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
 

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

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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.

 

 

May 182017
 

Looking for some great summer reading for your middle schooler? Here are two wonderful new works of middle grade Latino fiction that you won’t want to miss! Both are coming of age novels that cast light on the Cuban-American experience today and yesterday as well as touching on universal themes of family, community, and finding your own voice. Don’t miss the giveaway of one of these books below!

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 Middle Grade Latino Fiction | Alldonemonkey.com

New Middle Grade Latino Fiction

I love coming of age novels because they are all about helping children navigate that difficult terrain between childhood and adulthood, between learning from others and beginning to trust your own instincts. Both of the novels below invite us into the world of a young person discovering their own strength in part through coming to terms with their own fallibility. As they learn to accept their own weaknesses, they lose their fear and begin to blossom into extraordinary young adults.

These books are wonderful to pair together, as they both feature Cuban-American main characters but at different time periods and locations. It would be interesting to read them together and discuss how life for Cuban immigrants was different in New York City in the 1960s versus Miami in the present day, yet how themes of family and culture remained the same.

They also pair well together because each main character discovers their own voice through the arts: one through poetry and the other through literature and painting. Why not read them together alongside some wonderful books of poetry or art projects? Truly wonderful middle grade Latino fiction to share with your young readers!

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora bubbles over with all the energy and curiosity of a 13 year old boy. Arturo Zamora is looking forward to a laid back summer working in the kitchen of his Abuela’s restaurant and spending time with the cute girl who just moved into his apartment complex. Yet when a land developer enters the picture and threatens to change Arturo’s Miami neighborhood forever, he and his family must find a way to save their restaurant and their community. I love how this book is very contemporary with its references and language, without seeming like a grown up trying too hard to be hip. It also a wonderful portrait of a close extended family, with all of its quirky characters, complicated relationships, and unconditional love. Arturo blossoms inside this atmosphere of Sunday dinners and family group texts, especially through the gentle guidance of his grandparents, who show him to always trust his feelings and the power of poetry.

Lucky Broken Girl is a remarkable new book based on the author’s own experiences of being confined to her bed in a body cast after a car accident. Ruth Behar, a Cuban-Jewish girl, is the hopscotch queen of her 1960s New York City neighborhood with dreams of getting her own pair of go-go boots, when a terrible accident changes her life forever. As her outside world constricts, her inner world deepens. At first Ruth sinks into despair, but through writing and painting she learns of the healing power of forgiveness and the ability of art to transform the most dreary surroundings. This beautifully written novel gives a wonderfully nuanced look at relationships and how confusing people’s reactions to tragedy can be, whether it’s a mother forced to deal with her own resentment over caring for her injured daughter 24-7 or a girl whose sorrow over her friend’s injury makes her seem standoffish and uncaring. It also encourages introspection – what would you do if you were forced to lie on your back for nearly a year?- and sheds light on working through depression, anger, and anxiety to discover forgiveness and grace.

Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora Giveaway

And now for a giveaway of one of these amazing new works of middle grade Latino fiction! Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (ARV: $16.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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May 112017
 
 May 11, 2017  Book Reviews, spiritual education Comments Off on Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing

Whenever my four year old wants to do something he knows he is not supposed to, he looks at me very intently and says, “Mommy, don’t see me.” It makes me laugh every time (and I do appreciate the red flag that mischief is afoot!) but on a more serious note, it reminds me that it is a work in progress to teach children to do the right thing even if no one is watching or, more importantly, even if it is difficult or they may not get an obvious reward.

There is no magic formula, but here are some ways I’ve discovered that help raise children who do the right thing.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing

Lead by Example

Nothing will make a bigger impact on your kids than how you act, even in situations where it may not seem like a “big deal.” For example, do you hold the door for others? Are you gracious when someone holds the door for you? Do you go back inside the store if you notice the cashier forgot to ring up one of your items? Do you step in when you see someone is being bullied? Kids take notice, and quickly learn to mimic your actions.

Inspire Them with Role Models

Of course, we as parents are far from perfect, which is why it is wonderful to be able to show them some examples of truly extraordinary people who can inspire us. I must confess that I didn’t really know much about Pete Seegar until I read the remarkable new children’s biography Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice, and then I realized how much I had already been influenced by him without even knowing it! For example, I never knew that he was the one who popularized the anthem “We Shall Overcome,” even introducing it to Martin Luther King, Jr.

This beautiful book gives us an intimate look at this pivotal figure, focusing not just on his musical legacy but on his legacy of change and fighting for justice. It is hard to read this book without wanting to get up and do something to make the world a better place – and to sing while you do it! I love the illustrations and how highlights from Seegar’s life are woven together to give the reader a cohesive message of hope and the power of one person to make a difference.

Related Post: Girls Who Changed the World

Teach Them to Look Beyond Themselves

A key element in teaching kids to do the right thing is to help them care about others. Developing empathy is key, because without it, they lack the will to take action to help others. Pass It On is a very sweet book for very young readers about sharing joy with others. It is also about recognizing the wonder of the world around you then passing that excitement on to others. Pass It On is a perfect way to teach children that sharing isn’t just about toys, it’s also about sharing a smile or a laugh with someone else.

Related Post: Children’s Books About Sharing

Teach Them to Think Long Term

A child who only seeks instant gratification will not understand the more satisfying rewards of doing the right thing, since these usually are slower in coming. Sometimes you immediately get a smile or a thank you when you help someone, but oftentimes there is no immediate reward or it may not be obvious. By helping children understand that good things come to those who wait, you will set the stage for them to do what is right, even if there is no immediate benefit to themselves.

Give Them Concrete Tools

Most children are concrete thinkers and understand better through specific examples of what behavior you expect from them. Set them up for success by giving them concrete tools of how to handle situations like bullying. For example, in our character building classes, we read stories, brainstormed how we might react in different scenarios, and did lots of role playing. These activities help build children’s confidence and give them concrete actions they can take when confronted with a difficult situation. Doing it as a group activity also helps build a community of peers that are all striving to help others and do what’s right.

How do you teach your kids to do the right thing?

Apr 132017
 
 April 13, 2017  activities, crafts, Ridvan, STEM 2 Responses »

The Festival of Ridván begins next week, and because it commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s stay in a garden full of roses, I love to do rose crafts and activities with my children to celebrate (like make these rose cookies). Inspired by the roses that were piled in Bahá’u’lláh’s tent each day (so many that His guests could not see each other over them!) I have gathered together a huge list of rose crafts, play and learning activities, and recipes for you. Enjoy!

A huge collection of rose crafts, play and learning activities, and recipes

Rose Crafts

From Living Ideas: DIY Rose Egg Craft

From Crafts by Amanda: Realistic Duct Tape Roses & Cardboard Tube Bouquet of Felt Roses

From Red Ted Art: Paper Towel Roses & Duct Tape Rose Pens

From Messy Little Monster: Celery Roses

From No Biggie: Pipe Cleaner Rose Rings

From Mum in the Madhouse: Simple Paper Roses

From Bellissima Kids: Paper Roses Bouquet

From FabDIY: Coffee Filter Rose

From Self-Reliant Living: Egg Carton Roses

From Mom on Time Out: Hershey’s Kisses Roses

From Kids Activities Blog: Paper Plate Roses

Rose Play & Learning Activities

From Teach Beside Me: LED Roses

From Schooling a Monkey: 3D Rose Model – Biology for Kids

From Mother Natured: Rose Study

From Homegrown Friends: Color Changing Rose Experiment

From Kitchen Counter Chronicle: Make a Book – The Giving Roses

From Nurture Store: Rose Petal Sensory Play Tub

From Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Rose Petal Water Play

From Childhood 101: Rose Playdough

From Crafts on Sea: Rose Scented Playdough

Rose Recipes

From All Done Monkey: Rose Cookies

From Martha Stewart: Ring Around the Rose Petal Fools

From The European Mama: Rose Petal Jam

From Gimme Some Oven: Rose Cake

From Life of a Lost Muse: Rose Apple Pie

From Heather Christo: White Peach and Rose Sorbet

From The Pretty Blog: Homemade Rosewater Marshmallows

From Global Table Adventure: Rosewater Lemonade, Rosewater Tea, Sweet Semolina Cake with Rosewater and Lemon, & Sweet Saffron Custard with Rosewater

From Posh Little Designs: DIY Raspberry Rose Ice Cubes

From A Pumpkin & A Princess: Rose Petal Bath Soak

From Lulus: Coconut Rose Body Scrub

Apr 112017
 
 April 11, 2017  Ridvan Comments Off on Ridvan Flower Board with Activities for Kids

As the Bahá’í festival of Ridván approaches, I’m pleased to share this beautiful Ridvan flower board idea from my friend Chelsea Lee Smith of Enable Me To GrowIt is a great way for families to celebrate this festival with kids! For more ideas, see our Walking Through the Garden of Ridván series.

Ridvan Flower Board with Activities for Children | Alldonemonkey.com

Ridvan Flower Board

Ridván is the “King of Festivals” for Bahá’ís and commemorates the 12 days that Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. camped on the banks of the Tigris River near Baghdad and, while there, proclaimed His mission to a small group of followers. (To read more click here).

I wanted to create some sort of way for our family to get a surprise on each of the 12 days (plus a decoration to have out during the Ridván period). Luckily I happened to find a piece of homemade art at a second-hand shop made out of wood with 12 wooden flowers, so I used it to make this Ridvan flower board.  I took off the random bits that were on it (stickers, pieces of paper, buttons, paper muffin cups etc decorating the flowers) and repainted it, cut up some leaves and painted them too, then added little jewels, some decorative ribbon, and some letters and numbers I bought.

Ridvan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

You can make your flower board out of cardboard, card stock, cloth, etc. You could either add leaves or flowers – if with cloth a little tab of velcro may work well to attach them, and if it’s paper then try using blue tac.

I put a little surprise activity on a post-it note on the back of each of the leaves. The leaves are attached to the frame with sticky tac, so that my son can take them off to read on the appropriate day. (You can use pictures for younger children so they can “read” the notes themselves).

For a group project, you could give each child a flower or leaf to decorate and add to the board. And you could either post up quotations or numbers on top of the flowers/leaves for each day.

Sample Activities for Each Leaf

Bake a cake for the Ridván party

Plant a garden

Do a crown craft

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Make a card for a friend

Have fun with sensory play

Enjoy tea and muffins while talking about the story of Ridván

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Get ice cream

Tell the story of Ridván using a felt board

Make tents

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Make a collage of flowers

Make rose cookies

Learn a new song

Go on a picnic

Ridván Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Because we’ve been in the groove of celebrating Holy Days for the past few years, it is seeming to come so much more naturally now and I don’t feel stressed about getting things together but just going with the flow.  So if you are new to the idea of celebrating but want to do something, don’t worry if it seems difficult at first or like it’s too much to plan.  The smallest and simplest of things mean the most to children… like today I arranged the fruit on the plate in a pretty way for morning snack (ie grapes in the middle of the plate surrounded by cut up pears and apples) and the boys were super impressed.  Just putting in a little effort here and there to make things festive and remembering to talk about the meaning of the day is great.  And with a little practice, it will all come together easily.

Chelsea Lee Smith is a mother of three and is passionate about empowering families with tools for character education so that they can contribute to making the world a better place. She blogs at Enable Me To Grow offering activities, ideas and resources for character building and more.

Apr 052017
 
 April 5, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting, spiritual education Comments Off on Emotional Intelligence: Tips for Parents

Learning to navigate your emotions and those of others is an important set of skills for children to develop. This “emotional intelligence” is just as critical to future success and happiness as learning the multiplication tables and state capitals, perhaps more so. Children who are able to identify their feelings and work with them will be healthier, more balanced individuals who can empathize with others and connect with them in meaningful ways. Here are some tips for how you can help your children develop emotional intelligence.

Tips for parents to teach emotional intelligence

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.

Emotional Intelligence: Tips for Parents

1. Name that Emotion

The building block of emotional intelligence is the ability to identify emotions. Teaching this skill can begin very early, as babies learn to read and mimic expressions. I love board books like Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions:

My toddler loves flipping through the pages of this sweet, simple book to see the photos of the baby faces. The book explores six basic emotions by showing one enlarged photo of a baby whose expression reflects that emotion then asking the reader to find that face again on a page of various smaller photos. Books like this are great because they capitalize on babies’ fascination with looking at other babies. My daughter loves to stare at the baby faces and often mimics their expressions, trying out the emotions for herself.

My little girl loves her new book Making Faces from @abramskids! Babies and toddlers love looking at faces, and this sturdy board book makes good use of that to teach little ones about emotions by showing them pictures of other children that are angry, happy, surprised, etc. The mirror at the end is an especially big hit! Great book to keep very young readers entertained and learning. Visit @annofdoodlesandjots for another #picturebookoftheday recommendation! . . . #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #kidlit #books #booksforchildren #homeschooling #kbnhs #ig_motherhood #childhoodunplugged #motherhoodunplugged #picturebook #boardbook #ece #mytinymoments #ourcandidlife #playmatters #instagood #instakids #learningthroughplay #love #kbnmoms

A post shared by Leanna || Parenting, Education (@alldonemonkey) on

As children get older, the naming process can become more sophisticated, as children learn to identify more nuanced emotions. For example, in the lovely Today I Feel . . .: An Alphabet of Feelings we find I is for Invisible, O is for Original, and R is for Relaxed.

This is a book my preschooler often requests at bedtime. Again, the book makes use of an interest at this age (learning ABCs) to talk about emotions. In Today I Feel…, each letter/emotion pair is accompanied by an illustration, so it is easy to spark a conversation: “Why do you think he feels invisible? What’s your favorite way to relax?”

2. Check Your Judgment at the Door

Sometimes it’s hard to feel empathetic with a little one and their big emotions, if their problems seem, well, small to you. Why is your child throwing a tantrum over which color cup he can use or who gets to push the button on the elevator? Don’t they know there are bigger problems, like paying bills or dealing with global warming??

Yet remember that to them their problems are very real and very big, and only when we treat their feelings respectfully can we help our children grapple with their emotions. When we respond with respect, we open up a safe place where children feel comfortable sharing their feelings with us. One picture book that does a great job of this is Dad and the Dinosaur:

This beautifully illustrated book does not belittle the very real fears that children have about what might lurk in the shadows or under manhole covers. Instead, it introduces coping mechanisms to help calm those fears, like having a comfort toy or confiding in a trusted adult. The boy in the story is able to face his greatest fears because of his toy dinosaur, which is not afraid of anything. When the dinosaur goes missing, however, the boy’s fears become overwhelming. I have to mention that while I love that the father in this book takes his son’s fears seriously and sets out to help him find the dinosaur, I wish that he had also taught the boy that he didn’t need the dinosaur for courage but that he had the courage he needed inside himself all along.

3. Give Them Tools

All too often we find ourselves in the position of reacting to behaviors that are the end results of an emotional process, when the emotions are already too big to be easily dealt with. Try to get ahead of this during calm times, by helping kids gain the tools they’ll need to head off emotional explosions before they reach the boiling point. Teach them strategies like taking a deep breath, talking it out, and running out their energy to help them manage their emotions. One book that does an excellent job of teaching kids how to deal with anger is The tiger in my chest:

I mean, what a great metaphor for feeling angry! First it talks through how it feels to be angry as the tiger in their chest grows bigger and bigger. Then teaches kids that tigers can be tamed and that they can be tiger tamers – brilliant! My kids really love this book, and we’ve started implementing its suggestions for calming down body and mind. This book really breaks everything down into terms that children can easily understand and put into practice right away. I also love the emphasis on learning to accept, forgive, and move on (including forgiving ourselves).

4. Show Them the Bigger Picture

Perspective is everything, and one of the easiest ways to get out of an emotional funk is to do something to help others. Serving others not only will help children get their mind off their own problems, it helps put their troubles into perspective. However, resist the temptation to make too direct a link between others’ problems and their own, or children may become defensive or feel belittled. The point will get across, and, more importantly, their spirits will be uplifted and their horizons expanded, which in the long run will make a bigger difference in changing their perspective.

If you have tweens or teens, I really recommend the wonderfully creative book Hot Air (Kindle edition). (Visit One Voice Press for the paperback version).

Bored and frustrated with living with her alcoholic mother, twelve year old Annie decides to make a grand escape – by building a hot air balloon (the perfect metaphor for anyone who has wanted to escape from their troubles)! This magical adventure takes Annie across the world, making new friends at every stop. As she visits distant lands, she finds her own strength to help others and in the process sees her own life through new eyes. I love how multi-dimensional the main character is – we see her immaturity and naivety as she begins her journey, but we also see her selflessness and courage as she chooses again and again to help those in need. A wonderful book about leaving your comfort zone to serve others and gain a new perspective.

5. Model Emotional Intelligence

Finally, remember that actions speak louder than words, and your children will learn more from watching your behavior than they will from anything you say. Take time to check in with your emotions and use the same tools you recommend for your kids. Taking several deep breaths has helped me on many occasions! And being honest with your kids when you make mistakes and apologizing if you blow your top also go a long way to helping them learn to be gentle with themselves. Kids really respond if they feel you are all in it together!

What are your tips for teaching emotional intelligence?

Mar 282017
 
 March 28, 2017  Book Reviews, History, raising world citizens Comments Off on Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

As we teach our children about strong women in history, one who stands out is Lena Horne. Her immense talent was matched only by her determination in the face of the racism of her times. I first learned about her from her appearance on The Cosby Show when I was a child and I was captivated by her graceful presence and that amazing voice. So I’m thrilled to introduce a new children’s biography about her which has already received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. I’m honored to share below an essay by the author, Carole Boston Weatherford, in which she reflects on why she brought Ms. Horne’s story to life in her new book.

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.

Author Carole Boston Weatherford reflects on the life of Lena Horne and her new biography of this legendary figure

The Legendary Lena Horne: Reflections from Carole Boston Weatherford

Often an historical figure who makes cameo appearance in one book will later warrant a book of her own. Such was the case with entertainer and activist Lena Horne. She appeared as a resident in the picture book Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood. I also devoted a poem to her in the verse novel You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen.

So it was only a matter of time before I got around to writing Ms. Horne’s biography. A collaboration with illustrator Elizabeth Zunon, The Legendary Miss Lena Horne introduces this groundbreaking entertainer and activist to a new generation.

Lena Horne lived her life in the spotlight. At age 16, she made her show business debut as a chorus girl at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club, where African Americans performed for whites-only audiences. In the 1940s. she became the first black actor with a major Hollywood studio contract.

Related Post: Biographies for Kids About Following Your Dreams

Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

Refusing roles as domestics, she found herself confined to musical numbers that could be easily cut for screenings at Southern theaters whose audiences might be offended by her black sensuality. She dubbed herself “a butterfly pinned to a column.” She also appeared in all-black movies such as Stormy Weather, which produced her signature song of the same name.

Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

Offstage, Ms. Horne rebelled against racism at every turn, lashing out when someone hurled a racial epithet and dropping out of a U.S.O. tour when German prisoners of war were treated better than the black soldiers in the audience. From then on, she paid her own way to perform for black troops. During World War II, she was their favorite pinup. Ironically, during the 1950s Red Scare, Ms. Horne was blacklisted for her ties to fellow entertainer and alleged Communist Paul Robeson.

In the 1960s, she took a hiatus from show business to join the Civil Rights Movement. She marched with protestors and sang at rallies. At the 1963 March on Washington, she took her turn at the podium and uttered one word: “Freedom!”
Even in her later years, she kept recording, starred in a one-woman Broadway show, played Glenda the Good Witch in the movie The Wiz, and serenaded Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street.

Larger Than Life: The Fierce and Fabulous Lena Horne

I grew up watching Ms. Horne’s guest appearances on television variety shows. Back then few blacks were on the small screen and her presence was always an inspiration, always an event. I idolized her then and I still do. For me, Lena Horne will always be larger than life—a fierce and fabulous legend.

Carole B WeatherfordCarole Boston Weatherford is a New York Times bestselling author whose 40+ books include many award winners. She is considered one of the leading poets writing for young people today. I was also proud to discover she is a long-time resident of my home state of North Carolina, where she received her MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and where she currently is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University. You can read more about her on her website.

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