Mar 152017
 
 March 15, 2017  Book Reviews, STEM No Responses »

STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) is such an important part of education today, and for good reason: most careers in today’s economy are based on some aspect of STEM. And even more fundamentally, a child who can think like a scientist can apply those critical thinking skills and curiosity to any field they wish to pursue. Here are some simple ways to get kids excited about STEM at any age!

How to Get Kids Excited About STEM | Alldonemonkey.com

Related Post: STEM Fun for Kids

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.

How to Get Kids Excited About STEM

1. Keep It Fun

There are all kinds of fun ways to get kids excited about STEM – from picture books to crafts and field trips. Experiment and see what gets your kids interested! Pay attention to what they love and use that as a way to start their explorations. For example, when my oldest became fascinated with carnivorous plants, we checked out as many books as we could, did crafts, made snacks in the shape of the plants he loved, and took a trip to San Francisco to see an exhibit!

How to Get Kids Excited about STEM | Alldonemonkey.com

There are so many ways to explore. Try visiting your local science museum – they are always so fun, and will introduce your child to new topics they may not have considered. A visit will definitely get your child fired up about science!

You can also explore at home by taking an activity they enjoy and helping them experience it in new ways! Old Tracks, New Tricks is a great new book to get kids excited about STEM from an early age. You may be thinking, what does playing with trains have to do with STEM? Plenty! This is not only a fun story (what happens when a group of fun-loving train tracks are adopted into a home where the trains make everyone stick to their rules?), it is wonderful for inspiring play and learning. Through this imaginative tale, kids are invited to think outside the box and use favorite toys in new ways. Who says you can’t use your train tracks for painting or to build trees or high tower jumps? I love that this book really empowers kids to be creators by coming up with their own projects! As soon as we read this book the first time, my kids jumped up and raced to pull out the train tracks. Soon they were building and creating – and kept going all morning!

I love how the @oldtracksnewtricks book from @theinnovationpress (shown in the foreground) inspires creativity! Warning : don’t read this book with your kids unless you are prepared for hours of screen free play! My kids immediately wanted to pull out the train tracks and work on some of the “track tricks” shown in the book. Shown here is my 4 yo exercising his engineering skills to figure out how to attach Legos to the trains. #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #sacramento #visitsacramento #mysacramento #exploresac #raisingnerds #geeknation #stem #playmatters #instagood #instakids #learningthroughplay #love #kbnmoms #childhoodunplugged #motherhoodunplugged #ig_motherhood #playtime #mytinymoments #ourcandidlife #homeschooling #kbnhs #trains

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2. Focus on Hands on Learning

Kids really get excited when you take learning out into the real world and give them projects they can do for themselves. We recently attended a Science and Engineering Night at our homeschool charter school (yes! a charter school that supports homeschoolers – we love it!). My kids loved jumping in and getting involved in so many projects, from making slime and building towers to participating in an astronaut-in-training obstacle course. What fun ways to get kids excited about STEM!

A fun way to recreate this learning at home is to use a STEM project guide like the new STEAM AHEAD! DIY for KIDS. This great activity pack includes making and building activities for kids ages 4 to 10. There is such a variety of projects included here, that you are guaranteed to find ones that you and your kids will enjoy!

From LED cards and scribbling bots to squishy circuits and bubble blowers, there is something for everyone! And note that this is STEAM, not just STEM – that extra “A” stands for Art and means that it includes craft projects that also teach science – score! Find even more resources to get kids excited about STEM on the WizKids Club website – and grab a free download – an alien doodle book!

3. Empower Them

If you loved Rosie Revere, Engineer then I know you will be just as excited as I am to learn that there is now an activity book to go along with it! Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers is a wonderful companion to the bestselling children’s book, building on the excitement it created around engineering and STEM. It includes 40+ things to invent, draw, and make. I love that it really encourages kids to use their imaginations and become inventors and creators themselves. The book also puts a big emphasis on failure as part of the engineering process. It celebrates flops and encourages kids to track their own as part of the fun of inventing. “Think about a time you failed at something and wanted to quit. Draw a picture to show how  you felt. What did you learn?”

When kids are empowered to learn from their mistakes, they feel more confident to try new things and not give up. This is especially helpful if you have a little perfectionist in your house or if you are one yourself! Worrying about getting things just right the first time can really hold them back. Make sure they know that mistakes are not only okay – they are great! Mistakes help propel the process of invention forward, so encourage your kids to be proud of what they have learned.

Related Post: Books to Teach Critical Thinking

4. Trust Them

If we want to get kids excited about STEM, we need to teach them to trust themselves and follow their curiosity. Science is all about exploration, so we have to equip them with the self-confidence to try new things – and fail. And try again. Having a growth mindset, where failure is not only okay but required, will help them develop perseverance and a belief in themselves as problem solvers. This means loosening up the reins a bit and giving them the freedom to explore, even when we know (or at least we think we know!) that something will not work. (Or that it will be messy or disgusting!)

Want to see if you can grow a bean plant in complete darkness? Let’s find out! Want to experiment with ways to grow mold on bread? Sure! Sometimes kids need to find out things for themselves, so we have to give them space to do just that.

This is one of the many reasons I love Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras), the first installment in a new book series about a girl whose mother not only trusts her with a big secret (there are magical animals in the forest that need our help!) but also trusts her to take care of the animals while she is away. This is a great book to showcase the scientific method, as Zoey and her pet Sassafras carefully experiment to find out why a baby dragon is sick. I also loves that it shows a kid who is empowered to figure out a problem on her own – and ask for help when she needs it. We can’t wait to read the entire series!

5. Turn It Into an Adventure

If you know anything about the world of science for kids, you know about Bill Nye, the Science Guy! We have used his super fun YouTube videos to teach many a scientific concept, so I was really excited to see that he had co-created a new chapter book series for kids! Jack and the Geniuses: At the Bottom of the World is the first installment in an exciting new middle grade adventure series that features real-world science in a way that is engaging and accessible. Jack and his friends travel to Australia for a science competition, but when one of the scientists goes missing, they are drawn into a mystery that will have them racing to solve clues before it’s too late! I love how hands on science is woven into the story. This book also shows what actual, grown up scientists do, so kids can imagine themselves as part of the scientific world. This book is easy to read without being watered down, so it’s great for reluctant readers as well as those already curious about science. Includes additional information about the science shown in the book as well as an experiment kids can do at home or in the classroom!

What are your favorite ways to get kids excited about STEM? Share in the comments!

Mar 072017
 

There is no doubt about it: Kids love learning about community helpers! Whether they are curious about doctors, firefighters, librarians, or teachers, children are fascinated with thinking about what they might be when they grow up, plus it is a great way to get kids interested in their communities. Showing kindness to community helpers is also a wonderful way to teach kids gratitude! Here are some fabulous new picture books about community helpers, plus a huge list of learning activities!

Learning About Community Helpers | Alldonemonkey.com

What did you want to be when you grew up?

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.

Books About Community Helpers

Related Post: Favorite Fire Truck Books

My kids and I are in love with the new Tinyville Town series from Abrams Books! They are a wonderful way to teach young readers about community helpers. The illustrations are colorful and engaging, and the text is simple and straightforward. And of course I love that the characters are so diverse!

Start off with Gets to Work! (A Tinyville Town Book), a story about a town coming together to fix a big problem! It introduces children to a range of community helpers and teaches about teamwork. It also helps children think through the stages of solving a problem, from identifying it and coming up with a solution through the various stages of carrying the idea through to completion. They will never look at a bridge the same way again!

The series also focuses on individual community helpers and so far includes I’m a Veterinarian, I’m a Firefighter, and the latest I’m a Librarian.

Each of these board books looks at a day in the life of one community helper, from when they get up in the morning to when they go to sleep at night. The simple story lines are easy for young readers to follow, and the illustrations always have a touch of gentle humor. I also love how the story lines sometimes intersect, as when the fire fighter takes his dog to the vet.

These are books my little ones love reading with me or flipping through on their own. They would be a great addition to any home or school library!

Activities About Community Helpers

Related Post: Make a Fire Safety Plan

From Simple Fun for Kids: Graphing Game

From JDaniel4’s Mom: Fire Ladder Learning Activities

From Schooling a Monkey: Vocabulary Printable

From Look! We’re Learning: Spanish Printables Pack

From Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Spanish Fire Safety Week Homeschool Activities

From Edventures with Kids: Fun Ways to Learn About Fire Safety

From A Dab of Glue Will Do: Write and Color the Room Printable

From I Heart Crafty Things: When I Grow Up Emergent Reader Printable

From School Time Snippets: When I Grow Up Flashcards and 3 Ways to Play

From Living Montessori Now: Montessori Activities and Printables

From JDaniel4’s Mom: Poem and Craft – Five Little Firefighters

From Fun Handprint Art: Footprint Fire Truck and Handprint Fire Thank You Cards

From Simple Fun for Kids: Emergent Reader Coloring Pages

From Castle View Academy: Interview with a Firefighter and Fire Hall Tour

From The Educators’ Spin On It: Teaching Through Role Playing (Preschool Lesson Plan)

From Empowered Educator: Doctor’s Kit Play and DIY Cardboard X-Ray Tablet

From Little Worlds: Pretend Play Hospital

From Life with Moore Babies: A-Z of Community Helpers

Feb 242017
 
 February 24, 2017  Book Reviews 2 Responses »

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!

New Books for Preschoolers | Alldonemonkey.com

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…”

Related Post: Creating a Letter of the Week Preschool Curriculum

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.

Related Post: 3 Must-Have Resources for Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers

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!

What are your favorite books for preschoolers?

Feb 172017
 
 February 17, 2017  Book Reviews 2 Responses »

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!

Our favorite books that encourage creativity

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!

Related Post: Creative Books for Curious Kids

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!

Feb 152017
 
 February 15, 2017  Book Reviews, STEM 2 Responses »

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 | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Related Post:Biographies for Kids About Following Your Dreams

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?

Activity

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).

Resources

Follow up with this amazing FREE teacher’s guide from Lee and Low!

Read more in this bio from PBS or this one from Science Heroes.

Read this article from the Baltimore Sun.

Watch this video on Thomas and the “blue babies” his technique saved:

Learn more about the heart with these online kids’ games from the Texas Heart Institute’s Project Heart.

Try your hand at performing the ground-breaking surgery in this simulation from PBS.

Black History Month Blog Hop on Multicultural Kid Blogs

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.

You can also follow our Black History board on Pinterest:


February 3
Embracing Diversity on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Afro-Latino Arturo Schomburg – The African Diaspora’s History Keeper

February 6
Embracing Diversity: Afro-Latinos and Baseball’s Color Line – 5 Pioneers in the Post-Segregation Era

February 7
Hispanic Mama: 5 Latino Dishes that Feature Our African Heritage

February 8
Mama Smiles: How to Use Stories to Teach Children Black History

February 10
Colours of Us: 21 Award-Winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

February 13
Crafty Moms Share: The Real Women Mathematicians of Hidden Figures

February 15
All Done Monkey

February 17
A Crafty Arab

February 22
Kitchen Counter Chronicles

February 24
GUBlife

Share Your Posts!


Black History Month Giveaway

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.

Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - Grand Prize

Grand Prize

From World of EPI: Winner’s choice of 18″ doll US Shipping Only
From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Quarto Knows: A Stork in a Baobab Tree by Catherine House: Who is King? by Beverley Naidoo; The Fire Children retold by Eric Maddern; Thank you, Jackson by Niki Daly US Shipping Only
From Bino & Fino: DVD set US Shipping Only
From RiverFrog Publishing: Bella’s Adventures in Africa by Rebecca Darko and Rutendo Muzambi

Black History Month giveaway from Multicultural Kid Blogs - 1st Prize

1st Prize

From Queens of Africa: Azeezah doll with natural hair, and clothing from SLICEbyCAKE US Shipping Only
From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Abrams: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters; Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden; George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden; My Uncle Martin’s Words for America by Angela Farris Watkins US Shipping Only

Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - 2nd Prize

2nd Prize

From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Candlewick Press: Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill; X: A Novel by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz; Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford US Shipping Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 102017
 

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!

Top Books for Global Families | Alldonemonkey on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Top Books for Global Families: Guest Post on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Feb 082017
 

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.

Picture Books About Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Related Post: Teaching Kids to Choose Love

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.

Related Post: Creative Ways to Show Kids Love

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.

Jan 252017
 
 January 25, 2017  Book Reviews, Education 4 Responses »

Art appreciation is an essential for any child’s education, but often taking kids to art museums can prove to be a challenge! Here are some great ideas for visiting art museums with kids, including information on wonderful art museums all around the world.

Art Appreciation for Kids: Museums Alldonemonkey.com

This post is a proud part of the upcoming Multicultural Children’s Book Day. For more details, read my interview with its founders and watch for the big event on January 27!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Adventures in Asian Art 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.

Art Appreciation for Kids: Museums

We are lucky enough to live near the renowned Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, so I was excited to receive the wonderful children’s book Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum from Tuttle Publishing.

This beautiful volume is a fun way to introduce children to Asian art and to get them excited about visiting an art museum! The Asian Art Museum contains more than 18,000 artifacts, including many historical pieces from all over Asia. Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum showcases 53 of these, giving kids a taste of the variety of regions, time periods, and types of art that can be found at the museum. (Find even more in the museum’s online collection).

I love the adorable characters featured in the book – three young children at the museum for an afternoon adventure: “Around the world and back again / Let’s go and look and see!”

The text includes gentle rhymes about exploring the museum, in addition to separate boxes (with different font) that give more information and ask the children questions to get them thinking about the exhibits and how they might relate to their own lives. For example, one page spread features a print from Japan that shows children catching fireflies: “The two young people trying to capture fireflies in their nets are wearing the latest summertime fashions of their day. What would you wear to catch fireflies?”

I highly recommend this lovely work for parents and teachers as a way to teach art appreciation by getting kids excited about art and visiting a museum. If you are using this in the classroom or homeschool, you can find more detailed information about the included pieces in the opening and ending pages.

Below are activities to do with kids while visiting an art museum, plus reccomended art museums to visit around the world!

Art Museum Activities

From Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Museum Scavenger Hunt Printable in Spanish
From Mosswood Connections: Art Museum Activities for Kids
From Fantastic Fun and Learning: Books about Artists, Art, and Museums
From 3 Dinosaurs: Museum Shape Search with Free Printable
From 3 Dinosaurs: Things to Do When Visiting an Art Museum
From Wise Owl Factory: Art Museum Question to Ask Children
From Buggy and Buddy: Using a Journal at the Art Museum
From Edventures with Kids: Kids and Musems – 5 Tips for Your Next Visit
From Mother Natured: 10 Wildlife Art Gallery Activities
From Trilingual Mama: Museums and Bilingual Kids
From Bright Ideas Press: Visting Art Galleries and Unit Studies

Art Museums to Visit

From the piri-piri lexicon: Le Louvre
From MarocMama: The Vatican
From Raising a Trilingual Child: The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
From Bambini Travel: Mississippi Museum of Art
From Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: I.P. Stanback Museum, Orangeburg, South Carolina
From Open Wide the World: Chicago’s 5 Best Museums You’ve Never Heard of
From Bambini Travel: Milwaukee Art Museum
From Little Hiccups: The Broad Art Museum, Los Angeles
From Little Hiccups: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
From Fantastic Fun and Learning: Favorite Children’s Museums and Online Resources

 

Dec 282016
 

We all want our children to soar, to go on brave adventures to help others and achieve their dreams. From stunning picture books to a magical middle grade novel, here is a collection of wonderful tales that encourage children to do just that: to have courage and embark on their own heroic journeys.

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.

Tales of Heroic Journeys | Alldonemonkey.com

Tales of Heroic Journeys

Introduce children to a classic Japanese fairy tale with the beautiful The Last Kappa of Old Japan: A Magical Journey of Two Friends. The story begins, as many do, with an unexpected friendship of two children and their subsequent adventures. But while one of the children is a typical boy from the Japanese countryside in the days before the encroachment of the modern world, the other is not human at all. Rather, he is a kappa, a mythical water creature known to be playful – and to love cucumbers! Despite their differences, the boys become close friends; yet, as modernization begins to pollute the nearby waters, the kappa and his family are forced to leave. The boys only come into contact again years later, when the kappa returns to help his old friend – now a man – avoid a tragedy. They are delighted to be together again, but now, thanks to increasing pollution, the kappa is old and weak. A cautionary tale about protecting the environment, and having the courage to help our friends despite the danger to ourselves. (As a side note, the myth of the kappa is actually the origin of our modern story of mutant ninja turtles!)

I love the endearing illustrations of the two boys and the changing landscape of the countryside. And even though I don’t know any Japanese, I love having this bilingual Japanese-English edition because it is such a wonderful way to expose children to another language and way of writing!

Related Post: Global Adventure Books for Kids

Bessie, Queen of the Sky

Image courtesy of Queen Girls

I am so delighted to introduce the soon to be released Bessie, Queen of the Sky from Queen Girls. This remarkable new publishing company speaks to the hearts of so many parents who want inspiring stories for their daughters (and sons!) of remarkable women. The creators have taken stories from real life and turned them into fairy tales that will attract young readers. (Note: the heroines of these stories are queens, not princesses!) The poetic writing and and whimsical illustrations do have that magical quality of fairy tales, drawing the reader into a story about a character – the first African American female pilot – who is both larger than life and infinitely relatable.

I have a personal connection to the story of Bessie Coleman. She was from the same small town in Texas as my grandparents, though she had already left by the time they were born. When I think of how hard it was for my grandfather, a white male, to escape the poverty and depression of a sharecropper’s life there, the story of a young black woman making an even more incredible journey outward and upward is simply astonishing. I am so pleased to see this story given the attention it is due and happy to support the mission of Queen Girls to bring more such stories to light. Visit the Kickstarter page to order Bessie, Queen of the Sky and learn more about this remarkable company! (One copy of the book is donated to at risk girls for every copy that is purchased!)

Related Post: Biographies for Kids about Following Your Dreams

Imagine that the tragedies of history could somehow be redeemed, that not all of the slaves lost in the cataclysmic Atlantic crossings actually died, that not all of the “boat people” supposedly drowned while escaping the chaos of post-war Vietnam were really dead, but that they had somehow slipped through a portal into another world. In the wonderful new middle grade novel A Crack in the Sea readers can imagine a Second World where some of the First World’s victims find refuge and rebuild an ideal society on a string of islands and a man-made floating “Raft World.” Yet always among some there is a yearning to return “home” and a selfish desire to do whatever it takes to get there.

The young protagonists of the story must discover how to stop the plot and save the people of Raft World while at the same time understanding how to make use of their supernatural gifts – or their lack of them. As they journey to find safety for their families, they must contend with the ruthlessness of slavers, disease, pirates, storms, hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. But the real journey is an emotional one, as they all struggle to find their place in this world (or another) and discover the depths of their own courage and what they are willing to fight – and die – for.

For more book recommendations, be sure to visit my Books for Kids board on Pinterest!

Dec 202016
 

I love books that beckon children to travel and to imagine themselves as the heroes in great adventures. The travel books for kids highlighted below do this by focusing on particular cities – Kyoto, Paris, Mumbai, and London – and introducing young readers to the sights and culture of these noteworthy locales.

Travel Books for Kids: Top Cities

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.

Travel Books for Kids

Learn about Kyoto along with a young girl traveling there with her grandfather in Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto. This is a really lovely book. The illustrations are wonderful, and I love that through the story we learn language and culture as Megumi and her grandfather count the things they will see in Kyoto: 10 bonsai trees, 9 orange koi, and so on. Japanese words are sprinkled in throughout the story, with footnotes giving the meaning and pronunciation. At the end there are also fun facts, a map, and Japanese numbers 1-10. But beyond this, what really makes the book come to life is the close relationship between Megumi and her grandfather. The affection between them lends a warmth to this story and will attract young readers even as they learn more about this beautiful city.

Related Post: Global Adventure Books for Kids

Take your kids on a gentle adventure through Paris with Beep Beep In Paris. Beep Beep is an adorable little red car who has adventures throughout Paris with his friend Chocolat the Cat (who has a habit of disappearing to eat desserts!) Poor Beep Beep does have some minor mishaps, but he is always helped by Chocolat, who helps Beep Beep feel at home in this new city. I have read this book many times with my preschooler, who loves the curious little car and his feline friend. (I actually won this book a few years ago from a friend’s blog: read her review of the book!) This sweet bilingual French and English book is a great way to practice vocabulary and take a virtual tour of the major landmarks of the city of lights. Read it with a cup of hot chocolat!

I was excited that our friends that wrote a wonderful Diwali book are now back with a new Maya and Neel adventure! Let’s Visit Mumbai! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 2) is a fun, beautifully done story about two siblings from the US who are exploring Mumbai with their pet squirrel Chintu. Kids aren’t the only ones who will learn from this book – I never knew that Mumbai was originally a group of 7 islands! And did you know that Bollywood comes from Mumbai? There is even an “info zoom” spread about Bollywood as well as another on the famous dabbawallas who deliver food throughout Mumbai. The graphics are so colorful and engaging, and the story packs in a lot of information in a natural way. And I love that just as in Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! there is a visual recap of the adventure at the end of the story. My only complaint about this (and the other books on this list) is that they don’t come with samples of the mouthwatering foods they feature!

Travel Books for Kids: Click the Book - London

If you are looking for innovative travel books for kids and/or want one that is customizable in two languages, you need to check out Click! London. This fun-filled adventure is not only a fast-paced story for children about London, it is also fully bilingual, in the languages of your choice! (Right now Spanish, English, and Italian are available, with more to come). Come along as two children take a wild, somewhat surreal ride through the sights of London!

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