I barely played video games growing up and even as an adult never found them very entertaining, at least, not compared to reading a book or, you know, hanging out with real live people or feeling the sunshine on my face. Yet my children love them and so I have come to appreciate video games as fun and often brain-building activities. I have even logged some time playing their favorite, Minecraft, though I have no idea what I am doing! It is quite humbling to have your 4 year old sigh as he explains something to you again. It seemed an apt metaphor for bilingual parenting, which is also incredibly challenging but rewarding. Here are the ways I have discovered that bilingual parenting is like Minecraft.
Z Is for Zombie: How Bilingual Parenting Is Like Minecraft
– Often the world you are operating in can seem very surreal.
– You find yourself doing things you never thought you would.
– You can still have lots of fun even if most of the time you don’t know what is going on.
– Some days everyone is building together peacefully (Creative Mode), while other days you’re being attacked constantly by strange creatures (Survival Mode).
– Your children often understand more than you do.
– You don’t really need a lot of gear, but it can help, though the wide range of choices can be confusing.
– You find yourself using vocabulary (like “OPOL” or “creeper”) that your pre-child self wouldn’t recognize.
– Some days you’re just happy if you know what your children are saying.
– You try to act like you’re the one in charge, but eventually you realize that you are part of a world your kids have created and you all have to work together if you want to accomplish anything.
– You are more likely to build something amazing (or survive attacks) if you have others helping you.
– Sometimes everything is going great, but other times you are surrounded by creatures (your children or nay sayers) that explode if you even look at them.
– You are humbled by how much you have left to learn, at the same time as you are proud of what you have managed to accomplish.
– Every day is an adventure that challenges your creativity and endurance, but that in the end is always worth it.
This post is part of the month-long series A-Z of Raising Multilingual Parenting, from the piri-piri lexicon. Be sure to stop by and see some of the other articles in this incredible collection about bilingual parenting!
We all know how important it is to read to our children, yet sometimes even die-hard literacy advocates like myself get, well, bored reading the same stories every night! So if you need to shake up your story time, here are some awesome new books for preschoolers that you and your tot are sure to love!
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 cost to you.
New Books for Preschoolers
Who could resist ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet, an incredibly creative ABC book, with all of your favorite types of pasta (plus some you haven’t heard of before!) turned into circus acts? There are angel hair acrobats and Macaroni the Magician, campanelle clowns and fettuccine fire eaters. This is a book sure to spark your child’s creativity! I asked my preschooler which pasta letter was his favorite, and he said very firmly, “This one….No, wait, this one, too. No, wait…”
Steppin’ Out: Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times is a wonderful way to introduce your little one to poetry, with gentle, fun poems about topics relevant to them, like going to the beach and learning to share. The poems capture beautifully the wonder a young child experiences when exploring the world, with vivid sensory descriptions and playful use of language. And of course, kids will love the always fabulous illustrations by Tomie dePaola. A fun book to read one-on-one or in a classroom!
Life on Mars has become part of our regular rotation ever since we received it. Even my older son can’t resist looking on as the intrepid astronaut lands on Mars to search for signs of life. He has even brought a gift of chocolate cupcakes! This is a really cute, funny story whose humor is just right for this age group. And we love the twist ending! Just be aware that if your science-loving 7 year old does read with you, he may point out that, for example, Mars really should be red, not tan or gray, and that the Earth wouldn’t be quite so big in the sky from Mars, and would the astronaut really not notice that huge alien walking right behind him? Luckily, preschoolers will just enjoy the story for what it is, a light-hearted look at space exploration and the importance of persistence.
Stuck was another instant favorite. We love Oliver Jeffers (illustrator of the wildly popular The Day the Crayons Quit), so it was wonderful to read another book with his unique sense of humor and distinctive artistic style. When Floyd’s kite is stuck in a tree, he tries everything (except what is most logical) to get it down. Will Floyd ever be reunited with his kite? (And will the tree survive having so many objects thrown into its branches?)
Alphabet books are always popular with this age group, and Oliver Jeffers has written another great ABC book. An Alphabet showcases Jeffers’ spare text and oddball sense of humor, but in an abridged version that would also be appropriate for toddlers. Many of the letters are not what you’d expect (G is for Guard, and U is for Underground), so kids will have fun trying to interpret the drawings to go with the letter of the alphabet. Fun read for kids just learning their letters!
Purim is coming, and I have gathered together the best FREE Purim printables out there! They are guaranteed fun for you and your kids, as part of your celebrations of this fun holiday. From masks and puppets to coloring pages and activities, there is something for everyone!
This post is part of our annual Purim for Kids blog hop. Visit the posts below for great ideas about sharing this holiday with the kids in your life! Don’t miss our blog hop from last year, and you can find even more ideas on our Purim board on Pinterest:
We all want our children to be creative thinkers and to let their imaginations soar. That’s why I’m so happy to share some wonderful books that encourage creativity! They help children think outside the box (literally, in some cases!) to become innovators. Be prepared for some great imaginative play and art after reading!
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 cost to you.
Books that Encourage Creativity
Very young readers will enjoy Clive and His Art, a gentle story about a boy who loves all kinds of art. It is so refreshing to see a boy expresses himself so creatively, and I love his diverse group of friends. This book and its companion Clive and His Hats do a wonderful job of challenging gender stereotypes through how Clive and his friends are portrayed, for example, boys having fun with glitter or dancing around in bright costumes. Sweet board books that encourage creativity and imaginative play.
Not a Box is one of our all-time favorite books. I even love the dedication (“To children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes”). This book celebrates that classic toy that all children love, no matter how many expensive presents we give them: the humble cardboard box. But don’t you dare call it a box to a child, because it is so much more than that to them! It is a race car, a burning building, or a robot, but certainly not a box! Really fun book and one that will inspire lots of imaginative play!
Take that cardboard box to a whole new level with DIY Box Creations: Fun and creative projects to make out of REALLY BIG BOXES!. Turn those leftover boxes into a fun project the whole family can enjoy! There are classics here, like a lemonade stand and a sailboat, but often with a twist, like a Minecraft fort! I love that each project is laid out so clearly, with a supply list and step-by-step instructions with pictures. Please note, these projects require adult assistance, but that is really part of the fun, as the whole family can get involved to create some wonderful memories together.
Have I mentioned before how much I LOVE the Ordinary People Change the World series? (Oh wait, I did! Ahem, twice…) They are the perfect blend of cute picture book, inspirational read, and informational biography. Come for the adorable graphics, stay for the message and story. They are a great way to introduce your children to biographies and teach them important life lessons. The new installation, I am Jim Henson, is no exception. Who doesn’t love the Muppets and Sesame Street? Learn more about their creator, who was encouraged from an early age to use his imagination. I was blown away as I read this book, realizing just how much my own childhood was influenced by Henson’s innovative programs – their silliness, creativity, and positive message. What a great example to share with our children!
Do you have a child who is interested in science and medicine? Or one that you want to encourage to pursue their dreams no matter what the obstacles? Black History Month is the perfect time to introduce them to the inspiring story of medical pioneer Vivien Thomas, who persisted despite incredible difficulties to study medicine and develop a surgical technique that has saved thousands of children’s lives. Inspire your kids with a wonderful children’s book on his life as well as suggested activities to teach your kids mor about this important figure in the history of STEM.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
History of STEM: Black Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas
There is a reason that most of us have never heard of the incredible Vivien Thomas, despite the fact that he invented a surgical technique that allowed for the first successful open heart surgeries on children. Even though he is now credited with saving thousands of children’s lives, his is not a household name.
After the first operations were performed using Thomas’ technique in 1944, the procedure made national news, yet Thomas was never mentioned. The technique itself was named after the two doctors Thomas worked for, both of whom were nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine because of “their” technique.
Why? Because Vivien Thomas was black, at a time when blacks and whites used separate drinking fountains, when blacks had trouble finding housing in “nice” neighborhoods, when blacks were barred from entering all-white medical schools, and when blacks could not operate on white babies, even to save their lives.
When Thomas’ life-saving technique was first used in 1944, Thomas was not allowed to perform the surgery himself, but the surgeon could not do it without Thomas’ help. Thomas had to stand on a chair behind the surgeon, giving instructions (and at one point stopping the surgeon from making a suture in the wrong direction).
Thomas’ contributions were not recognized until 1971, when his portrait was displayed at John Hopkins University. The university awarded him an honorary doctorate degree 5 years later and appointed him to the faculty. Many of the country’s top surgeons trained under Thomas and credit him with their success.
A wonderful book to introduce children to Thomas’ life, his incredible perseverance, and pioneering work is Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas. It tells of his life from his childhood, when he worked under his father, a master carpenter, to carefully save money so he could go to a nearby medical school for African Americans. It follows his crushing disappointment at losing his savings in the market crash of 1929 and his persistence in pursuing work in medicine, even if his official job title was simply “janitor.” How did someone with only a high school education develop a life-saving surgical technique that is still used today? How did Thomas overcome the racism and resistance he faced from his co-workers?
One activity we did after reading the book is based on the first operation that was performed using Thomas’ technique, when Thomas stood on a chair behind the surgeon, giving instructions.
The boys took turns standing on a chair behind the other, giving instructions on how to draw a picture. The one drawing had to follow what the other was saying, and the one giving directions was not allowed to actually touch the drawing.
Warning: They hated it! It was too frustrating to just give out instructions and not be able to draw, especially because the one drawing usually had his own ideas about what to do! The one drawing wasn’t having any fun either, since he just wanted to do his own picture.
Hopefully this activity gave them a taste of how incredibly frustrating it must have been for Thomas to watch another surgeon performing his technique, while all he could do was stand behind him and give instructions (which the surgeon would hopefully want and be able to follow).
Welcome to our fourth annual Black History Month series and giveaway! Follow along all month long as we explore the rich history and cultures of Africa and African-Americans. Be sure to enter our giveaway below and link up your own posts at the bottom of the page.
Coming soon! Our annual Black History Month giveaway runs from February 3 through February 28, 2017. Winners will be drawn and notified within 48 hours. Note that some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner lives outside of that shipping area, that part of the prize package will go to the next prize winner. Read our full giveaway rules.
Looking for some great Ayyam-i-Ha gifts for your loved ones? Find something for everyone (including homemade gifts and crafts) in our newly updated Ayyám-i-Há Gift Guide, while supporting Bahá’í-inspired and globally minded businesses!
Are you a globally minded parent looking for a great book to read? I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review several top books for global families recently, and I’m so pleased to share my reviews today over on Multicultural Kid Blogs. It is a diverse collection of books, with topics ranging from intercultural relationships and raising bilingual children to how to make globally inspired baby food. You’ll also find tips for traveling with kids in Europe and the memoir of a globe-trotting mom of two as well as a collection of essays by women who have given birth abroad.
So whether you are drawn to travel, cooking, memoirs, education, or relationship how-to’s, you will find something for you! Find my full reviews over on Multicultural Kid Blogs, and let me know in the comments what books you’ve been reading lately!
Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day or just looking for an excuse to snuggle one with your little ones, you will enjoy these wonderful picture books about love! These are some of our favorite stories to read together. They not only give everyone the warm fuzzies, they all have important lessons for kids about the depths of love and its ceaseless ability to grow and include others.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Plenty of Love to Go Around 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.
Picture Books About Love
I’m so happy to feature this brand new picture book from Emma Chichester Clark, who is also the author of one of our favorite books about sibling love, No More Kissing. Her new book, Plenty of Love To Go Around, is based on her real life dog, Plum, and the affection she has for her main character is obvious. Children will easily identify with Plum as she deals with jealousy over a new cat next door. Plum is used to be the only special animal in her family’s life, and she’s not sure she likes all the attention Binky the cat is getting. On top of that, Binky actually wants to be friends with her! I love the gentle message of this book, but especially how Plum’s owner reacts with such understanding when Plum acts out. Great lesson for kids about the limitless quality of love.
Hug Machine is a book I have recommended to so many of my friends, because my preschooler and I just love it! It is a sweet, sometimes silly book about the power of hugs and the lengths that one determined boy will go to in order to make sure that no one misses out on a good hug.
And how could I not mention Snuggle Puppy, the book that’s meant to be sung to your own little snuggle puppy? It is one of my favorite picture books about love. I have such fond memories of singing this one to each of my kids when they were small. My oldest even used it to practice his letters when he first started to read! A true classic.
When I was still a very new mother, just adjusting to the incredible emotions that my tiny newborn evoked in me, a friend gave us the beautiful book I Love You As Much…. It perfectly captures the infinite love a parent feels for her child by drawing on the boundless quality one feels in nature: “Said the mother bear to her child, ‘I love you as much as the forest has trees.'” The gorgeous paintings and gentle rhymes and rhythms of the text make this a perfect book to read together at bedtime.
A wonderful book to share with elementary aged children is The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. It is a wonderful introduction to the couple whose case made interracial marriage legal throughout the US. It is a lovely treatment of a difficult subject, underscoring at every turn the power of love and its ability to change hearts. A great way to teach children that love does conquer all, with some help from courage and determination.
Now that the school year is halfway over, it is easy to get in a rut with lunches for the kids. Want something fun to pack for them that you can feel good about? Here are some great healthy and fun lunchbox ideas for you!
As the links above show, “healthy” doesn’t have to mean boring or even complicated to make. There are also a lot of healthy, ready made snack options these days. One recent discovery is Deep River Snacks’ HONCHO Organic Tortilla Chips, which come in fun flavors like Nacho Cheese, Ranch, and (my favorite) Peach Habanero. These tasty chips are gluten-free and use 100% organic ingredients – no GMOs allowed!
I also love supporting businesses that are passionate about giving back to the community, which is why I was so happy to discover that Deep River Snacks helps raise awareness by featuring charities on their snacks, giving in-kind donations, and donating 10% of their net profits to charity.
But enough about why I love them – the real test for the lunchbox is what the kids think! Let me just say this was a difficult photo shoot because, well, we could hardly stop eating long enough to get pictures! We got to try all three varieties, and none of them lasted long in our pantry.
When it’s so good you just want to eat your hand
I asked the boys which was their favorite flavor, and they really couldn’t decide. Try doing a taste test with your kids and see if they have any easier time making up their minds! They are all so flavorful, your kids won’t miss the junk food they could be eating instead!
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that. This event has also proven to be an excellent way to compile a list of diverse children’s book titles and reviews for parents, grandparents, educators and librarians to use all year long.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.