Nov 152016
 

I was looking for an easy gratitude activity to do with my kids, but as always I had my hands full with the baby, so I knew it had to be something easy but also fun enough to keep their attention. This gratitude game requires no prep, but it is great writing practice and builds critical thinking skills. It helps kids focus on gratitude ahead of Thanksgiving, yet the end results are often hilarious.

Easy Gratitude Game: Writing Activity | Alldonemonkey.com

Easy Gratitude Game

This gratitude game only requires paper and pencil and takes just a few moments.

Each person writes a list of what they are grateful for, without letting anyone else see. For younger children, give a specific number of items they should write (we did 5). For older children, you could time it and see who can write the most number of items in a certain amount of time.

Once everyone has their list, have them try to write down what they think each other person’s list would be. (If possible, don’t tell them ahead of time about this step of the game, as otherwise they may purposely write a list that is difficult to guess). In our case, it was just the two boys, so they tried to guess each other’s lists, but with a larger group you could ask them to guess the list of the person sitting to their right.

When time is up, see how many you got right! We had a lot of fun with this part, as it was so funny to see what each thought the other had written down. It is harder to guess than you might think, even with hints! (My 6 year old’s list: PS4, basmati rice, life, the Earth, chicken).

Younger children can draw their answers if they can’t write yet, but I really recommend this for elementary age children. It was a good exercise for my preschooler to make his list, but it was so random that it was next to impossible for anyone to guess his answers. (“You’re grateful for a chicken bone?” “Yes! And flowers!”)

How do you practice gratitude with your children?

Nov 112016
 
 November 11, 2016  Christmas No Responses »

Does the Christmas season feel like a marathon for you, as you attempt to fit in all the shopping and special moments for your family before you collapse on Christmas Day? Here are 6 tips to keep the holidays special for your family, so that you are creating cherished memories together instead of rushing to finish an overwhelming to-do list.

6 Tips to Keep the Holidays Special | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Ornaments of Love 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.

6 Tips to Keep the Holidays Special

1. Make a plan. Don’t want to be rushing around at the last minute? Take some time (ideally before the holiday rush) to outline what you’d like to get done and when. Even if you haven’t had a chance to do this ahead of time, it is worth a breather to write down exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish. Break it down into small pieces so that as Christmas nears you don’t feel overwhelmed. Keep in mind that this does not have to be an elaborate plan! It can be a simple list that helps you keep your focus on the items you don’t want to forget.

2. Simplify. Have  20 items on your list? See if you can get it down to 15. Have 10? Try to get it down to 8. Be realistic about what you can accomplish given your other commitments and the age of your children. Don’t keep something on your list just because you’ve always done it or because that’s what everyone else in your mom’s group is doing (!) Focus on what’s right for you and your family, even if that seems like a simple, non-Pinterest worthy list. Remember that people only post those holiday photos that show the best of what they’ve done, not the dirty dishes or the tantrums, so don’t envy anyone else’s Christmas but focus on your own.

3. Throw out the old. Sit down with your family and share your list. Have each person (yourself included) choose one or two items that are most important to them. You may be surprised! Maybe you didn’t realize how much your daughter cares about decorating the tree together, or that your son really loves Christmas carols. Once you know what is really important to everyone, make those items the focus, so that you can really keep the holidays special for everyone. Let the other items on the list be extras that you get to if you are able (or eliminate altogether!)

4. Try something new. Once you’ve simplified your list, pick something new to try as a family, like going to see a show or taking in the Christmas lights downtown. It’s easy to get into a rut and follow the same routine each year, so everyone will have fun trying out something new together.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. At the end of the holidays, hold on to your list, along with any notes you may have made along the way, so that next year you already have a good focus. I actually have checklists on my computer for holidays and birthdays, so that I don’t forget anything that’s really important to me and it’s easy to update each year. Why throw out a good plan after all that work?

6. Focus on what’s really important. Don’t be a slave to your plan, but let it be a guide. Plans are helpful to remind us about what we’d like to accomplish, but remember that what’s most important isn’t checking items off a list, it’s spending time with those we love. So if your child is asking you to play with them, maybe those Christmas cards can wait. Perhaps building an elaborate gingerbread house that you can display isn’t so important if it’s becoming a source of tension between you and your child, who just wants to have fun with a messy creation. Remember that you are making memories, so what kind of memories do you want those to be?

This year I was so pleased to have been contacted by author Sharlin Craig about reviewing her book Ornaments of Love. It is a lovely story about a family discovering what is really important during the holidays. 10 year old Ayana looks forward to her family’s Christmas traditions every year – decorating the tree, enjoying hot chocolate together in front of the fire – but this year it seems like her parents are just too busy. Her mother is always baking or shopping while her father struggles to finish his work at the office in time for Christmas Eve. It isn’t until a mishap threatens to ruin their Christmas that they come together to celebrate what is truly important.

This is a story that every family can relate to! The parents aren’t cruel or neglectful, they are just busy, like so many of us. The irony, of course, is that they are busy with things that are seemingly important to their family – like sending gifts to loved ones or baking for a holiday party – yet actually keep them from enjoying the simple moments. There are plenty of tender moments that help you realize just how close the family is yet how often they can lose sight of the importance of spending quality time. Author Sharlin Craig is a wife and mother herself, so she understands the struggle to maintain balance. This book is her gift to other families as they seek to keep the holidays special for themselves and their loved ones. I love the gentle illustrations, which match the tone of the story beautifully. (The illustrators for the picture book and coloring book are from Nigeria and The Czech Republic, now living in Germany).

Now you can also get the Ornaments of Love Coloring Book: Slowing Down with Family at Christmas Time! It includes the “Ornaments of Love” picture book in black and white, along with 21 original full-page coloring illustrations tying in with the story that range from easy to difficult. What a great way to de-stress and have some holiday fun together than to sit down with this beautiful coloring book! There are even additional coloring pages available on her website to print.

How do you keep the holidays special for your family?

Ornaments of Love Book Blog Tour

Thursday, Oct. 27th: This Mom’s Delight (Review)
Tuesday, Nov. 1st: K&A’s Childrens’ Book Reviews (Review & Giveaway)
Thursday, Nov. 3rd: Amanda’s Books and More (Review & Giveaway)
Friday, Nov. 4th: Mamitales (Review & Giveaway)
Saturday, Nov. 5th: Christy’s Cozy Corners (Review, Guest Post-
‘My Favorite Ornament Memories’ & Giveaway)
Sunday, November 6th: Unleashing Readers (Guest Post-‘Integrating Ornaments of Love into the Classroom Setting’ & Giveaway)
Monday, November 7th: The Write Chris (Author Interview & Giveaway)
Wednesday, November 9th: This Mom’s Delight
(Guest Post-‘Affirm Your Child’s Worth by Spending Time with Them’
& Giveaway)
Friday, November 11th: All Done Monkey (Post-‘6 Ways to Make the
Holidays Special’, Review & Giveaway)
Monday, November 14th: Connie M. Huddleston
(Monday Morning Indie: Review & Interview)

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oct 192016
 

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

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

Easy Day of the Dead Craft

Materials

Paper

Markers

Glue

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

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

Instructions

Draw or download a Day of the Dead skull image

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 172016
 

Diwali Books for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Diwali is coming, and I’m excited to share some great Diwali books with you! These are great ones to read with your kids whether they are already familiar with Diwali or not. For those who are just learning about it, it’s a wonderful way to discover this joyous time; while those who already celebrate with their families will enjoy seeing their holiday represented in books and learning the meaning behind the traditions!

I received a complimentary copy of Let’s Celebrate Diwali and Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali 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.

Diwali Books for Kids

We have just discovered the wonderful story for young children, Let’s Celebrate Diwali, published by Bharat Babies. The first thing that strikes you is how colorful it is! A young girl is nervous to share about Diwali with her classmates, but she is surprised to find out several of them are also celebrating Diwali! What is even more surprising is how differently they celebrate, as she learns that Diwali is recognized not only by Hindus but also by many Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. Includes brief, kid-level explanations behind each religion’s Diwali celebrations.

I adore The Diwali Gift, and not just because the main characters are monkeys! This is a super cute book that  kids will really enjoy. The story is a fun little mystery for very young kids that incorporates elements of Diwali in a very natural way. (Read my full review).

I love activity books, so My Diwali Coloring Book sounds wonderful! Recommended for ages 4-8, its illustrations range in difficulty to match different abilities. Includes a simple version of the story behind Diwali as well as conversation starters about Diwali and Indian culture.

You really can’t go wrong with National Geographic! In addition to picture books, I love showing kids beautiful photography from books like Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Diwali: With Sweets, Lights, and Fireworks so they can really get a sense of what the holiday actually looks like. I love that this book includes Sikh and Jain traditions as well as the more familiar Hindu ones.

Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! is a gorgeous book that presents the story of Diwali in a very engaging, easy to understand way. I love how the characters Maya and Neel lead children through the activities of each of the 5 days of Diwali, with a colorful overview at the back. Younger kids will love the illustrations and overall story, while older kids will also enjoy learning more details about this festival.

 

Where to Buy Diwali Books

Two of my favorite places to find Diwali books are the same ones where I found such wonderful books for Eid! Read on to find out why you don’t want to miss these online shops:

Bharat Babies

Bharat Babies’ mission is to design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell children’s stories about India’s Heritage. Their books are appropriate for infants through elementary school. They are the publisher’s of Let’s Celebrate Diwali (you can even buy a print based on the book’s artwork!) as well as other books about Indian culture, from board books to toddler tales and early readers. Don’t miss their #MyDiwaliStory giveaway!

Kitaab World

Kitaab World carries books, toys, and games from all over South Asia. They have a great selection of Diwali books, plus they are doing giveaways throughout the month of October as part of their Count Down to Diwali. (There is even a giveaway for Let’s Celebrate Diwali!)

I love that they are so committed to getting diverse books into schools. In their Diwali giveaways, they are asking people to tag teachers and librarians, since they will be sending two books to schools and libraries to increase their diverse books as part of their Donate for Diversity campaign.

And they are running a special just for All Done Monkey readers!

Use the code ADM10 to get 10% off your order at Kitaab World this Diwali!

Diwali for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the annual Diwali for Kids blog hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs! See the posts below for great ideas on celebrating Diwali with children. You can find even more ideas from last year’s series and on our Diwali Pinterest board:

Maple and Marigold on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Celebrating Diwali in Canada
Weaving Ideas: Paper Plate Rangoli Idea for Kids
ArtsyCraftsyMom: Accordion Fold Paper Diya Craft
Maple and Marigold: Rustic Indian Peda with Roasted Pistachios
Creative World of Varya: Diwali Inspired Ideas for Kids
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Rangoli with Glass Marbles
My Little Moppet: 20 Tips to Organize a Diwali Party for Kids
All Done Monkey: Diwali Books for Kids
Growing Up Gupta: 7 Amazing Multicultural Diwali Gift Ideas
Kidzlens: DIY Bandanwar
The Educators’ Spin On It: Making Flower Rangoli with Kids

Sep 162016
 
 September 16, 2016  recipes, Rosh Hashanah No Responses »

Looking for some great Rosh Hashanah recipes but worried about sticking to a gluten free diet? I’ve done the research for you to find Rosh Hashanah recipes that are also gluten free!

Gluten free Rosh Hashanah recipes

Today I’m guest posting on Multicultural Kid Blogs to share some wonderful gluten free Rosh Hashanah recipes I’ve found. If you are like me and have a loved one that follows a gluten free diet, you know how challenging it can be to keep to it during holidays and celebrations, when we tend to turn to traditional foods. Luckily, there are so many resources available these days. I’ve found some really wonderful dishes for you – some of them recreate traditional dishes with creative substitutions, while others put a modern spin on classic recipes to make them easier for those on special diets. So be sure to visit Multicultural Kid Blogs to read the full list!

Jul 232016
 

Our 5 top picks for families visiting the California State Fair

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

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

California State Fair: 5 Top Picks for Families

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pebbles Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get creative this summer with the Pebbles Play Tour

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

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

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

Who: Families of all ages

How: Come and have fun!

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

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

 

Future Events Include:

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

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

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

Find more tips about the California State Fair here!

Jul 172016
 

10 fun ways to get creative with your kids this summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get creative this summer with the Pebbles Play Tour

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

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

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

Who: Families of all ages

How: Come and have fun!

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

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

 

Future Events Include:

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

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

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

May 302016
 

Ramadan Lesson Plan for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Ramadan is coming, and in many homes across the world families are busy preparing for this special time. Last year as part of our world cultures curriculum, I put together this Ramadan lesson plan, appropriate for early elementary school children.  (Many of the activities could be simplified for preschoolers).  Because I like to integrate our subject matter as much as possible, it includes science, math, and literature, as well as religion.  Since it was primarily designed for children with no prior knowledge, it includes a very basic introduction to Islam.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Zachariah’s Perfect Day 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.

Ramadan Lesson Plan for Kids

The Life of Muhammad

We began by talking about the Prophet Muhammad and His life.  For this I used Muhammad by Demi, one of our favorite authors.  It is a beautifully done and very respectful account of the life and significance of Muhammad.  It is a wonderful overview geared towards younger readers.  (You can also play some vocabulary games by picking out words that your students might not know, defining them together, then asking them to either act them out or draw pictures).

I pointed out how the illustrator was careful not to paint pictures of Muhammad, following a hadith, or tradition, that forbids creating images of Muhammad.  We looked at photos of the beautiful mosaics and calligraphy as examples of other types of Islamic art that have grown up over the centuries instead.  We then tried our hand at this Arabic calligraphy lesson for kids.

The Islamic Calendar

We discussed the Muslim calendar and how it is a lunar calendar (that is, based on the position of the moon relative to the Earth), instead of the more familiar solar calendar we use (based on the orbit of the Earth around the sun).  The Muslim calendar has 12 months, just like ours does, but because the Muslim month is based on the phases of the moon, each month is 29-30 days long.  The lunar year, therefore, is shorter than the solar year by just over 10 days, meaning that the Muslim calendar seems to rotate around the solar calendar.  (You can read more about calendars of the world, including the difference between solar and lunar calendars).  So sometimes Ramadan is in the summer but sometimes in the winter, spring, or fall.

This is a pretty abstract concept for kids to grasp, so we did an activity to see how the dates on the solar and lunar calendars compared. We pulled out a calendar and did a “race” between the solar and lunar calendars, with the starting line t January 1.  Then we counted out 29 days for month one and marked it on the calendar, then counted another 29 days for month 2, etc. until we had completed one lunar year.  Now where was the first day of the new year?  How far off was it from the solar new year?  Who had won the race?  Depending on the interest of your students, you could continue the activity for one or two more cycles and see how far off the calendars are after only a few years.

Phases of the Moon

Next we jumped more into the science behind the Islamic calendar by looking more closely at the phases of the moon, since Ramadan begins with the first sighting of the new moon.  (There is a great chart of the phases of the moon in Zachariah’s Perfect Day).  They each made their own chart by cutting out pieces and gluing them on black paper.  We also did this really great visual activity that makes it very clear why the moon looks different throughout the month.  Kids will have fun taking turns at being the Earth!

Books about Ramadan

All of which teaches us about the mechanics of the month of Ramadan, but not about what it is like to celebrate it.  For this we turned to some great books about the experience of children during Ramadan:

Zachariah’s Perfect Day is a wonderful book about a boy’s first time fasting during Ramadan.  I love that it gives a very easy to understand overview about what Ramadan is, woven naturally into the story.  It shows what makes it such a special time and what a typical day during Ramadan looks like for a family.  It even includes the call to prayer and some recipes for Zachariah’s favorite foods (even deep-fried Oreos!)  The excitement and joy of Ramadan really come through, as we experience the fast through Zachariah’s eyes.

A wonderful book for young children is Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors.  Through gorgeous illustrations and simple text, it introduces major symbols and traditions of Ramadan.  It is easy to read and lends itself very easily to craft projects.  You could also have children talk about what are the important colors of their day.

Activities

My boys have short attention spans when it comes to crafts, so we did a very simple project of gluing torn paper onto crescent shapes.  (You can find tons of wonderful craft ideas on our Ramadan Pinterest board).

You can also find wonderful traditional recipes for Ramadan to prepare together.  For example, Zachariah’s Perfect Day‘s includes a recipe for parathas from India. You could also keep things simple by bringing in dates for them to try!

One of the most important parts of Ramadan is focusing on spiritual growth through good deeds and charity.  A great activity for this is to make these colorful good deed jars for them to use.  You could also do a simple service project together.  For example, we baked cookies to share with the staff at my older son’s school.

Ramadan is such a joyous time of year.  It is a wonderful way to teach children about Islam and how it is practiced by families around the world and right next door!  If possible, a great final step to this lesson would be to contact a local Muslim community and see what Ramadan celebrations you can visit with your students!

 

Ramadan for Kids 2016 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting its second annual Ramadan for Kids blog hop, where bloggers come together to share ideas for teaching kids about and honoring Ramadan. Don’t forget to check out our series from last year and follow our Ramadan board on Pinterest for even more ideas and link up your own posts below!

Participating Blogs

ArabBaba on Multicultural Kid Blogs
All Done Monkey
Kid World Citizen
A Crafty Arab
Creative World of Varya
Crafty Moms Share
Global Advocate Jr.
Colours of Us
La Cité des Vents
Words ‘n’ Needles


May 052016
 

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away | Alldonemonkey.com

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the mothers and grandmothers in our lives, so it’s a particularly hard time of year to live far away from family.  My parents live across the country from us, while my in-laws are in Costa Rica.  Though we try to visit as often as we can, it is not practical to go as often as we like, so maintaining ties can be a challenge.  Here are some easy ways we have discovered to keep in touch with family far away.  Leave your ideas in the comments!

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away | Alldonemonkey.com

1. Homemade Cards and Gifts

I am a big believer in old-fashioned cards and gifts.  For special occasions the kids and I always sit down to make homemade cards to send to loved ones.  Especially when you live far away, having a sweet, tangible gift really means a lot!  And cards are very practical, since they are inexpensive to send overseas.  Hand print cards like this hand trace art are perfect, since they are a great keepsake gift as well.  At our last family reunion, my sister-in-law had all the kids make hand print T-shirts for each other – so fun!  For even more ideas, check out my Homemade Gift Ideas board on Pinterest.

2. Photo Gifts

Photo gifts are also a lovely way to be “present” in your family’s lives even though you are far away.  We send out photo cards with pictures of the kids each year, and often create special family photos to send to the grandparents in the US and Costa Rica for occasions like Mother’s Day.  They are truly cherished, as this way the grandparents get to “see” the kids everyday.

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away | Alldonemonkey.com

3. Create a Shared Ritual

One sweet idea is to create a ritual you each can do at the same time.  For example, you could take a morning walk or work in the garden at around the same time then share photos of the flowers or animals you see.  (Especially fun if your kids help take the photos!)  You could also have special candles that you each light as you say your evening prayers, or a favorite bedtime story you read together over the phone, or a decoration that you can both use on special occasions.  My sister, for example, sent us all beautiful handmade garlands that each family uses to decorate for the holidays.

5 Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Family Far Away | Alldonemonkey.com

4. Virtual Parties

Can’t be there for a special occasion? Get on the computer and make a virtual visit!  My family threw a virtual baby shower for us before each of our babies was born, and we have gotten to be a part of the big family Christmas celebration in Costa Rica each year via computer!  We really felt like we were there as my sister-in-law “carried” us around the house to say hi to everyone and even drool over the food!

5. Send a Financial Gift

If we lived nearby, we could take the grandmothers out for brunch on Mother’s Day, or buy them a special gift on their birthdays.  Since this is not practical because of the distance, we often send a financial gift instead.  (Be sure to check out these awesome Mother’s Day deals and egift cards from PayPal!)

As a busy mom, I’m so glad that now I’ve discovered how easy and safe PayPal and Xoom are to manage and move money quickly.  Now I can rest easy knowing our gift was received and they have more time to focus on family rather than chasing down the money transfer.  Managing our money securely is important to our growing family, so using services like PayPal and Xoom helps relieve that added stress that finances can bring.

Xoom is an easy way to transfer money to loved ones

Xoom is the only remittances company that offers instant disbursements, and it has so many options for how your loved ones can receive your financial gift, such as bank transfers, cash pick-up or delivery, bill pay and mobile reload – so easy!  And how great is it that you can track your transfers with SMS alerts, and even get a text message when the money is received?  I can recall so many instances in the past when my husband had to make multiple phone calls to see exactly how/when our family could pick up the money we had sent, and even then we never quite relaxed until we got a call from our family members that they had received the money successfully.  The Xoom system is so much easier, leaving more time for everyone to relax and enjoy the holiday!

How do you keep in touch with family far away?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Mar 282016
 
 March 28, 2016  Passover, recipes 4 Responses »

Sephardic Charoset Recipe | Alldonemonkey.com

Whether you are looking for a new twist on a staple of your Passover Seder or wanting to explore the traditions of Passover with your kids for the first time, you will love this Sephardic charoset recipe.  Its sweetness is balanced out by the spices and nuts, making it kid-friendly and delicious!

When the opportunity came to participate in a blog hop about Passover for kids from Multicultural Kid Blogs, I rather innocently said that I would do a traditional recipe for Passover from Spain.  Our Global Learning series is focusing on Spain this month, so it seemed like a great way to combine the two projects.

So what’s the problem?  As it turns out, establishing what exactly is a Spanish tradition for Passover – or any other Jewish holiday – is a bit tricky.  Even though Jews have been in Spain since ancient times and during medieval times it had one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, today their numbers are relatively small.  Remember the Spanish Inquisition?

Jews had thrived under Muslim rule in Southern Spain, yet everything changed when Ferdinand and Isabella (yes, the same ones that sponsored Columbus’s voyages) were finally able to conquer the remaining Muslim strongholds in the peninsula.  As part of their “Reconquest” for the Catholic Church, they also expelled all the Jews.  (England had expelled Jews 200 years earlier, and there were similar expulsions in many European countries).  The expelled Jews – who today are scattered around the globe – became known as Sephardic Jews, from the Hebrew word for Spain.

Terrible, of course, but that was more than 500 years ago.  What does that have to do with today?  Turns out that Jews were only allowed back to Spain in the late 19th century and then only in small numbers.  In fact, it was just last year that Spain passed a law welcoming the descendants of the expelled Jews back.

Which brings us back to the charoset recipe.  This fruit and nut paste eaten during the Passover Seder is meant to symbolize the suffering of the Jews in Egypt because of its resemblance to the mortar the Jewish slaves used in constructing the great monuments of that empire.  And so it is fitting that we remember that the sufferings of the Jewish people were not just limited to slavery in Egypt or the Holocaust.  They encompass numerous outrages throughout history, including the expulsion (or forced conversion) of the Jews in Spain.

The charoset recipe below, adapted from this version, captures the pungent flavors of Sephardic cooking today, influenced not only from the recent centuries outside of Spain but also from the generations of living under Moorish rule.  I increased the proportion of nuts and skipped the spicier spices out of deference to my kids’ tastes.  Feel free to tinker to discover your family’s own favorite mix.  That is part of the fun!

Sephardic Charoset Recipe | Alldonemonkey.com

Sephardic Charoset Recipe

Adapted from Mother Would Know

Ingredients

Scant 1/4 cup each of dried apricots, dates, dark raisins, golden raisins, dried figs, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

About 1/4 cup of apple juice or grape juice

Sephardic Charoset Recipe | Alldonemonkey.com

Put all ingredients except juice in the food processor and mix to desired consistency.  (Some like a smooth paste, while others prefer it chunkier).  Heat the juice and add it gradually to the fruit and nut mixture.  Let it sit for a few minutes so the mixture absorbs the liquid and then mix again.  Drain off excess liquid or add more if needed.

 

Passover for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Passover for Kids Blog Hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Visit the co-hosts below for more about how to celebrate this special holiday with kids:

Participating Blogs

The Book of Life on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Crafty Moms Share

All Done Monkey

Kelly’s Classroom

Moms & Crafters

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