Aug 292018
 

Pretend play is a wonderful way for children to work out their problems, try out new ideas, and explore imaginative worlds. It is an important part of a child’s intellectual and emotional development, as well as an integral part of cherished childhood memories.

And it’s not just for the very young! We often associate pretend play with toddlers and preschoolers, but I find that it is just as important for older children, who still have big imaginations and often use pretend play as a way to unwind.

Encouraging Pretend Play: 3 Simple Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

Here are three simple tips for encouraging pretend play for your children, no matter what their age. You can also find below great books and music to set their imaginations on fire. Share your tips and resources in the comments!

Disclosure: I was sent complimentary copies 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.

Encouraging Pretend Play: 3 Simple Tips

Allow for Plenty of Free Time

This seems so obvious, yet it’s amazing how busy our schedules can be, especially when seen from a child’s perspective. If we are exhausted after shepherding our kids through schoolwork, errands, doctor’s appointments, etc., how do we think our children feel? Depending on your circumstances, opening up some free time for imaginative play may be as simple as a change in perspective, or it may mean a more fundamental restructuring of your schedule and perhaps cutting back on organized activities.

With my children I’ve found that they do better if they have plenty of downtime, whether it’s running around outdoors or playing with playdough or Legos. So, for example, in the mornings I make sure they get an hour of free play after breakfast so that it is easier for them to focus on schoolwork. Many children find pretend play a great way to decompress after school.

Provide Open Ended Toys

While my kids love toys with all the bells and whistles, to really encourage pretend play there is nothing better than open ended toys, which are great tools for children to project their imaginations. What this really means is to provide your children with toys that don’t have a set purpose but rather can be used in many different ways, such as sensory bins, building sets, or crayons and paper. Again, don’t put age limits on these toys – I’m always pleasantly surprised at how much my eight year old still loves playing with play dough.

And nothing could be simpler than getting outdoors! Nature is the ultimate playground for young imaginations, whether it’s out in the wild or at one of the many creative local parks.

Encouraging Pretend Play: 3 Simple Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

Incorporate Pretend Play into Your Day

Pretend play can introduce an element of fun into your everyday routine. My 5 year old regularly fights off storm troopers while we are at the grocery store, and your child could be a mermaid or a pirate during bath time. Many of our learning activities also incorporate some element of pretend play. For example, when we studied about knights and castles, we did a “knighting” ceremony and made shields and swords out of cardboard, followed by plenty of pretend play as knights!

Pretend play can also be a life saver if you are waiting at a doctor’s office or have a long car drive, though in those kind of spaces you might have to be more creative about what you can do!

Offer Big Ideas for Them to Dream with

A wonderful gift you can give your children is to introduce them to big ideas to excite their imaginations. In a way it is like giving them the vocabulary to dream with, the tools to construct their own imaginative worlds. Whether through exploring other cultures and cuisines, telling them tales from your childhood, or reading from great books together, these experiences of adventure and wonder will spark hours of pretend play!

Below are new wonderful books and music that are sure to expand children’s imaginative worlds and inspire pretend play!

How to Be a T-Rex

My son loves How to be a T. Rex! In fact, just the other day he was telling me he was scared to go into our back bedroom by himself, when he suddenly stood up straighter and said, “Wait! I’m going to be a T Rex!” and scampered off alone. Thank you, Ryan North!

This fun book is all about a dinosaur-loving kid (a little girl! an African American little girl!) who just wants to be a T Rex, even though her older brother says it’s impossible. Of course, she eventually realizes that being a T Rex also has its downsides, so she comes up with an even more creative solution! And even makes up with her brother when he apologizes 🙂

If You Want to Be a Pirate

Pirates are another set of classic characters that kids loved to act out. And now there is the perfect soundtrack! If You Want to Be a Pirate: Songs for Young Buccaneers is a brand new album of original songs from Tam Mason and the Blue Buccaneers. This group performs in costume (see below), often even on ships! This album was inspired by their youngest fans.

Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers

We have had so much fun listening to these swash-buckling tunes about parrots, a kindly kraken, and an invisible first mate. I also love that there’s even a song raising the environmental consciousness of young pirates, telling them that thanks to messy humanity you can’t see the treasure anymore because of all the trash.

If you have a pirate lover in your house, you won’t want to miss this album!

Sarabella’s Thinking Cap is a beautifully illustrated picture book for all of the day dreamers out there. I love it because it celebrates those children whose heads are perpetually in the clouds, at the same time as it offers ideas for how to help them function in a classroom setting. Thanks to her wise teacher, Sarabella isn’t shamed for having trouble focusing. Instead, he encourages her to come up with an invention that allows plenty of room for her imagination – and multiplication tables.

Mossby’s Magic Carpet Handbook: A Flyer’s Guide to Mossby’s Model D3 Extra-Small Magic Carpet (Especially for Young or Vertically Challenged People) is perfect for older children. My eight year old adores poring over the gorgeous illustrations and reading all of the detailed diagrams and instructions for flying magic carpets. He says he likes how realistic the book is, “which almost makes me think that it’s real.” This colorful guide covers everything from weather, spotting wild animals, recognizing things from above, and how “not to barf.” Just be sure to take the solemn magic carpet riders’ oath and follow the code of conduct, including only using your magic carpet for good.

How to Be a T Rex Blog Tour

This post is part of the blog tour for How to be a T. Rex, so don’t miss the other stops to promote this fun new picture book!

WEEK ONE

August 20 – Four Violet Reviews – Cooking Dino Grub

August 21 – Bookfoolery – Review

August 22 – The Kindergarten Connection – Creative Instagram Picture

August 23 – MaiStoryBook – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

August 24 – TheReadathon – Review

WEEK TWO

August 27 – Crayon Freckles – Learning Activity

August 28 – How Useful It Is – Review

August 29 – All Done Monkey – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

Jul 242018
 
 July 24, 2018  activities, Sacramento Comments Off on Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove

Looking for a fun play to take your kids when it’s just too hot outdoors? Here is our experience at a local indoor playground for young kids, where little ones can explore and enjoy no matter what the weather. And even better, local readers can win free passes in our #SummerFunSac challenge on Instagram, so don’t miss out!

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: We received complimentary passes to Imagine Play of Elk Grove for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove

Imagine Play of Elk Grove is an indoor playground for young children and a haven for parents and caregivers wanting to give kids a safe place to play and explore. Everything is perfectly sized for little ones and designed to spark imaginative play and sensory fun.

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.com

My toddler and I recently had a chance to visit, and she had an absolute ball! As the youngest of three, she reveled in having a play space full of toys and equipment designed just for younger children!

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.com

There was a castle with stairs to climb and a ball drop built into the side, a pirate ship, a grocery store set up, and more hands on, open ended toys than I have room to list.

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.com

And as if that weren’t enough, they also have art and sensory activities offered every hour on the half hour in a connecting room. My daughter loved playing with the kinetic sand!

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.comIndoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.com

Just be warned that if you bring a child to Imagine Play, they will not want to leave! Luckily, you can bring in a packed lunch and drinks (not in the main play area, but in the adjacent seated area), or purchase snacks, juice boxes, and water.

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.com

Parents must be present and supervising their children, but the space is designed so that you can comfortably do this from the seated area, while enjoying your complimentary coffee 🙂

Indoor Playground for Young Kids: Imagine Play of Elk Grove | Alldonemonkey.com

Can’t get enough? You could become a member, or host a party!

We loved our time at Imagine Play in Elk Grove, a wonderfully imaginative indoor playground for young children. Be sure to stop by, and don’t forget you could win free passes when you enter our Sacramento Summer Fun IG challenge!

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

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

Thunderbird: Native American Legend | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Thunderbird: Native American Legend

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

A Note About Sources

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

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

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

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

Thunderbird: What to Read

History of the Thunderbird symbol, especially in the Mississippian culture

A history of the modern Thunderbird jewelry of the US Southwest

Thunderers in Cherokee legend

Collection of Native stories about the Thunderbird

Thunderbird and Whale stories from the Pacific Northwest

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

Thunderbird: Where to Visit

Thunderbird: Native American Legend | Alldonemonkey.com

Thunderbird Park, Victoria, BC

Thunderbird Park in Victoria, British Columbia

Mythical Creatures for Kids

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

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

Unicorn Rescue Society

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

WEEK ONE

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK TWO

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles

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

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

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles | Alldonemonkey.com

Ingredients (makes 6+ popsicles)

4 cups of mango (frozen or fresh)

1 banana

honey to taste

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

1/2 cup shredded coconut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

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

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Mar 302018
 
 March 30, 2018  activities, Sacramento 2 Responses »

If you have kids that love airplanes, you won’t want to miss visiting the Aerospace Museum of California! Read more about our experience, plus learn about an incredible new resource for Sacramento families!

Aerospace Museum of California {Sacramento for Kids} | Alldonemonkey.com

Aerospace Museum of California

My kids are fascinated by all things that go, so I was excited to take them to the Aerospace Museum of California, located right here in Sacramento!

Aerospace Museum of California {Sacramento for Kids} | Alldonemonkey.com

Highlights

Built on the grounds of the former McClellan Air Force Base, the Aerospace Museum consists primarily of a large, open exhibit hall plus outdoor space with 50+ aircrafts!

Aerospace Museum of California {Sacramento for Kids} | Alldonemonkey.com

Weather permitting, several of these are open every day for visitors to explore. When we visited, we got to climb aboard the “Jolly Green Giant,” a helicopter from the Vietnam War; a FedEx delivery plane; a Coast Guard aircraft; and (my favorite) a World War II era plane that flew supply missions during the invasion of Europe. Nothing teaches you history like being inside the actual aircraft that took part!

Aerospace Museum of California {Sacramento for Kids} | Alldonemonkey.com

Related Post: Sutter’s Fort – Sacramento History for Families

Back inside, there are even more aircraft (and engines) to see, plus rotating exhibits on different topics – the current exhibit is the Art of the Airport Tower. My kids loved getting into the training craft – which were actually used to train pilots – and pretending they were flying a plane!

Aerospace Museum of California {Sacramento for Kids} | Alldonemonkey.com

My oldest son’s favorite part, though, was the Morphis Simulator Ride. It is a mini-theater inside of an aircraft, which moves as you watch a short film about flight or space. (This is an additional cost from admission).

If you bring a toddler, you will need to watch them like a hawk in the main exhibit areas. Many of the aircraft on the exhibit floor are marked off with just a chain – an obvious “no touching” signal for most people, but not for a curious toddler! I actually ended up putting my two year old in a stroller as we went through these areas. Luckily there are several areas set up just for kids where she was able to play and really get a more hands on experience. She loved climbing up into the mini-aircraft and playing with the controls!

Aerospace Museum of California {Sacramento for Kids} | Alldonemonkey.com

There is a small but well-stocked Kids Zone upstairs geared toward younger children. It is gated but open to the main exhibit floor so that parents can relax and enjoy the view while their kids are enjoying themselves with the many airplane-themed puzzles, toys, and art stations.

What made the visit special for me was chatting with the docents. These older gentlemen are so knowledgeable and really have a love for the aircraft. One told me that every time his wife goes to an outlet mall, he finds an airport to visit – win win! And they are all so patient with children and love to answer questions, so be sure to take advantage of this amazing resource!

Related Post: Sacramento Day Trip – Sonoma Mission

Planning Your Visit

How long you will spend here really depends on your child’s age and level of interest. My 5 year old was ready to leave after about an hour and a half, whereas my 8 year old could have easily stayed longer than the 2 hours we were there.

Aerospace Museum of California {Sacramento for Kids} | Alldonemonkey.com

Luckily Freedom Park is right next door, so I recommend packing a lunch (there’s nowhere to eat close by) and having a nice picnic lunch and playtime at the park after the museum or to break up a longer visit. (You can exit and re-enter the museum). Keep in mind that this park is one of the few in Sacramento without a shade cover, so it gets very hot in warm weather, so you’ll want to make sure you visit it earlier in the day during the summer.

I definitely recommend visiting the Aerospace Museum of California for hands on, real world learning about aviation!

Sacramento for Kids

Disclaimer: 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.

Long-time readers know how much I love to get out an explore the Sacramento area with my kids, but not having grown up here, I sometimes feel at a disadvantage. No more! Now I have in my hands an incredible new resource for families in Sacramento. No matter what your children’s interests or ages, you will find tons of ideas for family fun in 1,001 Things to Do in Sacramento with Kids (& the Young at Heart).

Whether you love nature or art, sports or festivals, you will find lots to enjoy in 1,001 Things to Do in Sacramento with Kids (& the Young at Heart)! I also love that the book includes activities that encompass a wide range of ages, so this book can be enjoyed by your family for many years to come.

At first I wished that the book were organized into themes, but I’ve come to appreciate the intentional randomness of the list. As the author notes, often the best adventures are actually a tangent from what you meant to do! This book is great for spring break or weekend adventures. My kids and I had a lot of fun just flipping through the book to see which ones we have done and just how many we have left to do! (The Aerospace Museum is #36 on the list, by the way!)

1,001 Things to Do in Sacramento with Kids (& the Young at Heart) is the ultimate bucket list for Sacramento families. I can’t wait for all of the adventures ahead of us!

You can find the book on Amazon or check out the website and now even the app (available on Apple and Google Play).

Mar 272018
 
 March 27, 2018  activities, Book Reviews, Education Comments Off on Toddler Activities to Get Out and Explore!

Looking for creative toddler activities that encourage their curiosity and engage their little minds and hands in fun but meaningful ways? Read on for a wonderful new resource that helps parents and teachers go on everyday adventures with their little ones in ways that everyone can enjoy!

Toddler Activities to Get Out and Explore! | Alldonemonkey.com

Toddler Activities to Get Out and Explore!

Toddlers love to explore, and as parents and teachers we often struggle to encourage this curiosity in manageable ways. As much as we might want to go on adventures with our toddlers, it can be overwhelming to try to think ahead about how to create a safe learning environment at, for instance, a national park. More fundamentally, many of us need to shift our perspective to see even everyday outings like going to the post office as the adventures that they represent for our little ones.

Toddler Activities to Get Out and Explore! | Alldonemonkey.com

That is why I am so excited to share with you a new resource for toddler activities that helps parents and teachers take advantage of everyday opportunities for learning as well as try new adventures with their toddlers!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Little Walks, Big Adventures 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.

Little Walks, Big Adventures: 50+ Ideas for Exploring With Toddlers is a welcome resource for caregivers of these curious little people. It takes everyday outings like a trip to the grocery store or a walk through your neighborhood and helps you shift your perspective to see it as the big adventures they represent for someone so new to the world.

Moreover, it provides considerations for each (such as the best times of day to visit, how to accommodate children with special needs, and how to scout out appropriate locations ahead of time) so that your adventure is enjoyable for everyone. The author has extensive experience as a parent as well as a caregiver, so she has practical suggestions for going on adventures with your own children or at a care center, including thinking of allergies and when to ask for permission from parents ahead of time.

I also love that it includes locations I wouldn’t have thought of. For example, I love taking my animal-loving girl to the zoo, but it hadn’t occurred to me to take her to the pet store!

Related Post: Toddler Letter Craft and Activity: G Is for Go!

The adventures are broken up by general interests into four groups – home and community, vehicles, animals, and our world. And for each adventure – whether it is a trip to a farm or a train ride – there are suggestions for toddler activities to do while you’re there as well as once you’re home, along with suggestions of how to adapt them for older or younger toddlers.

Toddler Activities to Get Out and Explore! | Alldonemonkey.com

We recently went to a local bakery we hadn’t tried before – an adventure for all of us, including my toddler! Following the book’s suggestions, I made sure to let my toddler take her time to look at all of the choices and pick out her own treat. As it turns out, she was more interested at looking around the lobby, which is fine, too! Little Walks, Big Adventures is great at reminding us to follow the child’s lead and notice what they are interested in rather than impose our own ideas.

Once we were home, I did one of the extension activities suggested in the book: making cupcakes out of play dough! Again, the emphasis is on following the child’s interests and focusing on the process, rather than the product. In other words, if their “cupcakes” aren’t perfect, who cares? Or if they decide they’d rather make little animals or just feel the lovely squishiness of the play dough in their fingers, that’s fine.

Toddler Activities to Get Out and Explore! | Alldonemonkey.com

Related Post: 10 Tips for Painting with a Toddler

My older kids loved it, too! In fact, I foresee that we as a family will be enjoying many of these adventures together, because they speak to the wonder and curiosity all of us still have, though sometimes we have to be reminded of it!

As a homeschooler, I treasure Little Walks, Big Adventures because it is an easy way to incorporate “tot schooling” into our everyday routines and helps me to remember to include our littlest member in our family adventures.

Whether you are a parent or a caregiver, Little Walks, Big Adventures is an incredible resource for toddler activities that encourages you to take adventures with toddlers and explore the big world together.

Mar 182018
 
 March 18, 2018  activities, Book Reviews 4 Responses »

We are all familiar with the benefits to children of participating in sports, benefits especially crucial to girls in today: self-confidence, teamwork, positive body image, leadership skills, resilience, social connection, and community awareness. That’s why keeping girls in sports should be a focus for anyone interested in nurturing these qualities in our girls.

Yet did you know that girls drop out of sports at an astounding 6 times the rate of boys? For every 100 girls that plays sports in elementary school only 2 will play in college.

That’s why I’m thrilled to introduce to you a new book from a dynamo team of a professional coach and an experienced mom, all about how to keep girls in sports!

Keeping Girls in Sports: a review of How to Coach Girls | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of How to Coach Girls 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.

Keeping Girls in Sports: How to Coach Girls Book Review

Do you want to encourage your daughter to have positive qualities like leadership, positive body image, and resilience? Sports is one of the key ways to do this, yet girls drop out of sports at an alarming rate, often just when they reach the age that it would most benefit them.

That’s why Alison Foley, Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Boston College, and Mia Wenjen, parenting and education blogger at PragmaticMom and mother of two daughters, conceived of the idea to write a manual for professional and volunteer coaches on how to coach girls by making sports enjoyable and relevant for them.

How to Coach Girls contains practical advice and tips for professional and volunteer coaches on how to keep girls in sports. For example, both emphasize the need to coach the whole person by, for instance, leaving time for girls to bond socially with each other. The book’s 22 chapters focus on major issues such as picking captains, encouraging a growth mindset, body image, and even how to coach your own daughter.

What I really love about this book is that it is based on solid experience – Mia’s experience of raising two girls (and a boy) who play sports and Alison’s professional expertise as a coach on the collegiate level. For example, Alison shares which team building exercises have been most successful for her athletes, and Mia shares her observations about what has helped build her daughter’s self-confidence when starting on a new team.

Throughout the book, and in a special chapter at the end, you will find anecdotes and tips from professional coaches from a range of sports, including former Olympian athletes, on what girls need from a coach to allow them to flourish in sports, and most importantly, have fun.

So if you care about keeping girls in sports, you won’t want to miss this wonderful new book, How to Coach Girls!

HOW TO COACH GIRLS

Order HOW TO COACH GIRLS

To learn more, please check out How To Coach Girls website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

So what can be done to retain girls in sports? The answers and so much more can be found in How to Coach Girls. I am so proud to be able to support my friend Mia while also offering such a well-written guide that help parents and coaches understand the needs and tactics to make sports fun while cultivating WINNERS.

Other Stops on the HTCG Blog Tour:

Shelly Bean the Sports Queen-February 22

Wise Owl Factory-March 1

The Conscious Kid– March 2

Jump Into a Book-March 3

Books My Kids Read-March 4

Ms Yingling Reads-March 5

Youth Lit Reviews-March 6

Miss Panda Chinese-March 8

Biracial Bookworms-March 9

Mom of all Capes-March 10

Franticmommy-March 11

Randomly Reading-March 12

Here Wee Read-March 13

DawnDavis.com-March 14

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Feb 212018
 
 February 21, 2018  Kid Fun, multiculturalism, Purim 14 Responses »

Are you excited for Purim? Here are some ideas for throwing a Purim party everyone will enjoy, including an amazing new Purim album for kids! So whether your kids are already familiar with Purim or learning about it for the first time, here are fun ideas and resources to plan a Purim party your kids will love. And don’t miss the big GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Purimania by Danna Banana; however, all opinions are my own.

Plan a Purim Party Your Kids Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Plan a Purim Party Your Kids Will Love

What Is Purim?

The origins of the Jewish holiday Purim go back to the Persian Empire in the 4th Century BCE. After King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed because she didn’t follow his orders, he held a beauty contest to find a new queen. The winner, Esther, was at first careful not to reveal to the king that she was Jewish, yet she was destined to become  heroine for her people.

The problems began when her cousin Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, refused to bow to Haman, the Prime Minister. Furious, Haman influenced the king and set into motion a plan to kill all of the Jews. Yet Mordecai convinced Esther to intercede with the king, a very dangerous task, since anyone who visited the king without being summoned could be put to death. Yet Esther showed true courage by speaking to the king, who turned against the wicked Haman. Haman was put to death and replaced as prime minister by Mordechai. The Jewish people were saved and were finally allowed to defend themselves against their enemies.

How to Celebrate

Purim is a joyous celebration of Esther’s bravery and the triumph of good over evil. Purim starts Wednesday night, February 28 and continues through Thursday, March 1, 2018, in the US (ends March 2 in Israel). Here are some great ways to help your kids celebrate Purim and learn more about this fun holiday. (Read more in this wonderful how-to guide).

Plan a Purim Party Your Kids Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Costumes

Purim is perhaps best known for the fun costumes that everyone wears. While traditionally people dressed up only as Esther, Mordechai, or the King, these days you can wear any costume you like!

Food

Try your hand at making hamantaschen, the triangular cookies thought to represent Haman’s triangle-shaped hat. There are so many variations to love! People also send gifts of food and drinks to friends during Purim, to reinforce bonds of friendship and community.

Service to Others

Purim is also a time to think of the less fortunate. Why not do a food drive at your Purim party or collect donations for a local charity?

Books

At the heart of Purim is the story of Queen Esther herself and how she saved the Jewish people. Read more about her as well as other Purim stories in this collection of Purim books for kids.

Crafts

Make your own grogger, a special noise maker to use when you read the Purim story, so you can boo and make lots of noise whenever Haman is mentioned! Another fun activity is to color in and use these printable Purim puppets.  Don’t miss these other free Purim printables, including masks and coloring pages.

Music

And just in time for Purim is a new album from award-winning family performer Danna Banana, writer of classics like “The Goofball” and “Suddenly Summer.” Purimania is a stellar collection of tunes old and new celebrating Purim. (See details below on how you can enter to win your own copy – plus a $25 Amazon gift card!)

Danna Banana is a well-loved performer with six albums out and numerous performances across the country. He is a John Lennon Songwriting Grand Prize Winner and named New York Magazine’s Best Party Entertainer. The New York Post called him a ‘ripe talent’ and a mom in New Jersey called him ’a piñata of listening pleasure’. Trained as an opera singer, he sang leading roles all over the country in such operas as La Boheme, Don Giovanni, and Carmen before turning his talents to children’s music.

While most of Danna Banana’s work is non-denominational music for kids, among his earlier albums include Bananukah!, a celebration of Hanukah. That album’s success prompted him to create Purimania.

As in Bananukah!, Purimania mixes traditional songs with his own tuneful originals. Mr. Banana offers lively versions of classics like “In Shushan”, “Wicked Man”, and “Hag Purim” while “The Purimania Song” offers up his own whimsical version of the Purim story. In “Hamantaschen Party”, he uses recipes for Hamantaschen, the traditional cookie of Purim, as his lyric– both regular and gluten-free!

My kids and I have been listening to Purimania over and over – it is irresistible! The songs on this album are sure to add the element of fun to any Purim party and make everyone – adults and kids – want to get up and dance!

Check out Purimania! It’s the funniest, most danceable Purim music ever! Let’s party like it’s 330 B.C.! Here’s the title video:

Visit https://www.dannabanana.com/ for music purchase info.

Social Channels:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dannabanana123

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dannabanana123

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/dannabanana123

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/danna-banana/5049666

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/74v630qTDZTHMNcljo12Kj

Hashtag:

#purimania

GIVEAWAY

And now for our big giveaway! One lucky reader will win a digital copy of Purimania plus a $25 Amazon gift card! All you need to do to enter is comment below with your favorite character from the Purim story.

Giveaway ends Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at midnight PT. Winner chosen by random drawing.

Jan 302018
 
 January 30, 2018  food, Kid Fun Comments Off on Kid-Friendly Game Day Party Ideas

Getting ready for the big game this weekend? Throw a bash the whole family will enjoy with these kid-friendly game day party ideas! From crafts and activities to food and decorations, we’ve got you covered! Includes a review of a great non-alcoholic drink everyone will love.

Kid-Friendly Game Day Party Ideas | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received samples of Bottoms Up for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Kid-Friendly Game Day Party Ideas

Anyone else excited for the big game this weekend?? More than just a sports game, it is also an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Here are some kid-friendly game day party ideas, so you can make sure everyone is having fun! Plus don’t miss our review of a great new drink that the whole family will enjoy.

Crafts & Activities

Lego Football with Folded Paper Footballs from Fireflies and Mudpies

Free Printable Football Bingo from Sunny Day Family

Football Charades from The Joys of Boys

Football Relay from Pink Oatmeal

Printable Outburst Game for Football Fans from The Life of Jennifer Dawn

Football Counting Game for Preschoolers from Sunny Day Family

Football Brain Breaks from Pink Oatmeal

Football Sensory Bin from Fantastic Fun & Learning

Football I-Spy from Simple Fun for Kids

Rumble and Tumble Football Craft from Raising Little Superheroes

Decorations

Big Game Football Party Decorations & Free Printables from Spaceships and Laser Beams

Easy Football Field Tablecloth from See Vanessa Craft

Party Foods

Graham Cracker Football Fields from Arts & Crackers

Football Inspired Chocolate Dipped Pretzels from Artsy Momma

DIY Football Field Super Bowl Party Cake from Spaceships and Laser Beams

Super Bowl Cookie Recipe from Spaceships and Laser Beams

Easy Pita Football Appetizer from The Soccer Mom Blog

Game Day Snack Mix from See Vanessa Craft

Easy Game Day Snacking from Raising Lifelong Learners

20 Game Day Wing Recipes from Makeovers & Motherhood

Kid-Friendly Game Day Party Ideas | Alldonemonkey.com

Bottoms Up Ginger Beer: Kid-Friendly Drink

We love ginger beer, that spicy non-alcoholic brew that makes a great party drink. So I was super excited to have a chance to review the brand new Bottoms Up Ginger Beer from a company that really knows its ginger – The Ginger People!

Bottoms Up Ginger Beer gets its stellar flavor from high quality, unfiltered ginger juice and just the right touch of sweetness. This premium drink is something you can feel good serving to all of your guests, even the little ones, as it contains absolutely no alcohol, is vegan friendly, and GMO free. Even better, it now has less sugar (and so fewer calories) than previous batches!

Kid-Friendly Game Day Party Ideas | Alldonemonkey.com

Enjoy it as is, or try mixing it with some juice!

So if you’re looking for a great kid-friendly drink for your game day party, be sure to check out Bottoms Up Ginger Beer, and have fun watching the big game this weekend!

Jan 092018
 
 January 9, 2018  activities, Geography, raising world citizens Comments Off on Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market

Want to explore the world with your kids? Looking for fun, safe games online that actually teach something to your child? Here is a great new multicultural app for kids that everyone will love!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

This post is sponsored by Hearts for Hearts Girls; however, all opinions are my own.

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market

Those of us with daughters often commiserate about the type of games that are targeted towards girls – all frills and rainbows without much substance. That is why I was so excited to learn about Hearts for Hearts Girls, whose mission is “to empower girls to become agents of change in their communities, their countries, and around the world. We want to change the world one heart at a time, and you can be a part of that dream!”

Already known for their beautiful diverse dolls, now Hearts for Hearts Girls has launched an incredibly fun multicultural app for kids! The graphics are colorful and engaging, and the games themselves will definitely keep your child’s interest.

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

Kids can choose among 4 different characters who live in communities around the globe – India, Mexico, USA, and Ethiopia. In each community, you choose missions (games) – such as making music, playing soccer, or catching raindrops – that help build bring each neighborhood to life. Along the way, your child will learn about the culture of the place and the story of the character that lives there.

Related Post: Spanish App to Teach Language and Culture

My kids’ favorite games so far as herding ducks (India) and the bakery (Mexico), but I can tell we’ve just scratched the surface. There are an incredible 100+ missions for more than 40 hours of exploring and playing!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

And if your kids love fashion, they will enjoy dressing up the girls in more than 25 mix and match fashions, plus fabrics and templates to create their own.

I also have to comment about how much I loved the music. Usually when my kids are playing online I have to turn the volume down, because the music is so annoying, but with this multicultural app for kids, we actually turned the volume up, so we could listen to the wonderful global music!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

But as a mom, what I really loved is that Heart Street Market is play with purpose – the 100+ missions available are all aimed towards helping 4 characters from around the world make a difference in their local communities. In fact, Hearts for Hearts Girls is partnered with World Vision® for programs that support gender equality, education, infrastructure, and humanitarian aid. So while you are having fun playing Heart Street Market, you are actually making a difference in the real world!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

I should also add that though the app seems targeted more towards girls, my sons loved it. My 8 year old said it was “super fun,” while my 5 year old just said “mm-hmm” and kept on playing!

Multicultural App for Kids: Heart Street Market | Alldonemonkey.com

I highly recommend Heart Street Market for global learning fun and play with purpose (though your kids will just think of it as fun!) Find it on Google Play and iTunes and follow them on Facebook!

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