Jan 142019
 

Teach your students all about the upcoming Lunar New Year with these wonderful Chinese New Year books for kids! They include picture books as well as easy readers and a chapter book. Some are straightforward informational books, while others are fairy tales that bring to life some of the aspects of the Chinese New Year, like the animals of the zodiac. Some focus on the difficulty of being away from family during this special holiday, or the challenges of finding your identity as a Chinese American.

18 Chinese New Year Books for Children

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.

18 Chinese New Year Books for Children

Bringing In the New Year is a wonderful board book that introduces the youngest readers to Chinese New Year. In colorful illustrations, it demonstrates how a family prepares for the New Year – by, for example, sweeping out the old year and hanging up spring-happiness poems. Little ones will especially enjoy the depictions of the celebration with lion dancers, firecrackers, and a dragon parade!

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Chinese New Year Learning Activities

Chinese New Year Zodiac Game

A cute book to teach older slightly children about the holiday is Chelsea’s Chinese New Year. Chelsea and her Chinese-American family are getting ready for the Chinese New Year, and she can’t wait! Most of all she wonders how she will stay up so late the night before! Can be read as a simple story, or add in the fun facts that are seen in bubbles throughout the book. A fun look at the celebration through a child’s eyes. Includes a glossary, list of zodiac animals, and additional resources. PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year also follows a young Chinese-American girl celebrating Chinese New Year, but with a twist – she is learning all about it from her grandmother (PoPo), who is visiting from China! The first thing she learns is that there are a lot of rules to bring luck for the New Year, like don’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day, and don’t use knives and scissors. Can she follow the rules to have the luckiest year ever? This Next New Year is another great introduction to the customs of Chinese New Year. One thing that makes this book a little different is its emphasis on how people of different Asian cultures (and many who aren’t Asian at all!) celebrate this holiday, including the main character, a young boy who is half-Chinese and half-Korean. In Li’s Chinese New Year, Li learns about Chinese New Year and the zodiac as he tries to decide which animal to be at his school’s Chinese New Year parade. Read to find out more about his teacher’s clever solution! Home for Chinese New Year is a very sweet story about a father going to great lengths to return home for Chinese New Year. Jiajun’s father works in a city far from home, but takes a train, bus, three-wheeled motorcycle, and ferry before walking many miles to make it home to his family for Chinese New Year. Emphasizes the importance of being with family for the holiday, and the incredible efforts people make to celebrate this special holiday together, even if only for a few days. A New Year’s Reunion is a very similar story of a little girl whose father builds houses far away and only comes home for a few days a year, at Chinese New Year. This book captures the mixed emotions the young girl feels – excitement as she waits for her father’s arrival but fear as he looks so different than she remembers, joy as they celebrate Chinese New Year together and finally sadness when he leaves again just a short time later. A Gift also emphasizes the importance of family during Chinese New Year, even when it is impossible for everyone to be together. Amy’s mother is from China, and although Amy has uncles and an aunt there she’s never met, they always remember her during Chinese New Year. This year they send a special gift all the way from China, to show their love and bring her luck for the new year. In New Year we meet a young boy who has just moved to Los Angeles from Hong Kong. At first he is excited to go to school, but he quickly becomes frustrated when he doesn’t understand anyone else, except for another Chinese student who is embarrassed to talk to him in Chinese. Yet with help from his teacher (also an immigrant, from Mexico) and his mother, he learns to be proud of where he is from. Through his art, he gains confidence and shares with the other students his special memories of Chinese New Year. If the story of a little girl walking through the woods to give her grandmother a present sounds familiar, don’t worry! In Ruby’s Chinese New Year no one gets eaten by a wolf. In fact, all of the animals Ruby meets on her journey are friendly and want to help her take a special Chinese New Year card to Grandmother. A clever way to introduce children to the animals of the zodiac and learn about the true spirit of Chinese New Year along the way! Includes additional information about the zodiac and Chinese New Year crafts. When Xingling learns from her PoPo (grandmother) about the Nian monster who used to terrorize the countryside every year on Lunar New Year, she never imagines it will come back to life! In The Nian Monster, this clever girl must figure out how to use the traditions of Chinese New Year to defeat the Nian Monster before it devours her and the whole city of Shanghai! Beautifully told story that not only showcases many of the features of Chinese New Year but also landmarks of Shanghai. Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a fun retelling of the classic tale, this time set during Chinese New Year. Poor Goldy Luck just can’t catch a break. She tries to help her mother delivers a plate of turnip cakes to their neighbors (a family of pandas), but instead ends up stumbling into their apartment when they aren’t home, spilling the cakes, eating a whole bowl of congee, breaking a rocking chair, and – to top it all off – falling asleep in the little one’s bed! Find out how Goldy turns her situation around and finally finds some good luck to start off the new year. Includes a recipe for turnip cakes. Inspired by the Danish folktale the Talking Pot, The Runaway Wok tells the story of a poor family in Beijing, who wishes they had enough food for a proper Chinese New Year feast to share with their neighbors. When the son finds an old, battered wok at the market, he is shocked when it begins to sing to him! Sure it must be magic, he brings it home, and soon the wok goes to work to make this a Chinese New Year to remember for this generous family and the other poor families of Beijing. In The Runaway Rice Cake it’s the food itself that’s on the run. The Chang family only has enough rice flour to make one rice cake for the whole family to share for Chinese New Year, but when it is ready, it jumps up and runs out the door! The resolution to the story emphasizes not simply cleverness but kindness and generosity. In the end, the family is rewarded for their selflessness when they (and their rice cake) find someone in even greater need than themselves. If you have a Curious George fan in your house, you won’t want to miss Curious George Dragon Dance. This time George’s curiosity leads him to investigate a Chinese New Year parade and help a new friend by becoming a lion dancer! Includes a craft. Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year is different from the others because it follows a real life boy as he gets ready to be a lion dancer for Chinese New Year. It is chock full of beautiful photos of this family as they prepare for and celebrate in New York City’s Chinatown. Max Celebrates Chinese New Year is part of an easy reader series. In this simple story, Max learns all about Chinese New Year as he helps his friend Lily and her family celebrate. A good introduction to basic traditions of the holiday. The Year of the Dog is told from the point of view of a Chinese American girl, one of the only non-Caucasians in her town. According to her mother, the Year of the Dog is all about finding yourself, so the young girl struggles with her identity: Should she be called Pacy (her Chinese name) or Grace (her American name)? Is she American or Chinese or Taiwanese, or can she be all three? And can she find her own special talent before the Year of the Dog is over? Author Grace Lin started the Pacy Lin series because it was the kind of book she wished she could have read when she was growing up. Pacy/Grace faces problems any child will recognize (whether a crush likes her, getting a role in the school production of The Wizard of Oz), but these are sometimes complicated by her background (can Dorothy be Chinese?) The characters in the book are so well-written, and the story is both poignant and quite funny. And what pulls it all together is the idea of Chinese New Year, and how the concept of the Year of the Dog shapes Grace/Pacy’s quest for identity. While most children’s novels take place over a summer or over one school year, this one starts and finishes on Chinese New Year. Will one year be enough time to find herself? Highly recommended.

What are your favorite Chinese New Year books for kids?

新年快乐

Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs Welcome to our fifth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on February 5. It is the beginning of the Year of the Pig, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2017, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:

Participating Blogs

Miss Panda Chinese on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 12 Chinese Animal Birth Signs

Bicultural Mama: 35+ Chinese New Year Resources for Kids

All Done Monkey: 18 Chinese New Year Books for Children

Tiny Tapping Toes: Four Fun Activities for Chinese New Year

Jan 112019
 
 January 11, 2019  Book Reviews, Education, STEM 4 Responses »

Inspire a love of learning in your children or students with these beautiful new diverse children’s books. They cover topics from philosophy and art to science, technology, geography, and math, so you’re sure to find something for everyone!

Diverse Books to Inspire a Love of Learning | 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.

Diverse Books to Inspire a Love of Learning

Did you ever think of teaching your baby coding? Well, neither did I before I received this beautiful set of board books from the amazing Girls Who Code. These eye-catching books are a playful way to inspire a love of learning and teach very young children that code is all around them – from their everyday world (Baby Code!) to the music they love (Baby Code! Music), the art they create (Baby Code! Art), and the way they play (Baby Code! Play). The text even includes actual code! I have to admit, I was skeptical about how much little ones would really understand of these concepts, but my toddler loves these books. She enjoys seeing pictures of babies doing things she loves – like painting or building a tower – and the explanation of how this relates to coding (Mommy can use coding to copy Baby’s painting without using paint, a computer can use code to make a block with a 3-D printer!) is very easy for them to grasp.

I (Heart) Art: The Work We Love from The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a gorgeous book guaranteed to turn any reader – young or old – into an art lover. I love that it encompasses such a variety of media and artists and that it is divided into themes, including people, animals, and transportation. And it can be enjoyed at different levels – younger children may simply enjoy the 150+ works of art, while older children can read more about the works in the accompanying text. This is a book to be savored and enjoyed again and again.

I have to admit that when I received Eggsistential Thoughts by Gudetama the Lazy Egg and its companion Gudetama’s Guide to Life, I wasn’t sure how to approach them. Were they philosophy books for kids, or satire? Fortunately my kids got Gudetama and his lazy attitude right away. They loved him! They laughed and laughed at the drawings (especially his little bottom), but they also imbibed some philosophical concepts, such as conflict management and optimism vs pessimism. Because ultimately Gudetama is profound and comical at the same time. Find out more about the Gudetama phenomenon in the context of Japanese culture, and just trust me, your kids will love these books, and so will you!

Another book sure to inspire a love of learning is The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague, a lovely picture book biography about a young African-American girl who pursued her dream of becoming an engineer, despite the racism and sexism she faced every step of the way. Encouraged by her family, Montague’s hard work and determination eventually paid off. She won over those that were initially against her, and she is now credited with pioneering new methods of ship design. I love that this beautiful picture book includes at the back a timeline of Montague’s life, a more in-depth biography for older children, and even an interview with Montague herself! Did you know that the first person to publish a book of photographs was a woman? Learn more in the new picture book The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs. The ethereal illustrations portray Anna’s fascination with plant life and her work as a botanist. She used incredibly detailed drawings to record her findings, but when cyanotype photography came along, she turned to this new technology instead. Her 1843 book on British algae is considered the first book of photographs ever published. A lovely tribute to this pioneer of science and art. In many ways, Yasmin is a typical second grader: curious, full of energy, and still gaining confidence in her own talents. Her map of the neighborhood helps her when she gets lost at the Farmer’s Market, and she overcomes her initial frustration in order to contribute to a group project at school. But in the new early chapter book Meet Yasmin!, we also learn that in many ways Yasmin is beautifully unique: she calls her father Baba rather than Daddy, her mother wears a hijab, and Yasmin loves to dress up in her mom’s colorful saris. Her family is Pakistani-American, and while the stories are ones any child can relate to, the cultural richness comes through in the details: a portrait of Malala in Yasmin’s bedroom, her mother ordering naan bread at the bakery. But what really shines through is the sparkling spirit of this young girl, especially her curiosity and love of learning. Bonus materials at the back include information about Pakistan, a recipe, and a craft idea!

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Multicultural Children's Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Medallion Level Sponsors Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild, TheConsciousKid.org. Super Platinum: Make A Way Media GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTV, Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press, SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls, BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini, Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Claudia Schwam, Lori DeMonia, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE. Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media!

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details. FREE RESOURCES From MCBD Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: https://wp.me/P5tVud-1H Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/ Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
Multicultural Children's Book Day

Dec 202018
 
 December 20, 2018  activities, Book Reviews, education3, Literacy Comments Off on Unicorn Word Games and Writing Prompts with Printable

I love word games; they are such a great way to get kids to engage with language and have fun with the vocabulary and grammar they are learning. They are also wonderful for getting their imaginations going! Inspired by some amazing new children’s books about magical creatures (see more below!), I’ve created a series of unicorn word games and writing prompts, complete with a printable.

Unicorn Word Games and Writing Prompts with Printable | 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 cost to you.

Unicorn Word Games and Writing Prompts with Printable

The printable below can be used either for oral word games or as writing prompts. Just right click on the image to save and print! And don’t miss my reviews at the end of the wonderful books that inspired these games!

Unicorn Word Games and Writing Prompts Printable | Alldonemonkey.com

Clip art courtesy of Innovation Press.

There are four unicorn word games, presented here from the most simple to the most complex. The first two can be done individually, while the last two are done in a group. All, especially #2-4, can be played multiple times. The idea is for the students to be creative, so they should feel free to make silly sentences, not just straightforward ones!

1. Imagine. At its most basic, the printable can be used as a straightforward writing prompt, helping students get creative about imagining their unicorn. The very young can simply draw a picture if the writing is too much.

2. Pick a Letter. For this variation, assign letters of the alphabet randomly, or have students draw them out of a bag or hat. They then have to complete each part of the prompt using words that start with that letter. For example, if someone draws an “S,” they could say “My unicorn lives in Spain. Its favorite food is spaghetti. In its free time it likes to swim.” Again, students get to exercise their creativity but with an extra challenge.

3. Challenge Your Friends. In this variation, the students work in small groups. One student starts by completing the first sentence. (This can either be done by drawing a letter as in variation #2, or by their own choice). The next person completes the second sentence and the last person completes the final sentence – but they each have to pick words that start with the same letter as the word chosen by the first student. For example, if the first student says, “My unicorn lives in Queens,” the next student might say, “Its favorite food is quiche,” and the last might say, “In its free time it likes to quilt.”

4. Challenge Your Friends to the End. This variation is similar to the previous one, except that now each student must pick a word that starts with the last letter of the word chosen by the previous student. So if the first student says, “My unicorn lives in Bolivia,” the next might say, “Its favorite food is apple pie,” and the last might say, “In its free time it likes to eat.”

Magical Books for Kids

I was inspired to create these unicorn word games because of two magical new children’s books from the amazing Innovation Press. Be sure to check them out – your kids will thank you!

My children were drawn to Miss Turie’s Magic Creatures right away – I mean, just look at that cover! The artwork in this book is incredible, as readers join a little boy in a shop of magical creatures, all in hopes of finding the perfect pet. But, would you want to take home a dragon or a kraken? What would it really be like to have them as pets, breathing fire in your room or swimming in your bubble bath? A wonderfully fun read for children of a wide range of ages. All of my children love reading this book again and again. My older children especially like poring over the catalog of mythical creatures at the back, which explains in more detail each magical creature featured in the book.

Unicorns and Germs (Zoey and Sassafras) is the latest installment in the beloved series about a resourceful girl who uses the scientific method and creativity to help magical creatures. In this adventure, Zoey and her trusty cat Sassafras must find a way to help a baby unicorn with its hurt leg. (In one of my favorite jokes of the book, it’s revealed that unicorns are actually gigantic creatures, meaning that the baby unicorn Zoey helps is named Tiny – though he seems “ginormous” to her!) My kindergartner and I read this book together, and it was gratifying to me to see how the story makes science both practical and fun at the same time. And just plain cool because you can use it to help unicorns, hello!

Don’t miss these and other great books from Innovation Press and have fun with these unicorn word games!

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Dec 172018
 
 December 17, 2018  activities, Ayyam-i-Ha, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Diwali, Geography, Hanukkah, multiculturalism, raising world citizens Comments Off on Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids

Take your kids around the world this holiday season by hosting an around the world holiday party! It’s the perfect way for a school club or a homeschool group to celebrate this festive season.

Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids

Last year we started a World Explorers Club in our homeschool group. Each month we get together to learn about a different country with the kiddos. Earlier this month the World Explorers Club put on our second annual around the world holiday party. Everyone had a blast!

Each family picks a country to represent and shows how a popular winter holiday is celebrated there.

At our party this year we learned about Christmas in Sweden, Russia, Italy, UK, and the Netherlands; Hanukkah in Israel; Diwali in India; Chinese New Year in China; and Ayyám-i-Há. (The Bahá’í holiday of Ayyám-i-Há was a bit of an exception, since it isn’t based in any one country).

For their chosen country, each family prepares 1) a craft or activity, 2) a traditional treat. So, for example, last year our family did the Philippines, so the kids made a version of a traditional star decoration and sampled some homemade coconut milk cake. For India (Diwali) this year we brought ladoos to share and helped the kids make paper diyas. For Sweden, the kids crafted some adorable Christmas gnomes and decorated cookies, while for Israel (Hanukkah) they played dreidel to win chocolate coins.

Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Setup

We have done this two different ways, so see which works for your group! Both times, we set up “stations” around the room, generally one country per table, and the kids could spread out and take turns visiting each.

Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Last year, the food and the craft were at each station, whereas this year we moved all the treats to a food table and saved them until the end. They were only able to get the food after completing a quiz about the countries they had learned about!

Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

The holiday quiz! They had to work together to answer the questions before they could have their treats 🙂

Whichever way you do it, make sure to have their first stop by a station where kids decorate treat bags. They’ll need one to collect all the crafts they will be making! This is a great activity for them to do as people are arriving and setting up.

Next year, we definitely have to add a Mexican style piñata!

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Dec 132018
 
 December 13, 2018  Book Reviews, Christmas Comments Off on New Christmas Picture Books to Brighten Your Holiday

The holidays are the perfect time to snuggle up together and share some cozy moments over a good book. Well, I have not one but five wonderful new Christmas picture books to share with you, all of them guaranteed to brighten your holiday! So take a break from the hustle and bustle, grab your kids and some mugs of cocoa, and curl up with these new holiday favorites.

New Christmas Picture Books to Brighten Your Holiday | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I was sent 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 Christmas Picture Books to Brighten Your Holiday

My kids love ninjas! So why I was very excited to receive North Pole Ninjas: MISSION: Christmas! to review. Who would have thought there would be ninjas at the North Pole? But they are so useful to do all those secret jobs that need to be done to spread kindness everywhere! The pictures are adorable, and I love the rhyming text, but my FAVORITE part is that it comes with 50 top secret missions of kindness that kids can do, like donating food to the local food bank, or drawing a holiday picture for relatives. What a great way to have kids focus on the spirit of the season!

Another book that really helps kids focus on what’s important is My Little Gifts: A Book of Sharing (Growing Hearts). This is a beautifully done book with plenty of cleverly done flaps for little hands to open. It helps children realize that gifts don’t have to be wrapped under the tree, they can be hugs and kisses, or helping someone, or letting your sister decide which jam to try. I should mention that this book is not specifically for Christmas, but great for any time of year.

All Aboard! The Christmas Train is soooo fun for little readers! It opens up into a train, plus each car opens up to see the passengers inside! My kids love laying this book out on the floor to read it. As their mom, I love that it incorporates so many fun little learning activities, like counting the number of skiers, or looking for Santa’s missing boot! So colorful and fun!

Decked Out for Christmas! is a really cute board book to help younger kids get excited about Christmas time. A group of mice pull out all the decorations (included a cheese star!) fit for a wonderful Christmas tree, but soon it becomes obvious they aren’t decorating a tree! Great twist and a special appearance by a present-giving mouse at the end.

I love finding bilingual books for all occasions, so I was happy to review Doggy Claus / Perro Noel (English and Spanish Edition). It is a sweet story of a shelter dog who wants to bring some holiday cheer to the other animals. In the end he discovers that the best presents aren’t toys but rather friendship. Really cute book with a great message!

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Winter Wonderland Blogger Campaign

This post is part of the Winter Wonderland blogger campaign from Penguin Books! Be sure to check out all the reviews – each snowflake is a different winter book for kids!

Winter Wonderland Blogger Campaign

Snowflake One

December 10 – Gypsy Mom – Review + Craft

December 11 – A Buckeye Teacher – Review + Creative Instagram Picture + Classroom Idea

December 12 – InRandom – Review + Gift Guide

December 13 – Mommy Ramblings – Review + Giveaway

Snowflake Two

December 10 – DoodleMom – Review + Moodboard/Craft

December 11 – Coquette Maman – Review + Instagram Unboxing

December 12 – Pink Polka Dots – Books to read when you want that winter feel

December 13 – Word Spelunking – Review + Inspired by the book: Baking

Snowflake Three

December 10 – Babies to Bookworms – Review + Activities

December 11 – The Unique Classroom – Classroom Activity

December 12 – Inspiration Laboratories – Activity

December 13 – Dream Reader Kids – Unboxing + Creative Instagram Picture

Snowflake Four

December 10 – Library Lady’s Kid Lit – Inspired by the Book: Snowflakes or Ornament Decorations

December 11 – Crafty Moms Share – Fun Facts about Snowflakes

December 12 – Books and Giggles – Craft

December 13 – All Done Monkey – New Christmas Books for Kids

December 14 – A Peace of Mind – Inspired by the book

Snowflake Five

December 10 – What’s a Kid To Read – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

December 11 – The Inspired Apple – Creative Instagram Picture

December 12 – Because.my.mother.read – Learning Activity + Craft

December 13 – Lovely Little Things – Review + Creative

Dec 122018
 
 December 12, 2018  Baha'i, character building for kids, Education Comments Off on Baha’i History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum

Part of our character building classes is teaching children about heroes in Bahá’í history and how they can emulate their qualities. Bahiyyih Khanum, daughter of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, is a leading Bahá’í heroine and holds a unique place in religious history. In these lessons, the children studied a prayer and learned about her qualities of service and leadership.

Baha'i History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Bahá’í History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum

Also known by the title Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahiyyih Khanum was born in 1846, the daughter of Bahá’u’lláh and His wife Navváb. She was only a child when her family was forced from their homes and, along with the other members of her family, spent the rest of her life as an exile.

She also holds the distinction of being the first woman in religious history to lead a worldwide faith community. When her older brother ‘Abdu’l-Bahá died in 1921, Bahiyyih Khanum assumed the helm of the Bahá’í community, shepherding it through some of its most difficult times, as it prepared to transition to the leadership of the young Shoghi Effendi. Grownups can read more about her extraordinary life in Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Baha’i Faith.

The children’s class activities outlined below were taught over two classes and focused on Bahiyyih Khanum’s qualities of service and leadership, as well as teaching about the Holy Family.

For some aspects, like the prayer book, we did half during one lesson and half during the other. The other activities you can divide between two (or three) lessons as you see fit.

Children’s Prayer: “O Thou Kind Lord”

At the beginning of each class, after our opening prayers, we studied the following prayer from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “O Thou Kind Lord! These lovely children are the handiwork of the fingers of Thy might…” (read the whole prayer).

The children made a prayer book from two sheets of construction paper stapled together. During the first lesson, we pasted on the cover a copy of a photo of Bahiyyih Khanum (from the resource pages of the Core Curriculum Preschool lesson book). On the first inside page, they pasted a copy of a the first paragraph of the prayer. On the opposite page, they traced their hands, to go along with the idea of “handiwork.” Their homework was to read over and begin to memorize the first paragraph of the prayer.

Baha'i History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum | Alldonemonkey.com

During the next lesson, they pasted the second paragraph on the next page of the prayer book, which includes “…enable them to render service to the world of humanity.” On the opposite page, they drew pictures of things they could do to help others.

Baha'i History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum | Alldonemonkey.com

On the last set of pages, they pasted the final paragraph, which includes, “These children are pearls, cause them to be nurtured within the shell of Thy loving-kindness.” Then we folded over a piece of card stock and cut out a shell shape, being careful to have the top (the “hinge”) of the shell on the fold, so that the shell can open and close.

Baha'i History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum | Alldonemonkey.com

They then drew a heart on the outside of the shell (for “loving-kindness”) and a pearl on the inside. They then pasted the finished shell to the page opposite the final paragraph of the prayer.

Holy Family Tree

Next we focused on learning about the life of Bahiyyih Khanum, first by helping the children understand how she fits into the Holy Family (the family of Bahá’u’lláh). For this, I drew on the expertise of my friend Melissa at Delighted Hearts, who worked with me to develop this beautiful Holy Family Tree, which children can use to help them understand the relationships between the members of Bahá’u’lláh’s family. Be sure to visit her website for the printable worksheet!

Baha'i History: Bahiyyih Khanum - Holy Frmily Tree | All Done Monkey & Delighted Hearts

Life of Service

For more ideas, read this lesson for children on service and ideas for involving young children in service.

To learn about her life of service, I adapted a story from Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Baha’i Faith about when Bahiyyih Khanum was very young. Though she was just a small child and not very strong, she would still help to serve tea using a very heavy samovar, an act of service that impressed Bahá’u’lláh’s guests. I loved sharing this story with them, because it shows that even though they are young, they can still serve others and teach the Faith.

Since the children were not familiar with the samovars commonly used in Persia at that time, a local Bahá’í kindly loaned one to use to demonstrate.

Then we had a tea party! During the party, they practiced serving each other the tea (iced tea) and snacks.

Baha'i History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum | Alldonemonkey.com

Leadership

Another important aspect of Bahiyyih Khanum’s life was her role as a leader, which I really wanted to emphasize to help them realize how women and girls can also be leaders.

We brainstormed ideas about what makes a true leader – someone who helps get things accomplished, someone who helps and protects others, and someone who can inspire others to do their best.

Then we did several activities to practice leadership:

  • Giving compliments to each other (to help inspire them)
  • Playing Simon Says
  • Role playing what they would do if they saw a bully on the playground or saw someone sitting alone.

This was one of my favorite lessons this past year, as Bahiyyih Khanum is such an inspiring figure!

Related Posts: 

12 Inspiring Women from Baha’i History

Moveable Sun Craft: Birth of Bahá’u’lláh

Bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh: Why It Matters

Nov 192018
 

Travel the world with your children through these beautiful children’s books about West Africa! Below you will find picture books about Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. They range from biographies and folk tales to modern stories about life in West Africa today. Share your favorites in the comments!

Children's Books About West Africa: Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger | 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.

Children’s Books About West Africa

Children’s Books About Mali

Sundiata: Lion King of Mali is the story of the legendary founder of the Mali empire. (The present day country of Mali takes its name from this medieval kingdom in West Africa and represents part of the territory that this powerful kingdom occupied at its height). Based on oral tradition, this telling focuses on the hardships Sundiata had to overcome. to become king. The cut paper illustrations are beautiful, and the narration mimics the cadences of the traditional griot storytellers. I highly recommend this book to combat the typical silence in most classrooms about the history of African kingdoms.

My kids love graphic novels, so I was thrilled to come across a comic version of the history of Sundiata. Sundiata: A Legend of Africa makes a thrilling read for any child who loves adventure. It has intrigue, battles, and magic – a surefire way to convince young readers that history is anything but boring!

If your child has any chance of reading about medieval West Africa in one of their history books, it will likely be about Mansa Musa, the celebrated king who distributed so much gold on his pilgrimage to Mecca that he caused inflation in Egypt and the surrounding areas for years after. After his trip, he became the only African king featured on European maps of the continent. Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali, gorgeously illustrated by the award-winning team Leo & Diane Dillon, tells of the powerful monarch whose fame carries down through history.

Never Forgotten, a Junior Library Guild selection, is a gorgeous picture book about a difficult subject – slavery. It reminds me a bit of Roots in that we come to know Musafa and his native Mali intimately before he is stolen away, so that we can more deeply appreciate the horror of what is lost and what might have been. Author Kissack, who dedicated herself to filling the gap in African American children’s literature, wrote that through this book she sought to “create a story that addresses that answers the question that all of us who are descendants of the Taken ask: ‘Were we missed?’ I answer with a resounding ‘Yes! We were never forgotten.” Illustrated by the same award-winning team that illustrated Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali above.

The Hatseller And The Monkeys is the first book on this list from Coretta Scott King Honor winner Baba Wagué Diakité, who was born and raised in a small village in Mali. This tale is one he heard as a boy from his uncle, a version of a story popular in many parts of the world about a seller who has his wares stolen by monkeys while napping. As always, Wagué takes the opportunity to teach his young readers about the culture and art of Mali, as in the wide-brimmed dibiri hats sold by the main character.

The Magic Gourd is also by Baba Wagué Diakité. (For a treat, flip to the back cover to see a picture of him with his daughters, one of whom would grow up to collaborate with her father on a book featured below!) The Magic Gourd is a fable about a kind rabbit who receives a magic gourd as a thank you after helping a chameleon. The gourd, which fills magically with whatever the owner desires, keeps Rabbit and his loved ones well fed even during a famine. Yet when the magic gourd is stolen by a greedy king, it takes another magical gift from the chameleon and the rabbit’s quick thinking to retrieve the gift and teach the king a lesson in friendship and generosity.

I Lost My Tooth in Africa is one of the most famous children’s books set in Africa. Written by Baba Wagué Diakité’s daughter Penda Diakité and illustrated by him, it is based on the true story of when Penda’s younger sister Amina lost her tooth while they were visiting their father’s homeland of Mali. She is so excited when she finds out that when you lose a tooth in Africa, the African tooth fairy will give you a chicken! My kids loved this story, perhaps especially because they can relate to experience of losing teeth – and of visiting another country where their father was born.

Gabrielle Emanuel, who now works for NPR, spent a year in Mali, working in the health sector. She often read to a young friend there and became appalled at the lack of books that reflected the local landscape and culture. Her book The Everlasting Embrace is a response to this need. It is a beautiful tribute to mothers and the close bond they create with their babies through the traditional practice of babywearing. As a mother goes through her day – grinding millet, going to the market – we see the world as experienced from the loving “cocoon” in which the child spends her days.

My Baby is another beautiful book about a mother’s love for her child. It showcases the art of bogolan, a traditional technique of painting cloth with specially prepared mud. Nakunte learns the art from her mother and uses it to make cloth for weddings and funerals, until she is finally ready to make a beautiful cloth for her own baby, decorated with symbols teaching the little one about the creatures of her home.

Children’s Books About Burkina Faso

The Water Princess is a beautifully done book based on the childhood memories of supermodel Georgie Badiel. A young girl dreams of having clean water close by, but instead she and her mother (along with many other women and girls) must spend much of their day walking miles to fill their jars with dusty water. My children could not believe that this was still a problem today and had trouble imagining what it would be like to have to work so hard just for a drink of water – and that the drink wouldn’t even be clean. There is more information about lack of access to clean water at the back of the book. You can find out even more from the Georgie Badiel Foundation, which has made providing clean, accessible water a cornerstone of its work in Burkina Faso.

All Aboard for the Bobo Road is a fun children’s book about the Fulani people of Burkina Faso, written by Stephen Davies, who spent ten years living among them as a missionary. It focuses on a common experience there – riding in a minibus! It is a beautiful, colorful ride past a lake full of hippos, by a waterfall and old rock domes, through the forest and into the big city. See for yourself why Davies calls this region one of his favorite places in the world.

Children’s Book About Niger

Though I found many books about other countries in West Africa (especially Mali), unfortunately I was only able to find one about Niger. Don’t Spill the Milk! comes from author Stephen Davies (see above), a missionary who spent ten years living in Burkina Faso and regularly visiting Mali and Niger. This is the sweet story of a Fulani girl carefully delivering milk to her father, who is tending sheep high in the grasslands. As she walks to see her father, we see many features of the region, including the endangered West African giraffe. A story of love and understanding between a father and daughter.

Kids Read the World: Africa | Kid World Citizen

This post on children’s books about West Africa is part of a series from Kid World Citizen, gathering reviews of children’s books about the countries of Africa. Don’t miss this incredible collection, coming soon!

Oct 292018
 

The children are the future, and as parents we want to prepare them for it and inspire kids to make the world a better place. But often parents struggle with how to talk to their children about real problems faced by the world today in ways that are age appropriate. That is why I am so pleased to share with you a wonderful new resource aimed at parents and children, designed to inspire the next generation of world citizens through teaching them about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Disclosure: This blog post was sponsored by Mattel but all opinions are my own.

5 Ways to Inspire Kids to Make the World a Better Place | Alldonemonkey.com

5 Ways to Inspire Kids to Make the World a Better Place

We all want to raise children who will make a difference in the world, but often we don’t know where to start. Luckily, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Everyone’s favorite tank engine has teamed up with the United Nations to educate families about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Thomas & FriendsTM  interactive Global Goals website has resources to help parents and children learn more about six of these goals:

  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Life on Land

For each goal, the All Aboard for Global Goals! website provides a Thomas & FriendsTM video Life Lesson, Parent Tips with conversation starters and activities to educate about the goals and get kids excited about achieving them.

Here are 5 tips on how you inspire kids to make the world a better place through using this incredible resource.

1. Educate Yourself

It’s impossible to teach what you don’t know, but this doesn’t mean you have to be an expert. What you do need is some background knowledge and – even more importantly – the right tools to teach the whole family.

One thing I love about the All Aboard for Global Goals! website is that is designed to educate parents and children. It gives you the materials and language for talking to your child about these important issues, so that you can learn about them together.

5 Ways to Inspire Kids to Make the World a Better Place | Alldonemonkey.com

2. Talk About Real Issues – in an Age Appropriate Way

If we want to inspire kids to make the world a better place, we can’t shy away from the tough issues we face globally – but we must do so in ways that are appropriate for young children. That is why the format of these upbeat Thomas the Tank Engine videos is so effective: they present the material in ways that children can easily understand without becoming overwhelmed.

The information and activities come with suggestions for older and younger children, so you can adjust to what is appropriate for your child.

3. Use Media Thoughtfully

Children immediately warm to familiar characters like Thomas & FriendsTM, and using the videos as part of your discussion will help children get excited and engaged with the material. Rather than being asked to sit through a dry lesson, you will be playing together and watching a short video with some of their favorite characters! My favorite is the one on “Gender Equality,” which uses the examples of different tank engines from the show to demonstrate that girls and boys can do the same jobs!

5 Ways to Inspire Kids to Make the World a Better Place | Alldonemonkey.com

4. Nurture a Sense of Empowerment

For each of the UN Sustainable Development Goals presented, the All Aboard for Global Goals! website offers ways that children can get involved and make a difference. At every turn they are invited to see themselves as having an important role. For example, for “Life On Land” (about caring for the environment), children can plant seeds and learn to care for their seedlings, while in “Gender Equality” they are asked to dress up as a superhero and think of tasks they would perform as a hero.

5. Keep It Fun

More than anything, for young children it is important to learn through play, especially when talking about potentially difficult topics. This wonderful resource means that you can engage with your child in fun learning activities that will inspire kids to make the world a better place.

All Aboard for Global Goals!

Join Thomas as he learns about the Sustainable Development Goals! Learn together with your child through fun videos, meaningful discussions, and playful activities on the All Aboard for Global Goals! website

Oct 262018
 
 October 26, 2018  Book Reviews, multiculturalism, parenting Comments Off on Children’s Books About Embracing Differences

Today it is more important than ever to teach children about embracing differences and forming friendships with those with whom at first they may seem to have nothing in common. It is the critical issue facing our little world citizens, yet in reality it is as simple as making a new friend on the playground or seeing yourself in the face of a stranger. This wonderful collection of children’s books – including picture books and a chapter book – use humor and inspiring XXXX to instill these values in our children.

Children's Books About Embracing Differences | 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 cost to you.

Children’s Books About Embracing Differences

The Epic Adventures of Huggie & Stick is a laugh out loud book from the author of The Day the Crayons Quit about an unlikely pair and their lively trip around the world. What makes this book so hilarious is the constant shift in perspective between these two completely opposite characters. While upbeat Stick sees every situation as a wonderful adventure, grumpy Huggie is forever looking at the downside. Stick, for example, is enchanted by the “little elves in tuxedos” they discover on Antarctica, while Huggie describes these same penguins as “vicious” because they tried to nibble on him.

The biggest misunderstanding of all, of course, is whether Huggie and Stick are actually best friends (as Stick thinks) or not (as Huggie emphatically believes). Either way, you won’t want to miss their epic adventure together!

All Are Welcome is a beautifully written picture book about embracing differences and creating an environment of respect for all. The portraits of diverse children playing, learning, and sharing are gorgeous and demonstrate an ideal climate where diversity is seen as a community’s strength. Moreover, by portraying the children engaged in similar activities during their day, it powerfully shows how we are just as much alike as we are different.

I have been a fan of Joy Sun Bear for a long time. Joy is an adorable, curious little sun bear that promotes global education through a safe, online environment full of resources for children, parents, and educators.

And now he’s starring in his very first book! The Adventures of Joy Sun Bear: The Blue Amber of Sumatra covers many important topics, like environmental destruction and having courage to do the right thing, but at its heart it is also about embracing differences. When a group of refugees arrive in Joy’s part of the rain forest, he overcomes his initial reluctance (and the prejudices of his elders) to make friends with one of the newcomers: Tipah, a frightened young orangutan.

To help convince the others to welcome the refugees and help his friend, Joy embarks on a remarkable adventure, aided by magical creatures, in which he must rely on his wits but especially his heart to guide him.

I love the metaphor of the trickster used in the book to explain why the humans destroy the rainforest in the first place, and why Joy’s forest community is so convinced that the refugees are cursed. But the mischievousness of the trickster is matched by the light of the creatures that lend their aid to Joy and by the purity of his spirit.

I highly recommend this early chapter book for children that love animals, adventure, and the triumph of good.

Oct 252018
 
 October 25, 2018  Book Reviews, parenting Comments Off on Stop Bullying: Teach Kids to Be Allies

A major focus at schools today is bullying, and for good reason. We often talk about how to help kids deal with being bullied, but there is another aspect that needs to be taken into account: what to do when they see someone else being bullied. Here are tips to teach kids to stop bullying by being allies to bullied students, to help break the cycle.

Keep in mind, these actions are not meant to replace adult involvement but rather reinforce it, as often a child is less likely to be picked on if they are with friends. Children should always tell a teacher or administrator if they see bullying. They can also be an ally, a powerful step towards preventing bullying from occurring or helping diffuse a bullying situation. For more on how to stop bullying visit this comprehensive website.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of I Am Gandhi 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.

Stop Bullying: Teach Kids to Be Allies | Alldonemonkey.com

Stop Bullying: Teach Kids to Be Allies

1. Distract the Bully

What should children do if they see another child being bullied? They can step in and stop the bullying – not by arguing with the bully or yelling at them to stop, but simply by distracting them. I was so impressed at my son’s recent karate class when the instructors taught the students to give the bully a compliment to distract them. This allows them to then take the bullied student by the hand and walk somewhere else. Distract with a compliment rather than getting into a combative situation. Brilliant!

2. Stop It Before It Starts

Most kids know who is being bullied at their school and when it usually happens. Teach them to keep an eye out for bullied students and try to head off the bullying before it begins. If they see a bully heading over to another student, they can get to that student first and invite them to join in a game on the playground, for example.

3. Practice Inclusion

Take this a step further by getting to know the bullied student and forming a friendship. When I was in elementary school, a friend of mine was constantly teased because of her looks and awkward behavior. Yet consistently if I was with her the other students tended to leave her alone – she was no longer an easy target. Having true friendships can also help stop bullying by helping build up the bullied student’s confidence.

4. Create a Respectful Environment 

Students can also stop bullying by helping create an environment where everyone feels respected and safe. If children laugh along with the bully or stay silent, bullies feel encouraged to continue their behavior. Other students can help change a toxic environment by making it clear that bullying is unacceptable and making sure all students feel included. They can work together to think of ways to foster this type of environment – by showing kindness to others, or putting on a school program.

One of the greatest historical examples of a person being an ally to the persecuted was Gandhi. Not only did he stand up for justice when his own people were oppressed, he did the same for others, including the Untouchables, the lowest of the low at the time in India. Children can read Gandhi’s amazing life story in I am Gandhi, part of the people Ordinary People Change the World series. I love getting to use this book to teach my children about Gandhi and how it sparked a conversation between my boys about what it means to “gently shake the world” as Gandhi did.

One of the remarkable aspects of this book, as with all of the books in this series, is that it puts historical events and trends into terms that children can understand without watering them down, highlighting the lessons that they can have in the children’s own lives. For example, I am Gandhi teaches them about Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha, ultimately explaining it as a “truth force” – which, as one character points out, sounds like a superhero team!

Our copy of this inspiring, extremely readable biography came in the mail one day just before we meet with our homeschooling group, so my son took it with him. Several of the other mothers noticed his book and told me how much their children love this book series. I highly recommend it as a great source of inspiration for children to become part of the “truth force,” to bring about change and fight for a world where everyone feels valued.

I Am Justice Blog Tour

WEEK ONE: I am Gandhi

October 22 – A Buckeye Teacher – Creative Instagram Picture + Review

October 23 – Little Homeschool on the Prairie – Fun Facts

October 24 – Happily Ever Elephants – Review + Learning Activity

October 25 – All Done Monkey – Learning Activity

WEEK TWO: I am Martin Luther King Jr.

October 29 – Reading by ovenlight – Creative Instagram Picture + Review

October 30 – 4th Grade Unicorns – Creative Instagram Picture + Review

October 31 – What’s a Kid to Read – Creative Instagram Picture + Review

November 1 – Bookoholicmom – Fun Facts

WEEK THREE: I am Rosa Parks

November 5 – Simple at Home – Learning Activity

November 6 – Within the Pages – Fun Facts

November 7 – Coquette Maman – Fun Facts

November 8 – Lovely Little Reads – Fun Facts

WEEK FOUR: I am Sonia Sotomayor

November 12 – My Little Poppies – Creative Instagram Picture

November 13 – Gravity Bread – Review + Language and Learning Tips

November 14 – Biracial Bookworms – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

November 15 – Girls Read the World – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

November 16 – This Picture Book Life – Creative Instagram Picture + Quotes from the Justice

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