What a surreal six weeks since my last post.
The swift, worldwide spread of the coronavirus has abruptly upended the lives we had grown so accustomed to living—and has even stirred deep pangs of existential anxiety about survival itself. (Full disclosure: I have a congenital heart condition—which I only found out about two years ago—and though I’m still reasonably healthy, this probably puts me at a higher risk of more serious illness.)
Still, as trying as this time is, in so many ways, we can only carry on as best we’re able while continuing to hope that we’ll see the light at the end of this dark tunnel before too long. Toward that end, the outpouring of mutual support at The Bilingual Zoo, from parents around the world who are hunkered down in their homes with their children, has been very encouraging.
Along with a range of practical ideas and helpful resources for families on lockdown (see this thread), the personal experiences that many parents are sharing (see this thread and this board) also point to what seems to be the most healthy perspective we can adopt at this time:
As terrible as the pandemic is, this situation can nevertheless be viewed as an opportunity to take new actions that could well benefit both the emotional bond with our kids and the ongoing growth of their bilingual or multilingual ability.
A new creative project
In my case, along with my efforts to provide my kids, 15 and 13, with daily input in English (our minority language) through ample speech, reading aloud, playing games, and homework tasks that involve reading and writing, I’m also trying to engage them in some creative projects.
For example, here’s a new project that I’m now pursuing with my son…which was inspired by our bearded dragon named Fifa! (The name came from Roy’s love of soccer.)
We got Fifa as a baby about a year ago and she’s now practically the most important member of our family, sitting calmly on the kitchen table for meals and watching TV with us in the living room. Fifa is very cute and very sweet (she likes to be held and petted), but she mostly just sits silently and stares blankly into space.
I took these photos of Fifa over the past few days.
Gazing out the window into our yard (one of her favorite activities)…
Snuggling with Lulu in the living room…
…and falling asleep while watching TV. (Look at that little tongue!)
A couple of months ago, Roy and I came up with an amusing idea for a coloring book based on the question:
What is Fifa really thinking about when she’s sitting there “daydreaming”?
And though we even brainstormed some funny scenes for this book of “Bearded Dragon Daydreams,” it was basically the kind of idea that’s fun to think about but you don’t actually expect to pursue.
Yet due to the current circumstances, we are pursuing it.
With my kids at home since the end of February, I sat down with Roy and we developed the concept more concretely. I was then able to find a talented illustrator who lives in the Philippines (Roy balked at doing the illustrations himself) and, from early March, he and I have been working with this illustrator, day by day, to bring “Bearded Dragon Daydreams” to life.
And, of course, even though this is a coloring book, and won’t have any text, the project itself—the collaboration between me and Roy and the illustrator—is all being done in English!
At this point, we’re probably about halfway through our work. Even if you aren’t as crazy about bearded dragons as we are (they’re adorable creatures, really!), maybe your kids would enjoy a few sample pages. (Please let me know if they do!)
I’ve formatted the PDF pages in both A4 size and U.S. Letter size so just click the suitable link to download each file.
And please stay safe and well, everyone!
Download this “rollercoaster” coloring page in A4 size.
Download this “rollercoaster” coloring page in U.S. Letter size.
Download this “soccer” coloring page in A4 size.
Download this “soccer” coloring page in U.S. Letter size.
Download this “kung fu” coloring page in A4 size.
Download this “kung fu” coloring page in U.S. Letter size.
Download this “dancing” coloring page in A4 size.
Download this “dancing” coloring page in U.S. Letter size.
Download this “video game” coloring page in A4 size.
Download this “video game” coloring page in U.S. Letter size.
What a fun project! We’ll keep you & your family in our thoughts. We’re doing ok here in France, locked down, but healthy so far.
Alisa, thanks for your comment! Yes, this project is probably the most fun I’m having during these difficult days. With life now so serious and troubling, a bearded dragon coloring book is the sort of whimsy I need to stay sane. You guys take good care in France! We’ll do the same in Japan!
I love this project and I want to ask you permission to use the pictures for my Spanish students (to be posted in Google Classroom) . I just discovered your website and I am so excited to follow your blogs. I am a passionate Spanish teacher who wants to keep her Spanish students motivated to learn Spanish here in the U.S. This pandemic has re-defined our life and personally re-focusing in what is really important: connecting with our family and friends despite the physical distance. I look forward to reading more from you. I will order your book “Raising Bilingual Children” and download the one that you generously are giving for free. Please don’t share my email address with third parties.
Lilian, yes, please feel free to share these pictures with your students. I hope they enjoy them.
And I hope you enjoy my book—I’m grateful for your interest. I would welcome your impressions after you read it.
Despite the difficult challenges we face today, let’s continue moving forward as best we can. I wish you all the best with your work and I’ll be very glad if my own work can be a source of support in some way. (And rest assured, I *never* share any email addresses with third parties—not once in eight years of blogging!)
That is incredible. My creativity was a little stifled with the quarantine rules, but finding creative links to our children’s interests is so rewarding, I had to push past the feeling and not miss this opportunity. Thank you for sharing. Fifa is so cute. Where did the name come from? =)
Tiara, thanks for your positive feedback! As for the name, my son loves soccer and I can’t imagine a better sounding soccer-related word for this little creature. I mean, “Fifa” has a nicer ring to it than, say, “Red Card” or “Bicycle Kick”!