Leanna

Jan 152020
 
 January 15, 2020  Book Reviews No Responses »

Childhood is a special time when children discover their own voice and what makes them unique. Yet often they may falter to hold onto this sense of self in the face of conflicting views and pressures. Stories are a wonderful way to start conversations and help children think through real-life scenarios they face. Here is a collection of beautiful new children’s books being true to yourself.

Being True to Yourself: New Children's Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copis 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.

Being True to Yourself: New Children’s Books

Elsie is a gorgeous new picture book about a little bunny who just wants to go on her own path – literally! Elsie is one of many brothers and sisters, and despite the pressure they put on her to just do what everyone else is doing, Elsie is determined to do what she wants, whether it’s taking a different route to the fishing pond, or using a buttercup as bait. As the story progresses, the siblings begin to see the wisdom of Elsie’s choices, and even decide to try things her way for a change! A sweet book about being true to yourself, even when others doubt you.

I Love Masala Me is a lovely new picture book in English and Hindi, about kids celebrating their mixed heritage. They are Indian and American, so rather than just one over the other, they decide to embrace both cultures. They share this with the reader using food – a subject any child can relate to! They show their love of both of their cultures by explaining that they love chicken nuggets and chicken pakora, and so on. One of the things I love about the book is that it shows points of unity as well as points of difference. A great book to teach inclusion and diversity.

Lulu Bakes: A lovely discovery is for any child struggling to discover what makes them special. If you are a middle child, you will especially relate to this book! It is also perfect for tweens, who are beginning to define their own unique voice. Lulu is a tween bunny who feels like she can’t do anything as well as her sisters – until a chance encounter at a local bakery leads her to discover her own sweet talents! Includes a recipe for Lulu’s special cupcakes. What makes this story really special, though, is that it is a collaboration between the author and her twelve year old daughter, a talented young artist who illustrated the book. Talk about finding your talent!

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Dec 232019
 
 December 23, 2019  Book Reviews, music Comments Off on New Preschool Books and Music

Preschool is such a special age, when kids are excited to learn, and there is so much to be discovered! Here are some wonderful new resources that focus on topics dear to preschoolers’ hearts at the same time as they stimulate their receptive little brains. Have fun with your little ones with these new preschool books and music!

New Preschool Books and Music | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I receive 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 Preschool Books and Music

Enjoy exploring with your little ones using these new preschool books and music!

My children adore Acrobat Family! New from gestalten, it is so intricately made, with pop-out, cut illustrations that are so cleverly done that your child will be delighted each time she turns the page. We love watching the acrobats stack themselves up, up and up! It is not only thrilling to watch but helps little ones practice their counting, as more and more acrobats are added to the show. It also shows the value of working together as a team, and how important each person’s contribution is, even the cat!

My daughter always asks to read When Pencil Met Eraser at bedtime. It is an hilarious take on one of the most fundamental relationships in a child’s schooling – that between a pencil and its eraser. In all likelihood you have never though to question this seemingly peaceful bond, but this book calls us back to its origins. What was it like when Pencil first met Eraser? Was he angry at someone always undoing his work? And what helped him change his mind? A clever story of an unlikely friendship.

I have to be honest: Waiting For The Elevator, the latest album from the legendary Laurie Berkner Band, has caused a bit of conflict in our house. My four year old daughter insists that no one can sing along the album, which she loves, so that she can hear Ms. Berkner sing. But as any fan knows, it’s impossible not to sing along to The Laurie Berkner Band! Their songs are just too catchy! *Sigh* I just try to do it as quietly as I can and hope she doesn’t notice.

Their is so much to love about this album. While it is fun for the whole family, it seems specially designed for preschoolers. It has all those elements that they enjoy so much, like tons of animals and silliness. It also focuses on topics they find fascinating. My daughter’s favorite is the title track, all about riding in an elevator! And parents will appreciate that the songs are also educational, teaching the alphabet, names of states, telling time, and more.

Most amazing to me is that The Laurie Berkner Band manages to incorporate that repetition so important to preschoolers – while making it still enjoyable for parents! To be honest, when I saw there was a song about counting the number of times a bell chimes (every hour, through all 12 hours!) I cringed. This was sure to be a long, boring, repetitive song! And yet somehow it isn’t. In fact, it is such a lovely song I often find myself singing it around the house.

It may seem incredible that The Laurie Berkner Band has managed to put out another fabulous album, but it’s true! We love Waiting For The Elevator and are sure you and your littles will too!

It’s a great time to be a Mister Rogers fan! With two new films that honor his memory, Mister Rogers’ legacy is being celebrated everywhere you turn. And now here is a new album of all of the beloved songs from the show. Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music & Memories has all the classic songs you loved, such as Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (performed by the Cowsills) and It’s Such a Good Feeling (performed by Kellie Pickler). I love the retro feel of the album, and you won’t believe how many award-winning artists are featured, including Sandi Patty, Vanessa Williams, and Lee Greenwood. My favorite song is Podemos Ser Amigos? (Can We Be Friends?) by Jon Secada. If you are a fan of Mister Rogers, you won’t want to miss this album!

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Dec 182019
 
 December 18, 2019  activities, Book Reviews, Geography, Spanish Comments Off on Explore the World with Your Child in 6 Easy Steps

Trying to raise a child who is a world citizen? Want to expose your child to different cultures but can’t afford to travel? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on for ideas of how to explore the world with your child in 6 easy steps – without ever leaving home!

Explore the World with Your Child in 6 Easy Steps | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items below for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Explore the World with Your Child in 6 Easy Steps

1. Play Games

An incredibly fun way to explore the world with your child is through games! Children learn through play, so next time you’re looking for a fun activity, remember that it can be an easy way to learn about other cultures!

That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but what if you don’t know any games from another country? Then you definitely don’t want to miss Global Kids: 50+ Games, Crafts, Recipes & More from Around the World! This is global learning made easy and super fun! This carefully researched resource comes in the form of a pack of large cards, each with an activity from a different part of the globe, or that emphasizes a particular aspect of global learning, like map reading. There are five categories: create, play, eat, celebrate, and help out. (I love the inclusion of helping others!) For example, you might learn to make a shekere (a musical instrument from Nigeria), play luta de galo (a form of tag from Brazil), make a Vietnamese fruit smoothie, grow bean sprouts to celebrate Nowruz (Persian new year), or go plogging (a Swedish activity that combines jogging and picking up litter).

The Global Kids activity pack is so easy for busy parents and teachers to use. The activities involve little to no prep, and most can be done with materials you already have in your home or classroom. Just pick a card and you will be off exploring!

2. Read Books

We all know how effective books can be in helping kids to learn about the world. And here is another stunning addition for your home library or classroom! Precious Planet: A User’s Manual for Curious Earthlings from gestalten envisions the planet as a house, where all of the elements and rooms are interconnected. First, we look back at the construction site (the planet’s creation), before moving on to the house’s foundation (the center of the earth, tectonic plates, etc.) and the different rooms (continents). Finally, we turn our gaze to our neighborhood, including possible vacation homes.

I love the book’s setup! It is such a great way of getting kids to think of the Earth in a new way, especially in terms of how closely connected we all are. For example, the Bathroom pages discuss the effect of dirty bathwater (trash in the oceans) and how the jacuzzi works (the ocean currents). The overall message of this innovative book is how all systems of our earthly home work together and our critical role as its caretakers.

3. Enjoy Food

Food is one of my favorite ways to explore the world with my kids! We love trying new recipes together, like Saudi Arabian Magic Cake or Costa Rican empanadas. Cooking together is wonderful hands on learning (science, math, language…), plus it’s easy to tie in other aspects of culture, such as celebrations.

A Taste of the World: What People Eat and How They Celebrate Around the Globe does just this, by looking at cuisine around the world, and how it relates to more than 20 different global festivities. Organized by continent, A Taste of the World, also from gestalten, looks at general aspects of global cuisine – such as spices – as well as the foods of specific countries. For each highlighted country, we explore some typical dishes and flavors as well as a local celebration, such as Three Kings’ Day in Spain, the Almond Blossom Festival in Morocco, and Thanksgiving in the US.

I love the diversity of the countries and festivals covered in the book. Many are ones you will have heard of, such as Diwali, while others, such as Jamaica’s Independence Day and Nigeria’s Fish and Cultural Festival, will likely be new to most readers.

As mentioned right at the start of the book, food brings people together because it’s all about sharing. So be sure to share this book with your little world citizen!

4. Learn a Language

Whether you speak another language or just want to learn a few phrases, exposing a child to another language not only has well documented benefits for their brain, it can also introduce them to new ways of seeing the world. And it makes a wonderful ice breaker if they meet someone from another country! Nothing makes a person feel welcome like having someone make the effort to speak to them in their own language.

As a non-native speaker, I often worry about my accent when teaching my kids Spanish. I love the new Little Polyglot Animals/Animales book from Linguacious, because it utilizes QR codes and a specially designed app to let kids hear vocabulary spoken by native speakers! (Read my review of their innovative flashcards). Each page features a large photo of an animal, along with codes that kids can scan to hear how to say the name of the animal in both English and Spanish.

It’s so easy, my four year old daughter can do it herself! And my older kids love it too, since they are drawn to anything involving technology. It is a simple yet incredibly effective way to teach children Spanish vocabulary!

5. Celebrate

Everyone loves a good party! The most popular event in our World Explorers Club is our annual Around the World Holiday Party. Learning about another culture’s celebrations can be a fun way to learn about their values and beliefs. And celebrations easily incorporate games, activities, food, music, dress-up, stories, and more!

For example, I love the gorgeous new book Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays and Traditions from Tuttle Publishing. It covers all the major holidays and festivals of Korea, such as Seollal and Chuseok, as well as special events like bithdays and weddings. Kids not only learn the significance of the celebrations, there are tons of hands-on activities, too! They can make origami carnations as a gift for Parent’s Day in May, or cook Half-Moon Rice Cake for Chuseok. Kids will also be delighted to learn about local festivals like the Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach!

There are many other fun bits of information highlighted in the book, such as the national anthem, a look at the Korean flag, and how to write in Korean. I love the whimsical watercolor illustrations that bring the celebrations to life for young readers.

6. Try Unit Studies

One way to explore the world with your child that I’ve found to be particularly effective is making use of unit studies. Focus on one country or region at a time – maybe somewhere you’ve traveled, or someplace you’ve read about in a book. You can easily pull in all of the aspects discussed above, that is, games, books, food, language, and celebrations, creating a well-rounded experience your child is sure to remember.

Let’s Go to Italy! from gestalten is the perfect book to use for a study of Italy. It covers many aspects of this rich culture, including the language, food, history, and famous landmarks. Kids will love learning that the term nutella was coined by an Italian chef or reading about how gelato was developed! They will also discover the gondolas of Venice and the love story of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, as well as learn the many different types of pasta. They will study the work of Galileo and DaVinci, and learn why a violinist in 2007 was so distraught after breaking his Stradivarius violin. This jam packed book is rounded out by a dictionary, glossary of terms, and kid-friendly recipes.

My one quibble is that I would have liked to have seen more overarching organization to the book, rather than so many small chapters. Nevertheless, it is a glorious book to get lost in, with so many fun facts about one of the world’s most fascinating countries!

More Ideas to Explore the World with Your Child:

5 Ways to Celebrate Diversity When Everyone Around You Looks the Same

Resources to Help Kids Embrace Diversity

DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers

Dec 102019
 
 December 10, 2019  Book Reviews, Christmas 2 Responses »

So many families enjoy reading Christmas books and listening to holiday music together. It’s a wonderful way to mark the season and create those special memories! Here is a batch of fabulous new Christmas books and music for families to enjoy together. They are guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit!

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items 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 Christmas Books & Music for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

New Christmas Books & Music for Kids

A new favorite at our house is the adorable When the Clock Strikes on Christmas Eve. Author Ferland wrote an equally adorable book When the Clock Strikes on Halloween (see my full review). As with her previous book, this new Christmas picture book also reinforces telling time skills, with a clock on every page spread. As the clock strikes each hour, we see families getting ready for the holidays with special traditions, such as ice skating, sitting by the fire, and decorating the tree. My son loves seeing how other families celebrate Christmas, plus he of course laughs at the mild potty humor (a farting elf!) I love the sweet illustrations and the rhyming text. This makes a great book to read by firelight just before bed on Christmas Eve!

 

Christmas Is Awesome! is a fun romp through all the reasons that Christmas really is awesome! There are twinkling lights, ugly sweaters, and, of course, being nice! I love the action-packed illustrations, which kids will be poring over to see every last hilarious detail. My favorite character is a grumpy little lump of coal. Even he gets a present, although he was all set to ring bells on the “silent nights” page! Dog lovers like my daughter will adore the “mistletoe” page, which has a dog giving a very big doggy lick to a cat. And of course, I have to mention that Santa’s elves are diverse, one of those little details that makes a difference! A really fun new Christmas book that everyone will enjoy.

I confess it is rather misleading to include Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays: Songs and Stories That Celebrate Global Light in a Christmas list, because it encompasses so much more than just Christmas! Of course, there are quite a few Christmas songs here, but there is also music to celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year! So many winter holidays from different religions celebrate light, so this point of unity can be a wonderful avenue to teach children about other beliefs. Tracks on Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays often begin with a brief explanation of the featured holiday and how it is celebrated. We love to put it on in the car when the kids are focused and ready to listen, and it would also be wonderful to use in a classroom. This album is a wonderful way to teach children about the many special days that are celebrated around the world (and in your own neighborhood!)

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Dec 032019
 
 December 3, 2019  Book Reviews Comments Off on Great Reads for 2020: Our Global Reads Book List

Have you joined our ADM Global Reads for Grownups online book club? If not, now is a perfect time, as we gear up for 2020! We had a wonderful time this past year reading and discussing an amazing collection of books that took us to Morocco, Singapore, Nigeria, New Zealand, North Korea, Mississippi, Japan, Italy, India, and Ethiopia. We can’t wait for our literary journeys next year! Below is our book list for 2020, comprised of great reads from around the globe. Join us on our adventures!

Great Reads for 2020: Our Global Reads Book List | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Great Reads for 2020: Our Global Reads Book List

Join our ADM Global Reads for Grownups group on Facebook for monthly discussions and literary news and humor!

January

The Great Alone

February

We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time

March

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel

April

Everything I Never Told You

May

Flights

June

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

July

Next Year in Havana

August

The soon to be published work, The Case for Doing Nothing, by Olga Mecking

September

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

October

The Secrets We Kept

November

Gods of Jade and Shadow

December

December is our month for relaxing and taking stock as we prepare for the year to come!

Be sure to join us in our ADM Global Reads for Grownups Facebook group and don’t forget to check out the great reads we enjoyed in 2019!

Nov 212019
 
 November 21, 2019  Book Reviews, Literacy Comments Off on Encouraging Kids to Write: 3 Ideas to Unleash Creativity

Although most children have incredibly active imaginations, many struggle when it comes to putting their ideas on paper. Help unleash your child’s creativity with these three tips for encouraging kids to write!

Encouraging Children to Write: 3 Ideas to Unleash Creativity | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Encouraging Kids to Write: 3 Ideas to Unleash Creativity

1. Expose Them to Different Forms of Writing

Often children have a very set idea of what writing is – sometimes, because we have taught them this, whether intentionally or not. (Does anyone else remember the scene from Anastasia Krupnik when Anastasia fails a writing assignment because her poem doesn’t rhyme?) Part of our job is to expose them to different forms of writing so that they can experiment and expand the ways they can express themselves.

My First Book of Haiku Poems: a Picture, a Poem and a Dream; Classic Poems by Japanese Haiku Masters is a gorgeous bilingual Japanese and English picture book designed to expose children to this beautiful (non-rhyming!) form of poetry. I love that the explanatory text prompts children with questions to get them to think about why certain imagery was chosen, and how it helps the writer express his ideas. This book is a much needed antidote to today’s fast-paced world, as it helps children to slow down and observe small details and nuances in the natural world.

2. Let Them Get Silly

I am a big advocate of being silly just for its own sake, but it also has a role in encouraging kids to write. Silliness removes mental blocks and timidity, so that children feel more free to express themselves. My Book with No Pictures is a companion volume to the mega-best seller The Book with No Pictures (see my full review). I love that this book explicitly asks children to see themselves as authors, including right on the cover, where they write their name in next to BJ Novak’s.

3. Put Away Your Red Pen

If you really want to unleash creativity, you have to take off your grammar hat and just let them write. There is a time and place for correcting spelling and punctuation, but creative writing is not one of them. Children should feel free to just write, without worrying about if they are “doing it right.” Brave Writer is a great inspiration for me in this regard. It is a wonderful language arts program that really encourages teachers and parents to give their children room to create without worry about correction. I was lucky enough to sit in on a webinar with the founder that incredibly helpful in shifting my mindset about creative writing. Be sure to visit their website for more ideas and resources on encouraging kids to write! (I’m not affiliate with Brave Writer, I just really love its philosophy!)

Does your child love to write?

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Nov 132019
 
 November 13, 2019  Book Reviews, character building for kids, parenting Comments Off on Teaching Manners: Books and Simple Courtesy Craft

As parents, we all want to raise children who are kind and treat others with courtesy. Yet figuring out exactly how to do so can be hard! Here are wonderful new books for teaching manners, plus a simple courtesy craft.

Teaching Manners: Resources and Simple Courtesy Craft | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy 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.

Teaching Manners: Resources Plus Simple Courtesy Craft

Light of Courtesy Craft

For a recent Bahá’í virtues class, I focused on teaching manners. First, we studied this quote from Bahá’u’lláh, “Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy.” We discussed how courtesy is like a light: it can brighten someone’s day, just like sunshine can brighten up a room!

Teaching Manners: Resources Plus Simple Courtesty Craft | Alldonemonkey.com
For this simple courtesy craft, you could either cut out the base and lampshade shapes ahead of time, or have the children do it themselves, depending on the ages of the children. The base can be any color, but the lampshade should be yellow, to represent light.

After they glue the pieces together to make a lamp, have them write “Courtesy” on the base (help, if needed) and decorate the lampshade with examples of courtesy. Older children can write things like “please” and “thank you,” while younger ones can draw pictures.

Afterwards, they are free to decorate as they wish!

Teaching Manners: Resources Plus Simple Courtesty Craft | Alldonemonkey.com

New Books for Teaching Manners

As the holiday season approaches, it’s a great time to reinforce the importance of being generous. The Gift Inside the Box is an innovative new picture book that is actually shaped like a box, just like might arrive in the mail this time of year. In the story, various children imagine what might be inside, thinking only of themselves and what they would want. The box runs away from each in turn, until finally he is discovered by a little girl who wonders to whom she could give this wonderful gift. A lovely reminder that giving is even more beautiful than getting.

Kindness Rules! is a hip new board book that is perfect for teaching manners to kids. Fun animal characters demonstrate kindness through real world scenarios kids find themselves in every day, such as sharing toys, meeting someone new, and apologizing. A superhero elephant (wearing “respectables” and “positive pants”) shows how to act, with commentary from a cast of friendly animals. I love that standing up for others is included, since bullying is such a big problem these days.

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Nov 122019
 
 November 12, 2019  Book Reviews, multiculturalism Comments Off on Inspiring Biographies of Diverse Heroes

As much as I love fiction, I also love reading true stories, which are all the more powerful because you know they really happened. For children, they are also opportunities to see all the possibilities for their own lives, as they draw strength from the examples of others. This is why it is so important that children be exposed to a wide variety of diverse, true life stories from an early age. Below is a collection of inspiring biographies for kids about diverse heroes.

Inspiring Biographies of Diverse Heroes | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Inspiring Biographies of Diverse Heroes

I had heard about Dr. Ellen Ochoa, engineer and first Hispanic woman in space, but there is so much more to her story! As a musician, I loved finding out about her love of music, and that she even played the flute while in space! The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa is another beautiful book from Innovation Press. This picture book biography helps kids learn to overcome adversity and to stay true to their dreams, even when others are determined to shut doors in their faces. I also loved the detail about how Dr. Ochoa made the decision to pursue a career as an astronaut relatively late – in fact, she almost majored in music instead of physics! Good news for those that take their time when making decisions 🙂

Another woman who defied convention was Evelyn Cheeseman, whose story is beautiful brought to life in Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter. As a girl, Cheeseman loved to play and explore in the dirt, even though girls in her day were expected to be prim and proper. As an adult, Cheeseman was an intrepid explorer, heading off on solo expeditions to far-flung locations at a time when women were expected to marry and stay home. A wonderful book to encourage children to be daring and adventurous in pursuit of their dreams.

The House That Cleaned Itself: The True Story of Frances Gabe’s (Mostly) Marvelous Invention is one of the wackiest true stories I have read in a long time! Children today may understand Gabe’s lack of enthusiasm about household chores, but this book does a great job of helping them understand just how tedious they were in those days, and what a burden they were particularly on women and girls. Frances Gabe was not having it, so she invented the self-cleaning house! Despite having low funds and no college education, Gabe patented nearly 70 inventions for her unique house. (Here is a video of Gabe giving a tour of the house). This is such a fun book to read, encouraging kids to think way outside the box when solving difficult problems!

Frida, Queen of the Canvas is one of a beautiful series of inspiring biographies from Queen Girls, which turns the lives of real women into fairy tales for young readers. In Frida, Queen of the Canvas we explore the life of the beloved Mexican artist and activist Frida Kahlo. By showing how Kahlo transformed her pain into art, this book is a wonderful way to teach kids that they can do anything they set their minds to!

While Kahlo’s story was familiar to me, I was delighted to learn more about educator Savitribhai in Savitri, the Teaching Queen. Born in the early 19th century in British India, Savitri was denied an education until her husband taught her to read. That was the beginning of her pursuit of learning, and later, while still in her teens, Savitri helped found the first school for girls in Pune, India, and became its first teacher. She is now revered for her work in education and social reform.

At a time when many observers are wondering how to keep girls interested in the sciences, Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM Careers provides a wonderful means for doing just that. This is a unique book that explores the “super powers” that STEM superheroes possess (such as observation and curiosity). It then shows how 26 women use these super powers in careers (from A-Z) that make the world a better place. For example, civil engineer Vanessa Galvez uses the super power of problem solving to come up with better solutions for handling storm water. Renewable energy analyst Hannah Olmberg-Soesman uses the super power of collaboration to work with power companies and communities in Suriname to make solar power more accessible.

I love this book because it showcases so many amazing women, who are doing really fascinating work! And it focuses on aspects of science that tend to be appealing to girls – that is, the practical applications that have real world benefits for others. A wonderful book to encourage girls and boys to pursue a STEM career!

Of course, let’s not forget that boys need inspiring examples to follow as well, especially in this age where masculinity is being redefined and boys are often sent confusing messages about what it means to become a man. The gorgeous book Boy oh Boy consists of 30 inspiring biographies of positive male role models – from Gandhi to Prince, from sports figures and artists to activists and scientists. The men are incredibly diverse, in terms of race, geography, and career path.

I love that each man chosen displays qualities that we all want to instill in our sons – such as courage and compassion – yet these manifest themselves in very different ways in each case, proving that there are so many different ways to be a man!

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Nov 062019
 
 November 6, 2019  activities, Book Reviews, crafts Comments Off on Fairy Tales from Around the World

Einstein is credited with saying, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Fairy tales can teach children values as well as open their imaginations to fantastical worlds. Reading fairy tales from other cultures can also be a window into another way of life.

Lately we’ve been enjoying classic stories from Asia and a twist on the familiar European fairy tales of knights and princesses. As you know, I love hands on learning, so I was thrilled to finish it off by letting my kids play with a beautiful fairy tale origami set. Read on for more details!

Fairy Tales from Around the World | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the products 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.

Fairy Tales from Around the World

It’s hard not to get swept up in the drama of Thai Children’s Favorite Stories: Fables, Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales, with its lush illustrations and larger than life tales. These nine stories, which have been passed down through generations, include many “just so” stories, such as how the tiger got its stripes and how the Bay of Bangkok came to be. I love that the stories explore universal values such as courage and wisdom, yet they are set against the backdrop of Thai village life, so that children also learn more about Thai culture and history. A lovely book to be treasured.

Another beautiful book of multicultural fairy tales is Three Korean Fairy Tales: Beloved Stories and Legends, retold by Kim So-un, a storyteller much beloved in Korea. Children are quickly caught up in the suspense over what will happen, for instance, to the fisherman when he goes to the underwater Dragon Palace, all the while absorbing details of Korean culture. I loved the artwork, which combines elements of traditonal and modern Korean art. A not to be missed collection.

A lighter take on the fairy tale genre comes from Jennifer and Matthew Holm, the sibling duo who brought us the Babymouse series, in addition to their separate works. In the highly imaginative new picture book The Evil Princess vs. the Brave Knight, they explore the idea of sibling rivalry. After another big conflict, the a brother and sister discover that it’s not as much fun being evil or brave alone, and that they really are better off together. But does that mean that they are now best friends? Well, maybe not! A fun book to read and laugh over with your kids.

If your child has even the least interest in fairy tales, you must try the fabulous My First Origami Fairy Tales Kit: Paper Models of Knights, Princesses, Dragons, Ogres and More! It has something for everyone, from castles to gingerbread houses and pirate ships! All three of my children fell in love with this set and didn’t want to leave off working on it to eat lunch. My littlest one enjoyed putting stickers on the backdrops, while the older two immediately set to work on the origami.

Fairy Tales from Around the World | Alldonemonkey.com

I love that the kit (which comes with a full-color instruction book) includes easier models as well as more challenging ones, so it is suitable for a range of ages and abilities. And once you finish the origami, the fun doesn’t stop! There are 6 different story backdrops, each of which coordinates with different origami models. For example, once you finish the knight, you can make him a sword and shield and then act out a scene in front of one of the castle backdrops!

The kit comes with 36 folding sheets for 11 different characters, 6 interchangeable story backdrops, and 85 stickers to use in decorating the characters and backdrops. A wonderful way to build up those fine motor skills and fire up children’s imaginations!

What are your child’s favorite fairy tales?

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Nov 012019
 
 November 1, 2019  Book Reviews, music Comments Off on Adorable New Books for Babies

Reading together with your little one is a wonderful way to teach pre-literacy skills and early science concepts – and share some sweet snuggly time together. Here are adorable new books for babies your child will love!

Adorable New Books for Babies | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Adorable New Books for Babies

Enjoy struggle time with your little ones while teaching pre-reading and early science skills with these adorable new books for babies!

My daughter loves Look!: Babies Head to Toe and asks for it again and again. Its gorgeous illustrations of diverse, happy babies draw in little readers, as they learn about the parts of the body through the simple, repetitive text. A lovely addition to any collection of books for babies.

Baby Loves: A First Book of Favorites is a sweet follow up to Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions. (Read my review here). This book takes advantage of how little ones love to look at pictures of other babies, and uses this to build vocabulary and encourage pointing, an important early communication skill. Babies will recognize so many of their favorite things, like bananas, sippy cups, and puppies. But most of all, they will recognize that what babies most love is to be loved! (My daughter always has to end this book with a big hug!) A wonderful early book for babies.

Apple is a new book from favorite author/illustrator Nikki McClure. In McClure’s signature papercut style, this book follows the life cycle of an apple. But what is brilliant is that it doesn’t begin with a seed, as books often do, but instead with the apple babies will be familiar with. First the apple falls from the tree and is packed into a little girl’s lunch. After she takes a bite, it falls on the ground and becomes buried with the change of seasons, eventually turning into the sprout of an apple tree. With single word text on each page, this beautiful book is a perfect introduction to early science concepts for very young readers.

Introduce children to life on the farm with Farmblock! This chunky book is the latest in the innovative Block Books series, which includes Cityblock. (Read my review here). The gate folds and cut out pages create a charming effect that will captivate young readers as they learn all about the rhythms of life on the farm. I love that this book is also a gentle introduction to the seasons, as we go from planting seeds in the spring to harvest time in the fall. Great interactive book with so much to see!

My Magical Dragon is the third in the magical series that started with My Magical Unicorn and My Magical Mermaid. (Read my review of them both). These are the books I take with me whenever we have to sit for long periods, as they are guaranteed to keep my daughter entertained. In My Magical Dragon we meet a friendly dragon and follow along as he goes for a ride with a prince and princess and even lights a fire to make tea in the garden! As with the first two books, there are plenty of tabs for little ones to push, pull, spin, and slide. The adventure begins on the front cover, where young readers spin a wheel that makes holographic foil shimmer and flow through the dragon, creating a truly enchanting effect! Beautiful book to keep little ones engaged.

The musical picture book Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from West Africa and the Caribbean is one of the most beautiful works to cross my desk in a long time. It is not only a gorgeously illustrated book of lullabies and nursery rhymes from the African diaspora, it also includes a wonderful music album! The album contains full length songs, while the book illustrates the principal concepts from each (with more detailed explanations and full lyrics at the back). While you may recognize a few (like Day-O), others will become new favorites. There is so much that’s universal about these songs (such as soothing children to sleep or teaching values of love and kindness), but it’s also fun to see what’s different, like lyrics about pufferfish and gorillas.

It was an eye opener for my children to see how so many different lands on both sides of the Atlantic are connected through the legacy of the slave trade. They were especially surprised to hear songs in Spanish, not having associated Cuba with Africa before! In all, thirteen different languages and dialects are represented in this incredible collection. But despite the diversity, there is a common love of music as a way to entertain, teach, and comfort.

Where Is My Pink Sweater? is a cute story about little Rudy, who can’t find his favorite pink sweater. Children can relate to Rudy’s dilemma, as he can’t quite let go of a favorite sweater, even though he has outgrown it. He goes to great lengths to find it again, following the trail of pink yarn through various rooms with lift-the-flap surprises. I love the counting element, as he meets, for example, ten tumbling cats and nine jiving llamas. But the best is the ending, as he discovers that his sweater has been lovingly re-knit to a larger size!

Planning a trip? Or does your little one simply love vehicles? All Aboard! The Airport Train is one of a series of train books that includes All Aboard! The Christmas Train (read my review here). These unique board books are incredibly interactive, opening up so that each page is a car of the train. In addition, there are flaps to lift and hidden objects to find! This book is such a fun way to explore concepts like colors and numbers, plus it encourages children to use their imaginations in order to, for example, find shapes in the clouds.

My kids loves The Cutest Thing Ever and request it regularly during storytime. How could they not? It’s so, well, cute! It seeks to answer hat age old quesion, what is the cutest thing ever? A kitten? How about two? Wearing hats? And on and on through ever sillier combinations, until children turn the final page to find a mirror, discovering that they are definitely the cutest thing ever!

It Came from under the High Chair – Salió de debajo de la silla para comer is a fun bilingual book that teaches prepositions in English and Spanish. Like so many babies, Ivan has the habit of throwing his food around during meals. But one day, the mess under his high chair comes to life! The children try to tell their parents, but the practical adults of course don’t believe them. This silly story is a great way to practice prepositions (there’s even a pronunciation guide in the back), and kids will pick up on the moral about being neater at mealtime!

What are your favorite books for babies?

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