Leanna

May 242017
 
 May 24, 2017  Geography, History No Responses »

Who isn’t fascinated by the life-sized terracotta soldiers that were unearthed in China several decades ago? Thousands of these clay soldiers were discovered, each with unique facial characteristics. They were  buried with China’s first emperor in his mausoleum, along with hundreds of statues of horses and chariots. It is estimated that it took more than 700,000 workers nearly 40 years to complete the figures. The terracotta army is now considered one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time and continues to offer clues about life in Ancient China.

Terracotta Army: Learning About Ancient China | Alldonemonkey.com

 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Terracotta Army: Learning About Ancient China

Ming’s Adventure with the Terracotta Army is a fun book to teach children about the terracotta soldiers. When Ming visits the museum to see an exhibit on the Terracotta Army, his mother buys him a small replica of the army’s general as a souvenir. That night in his dreams, Ming meets the general, who has magically come to life! The general takes Ming flying through the air in his chariot to visit the Emperor’s mausoleum, where they play hide and seek among the soldiers before rushing home at dawn.

I love this gently told adventure, appropriate for even young children, and how it easily incorporates factual information into the story. Ming learns quite a bit about the army as he plays with the general, but there is even more detailed information included as well, separated from the main text by a distinctive font. The artwork is lovely, bringing the clay figures to life and capturing the intricate details of the soldiers’ uniforms. Really wonderful book to introduce children to this archaeological wonder and get them excited about their next trip to the museum!

By Ismoon (talk) 19:40, 9 January 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Online Resources

Find out even more about China’s terracotta army with these wonderful online resources:

The Children’s Museum of Philadelphia: 10 Amazing Facts about the Terracotta Warriors & The Story of the Terracotta Warriors (video)

DK Find Out!: The Terracotta Army

National Geographic Kids: China’s Terracotta Warriors (video)

Marie’s Pastiche: Make Your Own Terracotta Soldiers

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Hop 2017 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway! Follow along all month for ideas about sharing with kids the rich cultures of this vast and varied region. Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below and link up your posts at the bottom of the page.

For even more ideas, visit our blog hops from last year, 2015 and 2014. You can also follow our Asia and Australia & Oceania boards on Pinterest.

May 1
Miss Panda Chinese on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts About Taiwan for Kids

May 5
Chinese American Family: Visiting Locke and Connecting with California’s Rural Chinese History

May 11
The Art Curator for Kids: Chinese Bronze Vessels with Abstract Zoomorphic Designs

May 15
Crafty Moms Share: Our Japanese Tea Party

May 17
Bicultural Mama: The Limitations of DNA Testing for Asian Americans

May 19
Wise Owl Factory: Cherry Blossom Books and Craft Idea

May 22
Ketchup Moms on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Fun Facts About India Including a Floating Post Office

May 24
All Done Monkey

May 25
Miss Panda Chinese

May 30
All Done Monkey

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Giveaway

Enter below for a chance to win one of our great prize packages in our annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month giveaway! The giveaway goes from May 1 to May 31, 2017, at midnight PT. If the winner falls outside the shipping area of a prize, that prize will revert to the next lower prize package. Read our full giveaway rules.

And for all of our readers, here is a special offer from our sponsor Tingomo! Use the code TENOFFTINGOMO to get 10% off any pre-order! (first kits to ship in July)

APAHM Series and Giveaway: Grand Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Grand Prize

From One Dear World: Set of 4 plush multicultural dolls, each with its own passport, plus the story book The Adventure of Hat Hunting in London, starring the dolls as the main characters
From Tuttle Publishing: Adventures in Asian Art, Indonesian Children’s Favorite Stories, Malaysian Children’s Favorite Stories, and Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories
From Wisdom Tales: Rock Maiden – US Shipping Only
From Bollywood Groove: Go on a fun adventure with Maya & Neel and learn about famous festivals and places in India! In this very colorful, three-picture-book series, kids will learn about festival of lights – Diwali (Amazon best-seller), festival of colors – Holi and the home of Bollywood – city of Mumbai. US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links
From Tingomo: Passport Craft™ Kit: Make Your Own NEPAL Paper Lanterns US Shipping Only, will ship in July

APAHM Series and Giveaway: 1st Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

1st Prize

From World Music with Daria: set of tingsha (handbells) US Shipping Only
From Quarto Knows: Summer Under the Tamarind Tree, I is for Iran, and 50 Things You Should Know About the Vietnam War – US Shipping Only
From Monika Schröder: Saraswati’s Way – US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links
From Tingomo: Passport Craft™ Kit: Make Your Own NEPAL Paper Prayer Flags US Shipping Only, will ship in July

APAHM Series and Giveaway: 2nd Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

2nd Prize

From The Dumpling Mama: Pack of 20 good luck envelopes: Give good luck wishes with money in a red envelope. Perfect for Lunar New Year, birthdays, graduations, and holidays US/Canada Shipping Only
From Kathleen Burkinshaw: The Last Cherry Blossom – US Shipping Only
From Candlewick Press: A Piece of Home and Bronze and Sunflower – US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links

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May 222017
 
 May 22, 2017  parenting, Spring 6 Responses »

I have received information and materials from ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. #ForWhatMattersMost #CollectiveBias

Springtime is here, and with that comes the rush to get outdoors and get active after the long, cold days of winter. Yet moms often don’t realize that they can easily overdo it as they strive to take care of everyone else – overlooking the need to take care of themselves as well. Here are my top tips for springtime self-care for moms, so they can enjoy all of the fun family activities that come with the season.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms | Alldonemonkey.com #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms

Pack for Yourself, Too

Headed to the playground or to a baseball game? Pack for yourself just as you do for your kids: water, snacks, sunscreen, hat, and so on. Too often moms are so focused on meeting their children’s needs that they ignore their own. Take a few extra minutes to make sure you have what you need to keep you going through all your spring activities, such as Extra Strength TYLENOL® for any muscular pain, backache, or minor pains from headaches or the common cold.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Set a Realistic Schedule

What exactly a realistic schedule is will vary from person to person. Some people thrive on going to many scheduled activities during the week, while others need downtime to recharge in between the sports practices and park dates. I personally try to schedule only one “extra” activity a day outside our usual school routine. Know your own needs and make sure not to overextend yourself. It is easy to overdo it in the excitement of getting back outdoors, plus often we feel pressured to sign our children up for every available extracurricular activity. But you owe it to yourself and your kids to set limits and create realistic schedules. Remember that you are helping your family set healthy patterns as they move into adulthood.

Be Strict About Your Sleep

You are probably tired of hearing this, but getting a good night’s sleep is one of the simplest and most effective strategies for self-care for moms – and it is also one of the most ignored. I am guilty of this myself, since it is so tempting to stay up late when the house is finally quiet and I don’t have anyone making demands of me. But I really notice a difference when I commit to getting a full night’s sleep. And I know my kids can tell the difference, too!

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Don’t Ignore Your Aches and Pains

We kiss all of our children’s boo-boos, carefully tending to each little wound, yet when it comes to ourselves we seldom show the same regard. As spring activities ramp up, it can be easy to overdo it, so don’t ignore those aches and pains. Whether you have a stiff back after gardening or a backache from helping set up at school events, Extra Strength TYLENOL® provides powerful relief so you can get back to what you enjoy.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

We recently picked up some Extra Strength TYLENOL® at Target. You can see above exactly where we found it. So easy, since we are at Target all the time! Please remember, of course, that Extra Strength TYLENOL® is only for adults and children 12 years and older and should be used only as directed.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms | Alldonemonkey.com #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

So this spring get out and enjoy all of your favorite family activities, knowing that you are taking great care of yourself just as you take care of everyone else!

I am not a medical expert, and this post is not medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

 

 

May 182017
 

Looking for some great summer reading for your middle schooler? Here are two wonderful new works of middle grade Latino fiction that you won’t want to miss! Both are coming of age novels that cast light on the Cuban-American experience today and yesterday as well as touching on universal themes of family, community, and finding your own voice. Don’t miss the giveaway of one of these books below!

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

New Middle Grade Latino Fiction | Alldonemonkey.com

New Middle Grade Latino Fiction

I love coming of age novels because they are all about helping children navigate that difficult terrain between childhood and adulthood, between learning from others and beginning to trust your own instincts. Both of the novels below invite us into the world of a young person discovering their own strength in part through coming to terms with their own fallibility. As they learn to accept their own weaknesses, they lose their fear and begin to blossom into extraordinary young adults.

These books are wonderful to pair together, as they both feature Cuban-American main characters but at different time periods and locations. It would be interesting to read them together and discuss how life for Cuban immigrants was different in New York City in the 1960s versus Miami in the present day, yet how themes of family and culture remained the same.

They also pair well together because each main character discovers their own voice through the arts: one through poetry and the other through literature and painting. Why not read them together alongside some wonderful books of poetry or art projects? Truly wonderful middle grade Latino fiction to share with your young readers!

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora bubbles over with all the energy and curiosity of a 13 year old boy. Arturo Zamora is looking forward to a laid back summer working in the kitchen of his Abuela’s restaurant and spending time with the cute girl who just moved into his apartment complex. Yet when a land developer enters the picture and threatens to change Arturo’s Miami neighborhood forever, he and his family must find a way to save their restaurant and their community. I love how this book is very contemporary with its references and language, without seeming like a grown up trying too hard to be hip. It also a wonderful portrait of a close extended family, with all of its quirky characters, complicated relationships, and unconditional love. Arturo blossoms inside this atmosphere of Sunday dinners and family group texts, especially through the gentle guidance of his grandparents, who show him to always trust his feelings and the power of poetry.

Lucky Broken Girl is a remarkable new book based on the author’s own experiences of being confined to her bed in a body cast after a car accident. Ruth Behar, a Cuban-Jewish girl, is the hopscotch queen of her 1960s New York City neighborhood with dreams of getting her own pair of go-go boots, when a terrible accident changes her life forever. As her outside world constricts, her inner world deepens. At first Ruth sinks into despair, but through writing and painting she learns of the healing power of forgiveness and the ability of art to transform the most dreary surroundings. This beautifully written novel gives a wonderfully nuanced look at relationships and how confusing people’s reactions to tragedy can be, whether it’s a mother forced to deal with her own resentment over caring for her injured daughter 24-7 or a girl whose sorrow over her friend’s injury makes her seem standoffish and uncaring. It also encourages introspection – what would you do if you were forced to lie on your back for nearly a year?- and sheds light on working through depression, anger, and anxiety to discover forgiveness and grace.

Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora Giveaway

And now for a giveaway of one of these amazing new works of middle grade Latino fiction! Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (ARV: $16.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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May 162017
 
 May 16, 2017  activities, Summer No Responses »

This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

As the weather gets warm, we always start to think of swimming! I must admit, though, packing up all the essentials for family swim time at the pool or the lake can be a daunting task, especially with young children. Here are my tips for you really need to pack next time you go swimming with kids.

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack

Do you love swimming with your kids but dread having to pack up all that gear? Or, on the flip side, have you ever gotten to the pool just to realize you forgot something essential, like sunscreen? Here are our top tips for what you really need to have in your bag next time you go swimming with kids:

Sunscreen and sun hats: So important to protect your little ones from the sun! For very young children and babies, go one step further and keep them covered up and in the shade as much as possible. (See below for a great way to keep babies protected).

Water: Make sure to keep everyone hydrated, especially as children may be less aware of how thirsty they are getting when splashing around in the water.

Snacks: All that playing around will get them hungry, so be sure to pack some power snacks, especially if you think your child may fall asleep in the car on the drive home. Fruits like watermelon are a great choice because they can help them keep up their fluid intake and are so refreshing!

Towels: One for everyone, and usually one extra, because one towel always gets spilled on or stepped on, and then someone is left shivering!

Swim Diapers: These are incredibly convenient, plus they are required at most pools. Just make sure you have regular diapers to change your child into later, as swim diapers really don’t hold things in well outside the water.

Change of Clothes: If your child is potty trained, don’t forget to pack a pair of underwear along with their dry clothes!

Anti-bacterial gel: If you’ve ever used the bathroom at a public pool, you will appreciate how levels of hygiene (and hand soap) can vary, so better to be prepared and have some anti-bacterial gel in your bag when you go swimming with kids!

Floats: Older children can use arm floaties for a little extra support, and plus there is an incredible float just for babies! I love the SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy, which is designed for very young children (9 to 24 months), who are just getting used to the water. As Step 1 of 3 Swim Training stages, this adorable float is a safe, fun way for little ones to get comfortable in the water so they can eventually learn to swim.

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

I remember when we first put my oldest in the pool – he was terrified! That’s why I’m so glad that today we have the SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy for my one year old daughter. It is durable and very stable in the water, with a patented inner spring around the outer edge for extra security. Plus it has a wonderful shade that you can adjust in two different positions or remove altogether with easy snaps. The shade also has UPF 50+ so I know she will be well protected from the sun.

I love how soft the mesh seat is and that there is a mesh play area so she can play and splash around. The SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy is the perfect combination of comfort and security. I can relax knowing that she is safe and supported, and she feels great and can have a blast!

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

And despite the fact that it is so wide when it is open (part of why it is so stable and balanced), the SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy actually folds up easily into three flat, compact circles that fit into an included bag for easy carrying and packing. So important when you are carrying around other gear as well!

Don’t miss out on this great float for babies, available at Target (in-store and online)!

National Learn to Swim Day

Did you know that May 20th, 2017 is National Learn to Swim Day? SwimWays is a leader in promoting water safety and helping children learn to swim. That’s why they started National Learn to Swim Day in 2012. It is always the 3rd Saturday in May, so that as pools open across the US parents are aware of the importance of swim safety and teaching children how to swim. Learn more on the Teach Me to Swim website!

May 112017
 

Whenever my four year old wants to do something he knows he is not supposed to, he looks at me very intently and says, “Mommy, don’t see me.” It makes me laugh every time (and I do appreciate the red flag that mischief is afoot!) but on a more serious note, it reminds me that it is a work in progress to teach children to do the right thing even if no one is watching or, more importantly, even if it is difficult or they may not get an obvious reward.

There is no magic formula, but here are some ways I’ve discovered that help raise children who do the right thing.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing

Lead by Example

Nothing will make a bigger impact on your kids than how you act, even in situations where it may not seem like a “big deal.” For example, do you hold the door for others? Are you gracious when someone holds the door for you? Do you go back inside the store if you notice the cashier forgot to ring up one of your items? Do you step in when you see someone is being bullied? Kids take notice, and quickly learn to mimic your actions.

Inspire Them with Role Models

Of course, we as parents are far from perfect, which is why it is wonderful to be able to show them some examples of truly extraordinary people who can inspire us. I must confess that I didn’t really know much about Pete Seegar until I read the remarkable new children’s biography Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice, and then I realized how much I had already been influenced by him without even knowing it! For example, I never knew that he was the one who popularized the anthem “We Shall Overcome,” even introducing it to Martin Luther King, Jr.

This beautiful book gives us an intimate look at this pivotal figure, focusing not just on his musical legacy but on his legacy of change and fighting for justice. It is hard to read this book without wanting to get up and do something to make the world a better place – and to sing while you do it! I love the illustrations and how highlights from Seegar’s life are woven together to give the reader a cohesive message of hope and the power of one person to make a difference.

Related Post: Girls Who Changed the World

Teach Them to Look Beyond Themselves

A key element in teaching kids to do the right thing is to help them care about others. Developing empathy is key, because without it, they lack the will to take action to help others. Pass It On is a very sweet book for very young readers about sharing joy with others. It is also about recognizing the wonder of the world around you then passing that excitement on to others. Pass It On is a perfect way to teach children that sharing isn’t just about toys, it’s also about sharing a smile or a laugh with someone else.

Related Post: Children’s Books About Sharing

Teach Them to Think Long Term

A child who only seeks instant gratification will not understand the more satisfying rewards of doing the right thing, since these usually are slower in coming. Sometimes you immediately get a smile or a thank you when you help someone, but oftentimes there is no immediate reward or it may not be obvious. By helping children understand that good things come to those who wait, you will set the stage for them to do what is right, even if there is no immediate benefit to themselves.

Give Them Concrete Tools

Most children are concrete thinkers and understand better through specific examples of what behavior you expect from them. Set them up for success by giving them concrete tools of how to handle situations like bullying. For example, in our character building classes, we read stories, brainstormed how we might react in different scenarios, and did lots of role playing. These activities help build children’s confidence and give them concrete actions they can take when confronted with a difficult situation. Doing it as a group activity also helps build a community of peers that are all striving to help others and do what’s right.

How do you teach your kids to do the right thing?

May 082017
 

When our oldest son was little, and our bookshelves started to fill with colorful, engaging board books, my husband made an observation that has stuck with me ever since – nearly all of the books focused on the child’s relationship with the mother, but very few included the father. Thankfully this is not universally true, but I was surprised to see how widespread this pattern was. Ever since then, I’ve sought out books that also include the father and especially ones that celebrate their special relationship with their children. And so, in honor of Father’s Day next month, I’m happy to present to you some favorite children’s books that celebrate fathers, plus we have a giveaway for you, so be sure to scroll to the end of the post to enter!

Books that Celebrate Fathers | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Books that Celebrate Fathers

I love the adorable new book Daddy Honk Honk! Set in the Arctic, it is the tale of Aput the fox, who is thrust into fatherhood when an abandoned goose egg hatches and the little gosling mistakes Aput for its daddy. With each page we see Aput’s transformation as he learns to care for the baby but more importantly as his affection for it steadily grows. This is also a beautiful tale of the importance of community in supporting families, as Aput’s friends all help teach him what a baby needs and help surround them both with love. Very sweet tale to share with your little ones! My preschooler and toddler both really enjoy this story.

Charlie Rides: Planes, Trains, Bikes, and More! is a cute board book that your kids will love! Like so many young children, Charlie loves getting out and seeing the world using any means possible: trains, boats, bikes, soapbox derby cars, and more! While the main focus on the book is on different modes of transportation, a recurrent element is Charlie’s dad, who is with him every step of the way. This colorful book is a tribute to how fathers nurture children’s curiosity about the world and support them in all their adventures.

Be Glad Your Dad…(Is Not an Octopus!) was a lucky find at the library and has stayed in our regular rotation ever since. It is a funny book that not only teaches appreciation for dads (even when they sometimes get mad or are just totally gross!) but also teaches facts about animals in a really fun way. For example, be glad your dad is not an octopus, because he would always win at tag! My favorite, though, is the tortoise dad – who is so slow getting an ice cream cone that the ice cream actually melts before the kid can eat it! I love the illustrations, especially the kids’ reactions to the animal dads. Cute reminder about why human dads are so cool! More details about the animals can be found at the back of the book.

What are your favorite children’s books that celebrate fathers?

Daddy Honk Honk! Giveaway

I am so excited to be hosting a giveaway of Daddy Honk Honk! to one lucky winner! The winner will receive:

  • 1 set of four magnets
  • 1 button
  • 4 prints (2×9”)
  • 1 deluxe print (2×9”)
  • 1 book

Daddy Honk Honk Giveaway

To enter, simply comment on this post, telling us something you appreciate about a special father in your life. The contest goes until midnight PT on Sunday, May 14. US shipping only. Good luck!

May 042017
 

This content has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

It’s that time of year! The weather is finally warming up, and there are more and more beautiful days to get outside and enjoy with our kids. We love going to the playground, but I also love to take the kids hiking, where they can breathe in the fresh air and really reconnect with the natural world. Even if your children are very young, you don’t have to miss out on this fun activity, as many parks and recreational areas have paths that are easy for strollers and little legs. Here are our favorite kid-friendly hikes in Northern California.

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

Before You Go

Have a plan. Exploring can be so much fun, especially in the great outdoors, but if you have little ones in tow, don’t waste all their energy wandering around looking for the trailhead. Most parks have detailed information and maps of kid-friendly hikes available on their websites, or you can talk to a ranger once you arrive.

Use good shoes. Bring home good memories, not sore feet! Make sure everyone has well-fitting, supportive shoes to wear. Remember that ordinary sneakers often don’t have good grip for outdoor trails, so use hiking shoes when possible.

Wear layers. The weather may be cool when you start, but you will quickly warm up as you walk, so be prepared by dressing in layers. This will also help if you are going to be hiking on a densely forested trail, where it may be significantly cooler than in sunnier areas.

Pack high-energy snacks. Nuts or trail mix are great snacks to keep you and your kiddos going on kid-friendly hikes.

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially when you are active outdoors! My relatives are always surprised at how much my kids love to drink water, but it’s a habit that we have instilled in them from a very young age. My boys love to run and play, so it’s important to make sure they stay hydrated. And now it’s even easier, with the new 35 pack of Nestlé® Pure Life® water now available at Walmart. It’s such a great value, because it’s the same price as the old 32 pack – that’s 3 extra bottles for free! Find out more about this great offer at the end of this post.

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California

Muir Woods National MonumentMuir Woods is simply a classic spot to visit in Northern California, a lush forest of old growth redwood trees that has been federally protected for more than a century. It also boosts easy trail loops that are accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. There are also moderate to strenuous hikes if your children are older, but even if you stay on the easy trails, don’t worry that you are missing out – the views are still spectacular! Be aware that it is usually quite chilly inside the forest, even on warm days, so bring layers.

Lassen Volcanic National Park: Lassen is another area that has been protected for more than 100 years and today is enjoyed by nearly half a million visitors a year. And frankly it is one of the most unusual spots we have visited in California: an active volcano, a gigantic steam vent, a cold boiling lake, and bubbling mud that smells like rotten eggs – it’s a kid’s dream! The most accessible site is the Sulphur Works, and the Devastated Area (its actual name!) has a half-mile hard surface trail with wonderful views. Please be extra cautious not to let your children wander off the trails, especially in the hydrothermal areas, as it could be dangerous.

Mount Shasta areaMount Shasta is the second highest peak in the Cascade Range (which also include Lassen, see above). The mountain itself is awe-inspiring, and while most of its trails are more rugged, its Panther Meadows trail is relatively short and easy (approx 1 mile). But don’t neglect area at the base of the mountain, which has many beautiful areas for families to enjoy nature. The walk to Hedge Creek Falls in Dunsmuir, for example, is just over half a mile from the picnic area, and is accessible even during the winter, when many trails on the mountain are closed. McCloud River and Falls also has kid-friendly hikes, and you can enjoy a walk around Siskiyou Lake using the new Wagon Trail.

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

Point Reyes National SeashoreOften when we think of Point Reyes we think of the beaches – picnicking or flying kites among the dunes, or climbing the steep steps to the lighthouse – yet the park is actually much more extensive than just the coastline. There are plenty of paved or well-packed dirt trails that are relatively flat and easy for little legs. Earthquake Trail in particular is paved and just over half a mile. And if the beach is what you are looking for, North and South Beach also have short paved paths in the dunes that offer beautiful views of the ocean.

Lake TahoeThe famously clear waters of Lake Tahoe – the second deepest lake in the United States – and the rugged Sierra Mountains that surround it attract visitors from all over the world. It is actually a cluster of state parks and recreational areas, such as Emerald Bay State Park. Some of the trails around Lake Tahoe are quite strenuous, but it is easy to find ones to match your family’s abilities. For example, the Rubicon Trail is a flat, easy trail that goes right along the shoreline. Don’t miss the historic Vikingsholm Mansion!

Russian RiverThe Russian River is one of those areas in Northern California that I feel are underappreciated. It is a gorgeous area with beaches and wilderness areas for families to explore and has miles of trails for a range of abilities. The best known area for kid-friendly hikes is Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. Just north of Santa Rosa, this is an old-growth redwood forest with an easy self-guided trail through the grove.

Effie Yeaw Nature CenterThis beautiful area near Sacramento encompasses 100 acres of woodland to explore along the American River. All of the nature trails are easy and include interpretive signs. You are sure to see wildlife during your walk, and there is always something to explore at the Nature Center. I love the natural playground and butterfly garden!

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

Related Post: 18 Most Picturesque Places for Families to Visit in Northern California

Cosumnes River PreserveThis preserve – more than 50,000 acres – is a wonderful place in the Sacramento area to explore nature with your kids. There are two easy trails to choose from, one dirt and one paved. It is a quiet, pristine area, great for spotting wildlife along the trail. Even the shorter, paved trail offers close up views of marshes and wetland plants.

American River ParkwayThis 23 mile parkway is accessible at various points along Highway 50. There are a number of parks inside the parkway, including Effie Yeaw (see above). The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail is popular with bicyclists and pedestrians alike. It is paved and can be accessed from most of the parks within the American River Parkway.

UC Davis ArboretumI am quite partial to the UC Davis Arboretum, as I used to study there when I was a grad student, and my husband and I would go for walks along its trails when we were newly married (eons ago!). Located on the campus of UC Davis, the Arboretum is open to the public 24 hours a day, with no fee for admission. The main path is a 3.5 mile paved loop. There are also plenty of open areas along the way where you can relax with a picnic or play catch. As you walk, you can enjoy plants from around the world, such as the Australia Collection or the East Asia Collection.

A New Reason to Enjoy Great-Tasting Water

As with any type of outdoor activity, it is essential to keep you and your little ones well hydrated when you are headed out on kid-friendly hikes. That is why I was excited to find out that Nestle Pure Life is now available in a 35 pack at Walmart – at the same price as the old 32 pack! The packaging for Pure Life is also new, so look for it in the water aisle or in a special display.

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

I want only the best for my kids, which is why I choose Nestle Pure Life, since it is filtered through a 12 step quality process and enhanced with a unique blend of minerals. You can tell the difference because of its great taste!

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

I keep a pack in the trunk of my car so we are ready any time we want to go for a hike or just head to the playground! Even just running errands on a warm day can make you dehydrated, so I make sure that the kids and I drink plenty of water. This new 35 pack makes it even easier to keep everyone healthy on those special days and everyday!

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

Please note: Only the 24 pack is available online, so if the 35 pack of Nestle Pure Life is not available in your local Walmart, please ask a store manager about getting the product in your area.

And don’t forget to visit nestlepurelife.com to sign up for promotions, offers and more.

10 Kid-Friendly Hikes in Northern California | Alldonemonkey.com #shop #PureLife35pk #CollectiveBias

What are your favorite kid-friendly hikes?

Apr 262017
 
 April 26, 2017  Education, STEM Comments Off on Encouraging Curiosity: Create a Questions Notebook

Do you have a child who asks questions constantly? Do you want a way to channel the curiosity of your students and teach them basic research skills? Here is a great resource for elementary age children to use: a questions notebook to guide students to investigate their own questions. This free printable is a wonderful way of encouraging curiosity and laying the foundation for critical thinking and independent research.

Encouraging Curiosity: Create a Questions Notebook | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of Zoey and Sassafras for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Encouraging Curiosity: Create a Questions Notebook

My kids are full of questions: Why do dogs hate cats? Why can’t I see myself in the mirror with the lights off? Why is the word “cough” in “coffee”? This natural curiosity is the foundation of scientific learning, yet I was finding it increasingly difficult to satisfy their endless questions when I was, for example, cooking dinner or changing a squirmy toddler. I needed a way of encouraging curiosity while maintaining my sanity.

Yet more importantly, I remembered how my mother had handled my own endless questions when I was a child. Rather than just give me answers, she always sent me to the bookshelf where we kept a row of heavy, dark green encyclopedias. (Does anyone have these anymore? The original Google!) She could have easily just answered my questions, but instead she gave me the greater gift of learning to investigate for myself. Through practicing these basic research skills, I built my confidence and discovered the importance of finding out the truth for myself rather than relying on anyone else.

I wanted to do the same for kids, so I created this questions notebook: simply right click on the images below to download and print your copies!

Printable Page 1

Page 1 of a questions notebook for encouraging curiosity

Printable Page 2

Page 2 of a questions notebook for encouraging curiosity

How to Use This Printable

Print out copies of the notebook pages above and keep them on hand for your child or students. Encourage them to not only write down a question but a hypothesis as well. Some may feel too shy or uncertain to do this at first, but you will see their confidence grow as they gain experience.

Subject: Have them try to decide which subject heading their question falls under. This will come in handy as they begin their research, to help them choose the appropriate sources.

Bookshelf: On the second page I have listed several types of sources they can use to research their questions. I like to start with what is on your own bookshelf, to combat the urge to simply do an online search. Your bookshelf is immediately available and can encourage further exploration of the resources you already have at home or in your classroom. We love Picturepedia, Children’s Illustrated Dictionary, and Science: A Visual Encyclopedia.

Related Post: How to Get Kids Excited About STEM

Online: Take some time to bookmark kid-friendly, reliable websites that they can use to do their research. For example, on our home computer I have bookmarked National Geographic Kids, Encyclopedia Britannica Kids, and kid-friendly search engines like Sweet Search and Kidotopia.

Library: If they would like to learn more, help them find more specific resources on your next trip to the library. Encourage them to ask a librarian if they need help finding relevant resources.

Expert/Field Trip/Experiment: If you can see that a topic has really fired up your students’ interest, you could arrange for a guest speaker, help them design an experiment, or facilitate a field trip (either as a class or as a suggested activity for home).

If You Are a Parent: Encourage your child to write her questions in her questions notebook. When you have some free time to sit with her, choose one or two to research together. As she gets the hang of it, she can do more of them independently, though you will still want to review the completed pages together when you can. These notebook pages can be the basis for science fair projects or school papers!

If You Are a Homeschooler: Researching these questions can be a regular part of your child’s independent work. Several times a week my son chooses a question or two to research while I’m working with his younger brother. This has become a favorite activity for both of us, as I love seeing what he discovers!

If You Are a Teacher: Again, this can be a great activity for independent work, or an enjoyable homework assignment. You may also choose several to investigate further as a class.

Related Post: STEM Fun for Kids

Get Inspired with Zoey & Sassafras

To help get your kids excited about conducting their own research, introduce them to Zoey & Sassafras, a dynamic duo of a science-loving girl and her faithful cat who help the magical creatures who come to them with their problems. For example, in the first book, Dragons and Marshmallows, they help a sick baby dragon, while in Monsters and Mold they help a monster get rid of embarrassing mold so he can go to a dance. (Don’t you love the idea of monsters having a big, friendly dance party?)

There is so much I love about this series: the lovable characters, the wonderful relationship Zoey has with her parents, and the fact that this incredible girl makes the scientific method look like so much fun! As Zoey tries to help her magical friends, she must experiment to figure out the best solution. And she has a trusty notebook where she tracks her observations and experiments! She not only hones her powers of observation and analytical thinking, she is also practicing persistence in the face of failures and learning to use her skills to help others.

These books help children see themselves as scientists and researchers and feeds their interests in the wider world. Merhorses and Bubbles, for instance, will stoke their curiosity about environmental issues, as Zoey investigates why the magical creatures in the stream are in danger. These are great books for encouraging curiosity and empowering children to discover answers for themselves.

What are your favorite ways of encouraging curiosity in your children or students?

Apr 212017
 
 April 21, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Fun Animal Books Your Kids Will Go Crazy For

Do you have a child that loves animals? Or are you looking for a way to spark an older child’s interest in biology? Here are some of our favorite animal books. They are fun, beautifully illustrated, and guaranteed to encourage a love of all creatures great and small.

Our favorite fun animal books that children will love

I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Fun Animal Books Your Kids Will Go Crazy For

Stack the Cats is one of those books that’s almost too adorable to be real! These cats will win your heart from the get-go, especially since they are actually teaching your toddler early math skills! Why do the cats stack themselves? No idea, but then, who understands why cats do anything they do? All I know is that my little girls loves them, and their antics are helping her learn very early concepts like more and fewer, number recognition, and grouping. Oh, and did I mention how CUTE they are?? One of my favorite animal books for very young readers.

My toddler absolutely loves animals! She is becoming quite proficient at the baby signs for animals and loves to “chat” with me about the dogs, cats, and birds we spy as we go about our day. So when I first showed her Barnyard Boogie!, which is full of all kinds of animals she recognizes, I honestly thought she was going to pass out from excitement! She kept exclaiming and pointing at the pages, and her little hands could hardly keep up as she tried to do all of the animal signs at once. Barnyard Boogie! is such a fun book to read with toddlers because they are naturally drawn to animals and will love all the silly sounds and rhymes. My preschooler loves it too because it is a funny story about a cow trying to figure out what part he can play in the barnyard band. It’s not just for fun, though – it also has a sweet message about everyone having an important role to play.

Here is one that has been added to our bedtime story rotation. My preschooler thinks this book is HILARIOUS! There is quite a bit of suspense in The Giant Jumperee, as one by one the animals try to figure out who the Giant Jumperee is – but each in turn becomes too frightened and runs off! Until the Mama Frog comes along, that is. (Of course it is a mom who decides enough is enough!) My seven year old even looked up from his book and kept asking, “But what is a jumperee? What is it??” And as you can imagine, the answer is surprising and funny, and no matter how many times we read the book, it never fails to delight my preschooler. Really fun book with lovely illustrations, just what you’d expect from this powerhouse team – bestselling author of Room on the Broom and award-winning illustrator of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

So Many Feet is a beautifully illustrated book that focuses on animal feet as a way to introduce some of the many creatures in nature. This book is great if you want to give your children a little more realistic view of animals but still keep it fun. I love that it can be read at two levels, depending on the age and interest of your child. Often I read it through quickly with my toddler – just reading the primary text (“High feet, slow feet, fast feet, snow feet…”) – but spend more time going through the book with my preschooler, who is interested in the secondary text as well, which gives additional information about each animal and how its unique feet help it. It is a lovely book that they also enjoy flipping through on their own, just to look at the pictures.

Speaking of amazing illustrations, Deep in the Forest: A Seek-and-Find Adventure is a stunning collection of seek-and-find scenes featuring jungle animals. As we follow the animals through their day, the reader is invited to find them on the page, including one in each scene who is hiding behind a flap, cleverly disguised on the page. The book contains drawings of over 50 animals and is a gorgeous introduction to the creatures of the jungle.

Ocean (Topsy Turvy World) is a whimsical look at creatures of the deep. It mixes fact and fiction for a wild journey through ocean habitats. The illustrations are incredible and just a bit off-kilter, encouraging children to use their imaginations at the same time as they are learning facts about ocean creatures. A really fun book to read, plus I love the extension activities included at the book.

What are your favorite animal books for kids?

Apr 192017
 
 April 19, 2017  Book Reviews, Geography 2 Responses »

One of the joys of reading with my children is of connecting them with great literature. Happily, you don’t have to wait until they are in high school to introduce them to classic stories from the distant past. Today you can find wonderful picture books of ancient tales designed for young readers. Here are some of our favorites:

Ancient Tales for Young Readers | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of several of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Ancient Tales for Young Readers

Of course I have to start with the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the first great works of literature. This epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia dates from the early 3rd century BC and is a staple of high school world literature classes (or at least it was in mine!) But this is no dry tale that is foisted upon hapless students by cruel teachers, it is actually a really fascinating story that instantly drew in my kids. I highly recommend the picture book trilogy Gilgamesh the King by Ludmila Zeman. This series beautifully retells this epic story in a format that young children can easily understand and appreciate. She glosses over some of the more “adult” aspects of the original to create a kid-friendly version of these ancient tales that is nevertheless faithful to the spirit of the classic text. There are battles and quests, mystery, friendship, and romance. Really, what’s not to love?

This wonderful new series is inspired by the classic epic poem by Ferdowsi, the Shahnameh (Book of Kings). The first installment, The Story of Zal & Simorgh, tells of Zal, born with hair and skin as white as snow. His unusual appearance frightened his father so much that he abandoned the baby at the foot of a mountain. Yet Zal is saved by a mythical creature, a magical bird called Simorgh who raises the boy into manhood. Yet Zal is grown and encounters his father again, can he choose love over bitterness and forgive the man who left him to die? This is a wonderful story that touches on classic themes of love, friendship, and forgiveness. The story is engaging for younger readers, and the illustrations are beautiful! I love the attention given to details of the historical and cultural elements. One of my favorite spreads shows court musicians playing traditional Persian instruments. Such a beautiful tribute to this rich cultural heritage!

I am so excited that these stories from Shahnameh are now available for young readers. It is not well known in the West, and what copies are available are really too dense for children. When we studied ancient Iran earlier this year, I checked out a copy of the original Shahnameh and found it really was too difficult for my elementary aged son. That is why I jumped at the chance to review Shahnameh For Kids – The Story of Zal & Simorgh and am excited that they now have a Kickstarter to publish the 2nd and 3rd books in the series – it’s an all or nothing campaign that ends in just a few weeks, so don’t miss the chance to help make it happen!

Related Post: Folktales from Iran

The Monkey King: A Classic Chinese Tale for Children is a wonderfully fun story inspired by Chinese legends about the trickster Monkey. Long ago, the Jade King sent a pure-hearted monk on a journey to bring back the teachings of Buddha from India, in order to bring peace and order to the kingdom. This book is about the beginnings of this epic journey, and how helpers were recruited along the way, including Monkey. It seems that every step of the way the monk is set upon by enemies, but when they find out that he is on a mission for the Jade King, they have a change of heart and want to help him. As it turns out, the often short-tempered Jade King has condemned them to their current fates because of having offended him. They realize that if they help the monk, they may gain the King’s favor again and so return to their former lives.

This story has plenty of twists and turns, with battle scenes and narrow escapes and a cast of colorful characters. But I could just get lost in the lush illustrations. They are so beautiful and full of life that each page invites you to fall into it head first. This is one you will treasure on your bookshelf.

If you want to introduce your children to Greek mythology or get them excited about poetry, I highly recommend Echo Echo: Reverso Poems About Greek Myths. Each poem retells one of the Greek myths as a “reverso” poem, meaning it can be read the same forwards and backwards. The poems are so cleverly written, as each half of the poem gives emphasis to different words, often changing the mean of each line completely. Children who are starting to learn these ancient tales will enjoy seeing them captured in this format, and it is also a great way to spark their own creativity about poetry.

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