Between being the youngest state in the U.S., the home state of the current President, one of the most isolated island chains in the world AND having a history that starts in 500 CE, Hawaii is worth exploring.
Here’s a VERY brief history. While it is well documented that Tahitians came to the Hawaiian Islands around 1000 CE, the first Hawaiian inhabitants are speculated to have arrived by boat around 500 CE. As the islands became more populated, chiefs established their own chiefdoms on some of the eight major islands. It wasn’t until the 1790s when King Kamehameha, the chief of the big island of Hawaii conquered and united all people on all the inhabited islands. A single kingdom was established in 1810 with Kamehameha at the helm. Also in 1788, Captain James Cook, became the first European to set foot on the Hawaiian Islands, which opened a whole new world of trade, religion and ethnicity to the Hawaiian people. Soon to follow was the United States, which, after building exporting businesses there, annexed the Hawaiian Islands as a territory in 1898. Then, on August 21, 1959, Hawaii was welcomed as the 50th U.S. State. Among the eight major islands, you can find culturally diverse population, deep historical traditions, rainforests, beaches, cityscapes, erupting volcanoes and seven National Parks to explore. So, let's get started!
Practice Island Hopping (literally!)
Grab a photo of the Hawaiian Islands and some chalk. Go outside and draw the islands out as best you can. Then make a game out of quizzing your kids on the eight major islands by having them literally hop to the island you name. If jumping isn't an option or if you need to be indoors, you can still draw out the islands on as large a paper as you have. Then ask your kids to toss bean bags or something else soft into the islands you name.
Learn New Words and Foods!
The Hawaiian language only has 5 vowels and 7 consonants. A few words have become part of our everyday lexicon (aloha, lei, luau, taro, etc.), but most are a challenge to get one's tongue around. Then add the complexity of Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese and Chinese cultures, languages and food influence the Hawaiian people and you have a very interesting place to live and eat. So, throw yourself a multi-cultural Hawaiian event! Explore some recipes that include one or more of the cultures listed above and have your children help you prepare the meal. You can also find some basic words and phrases (please, thank you, I love you, etc.) and learn them with your kids, so by the time the meal is prepared, you'll have some Hawaii-lovin' keiki (children)!
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