Exploring Spain!

Our first week back exploring our world and we had the chance to explore spanish culture 🙂

Spanish Fans

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Hand fans are used amongst cultures all over the world, from ancient Egypt, China, Japan to England and Spain. Reaching the heights of it’s splendour in 19th Century Europe, particularly in Spain. The first hand fan in Spain dates from 1802 in Valencia and quickly became a must have among upper class women. Fans were hand crafted and hand painted with the most delicate motifs.

The hand fan is not just a decoration, it is a trademark of Spain, and it became part of Spanish Culture, and of course, a cheap way to keep cool in the heat.

Our mini-explorers created mini fans by folding coloured paper and cutting patterns into it. Two loli-pop sticks, secured at the bottom with a pipe cleaner, forms the hard parts of the fan and the paper is simply stuck on using pritt stick.

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La Tomatina Festival

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 La Tomatina Festival  – Image From La Tomatina

The La Tomatina festival includes huge tomato fight in Buñol near Valencia. It is staged every year on the last Wednesday in August. The highlight of the festival is the tomato fight which takes place between 11am and 1pm on that day. Thousands of people flock to this Valencian town to join the chaos.

The origins of La Tomatina aren’t clear, however, the most plausible suggests that the most likely explanation dates back to 1945 when an annual parade of enormous figures with big heads was passing through. Youngsters tried to join in the parade and accidentally knocked over one of the giants who got to his feet and started swinging out at everyone around him. In retaliation the youngsters grabbed some tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stall and started throwing them at him until the police arrived to break things up.

The following year on the same last Wednesday of August these young people returned to the town hall square and started another tomato fight using their own tomatoes. Again the police intervened and in subsequent years the local council tried to ban the ‘El Día de la Tomatina’ but with little success as the event continued to grow year after year reaching the ludicrous size it is today.

So, tomatoes might have been a little messy, so we armed the mini-explorers with red balloons!

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Spanish Castanets

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Spanish Castanets – Image from Flamenco Dancer

Castanets are a percussion in instrument, dating back over 1000BC. They mainly thrived in Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain. However, over the course of history, it has been Spain that has conserved and developed their use.

The castanets consist of two pairs of shallow, cup-shaped, pieces of wood, usually chestnut, although now other woods and materials are used. They are held in the hand and used to produce clicks for rhythmic accents or a ripping or rattling sound consisting of a rapid series of clicks.

Though many people associate the castanets with flamenco, they are not a traditional element of flamenco music or dance; rather, the castanets are an integral part of folkloric Spanish dances.

Our mini-explorers created castanets using, the middle of a paper plate which I prepared for them by using a hot glue gun to stick pennies inside. Once they folded the circle in half and clacked together it would make a lovely sound with the pennies hitting together. They decorated them using felt tips and sequins and taped two gold card handles on the outside…

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Once the children had a chance to make their castanets, I projected a video of flamenco dancing on the wall! The children loved clapping and stamping their feet and using the castanet to imitate the flamenco dancers!

Flamenco Dancing

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Salvadore Dali

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Salvador Dali image from Wikipedia

Salvador Dalí was a Spanish Surrealist painter. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in August 1931. The Persistence of Memory is one of Dali’s biggest triumphs, but the actual oil on canvas painting measures only 9 1/2” x 13″.

Salvador Dalí frequently described his paintings as “hand painted dream photographs.” He based this seaside landscape on the cliffs in his home region of Catalonia, Spain. The ants and melting clocks are recognizable images that Dalí placed in an unfamiliar context or rendered in an unfamiliar way. The large central creature comprised of a deformed nose and eye was drawn from Dalí’s imagination, although it has frequently been interpreted as a self-portrait. Its long eyelashes seem insect-like; what may or may not be a tongue oozes from its nose like a fat snail from its shell.

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The Persistence of Memory image from dali paintings

We explored Dali’s The Persistence of Memory using our favourite play doh! The children created play doh clocks and draped them over blocks 🙂

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Spanish Bull Fighting

Whether you like it or not – agree with it or despise it – bullfighting exists in Spain and is an important part of their history and culture. Just because we have explored this aspect of Spanish culture does NOT mean to say that we like it or agree with it.

Bull fighting is very closely associated with Spain and can trace its origins back to 711 A.D. This is when the first bullfight took place in celebration for the crowning of King Alfonso VIII. It is very popular in Spain with several thousand Spaniards flocking to their local bull-ring each week. It is said that the total number of people watching bullfights in Spain reaches one million every year.

Bullfighting was originally a sport for the aristocracy and took place on horseback. King Felipe V took exception to the sport however and banned the aristocracy from taking part, believing it to be a bad example to the public. After the ban commoners accepted the sport as their own and, since they could not afford horses, developed the practice of dodging the bulls on foot, unarmed. This transformation occurred around 1724.

The top bullfighter is called the Matador, the faena is the fight between matador and bull.

We created bulls from card and cardboard tubes 🙂

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Thanks for reading, please get in touch if you have any questions or comments, love to hear from you!

Donna x

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