Jul 052018
 
 July 5, 2018  Book Reviews, crafts, History, multiculturalism, raising world citizens Comments Off on Thunderbird: Native American Legend

The Thunderbird is an important symbol found in legends throughout North America. Sometimes friendly, sometimes threatening, this awe-inspiring bird was a supernatural creature that derived its name from the flapping of its powerful wings, which was said to produce thunder. Read on to find resources to teach children about this widespread Native American legend, as well as a new middle grade fiction series that celebrates mythical creatures.

Thunderbird: Native American Legend | Alldonemonkey.com

Photo by Dr Haggis [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thunderbird: Native American Legend

The Thunderbird appears most frequently in legends of the Pacific Northwest, yet it can be found throughout North America. It appears in songs and oral histories, even in ancient stone carvings. With the flapping of their powerful wings and the lightning that would shoot out of their eyes, the Thunderbirds were said to bring rain and storms.

A Note About Sources

When learning about Native American cultures, it is extremely important to interrogate your sources. This is a highly sensitive topic among Native communities, and with good reason. For hundreds of years outsiders have appropriated and interpreted Native culture. Even when done with good intentions, this can distort the original context, so it is important to make sure that your source is reputable and respectful.

For example, when searching for resources on the Thunderbird legend, I came across many entries from “cryptozoology,” a branch of pseudoscience that attempts to prove the existence of creatures from legend. As a result, there is a lively search for the “real” Thunderbird, sometimes thought to be a surviving pterosaur and sometimes a monstrous creature related to the condor.

You also run into a lot of links about the cars and the airplanes named after the powerful Thunderbird!

As a result, I’ve collected for you reliable resources about the supernatural Thunderbird from Native American legends, so you can learn more about it with your children. Keep in mind that the Thunderbird appears in legends across North America, so you will run across some variation.

Thunderbird: What to Read

History of the Thunderbird symbol, especially in the Mississippian culture

A history of the modern Thunderbird jewelry of the US Southwest

Thunderers in Cherokee legend

Collection of Native stories about the Thunderbird

Thunderbird and Whale stories from the Pacific Northwest

I also found a beautiful book at our local library, called Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird: Tales of the People. This traditional Absaroka (Crow) tale is here retold by Joseph Medicine Crow. It is an example of how the Thunderbird often is friendly towards humans and can help them. It is part of the Tales of the People series created with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Thunderbird: Where to Visit

Thunderbird: Native American Legend | Alldonemonkey.com

Thunderbird Park, Victoria, BC

Thunderbird Park in Victoria, British Columbia

Mythical Creatures for Kids

If you have a child that is fascinated by mythical creatures, then you don’t want to miss the wonderful new middle grade series The Unicorn Rescue Society. In the first book, The Creature of the Pines, we meet Elliot, a bookish boy starting his first day at a new school. He quickly teams up with Uchenna, his polar opposite in many ways except for how neither of them seems to be a bit of a misfit. But my favorite character is the wild-haired Professor Fauna, a mysterious teacher feared by most students. But when the children find a mysterious creature on a school field trip, they find that Professor Fauna is the only person in whom they can confide.

And thanks to him, they are introduced to the Unicorn Rescue Society – much to Elliot’s chagrin and Uchenna’s delight. Young readers will delight in their adventures with the Professor, and travel along with them to save a dragon in the just released second book in the series, The Basque Dragon. Highly imaginative book for anyone who believes (or wants to believe) that mythical creatures might still exist!

Unicorn Rescue Society

This book is part of the Basque Dragon book tour. Find out more in the links below!

WEEK ONE

July 2 – Liv The Book Nerd – Review + Creative Instagram

July 3 – Mommy Ramblings – Favorite Mythological Creature from a Children’s Picture Book

July 4 – Live.Laugh.Love.Library – Listicle: Five Interesting Facts about your Favorite Mythological Creature

July 5 – All Done Monkey – Review + Favorite Mythological Creature

July 6 – Storymamas – Favorite Mythological Creatures to have as pets

WEEK TWO

July 9 – The HSP Bookshelf – What Mythological Creature I would want to have as a pet

July 10 – The Pages In-Between – Creative Instagram Picture

July 11 – Lost in Storyland – What Mythological Creature I would want to have as a pet

July 12 – Laura’s Bookish Corner – What Mythological Creature I would want to have as a pet

Jun 292018
 
 June 29, 2018  Book Reviews 2 Responses »

Does your teen love vampire stories, especially if there’s a little romance mixed in? Here is a great new vampire series for teens that adults will love, too! These engrossing books tell of a girl finding her true self in a world where everything she knows has been turned upside down. Can she figure out who to trust in time to save herself and those she loves?

New Vampire Series for Teens | 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 Vampire Series for Teens

I recently posted in a Facebook group that I was looking for a new book to read. In response, a friend (who happens to work at Audrey Press – it’s great to have friends who work at publishing companies!), contacted me to see if I would be interested in previewing a new YA book coming out this summer.

I was already familiar with what great books Audrey Press produces. (Long-time readers may remember my review of A Year in the Secret Garden. In case you missed it, read it here & learn about “spot sitting”).

So of course I jumped at the chance to review a new series from Audrey Press, and I’m so glad I did!

The first book, Ascension, starts off with an important rite of passage in the life of a young Deuxsang, a “double blooded” human/vampire hybrid. The Deuxsang are a closely knit, secretive community, living among humans but guarded by their protectors, the vampires. But when the vampires come to test young Cheyenne for her ascension ceremony, the ritual is dramatically different (and more painful!) than the ones she has witnessed before.

Even more bewildering to her, however, is what she sees as her family’s betrayal – their failure to rescue her from the painful ceremony and their emotional rejection of her afterwards.

Fast forward several years, and Cheyenne is now a teenager still angry at her parents and confused about why she seems so different than everyone else. (Like how most teenagers feel, just amplified one hundred times!) To top it all off, she falls in love with Eli, who is not a Deuxsang and therefore completely off limits.

When Cheyenne is sent to New Orleans to spend the summer with her annoying older sister and creepy brother-in-law, bit by bit she learns that everything she had been taught about the world – about vampires and their rivals, witches, even about her own people the Deuxsang – has been a lie.

Or has it? Who can she believe? Can she trust her own heart?

I could not put this book down, right up to the cliffhanger ending – which made me so glad that I already had a preview copy of the sequel Clandestine, which comes out in July! In the second book in this new vampire series for teens, Cheyenne has been sent forcibly to college, where she is watched like a hawk and kept away from those that mean the most to her.

The betrayals grow deeper and more twisted, as Cheyenne learns more about the secret histories of the wars among vampires and witches – and the role of the Deuxsang in them. At the same time, Cheyenne is learning to harness her surprising talents. But which side will she fight for in the coming war and whom can she trust?

This is a wonderful new vampire series for teens (and grown ups!) It has everything – action, suspense, mystery, and romance, all with a healthy dose of teenage angst.

I also loved how it showcased New Orleans, which is the perfect backdrop for both the spooky scenes and the ones where Cheyenne and her friends are just out to explore and have fun in this beautiful city.

Don’t miss out on this wonderfully entertaining series! Pre-order Clandestine then catch up by reading Ascension while you wait!

Related Post: YA Book on Dealing with Loss

Jun 142018
 
 June 14, 2018  Book Reviews, Father's Day Comments Off on New Children’s Books About Dads and Daughters

There is no doubt that the relationship between dads and daughters is a special one, and one that is formative to a girl’s growing sense of self and her future relationships. (No pressure, Dad!) So this Father’s Day, celebrate all that is beautiful and goofy about this relationship with these wonderful new picture books about fathers and their little girls.

New Picture Books About Dads and Daughters | 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 Picture Books About Dads and Daughters

With My Daddy: A Book of Love and Family (Growing Hearts) is a lovely keepsake book from the author of All My Treasures: A Book of Joy, also part of the Growing Hearts series (read my full review). It is a celebration of all the ways that a girl can spend time with her father – riding bikes, swimming, or just relaxing. To me, the underlying message it about unconditional love, as her father’s unwavering support makes the main character feel safe and more sure of herself, and more able to deal with big emotions.

For a more silly take on dads and daughters, don’t miss Pet Dad! The cover alone already gives you a hint about where this book will take you! This book takes a familiar disagreement – a child who wants a pet, the parent who says no – to a hilarious extreme, as a girl explores all the ways her dad is (and isn’t) the perfect pet. Kids will love all the silliness as the main character tries to “train” her dad, and parents will notice that she is the one being trained, into asking her father for things nicely!

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Jun 112018
 
 June 11, 2018  Book Reviews, music, natural parenting Comments Off on Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources

Raising the next generation of conservationists means encouraging a love of nature in children. Helping children get outdoors and explore is a large piece of this puzzle, as is providing them with resources like music and books that nurture this spark inside them. I’m happy to share with you new music from an Grammy nominated artist and a lovely new children’s book perfect for budding environmentalists. And you could win a free song, see details at the end of this post!

Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the songs and 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.

Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources

We can offer children facts about conservation and its importance, yet in order to really influence them, we must also speak to their hearts. This is where art in all its myriad forms can help.

Katherine Dines - Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources | Alldonemonkey.com

I’m excited to share that Grammy nominated pioneering indie children’s music artist Katherine Dines has just released two new songs celebrating the planet and a love of nature (watch for a full album release in the fall!)

Earth Day Singles - Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources | Alldonemonkey.com

The songs are very gentle and upbeat, something you and your children will both enjoy listening to! I love the incorporation of sounds from nature and how the use of international instruments underscores the lyrics’ message of harmony and global awareness. “Thanks to the Earth” especially borrows from Middle Eastern music traditions to create a beautiful love song to the planet.

“Thanks to the Earth, Mother of life, wake up from Heaven’s embrace. … let springtime warm every face.”

Both songs are now available for purchase, plus five lucky readers will win a free song! To enter this giveaway, which is open internationally, just comment on this post letting us know what brings you closer to nature! Entries accepted through Sunday, June 17, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner will be chosen by random selection.

Another great resource for encouraging a love of nature is the beautiful new picture book Agua, Agüita/ Water, Little Water. This bilingual book is filled with gorgeous illustrations that perfectly complement the poetic tribute to the life-giving force of water. Tracing its origins deep within the earth, the book follows water through its entire life cycle, celebrating its dynamism and the interconnectedness of the natural world.

I also love that this book celebrates the indigenous heritage of El Salvador, where author Jore Tetl Argueta (now Poet Laureate of the San Francisco Public Libraries) grew up. Illustrator Felip Ugalde Alcántara includes native themes and symbols in his paintings, and the complete poem appears at the back of the book in Nahuat, an indigenous language of the region. Beautiful work children and adults will love!

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May 112018
 
 May 11, 2018  Book Reviews, Spanish, spiritual education Comments Off on Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders

Encourage your young world changers with these incredible books that inspire kids to be leaders! From picture books to chapter books, these works showcase people overcoming obstacles to follow their dreams as well as real life heroes who made a difference in the world. What inspires you?

Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders | 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.

Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders

Mayanito’s New Friends/ Los Nuevos Amigos De Mayanito is a beautiful allegory of a young prince who befriends children from distant lands and journeys far from his rainforest home to visit them. The animals of the jungle help him on his quest, until he is reunited with his friends and even brings them back to the his village to celebrate their global friendship. Prince Mayanito declares all the children of the hemisphere as his tribe and from his home at the equator can listen to music coming from his world map. A lovely story from the late poet and playwright Tato Laviera, with gorgeous illustrations of Mayanito’s lush rainforest home. I love stories like this that celebrate what unites us despite our differences and that recognize that children don’t have to wait to to grow up to become leaders.

One of the most famous Latin American leaders was José Martí, the Cuban poet who traveled the world to advocate for the oppressed and to speak out for Cuba’s independence from Spain. This wonderful picture book tells of the inspiration behind his convictions as well as the sacrifices he made for them, living in exile from his beloved island for so many years and later dying in battle in the war for its independence. I love that Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad uses Martí’s own verses to tell his story, inspiring another generation with the legendary words of this great freedom fighter. Includes historical notes at the end for even more information about this incredible figure.

Remember the Ladies (Ellis the Elephant) celebrates the often overlooked contributions of America’s first ladies, such as Abigail Fillmore, who helped build the collection of the national library, and Edith Wilson, who helped fulfill her husband’s duties when he became ill. These women are remarkable leaders in their own right, including one of my personal heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt. Written by a diplomat, this book keeps a steady hand even when discussing more recent first ladies, celebrating achievements from women from both sides of the political aisle. Featuring the adorable character Ellis the Elephant, it also includes more detailed biographies of all the featured women at the end of the book.

For most kids, reading about the history of the US Senate would seem incredibly dry, but the story of Dennis Chávez is completely the opposite. Dennis Chávez: The First Hispanic US Senator/ El Primer Senador Hispano De Los Estados Unidos is a beautifully done biography for older kids of the first US-born Hispanic Senator, one of the most remarkable leaders you’ve never heard of. Indeed, as I was reading, I found myself asking over and over, Why is this the first time I am reading about him? Born in rural New Mexico before it was even a state, Dionisio Chávez grew up speaking only Spanish, tending sheep, and living in a house with dirt floors and no indoor plumbing. But he was bright and motivated, and quickly learned English and excelled at his studies. Then in 7th grade, he had to drop out of school to work and was never able to complete high school or college.

Yet he went on to graduate from Georgetown Law School and serve as a US Senator for 27 years. Inspired by his own first hand experiences of injustice, he fought tirelessly for minorities and workers, even standing up to McCarthy at a time when speaking out against him was virtually unthinkable. Throughout it all he maintained his optimism and commitment to faith and family.

This gem is written by the Senator’s own granddaughter and puts Chávez’s accomplishments squarely within the context of history. She also brings out the warmth of his personality and sincerity of his convictions. A book that will inspire any child to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how great the obstacles.

Do you ever wish you could teach bullies a lesson? The Shameless Shenanigans of Mister Malo/ Las Terribles Travesuras De Mister Malo is a wonderful bilingual chapter book about a boy who does just that, on a regular basis. Through his secret persona Mister Malo, Lance takes assignments from other fourth graders – with payment in fruit snacks – to take care of kids who are making their lives miserable. But when his payback to one playground bully backfires, Mister Malo is forced to look deeper to try and discover why bullies act like they do. Lance also faces a bully of his own and must learn to stand up for himself, without the comforting mask of Mister Malo.

This book not only teaches important lessons, it’s incredibly funny as well – but parents should be warned that there is plenty of bathroom humor, though of course young readers will love this! Let’s just say that the climax of the book is when Lance and his buddies create a school project all about why people fart! This, um, unique project is not just for laughs – it actually resolves a bully problem for a young girl who has been teased mercilessly for tooting on the playground.

Really fun bilingual chapter book for young readers about how to deal with bullies in unconventional ways.

Among the great inspirational figures of the twentieth century is the groundbreaking Jackie Robinson. The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend is written by none other than Jackie Robinson’s daughter! An accomplished author, Ms. Robinson tells the charming tale of a young white boy and his incredible friendship with the legendary baseball player during the beginning of his career in the major leagues. It was common at that time for Dodgers players and their families to rent rooms in Brooklyn neighborhoods during the season, so when 8 year old Steve finds out his hero is moving to his street, he feels like he’s just won the lottery!

But Jackie Robinson teaches Steve about more than just baseball. He shows Steve how to deal with bullies and inspires him to do well in school and follow his dreams. Even more than that, during a time of deep racial and religious divides, this African American legend showed a young Jewish boy how to reach across lines and build bridges instead. The Robinson and Satlow families remain close to this day, and their story gives a wonderful glimpse of the remarkable man behind the myth.

Baseball is also center stage in Out of Left Field, a wonderful new chapter book about a girl determined to bring the real history of baseball to light. The year is 1957, and Katy Gordon loves nothing more than standing on the mound and throwing one of her famous pitches, shocking the boys who never expect a girl to be able to play ball like she can. But when she is barred from Little League because baseball has supposedly always been a man’s sport, she turns her frustration into a zeal for digging up the forgotten history of women in baseball in order to prove them wrong.

Young readers will easily relate to Katy, an ordinary girl driven to do extraordinary things because of a passion for justice and her beloved baseball.  They will also enjoy getting to know her unconventional family – the professor mom who encourages Katy in her quest, and her sisters, an engineer and an artist, who inspire Katy to follow her passion. I love that throughout Katy’s mom takes her seriously, offering support and advice without condescending or doing the work for her. And being from California, of course I enjoyed the detailed portrait of life in San Francisco during the era of Sputnik and the Little Rock Nine.

While the story is fictional, many of the women showcased in the story – such as Maud Nelson, Jackie Mitchell, and Toni Stone – are not. Generations before Mo’ne Davis pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, girls and women fought simply to have a place on the field. This book brings well deserved attention to their struggle and their incredible talent.

How do you inspire your children to be leaders?

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May 092018
 
 May 9, 2018  activities, Book Reviews, Geography, multiculturalism, recipes, Spanish, Summer Comments Off on Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles

The weather is finally warming up in our neck of the woods, so we celebrated by concocting some fruity, chocolate-y pops! Inspired by a traditional Puerto Rican treat, these tropical chocolate mango popsicles are full of fruity goodness – mango, banana, and coconut – plus a touch of decadence from the chocolate. What better way to celebrate the fact that summer is just around the corner? Plus, you don’t want to miss our giveaway of a wonderful new children’s activity coloring book all about Puerto Rico!

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment 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.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles

Summer is coming, which makes us all think about tropical beaches and relaxing by the waves. To bring a little taste of the tropics to our home in Northern California, we decided to make these scrumptious tropical chocolate mango popsicles. I was inspired by Puerto Rican limber, a frozen treat similar to popsicles and often made with fresh fruits and juices. You can do all kinds of combinations, but we were especially interested in mango – which was great because I had a huge bag of frozen mango in the freezer! Of course, if you have fresh, by all means use that, but it is often hard for us to find really good mangoes in our area, plus with kids, it’s so much easier to use frozen since it’s already peeled and chopped for you.

If you want an authentic mango limber, then I highly recommend trying this recipe from Modern Mami, or you can browse this great collection of healthy limber recipes! I wanted to do something a little different, so we added a little twist to our recipe by adding shredded coconut and banana, as well as chocolate. Cocoa powder alone is quite bitter, so I actually used hot chocolate mix (!) but if you don’t have this, just use cocoa powder and sugar to taste.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles | Alldonemonkey.com

Ingredients (makes 6+ popsicles)

4 cups of mango (frozen or fresh)

1 banana

honey to taste

3 cups water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup hot chocolate mix (or combination of cocoa powder and sugar)

Combine all ingredients in blender. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Puerto Rico has been on my mind a lot lately, even since the devastation of Hurricane Maria and the excruciatingly long recovery that followed and is still ongoing. So when my friend Melissa López Chaperoo approached me to help edit her beautiful bilingual coloring activity book Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook, I jumped at the chance.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles & Puerto Rico Workbook | Alldonemonkey.com

I am endlessly impressed by the author’s talent as an illustrator but also the depth of her knowledge about the subject. Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook is incredibly comprehensive, covering topics as varied as history, geography, government, religion, sports, food, and the arts. It contains nearly 200 workbook pages (plus answer keys) appropriate for elementary school and even older (though younger kids will definitely enjoy the coloring part of it!) There is so much to explore here, no matter what your child’s interests, so it is sure to be a hit!

The book is completely bilingual, so whether your kids read/write fluently in Spanish, just un poquito, or not at all, this is the perfect book to expose them to Spanish and the rich culture and history of the Island of Enchantment.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles & Puerto Rico Workbook | Alldonemonkey.com

Even better, all of the profits from the first year of its publication go to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. This book is a true labor of love, dedicated to the author’s homeland during its time of need. It is a great way to support Puerto Rico and teach kids about this beautiful island that they have surely been hearing about on the news.

Giveaway

And now you can win your own copy! Simply comment on this post, letting us know which topic about Puerto Rico you think your child would be most interested in! Geography, history, the arts, sports, or … ? Let us know!

Contest ends Tuesday, May 15, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner chosen by random selection. US Shipping Only

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May 012018
 
 May 1, 2018  Book Reviews, Literacy Comments Off on Favorite Letter Crafts and Activities for Preschool

Looking for great ways to teach the alphabet? Here are our favorite letter crafts and activities for preschool – including bilingual and Spanish ones! You can find even more great alphabet teaching ideas in our 31 Days of ABC series, which we’ve done for four years now. And you definitely don’t want to miss our review of a wonderful new book celebrating a beloved children’s book character learning to read!

Favorite Letter Crafts and Activities | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Llama Llama Loves to Read 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.

Favorite Letter Crafts and Activities for Preschool

Favorite Letter Crafts and Activities for Preschool | Alldonemonkey.com

C Is for Carnivorous Plants

Letter “D” Game for the Active Child

G Is for Go!

N Is for Nature Crafts

X Is for X-Ray

Coding for Kids: X Marks the Spot

Spanish and Bilingual Letter Crafts and Activities

E es de Elefante

H Is for Hola and Hello

J es de Jirafa

Q Is for Qué and Question

Llama Llama learns at school.
Counting, writing, reading, rules.
Friends and school — there’s nothing better.
Llama learning all the letters!

My kids have always adored the best-selling Llama Llama series, so I was thrilled for the chance to review a new title, Llama Llama Loves to Read! This new picture book is a sweet celebration of reading and all the steps it takes to reach that important milestone – from learning letters, to learning their sounds, how they form words, how these make up sentences, to create stories, and finally the magic of being able to read!

I love that this book captures the frustration that children sometimes feel while still encouraging the enthusiasm and sense of wonder that makes it all worth it.

Anna Dewdney’s experience as a teacher and mother shine through in this wonderful book. Though she passed away in 2016, the gift she has given through her books will continue to guide the next generations.

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Apr 192018
 
 April 19, 2018  Book Reviews, Education, STEM Comments Off on Fun New Books That Are Also Educational (Shhh!)

Want to keep the learning going outside the classroom? Here are super fun new books that are also educational! Your kids will just know that they’re fun, but you’ll know that they’re learning about science and language arts! So pat yourselves on the back, Mom and Dad, as you watch your kids enjoying books that are also helping their little minds grow.

That Are Also Educational (Shhh!) | 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.

Fun New Books That Are Also Educational (Shhh!)

STEM Books

Friends Stick Together is a sweet new picture book about an unlikely pair that must learn to work together. Rupert is a mild-mannered rhino who loves classical music and cucumber sandwiches. His life is quiet and orderly, until one day Levi the tickbird shows up. Levi is loud and silly, with a tendency to burp the alphabet. Rupert tries every trick he can think of to rid himself of Levi, until one day he finally succeeds – and comes to realize how Levi actually made his life more fun (as well as less itchy). Great book to show how being friends with someone different can challenge us and enrich our lives.

So what does this have to do with STEM? This book is not just about friendship, it’s also sneakily about symbiosis, when different animal or plant species have a close association. In the case of Rupert and Levi, Levi gets to eat Rupert’s ticks, which in turn helps Rupert’s skin feel better. STEM book that’s also fun? Win-win!

Older kids will love the Zoey and Sassafras series, which I have written about previously. (Although I should say that this would make a great read aloud for younger kids as well, especially because it has so many illustrations). The Pod and The Bog and Caterflies and Ice are the latest adventures of Zoey and her cat Sassafras.

Zoey is the coolest kid around, getting to help with magical characters through the power of science! For example, in The Pod and The Bog she must figure out how to help a mysterious glowing seed pod to grow. My kids enjoy finding out about these magical creatives and trying to solve the mystery. I love how Zoey uses the scientific method to test out hypotheses and ultimately arrive at a solution, and that she is using her smarts to help others. This series is a real favorite at our house and an easy choice to include in our list of fun new books that are also educational!

Language Arts

It is hard to imagine a more fun book about punctuation! My kids and I laugh and laugh each time we read Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers. It is a picture book, but it is so clever that my older son really enjoys it as well. Trust me, after reading this book, your kids will never look at punctuation the same way again! This is the story of four friends (Period, Question Mark, Exclamation Point, and Comma) who are trying to agree on what to do for fun. It’s not until a mysterious stranger (Semi-Colon) shows up that they realize that they can work together and find activities they all can enjoy!

The personalities of each character come through clearly, and each always speaks using its own punctuation mark. For example, Exclamation Point is the adventurous one, always shouting with enthusiasm, while Period is very matter of fact and really just wants to go to the library. Young readers will laugh out loud as the friends stumble through a series of adventures together before finally finding a fun way to spend the day. Don’t miss the bonus educational activities at the end!

Fun New Books That Are Also Educational (Shhh!) | Alldonemonkey.com

When the picture book Rhyme Crime arrived at our house recently, my five year old grabbed it immediately and went to read it on the couch. A few minutes later he brought it over to me and said I had to stop making dinner and read it immediately because it was hilarious. Turns out he was right! Someone is stealing words – and replacing them with rhymes. For example, when Hammy’s new hat was stolen, he found himself wearing a cat instead! The results are always silly, and the colorful illustrations even more so. The thief finally meets his downfall when he makes the mistake of stealing an orange! This is a fun read, especially for kids that are just learning about rhymes. My toddler loves flipping through it just for the pictures.

Enjoy these fun new books that are also educational with your kids, for a parenting win-win!

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Apr 172018
 
 April 17, 2018  Book Reviews, Geography, multiculturalism, raising world citizens Comments Off on Learn About South Asian Culture Through Books

South Asian culture is so rich and diverse, that it is a fertile topic to return to again and again with your students. Whether you are interested in religion, history, the arts, food, or folk traditions, there is so much to explore. Here are some wonderful new children’s books about South Asian culture that you won’t want to miss!

Learn About South Asian Culture Through Books

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.

Learn About South Asian Culture Through Books

Let’s Celebrate Vaisakhi! is the latest Maya and Neel adventure, this time exploring a joyful spring harvest festival from the Punjab state in India. Fans of Maya and Neel won’t want to miss this latest adventure into the rich traditions of South Asian culture! Punjab, which borders Pakistan, is known for its large Sikh population, so Let’s Celebrate Vaisakhi! features a section on Sikhism as well as information about the food and dances associated with Vaisakhi. As always, the illustrations are so beautiful and engaging, and the wealth of information is presented in a way that is easily understood by young readers. I love how there is an emphasis on the natural world of the region and how it is showcased in the various aspects of the Vaisakhi festival.

One aspect of South Asian culture that cannot be glossed over is the caste system, which historically designated people into a rigid hierarchy from birth. The Boy Who Asked Why: The Story of Bhimrao Ambedkar is a beautifully done book about a civil rights hero you probably have never heard of who fought against this hierarchy and the injustices it engendered. Bhimrao Ambedkar grew up in the early twentieth century, when the caste system was still entrenched. As an Untouchable, the lowest caste of all, others were not allowed to touch or even interact with him. Overcoming incredible odds, Ambedkar pursued his education and became a successful lawyer, but he still faced many prejudices despite all of his achievements. He led a movement to break down the barriers that held the Untouchables back. Great book to inspire children to allow ask why in the face of injustice.

One of the smaller countries that makes up South Asian culture is Bhutan. In the West, it is principally known for its use of the “Gross National Happiness” instead of “Gross National Product.” This joyful, kind attitude can be clearly see in the lovely folktale Room in Your Heart. Can you imagine going to a country with no hotels, where instead visitors could stay with a local family? This was a reality until the mid-twentieth century in Bhutan. Inspired by this tradition, Room in Your Heart is a beautiful story of a woman who, despite having so little herself, welcomes those in need who appear at her door. Wonderful way to teach children about generosity, and that “there will always be room in your home, as long as there is room in your heart.”

Related Posts on South Asian Culture:

Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids

India for Kids: Favorite Resources for Elementary Students

Learning About India: The Lotus Temple and Sacred Geometry

Apr 112018
 
 April 11, 2018  Book Reviews, Education Comments Off on When Your Child Has to Repeat Kindergarten

Most of us grew up with a very negative idea about repeating a grade in school: Being held back a year was for troublemakers who just didn’t want to do the work, or kids who simply were not very bright. Luckily, today those stereotypes are fading, as people realize that being held back a year is just one more tool in an educator’s toolkit when it comes to helping a child be successful at school. So if your child will need to repeat kindergarten, here are some tips to make it a positive experience for everyone, including a wonderful new resource to help children and parents with this significant transition.

When Your Child Has to Repeat Kindergarten | 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.

When Your Child Has to Repeat Kindergarten

When a parent hears her child’s teacher recommend that her son or daughter repeat kindergarten, the initial reaction may be of disappointment, but it can actually be a positive experience for the family.

While being held back a year should not substitute for providing interventions and support early on in kindergarten, it some cases it may be beneficial for the child. Here are some tips to help when your child has to repeat kindergarten:

1. Switch Teachers

If a child does have to repeat kindergarten, it is usually better for them to switch teachers. This will make sure the year isn’t simply a repeat of the same material, plus it will provide them with additional opportunities for growth and support. One long-time teacher’s aide told me that because of this practice, many of the kids who were held back were only vaguely aware that they were repeating the grade. After all, it was a new class and new teacher for them!

2. Keep a Positive Attitude

Children look to trusted adults to know how to react to new situations. If you keep a positive attitude, this will go a long way to helping your child feel the same way.

3. Work with the School

Find out exactly why your child is being held back and what you can do to support her growth in those areas the second time around. Your school may be able to recommend additional resources for you.

4. Explain to Your Child

It is important that your child understand why they are being held back – and that it isn’t a negative reflection on them! One great new tool that you can use for this is the wonderful new book from Rebecca Eisenberg, a certified speech language pathologist, author, instructor, and mother of two.

My Second Year of Kindergarten is a wonderful way to help children understand in a positive way why they have to repeat kindergarten and what they have to gain from it. The language is simple, and the book gives concrete examples of this year vs. last year. For instance, last year I needed a lot of help, and this year I can be the teacher’s helper! Children can easily relate to the child in the story and feel confident of what they will gain out of some extra time in kindergarten.

Image courtesy of Rebecca Eisenberg

But my favorite part is the section at the back for parents, which has great tips and specific actions you can take to help your child succeed in their second year of kindergarten. Go to the book’s website for even more resources.

And be sure to check out Eisenberg’s other new release, A Tale of the Monkey Balloon, written with Mindy Winebrenner. It is a follow up to their picture book The Monkey Balloon. In their sequel, Eisenberg and Winebrenner spin a sweet story about a girl who is so excited about her monkey balloon that she dreams of it at night. I love how Eisenberg weaves popular fairy tales into her story, as the girl imagines her lost monkey balloon eating porridge at the Three Bears’ home and hiding from the Big Bad Wolf. There is a happy ending, of course, when she realizes it was all just a dream and her balloon wasn’t lost after all! Includes evidenced-based tips for reading the book aloud with children.

Related Posts:

Early Literacy: Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

Reading with Children 0-5: Everything You Need to Know

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