Aug 022017
 

We all want our children to go off and have adventures, to live life to the fullest. An essential component of this is, of course, teach them to be brave, so they are not daunted when faced with a difficult situation or a new experience. As the beginning of the school year approaches, it can be an especially important time to remind children of the courage they have inside them. Here are some wonderful books for all ages that teach by example how to be brave when faced with challenges large and small.

Children's Books About Being Brave | 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 extra charge to you.

Children’s Books About Being Brave

Poor little baby bird can think of all kinds of reasons why attempting to fly out of the nest is a bad idea. Each time he peers over the edge of his safe, warm nest, the shadows twist into the menacing shapes of his fears. NOPE! is his response whenever his mother tries to prod him to try to fly. Then just when it looks like he might never leave, his mother gives him some gentle, um, encouragement but pushing him out of the nest. A very funny story with extremely simple text but incredibly expressive illustrations. 

Jabari Jumps is actually one that several of us that review books have been chatting about because we all love it so much! (You can read another review from one of them). So many kids (and adults) can relate to wanting to jump off the high dive at the pool but then chickening out when the time comes and we see how far down it is to the water. I love the character of Jabari but also his dad, who is there to offer him encouragement. He recognizes when Jabari needs a little more time but also knows just what to say when the moment is right. I am going to remember his advice myself, that instead of being scared about something we can think of it like a little surprise – because who doesn’t like surprises?

My 4 year old requests Jabari Jumps every night at bedtime, and after he was brave enough to jump into the pool recently, he told me that he was just like Jabari!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Hello Kitty Storybook) is part of a gentle series of fairy tale adventures for very young readers. It also includes Thumbelina (Hello Kitty Storybook). If you have a Hello Kitty fan in your house, you won’t want to miss these – and if you don’t, you might after you read these books! While they present somewhat scary situations (falling through a rabbit hole, being kidnapped by a toad), here the scary factor is toned down and the emphasis is on the adventure and the happy ending.

RELATED POST: Adventure Books for Kids

The Road Home is a beautiful book about finding safety and comfort in a big world. “This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home” is the echoing refrain as woodland creatures and their children begin to prepare for the coming winter. What I love about this book, in addition to the gorgeous illustrations, is the idea that whenever we are with our loved ones, we are already home. A great book to snuggle up and read with your little ones, to remind them that they are never alone.

Black Belt Bunny is a cute, funny book your children will love! Black Belt Bunny has all kinds of super cool moves to face any challenge – but he wasn’t expecting to have to face salad! What will Black Belt Bunny do when he is asked to prepare his own salad? Mind you, Black Belt Bunny actually loves his vegetables (as all bunnies do), but he’s never had to make one before, and he’s not sure he can! Luckily this fierce little bunny summons his skills to invent his own creative way to make a salad! My favorite part, though, is the end, where the grown up, who has been encouraging him all the while, has the tables turned on him – he has to be brave enough to try something new, too!

We love Harriet the Hamster Princess! In fact, I just finished re-reading the first book in the series (Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible) with my boys. So we were all excited to learn that there was a new adventure out: as with all of the Harriet books, Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble is a re-telling of a classic fairy tale (this time Jack and the Beanstalk), but with a spunky heroine who loves to battle with the bad guys. Harriet and her friends are back in another hilarious book that blends the graphic novel and storybook formats. Great for reluctant and early readers. These books also make great read-louds!

RELATED POST: Hybrid Graphic Novels for Kids

I’m also happy to share the latest installment from another beloved series: Mystery of the Min Min Lights is the ninth book from Pack-n-Go Girls, the chapter books that take girls around the world on incredible adventures! (I should add that my son adores these books, so they aren’t just for girls!) Wendy Lee isn’t sure about having to spend a year in the Australian outback when her mom is on assignment for work, but at least she makes friends with Chloe, who invites her to stay at her family’s sheep station. Yet soon she discovers that someone is stealing the sheep – and what does this have to do with the spooky lights that can be seen at night? To solve the mystery and help her new friend, Wendy must dig deep to be brave and do what it takes to catch the thief.

As always, readers will learn about a new part of the world, as facts are woven naturally into the story. I love that the main character (the non-Australian character who is having an adventure in Australia) is Chinese American. Usually the “normal” character is a white Westerner, so this is a great change and adds another layer of complexity and richness to this wonderful tale.

In a time when immigration is constantly in the news, Evangelina Takes Flight gives middle grade readers a fresh look at the challenges faced by Mexican immigrants to the US over a century ago. At the time, most fled their homes because of war, rather than economic hardship. Evangelina is a young girl on the cusp of womanhood when rumors of wars and marauding soldiers reach their small ranch in the Mexican countryside. Though they are not wealthy, her family knows they will still be targets because they own their own land. Evangelina is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and travel with her family to the United States, where she struggles to find her voice in a new language and confront the many Americans who are hostile to the new arrivals.

As a history buff, I loved the detail about life in revolutionary Mexico, as well as what the long journey to the US would have been like. But young readers will identify with Evangelina’s painful transition to her new school and admire her being brave enough to finally confront those who would fight against immigrants rather than giving them a chance. Would be a great book to pair with Esperanza Rising, about another young woman who immigrants from Mexico several decades later.

Jul 252017
 

This post was sponsored by Ling Ling and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Do you love Asian cooking but feel like you don’t have the time to experiment with complicated dinners? Too busy taking the kids to soccer practice or chasing after your toddler to attempt new flavor combinations? Now you can serve something both easy and delicious to your family. Feel like a rock star when you sit down to a no sweat dinner of Asian-inspired dishes that taste straight out of a restaurant!

Enjoy Easy Asian-Inspired Dishes at Home | Alldonemonkey.com

I love our family dinners, but most evenings I don’t love cooking them. After a full day of caring for three young children, the last thing I feel like doing is spending lengthy amounts of time cooking, and I certainly don’t have the mental energy to experiment with anything new.

That’s why I was so happy to learn that Ling Ling, long popular because of their pot stickers, now has a new line of fried rice dishes! As someone who loves to introduce her children to flavors from around the world, I am glad to be able to serve them authentic Asian-inspired dishes at home, without having to spend hours laboring in the kitchen!

I had the opportunity to try out some of these new fried rice dishes recently at a blogger event in San Francisco, sponsored by Ling Ling and hosted by Parties That Cook.

Enjoy Easy Asian-Inspired Dishes at Home | Alldonemonkey.com

During the event we were treated to samples of three of the new fried rice dishes, based on authentic Asian-inspired recipes: Yakitori Chicken (Japan), Chinese-Style Vegetable, and Bibimbap Beef (Korea). (You can also look for their Yakiniku Beef and Thai-Style Chicken). They were all so flavorful, thanks to Ling Ling‘s use of high quality ingredients and their unique preparation method – rather than simply giving you a sauce packet to stir into your meal, Ling Ling actually infuses the rice with the sauces so that you get amazing flavor in each bite.

Which was my favorite? I couldn’t make up my mind! Chinese-Style Vegetable, of course, is the traditional favorite I grew up with, while Yakitori Chicken had that wonderful umami flavor everyone talks about. (Plus it really did have big chunks of grilled chicken in it!) But I was most intrigued by the Bibimbap Beef, since I was the least familiar with it. The gochujang sauce has just a bit of heat to it but is also a bit sweet – I loved it!

Enjoy Asian-Inspired Dishes at Home | Alldonemonkey.com

But first we got some expert cooking tips from Chef Mike Chapter from Parties That Cook. One of my favorites? If you are tired of peeling ginger, you can either use the back of a spoon to make it easier – or skip peeling altogether! Simply grate the ginger – peel and all – then squeeze it to wring out the juice. The juice is what you’re really after, so just add the same quantity of the juice as you would of the ginger – no more peeling!

We also had the chance to try our hand at making some side dishes to pair with the Ling Ling fried rice: Crispy Kale Salad with Shiitake Mushrooms, Raisins and Almonds paired with the Ling Ling Yakatori Chicken; Hand Rolled Scallion Pancakes paired with Ling Ling Chinese Style Vegetables; and Asian Cucumber Salad paired with the Ling Ling Bibimbap Beef.

I was on the team that made the Asian Cucumber Salad – doesn’t it look great?? And it was so simple to make!

Then we all got to sit down family style to enjoy the wonderful Asian-inspired dishes. Wouldn’t you like to serve a meal like this at your house?

Enjoy Easy Asian-Inspired Dishes at Home | Alldonemonkey.com

Now you can! To try Ling Ling Fried Rice for yourself, take advantage of this coupon to get $2 off one box of Ling Ling Fried Rice at any retailer where the products are sold. You won’t regret it!

Enjoy Easy Asian-Inspired Dishes at Home | Alldonemonkey.com

What are your favorite Asian-inspired dishes? Share in the comments below!

Jul 242017
 
 July 24, 2017  bilingualism, Education, Spanish Comments Off on Teaching a Second Language with Montessori

I have always been intrigued by the Montessori method. I loved its gentleness, focus on hands-on learning, and emphasis on learning about other cultures. What you may not know is that Montessori is also a wonderful way of teaching a second language! Here are some great resources for teaching your child another language using Montessori. Share your experiences in the comments!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the Montessori Inspiration at Home bundle 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 commission at no extra charge to you.

Teaching a Second Language with Montessori | Alldonemonkey.com

Teaching a Second Language with Montessori

The Montessori method of teaching a second language follows the general Montessori principles of starting early, trusting your child, and following their interests. So the focus is on providing a stimulating environment in the second language with activities that interest them, allowing them to experiment and try on their own, and not pushing them to activities they do not want to do. (As any bilingual parent will tell you, not following the last rule will turn most kids off learning the new language!)

If you are considering Montessori but aren’t sure where to begin here are some great resources to get you started, including an AMAZING one you won’t want to miss!

A bilingual Montessori homeschool setup

Tons of bilingual Montessori printables

Raising multilingual Montessori kids

Raising a bilingual child the Montessori way

Montessori Inspiration at Home - Toddler Series

I am thrilled to share with you the Montessori Inspiration at Home Toddler series, now on sale! This is an amazing resource for those interested in teaching a second language with Montessori or anyone wanted to use the Montessori method to teach their little ones. The bundle pack includes the new Language book (which just launched on July 19) and the earlier Practical Life Skills book (both of which can also be purchased separately).

Montessori Inspiration at Home: Language is designed for caregivers who want to nurture their toddler’s language development. The 100+ pages of ideas are so easy to follow, with simple instructions, printables, and photos – perfect even if you have little background in the Montessori method. The 12 chapters give you a basic background in Montessori as well as activities to build those pre-reading and pre-writing skills, plus crossing the midline, sound games, the 3-period lesson, teaching a second language, and more!

There are over 200 pages of printable resources, including materials in Spanish! So if you are working to create a stimulating, bilingual environment for your child, you won’t want to miss this!

I love how easy the Montessori Inspiration at Home Toddler series makes it to get started with Montessori. It gives you all the tools you need and equips you with the confidence to do it! As soon as I started reading, I felt so inspired about my own homeschooling and how I can adapt it to use the Montessori method with my little ones. I highly this incredible resource as a way to educate yourself and your child, especially if you are interested in teaching a second language with Montessori.

Montessori Inspiration at Home Bundle SALE

And if you get your copy by July 26, 2017, you can more than 50% offDon’t miss this opportunity – get your copy today!

Jul 202017
 

Cooking with kids always seems like such a great idea – until you actually do it. If you can see past the messes and inefficiency, however, you will be rewarded with a sweet experience that neither of you will ever forget! Cooking together builds confidence, teaches life skills, and encourages healthy eating habits. In addition, it can bring some of your most treasured bonding moments – that is, if you can manage to relax and enjoy yourself instead of worrying about the state of your kitchen. Here are my top tips for enjoying cooking with kids. Share yours in the comments!

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book 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.

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun

If You Invite Them to Help, Make Sure Your Mean It

If you are going to cook with your child, make sure you are really in the mood for it. If you are already feeling anxious or irritable to begin with, take a rain check and do it another time. Cooking with kids requires all of your patience and attention, so don’t start off at a deficit.

Organize Your Space

Before beginning, make sure their work space is clear, accessible, and safe. You don’t want to have them get started only to notice that the kitchen knives are within reach of your toddler or that there isn’t really enough room for them to roll out their dough. Take a few extra minutes to clear off the counter space and bring all of the ingredients into easy reach, so you aren’t leaving a small child unattended while you go to pull items out of the pantry.

Know What You’re Doing

If it is a new or less familiar recipe, be sure to read it over carefully ahead of time. Remember that once you begin you will be distracted by your kids.

Safety First

Make sure that anything dangerous is out of reach before you even begin and keep a sharp eye on what your child is doing. They seem to have a knack for discovering dangers you never would have dreamed of! Remember that you will be distracted, so as you cook, triple check that turn off the burners and put away equipment.

Allow Extra Time – But Know Your Limits

Be sure to allow plenty of extra time, not just because you’ll be cleaning up spills or teaching them how to crack eggs. Children are also much more process oriented than adults, so they will likely enjoy stirring together the ingredients or cutting out the shapes longer than is strictly necessary. Bite your tongue and let it go on for as long as you can, because often this is the part they most enjoy. Mine tend to linger at the mixing stage then lose interest and wander out of the kitchen. But do know your limits. If you feel your frustration building, gently move them along after a reasonable period.

And reliably, your child will have a messy diaper or need to go potty at a key point in the recipe, so try to make dishes that can sit on the counter while you take necessary breaks!

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Embrace the Mess

Cooking with kids is messy and slow – and fun!  But you have to accept the first two in order to really enjoy the latter.

I never realized how uptight I was about messes until I had kids.  Now I really try to relax and enjoy the moment.  After all, there is often little you can do to contain the mess! Your child, covered in flour from head to foot, is bound to take off for the living room, bouncing off all the furniture, just as you have your hands full with hot cookie sheets from the oven and can’t possibly chase him down. Or he will decide to “help” you crack the eggs on the counter when you have your back turned for just a second. No matter what, there will be a mess to clean up, so you might as well make it worth it!

Set Your Priorities And Lower Your Expectations Accordingly

If you expect to bake perfect dishes in no time flat with little mess, than you have no business bringing your child into the action.  You will only become frustrated with your little one, who has very different ideas about what is going to happen.

But if you have asked your child to join you, it is probably because you want to have a special, fun experience with him, rather than a perfect product.  Just keep reminding yourself of this, when you start to switch back into a default mode of “I must get these in the oven right now!” and “Don’t pull apart the cookies!  They were so pretty!”

Cooking with Kids: How to Relax and Have Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Try to Work with “Child Efficiency” Rather Than “Adult Efficiency”

If you are working alone, you will probably complete the steps a certain way in order to be efficient, but that may not be the most efficient way to do things when you have a little helper.  For example, when making cookies, normally I would roll out all the dough, then cut out all the shapes, then move them all to the cookie sheet.  When I did that with my toddler helping me, however, dough disappeared into his sweet little mouth before I could cut out all the shapes, and what shapes I could do were often broken or “transformed” into something entirely different by the time I could put them onto the cookie sheet.

So instead, I rolled out a bit of dough, cut a few stars, and moved those to the cookie sheet before rolling out a bit more dough.  Much more “child efficient.”

A Final Note

Some cookies will burn.  Some cakes will be lumpy.  And key ingredients will probably be forgotten.  But chances are everyone will love it anyway, especially if they know your little one helped!

And just remember: When you are cooking with kids, you always have a great excuse if your dishes don’t turn out perfectly!

Marigold Bakes a Cake

A really fun book you and your child will both enjoy is Marigold Bakes a Cake. Poor Marigold is a perfectionist, especially when it comes to baking. That is why he does it alone – until the birds show up. First one, then more fly into his kitchen and mess up the perfect cake he is baking, until Marigold finally loses his temper. After Marigold calms down a bit, he leaves to go on a walk and regain his composure. Meanwhile, the birds decide they will fix the situation by making Marigold the perfect cake he had dreamed of – except they end up making even more of a mess! Yet Marigold recognizes their love of cooking (and affection for him) and decides to teach them how to cook.

For me, this book is about learning to live with imperfection in our cooking and in ourselves. Marigold tries to be patient but fails, yet he realizes he needs to take a break to calm down. And the birds never do learn how to cook, but they have so much fun the reader can’t help but be swept up in their enthusiasm. Marigold Bakes a Cake is a fun way to remind kids (and parents!) to enjoy the process rather than getting caught up in having perfect results.

Jul 132017
 
 July 13, 2017  Geography, Kid Fun, raising world citizens, Summer Comments Off on DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers

Looking for a fun DIY summer camp you can do for your neighborhood kids? A world explorers camp is a great way to teach geography skills and expose children to other cultures. Most importantly, you can nurture a love for exploration and a sense of respect and empathy for other ways of life. Through simple crafts and fun activities you can spark curiosity about other cultures and set the foundation for further exploration.

DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers | All Done Monkey on Kid World Citizen

I got such great response to my Around the World Summer Camp Ideas post a few years back that I decided to flesh it out with more details on how to set up your own! So hop on over to Kid World Citizen to see my guest post!

DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers

Jul 062017
 

I’m always so excited when I come across books that encourage my children to read in Spanish. Bilingual books are great choices for children learning a language, because it can help increase the reader’s vocabulary by including text in their primary language. Even though they are still learning, they are able to read more complex story lines because they can check their comprehension as they go. This is perfect for my kids, who sometimes get frustrated at having to read “easy” books in Spanish because of their more limited vocabulary. Here is a group of wonderful new bilingual books your kids will enjoy, from picture books to early chapter books! Be sure to enter our giveaway of one of these books below – details at the end of this post!

New Bilingual Books for Kids of All Ages | 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 charge to you.

New Bilingual Books for Kids of All Ages

Bosley Goes on Safari (Bosley Se Va de Safari) is the sixth book in the picture book series the Adventures of Bosley Bear. In this book, Bosley travels to the African plains to go on safari. There he meets many friendly animals and learns that despite their differences, they all are alike on the inside – a really fun way to teach young children about embracing diversity! This is a very engaging story, especially since what child doesn’t love learning about animals like lions and monkeys? We had fun acting it out as part of our Spanish lesson for the day! I love having the highlighted vocabulary words in the side-by-side Spanish and English texts. And the grammar is simple enough that my kids were able to follow along and enjoy the story without getting tripped up with Spanish beyond their level.

I’m so happy to share that we are giving away a copy of this wonderful book to one lucky winner – open worldwide! See the end of this post for details!

The Little Doctor /El Doctorcito is a wonderful book to encourage kids to dream big! But this is more than just a book about a boy who decides he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Salvador also gains motivation when he learns first hand what non-English speakers like his beloved abuelita have to deal with when they go to the doctor. When he accompanies his grandmother to the local clinic, Salvador sees how crowded it is and how difficult it is for her to understand the paperwork. But the worst is the physician himself, who is so rushed that he barely even looks at Salvador or his grandmother before running back out the door to see the next patient! Salvador decides to become a doctor so he can be the kind of patient, caring doctor he wishes his grandmother had. A beautiful story about compassion and becoming the change we want to see in the world! I also love that it uses a situation that many bilingual children find themselves in, of being the translators for family members with limited English.

To raise compassionate boys, it is important to start early. Esteban De Luna, Baby Rescuer! /Esteban De Luna, Rescatador De Bebés! is a sweet book that shows a boy who learns that caring for others is a perfect way to be a real superhero. Esteban is disappointed that his superhero cape doesn’t give him any real powers – he can’t fly or leap over tall buildings – yet when he finds an abandoned doll at the park, he soon discovers that his cape can help him do something amazing. When refashioned as a baby carrier, it helps him rescue the doll from the rainstorm! The symbolism in this book is fantastic, as the cape itself is reimagined to help Esteban learn to take care of others, not by swooping in like a traditional superhero but by gently holding his “baby” close and keeping it safe.

What child can’t relate to the delicious anticipation of waking up on their birthday to wonder about the wonderful surprises to come? In A Surprise for Teresita / Una Sorpresa Para Teresita, young Teresita learns just how difficult it can be to wait for a birthday gift. On the morning that Tío Ramón is to bring her a birthday surprise, he seems to take much longer than usual to arrive on Teresita’s block as he does the rounds through her New York neighborhood selling piraguas (snow cones). As she waits for her surprise, we witness the sights and sounds of a Puerto Rican neighborhood from a child’s point of view. A wonderful celebration of a vibrant community and the joy of a birthday gift from a loved one.

A super fun book to read with kids is El Torneo De Trabalenguas / the Tongue Twister Tournament. There is a tongue twister contest, and you get to play along! Which of the quirky contestants do you think should win? And how many of these tongue twisters can you say – in English or Spanish? Fun to read together with your kids or to use in the classroom! These tongue twisters are so much fun and will challenge even grownups! Includes many bonus tongue twisters at the end of the story.

For children ready for a chapter book, we love A Mystery Bigger Than Big / Un misterio mas grande que grandisimo. It is the fourth installment in the Mickey Rangel mystery series, based on a boy with a certificate on his wall from a real online detective course. When a new girl moves into Mickey’s Texas middle school, the young detective is on the case to figure out what her story is. Why is she so quiet and where did she come from? Despite rumors flying around school that she is the child of a drug lord or perhaps of Russian spies, Mickey discovers that she’s really an immigrant from Guatemala. But this discovery only leads to more questions – why would she leave her home, and how could she leave her family behind? A great book to explore the topic of immigration in an honest but heartfelt way.

Rooster Joe and the Bully / El Gallo Joe Y El Abusón is another great bilingual read for older kids. It focuses on the all important topic of bullying, and the importance of standing up for what’s right. I love that middle schooler Joe’s grandfather draws on their cultural heritage to teach him these lessons, by drawing on the stories of courageous people like César Chávez who fought for the rights of those that others looked down on. With his grandfather’s guidance and his own identification with the brave roosters he loves to draw, Joe comes up with a plan to end the bullying not just for him but for all of the students in his class.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Bosley Goes on Safari (Bosley Se Va de Safari) a wonderful new bilingual picture book! (see review above). All you have to do is comment below with your child’s current favorite book to read! Contest is open worldwide, ends Wednesday, July 12 at midnight PT. Winner will be chosen randomly from the eligible entries.

Jun 192017
 

Looking for a fun, relatively healthy dessert your whole family will enjoy? Here is a dairy-free version of a traditional Indian treat for Eid, sheer khurma. It is a unique vegan dessert that is easy to make and delicious!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book 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.

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Let me begin by saying that this is NOT a traditional Indian dessert. It is my own reworking of sheer khurma, a dessert that usually has a milk base, because I wanted a version I could serve to my son with a milk allergy. If you search for “vegan sheer khurma” or “dairy-free sheer khurma” online, you are unlikely to find any real results. In the original Persian, sheer khurma literally means “dates with milk,” so not a recipe you would think of making without the milk!

But when we read Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (see my review below), we became curious about this traditional dessert mentioned several times as a delicious treat for Eid. When I discovered it was made with milk, I decided I had to make a non-dairy version, a vegan dessert we could all enjoy. It may not be traditional, but it is still delicious! And it is so different from the desserts that we’re used to that it did give us a flavor of what celebrating Eid would be like in places like India.

I just love the creaminess of sheer khurma, combined with the crunch of the roasted nuts. And the cooked dates add even more body as well as natural sweetness. I must admit for my kids at first it was hard to get past the idea of having pasta in a dessert, but once they tried it, they loved it!

Related Post: Eid Books for Kids

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love

Sheer khurma (or sheer khorma) is a traditional dessert served for Eid, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. I adapted my recipe from this version from the Veggie Indian. The main change I made was to substitute coconut milk for regular milk and coconut oil for ghee. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 1 & 1/4 cups to 1/3 cup, since it already has a lot of natural sweetness from the dates.

Ingredients

4 cups of full fat coconut milk (this is slightly more than 2 cans)

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup vermicelli, broken into 2 inch pieces

3/4 cup mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc) chopped fine or crushed with mortar and pestle

1/2 cup dates, seeded and chopped (about 8-10 dates)

Golden raisins, handful

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 to 1 tsp rose water

Extra nuts for garnish (I used sliced almonds)

Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a skillet, and roast the vermicelli on a low flame till golden. Set aside to drain on a paper towel. In the same skillet, heat a tbsp of the coconut oil and roast the mixed nuts for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and keep aside.

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Heat coconut milk in a sauce pan and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the milk thickens slightly.

Add the roasted vermicelli, and let it cook in the coconut milk for 5-7 minutes, until the pasta becomes soft.

Add the sugar, nuts, dates, and raisins and mix well. Continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the dates grow soft and the amount of coconut milk reduces by nearly half. The vermicelli should be fully cooked.

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Adjust the sweetness and consistency, if needed, by adding more sugar or coconut milk. Keep in mind that the mixture will thicken even more with time.

Finally, add the cardamom powder and rosewater, stir, and remove from heat.

If desired, garnish with additional nuts and serve warm. Enjoy!

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Learning About Eid

Related Post: Ramadan Lesson Plan for Kids

In addition to sampling a tasty vegan dessert inspired by a traditional treat, I also wanted to teach the kids more about Eid and Ramadan. A great way to introduce them to this special time is with the wonderful new book Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4). It is part of a series of books exploring Indian culture. What is surprising to most Westerners is that there is a large number of Muslims in India, though we tend to associate that country with Hinduism or Sikhism.

Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4) gives an easy to understand overview of Ramadan and Eid as it is celebrated in India, in addition to highlighting traditions from other countries. One thing I love about this book is that it shows children at different stages in their participation in Ramadan, from an older child who is practicing fasting to younger children who give up toys or sweets in lieu of fasting. This book is perfect for the classroom or home setting, as a way to help children understand why Muslims observe Ramadan and Eid and what it would be like as a child to experience them (such as by eating sheer khurma!).

What is your favorite vegan dessert?

Eid for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Eid for Kids blog hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Read all of the articles below for ideas on celebrating Eid with kids, and don’t miss our blog hop from last year!

Participating Blogs

Babelkid on Multicultural Kid Blogs: How to Celebrate Eid in Switzerland the Algerian Way
A Crafty Arab: Eid Baked Rocks {Tutorial}
Jeddah Mom: Free Printable Eid Envelopes to Gift Your Eidi
Middle Way Mom: 4 Ways to Simplify Your Eid
All Done Monkey: Vegan Dessert for Eid
Our Muslim Homeschool: Children’s Eid Party Ideas

Find even more ideas on our Eid for Kids board on Pinterest:

Jun 062017
 
 June 6, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Encouraging Independence in Children

I was always focused on encouraging independence in my children – or so I thought.  When my oldest was a preschooler we created a morning routine chart that helped getting ready for school go more smoothly, and the kids know to bring their dishes to the kitchen after meals and so on. But somewhere along the way I lost sight of this goal and didn’t really develop the idea more. In the whirlwind of life after adding a third child, we switched into survival mode and never evolved our roles any further.

Now that my youngest is a toddler and we have finally come up for air, I have implemented some long overdue upgrades to our routines, so that my boys can gain confidence in their ability to take care of themselves and contribute to the family. Oh yes, and give me a little break as well! It is amazing how much extra time those minutes a day add up to! After an initial “training” period, you’ll be amazed at how much easier things are for you once your kids are taking care of more of those daily tasks, developing important life skills along the way.

Encouraging Independence in Children | 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.

Encouraging Independence in Children

Why is it important for us to worry about encouraging independence? Yes, there is an American obsession with raising independent children, but it’s more than just that. Teaching children to take care of their own needs can paradoxically help them feeling more a part of the family or classroom unit, as they feel they are making a valuable contribution to the group. They also become more confident in their own abilities, giving them a solid boost to their self-esteem without the need to resort to empty platitudes. Plus – let’s be honest – raising kids who can do more for themselves gives parents and teachers a break from taking care of basic needs so they can concentrate on higher level needs, whether it be algebra or family movie night.

So here our my top tips for encouraging independence in children, plus favorite picture books about getting dressed. I’d love to hear your tips and experiences in the comments!

Brainstorm a List of Tasks Together

Step one is to develop a list of tasks with your kids that they can start doing around the house or the classroom, such as making their own breakfasts, cleaning their rooms, and so on. Of course you will have some ideas in mind and can help guide the conversation, but it is essential that the children participate and help shape the outcome. Right off the bat you are helping them develop critical thinking and team building skills, plus by getting them involved in the process you are helping take ownership of the project. Make it a fun project that you are working on together, rather than work you are imposing on them.

Be Specific

Try to keep from having vague assignments like “clean your room.” This can be confusing to a child, who may interpret this very differently from you! Instead, try “put your toys into the toy baskets” or “put dirty clothes in the hamper.”

Invest Time in Training

We can’t ask our children to do tasks without actually teaching them how to do them. At first this may feel odd because it is self-evident to you how to make yourself a bowl of cereal, but this may not be the case for your four year old! Go through the steps with them (probably over the course of a few days, depending on the age of the child), and be prepared to spend 4 times as long as you would as if you had just done it yourself. For this reason, it may be easier for everyone to introduce only one new task a week.

Think Long-Term

Don’t give into temptation and therefore just do it yourself! Even though it will take longer in the beginning (and probably be messier), remember that you are helping train competent kids and, therefore, competent adults. It is worth the investment at the beginning when you are encouraging independence, because they will eventually get the hang of it!

Be Flexible

A woman I know used to always complain that her husband never shared in the family grocery shopping. After much coaxing on her part, he eventually took over some of this chore. It was a big help to her – until he started bringing home items that she hadn’t put on the list! What she hadn’t foreseen is that he would start to become interested and make decisions on his own about what to buy, rather than just follow her list.  By involving him in the tasks, she had unwittingly invited him into the process and lost some of her control over it, which she hadn’t even realized she had enjoyed.

In a similar way, when children take over tasks around the house or classroom, we need to loosen up the reins a bit and let them into the decision-making process. Obviously a parent-child relationship is different than a marital one, but the same principle of control applies. If we really want our children to take ownership of the task, we have to let them do just that. That doesn’t mean you have no say in what they pack for lunch, for example, just that you can be flexible and give them more room to make choices within set boundaries. For example, you might give them guidelines for what to pack (a protein, a fruit, a treat) and let them maneuver within those.

Embrace Imperfection

Milk will be spilled. Toothpaste will be splattered. Orange plaid shorts will be paired with pink tops. It is not the end of the world. In fact, it is part of the process of children learning to be more careful, to clean up their messes, and to (hopefully) be presentable in public. Decide what your limits are, but then know when to bite your tongue, take a deep breath, and go do something in another room.

Give Them a Break

Don’t overwhelm children by adding too many tasks at once, especially if this is a significant change from how your family or class has been functioning. Give them time to adjust, and then periodically give them a break from their tasks. For example, I’ve recently been training my sons to make their own breakfasts, but I let them choose one day that I’ll make it for them. It is a simple thing, but they love it, and it helps on those mornings when they really can’t get themselves going. Even though your ultimate goal is encouraging independence, everyone deserves a break now and then.

Picture Books About Getting Dressed

Help them celebrate their independence with these fun picture books about getting dressed! Learning to dress yourself is a milestone for many children, and these wonderful books play on that fascination and teach skills at the same time.

My toddler and preschooler both love A Good Day for a Hat. Thankfully it is one that I enjoy reading as well, even multiple times a day! It is a cute book about a bear who has a hat for every occasion, from facing a fire-breathing dragon to joining a marching band! This is lucky, because it seems that every time he opens his door the situation has completely changed and he has to go back inside and change his hat. This goes on for some time, until finally he has to forgo the perfect hat in order to make it to his friend’s house on time – so instead he piles all of his hats on his head, so he’ll be ready for anything! A silly book children will enjoy, especially if they feel like they are made to change their outfits one too many times!

If ever there was a mismatched pair, it is Fox and Ox in I Lost My Sock!: A Matching Mystery. Fox has lost his sock, and his friend Ox just can’t seem to get it right when it comes to finding the matching sock! Young children will enjoy pointing out why the sock Ox has found doesn’t match this time (“It doesn’t have dots!” “Wrong color!”) and laugh themselves silly when Ox finally does find the sock – but thinks it is a hat for him instead! Great for developing early math concepts such as pattern, shape, and color recognition.

My Kicks: A Sneaker Story! is a fun book for slightly older children. When a boy’s mother forces him to give up his beloved, well-worn sneakers for a new pair, he reminisces about the memories behind each stain and tear. Yet when he actually tries on a great pair of shiny new kicks, he discovers that a new pair of sneakers may be just what he needs! A great story for any child forced to give up a favorite shirt or pair of shoes, and a wonderful metaphor for learning to let go of the past as children grow up and move on to new things. Even includes a step by step tutorial on tying your shoes!

How are you encouraging independence with your own children or students?

May 312017
 

Books are such a wonderful way to travel the world with kids and to introduce them to new cultures. Thanks to mostly to Pokemon, my oldest son is fascinated with Japan, so we’ve been reading about its folktales, daily life, the language, and Japan’s unique blend of tradition and cutting-edge technology. Here are our top picks for children’s books about Japan!

Japan Children's Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copies of several 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.

Japan Children’s Books

Related Post: Children’s Books about Ninjas, Samurai, and Karate

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids is our go-to book for anything about Japan! There are many craft books for kids about Japan and many story books, but All About Japan blends stories, songs, history, crafts, and activities into a unique, engaging book that children will love! The two main characters that present the information are a boy and a girl, one from the countryside and one from the city. This is a great way to draw in young readers as well as introduce them to diversity within Japan. You also learn about fascinating aspects of the culture that might not read about elsewhere – did you know that Japanese children learn that Japan is shaped like a seahorse? Once you see it, you won’t believe you hadn’t noticed it before!

My younger son and I love doing the crafts (like samurai helmets and origami frogs), while my older son loves the language lessons. There are kid-friendly recipes for foods like mochi and Japanese pancakes and a primer on how to use chopsticks. And I must admit that they staged a sumo wrestling tournament one day, thanks to the section on martial arts! I love how everything is arranged thematically, so each topic (such as holidays and celebrations, or everyday life) blends all of these elements together into a fun mix that keeps you turning the pages. And my son immediately noticed how the illustrations are very similar to those in Japanese cartoons.

I highly recommend All About Japan to introduce children to Japanese culture and get them excited to learn all about Japan.

The Way We Do It in Japan is the story of an American-born boy with an American mom and a Japanese dad. When the family moves from the US to Japan, we go with him as he adjusts to his new home and learns about Japanese culture, such as eating with chopsticks and wearing slippers inside the house. This book is chock full of information, all introduced in a very engaging, kid-friendly manner. But what I really love is how the boy’s parents help him frame his experiences. Rather than slipping into better/worse, right/wrong comparisons between the two countries, they always say, “That’s just the way we do it in Japan!” They really nurture his sense of adventure, but the book also acknowledges the difficulty of moving to a totally new culture. When he becomes sad because he misses home, his new friends at school surprise him with a classroom feast of his lunchtime favorite from America – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

 

Japan ABCs is a great overview of Japan for kids, giving fun facts about the culture and geography. For example, H is for Hanami (the Cherry Blossom Festival) and T is for Tokyo. Pronunciation is provided for Japanese words. There is even more information includes at the back, such as a craft for Children’s Day, a glossary, and resources for further exploration.

My Japan is another great overview for kids. It reminded me of Richard Scarry books, with simple illustrations of everyday life (such as a bedroom or the first day of school), accompanied by detailed, labeled drawings of objects in the pictures. It also includes information about festivals and holidays and instructions for different origami projects.

Older children will enjoy Art of Japan: Wood-Block Color Prints. It gives detailed information about how the prints are made and typical subjects, such as landscape prints and Kabuki theater. But even younger children can appreciate the beauty of this art form and the many examples included in the book.

Yoko’s Paper Cranes is a very sweet story about how to stay in touch with relatives who live far away. When Yoko and her parents move from California to Japan, Yoko misses her grandparents, with whom she had always been close. But then she remembers how her grandfather taught her to fold paper cranes, so she realizes sending these beautiful paper birds across the ocean is the perfect way to reconnect with her beloved grandparents. Wonderful story for young children, includes illustrations for making origami cranes.

Another book in this series is Yoko’s Show-and-Tell. When Yoko receives a special doll from her grandparents in Japan to celebrate Girls’ Day (a traditional Japanese holiday), she can’t resist taking it to school to show her friends, despite her mother’s admonishment against it. When rough-housing friends leave the doll in a terrible state, Yoko must admit the truth to her mother. Luckily there is a doll hospital where they can help the doll feel better, just in time for Yoko’s grandparents’ visit from Japan!

The Boy from the Dragon Palace is a fun story that kids will enjoy (especially because the main character is a snot-nosed kid!) The dragon king sends a gift to a poor flower vendor who has shown him respect. At first the vendor is confused because the gift is just a messy little boy who is very particular about how his food is prepared. But when it becomes clear that the boy really can bring him good luck – including wealth and comfort beyond the man’s imagination – the vendor quickly changes his tune. With time, however, he forgets his humble beginnings and starts to grumble about having to still prepare the boy’s food in a special way. When he turns the boy out of his palace, suddenly all of the riches disappear, leaving the dragon king to sigh and the little snot-nosed boy to observe that you just can’t help some people! They always want more.

Learn all about Kyoto in Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto, a gentle story about a girl traveling with her grandfather. It is a beautiful book to learn about Japanese culture and Kyoto in particular. (Read my full review).

The Last Kappa of Old Japan is a wonderful bilingual fairy tale about the mythical kappa, a playful water creature. It is about friendship and courage as well as the importance of protecting our environment. (Read my full review).

Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan is a quirky tale about the attempts to get rid of a rat that has taken over a castle. The lord of the castle asks for help from the local temple, but the first two samurai cats it sends are quickly defeated. When the lord begs the senior monk for help again, he says he will send in his top samurai. Imagine the lord’s surprise when an old, decrepit cat shows up! A great story about patience and learning to look beyond the appearances. There is Japanese vocabulary sprinkled throughout the story, which is based on the principles of Zen Buddhism.

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Hop 2017 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway! Follow along all month for ideas about sharing with kids the rich cultures of this vast and varied region. Also, be sure to enter the giveaway below and link up your posts at the bottom of the page.

For even more ideas, visit our blog hops from last year, 2015 and 2014. You can also follow our Asia and Australia & Oceania boards on Pinterest.

May 1
Miss Panda Chinese on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts About Taiwan for Kids

May 5
Chinese American Family: Visiting Locke and Connecting with California’s Rural Chinese History

May 11
The Art Curator for Kids: Chinese Bronze Vessels with Abstract Zoomorphic Designs

May 15
Crafty Moms Share: Our Japanese Tea Party

May 17
Bicultural Mama: The Limitations of DNA Testing for Asian Americans

May 19
Wise Owl Factory: Cherry Blossom Books and Craft Idea

May 22
Ketchup Moms on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Fun Facts About India Including a Floating Post Office

May 24
All Done Monkey: Terracotta Army – Learning About Ancient China

May 25
Miss Panda Chinese: Chinese Culture for Children – Dragon Boat Festival

May 31
All Done Monkey

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Giveaway

Enter below for a chance to win one of our great prize packages in our annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month giveaway! The giveaway goes from May 1 to May 31, 2017, at midnight PT. If the winner falls outside the shipping area of a prize, that prize will revert to the next lower prize package. Read our full giveaway rules.

And for all of our readers, here is a special offer from our sponsor Tingomo! Use the code TENOFFTINGOMO to get 10% off any pre-order! (first kits to ship in July)

APAHM Series and Giveaway: Grand Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Grand Prize

From One Dear World: Set of 4 plush multicultural dolls, each with its own passport, plus the story book The Adventure of Hat Hunting in London, starring the dolls as the main characters
From Tuttle Publishing: Adventures in Asian Art, Indonesian Children’s Favorite Stories, Malaysian Children’s Favorite Stories, and Filipino Children’s Favorite Stories
From Wisdom Tales: Rock Maiden – US Shipping Only
From Bollywood Groove: Go on a fun adventure with Maya & Neel and learn about famous festivals and places in India! In this very colorful, three-picture-book series, kids will learn about festival of lights – Diwali (Amazon best-seller), festival of colors – Holi and the home of Bollywood – city of Mumbai. US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links
From Tingomo: Passport Craft™ Kit: Make Your Own NEPAL Paper Lanterns US Shipping Only, will ship in July

APAHM Series and Giveaway: 1st Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

1st Prize

From World Music with Daria: set of tingsha (handbells) US Shipping Only
From Quarto Knows: Summer Under the Tamarind Tree, I is for Iran, and 50 Things You Should Know About the Vietnam War – US Shipping Only
From Monika Schröder: Saraswati’s Way – US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links
From Tingomo: Passport Craft™ Kit: Make Your Own NEPAL Paper Prayer Flags US Shipping Only, will ship in July

APAHM Series and Giveaway: 2nd Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

2nd Prize

From The Dumpling Mama: Pack of 20 good luck envelopes: Give good luck wishes with money in a red envelope. Perfect for Lunar New Year, birthdays, graduations, and holidays US/Canada Shipping Only
From Kathleen Burkinshaw: The Last Cherry Blossom – US Shipping Only
From Candlewick Press: A Piece of Home and Bronze and Sunflower – US Shipping Only
From Miss Panda Chinese: Winner’s choice of an “Everyday” learning unit with audio links

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share Your Posts!


May 222017
 
 May 22, 2017  parenting, Spring 6 Responses »

I have received information and materials from ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. #ForWhatMattersMost #CollectiveBias

Springtime is here, and with that comes the rush to get outdoors and get active after the long, cold days of winter. Yet moms often don’t realize that they can easily overdo it as they strive to take care of everyone else – overlooking the need to take care of themselves as well. Here are my top tips for springtime self-care for moms, so they can enjoy all of the fun family activities that come with the season.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms | Alldonemonkey.com #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms

Pack for Yourself, Too

Headed to the playground or to a baseball game? Pack for yourself just as you do for your kids: water, snacks, sunscreen, hat, and so on. Too often moms are so focused on meeting their children’s needs that they ignore their own. Take a few extra minutes to make sure you have what you need to keep you going through all your spring activities, such as Extra Strength TYLENOL® for any muscular pain, backache, or minor pains from headaches or the common cold.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Set a Realistic Schedule

What exactly a realistic schedule is will vary from person to person. Some people thrive on going to many scheduled activities during the week, while others need downtime to recharge in between the sports practices and park dates. I personally try to schedule only one “extra” activity a day outside our usual school routine. Know your own needs and make sure not to overextend yourself. It is easy to overdo it in the excitement of getting back outdoors, plus often we feel pressured to sign our children up for every available extracurricular activity. But you owe it to yourself and your kids to set limits and create realistic schedules. Remember that you are helping your family set healthy patterns as they move into adulthood.

Be Strict About Your Sleep

You are probably tired of hearing this, but getting a good night’s sleep is one of the simplest and most effective strategies for self-care for moms – and it is also one of the most ignored. I am guilty of this myself, since it is so tempting to stay up late when the house is finally quiet and I don’t have anyone making demands of me. But I really notice a difference when I commit to getting a full night’s sleep. And I know my kids can tell the difference, too!

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

Don’t Ignore Your Aches and Pains

We kiss all of our children’s boo-boos, carefully tending to each little wound, yet when it comes to ourselves we seldom show the same regard. As spring activities ramp up, it can be easy to overdo it, so don’t ignore those aches and pains. Whether you have a stiff back after gardening or a backache from helping set up at school events, Extra Strength TYLENOL® provides powerful relief so you can get back to what you enjoy.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

We recently picked up some Extra Strength TYLENOL® at Target. You can see above exactly where we found it. So easy, since we are at Target all the time! Please remember, of course, that Extra Strength TYLENOL® is only for adults and children 12 years and older and should be used only as directed.

Parenting Hacks: Springtime Self-Care for Moms | Alldonemonkey.com #ForWhatMattersMost #ad #shop #cbias

So this spring get out and enjoy all of your favorite family activities, knowing that you are taking great care of yourself just as you take care of everyone else!

I am not a medical expert, and this post is not medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

 

 

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial