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
 

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

Mar 212016
 

DIY Easter Basket for Baby | Alldonemonkey.com

There are many things that a baby uses intensely during its first year, then never again.  Think of all those adorable onesies that your baby uses in abundance, then quickly outgrows.  Another such item is the receiving blanket.  They are perfect for young babies – soft and snuggly and just the right size – until they are suddenly too small, and you are left with a stack of blankets you can no longer use.

Until now!  Here is an idea to use an old receiving blanket to upcycle a basket into a cute DIY Easter basket for baby.  I’ve also collected fantastic basket filler ideas, plus other creative uses for old baby blankets.

Disclosure: This article was inspired by a complimentary gift basket I received from Gifts.com.

DIY Easter Basket for Baby

DIY Easter Basket for Baby | Alldonemonkey.com

I started with this amazing gift basket from Gifts.com.  They have a great selection, including the one above, which was full of yummy, organic fruit!

After we had devoured the fruit, I was left with a basket that was just the perfect size for an Easter basket!  Since we are all about natural parenting and green living, what better way to make an DIY Easter basket than to upcycle materials we already had on hand?

It couldn’t have been easier!  All you need is an old receiving blanket, a basket, and a hot glue gun.

Receiving blankets are perfect for upcycling because of their even, regular shape; their soft material; and their adorable patterns.  Plus you have a bunch sitting around the house already!  And after Easter, it is great for storage in the nursery or as part of a baby shower gift.  (Thanks to a reader for that last suggestion!)

I used this “faux sew” method, in which you basically just drape the material over the basket and hot glue it in place.  I love the fullness of the draped material, plus it neatly sidesteps the need to make a hem!  (If you do want to make a hem, you can either cut, fold, and hot glue one; or you can use hem tape).  This no-sew tutorial is a bit more precise, plus I borrowed its idea of how to tuck the extra material under at the ends.  If you want a liner that fits more snugly against the basket, here is a tutorial that includes how to measure material for a round basket.

DIY Easter Basket for Baby | Alldonemonkey.com

So pretty and so easy!  Now what do you put in that cute basket?  Here are some ideas:

Easter Gifts for Baby

And now that I’ve got you excited about repurposing your old receiving blankets, here are more creative uses for them:

Creative Ways to Repurpose Receiving Blankets

Be sure to check out these other great spring ideas:

Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Wind Chimes for Kids to Make

Mom Inspired Life: Planting Flowers Alphabet Activity

Inspired by Familia: Fruit Flower Pot Snack for Kids

Mar 152016
 

Easter Dessert from Brazil: Paçoca de Amendoim | Alldonemonkey.com

Add a little exotic flavor to your Easter menu this year with this super easy Easter dessert from Brazil!  Paçoca de amendoim is a peanut candy common to the rural areas of the southeastern parts of Brazil, around the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais.  Since so many kids have peanut allergies, I’ve made a peanut-free version using almonds instead – still delicious!

Last year we really enjoyed making an Easter bread from Ethiopia, but with a newborn I knew that this year we’d need something much simpler.  There are many different recipes out for paçoca de amendoim, all slightly different, but most use peanuts, sugar, condensed milk, and manioc (cassava) flour.  Traditionally the peanuts were pounded in a mortar, but most cooks today use a food processor. Basically you just throw everything in and mix: I love any recipe that only requires that I push a button!

The toughest thing is getting the consistency right, which is always difficult if, like me, you’ve never tried the real thing.  It should be dry but not too crumbly – just wet enough to come together without turning into a paste.  If yours turns out too wet, try mixing in extra flour or putting it in the refrigerator over night – if you can wait that long!  The best thing, though, is to start too dry and add the condensed milk only a very little bit at a time.

Either way, it will be delicious!  Happy Easter and enjoy!

Easter Dessert from Brazil: Paçoca de Amendoim | Alldonemonkey.com

Easter Dessert from Brazil: Paçoca de Amendoim

Inspired by these two versions: from Cyber Cook and About.com (the latter was one of only English versions I found).

Ingredients:

1 cup of peanuts or almonds

1/2 cup manioc (cassava) flour or coconut flour*

2 T brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (you will not need the entire can)

pinch of salt

*look for manioc flour or manioc starch in international grocery stores.  Ours unfortunately did not have it, so I substituted coconut flour instead.

Add all ingredients except condensed milk to your food processor and grind to desired consistency.  (I did ours into a fine powder, but some prefer to leave slightly larger bits of nuts).  Add the condensed milk just a little bit at a time until the mixture starts to come together.  Press into an 8 x 8 pan or other mold then cut into pieces.

 

Series on Easter around the world

Explore the diverse traditions of Easter around the world with us, and don’t miss our series from last year and this wonderful overview of global Easter traditions. You can also find these posts and more on our Easter Around the World Pinterest board:

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Easter Around the World on Pinterest.

March 7
Femme au foyer on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Priecīgas Lieldienas: A Latvian Easter

March 8
Crafty Moms Share: Exploring Easter in Australia

March 11
La Cité des Vents: La Procession de la Sanch

March 14
Living Ideas: DIY Indonesian Easter Basket from Recycled Can

March 15
All Done Monkey

March 17
Kids Travel Books

March 21
Kori at Home

March 23
Let the Journey Begin

March 24
Hispanic Mama

Feb 292016
 

Favorite Purim books for kids

Purim is just around the corner, so here are some of our favorite Purim children’s books.  Some tell the story of Queen Esther, while others describe how Purim is celebrated today, and still others are about a particular experience related to the holiday.  We have enjoyed reading these, as we were not very familiar with Purim previously.

Purim Books about Queen Esther

The story of Queen Esther is a fantastic tale, full of intrigue, betrayal, and, ultimately, triumph.  The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale tells of how a Hebrew maiden became the Queen of Persia and risked her own life to save her people from a plot to destroy them.  Eric A Kimmel is a well known children’s author whose books have received National Jewish Book Awards.  He was also awarded the Sydney Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award.

Queen Esther Saves Her People is another popular version of the story of Queen Esther and her bravery in saving her people from the schemes of the wicked official Haman.

Individual Purim Stories

Jane Breskin Zalben has written a wonderful series of picture books about Jewish holidays, including Happy New Year, Beni, which I included in my collection of Rosh Hashanah booksGoldie’s Purim is about a little bear and her family who are preparing to celebrate Purim together.  Goldie has the lead role of Esther in the Purim play, but she is nervous!  Then Goldie remembers how brave Esther was and decides she can be brave, too.  This is a really sweet book about courage that also shows children many of the important elements of Purim.

As Purim approaches, Herschel wishes he could help his mother more, as she struggles to support them. But Herschel is blind and so there is only so much he can do to help – or is there? When an angel appears to him in a dream and encourages him to “see” what is in his mind, Herschel discovers a natural talent that can help his mother and provide a secure future for them both. Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale is a beautiful story of love and learning to trust in yourself.

Raisel’s Riddle is a Cinderella story set in Poland. Raisel is an orphan who goes to the city as a young woman, where she finds work in the house of a rabbi. The rabbi’s cook is jealous of Raisel and treats her cruelly, but Raisel’s luck changes one day when her kindness to an old beggar women is rewarded with three wishes. These enable Raisel to attend the Purim play, where she meets the rabbi’s son, who has no idea she is the same girl that works in his own home. I love that this story turns on a riddle that Raisel tells the rabbi’s son about wisdom, and that it is her cleverness that steals his heart.

Just for Fun Purim Books

 

The little old lady is making hamantaschen for Purim, but her lazy pets won’t help. The animals always have an excuse, but they aren’t actually lazy: See what special surprise they are planning while their beloved owner bakes! The Better-Than-Best Purim is a really cute book for young readers. Includes a note about the history of Purim and how it is celebrated, plus a recipe for hamantaschen.

Barnyard Purim is an adorable story for young children about Purim.  When Farmer Max leaves for a Purim play, the bayryard animals decide to put on one of their own.  But when a wolf sneaks in and is mistaken for Haman, the shy Duck (in the role of Esther) must be brave and save the day!

Purim for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Join Multicultural Kid Blogs today as we share posts on celebrating Purim with kids! You can find even more on our Purim board on Pinterest:

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Purim on Pinterest.

Participating Blogs

Melibelle in Tokyo on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Moms and Crafters

Kelly’s Classroom

Crafty Moms Share

All Done Monkey

May 052015
 

5 Ways to Make a Mom Friend Feel Special This Mother's Day | Alldonemonkey.com

I received complimentary products from Shari’s Berries to facilitate this article; however, all opinions are my own.

Do you have a special mom friend in your life?  Here are some great ways to make her feel special this Mother’s Day!

1. Moms’ Night Out

Sometimes what a busy mom needs is to get out of the house with her friends to relax and have fun!  Of course, this could be dinner or dancing, or you could do something even more creative:  A friend recently told me about a group painting class for moms.  What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!  Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of caring for others that it can be refreshing to do something just for fun, just for ourselves.

2. Moms’ Night In

Of course, if you are a homebody like me, going out to a fancy restaurant or dancing at a club may not be the most relaxing way to spend an evening. Also, for some moms being away from very small children (especially nursing babies) can be a challenge logistically.  Instead, one friend and I often do moms’ nights in.  I come over just in time to say good night to her little one, then afterwards she and I relax drinking tea, eating yummy desserts, and – of course – talking for hours!

3. Time to Herself

No one but a parent can understand what a luxury it is to be alone.  As in, able to go to the bathroom without an audience.  Able to sit down with a cup of tea and actually drink it before it gets cold.  Able to close your eyes or gaze off into space or enjoy a good book or movie without worrying that the someone might burn down the house/break a leg/break their siblings’ legs in the meantime.  So consider offering to babysit or have her kids’ over for a play date – you could always swap off so you each get a free afternoon!

4. Acknowledge What She Does

One of the hardest things about parenthood is that it is a 24/7 job, with no performance review once a year, no raises or bonuses to recognize all of your hard work.  And while, of course, this is not while we do it, it is still wonderful when someone simply acknowledges what we do.  So many of us often feel that we aren’t doing enough, that at the end of the day we haven’t accomplished anything, so it is really important to encourage your mom friends by recognizing what a great job they are doing.  Try being specific, so your compliments don’t come off as insincere – Are her kids always polite?  Is she the mom that always remembers the snacks at the park?  Is she an expert at handling tantrums?  It really will make a difference to her when you notice!

5. Treat Her to Something Special

Of course, a special treat for your mom friend will always be welcome!  Mother’s Day is a great time to indulge, and she’ll appreciate that you were thinking of her.  Personally, I love Shari’s Berries, a known source for premium treats for special occasions and everyday indulgences!

5 Ways to Make a Mom Friend Feel Special This Mother's Day | Alldonemonkey.com

And while they are known for their delectable chocolate-dipped strawberries, they also have other gifts for Mother’s Day.  For example, for my recent moms’ night in with my friend, we chose an amazing tea collection – yes, with chocolate goodies, but also with a lovely gourmet tea set, including a selection of organic teas!

5 Ways to Make a Mom Friend Feel Special This Mother's Day | Alldonemonkey.com

How do you help your mom friends feel special?

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees

 activities, Around the World in 12 Dishes, Earth Day, Education, education3  Comments Off on Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees
Apr 072015
 

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees | Alldonemonkey.com

To continue our theme of learning about endangered animals, we turned our attention to Senegal (our next country in Around the World in 12 Dishes) and began to study the African manatee.  There are three species of manatees, but the African (or West African) manatee is perhaps the least known of the three and the most endangered.

Disclosure: This post contains a sponsored link for your convenience.

These animals are known locally as “Mamiwata”, an African name (unfortunately I wasn’t able to discover which African language) for the spirit believed to be embodied by the manatee.  The gentle manatees are marine mammals, which means they must surface periodically to breathe.  Most manatees are primarily herbivores, but now there is evidence that the African manatee actually eats fish, mollusks, and clams.

The African manatee can be found in the shallow coastal waters, rivers, and estuaries of West Africa and is under threat from poaching, fishing (because of getting caught in fishing nets), and habitat loss from construction of dams.  While firm numbers are difficult to come by, it is clear that the African manatee is under grave threat and its population is in danger of disappearing from several of the countries – including Senegal – where it has traditionally lived.

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees | Alldonemonkey.com

To learn more about the African manatee, I created a word search and word puzzle, which you can download and print here:

African Manatee Word Search

African Manatee Word Puzzle

 

Additional Resources on African Manatees:

From Save Our Species

From Save Our Seas

From Wildlife Conservation Society

From Sirenian International

From EDGE

From IUCN Red List

Title image via http://currencewiki.wikispaces.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

Earth Day Books and Music Giveaway

To inspire earth-friendly practices with your family, I’m so excited to be taking part in an awesome Earth Day giveaway with several other kid bloggers. Several publishers have offered earth-themed books and music prizes for your Earth Day celebrations. Hopefully, these wonderful resources will inspire a love of nature in your children and motivate them to make a difference in the world. Amazon affiliate links are below for your convenience.

The Earth Day Giveaway co-hosts are:

Kids Yoga Stories, Mama Smiles, Spanish Playground, Creative World of Varya, Crafty Moms Share, the piri-piri lexicon, All Done Monkey, and Eva Varga

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #1

EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY

PRIZE PACK #1

Water Rolls, Water Rises, by Pat Mora
Celebrate the wonders of the water on planet Earth with this poetic and illustrative bilingual book.

Call Me Tree, by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Act out this beautiful bilingual story following a young child mimicking the growth of a tree.

Kings & Queens of the Forest CD, by Kira Willey
Act out a journey to the forest with Kira Willey’s enchanting yoga-inspired music.

Imaginations 2, by Carolyn Clarke
Use guided imagery to explore nature while learning to calm the mind and body with these relaxation stories.

Sophia’s Jungle Adventure, by Giselle Shardlow
Join Sophia and her family on a jungle adventure while learning to appreciate jungle life and doing yoga along the way.

Every Day is Earth Day Kids Yoga Lesson Plan PDF, by Next Generation Yoga
Create an earth-themed yoga session with this kids yoga lesson plan.

Compost Stew, by Mary McKenna Siddals
Dig into composting with this engaging rhyming text.

Too Much Junk song, by Elska
Get inspired to enjoy nature and simplify your life with this new musical adventure.

Backyard Garden CD, by Earthworm Ensemble
Celebrate nature, green living, and gardening with this uplifting new music.

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #2

EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY

PRIZE PACK #2

Change the World Before Bedtime, by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good
Find out how the simple things in life that can inspire huge differences that change the world.

Picture a Tree, by Barbara Reid
Discover new ways to experience trees in this book with stunning imagery.

This Tree Counts, by Alison Formento and Sarah Snow
Practice counting with animals that live in trees.

Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green, by Eileen Spinelli and Anne Kennedy
Join Miss Fox as she teaches her forest animal students how to go green.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver, by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tadgell
Step into the historical world of Dr. Carver as he teaches children about gardening.

What’s So Special About Planet Earth?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn how planet Earth is different from other planets.

Polar Bear, Why is Your World Melting?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn why and how the world is getting warmer and what we can do about it.

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #3EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY

PRIZE PACK #3

Earth Day CD and Recycled Musical Activities eBook, by Daria Marmaluk Hajioannou
Sing and dance to catchy folk music to celebrate our beautiful rainbow world.

Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman
Take a look at nature in a new way with this book that explains all about the nature with sketches.

Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun, by Michael J. Caduto
Learn about renewable energy with 22 activities on producing and using it.

Ecology eBook – Ecology Explorations, by Eva Varga
Explore your local ecosystems with this hands-on ten-week life science curriculum.

When the Animals Saved Earth, by Alexis York Lumbard
Read a tale about how animals teach humans to restore balance in nature.

Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree, by Durga Yael Bernhard
Explore trees all over the world and see what a child sees when climbing those trees

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apr 032015
 

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

As part of our study of Bolivia and the “Around the World in 12 Dishes” series, we looked more closely at one of the great symbols of the Andes – the condor.  A really great online resource about the Andean condor (cousin to the also endangered California condor) is, of course, National Geographic.

Many Americans are familiar with the famous song “El Condor Pasa,” written by a Peruvian composer last century and based on Andean folk melodies.  It was later popularized by none other than Paul Simon, who added his own lyrics.  He can be seen here singing on Sesame Street:

The condor had been respected by the native Andeans as a mystical bird, but the newly arrived Spanish saw it as a nuisance.  Ironically, the Spanish hunted it to near extinction out of a mistaken belief that it was killing their cattle.  Yet this was not the case, as the condor is a scavenger, meaning it feeds off of carrion (dead meat), just like a vulture.

My Monkey was quite indignant over this devastating mistake: “They should have killed the eagles instead!” he told me many times.  Well, not quite the “living in harmony with the natural world” sentiment I was aiming for, but at least he does have an emotional attachment to the condor!

The Andean condor is one of the largest flying birds on the planet – in fact, it is the largest if you go by wingspan, as they measure an enormous 10 feet (3 meters) from tip to tip.  They need that wing power, as they are also some of the heaviest flying birds around!

To help Monkey get a sense of just how large these birds were, we did an activity based on a display I saw at our local zoo.  The idea is to have children measure their own “wingspan” and compare it to the wingspans of various birds, including the condor.

First we researched the wingspans of various birds, from the Andean and California condors to the hummingbird.  Then, of course, we measured his!

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

Here are the measurements we used:

 Hummingbird: 4 inches
Mandarin duck: 28 inches
My Monkey: 46 inches
Bald Eagle: 7 feet
California Condor: 9.5 feet
Andean Condor: 10 feet

Then we marked the measurements all on our floor with masking tape.  (We had planned to do more birds, but Little Monkey thought the game was to pull up all of the tape markings as soon as we had put them down, so we decided to keep our list relatively brief).

We first marked a spot that would serve as our center then marked each wingspan on either side of this, so that when you look down at the floor, the wingspans line up on top of each other and you can really see how they size up.

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

Beyond learning about the Andean condor and other birds, this is a great exercise in measuring and counting.  Older kids could also help halve the wingspan measurements, since half (one wing) is on either side of the middle mark.

Our conclusion: Andean condors are big!  But don’t worry – they’ll only eat you if you’re already dead 😉

Title image via http://indiracevallos.wikispaces.com/

 

natural-parenting-hop

Find more natural parenting resources by clicking on the image above! You can also find great posts on our Earth Day Is Every Day Pinterest board:



Be sure to enter our amazing giveaway! Most prizes are for US and Canada shipping only.

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Mar 262015
 

Passover Videos for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Looking for some great resources to teach your kids about Passover?  Of course, for us books are always a first stop (see this great list of kids’ books on Passover from the PJ Library and this one from Planet Smarty Pants), but we’ve also been enjoying watching some wonderful videos!  Here are some of our favorite fun videos for kids about Passover:

Fun Passover Videos for Kids

Okay, this one is just hilarious.  “Let It Go” from “Frozen” is parodied as “Let Us Go,” a duet between Pharaoh and Moses.  Still laughing over this from a defiant Pharaoh:”The plagues never bothered me anyway.”  Kids of all ages will enjoy this, enough those like my toddler who are little enough to miss the humor and just enjoy the song.

Jewish Kids! also has great videos for kids about Passover, including fake news reports about “the crisis in Egypt,” crafts, and a Passover robot!  More for older kids.

Monkey really loved this one from G-dcast, which is an entertaining video that reviews the meaning of Passover from several perspectives.  Find it here along with some fun apps!

Monkey also had a lot of fun with this kids’ version of Passover – warning! You might have to do some fact-checking afterwards (unlimited homework as one of the plagues!) but still totally fun.

And how can we leave out Sesame Street – that is, Shalom Sesame! This is a but more serious but kids will still enjoy watching Grover learn about the holiday:

Want more??  Here’s are more collections of videos about Passover for kids:

Kelly’s Classroom: What Is Passover?

The Jewish Daily Forward: 4 Coolest Passover Videos for Your Seder

PJ Library: Funny Passover Videos

Jewish Boston: Passover According to Kids Series

Passover for Kids | Multicultural Kid BlogsThis post is part of the Passover for Kids series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Go to the main page for the full schedule of all the posts in this series, as we share crafts, recipes, and more!

Mar 232015
 

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

This year we are participating in a series from Multicultural Kid Blogs about Easter around the world.  I thought it would be really interesting to “visit” a country outside Europe and North America; however, for the most part it is quite difficult to find out about Easter celebrations in those countries unless you happen to know someone from there or are lucky enough to have witnessed it yourself.

Ethiopia is one of the countries that has been written about a bit more.  It does make a brief appearance in a couple books I found at the library, but for the most part I relied on online sources.  Again, most mentions of it are brief, though you can find some great pictures!

One of the main things to know is that Easter (Fasika) is celebrated in Ethiopia according to the Orthodox calendar, which tends to run a week or two later than the western Church calendar.  (The Ethiopian Church is associated with the Coptic Church of Egypt).  Also, the eight weeks leading up to Easter are marked by a fast from meat and dairy.

When Easter itself comes, it is a national holiday celebrated with great festivity.  The best resource I found about it is this article which explores the food, drink, and customs of Ethiopian Easter.  It really gives you a sense of what it might be like to celebrate Fasika in Ethiopia, enjoying a special meal with your family or perhaps visiting the market.

To explore further with my Monkeys, I chose to make Defo Dabo, a recipe mentioned in the above article as being traditional for Easter as well as other festive occasions, such as weddings and birthdays.

For the recipe itself I followed this one from Celtnet Recipes.  Please, please, visit their site to get an authentic recipe for Defo Dabo.  What follows it not authentic.  What follows is what happens when you can’t find the traditional spices (bishop’s weed, black cumin seeds) and instead let your 5 year old talk you into adding chocolate chips and cinnamon.  At least we used banana leaves to cook it!

Keep in mind also that the recipe below is on a much smaller scale than what is typically done in Ethiopia, where it is meant to be enjoyed by large groups of people celebrating a festive occasion.  The Celtnet recipe is for a loaf one-sixth the traditional size, and I cut the size in half again for my small gang of little revelers.

Traditionally, the dough is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a large clay pot over an open fire.  As much as the boys would have preferred this method, I followed Celtnet’s lead in keeping the banana leaves but using a deep dish pan and a conventional oven.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

A note about banana leaves: If you don’t live in a tropical country, look for them in an Asian or Mexican market.  We got ours from the latter, where they sold large plastic bags of them in the produce section.  (They are often used to make tamales).

And layer more of them on top of the bread than you would think you’d need, as they tend to shrink when baked.  They do make the house smell wonderful, though!  And if you have tons of them left over, as we do, you can always do some more cooking with these great international recipes or do a craft!

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread

Ingredients

400 g of flour (approx 3 1/4 c)
1 packet yeast
cinnamon (enough so that each little helper gets several shakes)
chocolate chips (we used about 1/3 of a 11.5 oz bag, since that was all I had in the pantry!)
2 T olive oil
4 T sugar
1/2 T salt
1 very large banana leaf, cut into manageable pieces*

*Don’t attempt to just rip the banana leaf into pieces – the main part of the leaf will tear easily, but the central stem can be difficult to tear and becomes rather sticky.

Mix the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add about 1 cup of warm water and stir to dissolve the dry ingredients.  Cover the bowl and let rest for about 10 minutes, so the yeast can activate.  The mixture should be bubbling at this point.  Mix in the oil and cinnamon then add the flour.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

Mix with your hands to make a soft dough (add more water or flour as needed to get the right consistency).  Add the chocolate chips and knead so that they are evenly distributed.  Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and let it rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

 

When it has risen, line a deep baking dish with the banana leaf (can substitute greased baking parchment).  Punch the dough down then add it to the pan.  Wrap the banana leaves over the top and cover the top with the remaining leaves.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

Set aside to rise for another 20 minutes.  During this time, start preheating your oven to 350 degrees then bake the bread for about an hour or until cooked through.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

Take the bread out of the pan and careful remove the banana leaves.  Let cool before slicing and serving.  Enjoy!

Easter Around the World 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Easter Around the World series on Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Follow along as we explore how Easter is celebrated in different countries!

 

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