of sentences (Gap- Fill) and practice your grammar by unscrambling sentences
  • practice your preposition of location by find a leprechaun,

Have fun and the “luck of the Irish” to you!


Learning about Presidents Day.

Every third Monday in February, we take time to remember all the Presidents of our country and in particular we honor two very important Presidents of United States:

  • George Washington, the first President and “Father of our Country”
  • Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President and “Preserver of the Union”.

photo by Patrick Ashley attribution generic 2.0 (BY CC SA 2.0)

Washington helped create  the United States. He was the  leader of the American army during the American Revolutionary War.  He took an army of ordinary people (farmers, merchants) and successfully  defeated Great Britain, a  world power.

In 1783 , after  the war ended, Washington was  happy to go back to his family and farm at Mount Vernon. However the  nation soon needed him again.   In 1789, he was asked to be the first President of this very young nation. Washington really did not want to be president.  But everyone voted for him because of the trust they had in him. and he was voted in with 100% of the electoral votes. No other president has ever been elected with  100% of the  votes. He was “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen”.

He did many great things for America during his presidency but maybe what he didn’t do is just as important.  He didn’t become an “king” and rule the  nation for life. After two presidential terms, he refused to  run again and nearly all American Presidents have followed his example.


photo by cliff1066 attribution generic 2.0 (BY CC SA 2.0)

Lincoln kept the United States from breaking up into different countries.  The states in the North and the  states in the South had been arguing with each other for many years over slavery. Many people, mostly in the Southern states, believed that they could own people (slaves) as property.  Others, mostly in the Northern states, believed that this was wrong and slaves should be free.   Eleven  southern states tried to leave the union and form a new country, ” the Confederate States of America” and this began the Civil War.  The Civil War was the bloodiest war in American’s history where (over 600,000 people died).   This war not only divided the nation, but families and friends were on opposite sides of the battleground. It was a terrible time for the nation.

Lincoln, a wise and compassionate  president,  was able to lead the North to victory and the Union was saved.  During the war, he also ended slavery by first freeing slaves under  the Emancipation Proclamation and then by working with Congress to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution that banned slavery from the nation.

He inspired the nation then and continues  to inspires Americans today with his vision of America  – “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth

As you enjoy the day, give thanks to these Presidents and to all our Presidents who have served America .

For more information, look at these El Civics lessons : Presidents Day  , George Washington    and   Abraham Lincoln

To see  all the Presidents  look at this unusual video

This funny little tune can also help you learn about President’s Day  (and a three day week-end)

Now check how much you know …. click on the link for  the Presidents Day Quiz