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!

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 ends Monday, November 20, 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 No Responses »

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.

Oct 182017
 
 October 18, 2017  Book Reviews 2 Responses »

Ah friendship! As much as it seems like it should be all cupcakes and rainbows (to quote a favorite movie), kids quickly realize that friendships can also bring their own challenges. In the end, of course, untangling them is well worth the time and effort, but figuring out how to navigate friendship problems can be difficult and emotionally exhausting. Here is a great collection of books that show kids how to handle friendship troubles with sensitivity, confidence, and (of course) a healthy dose of humor.

Friendship Problems: Books Kids Can Totally Relate to | Alldonemonkey.com

Books About Friendship Problems Kids Can Totally Relate to

Ever have the friend that just doesn’t know how to respect boundaries? (Or perhaps you have sometimes been that friend?) Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) is all about our favorite alligator Snappsy (read my full review of his first book, Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)) and the chicken (the narrator from the first book) who just won’t leave him alone! The chicken has all sorts of fun ideas for what he and and his BFF Snappsy can do together – singing karaoke, having a sleepover – but it turns out that not only is Snappsy not interested, he doesn’t even know the chicken’s name! (Which makes you wonder, which one of them is the bad friend?) Snappsy finally gets the chicken (whose name is Bert, by the way) to leave him alone – only to find out that he really misses him! Kids will love the silliness of this story about negotiating boundaries.

Philomena’s New Glasses tackles what happens when friends are too close. Philomena and her sisters do everything together, but sometimes it’s too much. When Philomena gets glasses, so do Audrey and Nora Jane – even though they don’t need them! When Philomena gets a new handbag, so do Audrey and Nora Jane – even though Nora Jane really didn’t want one, since her arms were too short. And so it goes, until finally Nora Jane decides enough is enough. Cute book about one of the most common friendship problems, as the sisters learn that being best friends doesn’t mean you have to do everything exactly alike. My kids love the super cute photos of the guinea pigs with their glasses and outfits!

Susannah is having the worst day ever. She hasn’t finished her homework, and her parents are always too busy to notice her. Then her best friend invites her to a sleepover, but Susannah hates her creepy house – imagine being there all night! All Susannah wants to do is to stuff everything further and further into her backpack to deal with later (or never) but eventually she discovers that her problems don’t really go away. They just end up exploded all over her room when her backpack can’t take anything else being shoved in it. (What a great metaphor for what happens when you ignore your problems!) Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag is a great book for kids that feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to ask for help.

Any parent that doesn’t think navigating those early friendships is difficult should read Absolutely Alfie and the First Week Friends. This is actually the second book in a wonderful new series from the creators of the EllRay Jakes series (see EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken). Alfie, EllRay’s little sister, is growing up and encountering challenges of her own as she begins second grade. Alfie has it all planned out – she is best friends with Lulu and became close with Hanni over the summer, so obviously the three of them should become best buddies! The only problem is that Lulu and Hanni aren’t friends yet, but that should be easy enough to fix, right??

I love that this book takes children’s friendship problems seriously while having faith in the characters to figure things out, with a little help from caring adults. I also love the portrait of this happy, loving African-American family. While race is not center stage in the book, I love the little details that make the story ring true – like that Alfie would be aware right away how many other black kids were in her class, or that she would wonder why her white friend would try to tell her how to do hair, when her hair was so different?

And don’t miss the first book in the series, Absolutely Alfie and the Furry, Purry Secret, where we first meet Alfie and her family – including its newest member, the kitten that only Alfie knows about! I love the character of Alfie. She is so funny! I laughed out loud at her conversations with herself, as she tries to puzzle out her friendship problems (or justify why she’s doing something she knows she shouldn’t, like bringing home a kitten!) Great beginning chapter book series.

Snappsy the Alligator Blog Tour

This post is part of the blog tour to promote the news Snappsy the Alligator book! Follow along to read all of the great reviews, interviews, and activities!
Week One:
October 3 – Bookish Things & More – Review
October 4 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Review
October 5 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review
October 6 – HomeSchool4life – Review & Activity
 
October 10 – Mom-Spot Network – Review
October 11 – YABooksCentral – Review
October 12 – A Rup Life – Review with Craft
 
October 17 – Teachers who Read – Creative Post Art related reviews
October 18 – All Done Monkey – Review
October 19 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Character Interview
October 20 – Happily Ever Elephants – Review

 

Oct 172017
 
 October 17, 2017  History, Sacramento 5 Responses »

During my parents’ last visit, I wanted to show them a part of Sacramento they hadn’t seen before, so we picked Sutter’s Fort, a site in the heart of Sacramento that is of major historical importance not just to the region but to the history of the American migration to the West. It is popular site for families and school field trips because it provides great hands on experiences to help investigate our state’s history. It is so convenient that it’s easy to make into one stop in a larger tour of the area, but there is so much to explore at Sutter’s Fort that we ended up spending the better part of a morning there.

Sutter's Fort: Sacramento History for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Sutter’s Fort: Sacramento History for Families

History of Sutter’s Fort

If you travel in Northern California, you are bound to come across the name “Sutter.” There are the Sutter Buttes (named “Spirit Mountain” by the Maidu Indians) and Sutter County, and of course Sutter’s Mill, made famous by the discovery of gold there in 1848. All of these were named after John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant who received a land grant from the Mexican government in 1839. The settlement he established (named New Helvetia, or New Switzerland) was the first in Sacramento and the first non-native settlement in California’s Central Valley.

Sutter's Fort: Sacramento History for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Soon after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, Sutter sold his fort and left, and it was later overrun by gold seekers. In 1871, a movement began to restore the site. and the reconstructed fort was opened to the public in 1905.

We were most interested in the connection between Sutter’s Fort and the Donner Party, which my son is fascinated by. In 1846 the Donner Party set out for California, but because of a late start and a tragic miscalculation in taking an untested shortcut, they arrived at the Sierra Nevada mountains too late in the season and were trapped in a blizzard. They were forced to make camp for the winter, and many soon began to die of starvation. It was five months before all were rescued, and many resorted to cannibalism. Only 45 of the original 81 members of the Donner Party survived.

Sutter's Fort: Sacramento History for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

When the plight of the Donner Party first became known, John Sutter sent help, and the survivors were eventually brought to Sutter’s Fort to recuperate. Among the artifacts on display at Sutter’s Fort today are items from the Donner Party, including the doll of young Patty Reed.

Many other artifacts from early California history are also on display, some of which can be seen in this online exhibit. They showcase the Gold Rush era, early California statehood, and the Civil War.

Planning Your Visit

Sutter’s Fort is located in midtown Sacramento at 2701 L Street. Parking is available on the streets surrounding the fort, so be sure to bring quarters for the meters. There is a grassy field surrounding the fort if your little ones need to burn off a little energy afterwards.

Be aware that the site consists of a number of buildings surrounding a large open courtyard, so while most of the exhibits are inside, you will spend a lot of time walking outdoors, so you need to plan accordingly in inclement weather.

Sutter's Fort: Sacramento History for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

As you enter the complex, you’ll be able to visit displays in the various buildings around the fort, such as the general store or the smithy. We had a great time talking to the blacksmith, and my son even got to go in and give him a hand!

Sutter's Fort: Sacramento History for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Kids really get a sense of what life was like in those days – from doing laundry and baking bread to what it would have been like to travel cross country with your family in a wagon! My kids really loved climbing up in the tower to see the cannons, which were hung from the ceiling in such a way that they could swing around to point in various directions to protect the fort from attackers.

Sutter's Fort: Sacramento History for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Keep in mind that Sutter’s Fort does host demonstration days and fairs periodically, so check the calendar before you come. You can even come to the “Haunted Fort” just before Halloween! We got lucky and happened to be there on a day with a large school group, so there were even more interactive exhibits than usual.

Also, they work closely with school groups and scout troops, so be sure to contact them if you’d like to plan a visit with a group of students. One program even lets the kids stay overnight!

If you are looking for an interactive history experience, we highly recommend Sutter’s Fort! For more information, visit the state park website or the Friends of Sutter’s Fort.

Many thanks to my parents, who kindly allowed me to use their photographs above.

For more Sacramento fun for families, be sure to visit my Pinterest board:

California Family Destinations

Today we are joining with other California bloggers to share favorite family destinations in the Golden State! Find great resources in this list, plus link up your own below!

Participating Blogs

All Done Monkey: Sutter’s Fort – Sacramento History for Families
Family Review Guide: Ultimate Family Vacation Guide to Marriot Desert Springs Villas
The Funny Mom Blog: Tips for Picking the Perfect Airbnb in Big Bear Lake for Your Family
Mama Smiles: Jelly Belly Factory Tour & More California Fun for Kids
The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide: Free or Cheap Activities for Kids in the Hi-Desert of California
Little Hiccups: Kid-Friendly Fun in the Bay Area


Oct 152017
 
 October 15, 2017  31 Days of ABCs, crafts, natural parenting Comments Off on N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity

Fall is such a beautiful time of year for getting outdoors with your kids, so why not have some fun that is (shh!) also educational by doing these fun nature crafts? This a no-prep outdoor learning activity for preschoolers is a hands on way to reinforce their knowledge of the ABCs plus explore natural materials. Not only does it nurture their budding literacy skills but encourages STEM thinking as well: Which material is easier to work with, bark or grass? How can I make curved letters? Why do my leaves keep blowing away, and how can I stop it??

N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity | Alldonemonkey.com

We had so much fun playing and crafting outside, as we tried different ways to make letters using found materials. I’ve also included more fall nature crafts at the end, so now you have no excuse not to get out and get creative with your kids this fall!

N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity

To do these nature crafts, all you need is an outdoor space and your imagination! Simply look for materials like leaves, stones, or bark, and use them to make letters.

N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity | Alldonemonkey.com

Take a break from those worksheets and get outside – See where your creativity can take you!

N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity | Alldonemonkey.com

If you have a very active child like I do, this is a great way to engage their hands and minds.

N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity | Alldonemonkey.com

Not shown here is what my preschooler decided the next step should be – creative ways of destroying the letter shapes!

N Is for Nature Crafts: Outdoor Learning Activity | Alldonemonkey.com

More Fall Nature Crafts for Kids

Here are more fall nature crafts you can do with your kids this season!

Fall Nature Crafts for Kids and Teens from Rhythms of Play

Nature Crafts for Autumn from Red Ted Art

25+ Beautiful Fall Nature Crafts for Kids from Fireflies and Mudpies

Fall Nature Craft from Multicultural Kid Blogs

16 Fall Nature Crafts for Preschoolers from Kids Activities Blog

13 Natural Fall Crafts for Kids Using Natural Materials from Schooling a Monkey

31 Days of ABC 2017 | Alldonemonkey.com

It’s time again for another fantastic month of alphabet fun with the 31 Days of ABC! All this month you can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.

I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their ideas with us in the coming days. So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!

Find more great resources in our series from past years: 31 Days of ABCs 2013, 2014, and 2016!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!


31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Early Literacy – Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

A – October 2

Creative World of Varya: A Is for Aromatherapy for Kids

B – October 3

Hispanic Mama: B Is For Bilingual Baby Books

C – October 4

Witty Hoots: C Is for Cool Fingerprint Castle Keyrings Tutorial

D – October 5

Teach Me Mommy: D Is for Dinosaurs DIY Sensory Bin

E – October 6

E Is for Environmental Print to Develop Literacy

F – October 7

Look! We’re Learning! F Is for Printable Farm Paper Bag Puppets

G – October 8

All Done Monkey: G Is for Go

H – October 9

All Done Monkey: H Is for Hello/Hola

I – October 10

Jeddah Mom: I Is for Ice Cream Craft and Sorting Activity

J – October 11

All Done Monkey: J is for Jirafa (Giraffe) – Spanish Coloring Page

K – October 12

Pennies of Time: K Is for Kindness

L – October 13

Schooling Active Monkeys: L Is for Lion Craft

M – October 14

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

N – October 15

All Done Monkey

O – October 16

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: O Is for Owls

P – October 17

Creative World of Varya

Q – October 18

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

R – October 19

JDaniel4’sMom: R Is for Robot

S – October 20

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: S Is for Spanish

T – October 21

Sand In My Toes: T Is for Truck

U – October 22

The Educators’ Spin On it: U Is for Unicorn

V – October 23

CrArty: V Is for Van Gogh

W – October 24

My Story Time Corner: W Is for Wheels on the Bus

X – October 25

The Mommies Reviews: X

Y – October 26

Teach Me Mommy: Y Is for Yarn Letters

Z – October 27

Bambini Travel: Z Is for Zoo Animals

123’s – October 28

Prewriting – October 29

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

Printables – October 31

Royal Baloo and Logi-Bear Too

Oct 112017
 
 October 11, 2017  31 Days of ABCs, Book Reviews, Spanish Comments Off on Spanish Coloring Page: J es de Jirafa

Teaching your children or students the Spanish alphabet? Here is a fun Spanish coloring page for the letter “J,” which stands for jirafa, or giraffe.

Spanish Coloring Page: J es de Jirafa | Alldonemonkey.com

I have always loved the giraffe – probably because I’m tall! – so I naturally thought of this gentle creature when it was time to learn the letter “J”! (I had actually thought of this originally in relation to the English alphabet, but trying to draw a letter picture for the giraffe with “G” would involve too much twisting of that beautiful neck!)

The elegant length and curve of the letter “J” is a natural fit for the shape of the giraffe, so I created this cute Spanish coloring page for kids! You can right click on the picture below to save your copy, or click on the title:

Spanish Coloring Page: J es de Jirafa | Alldonemonkey.com

Spanish Coloring Page: J es de Jirafa

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.

A fun book to read along with this Spanish coloring page is The Giraffe That Ate the Moon: La Jirafa Que Se Comió La Luna. This is a sweet story about a young giraffe who actually is not tall – at least, not tall enough to suit him. He dreams of growing tall enough to eat the moon, but when he finally does, he realizes that he was already happy just the way he was. Sweet story about contentment and appreciating what you have: read my full review.

31 Days of ABC 2017 | Alldonemonkey.com

It’s time again for another fantastic month of alphabet fun with the 31 Days of ABC! All this month you can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.

I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their ideas with us in the coming days. So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!

Find more great resources in our series from past years: 31 Days of ABCs 2013, 2014, and 2016!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!


31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Early Literacy – Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

A – October 2

Creative World of Varya: A Is for Aromatherapy for Kids

B – October 3

Hispanic Mama: B Is For Bilingual Baby Books

C – October 4

Witty Hoots: C Is for Cool Fingerprint Castle Keyrings Tutorial

D – October 5

Teach Me Mommy: D Is for Dinosaurs DIY Sensory Bin

E – October 6

E Is for Environmental Print to Develop Literacy

F – October 7

Look! We’re Learning! F Is for Printable Farm Paper Bag Puppets

G – October 8

All Done Monkey: G Is for Go

H – October 9

All Done Monkey: H Is for Hello/Hola

I – October 10

Jeddah Mom: I Is for Ice Cream Craft and Sorting Activity

J – October 11

K – October 12

Pennies of Time: K Is for Kindness

L – October 13

Schooling Active Monkeys: L Is for Lion

M – October 14

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

N – October 15

O – October 16

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: O Is for Owls

P – October 17

Creative World of Varya

Q – October 18

R – October 19

JDaniel4’sMom: R Is for Robot

S – October 20

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: S Is for Spanish

T – October 21

Sand In My Toes: T Is for Truck

U – October 22

The Educators’ Spin On it: U Is for Unicorn

V – October 23

CrArty: V Is for Van Gogh

W – October 24

My Story Time Corner: W Is for Wheels on the Bus

X – October 25

The Mommies Reviews: X

Y – October 26

Z – October 27

Bambini Travel: Z Is for Zoo Animals

123’s – October 28

Prewriting – October 29

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

Printables – October 31

Oct 092017
 
 October 9, 2017  31 Days of ABCs, Spanish Comments Off on Spanish Greetings Game and Craft: H Is For Hola

Here is a fun bilingual Spanish game plus a craft that you can use to help language learners practice basic greetings. One thing I noticed during our last trip to Costa Rica was that our bilingual kids had trouble carrying on simple conversations with relatives and acquaintances. Since they were used to speaking Spanish at home, they had never had a need to learn these basic phrases. After all, Mom and Dad already knew their names and how old they were, so it never came up in conversation!

Spanish Greetings Game and Craft: H Is For Hola | Alldonemonkey.com

So to help them practice I created this fun Spanish greetings game as well as a letter craft that works for English and Spanish!

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.

Spanish Greetings Game and Craft: H Is for Hola

How to Play

This Spanish greetings game is totally no prep and easy for kids to get the hang of! All you need is a ball, and you are ready to get started! Have the kids sit in a circle, then one by one pass the ball to each other. To start, the person first holding the ball asks a question or gives a greeting (“¿Cómo estás?”), and the person who catches the ball next has to respond appropriately (“Bien, gracias”). Then that person gives a different greeting or question before passing the ball to the next person, and so on.

For very beginning learners, you could just use greetings like “Hola” or “Buenos días” or simple questions like “¿Cómo estás?” For more advanced beginners, you could use more difficult questions like “¿Cómo te llamas?” and ¿Cuántos años tienes?”

This is so much more fun than just practicing conversations, plus adding a little movement can be helpful for wiggly kids.

Bilingual Letter H Craft

We also did a simple letter H craft that works well in English or Spanish – H is for both “hola” and “hello”! It is so easy to set up: this is why I always have a big pack of construction paper with our school supplies! It comes in so handy.

Spanish Greetings Game: H Is for Hola | Alldonemonkey.com

Just cut out an “H” shape, or have your child practice his scissors skills to cut it out. (Be sure to have kid-friendly safety scissors for them to use). Then just add a friendly face! We drew a big smile and cut out some eyes to glue on.

Spanish Greetings Game: H Is for Hola | Alldonemonkey.com

Finally, have fun decorating! You can see what we always use washable markers!

Spanish Greetings Game: H Is for Hola | Alldonemonkey.com

31 Days of ABC 2017 | Alldonemonkey.com

It’s time again for another fantastic month of alphabet fun with the 31 Days of ABC! All this month you can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.

I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their ideas with us in the coming days. So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!

Find more great resources in our series from past years: 31 Days of ABCs 2013, 2014, and 2016!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!


31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Early Literacy – Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

A – October 2

Creative World of Varya: A Is for Aromatherapy for Kids

B – October 3

Hispanic Mama: B Is For Bilingual Baby Books

C – October 4

Witty Hoots: C Is for Cool Fingerprint Castle Keyrings Tutorial

D – October 5

Teach Me Mommy: D Is for Dinosaurs DIY Sensory Bin

E – October 6

E Is for Environmental Print to Develop Literacy

F – October 7

Look! We’re Learning! F Is for Printable Farm Paper Bag Puppets

G – October 8

All Done Monkey: G Is for Go

H – October 9

All Done Monkey: H Is for Hello/Hola

I – October 10

Jeddah Mom: I Is for Ice Cream

J – October 11

K – October 12

Pennies of Time: K Is for Kindness

L – October 13

Schooling Active Monkeys: L Is for Lion

M – October 14

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

N – October 15

O – October 16

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: O Is for Owls

P – October 17

Creative World of Varya

Q – October 18

R – October 19

JDaniel4’sMom: R Is for Robot

S – October 20

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: S Is for Spanish

T – October 21

Sand In My Toes: T Is for Truck

U – October 22

The Educators’ Spin On it: U Is for Unicorn

V – October 23

CrArty: V Is for Van Gogh

W – October 24

My Story Time Corner: W Is for Wheels on the Bus

X – October 25

The Mommies Reviews: X

Y – October 26

Z – October 27

Bambini Travel: Z Is for Zoo Animals

123’s – October 28

Prewriting – October 29

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

Printables – October 31

Oct 082017
 
 October 8, 2017  31 Days of ABCs, activities, Book Reviews, crafts Comments Off on Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go

My toddler is just starting to learn about the ABCs, so I thought it would be fun to do a very simple toddler letter craft to teach her that G is for go! I made it more complicated for my preschooler, so he could work on his fine motor skills (and not get bored!) We also had fun with a car-themed activity afterwards, and I’ve included some great books with a transportation theme for a full tot-themed unit.

Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go | 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.

Go Is for Go! Toddler Letter Craft and Activity

Simple Letter Craft

The great thing about this toddler letter craft is it is super easy to prep, easy for little hands to do, and fun for them to play with afterwards! All you have to do is cut out the form of the letter G and some “wheels” for your little one to attach to it – because G is for go!

Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go | Alldonemonkey.com

For my preschooler, I gave him a bit more of a challenge by having him cut out the letter and wheels himself. I thought he would protest because it can be a lot of cutting, but he was proud of himself for doing it on his own! If they are interested, you could even see if they would like to draw the letter to cut out.

Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go | Alldonemonkey.com

My toddler is just discovering the glue stick, so she had a ball with this! They can also color it and decorate with stickers if they want. (Check out these adorable transportation stickers!) Pro tip – always use washable markers like these Crayola Washable Markers, especially if your child likes to draw on themselves (and the table, etc) like mine does!

Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go | Alldonemonkey.com

Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go | Alldonemonkey.com

G Is for Go Activity

Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go | Alldonemonkey.com

Afterwards I drew a couple of large G’s on cardboard and made them into roads!

Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go | Alldonemonkey.com

Even my 7 year old set down his book to come over and play with it. Zoom zoom!

Transportation Books

Extend the learning by reading these fun books about things that go! What are your favorite transportation themed books?

Charlie Rides: Planes, Trains, Bikes, and More! is a really sweet book that celebrates all kinds of vehicles – but also a child’s relationship with his father. Read my full review.

Of course we can’t forget Richard Scarry! My kids love poring over the pages of his books. There is so much to look at! Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go is a fun one to include for a transportation theme.

Little Blue Truck board book is now a staple of most children’s bookshelves. Everything comes together – the rhyming text, the fun illustrations, and the moral about the value of taking the time to help others. And now, just in time for Halloween, there is also Little Blue Truck’s Halloween!

Since most toddlers love cars and dinosaurs, what better than a book that brings them together? Dinosaur Zoom! has realistic drawings of dinosaurs (or at least as realistic as a drawing of an allosaurus driving a car can be!) and cars, with very simple text and storyline. My preschooler still loves this one!

Blue Boat is another great easy to read story that teaches an important lesson. The little blue boat is a hero, facing touch conditions to rescue a family at sea! A favorite in our house. Read my full review.

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