July 19, 2012

I began my Halloween Booklet today.  Yes, Halloween.

A few years after my arrival in Taiwan, I embarked on a little project.  At Christmas time, 2005, I created a booklet of word games and puzzles for my students.  The booklet consisted of 4 sheets of paper, folded in half, and stapled into book format.

On the cover, I placed a picture from the Internet that displayed the Christmas season.  On the back cover, I placed a picture that displayed the winter/Christmas season in Canada.  Over the years that followed, this booklet has increased in size from 4 sheets of paper, to now, 8.  The booklet is getting larger and larger as the years go on.

After the success of the Christmas 2005 booklet, I decided in 2006 to begin a Halloween booklet.  The pictures on the front and back covers though, did not reflect Canadian Halloween, but rather just Halloween pictures.  The contents are basically the same – word searches, crosswords, colouring pages, etc., much akin to the Christmas booklet.  Of course, the words and stories are all related to Halloween.

It seems that over the years, there has been more and more materials posted on websites to place into the booklets.  None of the puzzles are originals of mine, but rather free downloadables from various sites on the Internet.  In both booklets, I place stories and at times, poems related to each season.

These booklets are for my students.  During the week of Halloween/Christmas, I give the booklets, free of charge of course, to my students.  We read the poems or stories together, and I help them with some of the puzzles.  I’ve also noticed over the years, that my schools have become more receptive to these booklets.

There is ABSOLUTELY no Chinese in these booklets.  Every puzzle, every game, every story is in English.  Since my schools over the years, do some lesson relating to these seasons, this booklet tends to be an extension of the season.  It’s one thing for the school to teach words relating to the season, but for the kids to do a crossword or word search using these words, reading a story related to the season, reinforces the teaching, and helps the kids to understand the season a little bit better.

As these booklets get larger in size, and since I do print them in colour, using my own supplies (paper, ink, printers, TIME), and I give them freely to my students, makes me feel good.  Knowing that my schools respond positively to my using these booklets as part of my lesson plan, makes me feel like I’m doing some good.  As well, knowing that the students get excited and wait in anticipation each year for these booklets, gives me a good feeling as well.

At one point, mainly in the first couple of years, I only made as many copies as I had students.  That meant, about 200 copies.  Now that the schools are receptive to these booklets, they ask if it’s possible to make more copies to hand out to students who are not MY students.  There are some classes that are learning English, but at present, I do not teach them. Me being me, I have no problem printing off more than I need.  Last year, Christmas 2011, I printed 500 copies!  If this keeps up, I may need to send the file to a printer and have it printed professionally!

Either way, it is still my pleasure to produce these two booklets for the kids each year.

I’ve thought about other seasons throughout the year.  St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Canada Day, Labour Day… unfortunately, there just isn’t enough activities that I have found, that would constitute creating a booklet for the kids.  And, since many of these ‘days’ are only created days for the western culture, there isn’t a lot that the students would learn.

Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival might be options, but then, there again, there isn’t a lot of ‘activities’ available.  I’m sure that I could probably find enough puzzles relating to New Year’s and Chinese New Year, but since it is really close to Christmas, it wouldn’t give me a lot of time to get the booklets printed.

It appears that this is mango season.

One of the great things about Taiwan, is the variety of fresh (yes, picked this morning, sold in the markets and off trucks a few hours later) fruits and vegetables year round.  Vegetables, no matter what kind, are usually available year round, and relatively inexpensive.  Fruits are seasonal.  When in season, they are all reasonably priced (inexpensive), and abundant.  Perhaps, in some cases, too abundant.  Now, it’s mango season.

Buying a mango in Canada, since they are not grown (to my knowledge) anywhere in Canada, they are imported.  Therefore, it is considered an exotic fruit, and thus, expensive.  Out of season, unless you have an extra bar of gold floating around, they are virtually unobtainable by the average person.  We may see them in the store, but it would mean putting in about 20 hours of overtime to afford ONE!

I was asked today, if I wanted to buy some ‘apple mangoes’.  I’ve never heard that term before.  Once it was described to me, a mango with red skin as opposed to yellow skin, I knew which mangoes were being referred to.

The average, run of the mill mango available in Taiwan, has yellow skin.  They are also quite huge!  I’ve seen some of these yellow mangoes that by weight, weigh more than my cats!  That’s a lot of mango.  Smaller mangoes are available, especially now, that have red skin.  Just so you know, I don’t eat the skin.  In fact, I don’t know if ANYONE eats the skin.  It’s not like an apple.  The skin is red in colour, and yet the ‘meat’ is still yellow.  They do tend to be a lot sweeter and, in my opinion, a lot more juicier than the yellow ones.  However, both taste the same.  Red mangoes (a.k.a. apple mangoes), for some reason, are usually a little more expensive.

Anyway, I see on the way home from class, around 6pm, a blue truck on a corner near my home, selling these red mangoes.  They do have a few yellow ones, but they mainly sell the red ones.  I haven’t purchased any yet, but perhaps one day before the season ends.

Today however, I was asked at Giraffe if I wanted to buy some.  I was told that I would get about 6 for 300nt.  To me, fair enough price, considering the size and juiciness and delectable flavour of the season, so I said sure.  Upon leaving, I noticed there was a bag of mangoes on my desk.  In the bag there were actually 8 mangoes!  No problem.  However, the size was a little more than I thought they would be, and off they went into the fridge.  There is no way I can eat that many mangoes.  I like them, but I do have my limits!

I did have one after getting home tonight, and I must say, it was just as delicious and sweet and refreshing a fresh fruit can be!  Mmmm…  However – one was enough!  Will have to eat one a day for the next week.  Good thing they keep well in the fridge!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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