Dec 142016
 

If you are like me, a gift for your child is not only fun, it’s also an opportunity to teach them something. Fun toys that teach coding! Great gifts for book lovers! And so of course I have some great recommendations for you of multicultural gifts that your kids will love and that will also teach them about the world and encourage them to explore it even more. Enjoy!

Multicultural Gifts for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of many of the items below; 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 cost to you.

Multicultural Gifts for Kids

Spanish Alphabet Print : Multicultural Gifts for Kids

I absolutely adore the alphabet posters from Gus on the Go! We have one in Spanish and one in French hanging in our baby’s room, and she loves pointing at all the adorable pictures! I love that she is learning the Spanish alphabet (and French!) in an organic way, with pictures that correspond to the correct Spanish letters – and it includes the “ch” and the “ll”! And did I mention how adorable the pictures are?? Also available in Hebrew, Greek, and Italian, and you don’t want to miss their fun language learning apps, like Gus on the Go: Spanish for Kids.

What young child wouldn’t want to play with this inviting Plush Basket of Babies from Creative Minds? These soft, 10″ dolls are huggable and fun multicultural gifts for all ages, from very young children in search of a snuggly toy to older kids who love pretend play.

Karen Katz’s books are real favorites around our house. Her bright, colorful illustrations always include diverse characters, and her stories are told in simple language for the very young. I love that she takes her young readers seriously and talks to them about topics like world peace, as in the beautiful Can You Say Peace?. A lovely addition to the library of any little world citizen!

Multicultural Gifts for Kids - Culture Chest

I was so excited to find out about Culture Chest, a subscription service offering multicultural picture books for children ages 3-8. Packages typically include 1-2 paperback books plus an activity. Books are selected with care for cultural relevance and accuracy. I love that the boxes follow the celebration of the heritage months. For example, for November (Native American Heritage Month), our box included two wonderful books related to Native American heritage: Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales and the lovely Navajo legend How the Stars Fell into the Sky. This service makes a great gift to help children learn about other cultures and celebrate their own heritage.

If you want a fun STEM project for your child to work on, you can’t beat the next two multicultural gifts! Japanese Paper Toys Kit: Origami Paper Toys that Walk, Jump, Spin, Tumble and Amaze! is so fun and creative and work well for a range of ages. Each paper toys kit comes with materials and instructions to make 21 different toys – that really move! The projects are easy enough to finish quickly so that kids can start playing with them!

Another great STEM activity kit is the Origami Zoo Kit, which includes the book, 40 papers, 95 stickers, and a zoo map for pretend play with your creations. It is so fun! Perfect for your animal lovers, or any child that likes crafts! I love Tuttle’s origami kits for kids, because they are so colorful and engaging for kids, and parents will love how easy the projects are to put together. The papers already have the patterns on them, plus they come with stickers to decorate once you are finished. And kids will love playing with their animals at the “zoo” afterwards. Hours of fun!

Older children will love All About Thailand: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids. It is packed with all kinds of fun learning activities about Thailand, from stories and songs to recipes and games. Kids can practice speaking a few words of Thai, learn more about elephants, or make their own shadow puppets! This is one my son really enjoys reading, and that I steal from my kids’ room to read for myself! Would also be perfect for the classroom or a home school unit.

Atlas of Animal Adventures: A collection of nature’s most unmissable events, epic migrations and extraordinary behaviours is simply gorgeous. Young children will love the detailed illustrations, while older children will pore over the detailed maps and information about animals from around the world. This is one of those books kids will keep coming back to because there is always something new to discover!

I’ve reviewed this album previously, but it is one that we pull out every holiday season, because everyone in the family loves it. Celebrate The Season: Multicultural Songs For The Holidays By Daria is a beautifully done collection of traditional holiday music from around the world that will have everyone singing along. It is a nice mix of upbeat songs and more gentle tunes, with wonderful instrumentals and Daria’s warm, resonant vocals. Not to miss! These CDs make great multicultural gifts to stick in your loved ones’ stockings!

Nov 182016
 

Do your kids love to read? Here are some of our favorite gifts for little bookworms, from stocking stuffers to collectible books!

Gifts for Little Bookworms | 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 cost to you.

Gifts for Little Bookworms

Stocking Stuffers

If your child loves to read, then a book light like LuminoLite Rechargable Clip On Light is a must! This is great for reading at bedtime, as you can still dim the lights to get them ready to sleep even as they can cozy up with a book. We first got this for my older son because he shares a room with his younger brother, who falls asleep earlier than he does. This lets him reap the privilege of his extra years by getting to stay up a bit longer to read in peace. The boys even love using their books lights during the day to hide under the covers to read together! (Do they really think I don’t know who is under that big pile of blankets??)

I received a book weight as a gift when I was younger, and I LOVED it! If your child likes to read while eating, then they will really appreciate having a book weight like this weighted leather one. It holds a book open for you so you can keep your hands free to eat, drink, or just relax. (This also is perfect for cookbooks!)

Of course, they need a stylish way to store their books. This hand painted animal themed set is adorable and also practical, since it’s non-skid.

Older kids, however, will enjoy organizing their books in these functional bookends. I love that they won’t fall down easily, which is handy when you have little hands constantly pulling books out and putting them back in.

My son loves the book plates he received several years ago. Here is a company that makes a wide variety of cute personalized book plates with designs that kids will love, like this pirate set. Perfect for little bookworms!

New & Collectible Books

The holidays are a great time to gift those really special books: new releases hot off the presses as well as beautiful editions of classics. Here are some of our favorites:

If you have an older child in your house, then you likely have already been caught up in the phenomenon that is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If by some chance you have missed this series so far, now is your chance to get started! Greg is a hapless middle schooler with a quirky family whose misadventures are laugh out loud funny and totally relatable. (I love how his mom is always doing crazy things around the house because of articles she just read!) These books are great for reluctant readers, too, as the comic strip style illustrations and offbeat stories will quickly draw them in. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down is the latest book in this wildly popular series. When I showed it to my son, he ripped it out of my hands and disappeared into his room (under the covers, with the booklight on). I had to sneak it out when he wasn’t looking so I could read it myself! It is just as funny and endearing as the other books in this series, so be sure to get your copy today!

This gorgeous Make Way for Ducklings 75th Anniversary Edition is a wonderful way to introduce your children to this childhood classic. This special anniversary edition comes in its own slipcase and includes an audio CD and a poster of the landmarks from the book.

The New Adventures of Curious George is one book that I have practically memorized from all the times we have read this together. It is a wonderful collection of Curious George tales, including the one about the chocolate factory, which was a particular favorite at our house!

For older kids, character encyclopedias like this Star Wars guide are big favorites. We have several, including the Star Wars Lego Character Encyclopedia. My kids can sit and flip through them for hours!

Book Collections

I just love little book sets like this Thomas the Train Railway Book Box Set. Little ones will love toting it around, and it’s easy to grab for a car trip. Even the baby now loves to pull the books out, flip through the pages, and then put them back into the box.

A fun set for early readers is the Busload of Pigeon Books from Mo Willems. (It looks like a bus!) It has three favorite picture books from the Pigeon series, including the classic Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!.

For older kids, you can’t go wrong with the Minecraft Complete Handbook Collection. My kids refer to these all the time and frequently sit and pore over them. (I draw the line at reading these at night. Bedtime is for stories, people!)

Subscription Services

Booklandia Subscription Service

I was so delighted to get in touch with the people behind the new Booklandia monthly subscription service for Spanish and bilingual children’s books. Your little bookworms will love to receive a book box in the mail each month! You can customize your box according to age of the child, whether you’d like Spanish and/or bilingual books, and how often you’d like to receive your books. Then sit back and enjoy!

I love the mission behind Booklandia, which is to provide Spanish speaking families and Spanish learners access to high quality Spanish books – that means “authentic stories, very few translations, and always beautiful books.” Each box is put together with care to provide only the best books to their customers.

I chose to receive bilingual picture books, and we were excited to open our box to see the wonderful Waiting for the Biblioburro and a fun bilingual version of the classic “Wheels on the Bus” song, ¡Vámonos! Let’s Go!.

A Booklandia subscription is a perfect gift for the Spanish-speaking or Spanish learning bookworms on your list!

What are your favorite book gifts for the children on your list?

Nov 102016
 
 November 10, 2016  Gift guides, Kid Fun, STEM 3 Responses »

My kids and I recently attended a Maker Faire at our local Barnes & Noble bookstore, where we got to use all kinds of fun, creative toys, including robots and 3-D pens! It was a great way to really try things out before purchasing them. Based on our experiences, my oldest and I collaborated to make this guide of our favorite tech gifts for kids. You’ll find his opinions below along with mine. These toys are not only fun they are also (shh!) educational, making coding and creating exciting for kids. Hope you have as much fun with these as we did!

Cool Tech Gifts for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Cool Tech Gifts for Kids


If you buy nothing else on this list, buy the Emerge Tech EUVRC Utopia 360Degree Virtual Realty Headset. It is so affordable that it puts virtual reality into the reach of many families who otherwise would never consider it. I asked the rep about the price out of sheer curiosity, never imagining how low it would be. Result? Two little boys I know will be getting a virtual reality headset this year! Trust me, buy this and you will be a hero in your house! It is super fun and easy to use. My son tried this so many times that the rep got to know him quite well! The images are great, and you have a 360 degree view, so you can look in any direction and still be totally immersed in the virtual world. (By the way, it is almost as entertaining just to watch someone who is wearing this headset!) There are thousands of FREE apps you can download to use on the headset, including games (the headset comes with a controller that can be used in games), so you don’t have to worry about this being a gift they are excited about for a few days then throw in the closet, as there will always be something new for them to try. There are some apps that have a cost, but nearly all are in the 99 cent range. One of our favorite tech gifts for kids this year.

6 year old says: A big heart (his top rating)

His other top gift was the CreoPop Cordless 3D Printing Pen. It is actually the one he talks about the most, though he didn’t get to spend lots of time with it because there was such a long line. Basically it has a type of ink in it (which comes out like a gel) that hardens once you use it, so you can make creations that you can keep for later. You can either draw or on a surface in the usual way then pick it up to display, or you can draw up to build a tower or other creation. Talk about your ideas leaping off the page! It is also easy to change colors mid-creation, just by popping out one ink cartridge and inserting another. (Many other 3D pens use filaments which appear to be more difficult to change in the middle of drawing). I love that it is cool to the touch, unlike many of the others on the market, and materials are non-toxic.

6 year old says: A big heart

The kids all really had fun with the award-winning Wonder Workshop Dash Robot. Recommended for ages 8 and up (I actually saw kids much younger having fun with it), Dash is a real, responsive robot that kids can learn to program from their phone or tablet using free apps. It is a fun way for kids to learn coding, as they teach Dash to move, dance, and even respond to their voice.

6 year old says: A fun bot, 5 stars

One of the tech gifts for kids at the Maker Faire that grabbed the kids’ attention right away was Meccano – Meccanoid 2.0. It is about 2 feet tall and looks most like what kids picture when they think of robots. It is recommended for ages 10+, but I think this is for the actual building and programming of the robot. Kids much younger will enjoy playing with it, especially as it is voice activated. My son explained to me that when the robot’s eyes turn blue, it is ready for you to say, “Meccanoid.” When its eyes turn green, it is ready for a command. If you are thinking to yourself, “I cannot afford to buy my kid a 2 foot tall robot!” then take heart, because they actually have Meccano – MicroNoid, a much smaller (and more affordable) version.

6 year old says: 5 stars (It lost a star because someone else was nearby when he was playing with it and the bot was getting confused about who was giving it commands. As my son told me, in a mock stern voice, “He disobeyed me.”)

Another fun robot toy is Sphero 2.0: The App-Controlled Robot Ball. It is also app-controlled and teaches kids coding in a really fun way as they make Sphero move all over the house! I love that it is water-proof and pet-proof, because you can imagine what corners and spaces this little guy will roll into! I also like that it is so portable, although I really had to watch that my three year old didn’t walk off with it when we were leaving!

6 year old says: 5 stars

I love the concept of Ozobot. This award-winning robot is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is great to help visual learners really get coding. The basic idea is to create a pattern on paper using Ozobot Washable Markers. The patterns you draw give instructions to the Ozobot, as each color indicates whether it should go straight, turn around, and so on. The patterns you draw can be very simple or quite intricate, so kids really exercise those logical thinking skills. Teachers can even contact Ozobot for free lesson plans to use in the classroom!

6 year old says: 3 stars (He liked it, but not quite as fun as chasing around the larger robots, plus it can take a bit to get the hang of how to draw the patterns for the bot to follow).

What are your favorite tech gifts for kids?

Gift Guide Blog Hop from Kid Blogger Network

I am excited to be participating once again in the Gift Guide blog hop from Kid Blogger Network! Don’t miss out on this huge collection of holiday gift guides, where you’re sure to find something for everyone!

Feb 192016
 
 February 19, 2016  Ayyam-i-Ha, Gift guides 9 Responses »

Ayyam-i-Ha Gifts on Etsy | Alldonemonkey.com

Looking for a great gift for your loved ones this Ayyám-i-Há?  Here is a collection of wonderful Ayyam-i-Ha gifts on Etsy, from — to –.  Don’t forget you can find even more Ayyam-i-Ha gifts in my gift guide, including our Ayyam-i-Ha Fun e-book!

Nightingale Creations has handmade beaded bookmarks, prayer beads, and accessories.

Elika Arts has original acrylic paintings and acrylic cards.

Honey’s Hive has handmade eco-friendly paper quilled jewelry (including nine pointed star earrings) and tutorials.

Sophia Wood Art has art and children’s books, including The Night Before Ayyám-i-Há.

18 Letter Press has Ayyám-i-Há pennants, wrapping paper, and art prints.

Delightful Design LLC (currently on a maternity break) has Ayyám-i-Há banners and children’s crafts.

Andrea Hope has a children’s poetry activity book and children’s coloring cards.

Safarista Design has greeting cards, children’s class quote cards, and prints.

Overflowing Joy has card stock nine pointed stars and cloth napkins.

chARiTy elise designs has pottery, porcelain jewelry, bisque stamps, handmade supplies and more.

atinyseed has Bahá’í themed art and gift items.

Nine Star Studios has banners, gift tags, bags, labels and door signs.

RubySue Stationery has Ayyám-i-Há and other greeting cards.

Created Noble has art, cards, and coaster sets.

19 Letters by Bri has greeting cards for Ayyám-i-Há.

Lucky Bug has message boxes and Ayyám-i-Há gift bags.

Patty’s Garden Studio has original watercolor floral paintings, greeting cards, pillows, and tote bags.

Felterrific has lots of felt crafts, including handmade Ayyám-i-Há countdown calendars.

jbart has greeting cards and art.

Feb 172016
 

Gifts that Empower Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

An important aspect of raising world citizens is empowering kids to see themselves as world changers.  Helping children recognize and nurture their own nascent abilities to effect change is a powerful way of setting them on the road to transform their communities and their world.  Here are some of my favorite gifts that empower kids and help them have fun in the process.

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books and kits below; however, all opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

Gifts that Empower Kids

Books

I have to admit that I am at times a bit earnest when it comes to teaching my kids about values.  As a result, my son has developed a keen sense for when I am trying to teach him something “meaningful” and so tends to run the other direction.  That’s why I love books like Mason’s Greatest Gems, which teach values in a really engaging way that kids can relate to.  This story is based on the analogy of gems as qualities (like kindness and generosity) that we have inside us that we can discover and polish.  Kids will be attracted to the beautiful gems and the idea of digging up and discovering those gems.  (My son, who is a big fan of Minecraft, loved this idea!) Wonderful visual way to teach kids about the benefits of developing positive character traits.  The book even comes with links to free printable pages and group activities.

I Am and I Can Poetry Activity BookWhat’s really fun about I Am and I Can is that it incorporates so many elements dear to my heart – diversity, education, and empowering children – yet it does so in such a seamless way that it doesn’t feel forced at all.  It is a poetry activity book, illustrated with images of children from around the globe, where readers practices parts of speech as a way to interactively write uplifting poems.  For example, in one section they practice recognizing verbs that have to do with art and sports.  In the following section they come up with their own verbs, which they then use to fill in the blanks in a poem that celebrates their ability to uplift those around them.  My kids had so much fun with this book, and I loved the upbeat, positive message!

What better way to teach kids about their ability to change the world than by giving them real life examples of kids who are doing just that?  Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon is a wonderful book about a real girl that the author met by chance when she and her family were vacationing in the Amazon.  Doyli and her uncle live deep in the Amazon rainforest, where they rescue and care for baby monkeys orphaned by hunters or poachers.  The narrative does a great job of showing what it is like to live in the jungle, where you have to travel in two canoes to get to school, and your front yard is flooded most of the year.  But what really comes through is the passion Doyli has for saving the baby monkeys and what a difference her efforts make.  This book, as well as the second in the series, Tortuga Squad: Kids Saving Sea Turtles in Costa Rica, will inspire kids to do their part to save the planet.

Activity Kits

I have had the pleasure of reviewing Happy Heart Kid activity kits before, so I was thrilled to receive a Perseverance (Grit) Activity Kit to explore with my kids.  Every time we open one of these kits, it’s like Christmas!  The kids are so excited to see what activities have been included this time.  It is always something fun!  Happy Heart Kid activity kits are colorful and engaging, and I love that the activities are all so well thought out.  They take into account different learning styles and skills and so include a range of activities – crafts, games, discussion, role playing, and so on.  The kits are also easy for parents and educators to use:  Everything you need is included in the kit, and there are clear instructions and notes.  I also really appreciate that the kits break down abstract ideas into concrete, fun activities that children can really relate to.  So, for example, the “Grit” kit, which focuses on perseverance, includes a game where the players work together to come up with creative solutions to challenges like how to help a nervous monkey swing from tree to tree.  These kits are great gifts to empower kids through the development of positive qualities like perseverance!

Little Loving Hands Activity KitsLittle Loving Hands transforms the idea of activity kits by making the activity itself only part of the equation.  Kids still have fun doing a great craft, but when they finish they get to donate the item they make to a worthy organization, using a pre-paid envelope.  For example, the kit we received was to make a Seek and Search Activity Bag to donate to kids being treated at the National Institutes of Health.  Children will love being able to make such a personal gift for someone else. I love that the craft is so beautifully tailored for those that will receive it.  The activity bag we made is a fun, quiet game that kids can play while adults are resting and that can be easily taken from room to room.  Little Loving Hands kits are not only fun but teach kids about giving back and inspire them to see that they can make a difference.

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