Jan 252018
 
 January 25, 2018  Book Reviews, raising world citizens 

Looking for a great diverse chapter book for your elementary aged child? Here is a wonderful new title that imaginative kids will love! And don’t miss details at the end of this post on Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Diverse Chapter Book Your Imaginative Kids Will Love | 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.

Diverse Chapter Book Your Imaginative Kids Will Love

Do your kids love pretend play as much as mine do? Every time I turn around it seems I face a ninja, a storm trooper, or a pair of puppies! Now kids can read a diverse chapter book with a hero that also enjoys imaginative play: Pedro really is Pedro the Great, since in each chapter he explores a different persona, from a pirate to a ninja.

I was so excited for the opportunity to review the early chapter book Pedro the Great from Capstone Publishing, a Silver Medallion sponsor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (see below for more details!). I was familiar with the popular Katie Woo series, so I was eager to read a book that focused on one of its supporting characters.

As a mom of Latino boys I was thrilled, of course, to see such a great book that features a brown-skinned boy named Pedro who liked to do the same things that my boys do, like play pirates or pretend to be a star of a ninja movie.

Related Post: Books that Encourage Creativity

I also appreciated that the themes of Pedro the Great are problem-solving and friendship. When Pedro and his friends all want to be the captain of the pirate ship, they have to work together to come up with a solution. And when Pedro gets lost on his school field trip, he uses quick thinking to make his way back to his classmates.

This diverse chapter book is great for kids ages 6 – 8 who are just starting to read more “grown up” books but aren’t ready for the topics often covered in books for older kids. This book manages to be full of action and surprises without being too mature for younger readers.

I highly recommend Pedro the Great for anyone looking for a diverse chapter book that will capture their child’s imagination!

Related Post: Resources to Help Kids Embrace Diversity

Multicultural Children's Book Day 2018

I am proud to once again be a co-host for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18). It is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo,  Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles,  Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen,  Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing  Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham  Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Share Your Reviews for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!


Jan 192018
 
 January 19, 2018  bilingualism, Book Reviews, Literacy, multiculturalism, Spanish, Valentine's Day Comments Off on Valentine’s Day Mini Book: Speaking of Love

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

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

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

Valentine’s Day Mini Book: Speaking of Love

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

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

Related Post: Teaching Children to Choose Love

To download your copy simply click on the link below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Post: Picture Books About Love

Love Blog Tour

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

WEEK ONE
January 8 – Margie’s Must Reads – Mood Board
January 9 – DoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life – Review and Review and Creative (lesson plan/unit study)
January 10 – The Keepers of the Books – What Love Means to different age groups
January 11 – The Children’s Book Reviews – Creative
January 12 – Books4yourkids – Creative
WEEK TWO
January 15 – Happily Ever Elephants – Review + Kids quotes on what love is to them.
January 16 – Crayon Freckles – Creative Learning Activity
January 17 – My Book Bloom – Review and Craft
January 18 – My Little Poppies – Activity
January 19 – All Done Monkey – Lesson plan or activity.
WEEK THREE
January 22 – Mundie Moms – Ask 7th graders what they think of the definition of “love”
January 23 – Wandering Bark Books – Spotlight
January 24 – Little Lit Book Series – Arts and Crafts Post
January 25 – Between the Reads – Review AND exploring what love means in today’s society and what it means to me
January 26 – The Plot Bunny – Old Valentine’s Mood Board
WEEK FOUR
January 29 – Just Commonly – “Love is” Collage
January 30 – Inspiration Laboratories – Artwork demonstrating love
Dec 062017
 
 December 6, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Great New Books for Little Hands to Love

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

Great New Books for Little Hands to Love | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Great New Books for Little Hands to Love

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

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

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

Related Post: Bilingual Board Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emergency Preparedness and Extreme Weather: Resources for Kids

Emergency Preparedness for Families

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

Your Weather Emergency and Hurricane Preparedness Checklist The Soccer Mom

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

How to Prepare Your Family for a Weather Emergency Teach Mama

The Science Behind Extreme Weather

Learning About the Water Cycle and Flooding Science Sparks

Hurricane Unit Study Look! We’re Learning

Hurricane Model Science Experiment Preschool Powol Packets

Make a Hurricane Gift of Curiosity

Tornado in a Jar Schooling a Monkey

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

Snowstorm in a Jar Lemon Lime Adventures

Emergent Readers About Extreme Weather The Measured Mom

 

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

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

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

Nov 142017
 
 November 14, 2017  activities, Book Reviews, crafts, Winter 

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

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun

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

You’ll Need

cotton balls

toothpicks

glue

spare buttons

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Easy Snowman Craft and Indoor Winter Fun | Alldonemonkey.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nov 082017
 
 November 8, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting 

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

Empowering Kids to Make Good Decisions | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Empowering Kids to Make Good Decisions

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

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

The Power of Choice

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

Offer Limited Choices

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

Provide Guidance

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

Work Together on Solutions

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

Give Plenty of Practice

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

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

Choose Your Timing

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

Help Them Learn from Mistakes

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEM Books with Strong Female Characters | Alldonemonkey.com

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

New STEM Books with Strong Female Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus STEM Books & Resources

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

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

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

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

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

Coding games app from Kidlo Land

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

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

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

Books to Help Children Explore the World | Alldonemonkey.com

Books to Help Children Explore the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 182017
 
 October 18, 2017  Book Reviews 

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 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

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