When my friend Daria from Daria’s World Music approached me about sharing her Indian drum craft along with a related children’s book, I was so excited! Daria and I have been friends for a long time, and I’m a big admirer of her work. She does such an incredible job of getting kids excited about world music. You can see below how much fun we had recently making the dhol Indian drum and reading a folktale about it!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the resources 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.
Indian Drum Craft and Book
The dholis a drum from North India and surrounding areas, especially the Punjab region. This double-sided drum is hung around the neck with a thick strap and played with wooden sticks.
It is easy to do with resources you probably have on hand right now.
The kids loved getting to decorate the drums with their own designs, but best of all was running outside once they were done to find sticks and get playing!
While the kids were working, I read them The Drum, a folktale from India about a boy who longs for his own drum. Being from a poor family, however, he knows they cannot afford it. But when his mother brings home a magical stick, given to her by a mysterious stranger, the boy’s luck changes. He immediately begins a series of adventures, where his compassion leads him to help people in need, who each repay him as best they can. In the end, he gets his drum! A really fun story of a good-hearted kid being rewarded for his kindness.
The Year of the Rat is beginning soon! Celebrate Chinese New Year with these fun mouse crafts, plus don’t miss a gorgeous new picture book about special days and celebrations around the world.
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 cost to you.
15+ Year of the Rat Crafts: Chinese New Year
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with these fun rat and mouse crafts!
Books are a great way to teach children about important holidays like Chinese New Year. And now there’s a gorgeous picture book that showcases 13 celebrations from around the globe! I was sent Let’s Celebrate!: Special Days Around the World from Barefoot Books as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (see below). It is such a beautiful way to teach young readers about celebrations from other countries and cultures. I love that the text is very simple, with a focus on the joy of each special day. There is more information at the back for older children, which is great because several of the celebrations you probably have never heard of before, like Matariki in New Zealand and Inti Raymi in Peru. There is even a timeline so you can see at a glance when the holidays are celebrated in relation to each other.
The book demonstrates in simple yet powerful images that although we may have differences, we all value community and family, and enjoy celebrating with those we love.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.
MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:
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.
Trying to raise a child who is a world citizen? Want to expose your child to different cultures but can’t afford to travel? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Read on for ideas of how to explore the world with your child in 6 easy steps – without ever leaving home!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items below for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Explore the World with Your Child in 6 Easy Steps
1. Play Games
An incredibly fun way to explore the world with your child is through games! Children learn through play, so next time you’re looking for a fun activity, remember that it can be an easy way to learn about other cultures!
That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but what if you don’t know any games from another country? Then you definitely don’t want to miss Global Kids: 50+ Games, Crafts, Recipes & More from Around the World! This is global learning made easy and super fun! This carefully researched resource comes in the form of a pack of large cards, each with an activity from a different part of the globe, or that emphasizes a particular aspect of global learning, like map reading. There are five categories: create, play, eat, celebrate, and help out. (I love the inclusion of helping others!) For example, you might learn to make a shekere (a musical instrument from Nigeria), play luta de galo (a form of tag from Brazil), make a Vietnamese fruit smoothie, grow bean sprouts to celebrate Nowruz (Persian new year), or go plogging (a Swedish activity that combines jogging and picking up litter).
The Global Kids activity pack is so easy for busy parents and teachers to use. The activities involve little to no prep, and most can be done with materials you already have in your home or classroom. Just pick a card and you will be off exploring!
2. Read Books
We all know how effective books can be in helping kids to learn about the world. And here is another stunning addition for your home library or classroom! Precious Planet: A User’s Manual for Curious Earthlings from gestalten envisions the planet as a house, where all of the elements and rooms are interconnected. First, we look back at the construction site (the planet’s creation), before moving on to the house’s foundation (the center of the earth, tectonic plates, etc.) and the different rooms (continents). Finally, we turn our gaze to our neighborhood, including possible vacation homes.
I love the book’s setup! It is such a great way of getting kids to think of the Earth in a new way, especially in terms of how closely connected we all are. For example, the Bathroom pages discuss the effect of dirty bathwater (trash in the oceans) and how the jacuzzi works (the ocean currents). The overall message of this innovative book is how all systems of our earthly home work together and our critical role as its caretakers.
3. Enjoy Food
Food is one of my favorite ways to explore the world with my kids! We love trying new recipes together, like Saudi Arabian Magic Cake or Costa Rican empanadas. Cooking together is wonderful hands on learning (science, math, language…), plus it’s easy to tie in other aspects of culture, such as celebrations.
A Taste of the World: What People Eat and How They Celebrate Around the Globe does just this, by looking at cuisine around the world, and how it relates to more than 20 different global festivities. Organized by continent, A Taste of the World, also from gestalten, looks at general aspects of global cuisine – such as spices – as well as the foods of specific countries. For each highlighted country, we explore some typical dishes and flavors as well as a local celebration, such as Three Kings’ Day in Spain, the Almond Blossom Festival in Morocco, and Thanksgiving in the US.
I love the diversity of the countries and festivals covered in the book. Many are ones you will have heard of, such as Diwali, while others, such as Jamaica’s Independence Day and Nigeria’s Fish and Cultural Festival, will likely be new to most readers.
As mentioned right at the start of the book, food brings people together because it’s all about sharing. So be sure to share this book with your little world citizen!
4. Learn a Language
Whether you speak another language or just want to learn a few phrases, exposing a child to another language not only has well documented benefits for their brain, it can also introduce them to new ways of seeing the world. And it makes a wonderful ice breaker if they meet someone from another country! Nothing makes a person feel welcome like having someone make the effort to speak to them in their own language.
As a non-native speaker, I often worry about my accent when teaching my kids Spanish. I love the new Little Polyglot Animals/Animales book from Linguacious, because it utilizes QR codes and a specially designed app to let kids hear vocabulary spoken by native speakers! (Read my review of their innovative flashcards). Each page features a large photo of an animal, along with codes that kids can scan to hear how to say the name of the animal in both English and Spanish.
It’s so easy, my four year old daughter can do it herself! And my older kids love it too, since they are drawn to anything involving technology. It is a simple yet incredibly effective way to teach children Spanish vocabulary!
Everyone loves a good party! The most popular event in our World Explorers Club is our annual Around the World Holiday Party. Learning about another culture’s celebrations can be a fun way to learn about their values and beliefs. And celebrations easily incorporate games, activities, food, music, dress-up, stories, and more!
For example, I love the gorgeous new book Korean Celebrations: Festivals, Holidays and Traditions from Tuttle Publishing. It covers all the major holidays and festivals of Korea, such as Seollal and Chuseok, as well as special events like bithdays and weddings. Kids not only learn the significance of the celebrations, there are tons of hands-on activities, too! They can make origami carnations as a gift for Parent’s Day in May, or cook Half-Moon Rice Cake for Chuseok. Kids will also be delighted to learn about local festivals like the Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach!
There are many other fun bits of information highlighted in the book, such as the national anthem, a look at the Korean flag, and how to write in Korean. I love the whimsical watercolor illustrations that bring the celebrations to life for young readers.
6. Try Unit Studies
One way to explore the world with your child that I’ve found to be particularly effective is making use of unit studies. Focus on one country or region at a time – maybe somewhere you’ve traveled, or someplace you’ve read about in a book. You can easily pull in all of the aspects discussed above, that is, games, books, food, language, and celebrations, creating a well-rounded experience your child is sure to remember.
Let’s Go to Italy! from gestalten is the perfect book to use for a study of Italy. It covers many aspects of this rich culture, including the language, food, history, and famous landmarks. Kids will love learning that the term nutella was coined by an Italian chef or reading about how gelato was developed! They will also discover the gondolas of Venice and the love story of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, as well as learn the many different types of pasta. They will study the work of Galileo and DaVinci, and learn why a violinist in 2007 was so distraught after breaking his Stradivarius violin. This jam packed book is rounded out by a dictionary, glossary of terms, and kid-friendly recipes.
My one quibble is that I would have liked to have seen more overarching organization to the book, rather than so many small chapters. Nevertheless, it is a glorious book to get lost in, with so many fun facts about one of the world’s most fascinating countries!
Einstein is credited with saying, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Fairy tales can teach children values as well as open their imaginations to fantastical worlds. Reading fairy tales from other cultures can also be a window into another way of life.
Lately we’ve been enjoying classic stories from Asia and a twist on the familiar European fairy tales of knights and princesses. As you know, I love hands on learning, so I was thrilled to finish it off by letting my kids play with a beautiful fairy tale origami set. Read on for more details!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the products below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Fairy Tales from Around the World
It’s hard not to get swept up in the drama of Thai Children’s Favorite Stories: Fables, Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales, with its lush illustrations and larger than life tales. These nine stories, which have been passed down through generations, include many “just so” stories, such as how the tiger got its stripes and how the Bay of Bangkok came to be. I love that the stories explore universal values such as courage and wisdom, yet they are set against the backdrop of Thai village life, so that children also learn more about Thai culture and history. A lovely book to be treasured.
Another beautiful book of multicultural fairy tales is Three Korean Fairy Tales: Beloved Stories and Legends, retold by Kim So-un, a storyteller much beloved in Korea. Children are quickly caught up in the suspense over what will happen, for instance, to the fisherman when he goes to the underwater Dragon Palace, all the while absorbing details of Korean culture. I loved the artwork, which combines elements of traditonal and modern Korean art. A not to be missed collection.
A lighter take on the fairy tale genre comes from Jennifer and Matthew Holm, the sibling duo who brought us the Babymouse series, in addition to their separate works. In the highly imaginative new picture book The Evil Princess vs. the Brave Knight, they explore the idea of sibling rivalry. After another big conflict, the a brother and sister discover that it’s not as much fun being evil or brave alone, and that they really are better off together. But does that mean that they are now best friends? Well, maybe not! A fun book to read and laugh over with your kids.
If your child has even the least interest in fairy tales, you must try the fabulous My First Origami Fairy Tales Kit: Paper Models of Knights, Princesses, Dragons, Ogres and More! It has something for everyone, from castles to gingerbread houses and pirate ships! All three of my children fell in love with this set and didn’t want to leave off working on it to eat lunch. My littlest one enjoyed putting stickers on the backdrops, while the older two immediately set to work on the origami.
I love that the kit (which comes with a full-color instruction book) includes easier models as well as more challenging ones, so it is suitable for a range of ages and abilities. And once you finish the origami, the fun doesn’t stop! There are 6 different story backdrops, each of which coordinates with different origami models. For example, once you finish the knight, you can make him a sword and shield and then act out a scene in front of one of the castle backdrops!
The kit comes with 36 folding sheets for 11 different characters, 6 interchangeable story backdrops, and 85 stickers to use in decorating the characters and backdrops. A wonderful way to build up those fine motor skills and fire up children’s imaginations!
Autumn may seem like an unusual time for butterfly crafts and activities. Here in the US, we typically associate butterflies with spring or perhaps summer; yet in Mexico, butterflies migrating south are a beloved sign of fall. In fact, they are often associated with the Day of the Dead. And so, in honor of their long journey, here is a HUGE collection of more than 75 butterfly crafts and activities for kids, plus don’t miss my review of a wonderful new children’s book!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Señorita Mariposa for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
75+ Butterfly Crafts and Activities for Kids
Read on to find 75+ butterfly crafts and activities for kids, from painting and origami to STEM activities and music!
Butterflies are more than just beautiful: they are the ultimate metaphor for personal transformation and growth. And we can draw further inspiration from the incredible monarch butterfly’s 3,000 mile migration, which spans three countries (Canada, US, and Mexico).
Señorita Mariposa, the first picture book from award-winning musician Mister G, is a beautiful tribute to this epic journey. (Read my reviews of his albums here and here). Based on the lyrics of Mister G’s song of the same name (included on his album Chocolalala), Señorita Mariposa was inspired by the monarch butterflies he would see each year near his own home in Western Massachusetts. The bilingual text is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations of the landscapes that the monarchs fly through and the diverse people they pass along the way.
This lovely book also comes with a message about the need to preserve the habitat of the monarch butterflies and, more broadly, the natural world that our three countries share. Mister G is deeply committed to conservation and even started The Mariposa Project to inspire communities to engage with these issues.
Señorita Mariposa would be a beautiful addition to any unit on butterflies or conservation more generally and would make a wonderful gift to budding environmentalists and animal lovers.
Are you getting ready for a unit on the stars, or do your kids love looking at the night sky? Maybe you are thinking ahead to holidays like the 4th of July, or the Bahá’í holiday the Declaration of the Báb. Or maybe your kids just love those stars! Either way, here is a collection of great star crafts, activities, and recipes that kids will love!
The Bahá’í Festival of Ridvan just began yesterday, and this year I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to focus on acts of kindness. Here is a simple activity that families can do together, by focusing on spreading joy during this most holy festival. I hope you enjoy this Ridvan coloring page with your loved ones!
Ridvan Coloring Page: Acts of Kindness
Here is a simple activity that families can do for Ridvan to celebrate doing acts of kindness. Just download your Ridvan coloring page by clicking on the image below, then they can color in a rose each time they do an act of kindness during Ridvan.
You can find tons of ideas for acts of kindness on my Pinterest board, and I’d love to see yours! Share in the comments below or on my Facebook page, and have a wonderful Ridvan!
This diversity craft is easy to do and uses materials you probably already have! More importantly, it teaches children about unity in diversity, and how we can celebrate our differences while still coming together to create something beautiful. For those getting ready for Ayyám-i-Há, the nine-pointed stars also make a great decoration!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Diversity Craft for Kids: Easy Nine Pointed Stars
Today more and more people are coming to appreciate the joys and strengths in our diversity. Yet others confuse this celebration of differences as fundamentally divisive. This simple diversity craft teaches children that this does not have to be the case!
When we recognize our essential unity as a human family, there is nothing to fear from recognizes our differences. Instead, we can celebrate them. After all, what a boring world it would be if we were all the same!
This diversity craft teaches children about unity in diversity in a visual way, and it’s incredibly easy to do.
Why a nine pointed star? First, it lets you use three different colors, so it’s very beautiful! Also, since nine is the highest single digit, it is often used as a symbol of unity.
What You Need:
Tissue paper in at least three colors. You can also use Kite Paper, which is less likely to wrinkle and so makes for even more beautiful stars.
Tape – regular tape works fine, but if you have double-sided, even better!
Piece of light weight cardboard (like from a cereal box)
Ahead of time, trace a nine pointed star onto the light weight cardboard. Separately, use the nine pointed star to trace just one of the star’s triangles. (Just trace the points from the star then connect them to make a triangle). Cut out both the star and the triangle to make your templates.
Use the triangle template to cut out triangles from the tissue paper, 3 per star. (Depending on the age of the children, they can do this step or you can prep ahead of time).
Have the children each pick out three triangles, each triangle of a different color.
Using the star template to see how to position the triangles, have them layer the triangles on top of each other to make a nine pointed star. Use tape between each layer. If you don’t have double side tape, just make a little loop out of the tape so that it sticks to both triangles. Note: I originally used glue instead of tape, but it ends up looking mottled even when dry, so I don’t recommend it.
Now you have a cute, multicolored nine pointed star! What’s beautiful about them is that the three colors are seen distinctly in each of the points, but – especially when you hold the star up to the light – the colors also blend to make new shades together! A super simple but powerful way to teach children about the beauty of unity in diversity.
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
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!