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!

Dec 052016
 

What is a parent-child date night? Simply a way to do something special and reconnect with your child. Sometimes we get so busy with our day to day routines that we can forget that these are not the end themselves, only the means. It’s helpful to take a step back and spend some special time with our children. This is especially true when you have multiple kids! When there is a new baby, for example, older kids will really enjoy the extra attention.

Family Bonding" 10 Parent-Child Date Nights | Alldonemonkey.com

Here are some fun parent-child date night ideas, but keep in mind that the most important thing is spending special time with your child!

Disclosure: I received complimentary passes to VIP Night at Century Arden 14 & XD Theater; however, all opinions are my own.

Parent-Child Date Night Ideas

  1. Go to a live show, like monster trucks or Disney on Ice
  2. Have fun at bowling or a video arcade
  3. Take a cooking or computer class together – they will love seeing you learn something, too!
  4. From Kid World Citizen on Creative World of Varya: Super Noche!
  5. From Moms and Crafters: Playdates with Mom
  6. From Adventures in Mommydom: Mommy-Son Mini Golf Date Night
  7. From Adventures in Mommydom: Daddy Daughter Date: Scavenger Hunt
  8. From Gianna the Great: “When I take my granddaughter out for a ‘date night’ we go have coffee/hot chocolate and a bookstore.”
  9. From Bicultural Mama: “My daughter had been asking me for a ‘Girls Night Out’ so a couple weekends ago she and I went to dinner at the restaurant of her choice, then went holiday shopping at the mall for daddy, then went home to watch Zootopia on Netflix.”
  10. Go to the movies! The boys and I had a blast attending VIP Night at the grand re-opening of the Century Arden 14 and XD Theater here in Sacramento. It was fun to get a sneak peek at this totally refurbished theater, with 14 wall-to-wall screens and custom digital surround sound. But what we loved the most was the luxury loungers – no joke, each seat is an electric-powered recliner, complete with cup holders and footrests.

Family Bonding: 10 Parent-Child Date Night Ideas | Alldonemonkey.com

I am nearly 6 feet tall, and often feel uncomfortable in theater seats, plus I am always self-conscious of blocking the view of people behind me. Not so here! I had plenty of room to stretch out and not worry about those behind me – or in front! Aren’t you tired of having to stand up or shrink in your seat to let someone else pass by? (Or okay, let’s admit it – aren’t you tired of being the family that arrives late and makes everyone else stand up or shrink in their seat so you and your wiggly kids can pass by?) I was amazed at how wide the aisles were – all of them, not just those in the middle of the theater. What luxury!

Family Bonding" 10 Parent-Child Date Nights | Alldonemonkey.com

And if you have picky kids in your family, you will also appreciate the self-serve concession stand, where you can get your order just how you want it. So next time you are headed to the theaters, check out the new Century Arden 14 and XD Theater for movie watching in style!

Nov 222016
 

‘Tis the season, and families everywhere are gearing up to buy, create, and lovingly wrap presents for their loved ones. While you’re at it, why not have some fun with all that extra wrapping paper? It is so great for crafts! We had fun with some of our own upcycled crafts recently, so I’ve gathered together some creative ideas for you. Share your ideas in the comments!

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary packages of wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing for review purposes; however, all my opinions are my own.

Do you have a stash of wrapping paper sitting around at the end of the holidays, odd scraps that you’re not sure would actually fit a present but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of? Or perhaps you’ve found some really beautiful wrapping paper that is like artwork all by itself? Here are some fun and creative ways to use it!

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

I was so pleased to receive several packages of gorgeous wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing (shown above are the Blue and White set, Indonesian Batik, Japanese Kimono, and Chinese Silk). With gifts, so much is in the presentation! These premium wrapping papers are so beautiful and artistic that I knew our loved ones would feel very special receiving presents wrapped with them.

I also realized that we could also use it to make wonderful crafts! Here are some of our favorite creative uses for wrapping paper.

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper

Book Covers

When I was a kid, at the start of every school year we would pull out the paper grocery bags to make covers for our new textbooks. (Here is a tutorial that is exactly how we did it when I was a kid). It kept the books in better shape, plus it personalized them a bit. I hadn’t done it for years, so I thought it would be fun to do again. Since we had such beautiful material to work with, I made a cover for my prayer book using a sheet from the Chinese Silk set. Isn’t it beautiful?

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Line Your Drawers

Add a little beauty to your everyday by lining your drawers with some beautiful wrapping paper! Featured here is a sheet from the Blue & White set. The photo really doesn’t do justice to the pretty dark blue color I used.

10 Creative Uses for Wrapping Paper | Alldonemonkey.com

Paper Chains

Decorate your house or trim your tree with some festive paper chains! These are also great to use in a simple advent calendar. This gorgeous wrapping paper will definitely be a step up from the construction paper we usually use!

Gift Tags

One thrifty way to use wrapping paper is to make simple gift tags for the presents you are wrapping. Simply take some of the excess paper, fold it over and trim to make a small rectangle. (If your wrapping paper has a nice design, you could also follow the shape of the images on the paper). Write your note inside and tape it to the gift, and that’s it! Simple, but it does look cute because of course it matches!

Here are some other fun wrapping paper ideas for you:

From Teach Me Mommy: Stick Puzzles

From Jeddah Mom: Paper Collage Using Flower Punch

From Sugar Aunts: Scissor Skills Crash Course

From One Creative Mommy: Christmas Crackers Stocking Stuffers

From Red Ted Art: Thank You Cards

From Red Ted Art: Christmas Cards

You can find even more ideas in the packages of wrapping paper from Tuttle Publishing!

Nov 102016
 

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!

Nov 042016
 

I’m lucky enough now to have gone to Disney on Ice several times, and it is always such a great show. The first time I went, though, I was nervous about taking my boys with me. Would they have fun or would they be totally bored? Is the show really for girls, or can you take your boys to Disney on Ice without regretting it?

Why You Should Take Your Boys to Disney on Ice | Alldonemonkey.com

I’m happy to report that each time my kids have had a blast! So mamas, you can relax and enjoy yourselves: Here’s why you should take your boys to Disney on Ice, too!

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to Disney on Ice for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Why You Should Take Your Boys to Disney on Ice 

It’s not just princesses and fairy dust. This year’s Disney on Ice is subtitled Passport to Adventure, and it is focused on just that: adventure. There is flying and battling with Peter Pan, silly fun with the Lion King, and of course Olaf. My six year old, of course, noticed right away the weapons (“Is Hans using a real sword?”), and both laughed along with everyone’s favorite snowman. There is so much variety to the show that there really is something for everyone.

Why You Should Take Your Boys to Disney on Ice | Alldonemonkey.com

Photo courtesy of Feld Entertainment

Don’t limit your idea of what they would enjoy. Who says boys can’t enjoy a little sparkle and glitter? If you never let them experience it, you may never know what they’d really like. My three year old loves Frozen and is drawn to anything with Anna and Elsa on it, so the second half of the show was a big hit. Even in those moments where I thought the show would be too “girly” for them, my boys loved the theatrics.

It’s a big show with lots cool effects. It is always fun to go out together and see a live show, especially one like this that is designed to really draw in the audience with big gestures and effects. Let’s see – there are fireworks, bubbles, snow, dancing starfish, a crocodile (“Is that real?”), a sea witch, kids that can fly, and set changes that morph and melt into the ice. My 6 year old was particularly interested in how the Darlings were able to fly with Peter Pan and how the lights were used to create different effects on the ice floor.

Why You Should Take Your Boys to Disney on Ice | Alldonemonkey.com

Photo courtesy of Feld Entertainment

You get to check out a cool new venue. If you go to see the show this weekend in Sacramento, you get to check out the brand new Golden 1 Center. (Spoiler alert: It’s really cool!) It is spacious and clean, and the food choices are excellent (very important when you have kids with you!)

You deserve it. As a mom of boys, you’ve seen more than your share of pirates, dragons, zombies, skeletons, and storm troopers. You deserve a few hours of happy Disney characters ice skating to songs you love, so let them watch what you like for once while you sing along with Frozen.

Why You Should Take Your Boys to Disney on Ice | Alldonemonkey.com

My favorite moment: Let it go, Elsa! Photo courtesy of Feld Entertainment

Tip: Boys are less likely to have seen some of the popular Disney movies, so be sure to prep ahead of time by watching some together, like Lion King and Peter Pan. They’ll love the movies and have more fun at the show if they already know the characters and the plot.

So take your boys to Disney on Ice this weekend along with the rest of the family, and you will all have a great time!

WHEN: Thursday, November 3 – Sunday, November 6

Thursday, Nov. 3,  7:00 PM

Friday, Nov. 4, 7:00 PM

Saturday, Nov. 5, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM

Sunday, Nov. 6, 12:00 PM & 4:00 PM

WHERE: Golden 1 Center – 547 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

TICKETS: Ticket prices start at just $20! Special Opening Night discount tickets available for 50% off for select seating (not valid for VIP/Front Row levels). All seats are reserved; tickets are available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745- 3000 or visit the Golden 1 Center Box Office.

*tickets prices are subject to change; additional venue/ticketing fees may apply

Visit Disney On Ice for more details about this show and the full line up of Disney On Ice productions for the 2016-2017 season.

Oct 242016
 

Giveaway for tickets to see Disney on Ice in Sacramento

Take your kids on a magical adventure around the world with Mickey and Minnie Mouse as your tour guides with Disney on Ice: Passport to Adventure, coming soon to Sacramento!

On the itinerary? Exploring the African Pride Lands from The Lion King with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa; voyaging deep under the sea to Ariel’s mystical underwater kingdom from The Little Mermaid, and touring London with Peter Pan and Wendy before flying to Neverland to meet up with Tinker Bell. And don’t forget traveling to Frozen’s Arendelle for an extraordinary adventure with sisters Anna and Elsa, their friend Kristoff and everyone’s favorite, huggable snowman Olaf.

I’m excited to see so many favorite Disney characters in one show, plus it will be our first chance to visit the brand new Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento! We’ve been following the progress as it was being built, so I can’t wait to check it out!

Disney on Ice Sacramento

Photo courtesy of Feld Entertainment

We are giving away tickets to the opening night show! Be sure to scroll all the way down to find out how to enter!

WHEN: Thursday, November 3 – Sunday, November 6

Thursday, Nov. 3,  7:00 PM

Friday, Nov. 4, 7:00 PM

Saturday, Nov. 5, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM

Sunday, Nov. 6, 12:00 PM & 4:00 PM

WHERE: Golden 1 Center – 547 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

TICKETS: Ticket prices start at just $20! Special Opening Night discount tickets available for 50% off for select seating (not valid for VIP/Front Row levels). All seats are reserved; tickets are available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745- 3000 or visit the Golden 1 Center Box Office.

*tickets prices are subject to change; additional venue/ticketing fees may apply

Visit Disney On Ice for more details about this show and the full line up of Disney On Ice productions for the 2016-2017 season.

Disney on Ice Sacramento GIVEAWAY

Congratulations to our winner, Jennifer F!
We are giving away a pack of 4 tickets to the opening night show in Sacramento on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7 pm. All you have to do to enter is comment on this post, telling us which Disney character is your child’s favorite! Giveaway ends midnight Pacific Time on Sunday, October 30. Winner will be randomly selected from entries. 

Oct 192016
 

Easy, No Prep Day of the Dead Craft | Alldonemonkey.com

Looking for a fun, no-prep Day of the Dead craft using materials you already have? Here is a fun one that you can do anytime with your kids – and it’s not even messy! (Mom for the win!) All you need is paper, markers, glue, and cereal – that’s it! It’s a great after school activity to encourage creativity and learning, and it comes with a built in snack 😉

Easy Day of the Dead Craft

Materials

Paper

Markers

Glue

Cereal: We used Trix and Cocoa Puffs because they are so colorful, just like the Day of the Dead skulls and decorations. My kids didn’t mind having them to snack on while they worked, either!

Easy No Prep Day of the Dead Craft | Alldonemonkey.com

Instructions

Draw or download a Day of the Dead skull image

Decorate the image using your markers until you have a final design. Day of the Dead skulls are often decorated with flowers. You can also give yours a fun hat or costume!

Easy No Prep Day of the Dead Craft | Alldonemonkey.com

Glue the Trix and Cocoa Puffs cereal onto your design to add color and texture.

Easy No Prep Day of the Dead Craft | Alldonemonkey.com

Once you’ve completed your pictures, set them out to dry and enjoy a snack!

For more Day of the Dead fun, don’t miss the big General Mills Day of the Dead event in Los Angeles on October 29 from 12-8 pm! You can also find recipes, more event information, videos, and coupons on the Cereal con Cariño homepage!

Sep 082016
 

Yes, I freely admit that we have gotten caught up in the Pokemon Go craze, and I am not ashamed. I actually have a lot of fun playing with my kids, and it’s a great way to get them out of the house and exploring our city. Many parents I talk to, though, are hesitant to let their kids play because of concerns about safety, etc. Of course you have to decide what is best for your family and your situation, but I have found that Pokemon Go – in moderation – is a fun way to game with kids. Here are some lessons I’ve learned, as well as tips, from other parents.

Pokemon Go: Top Tips for Parents | Alldonemonkey.com

Pokemon Go: Top Tips for Parents

1. Stay involved: For young children especially (my son is 6), it’s essential that you play with them. Pokemon Go is different than any game we’ve played before, a kind called “augmented reality,” where the game world is layered onto the real world. As you reach new levels, new elements are introduced, so you need to be involved to stay aware of what they are playing – and where they are wandering off to in search of Pokemon.

2. Use common sense safety rules: Because the player is glued to the phone during the game, you have to make sure your child is watching where they are going so they don’t trip and fall or walk out into traffic.  You also need to make sure they don’t go into places they aren’t supposed to, either trespassing or going into someplace dangerous like an abandoned building. And we’ve all heard about people being robbed or assaulted because the thieves were counting on the fact that players don’t paying attention to their surroundings while they are playing. The best thing to do is to have them play with someone else – you, if possible – so that someone is always watching out for what is happening in the real world.

3. Make sure you are following the rules, too: Once you know where the Pokestops are, it can be tempting to turn your phone on at a stoplight to get a few more Pokeballs, but make sure you are setting a good example for your kids (and staying safe for your own sake!) by not playing while you are driving or doing anything else that should have your full attention, like crossing the street with your kids.

4. Decide when to play: A friend and I have spent a lot of time discussing this – if you make the rule that your child can only play with you, then expect a lot of demands on your time! Some ideas to make this manageable are 1) let them play while you’re in the car running errands or going to and from school, 2) have a time on the weekends when you play together while taking a walk or playing at the park, and 3) know where the hot spots are in your area and do quick visits once or twice during the week.

Chances are there are Pokestops at your child’s school, the local library, the grocery store, the park, the mall, and so on – basically the main places where people spend their time. For example, there are several Pokestops in the park next to my son’s preschool, so whenever I pick him up we do a quick walk to hit the Pokestops and see if we see any Pokemon.

5. Set a budget: Yes, Pokemon Go is free, but they do have a shop inside the game, so make sure you lay some ground rules about whether you will be making purchases. We established from the beginning that we wouldn’t buy anything, but lo and behold just a few days ago when we reached Level 12 (yay!) our bag suddenly wasn’t big enough to hold the bigger Pokeballs (“great balls”) that we earned when we leveled up.

We managed to figure out a way to free up some space (used up some of the potions and raspberries we had accrued), but a few days later we hit another snag: We didn’t have space to catch any more Pokemon! Unless, of course, we bought additional storage space (grrr!)

I had no idea there would be any limit to how make Pokemon we could “store.” If you can’t catch Pokemon, you basically can’t play, and by the time you get to Level 12, you are committed to playing the game, so they really have you over a barrel. Yes, technically you can earn Pokecoins through the game that you can use to make purchases, but this is really difficult to do at the lower levels, since it’s unlikely you have Pokemon with high enough points to win battles.

So yes, I did decide to make the purchase ($4.99 for 550 Pokecoins, which was more than enough to upgrade my bag and my Pokemon storage), but I was gritting my teeth the whole time, and wondering if there will be any more surprises like this ahead.

Still, I have to say playing Pokemon Go with my kids has been a really fun, positive experience – for them and for me! Do you play with your kids?

Here are some other great tips, crafts, and activities for Pokemon Go:

From Pragmatic Mom: How to Play Pokemon Go with Kids

From My Joy Filled Life: Teaching Kids to Safely Play Pokemon Go

From Something 2 Offer: Safety Tips for Pokemon Go

From Mother Natured: Educational Pokemon Activities

From Parenting Chaos: Pokeballs Paper Plate Craft and Charmander Blazing Fruit Pokemon Punch

From Kids Craft Room: Pokemon Pebble Craft

From Red Ted Art: Pokemon Book Corners and even more DIY Pokemon Crafts

From And Next Comes L: Pokeballs Coloring SheetPokeball Suncatcher, DIY Pokeball Craft, Pokemon Apps, and Printable Pokemon Action Cards

From Hattifant: Pokemon Evolution Flextangles

Jul 232016
 

Our 5 top picks for families visiting the California State Fair

The California State Fair is a great place for families, and for many it is a cherished tradition to visit every year. After visiting with my young children, here are my top picks that families won’t want to miss!

Disclosure: Thank you to Pebbles Cereal for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

California State Fair: 5 Top Picks for Families

Kids Park: If you are looking for old-fashioned (and new!) carnival rides, this is the spot! While there are other carnival rides at the State Fair, the Kids Park has tons that are designed just for kids. There are height restrictions on many, but you can still find some, like the merry-go-round, for little ones. If you plan on going on a lot of rides, consider buying a wristband, which gets the user unlimited rides.

Ag Area & Petting Zoo: We spent quite a bit of time in the Agricultural area, which is where kids can see one of the more traditional aspects of the state fair. My kids loved all the stations (most of which are free), where young kids can play in the corn sensory bin or make music with parts from old farm equipment. They can also use props to practice milking a cow, saddling a pony, and roping a steer. You can see the real deal, of course, at the petting zoo, which for many families is a highlight of the state fair. Be aware that once you enter the petting zoo area, all the (very friendly and docile) animals will be walking all around you, which was a new experience for city kids like mine. Many of the animals are a bit, er, overly friendly, so keep an eye on your clothes and purse, or they might get nibbled on! Also, you are very likely to see at least one animal answer the call of nature, so watch your step (and your shoes).

California State Fair: 5 Top Picks for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Camp Smoky: I loved Camp Smoky because it is a little forest oasis in the asphalt desert of the State Fair. It was so cool and refreshing just to walk around in the shade of the trees and listen to the very friendly young rangers teach the kids about the importance of caring for our forests. Kids can pick up a passport, which they get stamped at various stations (like the school house or the forest trail) to exchange for a bandanna at the end . The super cute puppet show teaches kids about fire safety as well.

California State Fair: 5 Top Picks for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Jest in Time Family Stage: We had a chance to watch the clowns of Jest in Time, and they were awesome! My kids were laughing non-stop during this pair’s antics and gentle humor. There is a special kids’ seating area up front, where young helpers can get picked as volunteers. I don’t want to give away anything, but beware of flying toilet paper in the finale!

Pebbles Play

We spent a long time at the Pebbles Play area, located just next to the Kids Park. It is a fun spot for kids to get creative, explore, and enjoy some treats! This summer the Pebbles Play Tour is traveling to major cities across the US – including the California State Fair in Sacramento from July 22 to 24!! 

California State Fair: 5 Top Picks for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

First off, my kids got to build toy guitars out of recycled materials using kits from YOXO®, a environmentally sustainable toy company. (Don’t miss this video of them making music with one of these guitars!)

And what kid (or adult!) wouldn’t want a chance in a real life replica of the Flintstones Flintmobile?? My kids love pretending to drive anyway, but hanging out in the Flintmobile was just on another level.

They also loved these virtual reality – I mean cereality – goggles, which gave them a 360 degree virtual view of Pebbles World. It was their first time trying out anything like this, and it was love at first sight! 

Finally, don’t forget to grab a sample of the ultra fun Pebbles treats (Cocoa Pebbles or Fruity Pebbles) and get your dollar off coupon for Pebbles cereal (where available and while supplies last). Find out when the Pebbles Play tour is coming to your area!

Get creative this summer with the Pebbles Play Tour

Get Creative at the Pebbles Play Tour: California State Fair July 22 – 24, 2016

Where: California State Fair, 1600 Exposition Blvd Sacramento, CA 95815

When: Friday, July 22 – Sunday, July 24, 10 AM – 10 PM

Who: Families of all ages

How: Come and have fun!

Admission cost: Adults $12, Senior (62+) $10, Youth $8, Child (4 & under) Free

For more info: Visit Facebook.com/PebblesCereal/Events

 

Future Events Include:

Houston
Latin Fest, Jones Plaza, 600 Louisiana St, Houston, TX 77002
1 PM – 10 PM, Sunday, August 14
Admission cost: Free

Chicago
Festival de La Villita, Little Village, 26th St. and Kostner Ave., Chicago, IL 60623
Fri. 6 PM – 10 PM, Sat. 2 PM – 10 PM, Sun. 2 PM – 10 PM
Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 11
Admission cost: Free

Connect with Pebbles on Instagram or Twitter with @PebblesCereal or by using the #PebblesPlay hash tag.

Find more tips about the California State Fair here!

Jul 172016
 

10 fun ways to get creative with your kids this summer

Summer is the perfect time to get creative with your kids. The days are long, the sun is shining, and everyone is on vacation mode. Here are 10 fun ways to get your kids’ creative juices flowing this summer:

Disclosure: Thanks to Post Cereal for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

10. Art Projects: Summer is a great time to do big art projects you might not have time for during the school year. You can take advantage of the sunny weather to do summer-inspired art, like sun melted upcycled crayons.

9. Science Fun: Dive into STEM fun with creative science projects! Whether you do experiments or open-ended discovery, the key is to really let your kids explore!

8. Summer Camps: Camps are a fun way for kids to make friends and explore a topic they are interested in, like art or science. You can also create a DIY summer camp tailor-made for your kids.

7. Scavenger Hunts: I adore scavenger hunts! They are terrific boredom busters and a great way to help kids see their surroundings with new eyes.

6. Sensory Bins: Clean out the cupboards and put together some creative sensory bins for your kids. There are so many fun options and they will stay entertained for hours!

5. Cook Together: Take the time to try out a new recipe together or invent your own. It’s a fun way to explore other cultures, too!

4. Go Outdoors: I am a firm believer in getting kids out in nature. They naturally respond to the outdoors – so much to see and explore! It is sure to inspire them to get creative, whether with play, science, or art.

3. Get Lost in a Book: What better way to spur their imaginations then through reading great books! Reading together or independently is a wonderful catalyst to creative thinking, as their imaginations expand to include new worlds and ways of being.

2. Play Music: I grew up taking music lessons, and it was always a wonderful way to relax in my free time. Summer is a fun time to play music without the pressure of recitals or performance but instead for sheer pleasure. If your child doesn’t play an instrument, it can be a good time to explore one, or simply make your own instruments out of household items and have some fun singing and dancing.

1. Explore, Learn, and Play with the Pebbles Play Tour: This summer the Pebbles Play Tour is traveling to major cities across the US – including the California State Fair in Sacramento from July 22 to 24!! Create, taste, experience, and imagine with the Pebbles Play Tour this summer, where kids (and kids at heart) can:

  • Become an inventor with recycled materials, thanks to YOXO®, the environmentally sustainable toy company
  • Transport yourself to imaginative worlds with Pebbles virtual reality goggles
  • Put yourself in the driver’s seat by sitting in a real life replica of the Flintstones Flintmobile (don’t forget to use the #PebblesPlay hash tag when you share your photo on social media!)

And of course, kids can sample ultra fun Pebbles treats (Cocoa Pebbles or Fruity Pebbles) and parents can grab a dollar off coupon for Pebbles cereal (where available and while supplies last). Find out when the Pebbles Play tour is coming to your area!

Get creative this summer with the Pebbles Play Tour

Get Creative at the Pebbles Play Tour: California State Fair July 22 – 24, 2016

Where: California State Fair, 1600 Exposition Blvd Sacramento, CA 95815

When: Friday, July 22 – Sunday, July 24, 10 AM – 10 PM

Who: Families of all ages

How: Come and have fun!

Admission cost: Adults $12, Senior (62+) $10, Youth $8, Child (4 & under) Free

For more info: Visit Facebook.com/PebblesCereal/Events

 

Future Events Include:

Houston
Latin Fest, Jones Plaza, 600 Louisiana St, Houston, TX 77002
1 PM – 10 PM, Sunday, August 14
Admission cost: Free

Chicago
Festival de La Villita, Little Village, 26th St. and Kostner Ave., Chicago, IL 60623
Fri. 6 PM – 10 PM, Sat. 2 PM – 10 PM, Sun. 2 PM – 10 PM
Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 11
Admission cost: Free

Connect with Pebbles on Instagram or Twitter with @PebblesCereal or by using the #PebblesPlay hash tag.

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