Jan 192018
 

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s the perfect time to talk to children about love and how it unites us as one human family. I wanted to emphasize that no matter how different we may seem, we all experience love, so I created this free printable Valentine’s Day mini book that teaches how to say “love” in five different languages. It’s a fun way to celebrate the holiday and to teach children an important life lesson. Scroll down to download your copy!

Valentine's Day Mini Book: Speaking of Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy 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 at no extra charge to you.

Valentine’s Day Mini Book: Speaking of Love

When teaching children about the world, it’s important to emphasize that despite our differences, we have so much in common. Love is one of the most universal qualities that we share, and this free Valentine’s Day mini book shows children how to say “love” in five different languages: Spanish, French, German, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese.

There is also a matching page (with answer key), so it is easy to use as a fun classroom activity.

Related Post: Teaching Children to Choose Love

To download your copy simply click on the link below:

Download your free Valentine’s Day Mini Book: Speaking of Love

And thank you to EduClips for the lovely bird clip art I used in the Valentine’s Day Mini Book!

Another great way to teach kids about love as a universal language is the gorgeous new children’s book Love from Matt de la Peña, author of the acclaimed children’s book Last Stop on Market Street (read my full review). This lovely new work focuses on how we all experience love in its myriad forms – from a beautiful sunset to laughter or the sound of a parent’s voice. I love the emphasis on recognizing love in the simple, ordinary moments, like playing in sprinkler during the summer or lying in the grass and looking up at the trees.

But love is more than just sunshine and rainbows – it’s also the hug when you’re scared or someone waking at dawn to go to work. This book doesn’t shy away from childhood fears and tragedies, but it handles them gently and reminds children that through it all, they are always surrounded by love, love, love.

And of course I adore the diverse images in the books – in particular a girl in sneakers and a hijab enjoying the beauty of a spring day. The illustrations go a long way towards helping children understand that no matter how different we may look, we all experience love and the simple joys of life.

I highly recommend this book as a wonderful way to celebrate the love that surrounds us and remind children of the beauty in the ordinary.

Related Post: Picture Books About Love

Love Blog Tour

This post is part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Love by Matt de la Peña. Be sure to check out all the posts below!

WEEK ONE
January 8 – Margie’s Must Reads – Mood Board
January 9 – DoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life – Review and Review and Creative (lesson plan/unit study)
January 10 – The Keepers of the Books – What Love Means to different age groups
January 11 – The Children’s Book Reviews – Creative
January 12 – Books4yourkids – Creative
WEEK TWO
January 15 – Happily Ever Elephants – Review + Kids quotes on what love is to them.
January 16 – Crayon Freckles – Creative Learning Activity
January 17 – My Book Bloom – Review and Craft
January 18 – My Little Poppies – Activity
January 19 – All Done Monkey – Lesson plan or activity.
WEEK THREE
January 22 – Mundie Moms – Ask 7th graders what they think of the definition of “love”
January 23 – Wandering Bark Books – Spotlight
January 24 – Little Lit Book Series – Arts and Crafts Post
January 25 – Between the Reads – Review AND exploring what love means in today’s society and what it means to me
January 26 – The Plot Bunny – Old Valentine’s Mood Board
WEEK FOUR
January 29 – Just Commonly – “Love is” Collage
January 30 – Inspiration Laboratories – Artwork demonstrating love
Jan 092018
 

Want to explore the world with your kids? Looking for fun, safe games online that actually teach something to your child? Here is a great new multicultural app for kids that everyone will love!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

This post is sponsored by Hearts for Hearts Girls; however, all opinions are my own.

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market

Those of us with daughters often commiserate about the type of games that are targeted towards girls – all frills and rainbows without much substance. That is why I was so excited to learn about Hearts for Hearts Girls, whose mission is “to empower girls to become agents of change in their communities, their countries, and around the world. We want to change the world one heart at a time, and you can be a part of that dream!”

Already known for their beautiful diverse dolls, now Hearts for Hearts Girls has launched an incredibly fun multicultural app for kids! The graphics are colorful and engaging, and the games themselves will definitely keep your child’s interest.

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

Kids can choose among 4 different characters who live in communities around the globe – India, Mexico, USA, and Ethiopia. In each community, you choose missions (games) – such as making music, playing soccer, or catching raindrops – that help build bring each neighborhood to life. Along the way, your child will learn about the culture of the place and the story of the character that lives there.

Related Post: Spanish App to Teach Language and Culture

My kids’ favorite games so far as herding ducks (India) and the bakery (Mexico), but I can tell we’ve just scratched the surface. There are an incredible 100+ missions for more than 40 hours of exploring and playing!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

And if your kids love fashion, they will enjoy dressing up the girls in more than 25 mix and match fashions, plus fabrics and templates to create their own.

I also have to comment about how much I loved the music. Usually when my kids are playing online I have to turn the volume down, because the music is so annoying, but with this multicultural app for kids, we actually turned the volume up, so we could listen to the wonderful global music!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

But as a mom, what I really loved is that Heart Street Market is play with purpose – the 100+ missions available are all aimed towards helping 4 characters from around the world make a difference in their local communities. In fact, Hearts for Hearts Girls is partnered with World Vision® for programs that support gender equality, education, infrastructure, and humanitarian aid. So while you are having fun playing Heart Street Market, you are actually making a difference in the real world!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

I should also add that though the app seems targeted more towards girls, my sons loved it. My 8 year old said it was “super fun,” while my 5 year old just said “mm-hmm” and kept on playing!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

I highly recommend Heart Street Market for global learning fun and play with purpose (though your kids will just think of it as fun!) Find it on Google Play and iTunes and follow them on Facebook!

Dec 212017
 
 December 21, 2017  Education, New Year's Comments Off on New Year’s Math Puzzles for Winter Break Fun

Looking for a fun way to keep up math skills over winter break? Here are New Year’s math puzzles that have a secret message that will be revealed as they do the math! There are two puzzles, both of which focus on distinguishing between even and odd numbers. The one for younger learners uses smaller numbers and some simple addition and subtraction, while the other introduces basic multiplication and division.

New Year's Math Puzzles for Winter Break Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

New Year’s Math Puzzles for Winter Break Fun

Related Post: DIY New Year’s Eve Family Game

Keep learning fun over winter break with these New Year’s math puzzles for elementary students! For both puzzles, students must decide if the number in each space is even or odd. The “easy” puzzle includes basic addition and subtraction, while the “difficult” puzzles uses beginning multiplication and division.

Instructions:

  1. Choose either the “easy” (addition and subtraction) or “difficult” (multiplication and division) puzzle below. Right click on the image to save and print.
  2. Pick two colors (we liked yellow and blue). One color will be for even numbers and the other for odd numbers.
  3. For each space, decide if the number shown is even or odd, and color accordingly. As you go, you will reveal a secret message!

Easy New Year’s Math Puzzle

Easy Puzzle: New Year's Math Puzzles for Winter Break Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Difficult New Year’s Math Puzzle

Difficult Puzzle: New Year's Math Puzzles for Winter Break Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

Dec 062017
 
 December 6, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Great New Books for Little Hands to Love

Reading with little ones is so important for their emotional and cognitive development – as well as being a fun, snuggly time for them and their caregivers! Chunky, colorful board books are wonderful tools to introduce babies and toddlers to the wonderful world of books. Here are some of our favorite new books for little hands. Share yours in the comments!

Great New Books for Little Hands to Love | 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.

Great New Books for Little Hands to Love

Here are some of our favorite new board books your little ones are sure to love. And don’t miss these tips on reading with small children!

Changing Faces: Meet Happy Bear is the hands down favorite of my two year old. It has such a clever design – as you turn the pages, Happy Bear’s facial expressions change, so it is great for teaching emotional intelligence. I also love that the emphasis is on what you can do to help Happy Bear be happy again – like doing something silly or kind to cheer him up. A really fun book to read aloud together!

Buildablock is another installment in the fun series of board books about exploring the world around you. (We also love Cityblock – read my full review). This latest book focuses on building, so it is sure to be a hit with construction-loving toddlers! My little one loves to flip through the shaped pages, poring over the images, which have so much for her to discover!

Related Post: Bilingual Board Books

Charlie Builds: Bridges, Skyscrapers, Doghouses, and More! is the sequel to the lovely Charlie Rides: Planes, Trains, Bikes, and More! (read my full review). It continues the theme of celebrating the sweet relationship between a boy and his father, as they use a variety of materials to build together. (Great for parents to get ideas on fun projects to do together, from sandcastles to pillow forts!)

All Aboard!: Let’s Ride A Train is one that all of my kids love to read. It has such a phenomenal design – it actually folds out car by car to be several feet long! Even my 7 year old glommed onto this one right away. They all had so much fun spreading the book out and exploring each page. Interactive reads like these are wonderful books for little hands!

Better Together: A Book of Family is a sweet tribute to the importance of families and their ability to surround us by love even in moments when we feel most alone. My kids love the cut-out pages, which cleverly show how one character may seem all alone, but then (as you turn the page) you see that they are surrounded by family who help them solve their problem. Great for animal lovers, as most of the book centers on different species (and you learn the collective nouns for each!), but my favorite is the last section, which shows a multiracial human family enveloping their little one in warmth and love. A very sweet book to cuddle up and read together!

Dec 012017
 
 December 1, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting, STEM Comments Off on Emergency Preparedness and Extreme Weather

When I was a child, my family lived through a hurricane – something previously unheard of in my part of North Carolina, as far inland as we were. Luckily, my mother was always attentive to emergency reports and had quickly stocked our home with the essentials, so that when the storm hit we were ready. (A good thing, since we were without power for 10 days!) Recently we have seen many more families impacted by natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires, which is why it is essential to teach our children about emergency preparedness. Here are some wonderful resources that will help your family to get ready for an emergency plus teach children about the science behind extreme weather, including a great new children’s book from an award-winning meteorologist!

Emergency Preparedness and Extreme Weather: Resources for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Freddy the Frogcaster 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.

Emergency Preparedness and Extreme Weather: Resources for Kids

Emergency Preparedness for Families

How to Have a Weather Drill at Home Without Scaring the Kids Your Modern Family

Your Weather Emergency and Hurricane Preparedness Checklist The Soccer Mom

10 Things You Need to Do Now to Prepare a Family Emergency Kit STEAM Powered Family

How to Prepare Your Family for a Weather Emergency Teach Mama

The Science Behind Extreme Weather

Learning About the Water Cycle and Flooding Science Sparks

Hurricane Unit Study Look! We’re Learning

Hurricane Model Science Experiment Preschool Powol Packets

Make a Hurricane Gift of Curiosity

Tornado in a Jar Schooling a Monkey

Natural Disaster Lessons: Wildfires, Earthquakes, & Volcanoes The Usual Mayhem

Snowstorm in a Jar Lemon Lime Adventures

Emergent Readers About Extreme Weather The Measured Mom

 

Freddy the Frogcaster and the Flash Flood is a wonderful book for a range of ages. It is the fifth in a series from award-winning meteorologist Janice Dean, who focuses her stories on helping children understand extreme weather and learn important safety tips. In this book, Freddy the Frogcaster (who is super adorable, by the way!) warns the town about a big storm coming – but then the storm passes them by! Freddy must overcome his embarrassment to make sure the town is ready when a storm does come. I love that this story shows that, even though forecasters may not always “get it right” all of the time (thanks to the science of predicting the weather), it is still important to pay attention to the weather report so we can help us be ready when a disaster hits.

This book works on so many levels. The colorful illustrations and relatable story line are very appealing to young readers, who may not even notice how much weather science is woven into the story itself! There are also wonderful fact filled pages at the end of the book, where kids not only learn all about the science behind floods, they get great tips on how to stay safe if one strikes.

I really recommend this series for families and classrooms, as it contains such valuable information in a very entertaining, easy to understand format.

Nov 282017
 
 November 28, 2017  Geography Comments Off on Geography Activity for Kids: Design a Continent

Ever since I was a girl I loved geography: I was fascinated by learning about different parts of the world and what made them unique. Here is a creative, fun geography activity to help children play with concepts as they imagine and design their own continent! The planning worksheet helps them think through elements to include, such as mountains, rivers, and various biomes, plus there is a drawing sheet provided for their final creation. You never know what they will come up with!

Geography Activity for Kids: Design Your Own Continent | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Here We Are 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.

Geography Activity for Kids: Design Your Own Continent

Related Post: Resources to Teach Kids About Geography

Here is a two-part geography activity for kids to design their own continent! For more on biomes, you can visit this page, recommended by the National Geographic for Kids website.

Right-click on the images below to download:

Page 1: Planning Page

Geography Activity for Kids: Design Your Own Continent | Alldonemonkey.com

Page 2: Drawing Page

Geography Activity for Kids: Design Your Own Continent | Alldonemonkey.com

This geography activity was inspired by the reading of a wonderful new children’s book. Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth is the latest from kid lit rock star Oliver Jeffers, well known as illustrator of the wildly popular The Day the Crayons Quit and author/illustrator of wonderful books like Stuck. This gorgeous new work is Jeffers’ response to becoming a father, as he tried to make sense of the world for his newborn son. With his characteristic sense of humor, Jeffers introduces us to the world, in terms of its physical makeup and place in the universe as well as the its human diversity. More fundamentally, it is an overview of the basics of life itself and how we should treat each other and the world we share. This is a beautiful book to inspire curiosity and wonder in children and adults alike and is sure to become a popular gift for baby showers and graduations!

Related Post: Children’s Books to Teach Geography and Critical Thinking Skills

Nov 142017
 

Looking for some ideas for easy indoor winter fun? As much as we love to get outside, where we live in Northern California it is often cold and rainy this time of year, so we are stuck inside much of the time. So instead I came up this simple snowman craft – and the boys invented a fun indoor winter game! Plus you don’t want to miss our review and giveaway of a wonderful new winter books that is sure to become a family favorite! GIVEAWAY EXTENDED UNTIL MIDNIGHT on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29!

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun

This snowman craft is great for a range of ages – little ones will love just playing with the cotton balls, while older children can do more elaborate creations. And the materials are ones you probably already have on hand!

You’ll Need

cotton balls

toothpicks

glue

spare buttons

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

That’s it! Just glue the cotton balls together and add decorations to make your snowman! This can also be an engineering challenge for kids as they figure out the best way to put the cotton balls together to make the creation they want – or perhaps to make it stand up! We found that it was easiest to put the toothpick arms in between the cotton balls rather than trying to stick them into the cotton balls.

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

Buttons are great for the snowman’s buttons of course, but all the eyes or even hats!

When you’ve finished your snowmen, you can also do what my kids did – have an impromptu “snowball” fight with the leftover cotton balls! (I wasn’t able to get a good picture of that, too many snowballs flying everywhere!)

They’re back! The adorable owl siblings we came to love in  Hoot and Peep (read my full review) are back in a new book that celebrates the wonder of a child’s first winter! A Song for Snow is another gorgeous book from famed author Lita Judge. Little sister Peep can’t wait for her first snow, but her big brother Hoot can’t answer all her many questions – he was young last winter and can’t quite remember all about it, especially what its “song” would be like! Children will identify with Peep’s excited impatience, as she flies around the beautiful Paris landscape waiting for snow. But they soon learn, along with Hoot, the wisdom of waiting. Wonderful book to celebrate winter with children. It also serves as a gentle reminder of the importance of mindfulness and learning to appreciate the pace of the natural world.

And now you can win your own copy! Just comment below with your child’s favorite winter activity! (Or if your child is young, let us know what you are looking forward to doing with your child this winter).

Winner will be selected by random drawing. US shipping only. Giveaway EXTENDED! Ends Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at midnight PT.

Song for Snow Blog tour
SCHEDULE:
 
November 13 – Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind – Review and Art Project
November 14 – All Done Monkey – Review
November 15 – Crayon Freckles – Learning Activity
November 16 – Product Review Café – Review 
November 17 – Gravity Bread – Review with Language and Learning Tips

 

Nov 082017
 
 November 8, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting 2 Responses »

Do you ever worry, like I do, about what kind of adults your children will grow into? Sometimes when I see my preschooler hitting his brother or my toddler smearing banana all over herself, I wonder how they will ever gain the skills to make positive decisions and grow into competent, responsible adults. But luckily there are ways to help empower kids to make good decisions and give them opportunities to practice those skills. Below are some tips that I have learned as well as ideas from other parents and educators, plus a great new interactive children’s book you won’t want to miss!

Empowering Kids to Make Good Decisions | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of What Should Danny Do? 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.

Empowering Kids to Make Good Decisions

Much of what I share below is based on my experience of the concept of positive discipline, which is a method of helping children learn to “develop self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, and problem-solving skills.”

Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills is a classic book that has been used by countless parents and teachers to end the battle of wills with children and help raise the competent, responsible adults we all dream of. It has transformed how I deal with disagreements with and between my kids and has really made our time together so much more enjoyable. Below I’ll share some of what we’re doing at home to put the ideas of positive discipline into practice, plus a great interactive children’s book that will teach children that they have the power to make good decisions!

The Power of Choice

As an overworked parent of young children, it may seem idyllic to imagine someone doing everything for us (as we imagine that we do for our children). But would it really? Sure, I might like a break now and again, but would I really want someone deciding exactly what I would eat and when, or what I would wear? Children often enjoy having a say in these basic, everyday decisions, and it is great practice for them to learn how to make good decisions. Importantly, just teaching them that they have a choice is essential, especially when it comes to setting boundaries with others. We may grit our teeth when our toddler screams “No!” yet again, but don’t we hope she’ll feel just as empowered to say “no” when she’s a teenager?

Offer Limited Choices

One way to give your children practice making good decisions in a way that doesn’t create havoc is to offer limited, acceptable choices. You don’t simply ask your child what she wants for dinner, or she is likely to enthusiastically reply, “Ice cream!” Decide what is acceptable to you and just offer that. Not only does this ensure that she picks something you can live with, many children find it overwhelming to be given too many options. “Do you want a turkey sandwich or yogurt for lunch?” For another example, check out this genius hack for toddler snack time! The child feels empowered because he is getting his snack all by himself, and the mom can feel good that he is choosing from healthy options. My mother did this all the time when we were kids, and it really helped us practice those budding skills – and feel very grown up!

Provide Guidance

Making good decisions is not an intuitive process. Children need our guidance, often repeatedly over time, to begin learning these critical thinking skills. Modeling good decision-making and providing targeted encouragement (rather than praise) can help children along the way. Consider it training rather than an annoyance. Yes, it would be much easier to just do it yourself, but as with so many aspects of parenting, you are making an investment for the long-term, so be on hand to help your children as they try to make good decisions.

Work Together on Solutions

Often parents enter into power struggles with their children without meaning to, when you end up on opposite sides and one will be the winner and one the loser. Offering choices can be one way to focus on finding a solution together. Enlist your child’s support to find a way to resolve a problem rather than just telling them what to do. So if your toddler is refusing to put on his shoes, try asking if he’d like to wear his blue sneakers or his red ones. Does he want to put on his shoes first or his jacket? This technique can diffuse a difficult situation plus get him invested in finding a solution. Here is a great example of how that looks in a situation where your children are hitting each other.

Give Plenty of Practice

The more practice they can get, the better! Offer choices in small matters, so that when the big decisions crop up they don’t seem so overwhelming. A child who chooses her lunch or picks out her outfit every day will feel more confident about her abilities to choose.

In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to make good decisions. Instead, pick quiet moments to try role playing or challenging them with different scenarios that they need to problem solve. It can be helpful for them to get practice without the pressure of “real world” situations. The more often they run through different scenes, the more they exercise those decision making skills and so are better prepared the next time a tough situation arises.

Choose Your Timing

When a child is having a tantrum or is clearly upset, they are not in a good place to talk about solutions or discuss choices. First you need to help them to calm down and feel better then wait to follow up afterwards. Know your child and judge when offering choices could help and when they just need to be removed from a situation.

Help Them Learn from Mistakes

Here is a great article on how to respond when children make mistakes. We can also model forgiveness – of the children and of ourselves – when mistakes are made. We are not helping our children when we make all the decisions for them or when we make things too easy – choices help them gain new skills, and experiencing disappointment from a bad decision can let them learn to deal with big emotions in a safe environment. It is also important to separate the idea of good and bad choices from good and bad peopleThey are not “bad” because they make bad choices. Choices can be wrong, but mistakes are also great learning opportunities.

 

What Should Danny Do? is a fantastic, fun resource that kids of a range of ages will enjoy. Do you remember those old “choose your adventure” books? This is an updated version for younger kids, where you can help Danny choose how to respond in different scenarios that will be readily recognizable to children. What should they do if their brother grabs their “favorite” plate at breakfast? How should they respond when someone is teasing them? With each scenario, children are able to choose one of two options, then turn to the corresponding page to see the outcome of their choice.

This book is such a wonderful way to reinforce the idea that children have the power to make good decisions. Danny’s father helps him see this as a super power, and throughout the book the reader helps Danny make choices and see the impact they have on his day. My son loved the concept of the book and right away started flipping pages and trying out all the different combinations and endings of the story. I also loved that there was not simply one big decision that Danny had to make, but rather a series of decisions that affected the course of the day. So if he made a bad decision at breakfast, he had several more opportunities to make better choices throughout the day.

What Should Danny Do? is an upbeat, positive way to teach children that they have the power to make good decisions!

Nov 022017
 
 November 2, 2017  Book Reviews, STEM Comments Off on New STEM Books with Strong Female Characters

As we all know, there is a big push to get girls interested in STEM and a key component of that is to provide great role models for them, so they can imagine themselves doing STEM activities and pursuing related careers. That is why I am so pleased to share with you great STEM books aimed at children of different ages that feature girls and women with varied personalities and backgrounds, who happen to all love the STEM fields. Here is a collection of great new STEM books with strong female characters, plus bonus STEM resources!

I also want to add that while these books have strong female characters, they are not STEM books for girls only. I have read all of them with my sons, who have really enjoyed them. Boys need positive female role models, too!

STEM Books with Strong Female Characters | Alldonemonkey.com

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

New STEM Books with Strong Female Characters

Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale is a wonderful mathematical twist on the classic tale, delivering up not one but two heroines to love. Cin and Tin split exactly in half all of the chores they receive from their evil stepmother but both yearn for something more. After they attend the royal ball, the smitten Prince Charming is confused when the slipper he finds fits both of the twins. Can the fairy godmother help the girls with some mathematical magic? I love that while one twin in your more traditional fairy princess, the other is a math whiz who just wants to lead an academic life – no judgment of either choice in this book! We also love the poster that comes with the book (“Master math to live happily ever HALF-ter!”), which includes fun math activities on the back.

The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: the Story of Dr. Patricia Bath is the inspiring true story of a gifted child whose parents encouraged her dreams despite the double burden she faced as a black girl. Her story of determination and perseverance will inspire any child who has been told she couldn’t do something simply because she was different. The book tells Dr. Bath’s life story with engaging pictures and rhyming text, plus there are lots of resources included at the end – a timeline of Dr. Bath’s life, “fun facts” about her, a more in-depth look at her biography, and – my favorite – a personal note from Dr. Bath, encouraging children to always ask questions.

One thing that really struck me about her story is her focus on community health and providing prevention eye care to underserved communities. Years ago I read an article about female scientists, which made the observation that women in science tend to focus on practical research to help people – rather like the truism in development circles that if you want to educate a community, you need to educate the women. Exactly why we need more girls to get excited about STEM!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: the Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is another incredible true story of a STEM heroine who was told “no” at every turn. Dr. Temple Grandin was one of the first people I had ever heard of with autism (years before my own nephew’s diagnosis). Importantly, she was one of the very first who could really communicate to others what it feels like to be autistic, and how differently people with autism see the world. What is so great about her story is that it is not so much about her “overcoming” autism but learning to use it to her advantage to empathize with animals and try to see things from their point of view. This book follows a similar format to The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes above – first a picture book story and then additional resources, including fun facts and a personal note from Dr. Grandin.

The Friendship Code is the first book in the super cool new Girls Who Code chapter book series. It centers around Lucy and her excitement about the new coding club at school. But she is frustrated with the teacher seems to give them irrelevant assignments – plus there is bound to be major drama when her former best friend joins the club, too! To top it off, someone is sending Lucy messages written in code. Can she and her coding club friends solve the mystery? I love the diverse characters in the book – diverse not just racially but personality wise as well. You have your geek, your jock, your theater buff, and your fashionista – showing that all kinds of kids can enjoy doing coding. The dynamics among the characters feels very authentic, and kids will love trying to solve the case – learning a lot of basic coding along the way!

As with all of the books listed here, boys can really enjoy it, too – in fact, I’m having to write this review from memory, as my oldest son has the book spirited away in his room to finish reading. When I asked him for it back, he waved vaguely to his room and said it should be in there, adding, “It’s really good!” Um, yes, I know! Now can I have it back, please??

Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World is the non-fiction companion to The Friendship Code above. And it is awesome. I enjoyed reading it myself, and I’ve incorporated it into the coding part of our homeschool curriculum because it does such a stellar job of explaining coding – what it is, why we should care, and how it works. Despite its catchy format, it really does get into the nitty gritty of coding, but it explains it so well that it isn’t intimidating at all, it’s really fun! Which is the whole point of the Girls Who Code organization behind the book – making coding relevant and accessible for girls in order to close the gender gap in tech. The organization, which began 5 years ago, will reach 40,000 girls throughout the US by the end of the year – from rural communities to homeless shelters to prestigious private schools. STEM books like Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World and The Friendship Code help them extend this reach even further.

Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble gets an honorable mention here (read my full review), because even though the books in this amazing series are not STEM books, the super fierce Princess Harriet has a major obsession with fractions! The boys and I have been reading these together and are super excited for the next installment. Great book for reversing a lot of stereotypes about female and male characters in traditional fairy tales.

Bonus STEM Books & Resources

Here are even more fun STEM books and resources to get your kids excited about STEM! And in keeping with our theme, most of the people behind them are women!

How to Survive as a Shark is such a fun way to teach kids about these amazing creatures! I love the format, a crusty older shark teaching the little ones all they need to know (like stay away from your mom – she might eat you!) The story is really fun, as the dialogue between the shark teacher and “kids” provides a lot of humor, but don’t be fooled: It’s positively stuffed with interesting facts, all told in accessible – but not watered down – language.

How to Survive as a Firefly is another in the same series, this time focuses on fireflies. (In this one the teacher has to hurry up and finish his lesson since he only has 30 seconds left to live!) My kids love these books – to be honest, I was surprised that my preschooler would want to read a book that was so full of scientific information, but when we sat down to read together, it was obvious why: It is just plain fun! The story and illustrations are so engaging, and the facts really are fascinating. Plus these books focus on creatures like sharks and bugs that naturally pique the interest of kids. Don’t miss the bonus questions from the baby fireflies at the end!

Sumita Mukherjee is back with another cool STEM book for kids! (See my review of her last book). Cool Science Experiments For Kids!: Awesome science experiments and Do It Yourself activities for 6-10 years kids is designed for people who want to do fun, hands on experiments with their kids. I love that there is such a variety of experiments and that they are marked for level of difficulty and estimated time, so it’s easy to flip through and find one that’s a good fit for your kids or classroom. Step by step instructions with photos make it easy to follow along even if you don’t have much scientific background yourself. The experiments cover motion & energy, chemistry & reactions, math fun, and crafts & games.

Related Post: How to Be a STEM Superhero – Even If You Don’t Like Science!

Coding games app from Kidlo Land

Coding Games for Kids – Learn to Code with Play app is a great way to teach kids the principles of coding in a fun, engaging way! There are six games, including Monster Dentist and Pop the Balloons, each of which has many different levels, so kids can work their way up as their learn the coding basics of sequence, loops, and function. My only caveat is to take the age range of 6-8 with a grain of salt. My 4 year old had fun playing the beginning levels, whereas my 7 year old thought the graphic (though not necessarily the content) were a little babyish. They both had a lot of fun playing the games, however, and it is well suited to beginning coders.

Oct 242017
 
 October 24, 2017  Book Reviews, Geography, raising world citizens Comments Off on Books to Help Children Explore the World

Travel to different countries with your children through books! Reading is a wonderful way to explore the world with your students or children and give your classroom or homeschool a global focus. Whether you are looking to supplement your history lesson or teach about a holiday celebrated in another part of the world, the books below make it easy and fun to learn about other cultures. Where will reading take you next?

Books to Help Children Explore the World | Alldonemonkey.com

Books to Help Children Explore the World

I received complimentary copies of many 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.

One of the most important qualities that a world explorer must have is humility. When you step into another culture, you quickly realize that you don’t have all the answers – other people see the world in different ways and live differently than you do. A wonderful way to clearly teach this concept to children is with the beautiful book Elephant in the Dark. This engaging book, based on the poem by Rumi, imagines what would happen if people tried to discover about a mysterious creature brought from back from a distant journey (spoiler alert: It’s an elephant!), yet they could only find out about it by going into where it is being kept in a dark barn. Each would discover the truth about the animal (“It’s like a snake!” “It’s like a tree trunk!”) but only part of the truth. So who is really right, and can they ever stop arguing long enough to figure it out?

Teaching about holidays in other countries is a really fun way to explore the world with kids. Let’s Celebrate Navratri! (Nine Nights of Dancing & Fun) is the fifth adventure from Maya and Neel, the sibling pair that love to take children along as they discover the diverse cultures of India. I had heard of Diwali and even Holi, but Navratri was completely new to me – although once we started reading I did recognize some of the dances from our Dances of India book (read my review).

In Let’s Celebrate Navratri! we learn all about this nine day festival, particularly as it is celebrated in Gujarat, with dancing, fireworks, and carnival-type rides. When they go to see a play on the final day, we learn more about the legend of Ram Leela. Navratri is a joyous celebration of the triumph of good over evil, and this colorful book is a wonderful introduction for children. There is a wealth of information for older children, but even very young children will enjoy the illustrations. In fact, my toddler loves flipping through the book and kept stealing it from me as I was trying to write my review!

If you are a homeschooler, chances are you’ve already heard of Carole P. Roman and her wonderful series of books for children about different countries. In her award-winning books, like If you were me and lived in… France, children are invited to explore the world by imagining what their lives would be like if they lived in another country. For example, perhaps you would be named Hugo or Collette and go with your parents to buy bread at the boulangerie. If You Were Me and Lived in…India, you might enjoy playing cricket and go to classes at a pathshala. This series – which also includes books about Brazil, South Korea, and Australia, among others – is a great addition to any classroom or homeschool.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Carole P. Roman also has a series of books that lets children explore the world of the past! Her history books are similar in format to those above, but they are much thicker and go into much greater detail about the countries being visited. In If You Were Me and Lived in…the Ancient Mali Empire, for instance, children get to glimpse the king’s throne room and listen to stories about the formation of the royal council that selected the first mansa to rule over all the Mandinka tribes. At the end of the book children can also learn more about important people of the Mali Empire. And can I just say how difficult it is to find good quality children’s books about the kingdoms of ancient Africa?? This is amazing!

So whether you are studying about Ancient Mali, Ancient China, Ancient Greece, the Mayan Empire, Viking Europe, or the Middle Ages, you won’t regret making this amazing series part of your curriculum.

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