Nov 132019
 

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

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

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

Teaching Manners: Resources Plus Simple Courtesy Craft

Light of Courtesy Craft

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

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

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

Afterwards, they are free to decorate as they wish!

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

New Books for Teaching Manners

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

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

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Nov 122019
 

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

Inspiring Biographies of Diverse Heroes | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Inspiring Biographies of Diverse Heroes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov 062019
 

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

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

Fairy Tales from Around the World | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Fairy Tales from Around the World

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

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

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

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

Fairy Tales from Around the World | Alldonemonkey.com

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

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

What are your child’s favorite fairy tales?

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Nov 012019
 
 November 1, 2019  Book Reviews, music No Responses »

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

Adorable New Books for Babies | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Adorable New Books for Babies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favorite books for babies?

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Oct 312019
 
 October 31, 2019  Book Reviews No Responses »

Animal stories are so much fun, especially when they involve a good adventure! The following collection of books includes some really wonderful stories about animals who are out to save the world – okay, along with a few who want to destroy it! These light-hearted adventures will leave your children laughing even as they can’t wait to see what happens next.

Funny Animal Stories about Daring Adventures | 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.

Funny Animal Stories About Daring Adventures

What could be more daring then leaving your home and family to set off on your own? Stretchy McHandsome comes from a large family of cats, but he really needs space to find his own place in the world. What he discovers, however, is the joy of a special relationship with a little girl. But don’t worry, his family hasn’t been left behind! In the end, they all find human companions of their own, close by to their daring brother Stretchy McHandsome.

Didi Dodo, Future Spy: Recipe for Disaster is the first in a series of books about Didi Dodo. First, can we acknowledge how great it is to have a dodo bird as the lead character? And she is so funny! Didi Dodo takes on her first ever case, to find out who stole Koko Dodo’s top secret fudge sauce. But they have to find the thief in time for Koko Dodo to enter the royal cookie contest! Full of plot twists and madcap adventures that will have young readers laughing out loud. This early chapter book is especially good for younger or reluctant readers because it has so many fun illustrations and fairly short chapters.

Older readers will love Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat: The Spacedog Cometh, the latest in the Klawde series. (Read my review of the first two books in the series). My nine year old adores this series! He literally snatched it out of the box as soon as it arrived and sat down to read it. Klawde is no ordinary cat. An exiled warlord from a planet where cats rule, Klawde has been banished to Earth, where he allows himself to become the pet of a young boy named Raj. In this installment, Klawde must face the ancient enemy of his race: dogs. Specifically, alien dogs that have now discovered his location and sent an emissary to Earth to bring him to justice once and for all. Can Klawde survive this new threat, and can Raj handle his own out-of-town visitor, his grandmother?? A very funny, clever addition to this wonderful series of alien animal stories.

What would you do if your dog ran into a haunted house? That’s exactly the dilemma siblings Liz and Toby face in My Dog Sees Ghosts. This creepy chapter book is the first in a series of Liz and Toby adventures, aimed at children ages 7 – 12. (Read my review of a graphic novel from the same author). This is a fun adventure story that is spooky without being too scary for young readers. And I love that the siblings in the story genuinely enjoy being together – and that they’re being raised by two moms! This is a book with a double twist ending – just when you think you have it all figured out, and the mystery of the supposedly haunted house has been solved, you discover that ghosts really do exist, just not in the way you expect!

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Oct 252019
 

Autumn may seem like an unusual time for butterfly crafts and activities. Here in the US, we typically associate butterflies with spring or perhaps summer; yet in Mexico, butterflies migrating south are a beloved sign of fall. In fact, they are often associated with the Day of the Dead. And so, in honor of their long journey, here is a HUGE collection of more than 75 butterfly crafts and activities for kids, plus don’t miss my review of a wonderful new children’s book!

75+ Butterfly Crafts and Activities for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Señorita Mariposa 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.

75+ Butterfly Crafts and Activities for Kids

Read on to find 75+ butterfly crafts and activities for kids, from painting and origami to STEM activities and music!

Butterflies are more than just beautiful: they are the ultimate metaphor for personal transformation and growth. And we can draw further inspiration from the incredible monarch butterfly’s 3,000 mile migration, which spans three countries (Canada, US, and Mexico).

Señorita Mariposa, the first picture book from award-winning musician Mister G, is a beautiful tribute to this epic journey. (Read my reviews of his albums here and here). Based on the lyrics of Mister G’s song of the same name (included on his album Chocolalala), Señorita Mariposa was inspired by the monarch butterflies he would see each year near his own home in Western Massachusetts. The bilingual text is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations of the landscapes that the monarchs fly through and the diverse people they pass along the way.

This lovely book also comes with a message about the need to preserve the habitat of the monarch butterflies and, more broadly, the natural world that our three countries share. Mister G is deeply committed to conservation and even started The Mariposa Project to inspire communities to engage with these issues.

Señorita Mariposa would be a beautiful addition to any unit on butterflies or conservation more generally and would make a wonderful gift to budding environmentalists and animal lovers.

Butterfly Music

Señorita Mariposa by Mister G, from the album Chocolalala

Butterfly by Nancy Kopman

Butterfly Outdoor Activities

Garden Butterfly Craft: Blue Bear Wood

Creating a Butterfly Garden: Mosswood Connections

Stick and Leaf Butterfly Nature Craft: Artsy Craftsy Mom

Butterfly Nature Craft: Mother Natured

Butterfly Feeder Craft: Glitter on a Dime

Butterfly STEM Activities

Books and Videos About the Migration of Monarch Butterflies: Kid World Citizen

Butterfly Identification Cards: Look! We’re Learning

Caterpillar Butterfly Life Cycle Unit: Fun with Mama

Caterpillar to Butterfly Mini Unit: Carrots Are Orange

Butterfly Life Cycle Printables: Kiddy Charts

Butterfly Life Cycle Craft Using Band Aids: The Preschool Toolbox

Butterfly Life Cycle Craft: Juggling with Kids

Butterfly Life Cycle Handprint Craftivity: Schooltime Snippets

Butterfly Life Cycle Sensory Bottles: Fun-a-Day

Butterfly Life Cycle Craft Necklace: Fun-a-Day

Butterfly Food Sensory Challenge: Preschool Powol Packets

Butterfly STEAM Activities for Preschoolers and Toddlers: Team Cartwright

Designing Wings Butterfly Craft for Preschoolers: The Keeper of the Memories

Butterfly Mats to Explore Shapes: JDaniel4’s Mom

Coloring Matching Butterflies: Teach Me Mommy

Butterfly Counting Activity: Look! We’re Learning

Painted Butterfly Wing Symmetry Activity: The Keeper of the Memories

Butterfly Name Crafts: Fun-a-Day

Butterfly Sensory Activities

Bright Butterfly Sensory Bin: The Chaos and the Clutter

Butterfly Sensory Bag: The Chaos and the Clutter

Butterfly Snacks

Butterfly Snack Bags: Mama Teaches

Butterfly Snack Bags: Messy Little Monster

Literacy Related Butterfly Fruit Snack: Primary Playground

Butterfly Crafts

Monarch Butterfly Art: Kid World Citizen

Toilet Paper Roll Butterfly Craft: The Best Ideas for Kids

Quick Cardboard Tube Butterfly Craft: Mama Teaches

Paper Roll Rainbow Butterfly Craft: Non-Toy Gifts

Toilet Roll Handprint Butterfly: Messy Little Monster

Easy Toilet Paper Roll Butterfly Craft: Look! We’re Learning

Paper Plate Butterflies with Dot Markers: Glitter on a Dime

Fluttering Watercolor Paper Plate Butterflies: Pink Stripey Socks

Butterfly Paper Plate Wreath Craft: Creative Family Fun

Cupcake Liner Butterfly Craft: The Joy of Sharing

Crepe Paper Butterfly Craft: Artsy Craftsy Mom

3-D Butterfly Craft: Non-Toy Gifts

3-D Butterfly Paper Craft: Projects with Kids

3-D Paper Butterfly: I Heart Crafty Things

Easy Pop-Up Butterfly Card: Red Ted Art

Paper Butterfly Puppet: I Heart Crafty Things

Transforming Paper Butterfly Craft: Hello, Wonderful

Fluttering Butterfly Craft: Pink Stripey Socks

Paper Butterfly Craft and Template: Artsy Craftsy Mom

Accordion Fold Paper Butterfly Craft: Artsy Craftsy Mom

Easy Folded Paper Butterfly: Red Ted Art

Origami Butterfly Bookmark Corner: Red Ted Art

Butterfly Yarn Craft Activity: Fun with Mama

Rainbow Yarn Butterfly Craft: A Dab of Glue Will Do

Yarn Wrapped Butterfly: Schooltime Snippets

Woven Craft Stick Butterflies: The Craft Train

Butterfly Painting for Toddlers: My Bored Toddler

Oil Pastel Butterfly Craft for Toddlers: My Bored Toddler

Colorful Toddler Butterfly Art: Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Butterfly Printing with Sponges: The Craft Train

Painting with Marbles Butterfly Craft: Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Colored Salt Butterfly Craft: Fun with Mama

Watercolor and Glitter Butterflies: I Heart Crafty Things

Handprint Butterfly Craft: Simple Everyday Mom

Paint and Fold Butterfly Symmetry Artwork: Still Playing School

Symmetry Butterfly Art with Warm and Cool Colors: Creative Family Fun

Line of Symmetry Butterfly Craft: A Dab of Glue WIll Do

Faux Stained-Glass Butterfly Art: Crayons and Cravings

Marble Painted Monarch Butterfly Suncatcher: How Wee Learn

Coffee Filter Butterflies: Organized Island

Coffee Filter Butterfly Craft: Look! We’re Learning

Butterfly Clay Footprint Ring Dish: Messy Little Monster

Mold and Cast Butterfly Craft: Our Crafty Mom

Footprint Butterfly Art & Poem: Messy Little Monster

Footprint Butterfly Keepsake: Emma Owl

Butterfly Mandala Colouring Sheet: Kids Chaos

Butterfly Coloring Pages: Simple Everyday Mom

Butterfly Notebooks: Pink Stripey Socks

Butterfly Mask Craft: Messy Little Monster

Butterfly Mask Templates: Emma Owl

Butterfly Mask Printable: Red Ted Art

 

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Oct 112019
 
 October 11, 2019  Book Reviews, Halloween Comments Off on Lift-the-Flap Halloween Books for Spooky Fun!

Our family loves Halloween, and that of course includes enjoying some spooky reads as soon as the weather starts to cool off! Young readers love interactive books, which is why today I’m sharing some wonderful lift-the-flap Halloween books we are loving reading this season. Do you have a favorite Halloween book? Let us know in the comments!

Lift-the-Flap Halloween Books | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I receive a complimentary copy of Monsters Come Out Tonight 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.

Lift-the-Flap Halloween Books for Spooky Fun!

Lift-the-Flap Tab: Spooky House is great for kids that really love to lift those flaps! All of the page spreads in this book have multiple flaps, sometimes up to five! It is also a tab book, which means that kids can go straight to the page they want by using the colorful tabs along the book’s exterior. The book takes you through the rooms of this spooky house, where you get to meet tons of fun Halloween characters. My kids’ favorite room is the bathroom, where you can even find a monster hiding in the toilet!

Monsters Come Out Tonight! was an instant hit in our house. It is a wonderful new Halloween board book about monsters getting ready for a big monster ball! The flaps are large and sturdy, so they are easy for little hands to manipulate, and there are plenty of silly suprises to find. I love the juxtaposition in each page spread between a child, dressed up in their Halloween costume, knocking on a door, which is then answered by the actual monsters that the child is pretending to be. The best is at the end, though, when the both pages open up into one large spread showing kids and monsters partying together!

Ghost in the House is another of our favorite lift-the-flap Halloween books! This time around, the monsters are the ones getting spooked by the strange noises they hear in the house. Each time it is just another monster, who joins them as they creep from room to room – until the twist ending, when they are surprised by the scariest creature of all, a human boy!

Seriously, who doesn’t love Pete the Cat? That groovy feline returns in a not-too-spooky Halloween book for kids that are a bit anxious about Halloween. Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete helps kids who are worried about Halloween by showing that trick or treating doesn’t have to be too scary. In fact, often what we think is something scary is just a friend in a costume, or something familiar hidden in the shadows. Full of all your favorite Pete the Cat characters and lots of flaps to lift, this book shares the message that Halloween is full of sweet surprises.

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Oct 092019
 
 October 9, 2019  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Minimalist Living with Kids: Resources

Want to simplify your life and declutter your house? Many people I know want to achieve these goals but are concerned about the effect on their family. Be encouraged that you are doing the right thing! Here are reflections on minimalist living with kids from people that have made the change themselves, and why they think your family will not only survive, but thrive! Includes a review of a new picture book on tiny house living.

Minimalist Living with Kids

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.

Minimalist Living with Kids

Learn more about minimalist living with kids from parents and educators who have made the change!

Plentiful Living with a Minimalist Approach to Life (Part 1) and More Reflections: Mosswood Connections

8 Reasons to Take a Minimalist Approach to Toys: Simplify Create Inspire

20 Reasons to Say Yes to Less Toys, More Play: Best Toys 4 Toddlers

5 Amazing Things Minimalism Can Do for Your Kids: Sunny Day Living

A great resource to talk to your kids about minimalism and “tiny living” is Sissy Goes Tiny, created by long-time friends Rebecca Flansburg and Ba Norrgard. Sissy is an ordinary girl, who loves her home, her toys, her spacious backyard, and her big, cozy bed.

Sissy Goes Tiny: Minimalist Living with Kids

So when her mom and dad (a beautifully portrayed interracial couple) break the news that the family will be going tiny, Sissy is understandably skeptical. But her parents explain that while living tiny does mean fewer things, it also means more freedom and more experiences.

The book goes through each stage of the downsizing, including donating many items, re-purposing others, and making a scrapbook of their favorite things. Though this process is at times difficult, as it progresses Sissy’s skepticism soon turns to excitement, until it finally culminates in the arrival of their beautiful new tiny home!

Born out of author Ba Norrgard’s own experiences living in a tiny house for more than two decades, this book is a wonderful way to introduce children to the idea of minimalist living. Be sure to download a free worksheet from The Wise Owl Factory to help kids think through what minimalist living would look like for them!

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Sep 162019
 
 September 16, 2019  Book Reviews, music, parenting Comments Off on Teach Kids Self-Confidence: Books and Music

Get your child’s school year off to the right start by encouraging them to love themselves just as they are. Help kids embrace their own uniqueness with these books and music that teach kids self-confidence! Because every child should feel comfortable and happy in their own skin.

Teach Kids Self-Confidence: Books and Music | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Teach Kids Self-Confidence: Books and Music

We love these Changing Faces books! They are so adorable and fun for little ones, as the faces of the animals change each time you turn the page, thanks to something like a built-in Venetian blind. And the latest in the series, I Love You, Elephant!, has a special message of being happy just as you are. Little Monkey encounters different animals, wishing he could be like them. Yet his animal friends help him by pointing out what makes him special!

Ninja Boy’s Secret is a beautiful book about a boy learning to follow his heart – even if it means he might disappoint his father. Because unlike so many children, Ninja Boy doesn’t actually want to be a ninja. He wants to be a musician! Fearful of how his father will react, Ninja Boy nevertheless summons the courage to share his secret, by playing a beautiful violin sonata. Great story and I love the Japanese-inspired illustrations!

Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color is a beautiful story for anyone who feels like they don’t quite match anyone else. Simone, a young mixed girl, isn’t as dark as her mother or as light as her father. She longs to find a color of her own. A beautiful story about building self-confidence through embracing your uniqueness. It also sparks a lot of conversations with my mixed kids, who were curious to identify exactly what color they were!

How Do You Dance? is a great book about finding your own way, rather than trying to just imitate what everyone else is doing. There are so many ways to dance, but the most important way is the one that feels right to you! Lovely illustrations of diverse people enjoying music in all different ways!

The Love is a truly unique album! It’s hip-hop music that focuses on “love, belonging, and gender justice.” It features more than 60 artists, including many children. What really impressed me was that the album grew out of the group’s genuine engagement with their audience. As one co-founder explains, “Hundreds of kids and families trusted us with their lived experience to write these songs.” It really inspires self-confidence in kids who feel ostracized and misunderstood and encourages allies to stand up for inclusion. And beyond that, it’s just really great music that my kids love!

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Books About Not Fitting In

Aug 302019
 
 August 30, 2019  Book Reviews, character building for kids Comments Off on Books that Inspire Kids to Help Others

Want your child to give back to their community – or even just pick up their toys? Children have natural tendencies to want to make a difference in their homes and communities. Nurture them with these wonderful new books that inspire kids to help others!

Books that Inspire Kids to Help Others

It is such a classic dilemma: Parents feel like they are drowning in housework, yet their children never appreciate all of their hard work. In fact, they usually just contribute to the mess! In Llama Llama Mess Mess Mess, Llama Llama – like so many other children – ignores Mama Llama’s calls to clean up. But Mama Llama uses an unexpected strategy to convince Llama Llama of the importance of helping out. What would happen if Mama Llama didn’t clean up either? When Llama Llama realizes how chaotic and stressful life would be without Mama Llama’s hard work, he sees that pitching in means a peaceful home – and more playtime! – for everyone. A fun way to teach responsibility to little ones.

If you are an animal lover, prepare to have your heartstrings tugged with Garbage Dog! This is a sweet, beautifully illustrated book about a dog forced to live on the streets. But throughout his struggles, looking for food and avoiding mean animals, Garbage Dog never loses his sense of decency. He makes friends with all kinds of animals wherever he goes, and looks out for others, even sharing the little food he manages to scavenge. But don’t worry, there is a happy ending for Garbage Dog! A lovely book about friendship and kindness to others.

Endangered Species Superheroes is a graphic novel about a teenage girl living with her grandfather and helping out at his wildlife sanctuary. Yet Lindsey’s idyllic life is interrupted when her grandfather’s nemesis, Mace Zagan, escapes from prison. Overcome with jealousy for her grandfather’s many awards and accomplishments, Zagan is determined to get his revenge. After his first attempts to hurt Lindsey’s grandfather fail, Zagan decides to kidnap Lindsey!

Help comes from unexpected quarters. Several of the animals from the sanctuary – loyal to Lindsey and her grandfather – discover that they’ve developed super powers, ironically, thanks to one of Zagan’s evil schemes. Working together, this super team of an iguana, sloth, rhinoceros, and tapir help Lindsey to save the day.

I love that despite the dangers presented in the book, it always manages to stay upbeat and positive. Plus the relationships shown among both humans and animals are very supportive, as the characters demonstrate true friendship for each other. A great adventure story, and one that will spark an interest in the urgent need to help endangered animals.

The Chupacabras of the Río Grande is the latest installment of the wonderful Unicorn Rescue Society series for middle grade readers. (Read my review of the first two books). There are so many things to love about this book: How its heroes are smart, thoughtful, brave (and diverse!) kids; how it centers on rescuing mythical (but actually real, and very endangered) creatures; and how, through their adventures, the children also learn about other culture and very real problems facing society.

In The Chupacabras of the Río Grande, Elliot and Uchenna travel to the Laredo, Texas, on the border between Mexico and the US, to investigate reports of a chupacabra. This book builds on the previous ones of the series, but new co-author (and Pura Belpré winner) David Bowles brings an intimate knowledge of the bicultural & bilingual communities on the border. The book delves into an issue that children will surely have heard about on the news – the border wall – but in a nuanced way that carefully avoids generalizations. In fact, one of the most brilliant plot twists is that in the end, the children find an unexpected ally in a rancher that they had thought they would have nothing in common with.

Highly recommended series for kids with a lot of imagination and a desire to save the world!

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