Monday, September 5, 2022

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Nepal

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For our final week of The Educational Summer Vacation, my 14-year-old chose Nepal. If you're new here, my kids and I ages 6-18 learn about a new country every week of the school summer break... kind of like homeschooling, but without the pressure.


We started off by finding Nepal on our big wall map. The kids have little passport books that I made and printed out (you can download them for free here) and they fill in a new page with info about the country of the week.

My 14-year-old was adamant that we study Nepal this summer. One of his siblings had already chosen Bangladesh so I asked him, "Are you sure you don't want to pick somewhere else? Sometimes when countries are nearby their culture overlaps, so you might be hearing some of the same things twice this summer."

He was sure, he said, and it was because he really likes Nepal's flag:

This shape is called a "double-pennon."

I guess there's some complex trigonometry involved in getting the proportions right, but eyeballing it served our purposes for this week.

I read the book N is for Nepal with the kids, and then we watched this 4K video to give them an eyeful of the country:

For a snack that night, we made chatamari. If you make this at home, don't make the mistake of telling your kids it's 'Nepali pizza.' They will be really upset when you end up making something with a weird egg on top that is decidedly unlike any pizza they've ever eaten. Trust me, I know from experience.

Really pretty and tasted good.

As far as ethnic recipes go, this was a relatively easy one. But I think I need some practice to perfect the art of not cementing the rice flour crust to the bottom of the pan so hard that we contemplated just throwing it out afterward instead of cleaning it.


The picture book I See the Sun in Nepal was a great introduction to today's topic, the Nepali language. Because the book was printed in both English and Nepali, the kids could see what it looked like as I was reading.

With the help of this video, we counted to 20 in Nepali and then watched this video and copied down the Nepali alphabet. Yes, all 46 letters. My kids were like "Finally!" and threw their markers across the room at the end, if they hadn't already given up and gone to play with some matchbox cars.

One of the proud survivors.

The 8-year-old.

For dinner, we made dahl baht. It was easy and filling and a good way to use up my lentils, so I'll probably do it again sometime. The kids' reaction was fairly neutral and that's about all I can expect from a family dinner at this point in our lives so I'll take it.


One unique feature of Nepal is how well its largest religion, Hinduism, gets along with the second largest religion, Buddhism. 

According to this video (a 180° video where the kids can move the mouse around and move the picture while they're listening) some temples in the capital of Kathmandu simply serve both religions. It was short and taught the kids about prayer wheels and other temple features.

One of the most famous temple complexes in the area is Swayambhunath, also known as 'the monkey temple.' I knew the kids would love this video of it:

But it isn't called 'the monkey temple' just because monkeys live there. (Monkeys live everywhere in Nepal. They're the pigeons of Asia.) No, legend has it that a Buddhist deity once let his hair grow so long he got lice, and the lice turned into monkeys that roam the area today.

Okay, then.

Next, the kids each chose a Hindu coloring page from this site, and they worked on them while I read some basic Hindu beliefs and practices:

Aside from briefly learning about a few of them when we visited Thailand last year, the kids are totally unfamiliar with most of the characters associated with Hinduism, so I gave them the book Little Book of Hindu Dieties to peruse on their own time. The illustrations were so cute, you guys. I can't get over it. 

As a bedtime story that night, we read Chandra's Magic Light together. It's a picture book set in Nepal that is mainly about a girl and her solar-powered lantern, but includes a nice little shoutout to the Hindu deities at the end that made it perfect for today.


We kind of already started talking about the animals in Nepal with all the monkeys yesterday, but today it was time to focus on a few others.

Did you know that in Nepal and India, it's illegal to slaughter a cow? Cows are considered sacred to the Hindu majority there.

We also learned about yak facts with this fun video. The narrator seems so sweet and the kids really did learn a lot from her. (Case in point: when we visited the natural history museum the next week with Grandma, my 6-year-old pointed to one of the taxidermied mammals and said, "That's a yak. And it's a boy because it has long hair on its belly.")

Lastly, we talked about dogs. I thought people in the United States loved their dogs, but did you know that in Nepal there's a whole holiday for them? It's called Kukur Tihar, the second day of Diwali, and everybody is encouraged to do a little ceremony for their dog or even go find a stray to do it for on the streets. We watched a video about it and then read the picture book A Dog Named Haku.

Next, we headed outside to play a Nepali game called Tigers and Goats. It was sort of like checkers, but not.

Something in me loves games that require no equipment you can't just find outside.

After we got the hang of how the game worked, whoever was the goat won every time, so maybe we were missing something about the strategy of the game. 


Today, the kids were a captive audience in the car for about an hour and a half today and my husband was driving, so I read to them from the book Where is Mount Everest? (from the "Who Is" book series, which I love.)

I also gave them the books True Stories of Everest Adventures by Paul Dowswell and Everest: You Decide How to Survive. Both were appropriate for kids in the 9-12 age range. The Abominable Snowman: A Story from Nepal was a cute beginning chapter book for my 6-year-old.

My kids have a slight obsession with an educational YouTuber called Mr Demaio, and when I announced we were talking about Mount Everest today they all shouted, "Are we going to watch Mr. Demaio??" 

Of course we were.

When we got home, we made mountain climbers using this tutorial. We didn't have plastic straws for the back, but we used some plastic tubing my husband had in his workshop and it worked just fine. 

The 6-year-old made his mountain climber rainbow-colored (for surrealism) and added an oxygen tank (for realism):

I showed them how to put the mountain climbers on a doorknob, but the part they really liked was when they discovered they could put the climbers around their neck and have them climb up their bodies instead.

This week, we learned a lot while studying Nepal. The kids were introduced to new food, a new alphabet, a new religion, and a new flag shape they didn't even know existed. All in all, it was a nice close to the summer; we'll see you again next year with more of The Educational Summer Vacation!

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Terra Heck said...

I love reading about your "summer vacations" in different countries. Heck, I learn a lot about them myself.

Jenny Evans said...

Terra: I know. I think I am partly doing this for selfish reasons, because I learn a lot and I know I wouldn't just sit down and do it for my own personal edification without a reason.