How to teach children Italian and finding Italian teaching materials

How to teach children Italian

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1 Get fairy tales and storybooks in Italian on Amazon or from your local library

Children love shared reading time and regardless of language acquisition they will always remember the time they spent with you reading books.Try to find books with good illustrations. Look at the pictures with your child, point to things they already know in Italian.

As you come across new words ask the child what they think it is. If it is illustrated, have them point it out on the page.Use different voices for different characters.If your child has a favorite Italian story encourage him/her to play different characters making up the words from memory. Help your child to use his/her imagination to change the story or change the ending.

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2 Use puppets or turn your child’s favorite plush toy into a puppet that talks in Italian

Kids love puppets and puppet play is great for motor skills. You can tell much loved stories through puppet play, either using the whole body or make a puppet theatre from a box and use hand or finger puppets. Finger puppets are also fun when singing songs.

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3 Go to the zoo and call the name of the animals together in Italian

If you have any, look at some animal books together, then go to the zoo for the day. Ask your child the names of the animals he/she has learned and point out the new ones. This is a great place to add in adjectives and colours. When you come home, encourage your child to draw pictures of what he/she saw and talk about them together using Italian.

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4 Play hide and seek by counting in Italian

Hide and seek is a great game for practicing numbers. You could start with 1 to 10 and gradually increase. When your child knows them well you could count down backwards. When ‘seeking’ your child it’s a good opportunity to repeat words without it sounding repetitive.

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5 Play board games in Italian e.g.: snakes and ladders, board games, family games

Dice games are always good for counting and also simple addition. Board games played with the whole family can be a time for relaxed learning. Just playing a simple board game such as snakes and ladders teaches a young child so much more than just language. They also learn rules of play, understanding goals and of course, that family games equal FUN!

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6 Play games by using flashcard games e.g.: Go fish, memory game

Flashcards are one of your most valuable resources in teaching language to young children. With multiples of the same cards you can play well-known games such as Go Fish or the ‘memory game’.

Very small children may struggle to hold too many cards, so play games that have the child match one card to another. Match a sound with a picture, or two cards that have the same sound, or two pictures that match, any way you choose.

Lay cards out on the floor or table and have your child touch the card as you call out words/sounds. Encourage your child to be the caller and you touch the cards. Keep it playful and fun.

 

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7 Have a progress chart that tracks the words and phrases your child mastered

A simple progress chart teaches your child clear goals and kids love stickers. Let your child know when he/she is approaching a goal, make a big deal of reaching the goals, be excited to getting the stickers out. Praise him/her for their achievement with a ‘great job’, a hug or a ‘high five’ (or all three).

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8 Listen to children’s songs in Italian together or reward your child for memorizing a short one

Listen to children’s songs in the 2nd language whenever and wherever you can. Keep CDs in the car or put a CD on quietly in the background when you are doing something else. Add actions to the songs, this helps kids remember the words. If it suits your child’s personality, encourage them to ‘perform’ songs for you. You could have a special ‘song night’.

Here is a playlist of Italian children’s songs

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9 Listen to pop songs in Italian together or reward your child for memorizing a short one

Teach your child some catchy pop songs that you both like. Something with suitable lyrics and a good chorus are easiest to remember. Sing it around the house as you do other things, when your child tries to join in, model the language and encourage them to sing with you.

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10 Find cartoons in the 2nd language on Youtube or Amazon

Cartoons are a great way to engage kids in the 2nd language. Kids can figure out the story visually without worrying about not understanding every word. It’s easy to buy DVDs from Amazon in almost any language or, alternatively, look for them on YouTube. Let your child guide you to which cartoons they like best. Watch them together and you will know which language to reinforce.

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11 Have an annual/monthly goal check list

Make a checklist of goals or ideas of where you want to be with the language learning over a year. Break it down into monthly mini-goals.

It will be help you stay focused on where you are going and also a great way to look back and see how far you and your child have come.

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12 Create youtube playlists or find playlists suitable for your child’s level

YouTube is a super resource. You can create playlists of Italian teaching videos, these days people post from all over the world.

They might be short tutorials, or craft ideas you can incorporate into your language learning, or children’s songs you can sing together. Look for playlists already put together by others with the same goal.

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13 Join online support groups (forums, facebook pages, twitter lists, multicultural blog groups etc.)

Join some online groups to exchange ideas and information. Support is invaluable too. Teaching Italian can hit some hurdles, it is important to be able to connect with people who are having the same difficulties or have successfully navigated these hurdles. Facebook and Twitter are great for immediate connections. Online chat groups or forums can give you a sense of community and common goals.

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14 Visit the website of Italy’s ministry of culture

Have a look at the website and find interesting information about Italy. Read about traditional food, dances and costumes. Look at statistics such as population. Find some fun facts about the climate, holidays and customs. Talk about them with your child and follow their lead on which parts they are interested in. You can also get all this information and more here

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15 Go to public libraries and check all the available resources in Italian

Libraries are an excellent resource. If they don’t have things things in Italian ask the librarian if it is possible to order them. Also check out the noticeboard and see if there are any kids groups speaking Italian in the area. You might make some new friends too.

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16 Make use of language learning DVDs for kids

Language DVDs come handy , especially fro busy parents, as they repeat useful words and phrases in a fun and interesting way Check them out, Look for something that is specifically for kids, that uses games and songs and has well-structured levels.

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17 Play CDs when driving your child to school

Always play CDs in Italian when you are in the car. It could be songs or a kids’ language learning CD, whatever your child likes. Do it consistently so your child comes to expect the 2nd language in the car.

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18 Play streaming radio in the background at home or make use of Spotify, Lastfm, etc.

Nowadays, there are a lot of resources that help you play streaming radio through personal electronic devices and laptops, etc. All you need is tuning into one of the local radio stations and have the radio or the song list play in the background all day long. Even if your child does not understand what has been spoken or the lyrics of the songs he/she will get used to the new sounds and intonation patterns.

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19 Make use of worksheets for beginners

There are a great many websites offering worksheets for beginners. Many are free and some you can pay monthly or a yearly fee. Kids love worksheets. Some may be simple coloring sheets (kids LOVE coloring), or sheets that help fine motor skills through pencil manipulation. Buy some stickers and put one on each sheet your child completes.

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20 Make use of Flashcards

There is no end to the fun to be had from playing games with flashcards even if you child is still too young to play a game that has structure and rules. You can make your own ‘games’ call out a card, have your child touch it/pick it up. ‘Hide’ the cards around the room and have your child find them and say what they are etc.

You can also put the flashcards up around the room. Change them each week in categories (animals/flowers/ fruit/etc. Look at them and say them often with your child. Ask them, “What’s this? / What’s that?”

Put them on your fridge with magnets or let your child do this.You call out the words and have them put them on.

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21 Get a picture dictionary to get started

A Children’s picture dictionary is a wonderful resource. Follow your child’s curiosity with it. Let him/her choose what he/she wants to know on any given day. Ask him/her more information about the words they do know. “What color is it?” “ Is it big or small? “ “Where does it live?” “What does it do?”

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22 Consider getting an alphabet book

Introduce your child to the shapes of letters with a simple alphabet book. This is especially useful if the Italian alphabet is different to that of the 1st language. For young learners, get a very simple, ‘starter’ book, also great for fine motor skills and pencil control.

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23 Think about kinesthetic learning (learning by doing). Coloring books, sketchbooks or DVDs that children watch and dance are great!

The research is in that kids learn best by doing (don’t we all?).

Anything that gets kids moving their bodies or their hands helps them to learn. Watch DVDs together, make up dances, put on ‘shows’, even dress up. Encourage your child’s inner artist with a sketchbook. Color, paint, draw, and talk about the colors and your child’s pictures in the 2nd language. Coloring in pictures is a very relaxing activity (you should do it too!) Kids tend to be very relaxed when they are coloring, a good time to make some general chitchat in Italian.

Mix paints and talk in Italian about how colors are made.

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24 Consider getting a reading pen

The very latest translation tool. A ‘reading pen’ scans and translates. The translated text appears on a small screen on the pen and can also provide audio pronunciation of words or full sentences.

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25 Find some talking or singing plush toys

There are so many talking toys on the market these days. Try one that says greetings in Italian (or multiple languages) or one that sings traditional songs/nursery rhymes from Italy.

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26 Make use of culture books prepared for little kids

Ready made ‘culture books’ are great for learning about different countries. Read them together, ask questions and encourage your child to ask lots of questions too. After reading one, you could make a simple one together using pictures from magazines, or encourage your child to draw pictures too. Gather information together at the library or from the internet.

27 Decorate your child’s room with learning posters (colors, numbers) or pictures from Italy (flag, the cities, etc.)

Get some large colorful posters to decorate your child’s room or the learning space you use. Point things out and ask questions, swap roles and have your child ask the questions too, this also helps model the pronunciation. Ask which is your child’s favorite poster and why?

Follow their lead on the things that interest them.

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28 Follow a simple syllabus prepared for kids

Use the simple syllabus prepared in your language learning system or make one yourself. Let your child know what it is so he/she can see what they will be doing. Children tend to do better when they know what is coming and what is expected of them.

29 Use stickers as rewards (stickers that say congratulations, wonderful, etc. in the 2nd language)

Kids love stickers! Use them liberally. Take praising your child as an opportunity to use the 2nd language. If you can find stickers with words of praise in the 2nd language use those and repeat the words a lot. Use a couple of words at first and add more as your child knows them.

30 Get some printed items related to the 2nd language: T-shirts, mugs, children’s silverware, etc.

If you have the opportunity to visit the 2nd language country buy goods with the language on. T-shirts, mugs and pens are useful as well as educational. Look for postcards, posters or bumper stickers with popular expressions on. Post these around your house.

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31 Arrange play dates or playgroups with other parents who want to teach their children Italian.

Try to find other parents encouraging their children to learn Italian, arrange to play together, go on picnics to the park or take a trip to a zoo or aquarium, great places to practice the language. Making new friends is of great benefit to you too!

 

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32 Video chat with friends and relatives who have a child that speaks Italian

Encourage video chat with other children you know, that speak Italian. It’s easy using Skype or Google Hangouts or something similar. Be nearby to help the conversation along. Be encouraging and resist the temptation to correct your child’s mistakes.

 

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33 Invite Grandma and Grandpa (who can speak Italian) to stay over

Spending time with grandparents is valuable to all parties anyway but spending time with grandparents who speak Italian is great for strengthening bonds and hearing natural language. Your child will come to associate Italian with feelings of love and security.

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34 Hire a short-term or full time nanny or caregiver that speaks Italian

If it is possible, consider hiring a nanny/caregiver/babysitter who speaks Italian. Even a few hours per week would make a difference (and give you a little free time!).

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35 Cook Italian recipes together with your child

Kids always want to be a ‘little helper’ in the kitchen. Cook some simple dishes from Italy together. Us the 2nd language for instructions, wash, cut, wipe, mix…. Name the ingredients in a natural way as you cook. Here are some Italian recipes

36 Go to community centers, cultural centers and temples with your child

Local places of interest are stimulating for your child and cultural centers often have exhibitions or music/dance performances. Look out for anything from Italy. Community centers are a great place to meet people, look at notice boards for anything from people interested or connected in some way to, Italian. You could even offer to do something yourself, give a talk about the country or a traditional dance etc.

37 Visit Italian supermarkets and Italian restaurants with your child

Go around a Italian supermarket and point out the foods from Italy. If your child is unfamiliar with them, ask questions. “How do you think it tastes?” “ Do you think this is hard/soft/crunchy/sweet/etc.?” If possible eat in ethnic restaurants. Talk about the food, how it is prepared, where it comes from.

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38 Have a word of the day activity

Pick a ‘word of the day’, you or your child could choose it, or have your child pick it at random from a pile of word cards. If the word is a noun, look for it around the house and when you go outside. Talk about where it might be found. If it is a verb, find ways to do the action either really or mime it, see if you can spot other people doing it? Or use adverbs and spend some time doing everything in the manner of the adverb, slowly/quickly/happily/etc.

39 Play Italian online language games (memory, click&tell, etc.) with your child

There are plenty of free online interactive language games for children. Find one that appeals to your child and encourage them to do a little every day. You can check out 3 different kinds of free Italian online language learning games here

 

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40 Try Skype lessons for children (may not be advised for infants and toddlers)

Many teachers are offering language lessons via Skype. Ask around and see if anyone can recommend a teacher to you. Sit in on the lesson too so you know what language to reinforce between lessons.

 

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41 Read bedtime stories in Italian to your child

Books, books, books. Kids love books and stories. Read stories in Italian before bed. Often when kids have heard a favorite story many times they know the words. Encourage your child to help tell the story.

42 Play Italian children’s games

Many children’s games are the same the world over, play kids games your child already knows in their 1st language but play it in the 2nd language. Paper, rock, scissors has many variations; play it in the 2nd language. Hopscotch, skipping games, clapping games etc. can all be played in any language. For more ideas have a look at the games in the different ‘countries and cultures’ at Dino Lingo (to the right of this post).

43 Get comic books & children’s magazines from Italy

Ask if a friend or relative overseas can send you comics or children’s magazines in Italian. Children’s magazines usually have lots of fun facts in them that you can talk about and further research. They also have quizzes and puzzles that are lots of fun to do.

44 Go to a national parade of the target culture

You could try to find where there is a large community of people from the target culture. They will no doubt have special events to celebrate the holidays of their country of origin. Take your child to their parades and festivals.

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45 Have a personalized notebook specially used for learning the2nd language(Don’t forget to use it to have your child draw whatever you say in the 2nd language

Let your child choose the notebook at the shop and decorate it anyway they want to make it special. Say words in Italian and have them draw pictures, or even write the word or the first letter, depending on what level they are at. Go back over the pictures every few days. Talk about the pictures and praise your child’s drawing skills.

46 Do local crafts

If you are a native speaker of Italian think about the crafts you did as a child and do them with your child (think also about how happy you were doing this activity with your own mother/father or your friends). Don’t worry if you have forgotten how, look on the Internet to refresh your memory. Perhaps you could send something your child makes to grandparents or relatives overseas.

47 Use chatting apps (WhatsApp, Line, etc.) to talk with friends and family who have same-aged children

Chatting apps are mobile and easy to use. Chat with friends in the 2nd who have children about the same age. Encourage your child to chat with them and their kids too. Ask their kids about themselves, their day etc. and encourage your child to talk about themselves.

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48 Sing lullabies in the 2nd language to put your baby asleep

Lullabies are so soothing for baby and parent. Sing some Italian lullabies to help your baby sleep. You can buy wind-up crib music at a baby store. Play the music and sing in the Italian. Establish is as a routine and enjoy the time holding your baby and knowing you are soothing him/her.

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49 Consider homeschooling by getting an online curriculum

More and more people are turning to homeschooling these days and there are plenty of resources online. Do some research and find something that suits you and your child. Depending on the school hours where you live, it may be possible for your child to attend the local school and follow a homeschooling curriculum.

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50 Send your child to a summer camp where he/she can study Italian in a short time.

Summer camp is a great experience for children. It is often their first extended time away from home and a chance to make lots of new friends and try a variety of activities for the first time. ‘Language’ camps for kids usually incorporate study with lots of games/crafts/activities related to the 2nd language culture. Look online or on the notice board in community centers and other public buildings.

 Italian children’s books

Pinocchio, Italian children's books, learn italian story for children

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Italian Baby Names – Italian Culture for Kids

Top 20 Baby Names
Girls Boys
Maria Giuseppe
Anna Giovanni
Giuseppina Antonio
Rosa Mario
Angela Luigi
Giovanna Francesco
Teresa Angelo
Lucia Vincenzo
Carmela Pietro
Caterina Salvatore
Francesca Carlo
Anna Maria Franco
Antonietta Domenico
Carla Bruno
Elena Paolo
Concetta Michele
Rita Giorgio
Margherita Aldo
Franca Sergio
Paola Luciano

 

 

 

Read More…

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Italian Songs for Children – Italian Culture for kids

1. AMOR DAMMI QUEL FAZZOLETTINO

Amor dammi quel fazzolettino, Amor dammi quel fazzolettino

Amor dammi quel fazzolettino…vado alla fonte e lo vado a lavar

te lo lavo con acqua e sapone, te lo lavo con acqua e sapone

te lo lavo con acqua e sapone…. ogni sospiro Ë un pensiero d’amor.

Te lo stiro col ferro a vapore,Te lo stiro col ferro a vapore

Te lo stiro col ferro a vapore…ogni pieghina Ë un bacino d’amor.

Amor dammi quel fazzolettino, Amor dammi quel fazzolettino

Amor dammi quel fazzolettino…vado alla fonte e lo vado a lavar

Amor dammi quel fazzolettino.. Amor dammi quel fazzolettino..

2. BRILLA BRILLA LA STELLINA

Brilla brilla la stellina

su nel cielo piccolina

Brilla brilla sopra noi

mi domando tu chi sei

Brilla brilla la stellina

su nel cielo piccolina

Quando il sole Ë tramontato

niente Ë pi˘ luminoso

Brilla brilla mia stellina

che la notte si avvicina

Vieni vieni mia stellina

su nel cielo piccolina

Tu che non dormi mai

aspetti il sole e te ne vai

Brilla brilla mia stellina

tu rimanimi vicina

Quando il sole Ë tramontato

niente Ë pi˘ luminoso

Brilla brilla mia stellina

che la notte si avvicina

Vieni vieni mia stellina

che la notte si avvicina

Tu che non dormi mai

aspetti il sole e te ne vai

Brilla brilla mia stellina

tu rimanimi vicina

tu rimanimi vicina..

tu rimanimi vicina..

3. FRA’ MARTINO CAMPANARO

Fraí Martino, campanaro,

cosa fai? Non dormir!

Suona il mattutino, suona il mattutino

din, don, dan, din, don, dan,

suona il mattutino, din, don, dan!

Fraí Martino, campanaro,

Ë di gi‡ mezzodÏ!

Suona allegramente, suona allegramente,

din, don, dan, din, don, dan,

suona allegramente, din, don, dan!

aha aha mmh mmh

Fraí Martino, campanaro,

Dormi tu? Dormi tu?

Suona le campane, suona le campane,

din, don, dan, din, don, dan,

suona le campane, din, don, dan!

Suona le campane, suona le campane,

din, don, dan, din, don, dan,

suona le campane, din, don, dan!

Fraí Martino, campanaro,

Dormi tu? Dormi tu?

Suona le campane, suona le campane,

din, don, dan, din, don, dan,

suona le campane, suona le campane,

din, don, dan, din, don, dan!

4. GIRO GIRO TONDO

Giro girotondo

gira il mondo

gira la terra

e tutti gi˘ per terra

Giro giro tondo

il mare eí fondo

tonda eí la terra

e tutti gi˘ per terra

Giro girotondo

ora ti circondo

come un ciambella

e tutti gi˘ per terra

Giro girotondo

casca il mondo

casca la terra

e tutti gi˘ per terra ..hei!

Giro giro tondo

il mare eí fondo

tonda eí la terra

e tutti gi˘ per terra

Giro girotondo

casca il mondo

casca la terra..

e tutti gi˘ per terra!

5. NINNA NANNA DI BRAHMS

Dormi dormi bel bambino

dormi bene piccolino

La ninna sentirai

fino a quanto dormirai

Gli occhi aprirai

domattina, lo sai

La luce del sol

ed il suo calor

Dormi dormi mio tesor

e sogni tanti fior

e pure tante stelle

che sono le pi˘ belle

Gli angeli vedrai

cantare in cor

sereno dormirai

circondato dall’amor

mmh..

Un sorriso ci sar‡,

domattina lo sai

il sol splender‡

con il suo calor

Dormi dormi bel bambino

dormi bene piccolino

il sonno tu farai

sereno dormirai

hmm…

6. NINNA NANNA, NINNA OH

Ninna nanna Ninna oh

Questo bimbo a chi lo do?

Lo darÚ al suo nonnino  che lo culla nel lettino

Lo darÚ al cavallo bianco che ci gioca tanto tanto

Ninna nanna Ninna oh

Questo bimbo a chi lo do?

Ninna nanna Ninna oh

Questo bimbo a chi lo do?

La darÚ alla zia Lina che lo culla una mattina

La darÚ alla sua mamma che le canta la ninna nanna

Ninna nanna Ninna oh

Questo bimbo a chi lo do?

Ninna nanna Ninna oh

Questo bimbo a chi lo do?

Lo darÚ a San Michele che lo mette nel paniere

Lo darÚ al dolce nonno che lo porta a fare il sonno

mmh..

Ninna nanna e Ninna oh

Ninna nanna e Ninna oh

Ninna nanna e Ninna oh

Ninna oh

7. OH CHE BEL CASTELLO

Oh che bel castello marcondiro ndiro ndello,

oh che bel castello marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

Il mio Ë ancora pi˘ bello marcondiro ndiro ndello,

il mio Ë ancora pi˘ bello marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

Noi lo ruberemo marcondiro ndiro ndello,

e noi lo ruberemo marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

Noi lo rifaremo marcondiro ndiro ndello,

e noi lo rifaremo marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

Noi lo bruceremo marcondiro ndiro ndello,

e noi lo bruceremo marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

Noi lo rifaremo marcondiro ndiro ndello,

e noi lo rifaremo marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

Sparerem cannoni marcondiro ndiro ndello,

Sparerem cannoni  marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

Tirerem le pietre marcondiro ndiro ndello,

e tirerem le pietre  marcondiro ndiro nd‡..

8. MA QUANTE BELLE FIGLIE MADAMADORE’

Ma quante belle figlie, Madama DorÈ,

ma quante belle figlie.

Son belle e me le tengo, Scudiero del re,

son belle e me le tengo..

Il re ne domanda una, Madama DorÈ,

il re ne domanda una..

Che cosa ne vuol fare, Scudiero del re,

che cosa ne vuol fare ?

La vuole maritare, Madama DorÈ,

la vuole maritare..

Con chi la maritereste, Scudiero del re,

con chi la maritereste?

Col principe di Spagna, Madama DorÈ,

col principe di Spagna..

E come la vestireste, Scudiero del re,

e come la vestireste?

Di rose e di viole, Madama DorÈ,

di rose e di viole..

Prendete la pi˘ bella, Scudiero del re,

prendete la pi˘ bella ..

La pi˘ bella l’ho gi‡ scelta , Madama DorÈ,

la pi˘ bella l’ho gi‡ scelta..

Allora vi saluto , Scudiero del re,

allora vi saluto!

Ma quante belle figlie, Madama DorÈ,

ma quante belle figlie.

Ma.. quante belle figlie..

Quante belle belle figlie MadamadorË.. UË!

9. QUEL MAZZOLIN DI FIORI

Quel mazzolin di fiori, che vien dalla montagna..

Quel mazzolin di fiori, che vien dalla montagna..

E bada ben che non si bagna, che lo voglio regalar..

E bada ben che non si bagna, che lo voglio regal‡…

Lo voglio regalare, perche’ l’e’ un bel mazzetto..

Lo voglio regalare, perche’ l’e’ un bel mazzetto..

Lo voglio dare al mio moretto, questa sera quando vien..

Lo voglio dare al mio moretto, questa sera quando vien..

Quel mazzolin di fiori, che vien dalla montagna..

Quel mazzolin di fiori, che vien dalla montagna..

E bada ben che non si bagna, che lo voglio regalar..

E bada ben che non si bagna, che lo voglio regalar..

10. TU SCENDI DALLE STELLE

Tu scendi dalle stelle, oh Re del cielo

e vieni in una grotta al freddo e al gelo,

e vieni in una grotta al freddo e al gelo.

E tu che sei del mondo il Figlio del Creatore

mancano panni e fuoco, oh mio Signore,

mancano panni e fuoco, oh mio Signore.

Oh Bambino mio divino,

io ti vedo qui a tremar..

Ah quanto ti costÚ

l’avermi amato..

A te che sei del mondo il Figlio del Creatore

mancano panni e fuoco, oh mio Signore,

mancano panni e fuoco, oh mio Signore.

Caro eletto, pargoletto

quanto a  questa povert‡,

giacchË ti fece amor povero ancora,

giacchË ti fece amor povero ancora.

11. TANTI AUGURI A TE

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri mio caro

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri tesor

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri tesor

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri a mamm‡

Tanti auguri a pap‡

Tanti auguri davvero

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri tesoro

Tanti auguri a te

Tanti auguri mio caro

Tanti auguri a te!

Pi˘ m’innamora..

Pi˘ m’innmaora..

Pi˘ m’innamora..

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Italian Travel Destinations (a photo tour of Italy) – Italian Culture for kids

Rome is the capital of modern Italy. Rome is full of history everywhere you look. It has many ancient monuments, interesting medieval churches, beautiful fountains, museums, and Renaissance palaces. The Pantheon is a temple that was built in 27 BC under the Roman Empire. It is decorated with paintings and a garden. The Coliseum is an arena, a huge and vast space of masonry walls and can be seen miles away because of its height and width. It was home to Italian plays and gladiator fights.  The Temple of Venus is the largest temple in Ancient Rome. Modern Rome is a bustling and lively city and has many restaurants to sample all sorts of Italian foods.  The Vatican and St. Peter’s are also found in Rome.

Venice is a unique city built on water in the middle of a lagoon. Venice is one of Italy’s most beautiful and romantic cities as well as one of the most popular for visitors to Italy. The heart of Venice is Piazza San Marco with its magnificent church. There are many museums, palaces, and churches to visit and wandering along Venice’s canals is interesting. Venice is in the northeast of Italy and historically was a bridge between East and West.

Florence is one of the most important Renaissance architectural and art centers. Its Duomo and Baptistery are magnificent but crowded with tourists as is their large piazza. Florence has several interesting museums with many famous paintings and sculptures. There are also Medici palaces and gardens.

Milan, one of Europe’s richest cities, is known for stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants and has a faster pace of life than most Italian cities. It also has a rich artistic and cultural heritage. Its Duomo, with its beautiful marble facade, is a popular site. La Scala is one of the world’s most famous opera houses.

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Naples is one of Italy’s most vibrant cities. It lies on the coast south of Rome and is an important city in southern Italy. Naples has recently undergone some renovation but still retains much of its old character. It holds many historical and artistic treasures.

Verona is known for the story of Romeo and Juliet and for its Roman Arena, the third largest in Italy and the gathering place for a yearly opera festival. Verona has a medieval center, Roman remains, and an interesting castle complex to explore.

Turin, host of the 2006 Winter Olympics, is a major cultural hub with several museums, elegant shops, and a variety of restaurants. There are also many examples of baroque architecture and historic palaces. Turin has many historic cafes, artisan workshops, and archways. The city is in the northwest of Italy between the Po River and the foothills of the Alps.

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Bologna is known for its beauty, wealth, and food. Its streets are lined with beautiful archways, making it a good place to walk even in the rain. It has one of Europe’s oldest universities and a medieval center. There are several squares, lined with buildings with porticoes. Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy.

Perugia is a very cosmopolitan city and home to two universities. It hosts a world-famous jazz festival in the summer. It’s a walled city on a hilltop with great views over the valley and has several important monuments with a central square. The city’s rich history goes back to the ninth century B.C. Perugia is in the center of Italy and is the capital of the region of Umbria.

Genoa, on the northwest coast of Italy, is Italy’s principal seaport. Genoa was a 2004 European Culture Capital. Genoa has a fascinating aquarium, an interesting port area (where Christopher Columbus sailed from), and a historic center said to be the largest medieval quarter in Europe, with a wealth of churches, palaces, and museums.

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Common Italian Words and Phrases – Italian Culture for kids

You can practice some of these words and phrases that are used in everyday conversational language in Italy.

sì (yes)prego (you’re welcome)

no (no)

si figuri (it’s nothing)

per favore, per piacere, per cortesia (please)

mi scusi (excuse me)

grazie (thank you)

prego (by all means)

molte grazie (thank you very much)

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Italian Children’s Songs – Italian Culture for kids

Some favorite children’s songs include:

Una Casa Carina (A Crazy House)

Ci son due coccodrilli (Two Crocodiles)

Nella veccia fattoria (On an Old Small Farm)

Ci vuole un fiore (We Need a Flower)

Giro Giro Tondo (Round and Round)

The Italian National Anthem (Fratelli d’Italia)

La bella lavanderina  (The Beautitul Laundress)

Madama Dore (Madam Dores Daughters)

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The Italian Alphabet (alfabeto italiano) and Language – Italian Culture for kids

The Italian alphabet has 26 letters from A-Z just like the English alphabet. The letters j  (i lunga), k (cappa), w (vi/vu doppia), x (ics) and y (i greca) do appear in the Italian alphabet, but they are thought of as foreign letters. These letters are used mainly in foreign words and pronounced how foreigners would pronounce those specific words. These are the 26 letters and how you pronounce them in Italian:

A (a), B (bi), C (ci), D (di), E (e), F (effe), G (gi), H (acca), I (i), L (elle), M (emme), N (enne), O (o), P (pi), Q (cu), R (erre), S (esse), T (ti), U (u), V (vi/vu), Z (zeta)

Italians speak the official language of Italian, which is the Tuscan dialect known as Italiano. Many Italians also speak German, French and Ladin (in some regions in Northern Italy).   Ladin is a dialect that is close to Swiss Romansh and Friulian.  There are many other Italian dialects and each region has its own.  Some of these dialects are very different from the Italiano dialect.  Italian is a Romance language because ancient Romans spoke Latin and Italian is based on Latin. Many of the Italian words have Latin roots. The Italian language has a soft pronunciation.  It sounds like a melody.  That is one reason it is used in opera.  More than 98% of Italians can read and write. Education is highly valued.  Students learn to speak English, French or German in schools.

Other countries that speak Italian are Switzerland, San Marino and The Vatican.  Parts of Croatia, Slovenia, Malta, and Monaco also speak Italian.  There are 66 million speakers of the Italian language in the world. Italians and their descendants who have moved to other countries speak Italian and varied dialects.  Larger populations of Italians live in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Australia.

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Italian Traditional Music and Musical Instruments – Italian Culture for kids

Traditional music includes opera, which began in the 16th century, and classical music.  Italian folk music is an important part of the country’s musical heritage.  Many of the regions in Italy have their own style, instruments and dancers.  Italy has a long history of church music since 90% of the nation is Catholic. Early ballet was accompanied by horns, trombones, kettle drums, dulcimers and bagpipes.  Italian folk songs, ballads, lyrical songs, lullabies and other children’s songs, seasonal and special occasion songs, and songs dealing with certain professions.  It was common for fishermen, shepherds and soldiers to have their own songs.  Yodeling in northern Italy is a type of folk music, too.

 

Some traditional musical instruments include the folk accordion, folk flutes and bagpipes.  The zampogna bagpipe is usually played at Christmastime. The quartara is a wind instrument. You blow across the opening at the top.  It is played mostly in the south of Italy. The tamburini like a modern day tambourine is a percussion instrument. The scacciapensieri is a mouth harp.  This instrument is played only in northern Italy and in Sicily.

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Popular Italian History – Italian Culture for kids

By 500 B.C., Italy was shared by a number of groups.  Small Greek colonies were on the southern coast and the island of Sicily.  Gauls, ancestors of the modern French people, roamed the northern mountain area.  The Etrucans, a group of people from western Turkey, settled in central Italy.  They built a number of city-states.  These people were the first people in Italy to make stone arches, paved streets, aqueducts and a sewer system.

Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by twin brothers Romulus and Remus. The twins claimed they were the sons of the war god Mars.  There is a legend that tells us that Romulus declared himself the first King of Rome after Remus joked about ruling the ancient city of Rome and eventually killing him.

Rome would go through seven kings until 509 B.C. when the last king was overthrown.  The Roman Republic was formed.  Rome was then ruled by two elected officials called consuls.  There was a Senate make up of wealthier people called patricians and a lower assembly that represented the commoners called plebeians.  As Rome expanded to become larger than a city-state, it took over territories in what is now Italy and also overseas.  By the end of the first century B.C., Spartacus who was a slave led the common people to overtake the patricians. The Republic was divided into several dictatorships.  The ruler Julius Caesar was killed.

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After some time, Caesar’s nephew Octavius in 29 B.C. declared himself the Emperor.  This was the beginning of the Roman Empire.  It existed for the next 200 years and gained lots of power and land throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It was known as a peaceful time.  When Marcus Aurelius died in 180 A.D., Rome began to decline with money problems, people trying to take over the country, and lack of good leadership. Christianity became the official religion.

By the end of the fourth century A.D., the Roman Empire split into two.  Constantinople was the eastern capital.  This region is now Turkey.  It became a strong Byzantine Empire.  Rome was the western capital and it began to decline.

In 410 A.D., Rome was attacked by invaders.  The empires collapsed and for the next thousand years, Italy was divided into many city-states.  Rome was the home to the Catholic Church.  This was known as the Dark Ages as there was little growth throughout the country.

In the fourteenth century, Italy became prosperous. Many city-states became centers of trade.  Trade was encouraged between foreign lands.  Wealthy patrons helped fund artists, writer, scientists and politicians.  Italian explorers like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus introduced Italy and Europe to the rest of the world.

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Italy remained a center of power until the sixteenth century when trade routes shifted.  Some of the city-states were overtaken by other countries (Spain, France and Austria).  Then, in the nineteenth century the French leader Napoleon helped unite Italy into one country.  Rome fell in 1870 and the country became one nation.

Next, Mussolini who was a politician started a movement to restore Italy’s power.  His troops marched to Rome and took over the country from the king.  Mussolini became the supreme ruler of Italy. In 1930, he tried to take over other countries like Ethiopia in Africa and Albania in Europe.

In World War II, Italy eventually joined Germany and moved to take over Greece, the Balkans and North Africa.  Losing power, Mussolini left Rome and tried to rule Italy from the north.  He was captured and killed.

After World War II ended, Italy ended the monarchy and became a republic.  With help from the United States, Italy rebuilt its country and businesses.  It is now a part of the European Union and a very prosperous, democratic European country.

The current president is Girogio Napolitano who is the 11th President of the Republic of Italy.  Napolitano was elected in 2006. There is no limit on the length of time you can serve as president in Italy.  Another interesting fact is that you need to be at least 50 years old to be the President of Italy.

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Italian Cuisine and Traditional Food – Italian Culture for kids

Pizza is surely one of the most famous foods in Italy.   It is often baked in a wood-fired oven.  The pizza in Italy is usually very thin, but loaded with fresh vegetables or thinly sliced ham, salami, artichokes and olives.

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Pizza was invented in Naples, Italy around 1860. Calzone, a popular variety of pizza, is folded-up pizza.  Italian pasta is known throughout the world.  Pesto is a thick green sauce made from olives, herbs, olive oil and parmiggiano cheese.  It is often served over pasta. Lasagna is a layered pasta dish with tomatoes, cheese and meat filling.    There are more than 200 different shapes. 

Many of the Italian food dishes are made with fresh vegetables and seafood.  The sweet cakes (panettone), fruit cakes (panforte) and almond pastries (amaretti) are favorites. Gelato is a type of ice cream that is made with more whole milk than other ice creams found in other countries.  It is creamier and richer in flavor than regular ice cream.

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