Jun 302016

Pakistan: Favorite Children's Books | Alldonemonkey.com

This month we have been exploring the beautiful country of Pakistan as part of the Global Learning series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  The boys and I have been enjoying some wonderful children’s books about Pakistan, from folk tales and fun picture books to ones on topics like refugees and child labor.

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

Pakistan: Favorite Children’s Books

A great place to start is P Is for Pakistan, part of the World Alphabets series. It has amazing photographs of everyday life in Pakistan, from clothes and foods to transport and landmarks. For example, A is for Asslam-U-Alaikum and B is for Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. Wonderful way to give an overview of the sights of this beautiful country and give a sense of what life is like for children there.

Ruler of the Courtyard is an edge of your seat, laugh out loud book from Rukhsana Khan, who has written a number of wonderful children’s books about Pakistan. Saba is scared of the chickens who live in the courtyard of her house, until a confrontation with a snake makes her realize that she has the courage to be the Ruler of the Courtyard. Saba is a spunky, melodramatic narrator that will take her young readers on the journey with her. We loved the surprise ending!

The Gifts of Wali Dad: A Tale of India and Pakistan is a fabulously silly tale of a humble grass cutter who just wants to enjoy his simple life. Unfortunately, his well-intentioned attempts to gift away his growing wealthy inadvertantly makes him the object of increasingly lavish gifts from those he has given to. Children will love this traditional tale and watching as the elaborate gifts become more fantastical and poor Wali Dad more miserable. In the end he is set free from his unbelievable riches with a little divine help.

One of the things I love about Rukhsana Khan’s books is that they are just plain good stories, whether or not you are learning about Pakistan, though of course children learn quite a bit about the country as they enjoy the book. In Silly Chicken, Rani believes her mother loves their pet chicken more than she loves Rani. Rani, of course, doesn’t like the chicken at all. In fact, she thinks Bibi is quite silly. But when Bibi disappears, Rani discovers that she actually misses her. Spoiler alert: though there is a happy ending to this story, Bibi is never found, so be prepared to (possibly) discuss this with your children, although my kids actually didn’t seem to notice this as they were so focused on Rani’s new pet.

Nadia’s Hands is a beautiful book about a young Pakistani-American girl learning to be proud of her culture. When Nadia is chosen to be the flower girl at her aunt’s wedding, she is nervous but soon is caught up in the excitement of the wedding preparations. She does not, however, like the look (and smell) of the designs painted onto her hands, which no longer look like her hands. She worries about what the other kids at school will say on Monday, but the loving words from her family help her to appreciate this tradition and think about classmates that have shared their own cultures. I love the kind gestures and loving words from Nadia’s aunties and uncles as they help Nadia feel like an important part of the celebrations. My favorite line is from the Grandma, who tells Nadia, “When I look at your hands, it’s as if I’m looking at my past and future at the same time.” Lovely book about family and tradition that second generation immigrants (and any child sometimes embarrassed by being different) will appreciate.

King for a Day is another gem from Rukhsana Khan. This book is wonderful on so many levels. It is a great way to learn about Basant, the spring festival in Pakistan, when the sky is full of gorgeous kites battling each other. (This lends itself to many extension activities, of course, like kite crafts and just going out and flying or battling kites yourself!) It also teaches about overcoming bullying and showing kindness to others, as Malik uses his cherished Falcom to battle the expensive kite flown by the bully next door. The book does not address directly the fact that Malik is in a wheelchair, but the lesson will not be lost on the reader that Malik is able to use his cunning and skill to become King for a day, and that he in turn decides to be kind to a young girl he sees crying in the street below.

The remaining picture books on this list address serious issues related to Pakistan. Four Feet, Two Sandals is the story of two young girls (originally from Afghanistan) in a Pakistani refugee camp. They both need a new pair of shoes, but when only one pa available, the girls suddenly find their lives intertwined. They work out a deal to wear the sandals on alternate days and soon find themselves sharing even more – first their stories of loss then their hopes and dreams. A poignant story to get children thinking about how world events affect children just like them.

Pakistan has given the world two fearless young human rights leaders: Malala, who was nearly killed because of her defiance of the Taliban’s prohibition of education for girls, and Iqbal, the young boy who escaped indentured servitude to speak out against child labor, only to be killed in suspicious circumstances at just 12 years old. Their remarkable stories are brought together in Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery, a two-in-one book which shares simplified versions of their stories appropriate for young children. I love the kite image found in the illustrations throughout the book, including the centerpiece which connects the two tales.

For children ready to learn more details about Malala, For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story is a great choice. This beautifully illustrated book tells of Malala’s love of learning and the courage of the students and teachers in the face of increasing opposition to girls’ education. One detail I loved was that instead of using henna to decorate her hands with beautiful designs, as many of her schoolmates did, Malala used it to cover her hands in scientific formulas.

Older children can learn more about child labor in Pakistan with The Carpet Boy’s Gift. It is the fictionalized account of Nadeem, a bonded laborer in a carpet factory who is scared after an attempt to gain freedom for himself and his fellow workers. Yet he gains courage after seeing Iqbal lead a parade through his town. A powerful portrait of the life of a child laborer, with detailed descriptions of what it would be like to work in a dim, gloomy factory from sunup to sundown. Includes resources at the end on child labor and how to get involved in this issue.

Global Learning for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of our series Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will feature a country and host a link party to collect posts about teaching kids about that country–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, etc. It will create a one-stop place full of information about the country.

This month we are learning all about Pakistan, so link up below any old or new posts designed to teach kids about Pakistan–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, music and more!

Mar 082016

Children's Books about Death | Alldonemonkey.com

One of the most difficult tasks a parent has to face is talking to their children about death.  Whatever your beliefs, this is not an easy conversation to have, as it is hard for children to understand abstract concepts, no matter how beautiful, when faced with the very concrete loss of a loved one.  Here are two children’s books about death that have helped me talk to my own kids about this difficult subject.

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

Children’s Books About Death

The New King

In The New King young Prince Rakoto learns that his father has died and one by one commands the royal courtiers to revive him.  When they are unable to meet his demand, the grieving child turns to a wise old woman, who comforts him with a Malagasy folktale.  From this the prince learns that the first humans chose to live their lives like the banana plant, which sends out new shoots so that it would live on through them even after it dies, just as people live on through their children.  Author Doreen Rappaport (who also wrote Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) draws on this beautiful metaphor to create a powerful book that will resonate with children emotionally.

Mema Says Goodbye

A friend introduced me to Mema Says Goodbye, and I’m so glad she did.  It is a wonderful, gentle book about death in terms that young children can understand.  Mema is dying from cancer and so is forced to explain to them why she is leaving and where she will go.  This book is from a Bahá’í perspective but uses terminology and metaphors anyone can relate to.  My favorite is the idea of God as a gardener moving a sick plant to another spot in the divine garden where it can thrive.  The book strikes just the right tone of acknowledging grief while at the same time rising above it to focus on the joy of death and the idea that spiritual relationships outlast the death of the physical body.  It was helpful not just for my kids but for me too when my grandmother passed away recently.

For more ideas on talking to children about death and life after death you can read this guest post from my friend Varya.

How do you approach the subject of death with young children?

Oct 152015

Thank you to Frances, my blogging buddy and fellow Multicultural Kid Blogs board member for this wonderful post!  Be sure to check out her blog, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, and read her full bio at the end of this post!

My family and I would love to travel the world, tastes the foods, and learn the culture of different countries. However, traveling abroad is not a possibility right now. Nevertheless, we can learn about a country through its cuisine, and the best way is cooking a typical dish and sharing it with your family. Today, we are learning about Perú.
Perú is a Southern American country,  home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city set high in the Andes mountains.
We have taken to the kitchen to discover Perú with a delicious Lomo saltado recipe.  Lomo saltado (beef stir-fry) is a popular, traditional Peruvian dish.  Saltado means like “stir fried”, and when cooking it you have the beef  jump (saltar) in the air. Lomo saltado (beef stir-fry) typically combines marinated strips of sirloin, or other beef steak, with onions, tomatoes, and other ingredients, served with fried potato slices and rice. I found this super, duper easy recipe for the Peruvian Stir-Fry!  Seriously, easy to do!

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Global Learning for Kids series.

You can also read:

All About Peru

Making a Simple Arpillera with Kids

Culture of Peru – Music and Digital Book from Daria

Enjoy this fun music video! Yaw Yaw Puka Polleracha a children’s song in Quechua (the Native language of the Incas) from Peru.

We really enjoyed our Lomo Saltado, and I served with white rice. Sorry, no potatoes at the time of cooking this delish Peruvian dish!

Buen provecho!

Discovering The World Through My Son's Eyes Thanks to Frances for this great post!  Frances is a part-time blogger, mommy and wife of a beautiful multicultural familia. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a certification in Human Resources. She blogs about discovering the world through her son’s eyes through everyday events, crafts, books, and travel as she teaches her son how culturally diverse our world is.In addition to her blog, you can also find Frances on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Aug 132015

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

This month for the Global Learning for Kids series from Multicultural Kid Blogs we are focusing on Iran, a country very dear to my heart!  Last year for the World Cup for Kids project, we were on Team Iran, publishing several posts on this beautiful country, including children’s books about Iran, Persian-inspired summer treats, and a lesson in Iranian geology using play dough!

So this year I thought we’d take a different perspective by focusing on Iran’s contribution to the world’s spiritual heritage; specifically I was curious to learn more about Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Zarathustra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster. Source: http://omnionica.wikispaces.com/Zoroaster

The principal religion on ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), it was founded in more than 3000 years ago by the Prophet Zarathustra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster.  (Estimates of the dates vary greatly).  Zoroastrianism emphasizes the battle between good and evil in the world.  Each individual is believed to have the free will to choose between these two forces.  Contrary to popular belief, Zoroastrians do not worship fire; rather, it is a sacred symbol of purification.

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Central fire at Zoroastrian shrine near Baku
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/apothecary/5921216114/

Though their numbers are relatively small today, Zoroastrian communities are thriving, and their influence on world history is significant.  Several of the great empire builders of Persia were Zoroastrians, and it is believed that the Magi from the Christian nativity were Zoroastrians as well.  Many scholars argue that Zoroastrianism had a substantial influence on the development of later monotheistic religions, namely Judaism and Christianity.

Zoroastrianism for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Faravahar, symbol of Zoroastrianism. Source: Walter S. Arnold, http://stonecarver.com/

Below are some of my favorite resources on Zoroastrianism for kids, including a video, websites, books, and even a comic!

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

Zoroastrianism for Kids

This video is one of the only ones on Zoroastrianism I found aimed at young kids.  It is a cute, animated, and short, covering all the basics of the religion.

For a great, hands-on activity, try this simple sacred fire jar craft from Highhill Education (a really great homeschool blog with very creative activities for kids!)

The Stone: A Persian Legend of the Magi would be a particularly interesting choice for those coming from a Christian background.  It is based on tales told to Marco Polo of the Persian legend of the Magi, the three wise men who paid homage to Jesus soon after His birth.  Told from the perspective of the Magi, it focuses on their journey to see Jesus and the mysterious gift they receive in return.

Zoroastrian Kids Korner is a fun site aimed at kids.  It includes stories, crafts, and games, though the latter require previous knowledge of the religion in order to play.  The author of the site has also published a book of prayers for children, My Little Book of Zoroastrian Prayers: With Some Fun Activities.  Aimed at children 9-12, it includes simple prayers from the Avesta, as well as activities and basic concepts.

Another site for kids is Zoroastrian Kids Place.  It includes facts, stories, prayers, and a look at the animals of the Avesta!

A good reference book for older children is Zoroastrianism (World Religions (Facts on File)). It is part of a series of books for kids on world religions.

And finally, I was so happy to discover a comic about the life of Zoroaster! Zarathushtra is based on the traditional account of the Prophet’s life, told in a way that children will find very engaging.


Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs
This post is part of the Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Blog Series and Giveaway. Please visit our landing page for the full schedule and to link up any of your posts on sharing Middle Eastern and North African heritage with kids. And don’t forget to enter our giveaway below!


Our giveaway runs through the month of August, so enter below for a chance to win! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner is outside of the shipping area of one of the prizes, that prize will then be included in the next prize package. (See our full giveaway rules).

Grand Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Tuttle Publishing, The Complete Middle East Cookbook: Traditional recipes with clear instructions for the modern cook

From Medina Publishing, Discovering Islamic Art: A generously illustrated child’s guide to Islamic art, complete with activity sheets

From A Crafty Arab, Arabic Animal Alphabet Poster: Beautiful artwork with unique designs to teach Arabic letters

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Olive Tree (US shipping only): A beautiful tale of friendship set in Lebanon

1st Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Tuttle Publishing, An Edible Mosaic: A cookbook of favorite Middle Eastern recipes

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria (US shipping only): Fascinating biography of Emir Abdel Kader, heroic 19th century leader and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Green Musician (US shipping only): A magical story of patience and determination, adapted from the original Persian tale

From GeoToys, Geo Puzzle Africa and the Middle East (US contiguous states shipping only): Jumbo sized puzzle for ages 4 and up

2nd Prize

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month Series and Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Chicago Review Press, Kid’s Guide to Arab American History (US shipping only): Award-winning guide to the diversity of Arab American experience, with fun extension activities and biographies of famous Arab Americans

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock (US shipping only): A retelling of a legendary Persian tale of heroism and love.

From Salaam Designs, 4 piece Holiday Cookie Cutter set (US shipping only): boxed set: Boxed set perfect for Ramadan and Eid includes Crescent, Star, Ramadan lantern (Fanoos), & Mosque.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jul 282015
 July 28, 2015  Education, Global Learning for Kids Comments Off on Lebanon Unit Study

Lebanon Unit Study | Alldonemonkey.com

This month (while taking plenty of time off for summer break) we have been focusing on Lebanon, as part of our world cultures homeschool curriculum. It is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture that are definitely worth exploring! Below is an outline of our unit study:

Lebanon Unit Study

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

Our main text, referred to a number of times below, was Lebanon (Enchantment of the World, Second). This is part of a wonderful series of country profiles from Scholastic books, which give very comprehensive overviews of countries around the world.


Gross Motor: I had Monkey do body spelling for the word “Lebanon.”  This was the first time I had tried this, and he had so much fun that we ended up going through the whole alphabet!

Map Skills and Fine Motor: Monkey has gotten frustrated with having to draw maps of the countries, so this time I instead made a connect the dot map for him to complete. We also looked at what countries bordered Lebanon and where it is situated in relation to other countries we have studied.

Language Arts: We are going to learn a few basic words in Lebanese Arabic, plus practice fine motor skills with this Arabic calligraphy craft.

Recipes: Cooking with kids is a great way to learn about another culture! Here are the two recipes we picked to try:

Lebanon Unit Study | Alldonemonkey.com

Hummus, from Cooking the Lebanese Way

Ma’amoul cookies from Marie’s Pastiche: Though traditionally made for Easter, they look so delicious we decided to make them in July!

Music: During breaks I also put on some Lebanese music for the kids to listen to. I really enjoyed the classical music, while the kids liked the very danceable pop music. (That is, when I was able to get them to listen to anything other than the Imperial March from Star Wars).  As with pop music anywhere, the videos may not be appropriate for children. Either screen them carefully ahead of time or do what I did: forget the videos altogether and just pipe them through your speakers. Since none of us speak Arabic, I didn’t even have to worry about the lyrics!

Cedar Trees

Ecology: The cedar tree is the quintessential symbol of Lebanon, because of its importance to the country’s history and current sense of national pride. We started off by reading about them from our Lebanon (Enchantment of the World), including recent conservation efforts.

Lebanon Unit Study | Alldonemonkey.com

Fine Motor: Monkey isn’t really into crafting much these days, so even though the Lebanese flag, with its beautiful cedar tree, would lend itself very well to a craft, instead I decided to sneak in more fine motor practice by making a connect the dots version for him to complete.

This video from CNN gives a great overview about the importance of the cedar tree in Lebanon as well as the threats it faces today.

To get a sense of the importance of cedars to the history of Lebanon, we read the Bible story of the building of Solomon’s Temple (which used cedar trees) as well as the related section from Lebanon (Enchantment of the World). As the cedar trees were also important in ship-building, this led naturally into our study of the Phoenicians (see below).

We also talked about the need for conservation to help protect the cedar trees, which have faced deforestation as well as damage from the recent civil war.


There is great information about the Phoenicians in Lebanon (Enchantment of the World), including their history and contribution as traders and linguists.

Language Arts and Fine Motor practice: Did you know that our word “phonics” comes from “Phoenician”? It is thanks to them that we write with a modern alphabet as opposed to still working with complex hieroglyphics. As the Phoenicians were writing this revolutionary alphabet with styluses on clay tablets, we pulled out our play dough and plastic knives to give it a try, copying images of the alphabet we found online. It turns out that the play dough was rather soft, making it hard to make the letters, but I was proud of Monkey for persisting until he figured out how much pressure to use to make the prints he wanted.

Arts and Crafts, Math and Logic: One of the most fun activities we did was to make boats and play this trading game from Creekside Learning. While they did one boat big enough for their kids to climb in, I opted for these juice carton boats from Saving Said Simply. They turned out really cute, and the boys love playing with them!

The trading game was fun as well and got Monkey thinking about what things would have been like before money, when everything had to be negotiated. (“Imagine your brother has R2D2 and a battleship. If you wanted to trade with him, you couldn’t just offer a battle droid, it would have to be something he really wanted…”). It also led to practical questions, like why they didn’t trade for food (they probably did, but just for the short-term, since there weren’t refrigerators, and traveling by ship took a long time).

Olives and Olive Trees

Ecology, Gross Motor: Olive trees are also important to Lebanon, as they are throughout this region. We’ll be sampling some olives, plus we learned a bit about how olive oil is made. After watching this video, we had SO MUCH FUN with a gross motor activity, where I had the boys pretend to be olives being made into olive oil (grow into a tree, fall to the ground…).

Language Arts: We re-read one of our favorite books, The Olive Tree. We discussed what Sameer’s family used the olive tree for, as well as what the tree symbolized for the families. This book is a wonderful way of showing the practical uses but also emotional attachments people can have to the natural world. (For more on this great book, read my full review, included in this book list).

Lebanon Unit Study | Alldonemonkey.com

I picked out several words from the book to focus on, and we did vocabulary charades (where he acted out the meanings) and drawings (where he drew pictures about them).

We also talked about the olive tree as a symbol of peace by reading the Bible story of Noah’s ark and discussing how trees can symbolize peace because they are a sign of new life and because they need a peaceful environment to flourish.

War and Peace

Peace is our virtue of the month, and it ties in perfectly to this unit, considering Lebanon’s troubled past. One beautiful book to discuss the war in Lebanon is Sami and the Time of the Troubles. It gives a view of war from a child’s point of view, such as the days where they must stay in the basement instead of playing outside. However, use care when reading these with your children, as it may not be appropriate for young or sensitive children, especially as it mentions early on that Sami’s father was killed by a bomb planted at a market. In the end I decided not to share this book with my sensitive 5 year old, though it may be something we come back to when he is older.

Instead we talked more generally about the war and how people have been working to come together and heal their country in the years since. The Olive Tree is a really excellent book to share, as it mentions the war but leaves up to the adult how much detail to fill in. Also, I love that it focuses on children forming new friendships and learning to work together.

We will also do this Olive Tree Peace Craft from Marie’s Pastiche, which draws on the symbolism of the olive tree to encourage children to be peacemakers through acts of kindness and cooperation.

Global Learning for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of our new series Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will feature a country and host a link party to collect all the various posts people about teaching kids about that country–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, etc. It will create a one-stop place full of information about the country.

This month we are learning all about Lebanon, so link up below any old or new posts designed to teach kids on Lebanon–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, music, and more!

Jun 252015
 June 25, 2015  activities, Book Reviews, Education, Global Learning for Kids Comments Off on India: Endangered Animals Games

India: Games to Learn about Endangered Animals | Alldonemonkey.com

As part of our unit on India, we studied about the country’s endangered animals, continuing our theme from Bolivia and Senegal.  This was a natural decision, as the boys love learning about the natural world.

I was provided a complimentary copy of Endangered Animals of India from the author; however, all opinions are my own.

Endangered Animals of India

To keep it fun, I created a few simple, interactive games based on a wonderful children’s book by Meera Sriram and Prabha Ram. Endangered Animals of India is a fact-filled book with descriptions and beautiful portraits of ten endangered animals in India, such as the red panda.  My Monkey really enjoyed flipping through the book not only for the pictures but also for the fun facts about these animals.  I love that the authors really drove home the point about how vulnerable these animals are but at the same time wove in a lot of funny details about them, such as the fact that Nilgiri tahrs alert each other to danger by snorting!

Habitat Matching

India: Endangered Animals Games | Alldonemonkey.com

One thing that really struck me was the diversity of the habitats of these animals.  So the first game we played was to match the animals to their respective habitats.  First, I made some quick sketches of the animals on poster board, then cut them out to use as the game pieces.  Next, I drew rough drawings of the habitats on a separate sheet of poster board.

Monkey then had to match the animals to their habitats – as most of the animals were fairly unfamiliar before reading Endangered Animals of India, consulting the book was allowed!

Vulnerability Scale

India: Endangered Animals Games | Alldonemonkey.com

Next, on another sheet of poster board, I recreated the vulnerability scale from the book, ranking the degree to which the animals are endangered, from Least Concern to Extinct (!)  Luckily, none of the animals in the book are in the last category (yet).  Reusing the game pieces from the previous game, Monkey had to place the animals on the scale.  This exercise really helped underline just how vulnerable these animals are.  I purposely did this game last, as by now – after reading and playing the habitat game – Monkey had started to develop a bit of an attachment to the animals and so was more affected by seeing where they fell on the scale.

Scavenger Hunt

Since it was the end of our homeschool year, we ran out of time to do the other games I had brainstormed, but these emphasized the role that children could play in helping the animals.  Since gathering information about them is crucial, you could do a scavenger hunt, where you hide the game pieces in your house, and the children would be responsible for finding them.  For older children, you could add numbers to the game pieces (perhaps on a sticky note so they could be removed for other games), indicating how many of the animals there were, so scientists know exactly how many of the animals are left in the wild.  A math extension could be adding up the numbers for a grand total, or creating a bar graph.  Were there more animals in the flatlands or the mangroves?

Animal Protection

An active learning exercise would be to create fun activities that would allow the children to see themselves as champions of the endangered animals.  For instance, one danger to the leatherback turtle is having their eggs stolen.  Children could do a race with plastic eggs to “save them” from predators and carry them to safer place.  To make it more cooperative, instead of competing against each other, you could set a timer and see how many eggs they could put in the safe place (for example, a basket) before time is up.

Global Learning for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of our new series Global Learning for Kids. This month we are learning all about India, so link up below any old or new posts designed to teach kids on India–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, music, and more!

Jun 172015

Learning about India: The Lotus Temple and Sacred Geometry | Alldonemonkey.com

This month, as we began our study of India with the Global Learning for Kids series, I decided to explore with the boys the beautiful Lotus Temple of New Delhi.

This gorgeous temple, just completed in 1986, is one of the Bahá’í Houses of Worship located throughout the world, the most recent being the one currently under construction in Santiago, Chile.  The Bahá’í temple in India – often called the Lotus Temple – receives on average 8,000 – 10,000 visitors a day and is now one of the most visited buildings in the world.  One recent visitor was the Dalai Lama, who gave a talk on peace and compassion.

Baha'i Temple, India

The Lotus Temple has received a number of architectural awards and been featured in numerous documentaries.  But I was interested in showing the boys the meaning that infuses this beautiful architecture and brings it to life for its many visitors and admirers around the world.

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

Sacred Geometry

We started by learning more about the concept of sacred geometry – that is, the idea that buildings can convey a message to us about God.  What does this mean?  First, we had to dive into the concept of symbols – things that stand for something else.  Shapes and images used in architecture can stand for ideas, helping remind us of things that are important.

We reviewed the book Geometry through Architecture: The Chartres Cathedral (a great global STEM book for kids), looking especially at the symbols that were used in the cathedral.  Monkey especially liked the labyrinth built into the floor of cathedral, which encourages introspection and focus as visitors work their way through.

Baha'i Temple, India

Turning back to the Bahá’í temples, they are also full of symbolism.  For example, all have nine doors.  Since nine is the highest single digit, it is a symbol for unity, showing that all people are welcome to worship there.

The Lotus

As for the Bahá’í temple in India, why was the lotus symbol chosen?  What importance does the lotus have in India?

The lotus is an ancient symbol of the divine in India.  It was mentioned in the oldest Veda and features prominently in both Hinduism and Buddhism.  It is a powerful symbol of beauty, purity, and divine birth/everlasting life.  It can also mean detachment from this earthly life, just as the lotus floats above the murky water, maintaining its purity.  It can also represent life, fertility, and prosperity.  The lotus can also symbolize potential, especially spiritual.

Since we learned a bit about origami in our study of Japan last month, I thought it would be fun to make some origami lotus flowers.  They turned about beautifully and were so much fun to make!

Learning about India: The Lotus Temple and Sacred Geometry | Alldonemonkey.com

There are a number of tutorials available online to make really beautiful origami lotus flowers – including this one that really looked like the Lotus Temple! – but most were too complicated for my five year old.  Instead I opted for this simpler tutorial.  The number of steps was just the right length for Monkey, plus it was very easy to follow.  And despite this, our flowers really turned out beautifully!

To learn more about the Lotus Temple, be sure to visit the website of the Bahá’í House of Worship in India.

Learning about India: The Lotus Temple and Sacred Geometry | Alldonemonkey.com

Global Learning for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of our new series Global Learning for Kids. This month we are learning all about India, so link up below any old or new posts designed to teach kids on India–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, music, and more!

May 142015

Children's Books about Ninjas, Samurai, and Karate | Alldonemonkey.com

Like many American kids, my Monkeys like to run around the house “doing karate” – which to them means shouting “hiya!” a lot and trying to chop each other up with their hands.

As we started our month-long study of Japan (part of the new Global Learning for Kids series from Multicultural Kid Blogs), I wanted them to learn the real story behind these moves, as well as about other Japanese warriors.  So I set out to find children’s books about martial arts from Japan (especially karate), as well as ninjas and samurai.  They hadn’t heard of samurai, but the image of the stealthy ninja was already familiar to them, at least in its cartoon form.

Children’s Books about Ninjas, Samurai, and Karate Masters

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Karate and Other Martial Arts

Chip and the Karate Kick by Anne Rockwell is a book parents and kids can enjoy.  Kids will identify with Chip, who is eager to do karate chops, just like his favorite action hero, and frustrated about how slowly his classes are progressing.  Parents will appreciate the message of the story, as Chip learns the true spirit of karate, which is using the art to defend those in need.  I love that the story even incorporates a bit of the history of karate as well as some common Japanese words, such as sensei and dojo, in a way that is natural to the storyline and easy for kids to learn.

We are big fans of Geronimo Stilton. They are great easy reader adventure books and are a wonderful way to teach kids about other countries. For example, we read one of Geronimo’s adventures when we learned about Mongolia, so I can’t wait to read The Karate Mouse with Monkey!  In this book, Geronimo must overcome his fear to compete in a World Karate Competition.  Can he become champion material in time?

One series I’m really excited to check out is Julie Black Belt, part of the Kung Fu Chronicles.  I love that this features a strong female heroine in what is traditionally a male sport.  Thanks to Carrie of Crafty Moms Share for telling me about this series.  Be sure to read her review!

Are you like me and need a primer on martial arts yourself?  Be sure to read this martial arts overview from Pragmatic Mom – it is a great introduction to a wide range of martial arts, including children’s book tie-ins.


An absolutely adorable book is Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a ninja creeps through a sleeping house, only to be surprised just as he is about to complete his mission!  A fun read for kids and parents.

If you love creative re-tellings of traditional tales, then you have to check out Ninja Red Riding Hood as well as its companion The Three Ninja Pigs.  Spoiler alert: It’s not good news for the wolf!  I found out about these books from Pragmatic Mom – be sure to check out her full list of Ninja Books for Kids!

For a more serious introduction to ninjas, I like Ninja (The World of Martial Arts) by Jim Ollhoff.  It is a good overview for kids of the history and techniques of ninjas.  It also answers the question, Are there still ninjas today??

There is also Ninjas: Masters of Stealth and Secrecy by Joanne Mattern.  I really like this one because dives into the history and culture of the historical ninjas, focusing on the why as well as the how of what they did.  This book really explains the relationship between ninjas and samurai, including why they were often at odds with each other – but sometimes worked together.


Perhaps because they are less popular among kids than ninjas, I didn’t find as many children’s books about samurai. Luckily for me, though, I found a wonderful book list of Japanese folktales from What Do We Do All Day?, which included a samurai story similar to Thumbelina. The Smallest Samurai is so small he has to make his sword out of a needle, so how will he prove himself as a warrior?  The artwork, based on 19th century Japanese prints, looks absolutely stunning!

I am so in love with All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Willamarie Moore. (You could win a copy by entering our giveaway below!)  If you can only pick up one book about Japan for your kids, this should be it!  It really does cover all the basics, in a fun, engaging format. From food to holidays to geography, you can learn a bit of everything and feel like you’ve really traveled to Japan!  Important for this list, the book includes a very brief introduction to samurai, including a craft to make your own samurai helmet with origami!

How to Be a Samurai Warrior is an excellent book from National Geographic.  I love its premise, guiding you through everything you need to be a samurai warrior, from What Will You Learn? to Do You Want the Top Job?  As you would expect from National Geographic, the book is both comprehensive and accessible.  Indispensable if you have a real samurai lover in your house.

Another great, in-depth work is Japan in the Days of the Samurai (Cultures of the Past) by Virginia Schomp. This is a wonderful book for older kids to learn more about the world in which the samurai lived. It would be great for a history class or home school study of ancient cultures.

For a great overview of samurai and how they relate to overall Japanese history, I recommend this article from Pragmatic Mom on Shogun, Family Crests, and Block Prints.  It has great book recommendations, as well as the perspective of personal family history.

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Multicultural Kid Blogs is excited to announce our second annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway! See our main page for a full schedule, and be sure to enter the amazing giveaway below!

The giveaway starts Monday, May 4 and goes through Monday, June 1. Enter for a chance to win one of these amazing prizes!

Please note that there are shipping restrictions on some prizes. In the event that the winner lives outside of the shipping area, that portion of the prize will be added to the following prize package.

Grand Prize Package

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series & Giveaway 2015 | Multicultural Kid BlogsThe Grand Prize Package includes:

Personal Tea Ceremony Gift Set from Gift a Feast
Includes everything you need to prepare and enjoy matcha, the tea served in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Enjoy being part of the journey of matcha tea from the temples of 12th century Buddhist monks to today! US shipping only

Calin Yang Doll from Pattycake Doll Company
For the parents of Multicultural, Biracial, Black or Asian children, finding that perfect doll used to be a challenge. But today all that has changed. Pattycake Doll Company is the recognized source for Black, Asian, Hispanic, Biracial, and Multicultural Dolls as well as Dolls for Boys, and donate 10% of profits to children’s charities. This month’s contest winner will receive the most popular Asian Baby Doll in the world – Calin Yang by Corolle.

Asian Kites from Tuttle Publishing
Kids will learn how to make colorful kites while exploring Asian culture and history with this easy-to-follow crafts for kids book.

All About Japan from Tuttle Publishing
2012 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award Winner! A cultural adventure for kids, All About Japan offers a journey to a new place—and ways to bring it to life! Dive into stories, play some games from Japan, learn some Japanese songs.

Hello, Bali from Kids Yoga Stories
Say good day to the magical island of Bali through these energizing yoga poses for kids. Join one of the Yoga Kids, Anamika, as you surf like a surfer, dance like a Balinese dancer, and sit like a monkey. Included is a list of Kids Yoga Poses, Basic Indonesian phrases, and a Parent-Teacher Guide with tips on creating a successful yoga experience.

1st Prize Package

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series & Giveaway 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

The 1st Prize Package includes:

Udon Noodle Bowls from Uncommon Goods
Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or lounging on the couch, this creation is ideal for udon, soup or stir-fry. A blend of a mug and a bowl, the handmade piece is contoured to fit snugly in the palm of your hand. Black lacquer bamboo chopsticks included. US Shipping only

Japanese House Architectural Blocks Set from HABA
One of the oldest cultures in the world also has one of the most beautiful forms of architecture. Complicated multi-tier roofs and ornate pagodas allow the builder to create temples, palaces or calming formal gardens. With this set your child can take their imagination on a trip to Japan in the safety of their own living room. US/Canada Shipping Only

All About Indonesia from Tuttle Publishing
A book for children that takes them on an adventure through one of the world’s largest and most culturally diverse countries. Along the way, kids are introduced to Indonesian culture and history, the food, the language, and the natural beauty of this fascinating country!

Fun with Asian Food from Tuttle Publishing
This Asian cookbook for kids contains fun and easy recipes that children will love to cook and dishes that even the pickiest eaters will savor!

Indian Children’s Favorite Stories from Tuttle Publishing
This colorfully illustrated multicultural children’s book presents Indian fairy tales and other folk stories—providing insight into a rich literary culture.

2nd Prize Package

second prize Collage

The 2nd Prize Package includes:

Sushi Slicing Play Set from Melissa & Doug
This elegant 24-piece wooden sushi play-food set is packed in a beautiful storage box and includes sliceable sushi rolls, shrimp, tuna, easy-use chopsticks, a cleaver and more. Sushi rolls make realistic chopping sounds when sliced! US/Canada Shipping Only

Countryside from Kevin So
An album filled with “heartfelt great songs, great singing and great playing…simply something you’ll love if you’re a fan of originality, melody, surprising lyrics and beautiful instrumentation, beautifully played.” Learn more about this artist and listen to samples of his work here.

Book from the Maui New Zealand series from Global Kids Oz
Enjoy a book of from this collection of New Zealand Maori Myths and Legends that every New Zealand child is brought up with in school!

Angkat: The Cambodian Cinderella from Lee & Low
In the first English retelling of this ancient Cambodian tale, our heroine goes further, survives more, and has to conquer her own mortality to regain her rightful place. Angkat—child of ashes—endures great wrongs as she seeks to rise above the distresses caused by her own family. US Shipping only

Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments from Lee & Low
Including both flights of fancy and practical considerations, lively poems capture each child’s musical experience with a different Chinese instrument, while sidebars provide more information about each one. US Shipping only

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story from Lee & Low
The incredible true story of the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal. Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award. US Shipping only

Juna’s Jar from Lee & Low
When her best friend moves away, Juna sets out to search for him with the help of a special jar. What Juna finds is that adventure—and new friends—can be found in the most unexpected places. US Shipping only

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow from Lee & Low
A powerful story of hope, recounting the little known tale of the art schools that offered moments of solace and self-expression to Japanese Americans in the US internment camps of World War II. US Shipping only

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