Oct 032017
 October 3, 2017  Book Reviews, Education Comments Off on Learning About Hibernation: Resources for Kids

Fall is finally here, so it’s a great time to explore all of the changes happening outdoors. One of the big questions children may have is what happens to animals in winter. They can see birds migrating south as the weather grows colder, but what about those that stay behind? Here are some wonderful resources you can use to teach children about hibernation, including crafts, learning activities, and a beautiful book inspired by Navajo folklore.

Learning About Hibernation: Resources for Kids |  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.

I was so excited to receive this absolutely gorgeous book about hibernation to review. Lump Lump and the Blanket of Dreams: Inspired by Navajo Culture and Folklore is inspired by Navajo/Diné folklore and features the weaving of Barbara Teller Ornelas, a 5th generation Master Navajo weaver whose work is displayed at the Smithsonian. Children will immediately relate to Lump Lump, a little black bear who isn’t ready to go to sleep for the winter! Inspired by Blue Bird’s song, Lump Lump and his mother begin to gather materials so that Spider Woman can make a blanket of dreams for him.

There is so much to love about this book. The artwork is stunning, showcasing the spectacular landscape of the American Southwest. The tale itself is a gentle lesson in family and community, as the forest creatures work together to help Lump Lump with his blanket of dreams. The story also demonstrates a key principle of many native cultures, which is that you always offer a gift or service to someone from whom you are asking a favor. So when the bears ask Robin to help gather the white light of the morning, for example, they make sure to gather grass for Robin’s nest.

The book is based on extensive research of Navajo culture and wildlife biology, so it lends itself easily to lesson plans on either native cultures or hibernating animals. You can find an enhanced learning bibliography and extension activities on the author’s website.

And here are even more resources you can use to teach children about hibernation:

Hibernating Animals Crafts

Hedgehog Pom Pom Craft – Red Ted Art

Easy Pine Cone Hedgehog – Red Ted Art

Hedgehog Bookmark Corner – Red Ted Art

Hedgehog Bread Rolls for Kids to Make – Rainy Day Mum

Simple Hedgehog Craft for Preschoolers – Rainy Day Mum

Hibernation Wet Felted Wool Play Mat – Rainy Day Mum

Fine Motor Hedgehog Craft – Kids Craft Room

Bear Craft for Preschoolers: Time to Hibernate – Preschool Powol Packets

Hibernation Sensory Bag – School Time Snippets


Hibernation Learning Activities

Hibernation Toddler Shelves with Printables – Welcome to Mommyhood

Winter Animals Printables for Preschool and Kindergarten – Natural Beach Living

Hibernating Winter Forest Animals Preschool Unit Study – Mama’s Happy Hive

Hibernation vs. Migration: Animal Sorting Worksheet – Totschooling

Hibernation Activities E-Book – Preschool Powol Packets

How Do Animals Prepare for Winter: Books and Activities – Edventures with Kids

Make a Hedgehog Hibernation House – Kids Craft Room

Animals in Winter Unit Study – The Natural Homeschool


Oct 012017
 October 1, 2017  31 Days of ABCs, Literacy Comments Off on Early Literacy: Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

I am so excited to be kicking off this year’s 31 Days of ABC series! This is one of my favorite series because it focuses on one of the a major early literacy milestone: learning the ABCs! So today I want to spend time looking at how to get started teaching the alphabet to very young children, from sensory bins and board books to hands on activities. What are your favorite ways to teach the ABCs?

Early Literacy: Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Early Literacy: Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

Create a Text Rich Environment

What is a text rich environment? Basically, let your little one see written language all around your home. Post the alphabet in an attractive way somewhere the child can easily see it. For example, we have put these cute Animal Alphabet Sticker Decals on the walls in our toddler’s room. She loves looking at the animals, and I read the letters to her frequently. I particularly like this set because it pairs the upper and lower case letters together. We also have beautiful alphabet posters in Spanish and French. It’s never too soon to get started on a second language!

Connect Letters with Language

Technically called “print awareness,” this is helping little ones make the connection between the written word and language. So, for example, you can point to the words in a book as you read together, point to signs as you read them, and so on. This will make a big difference for them when they start learning to read!

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

Read Read Read

Building on print awareness is cultivating the simple joy of reading. This step alone is one of the single important tasks you can do for early literacy and indeed to lay the foundation for all future learning. If a child loves to read, the whole world will be opened up to her! Here are some of our favorite alphabet books:

Little hands will love the shaped pages and cute cutouts of Alphablock. We love this series! The illustrations are bright and engaging, and the text simple for young readers. My daughter loves sitting and looking at these books on her own.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a classic, and it’s easy to see why! The rhythmical text fairly bounces along, making it super fun to read aloud. And kids will enjoy seeing what happens when all of the baby letters climb up the coconut tree! We also love the illustrations, as the letters are variously tied up in knots, or get a stubbed toe, etc. from falling out of the tree. Here is a fun extension activity – Chicka Chicka Boom Boom play dough!

LMNO Peas is a really cute book that works for a range of ages. Very young readers will enjoy the alphabet illustrations, while older children will get the gentle humor, as the book explores all the different kinds of peas there are, from architects to zoologists! (My favorite is the page for “K,” which includes a drawing of a king – plus a drawing of the other King – that is, Elvis).

Don’t miss out on even more ABC alphabet books for kids and check out these reading strategies for beginning readers.

Sensory Play

Sensory play is great because children are interacting with the letters and letter shapes using all of their senses. Here are some fun ideas to get you started:

Alphabet sensory bottles

Alphabet recognition sensory bin

ABC sensory table

Alphabet soup letter play

Alphabet themed lunches

Letter Crafts

Early literacy crafts, such as this cute B is for Bus craft, are another fun way for children to interact with letters. You may think that your toddler is too young to do alphabet crafts, but there are many ideas for simple crafts that are still meaningful for letter recognition, such as this “fill the alphabet” toddler craft. And I love these hand print ABC crafts – one for every letter of the alphabet!

Name Recognition

An important part of early literacy is recognizing your own name. There are lots of fun ways to do this – I love this sticker activity, as most toddlers I know are obsessed with stickers! Here is a letters in my name sensory activity, plus a name construction activity that also includes great tips about teaching name recognition.

More Hands On Activities

Hands on activities are so important for early literacy. Here are some really fun activities you can do with your little one:

Unwrapping puzzle pieces

ABC architecture scavenger hunt

Splash the alphabet

Sensory alphabet lineup

Alphabet city

Alphabet emboss painting activities

Washing letters

Magnetic letter matching

Alphabet games

Letter matching activity

Racing letters: alphabet tracing activity

Learning letters with cars

ABC cookies pretend play

Alphabet hop

Letter matching memory game

Pebble discovery bottle

Seek and shoot ABC basketball

Laundry letters recognition activity

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: Getting Started with Teaching the Alphabet

A – October 2

Creative World of Varya: A Is for Aromatherapy Recipes for Kids

B – October 3

Hispanic Mama: B Is For Bilingual

C – October 4

Witty Hoots: C Is for Castles

D – October 5

Teach Me Mommy: D Is for Dinosaur

E – October 6

E Is for Egg Carton Word Building

F – October 7

Look! We’re Learning! F Is for Farm

G – October 8

H – October 9

All Done Monkey: H Is for Hello/Hola

I – October 10

Jeddah Mom: I Is for Ice Cream

J – October 11

K – October 12

Pennies of Time: K Is for Kindness

L – October 13

Schooling Active Monkeys: L Is for Lion

M – October 14

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

N – October 15

O – October 16

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: O Is for Owls

P – October 17

Creative World of Varya

Q – October 18

R – October 19

JDaniel4’sMom: R Is for Robot

S – October 20

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

T – October 21

Sand In My Toes: T Is for Truck

U – October 22

The Educators’ Spin On it: U Is for Unicorn

V – October 23

W – October 24

X – October 25

Y – October 26

Z – October 27

Bambini Travel: Z Is for Zoo Animals

123’s – October 28

Prewriting – October 29

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

Alphabet Clip Cards – October 31

Sep 262017

Hispanic Heritage Month is here, and it’s one of my favorite times of year! Not only do I get to throw a virtual party with my blogger friends (see below for details on our big HHM series and giveaway), but it’s such a fun excuse to celebrate Hispanic heritage with my kids! While we often do crafts and read books, I also really love getting them in the kitchen to make some traditional recipes! So whether you are hosting a cultural event, teaching a group of students, or cooking with your kids at home, here is a collection of some wonderful Hispanic Heritage Month recipes to try!

60+ Hispanic Heritage Month Recipes to Try with Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Hispanic Heritage Month Recipes to Try with Kids

I’ll never forget returning to the US after a year in Bolivia, and so many people commented to me, “You must be so tired of eating tacos!” It seems funny now, but at the time it was slightly incomprehensible: Bolivia is thousands of miles and an entire continent away from Mexico, so my friends in Bolivia had little concept of what tacos were or how they should taste. Despite some commonalities, the cultures and cuisines of Latin America are incredibly varied. Hopefully this list will give you an idea of just how diverse these food traditions are.

We hope you enjoy cooking these Hispanic Heritage Month recipes with your kiddos! Let us know in the comments your favorite dish to cook from Latin America.


Panqueques con Dulce de Leche (Dulce de Leche Crepes), Tara’s Multicultural Table

Pastel de Papa con Eliote (Potato and Corn Casserole)Global Table Adventure


Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)Crafty Moms Share

EmpanadasAll Done Monkey

Leche Asada (Baked Milk Custard)Global Table Adventure


Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies)Global Table Adventure

Ensalada (Simple Salad)Kid World Citizen


Arepuelas (Crepes)Mama Tortuga

Pandebonos (Cheese Bread)Compras y Hogar

Pasteles de Yuca y Arracacha (Cassava Cakes)Mama Tortuga

SancochoCompras y Hogar

Sopa de Avena (Oatmeal Soup)Mama Tortuga

Costa Rica

Arepas (Pancakes)Pura Vida Moms

Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice)Pura Vida Moms

Atol de Avena (Oatmeal Steamer)All Done Monkey

Atol de Naranja (Orange Pudding)All Done Monkey

EmpanadasAll Done Monkey

Ensalada Rusa (Beet Salad)All Done Monkey

Pañuelo (Cream Filled Turnover)Pura Vida Moms

Tamarindo Juice PopsAll Done Monkey

Tres Leches CakePura Vida Moms


Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)De Su Mamá

Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice), De Su Mamá

Fritura de Bacaloa (Codfish Fritters), De Su Mamá

Hot Pressed Pork SandwichGlobal Table Adventure

Mango MilkshakeAll Done Monkey

Pastelitos de Carne (Stuffed Meat Pies), De Su Mamá

Torticas (Sugar Cookies)Crafty Moms Share


Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)Hispanic Mama

Espumilla (Guava Meringue Cream)Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

HumitaHispanic Mama

Pan de Yuca (Gluten-Free Cheesy Bread)Ladydeelg

Torta de Choclo (Corn Cake)Ladydeelg

El Salvador

Atol de Elote (Creamy Sweet Corn Drink)Global Table Adventure

PupusasKid World Citizen

Quesadilla (Sweet Breakfast Cake)Global Table Adventure


Hot CocoaGlobal Table Adventure


Tortas de Plátano (Plantain and Cheese Turnovers)Global Table Adventure


Agua Fresca con Fresa (Strawberry Drink)El Mundo de Pepita

Calabaza en Tacha (Candied Pumpkin)Kid World Citizen

Cochinita Pibil Tacos (Achiote Pork Tacos)Kid World Citizen

Corn TortillasDiscovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

Creamy Green SalsaPura Vida Moms

Fresh Fruit and Veggie SnacksKid World Citizen

Hot ChocolateMommyMaestra

Mango Jícama SaladMommyMaestra

Paletas (Popsicles)Kid World Citizen

Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)MommyMaestra

Pico de Gallo (Salsa)El Mundo de Pepita

Pumpkin Noosa Cupcakes for Día de los MuertosPura Vida Moms

Tinga de Pollo (Chicken Tinga)Kid World Citizen


Tostones (Plantain Chips)Global Table Adventure


Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Stuffed Cookies)Global Table Adventure

Sopa Paraguayo (Cheesy Cornbread)Global Table Adventure


CevicheHispanic Mama

Lomo Saltado (Beef Stir Fry)All Done Monkey

Mazamorra Morada (Purple Corn Pudding)Crafty Moms Share

Potatoes with Ocopa SauceKid World Citizen

Salchipapas (Sausages and Potatoes)Tara’s Multicultural Table

Puerto Rico

Kid-Friendly Piña ColadaDiscovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

Limber de Oreo Frozen TreatDiscovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

Mofongo with Spanish OlivesMulticultural Kid Blogs


Pasta con Salsa Caruso (Pasta with Caruso Sauce)Tara’s Multicultural Table


Cachapas (Corn Cakes with Cheese)Global Table Adventure

Tequeños con Salsa Guasacaca (Cheese Sticks with Green Sauce), Tara’s Multicultural Table

What are your favorite Hispanic Heritage Month recipes?

Hispanic Heritage Month Series 2017 | Multicultural Kid BlogsWe are so excited for our sixth annual Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway! Through the month (September 15 – October 15), you’ll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can enter to win in our great giveaway and link up your own posts on Hispanic Heritage!

September 15
Embracing Diversity on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Fun Facts About Dominican Republic

September 18
Spanish Mama: Nazca Lines – Exploratory Art Project

September 19
Hispanic Mama: Fun Ways to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Your Children

September 20
Inspired by Family: 16 Great Children’s Books About South America

September 21
Spanish Mama: Folk Songs in Spanish

September 25
Spanish Playground: Food from Latin America Infographic Picture Cards Activities

September 26
All Done Monkey: 60+ Hispanic Heritage Month Recipes to Try with Kids

September 27
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Hispanic Inspired Crafts for Kids

September 28
Kid World Citizen

September 29
Pura Vida Moms on Multicultural Kid Blogs

October 2
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes on Multicultural Kid Blogs

October 5
Spanglish House

October 6
Mama Tortuga

October 12
Tiny Tapping Toes

Don’t miss all of the great posts from previous years as well: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway!

Giveaway begins September 15 and goes through October 15, 2017. Enter below for a chance to win one of these amazing prize packages! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. In the event that a winner lives outside the designated shipping area, that prize will then become part of the following prize package. For more information, read our full giveaway rules.

Hispanic Heritage Month Series and Giveaway 2017 Grand Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Grand Prize

From Mariana Iranzi: A digital copy of her new CD Primavera
From Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer: A print copy of Cántale a tu bebé with music download – US Shipping Only
From 123 Andrés: A copy of the CD Arriba Abajo (digital copy if outside the US)
From Spanish Playground: Set of books, crafts, and toys from Latin America – US Shipping Only
From Carole P. Roman: Set of If You Were Me and Lived In… books on Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Portugal, and the Mayan Empire – US Shipping Only
From Mister G: A copy of the new CD Mundo Verde/Green World (digital copy if outside the US)
From World Music with Daria: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Musical Craft and Coloring E-Book
From Gus on the Go: Spanish Alphabet Print (US Shipping Only) & single-use promo code for Spanish for kids language app
From Lectura Para Niños: A set of printable little readers, one for each letter of the Spanish alphabet. Designed to last the entire school year, with one new book each week plus several review weeks included throughout the set

Hispanic Heritage Month Series and Giveaway 2017 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

1st Prize

From Mariana Iranzi: A digital copy of her new CD Primavera
From Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer: A print copy of Cántale a tu bebé with music download – US Shipping Only
From 123 Andrés: A copy of the CD Arriba Abajo (digital copy if outside the US)
From Spanish Playground: Set of books, crafts, and toys from Latin America – US Shipping Only
From Carole P. Roman: Set of If You Were Me and Lived In… books on Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Portugal, and the Mayan Empire – US Shipping Only
From Mister G: A copy of the new CD Mundo Verde/Green World (digital copy if outside the US)
From World Music with Daria: Set of maracas and a Spanish fan – US Shipping Only
From Gus on the Go: Spanish Alphabet Print (US Shipping Only) & single-use promo code for Spanish for kids language app

Hispanic Heritage Month Series and Giveaway 2017 2nd Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

2nd Prize

From Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer: A print copy of Cántale a tu bebé with music download – US Shipping Only
From 123 Andrés: A copy of the CD Uno, Dos, Tres, Andrés! (digital copy if outside the US)
From Spanish Playground: Set of books, crafts, and toys from Latin America – US Shipping Only
From Carole P. Roman: Set of If You Were Me and Lived In… books on Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Portugal, and the Mayan Empire – US Shipping Only
From Mister G: A copy of the new CD Mundo Verde/Green World (digital copy if outside the US)
From Lee and Low Books: Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad; Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris; Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterreste; Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo – US Shipping Only

Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway 2017 - Third Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

3rd Prize

From Carole P. Roman: Set of If You Were Me and Lived In… books on Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Portugal, and the Mayan Empire – US Shipping Only
From Mister G: A copy of the new CD Mundo Verde/Green World (digital copy if outside the US)
From Sarah Aroeste: A copy of the new Ladino/English bilingual picture book Ora de Despertar/Time to Wake UpUS Shipping Only
From Arte Público Press: Picture books Esteban de Luna, Baby Rescuer! / Esteban de Luna, ¡rescatador de bebés!, The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, Dalia’s Wondrous Hair / El cabello maravilloso de Dalia, Grandma’s Chocolate / El chocolate de Abuelita, I Kick the Ball / Pateo el balón, Level Up / Paso de nivel, A Surprise for Teresita / Una sorpresa para TeresitaUS Shipping Only

Hispanic Heritage Month Series and Giveaway 2017 Bonus Prize | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Bonus Prizes

We are giving away an extra copy of the CD Mundo Verde/Green World from Mister G (US Shipping Only) and up to 10 digital downloads of this brand new album: Watch a video of the title track!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sep 222017
 September 22, 2017  Education, multiculturalism Comments Off on Donate Books to Encourage Diverse Collections

Books are such an incredible way to open up the world to children, yet still today in 2017 the characters in children’s books remain overwhelmingly white. Studies show the importance of representation in literature, yet there is still an incredible diversity gap. The good news is that there is a groundswell of support for more multicultural children’s literature, and our sister website Multicultural Kid Blogs has just launched a campaign to encourage people to donate books – especially diverse books – so that more of these incredible stories find their way into the hands of the children that long to read them.

Donate books to help make diverse literature more widely available

Today you can find me over at Multicultural Kid Blogs sharing a list of where you can donate books to make diverse literature more widely available. Be sure to share your photos on social media using the hashtag #donateMKB!

Sep 192017
 September 19, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety

A common struggle of childhood is learning to deal with big emotions, whether anxiety over starting at a new school or dealing with the death of a loved one. I’m happy to share with you some wonderful new children’s books that take a creative look at grief and anxiety, allowing young readers to use their imaginations to see their problems in a new way.

Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety | Alldonemonkey.com

Books to Help Kids with Grief and Anxiety

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.

Do you have a child who is afraid to try something new? Who hesitates before jumping into a new endeavor, even if it’s something she really wants to do? Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow is a fresh look at this common problem, as Smoot, a shadow to a hesitant young boy, decides to rebel and go off to have the adventures his master is too scared to have. Soon other shadows join in the fun: a dragonfly’s shadow turns into a real dragon, the shadows of two nervous insect musicians finally take the stage, and a rock becomes a castle. In the end, Smoot convinces his boy to take a chance and become more like his shadow, until soon the two are laughing and leaping together.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is one of the cleverest books I have read in a long time. A young girl, still reeling from the death of her beloved father, discovers a black hole following her. It soon becomes a pet of sorts, though it has the disturbing tendency to swallow everything around it – even if really all it’s trying to do is cuddle. A black hole that swallows everything it touches is a brilliant metaphor for grief, perfectly suited for this very scientifically minded heroine. At first her new pet’s capacity to swallow objects around it is just funny and perhaps a bit inconvenient, but when it swallows her brother and her dog, she must finally face the problem (and her grief) head on.

This middle grade novel is a wonderful read for any child learning to manage their grief and anxiety, but it will be a special treat for those that love science, as it incorporates so many elements of science and especially astronomy.

Related Post: Children’s Books About Death

This post is part of a blog tour showcasing these two new children’s books – be sure to visit the blogs below for more features and even activities!

Week One:

September 12 – Welcome to Wonderland – Review & Activity (create your own pet Black Hole)

September 13 – Embers and Ashes – Review and Bookstagram

September 15 – Dazzled by Books – Review

Week Two:

September 18 – books4yourkids – Review (just Smoot)

September 19 – All Done Monkey – Review

September 20 – Four Violet Reviews – Creative piece

September 21 – DoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life – Review

September 22 – YABooksCentral – Author Guest Post – Top 5 listicle from author

Week Three:

September 25 – Teachers Who Read – Review

September 26 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review

September 27 – Mama Smiles – Review & Creative Activities

September 28 – Cracking the Cover – Review

Sep 142017
 September 14, 2017  Education 6 Responses »

Homeschooling can be a challenge under any circumstances, but when you have more than one child at home it can really require all of your patience and creativity. Yet it can also be incredibly rewarding, as your children build closer sibling bonds and develop their budding abilities to mentor and nurture others. Plus, some of the funniest moments I have experienced have come from our group lessons! Homeschooling multiple kids is definitely an experience to remember! Here are my tips based on my own experiences, plus ideas from other experienced homeschooling moms. Plus, don’t miss out on our giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary samples of Safésha 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.

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind

Here are my top tips for homeschooling multiple kids! I also really recommend these tips from Classically Homeschooling for enjoying homeschooling multiple ages and for homeschooling large families.

Build breaks into your schedule. Hopefully the breaks will mean you actually get a break, but it also is a recognition of the fact that when you multiple a plan by x number of people, you have that many more chances that something will go wrong. Breaks let you catch up and clean up, so that you don’t veer too far off course. Plus they give you some downtime with your kids, so you can just have some fun with them. A mental break is good for everybody, so play some tag or take a walk around the block!

Have a stash of activities to keep your little ones occupied. One of the biggest difficulties in homeschooling multiple kids is dealing with interruptions from very young children. Brainstorm in advance activities or “special” toys that can keep them occupied while you work with older kids.

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind | Alldonemonkey.com

Give yourself to say permission to say “no.” No, if someone asks you to volunteer for yet another activity or to take on another project. Realize that what you are doing is a physical but also emotional and mental challenge. To recuperate from homeschooling multiple kids requires that you have a mental break from being responsible for or planning anything else, so don’t feel guilty saying no when someone asks you to head a committee at church. But you can also give yourself permission to say no to your children if they want you to do something for them right at that moment, whether it’s help them with an assignment or get them a snack. Yes, you need to be responsive to your children, but you can’t keep your sanity if you are constantly reacting to them all day long. If something is urgent, attend to it, but otherwise prioritize it so that you make sure you don’t get to the end of the day feeling like you got nothing (or nothing important) accomplished.

Get them involved in housework. Remember that part of your job is to raise responsible, capable adults, so giving your kids opportunities to learn skills is actually part of the job description. Plus being of service to the family can help children feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. And don’t be discouraged if you have to spend some time training them at first – it will pay off in the long-term!

Related Post: Encouraging Independence in Children

Teach them together when it makes sense. While some subjects need to be taught individually, others like history can be taught together, with activities adjusted for different learning levels. Children might do reading on the subject according to their level but come together for art projects and field trips, for example. Unit studies are a great choice for homeschooling multiple kids because they lend themselves well to multi-level learning. If you have children close in age, you can also teach grades that are close as a combined grade (such as a combined 2nd and 3rd grade). Here are great tips for teaching children of varying abilities and specifically on teaching reading to multiple ages.

Homeschooling Multiple Kids Without Losing Your Mind | Alldonemonkey.com

Plan ahead. Don’t throw away those old lesson plans and supplies! Many of the resources you develop for your older children can be saved and used when your younger children are older.

Consider not doing it. This may seem like a strange thing to include on the list, but really, if nothing you’ve tried works, give yourself permission to take a break and try something else. Homeschooling is all about finding what works for your family at any given moment in time. After my youngest was born, I found trying to homeschool her two older brothers and care for a newborn was just too much, so my then 3 year old started going to a traditional preschool. It was a great decision for everyone – I got a bit of a breather, and he got more focused attention. Remember, you are not breaking some sacred homeschoolers’ oath if you send one or more of your kids to a traditional school! Give yourself permission to do what’s right for your family at that time.

Take time to take care of yourself. This is so important but so difficult to do when your kids are with you 24/7! If one is napping, at least one other is awake! If one is engaged in independent work, at least one other needs your attention. And don’t get me started on the laundry, the dishes, etc. So how do you fit in “me” time when it’s rarely just you? One solution is to take advantage of the time your partner is home to go for a run or take a soak in the tub. We are lucky enough that our gym has childcare, so at least once a week I take the kids there so I can get in a solo workout while they play. I also try to read or do lesson planning in the evenings when my toddler is asleep and the boys are having some screen time before bed.

Safesha Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer

I also recently discovered Safésha Hand Sanitizer, which is an easy way to keep your hands clean without drying them out! Why I am including hand sanitizer in my list? Because using Safésha feels like giving my hands a little treat – I love the spell and the feel (moisturizing without being greasy). And considering how many times a day I have to clean my hands, they really need the extra TLC!

Safésha uses only the best natural ingredients, including olive oil as a natural moisturizer and essential oils for scent. And I also feel good knowing that I’m supporting a woman-owned and person-of-color-owned business. Yay for women supporting women!

The lavender and sweet orange scents both help transport me from my paste-marker-construction-paper world, but I love that it is also available in unscented, since I have one kiddo who doesn’t like anything scented. And they are so easy to keep in your purse or diaper bag for when you are out and about!

Now you can win your own 3-pack of the Safésha moisturizing hand sanitizer! Comment below for a chance to win a pack of 3-oz bottles, one each of the sweet orange, lavender, and unscented! Just tell us in the comments how you take a little time for yourself during your busy day!

Comment below for a chance to win a 3-pack of 3 oz bottles of Safésha moisturizing hand sanitizer, one each of the sweet orange, lavender, and unscented! Just tell us in the comments how you take a little time for yourself during your busy day. US shipping only. Contest ends at midnight PT on Thursday, September 21, 2017. Winner chosen by random selection.

Sep 082017
 September 8, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love

Bathtime is one of those sweet moments of childhood, where little ones can laugh and play in the bubbles and enjoy splashing in the water. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be, right?? Each of my kids has loved and hated baths at different stages in their lives, though for the most part they are like many of the characters in the books below – they protest getting in and then protest getting out! Luckily there are great children’s authors out there that recognize bathtime as a fertile ground for humor and play. So whether your kids love their tub time or resist it, these fun bathtime books will have them looking at baths in a whole new way.

Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Fun Bathtime Books Your Child Will Love

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

While most of the bathtime books in this list are simply about bathtime, I thought it appropriate to include one that is meant to be used in the tub! Bath Books: Bathtime is an example of a book that is actually safe to use in the bathtub. We had several like this when my oldest was little, and they came in so handy when he went through a phase of hating to get in the tub. These books were a lifesaver! They also went with us when we traveled and he had trouble adjusted to doing his bath in a new place. Bright, colorful photos will engage the littlest readers, plus what a thrill to be allowed to take a book in the water with you!

In The Pigeon Needs a Bath! the classic Mo Willem’s character returns to tell us the many reasons he should not have to take a bath. Kids will laugh themselves silly at all of his excuses, and parents will recognize some that their own kids may have used. (My favorite part is when he complains that the water is too hot, then too cold, then too hot again – who else has been through that cycle with their kiddo??) One of our absolute favorite bathtime books.

Related Post: Wacky, Fun Books for Kids

Another along these lines is 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, a hilarious book that we read over and over again. Here is a boy who has a seemingly endless list of excuses about why he really doesn’t need a bath, including “scientific facts” like a kid in Texas once turned into a prune after taking a bath. I love how the illustrations show him becoming progressively dirty as the story goes on, all the while he is protesting how clean he is.

Imagine that you are blissfully relaxing in the tub, when 9 of your friends show up and want to jump in, too! That is just what happens to a poor pig in Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure. One by one more pigs dive into his own tranquil bathtub, until it is far too crowded to be relaxing! When another uninvited guest (a wolf!) decides to join in the fun, the pigs flee – but what happened to the first pig? Wonderful twist ending!

Get Out of My Bath! is a recent discovery. The beginning reminds me of Press Here, as the readers are encouraged to tilt the book back and forth to see the water in the tub “splash” when you turn the page. This is another case of a peaceful bath interrupted by uninvited visitors. Ellie the Elephant comes up with a solution perfectly suited to her – sucking up all the water until the other animals leave!

What are your favorite bathtime books?

Sep 062017
 September 6, 2017  Spanish Comments Off on Spanish Counting Game: Diez Perritos

Here is a fun, active game you can play to help kids learn their numbers in Spanish. It uses a traditional children’s song that teaches the numbers 1-10 and lends itself easily to acting out. While this Spanish counting game is aimed at preschoolers, my 2nd grader had a lot of fun with it as well. It is requires very little prep and is easily adjusted to different set ups, so feel free to get creative with it!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Spanish Counting Game: Diez Perritos | Alldonemonkey.com

Spanish Counting Game: Diez Perritos

Diez Perritos (Ten Puppies) is a traditional children’s song most well-known in Mexico. It is easy to find it on YouTube. Here is a version my kids enjoyed:

You can also read the full lyrics, including several variations.

We used the book Ten Little Puppies/Diez perritos, which has lovely illustrations and an English translation. If you are a piano player, you can also find the written music for the song at the back! If you have a small group, kids can read along as you play, or you can use it to reinforce the vocabulary later.

To play this Spanish counting game, you just need some sort of props to act as the ten puppies. We used stuffed animals like these cute assorted dogs. For a large group, you could also give each child their own set of little dog toys like these Adopt a Puppy Figures, or how cute are these Japanese dog erasers??

Before you start, you may want to go over any new vocabulary they will encounter, especially those that are critical to understanding what each dog is doing.

Related Post: 3 Easy Ways to Use Music to Teach Preschool Spanish

Then you simply go through the song and have the children use the props to act out the story, in which one by one the puppies leave, each in a different way. If you are using large stuffed animals like we did, just have the children take turns. If you are using the small toy dogs, each child could have their own set to use. Encourage them to be as dramatic as they want! They can jump when one dog escapes with un brinco (a jump) and shiver when one goes away to the nieve (snow), for example.

Also, encourage them to hold up their fingers each time you sing a number. I like the version in the Ten Little Puppies/Diez perritos book because it uses extra repetition of the numbers in each verse. More advanced learners could learn more of the lyrics, while beginners will probably just learn the numbers and the general idea of each verse.

This Spanish counting game is a great “circle time” activity or fun way to cap off a lesson on numbers.

Spanish Counting Game: Diez Perritos | Alldonemonkey.com

Here are more Spanish counting games you don’t want to miss:

Our E es de Elefante / Elephant Gross Motor Counting Game

From Sra Casado Teaches Bilinguals: 3 Awesome Dice Games for Kids

From Hispanic Mama: Fun Activities and Resources to Teach Numbers in Spanish

From Ladydeelg: Free Printables: Numbers in Spanish 1-10

Aug 252017
 August 25, 2017  Education, multiculturalism, raising world citizens, spiritual education Comments Off on Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids

Learning about other religions is an important of a world cultures curriculum, but one religion I did not know much about growing up was Sikhism. That is why I was so pleased to receive some beautiful books on Sikhism for kids, which prompted me to deepen my own understanding of this egalitarian, inclusive religion.

When my oldest son was very young, some friends and I had a chance to visit a local Sikh temple with our little ones. It is was an experience I’ll never forget! We were shown such kindness from everyone we met, and I was impressed with their dedication to serving others, as exemplified in the meal that was provided to everyone who attended. Since I was there with a three year old, I didn’t have a chance to really ask questions, and so was left wondering exactly what Sikhs believed and where their traditions had come from. Why do the men wear turbans, and why do they keep their hair so long? Do they believe in one god or many? Why do they all seem to have the same last names?

If you or your children have similar questions, here are great resources on Sikhism for kids that you can share.

Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. 

Related Post: India for Kids: Favorite Resources

A great place to start is this overview which outlines 10 things everyone should know about Sikhism, including the fact that it is an inclusive, pluralistic religion whose members have a long history of fighting for social justice. You can also get a good overview from the Sikhism Guide online or from the BBC website.

I really love the Khalsa Kids website. (Khalsa is the word for the Sikh community). This site is geared towards Sikh kids, but has one section devoted to explaining Sikhism and another just for teachers. These even include lesson plans and aids for classroom discussions. You really get the sense that Sikhs spend a lot of their time having to answer questions about themselves!

Your kids will enjoy this brief video introduction to Sikhism from Little Sikhs (be sure to check out their other resources as well!)

And now for those beautiful books I mentioned! I am grateful to the lovely Saffron Press for sharing them with me. All three are from author Navjot Kaur but with different illustrators, all of whose paintings compliment the text of each book in wonderfully distinct ways. (Side note: the author’s last name of Kaur is the female equivalent of the last name Singh. All Sikhs have one of these two last names – Singh for males, Kaur for females – to demonstrate their belief in total equality, a revolutionary idea when it was founded in 15th century India, steeped in the hierarchical caste system. Traditionally, last names were an easy way to find out what caste a person belonged to).

Related Post: Zoroastrianism for Kids

As of this writing none of the books below is readily available from Amazon; however, you can find them all on the Saffron Press website.

The Garden of Peace by Navjot Kaur | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

The Garden of Peace is a lushly illustrated book about the origins of Sikhism, using the allegory of planting a garden from seeds that no one thought would sprout. Each seed represents a central tenet of the Sikh faith, such as kindness or determination. Despite the opposition of the evil emperor and his warriors, the little seeds grow into a beautiful garden of peace, tended by a growing number of faithful followers who come from all walks of life. At the back of the book are instructions to grow your own garden of peace by, for example, planting kindness and believing in yourself. I also appreciated the extended author’s note, which gives a detailed history of the origins of Sikhism and how Sikhs today carry on this tradition of peace and service to all.

A Lion's Mane by Navjot Kaur | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

The award-winning book A Lion’s Mane focuses on the most visible marker of a follower of the Sikh faith – the turban. It explores the meanings of this “lion’s mane” by traveling around the world to connect this Sikh tradition to beliefs about lions in different cultures. For example, Richard the Lionheart of England had many brave knights, and being a Sikh also means having courage. The underlying theme of the book is that although the boy in the book may look different, the turban that looks so “strange” is precisely what connects him to others around the world, and, more to the point, each of us has something that makes us special: “I have a lion’s mane and I am different, just like you!” Don’t miss the curriculum guide that the author has created to accompany this conversation-sparking book.

Dreams of Hope | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

Dreams of Hope is a gentle bedtime story told by a father to his young daughter. “Where will our dream journey begin tonight, Little One?” His words travel with her as she flies through dreams to visit the nighttime creatures settling down to sleep in the meadow, on the mountaintop, and in the ocean. The text is sprinkled throughout with Panjabi words, explained in a glossary at the back, including the mantra Vaa hey guroo, which is used by Sikhs as “an expression of awe or wonder.” This gorgeous book is clearly meant to be a keepsake, as it contains space for you to write down your dreams and wishes for your child. It also includes a Dreams of Hope Travel Guide with drawings of peace monuments around the world.

Aug 222017
 August 22, 2017  Book Reviews Comments Off on Children’s Books About Being a True Friend

We all wish to teach our children to create authentic relationships with others and spread kindness in the world. Literature is a wonderful way to convey this message because children can see themselves in the characters and identify with their journeys – the stumbles as well as the triumphs. Stories can make a lesson more memorable and often use humor to get a point across. Here are some wonderful new books about being a true friend to share with your children and students.

Children's Books About Being a True Friend | 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.

Children’s Books About Being a True Friend

From picture books to a graphic novel and a magical middle grade novel, here are fantastic new children’s books about being a true friend.

South is a beautiful, sparsely told story about the friendship between a fisherman and the injured bird he nurses back to health. Since the bird cannot fly south for the winter, the fisherman makes the long journey to take him there himself. Over time, they form a close friendship, yet when the time comes, the fisherman knows he must say goodbye to his new friend and return home. This is a lovely story about the sacrifices we make for others, and the intangible rewards we receive in return. This is bound to become one of your child’s favorite books about being a true friend.

Prince and Pirate are as opposite as any two fish can be. Prince is used to the royal treatment, while Pirate is accustomed to a livelier sort of life. But what they have in common is a desire to be in charge, so when they are forced to share the same tank, sparks are sure to fly! The extremes these clashing tank-mates will go to in order to outdo the other will have your little ones laughing with every page. But the twist comes when a newcomer joins their tank, and Prince and Pirate unexpectedly find themselves banding together to help a little fish feel at home.

I’m so pleased to be working for the first time with Bryson’s Books, who shared with me The Mouse Who Lost His House, a little gem about animals coming together to help someone in need. When Mouse loses his house to a tornado, the other animals join forces to help him build a new home. This is a sweet story that children will love about generosity and lending a helping hand. It would be perfect to share with children to teach them to always “look for the helpers” after a disaster.

The only bit that threw me off is that many of the animals are quite out of their natural habitat – such as the elephant, who is definitely not a woodland creature. However, that is something a grownup book reviewer would notice, not a child, who would just be happy to see the animals they love in a story!

I actually had quite a bit of trouble reviewing Cosmic Commandos because as soon as it arrived in the mail, my 7 year old snatched it out of my hands, and it was a very long time before I managed to wrestle it back from him. (Okay, okay, I sneaked it out of his room while he was sleeping!) And it’s easy to see why he loves it so much – it is a fun, fast paced graphic novel all about a boy who finds his favorite video game coming to life around him.

On one hand, this is a rollicking adventure, as Jeremy must learn to defeat the obstacles that appear as he advances through the levels of the game each day. But at its heart, it is an exploration of the bond between siblings, as Jeremy confronts his troubled relationship with his twin Justin and learns to ask for help from this annoyingly perfect brother. (And Justin tries to understand why the brother he loves always rejectsWith time, Jeremy and Justin learn to see their differences as strengths and begin to work together as a team, deepening their relationship and choosing to become friends. From the illustrator of the amazing series Ordinary People Change the World Series (see, for example, I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World)).

I also have a wonderful middle grade novel to share: Tumble & Blue is due out next week in hard cover, and it’s a book your older kids won’t want to miss. Everyone has felt from time to time that there is just someone wrong with them, but Blue really is cursed and who knows exactly who is to blame – his own ancestor. Greed caused him to break the blessing he received from the golden alligator deep in the bayou that fateful night so long ago, as he and another tried to split the fate the alligator offered. As a result, their descendants received mixed fates: some had golden lives, while others, like Blue, were cursed. Each is cursed or blessed in his own unique way – one girl has a magic touch with animals, while her twin sister is afflicted with the opposite curse of being constantly attacked by animals. Blue’s father, a race car driver, wins every race, yet Blue is cursed with losing everything he attempts – from simple card games to fights with a bully.

When Blue’s father unceremoniously dumps him at his grandmother’s house one night then disappears, Blue comes face to face with his quirky extended family – and the possibility that one of them can change their fate forever. Blue soon becomes friends with another cursed child, Tumble, and they decide to travel deep into the bayou to confront at last the golden gator and demand an end to the cycle once and for all. But can two bad luck kids succeed where others have failed? Or is Blue fated to disappoint his winning father forever?

This is a wonderful adventure story with just the right touch of magic to make this otherworldly story believable. The characters are richly painted, with all of their hangups, missteps, and strokes of heroism. Readers will root on this unlikely pair as they search out a different fate for themselves and come to understand the family ties woven into the fabric of their story.

Do you have favorite children’s books about being a true friend? Share in the comments!

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