Aug 212015
 
 August 21, 2015  Book Reviews, Iran, multiculturalism, raising world citizens Comments Off on Folktales from Iran

Folktales from Iran | Alldonemonkey.com

Folktales are a great way for kids to learn about another culture. They teach about traditional values and ways of life and often include fantastical characters and incredible adventures that highlight life lessons and let kids dream of far-off lands long ago. Below are some of our favorite folktales from Iran.

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The Legend of the Persian Carpet is a beautiful tale from Tomie dePaola about King Balash, a good-hearted ruler who wants to share with his people the beauty of a very special diamond. But when the diamond is stolen, the king is so heart-broken he can no longer rule, and it is up to a young boy to put into motion a clever plan to bring the diamond’s splendor back to the palace and save the kingdom. This is a sweet story of a creative solution to a difficult problem, and it also lends itself very well to crafts to learn more about the world-famous Persian carpets.

Pea Boy and Other Stories from Iran is a collection of folk tales, including a silly cockroach who learns to be responsible and a humble girl who defeats a monster through her devotion to a childhood love.  One of my favorites is the story of Kayvan the Brave, a “wise fool” who reminded me quite a bit of the German “Brave Little Tailor.”  When Kayvan brags of killing two lions (actually two mice) in a single blow, people are so impressed – and Kayvan manages to stumble into doing such great deeds – that in the end he becomes the Commander-in-Chief of the Shah’s armies!

In a far-off kingdom, a young musician has just one chance to fulfill his dream of playing before the king.  But can he overcome the obstacles created by a jealous rival is determined to stop him?  Inspired by a Persian tale, The Green Musician is a story of patience and determination, brought to life in gorgeous illustrations.

Discover the beauty of a thousand year old tale in The Knight, the Princess, and the Magic Rock.  Found in the legendary Persian “Book of Kings” (Shahnameh), it contains all the elements of a classic folktale – star-crossed lovers, a brave knight, a beautiful princess, magical potions, and heroic deeds.

In Forty Fortunes: A Tale of Iran Ahmed, a simple laborer, is persuaded by his wife to become a fortune teller in order to earn more money.  When, by sheer luck, he finds the lost ring of a rich woman, he is called before the King to find the royal treasure and the forty thieves who have stolen it.  Unfortunately, Ahmed has no talent for divining and thus no way of recovering the treasure.  Can he manage to find a way out of his predicament, or will he be throw into jail?  A beautifully done version of a popular folktale.

The Stone: A Persian Legend of the Magi is a great book to teach children about the connections between religions, in this case Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The Stone is the Persian legend – as told to Marco Polo – of the three Magi who brought gifts to Jesus and the mysterious gift they received in return. (Find more resources to teach kids about Zoroastrianism).

The King and the Three Thieves: A Persian Tale is an intriguing tale of a good king who wants to know the common people.  He dresses as a beggar one night and befriends three strangers – who turn out to be thieves intent on robbing the king!  Can the king stop the plot, and how will the thieves react when they discover his true identity?  A lesson in wisdom and learning to keep your word, even if you are a king.

Global Learning for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Global Learning series, where each month we focus on a different country. This month we are learning about Iran, so be sure to check out the main page for more great ideas for sharing about Iran with kids!

Also, don’t miss our blog series and giveaway for Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month, going through the end of August!

Aug 132015
 

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

This month for the Global Learning for Kids series from Multicultural Kid Blogs we are focusing on Iran, a country very dear to my heart!  Last year for the World Cup for Kids project, we were on Team Iran, publishing several posts on this beautiful country, including children’s books about Iran, Persian-inspired summer treats, and a lesson in Iranian geology using play dough!

So this year I thought we’d take a different perspective by focusing on Iran’s contribution to the world’s spiritual heritage; specifically I was curious to learn more about Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Zarathustra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster. Source: http://omnionica.wikispaces.com/Zoroaster

The principal religion on ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), it was founded in more than 3000 years ago by the Prophet Zarathustra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster.  (Estimates of the dates vary greatly).  Zoroastrianism emphasizes the battle between good and evil in the world.  Each individual is believed to have the free will to choose between these two forces.  Contrary to popular belief, Zoroastrians do not worship fire; rather, it is a sacred symbol of purification.

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Central fire at Zoroastrian shrine near Baku
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/apothecary/5921216114/

Though their numbers are relatively small today, Zoroastrian communities are thriving, and their influence on world history is significant.  Several of the great empire builders of Persia were Zoroastrians, and it is believed that the Magi from the Christian nativity were Zoroastrians as well.  Many scholars argue that Zoroastrianism had a substantial influence on the development of later monotheistic religions, namely Judaism and Christianity.

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Faravahar, symbol of Zoroastrianism. Source: Walter S. Arnold, http://stonecarver.com/

Below are some of my favorite resources on Zoroastrianism for kids, including a video, websites, books, and even a comic!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

Zoroastrianism for Kids

This video is one of the only ones on Zoroastrianism I found aimed at young kids.  It is a cute, animated, and short, covering all the basics of the religion.

For a great, hands-on activity, try this simple sacred fire jar craft from Highhill Education (a really great homeschool blog with very creative activities for kids!)

The Stone: A Persian Legend of the Magi would be a particularly interesting choice for those coming from a Christian background.  It is based on tales told to Marco Polo of the Persian legend of the Magi, the three wise men who paid homage to Jesus soon after His birth.  Told from the perspective of the Magi, it focuses on their journey to see Jesus and the mysterious gift they receive in return.

Zoroastrian Kids Korner is a fun site aimed at kids.  It includes stories, crafts, and games, though the latter require previous knowledge of the religion in order to play.  The author of the site has also published a book of prayers for children, My Little Book of Zoroastrian Prayers: With Some Fun Activities.  Aimed at children 9-12, it includes simple prayers from the Avesta, as well as activities and basic concepts.

Another site for kids is Zoroastrian Kids Place.  It includes facts, stories, prayers, and a look at the animals of the Avesta!

A good reference book for older children is Zoroastrianism (World Religions (Facts on File)). It is part of a series of books for kids on world religions.

And finally, I was so happy to discover a comic about the life of Zoroaster! Zarathushtra is based on the traditional account of the Prophet’s life, told in a way that children will find very engaging.

 

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs
This post is part of the Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Blog Series and Giveaway. Please visit our landing page for the full schedule and to link up any of your posts on sharing Middle Eastern and North African heritage with kids. And don’t forget to enter our giveaway below!

Giveaway

Our giveaway runs through the month of August, so enter below for a chance to win! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner is outside of the shipping area of one of the prizes, that prize will then be included in the next prize package. (See our full giveaway rules).

Grand Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Tuttle Publishing, The Complete Middle East Cookbook: Traditional recipes with clear instructions for the modern cook

From Medina Publishing, Discovering Islamic Art: A generously illustrated child’s guide to Islamic art, complete with activity sheets

From A Crafty Arab, Arabic Animal Alphabet Poster: Beautiful artwork with unique designs to teach Arabic letters

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Olive Tree (US shipping only): A beautiful tale of friendship set in Lebanon

1st Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Tuttle Publishing, An Edible Mosaic: A cookbook of favorite Middle Eastern recipes

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria (US shipping only): Fascinating biography of Emir Abdel Kader, heroic 19th century leader and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Green Musician (US shipping only): A magical story of patience and determination, adapted from the original Persian tale

From GeoToys, Geo Puzzle Africa and the Middle East (US contiguous states shipping only): Jumbo sized puzzle for ages 4 and up

2nd Prize

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month Series and Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Chicago Review Press, Kid’s Guide to Arab American History (US shipping only): Award-winning guide to the diversity of Arab American experience, with fun extension activities and biographies of famous Arab Americans

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock (US shipping only): A retelling of a legendary Persian tale of heroism and love.

From Salaam Designs, 4 piece Holiday Cookie Cutter set (US shipping only): boxed set: Boxed set perfect for Ramadan and Eid includes Crescent, Star, Ramadan lantern (Fanoos), & Mosque.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 252014
 

Geology Activity: Learning about Iran's Tectonic Plates with Play Dough - Alldonemonkey.com

This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing a geology activity we did to learn about Iran’s tectonic plates!

This post contains an affiliate link.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  We appreciate your support!

Monkey is very interested in anything related to geology – earthquakes, volcanoes, rock formation, etc. – so when we started to study Iran, I knew he would really enjoy learning more about its geology.  Iran is one of the most seismically active countries, squeezed between the Arabian Plate to the south and the Eurasian Plate to the north.

Source: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/07/29/bangladesh-tweeting-and-blogging-an-earthqauke/

Source: Global Voices Online

Many of us remember the deadly earthquake in Bam in 2003 (I recently reviewed a great children’s story based on it) and the more recent quake last year.  Both happened in the beautiful Zagros Mountains that run along the western border of Iran.  These mountains were (and perhaps still are) formed by the collision of two tectonic plates, much like the Himalayan Mountains.

Source: Global History Cullen

Source: Global History Cullen

Monkey already knows about tectonic plates and fault lines, so I decided to make this a hands-on activity that would really reinforce the lesson.  He loves play dough, so I did a play dough mat with the tectonic plates surrounding Iran by making a freehand sketch on cardboard.  My first attempt didn’t turn out so well, prompting Monkey to ask if he could draw his own country.  I guess he figured if I had made one up, why couldn’t he?  (And probably he thought he could do a better job!)

Geology Activity: Learning About Iran's Tectonic Plates with Play Dough - Alldonemonkey.com

My second attempt came out much better, so I laid it out on the table, along with our play dough.  I divided the play dough into two flat pieces and put one on either side of the boundary between the two plates.  We talked about how mountains are often formed from two plates colliding.  As I talked I pushed the play dough disks together until they started to push upwards to form “mountains.”  I have to say Monkey was only half paying attention during my earlier explanation, glancing up now and then from the play dough robot he was making. But when the mountains started to push up from the table, he was fascinated.  We also simulated a few earthquakes along the fault lines, talking about the different ways tectonic plates can interact with each other.

Geology Activity: Learning about Iran's Tectonic Plates with Play Dough - Alldonemonkey.com

After that I let Monkey take the “plates” back apart and form the mountains again (and again).  Soon enough, of course, the Zagros Mountains were populated with play dough robots and dinosaurs, and new mountain ranges were popping up all over the place.  Baby really got into it too, though I won’t claim he learned anything about tectonic plates 🙂

Geology Activity: Learning about Iran's Tectonic Plates with Play Dough - Alldonemonkey.com

This was a very simple activity, but the visual and sensory aspects really helped keep Monkey’s attention and drive home the lesson about how mountains are formed.

It made me want to try more hands-on geology activities with Monkey, such as these great ones I found online (see below).  I also really recommend The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth.  Monkey loves the show and the books.  This one focuses on geology, as the kids and Ms. Frizzle go deeper and deeper into the layers of the earth.

 

Resources on the Geology of Iran:

What Caused the 2013 Earthquake in Iran – livescience

Iran’s Vulnerability to Earthquakes – BBC News

Earthquakes in Iran: A Geological Perspective – Payvand Iran News

Iran Earthquake 2003 – The Guardian

 

For more fun geology resources you can follow my new Geology for Kids Pinterest board:


World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

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Jun 212014
 

Pomegranate Popsicles & Dairy-Free Pistachio "Ice Cream" - Persian-Inspired Summer Treats - Alldonemonkey.com

This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture.  Today I am sharing some summer treats inspired by Persian cooking!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  I appreciate your support!Pomegranate Popsicles & Dairy-Free Pistachio "Ice Cream" - Persian-Inspired Summer Treats - Alldonemonkey.com

Some of my best memories from childhood are of Persian cooking – delicious rice dishes (mmm, tahdig!) and delicately spiced sweet treats.  But integral to this was the hospitality and generosity inherent in Persian culture.  Years later, when I was a homesick college student, this would mean even more, as Persian mothers in our local Bahá’í community would graciously take us in and feed us heaping quantities of delicious food, as we basked in their attention.  (Btw, if you are so lucky as to be invited to dine at a Persian home, you will quickly learn that it is futile to refuse any food or drink, no matter how full you are!  It is best to surrender to your fate and just enjoy yourself completely :)).

Because it is summer (and because I am a fraidy cat about attempting Persian cooking!) I decided to try some cool treats with my kids.  For this I drew from a wonderful cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij, the woman considered by many to be the best expert on Persian cooking.  She has many great cookbooks, but for this I used Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year.  Yes, I know that the Persian New Year (celebrated on the first day of spring) has already passed, but she has great kid-friendly recipes in here that can be enjoyed year round.  (For another great source of Persian dishes, try My Persian Kitchen!)

Monkey loves popsicles and ice cream, so I immediately draw to Ms. Batmanglij’s versions of these – what a perfect way to celebrate the warmer weather!

Her pomegranate popsicle recipe is super easy – but when I spied the ready-made pomegranate drink on the shelf at the store, I decided to make things even easier by just using this to make popsicles, rather than making my own batch from pomegranate juice, lime juice, etc.  Next time I would like to try her full version, but for now this was just right for us.

I will warn you that these are a mess!  That beautiful deep ruby color is not so pretty when seen on your furniture, so I would recommend enjoy these treats outside!  Even so, my Monkey looked more like a wolf pup when he was feasting on these, with the dark red liquid dripping down his little chin.

Pomegranate Popsicles & Dairy-Free Pistachio "Ice Cream" - Persian-Inspired Summer Treats - Alldonemonkey.com

For the next treat I deviated completely from her recipe, simply because we do not have an ice cream maker.  We do, however, have a Yonanas Ice Cream Treat Maker, which makes it easy
to make healthy frozen treats for your kids.  (You can also make the recipe below with a high quality blender, though I prefer the Yonanas).  The key to making this diary-free “ice cream” is bananas.  (Not in Ms. Bajmanglij’s original recipe!)  The flavor really isn’t very strong, but the bananas really add a great creamy texture that mimics real ice cream.Pomegranate Popsicles & Dairy-Free Pistachio "Ice Cream" - Persian-Inspired Summer Treats - Alldonemonkey.com

Inspired by Persian sweets, I decided to add pistachios, plus some cardamom and rose water.  The pistachios were easy to find (especially here in California!), and the cardamom and rose water are sold at many ethnic grocery stores.  We found ours at the Indian store nearby.  (Now I can make this rose water cheesecake I’ve been drooling over for quite a while!)

Pomegranate Popsicles & Dairy-Free Pistachio "Ice Cream" - Persian-Inspired Summer Treats - Alldonemonkey.com

Dairy-Free Pistachio Ice Cream

Ingredients

*Note* The proportions are all to taste, particularly for the flavorings.  If you are not familiar with them, I would suggest just adding a bit at a time and taste as you go.

3 very ripe bananas, cut into chunks and frozen

1/4 c. unsalted, shelled pistachios (can freeze these as well)

Dash of cardamom

Splash of cooking rose water

Mix bananas and pistachios in your Yonanas or blender.  Add cardamom and rose water to taste.

Pomegranate Popsicles & Dairy-Free Pistachio "Ice Cream" - Persian-Inspired Summer Treats - Alldonemonkey.com

Enjoy while watching some World Cup soccer!

 

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Jun 152014
 

This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture.  Today I am sharing some children’s books to teach kids about this beautiful country!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.  Thank you for your support!

Some of you may wonder why I chose to blog about Iran for our World Cup for Kids project, but for me it was a natural choice.  The Bahá’í Faith started in Persia (modern day Iran), and as a result, I grew up around many people from there.  Though I only know a few words of Farsi, the sounds of that melodic language are nearly as familiar to me as my own.  I was raised eating adas polow (although we just called it “Persian rice”); played with kids named Farzad, Nasim, and Nadia; and sat many a Sunday morning on a beautiful Persian carpet in someone’s home listening to the mournful sounds of prayers chanted in the Persian style.

To celebrate this beautiful country, here is a list of children’s books about Iran:


I just love Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch.  It reminds me a bit of The Remembering Stone from our Costa Rica book list in that it is about a child’s magical journey back to the homeland of a parent, in this case his father.  A grandfather, whom he has never met, sends the boy a mystery bottle, which releases a mighty wind that carries him across the ocean to his grandfather’s house.  The illustrations, with their whimsical collages of maps and landmarks, are wonderful, as are the sweet scenes of a boy connecting with his long-lost grandfather.


The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli is based on the 2003 earthquake in Bam.  It is a magical tale of a girl orphaned by the quake, as she tries to find companionship in the animals that remain in her town.  To be honest, I was a bit worried about whether this topic would be too scary for Monkey, but it is beautifully told and focuses more on exploring the idea of what makes us human.  At first the girl tries to become like the animals she is trying to befriend, but after they reject her, she instead rejoices in her humanity – music, laughter, and generosity – and this, in the end, is what wins the animals over.


Ali and the Magic Stew by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim is a fantastic original tale set in long-ago Persia.  It is a moral fable about humility and kindness.  Ali ibn Ali is the spoiled son of a rich merchant, who must become a beggar in order to obtain the magic stew that will save his dying father.  Being forced to suffer this way changes the way he treats others and helps him learn to become a true Muslim, who knows that “the gentle heart brings life and joy.”


Author Shirley has adapted a number of other global Cinderella tales.  (Did you know that versions of the Cinderella tale can be found around the world?) The Persian Cinderella is a gorgeous retelling of the classic story of a beautiful, kind-hearted maiden tormented by her stepsisters.  Kept from attending the royal New Year celebration (Naw Rúz), Settareh is aided by a mysterious blue jug that allows her to go to the party and win the heart of the prince.  This beautiful tale with its lush illustrations captures wonderfully the beauty of Persia and its culture.

 

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