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.
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!
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.
As a follow up to last week’s stained glass heart craft for the Birth of the Báb, today I’m sharing a craft for the upcoming Bahá’í holy day the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh. This is an easy movable sun craft, which anyone can make as a cheerful decoration, or you can customize it with a quotation for the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.
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.
Movable Sun Craft: Birth of Baha’u’llah
The Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Mirza Husayn Ali, is customarily known by the title Bahá’u’lláh, which is Arabic for “the Glory of God.” For this craft for the upcoming Bahá’í holy day celebrating the anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth, I have focused on the word “glory,” here represented by the sun.
This craft is an easy one to do at home with your child or to do with a group of children in a class or at a holy day event. If you do, please share your photos! You can either share on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram (@alldonemonkey).
Materials (per child)
3 sheets of construction paper or colored card stock
To make this movable sun craft for a class of 3-6 year olds, I prepped ahead by doing steps 1 and 2, as well as the final step. You may decide to have your students or child do those steps with you, depending on their age and attention span.
1. Stack your sheets of colored paper. Trace a large circle on the top layer and cut out the shape so that you have three identical circles, one from each sheet of paper.
2. Leave your yellow circle as is. Fold your white circle in half, lightly crease it then open again. Fold in half the opposite direction. Cut along the line of your first crease except cut a small quarter circle as you approach the edge of your new fold.
When you open it again, you should have a semi-circle topped with a small semi-circle in the middle (almost like a little UFO!). The small semi-circle will be the base of the rising sun.
3. Have the children color the smaller semi-circle either orange or yellow, to represent the sun.
4. Next, cut your orange sheet into rays. You can let the children cut the rays themselves in whatever pattern they wish, just as long as they cut out some pieces, so that when it is placed on top of the yellow circle, some of the yellow will show through. (In other words, don’t just cut a fringe by cutting slits all the way around).
If you would like a more even pattern, you can fold the orange circle in half, then in half again, and then once more. Cut out a “V” in the middle of this triangle, making it as much in the middle as possible, so that the sides remaining are even.
5. Open the orange circle (if folded) then glue onto the yellow circle.
6. Place the white sheet on top and secure them all together with a round fastener right in the middle, so that the sun can spin.
7. If you are just making the movable sun craft as a fun decoration, you can stop – you’re done! However, if you are making it for the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh then write “Bahá” on four consecutive orange rays.
8. Spin the sun until “Bahá” is hidden then write “Glory” on five of the yellow rays. If you did the folded method of making the orange rays then you will have exactly the right number to write both phrases. Note that for “Glory” the first and last letters will be on half spaces, so that they don’t show when you spin to show the “Bahá” side.
9. Finally , on the white semi-circle, write the following quote (this could also be done ahead of time):
In anticipation of the upcoming Bahá’í holy day, here is an easy but beautiful stained glass heart craft for the Birth of the Báb we did in our children’s class. It only requires a few materials yet allows children to be creative and add their own personal touch on it.
Stained Glass Heart Craft: The Birth of the Bab
Next week, Bahá’ís will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of one of the Prophet-Founders of the Bahá’í Faith, known by His Arabic title, the Báb (“The Gate”). This stained glass heart craft is a fun activity for the holy day to use in a children’s class or at home. It makes a beautiful gated frame for a short prayer from the Báb.
Materials (per child):
1 sheet of card stock
1 block of contact paper, about the size of the sheet of card stock
Torn tissue paper of varying colors
For this stained glass heart craft, I did steps 1-6 myself ahead of time, to prep for a class of 3-6 year olds; however, if you are working with a child one on one or have a group of older children, you may choose to have them do some of these steps.
1. Fold the card stock in half cross-wise. Lightly crease then reopen.
2. Fold each end toward the crease mark so that they meet in the middle. This will be your gate. Sharply crease these edges then reopen the sheet.
3. Fold the card stock in half again (as you did originally) and cut out a large heart shape. Make sure not to pass the creases you just made in Step 2.
4. Take the cut out shape and make it smaller by cutting off about an inch all the way around. The amount you cut off will be the amount of space you have for the “stained glass” to show through.
5. On this smaller heart, write this short prayer (see below of a melody you can teach for this prayer):
O God, my God,
my heart’s Desire.
– The Báb
6. Fold the contact paper in half (with the sticky side facing in). Trim so that it is about the size of the back of the gate when refolded.
7. Peel the paper off of one half of the contact paper and have the children place the small heart with the quote in the center.
8. The children can then decorate the remaining area of the contact paper with the torn tissue paper. You may also wish to give them other items, such as glitter, to use.
They can fill the space completely or leave some spots empty, as they wish. Just make sure they leave room around the edges so that you can seal off their creation at the end. They should focus on decorating the center of their rectangle, as only the area around the heart will show through at the end.
9. When they are done, peel off the backing of the rest of the contact paper and fold it over the decorated area to seal it in.
10. Glue this sealed contact paper to the back of the gate, so that the small heart shows through in the center of the cut-out heart space.
Once you have finished, children could also decorate the rest of the gate frame with markers or stickers, if they wish.
Here is a melody for the above prayer that you can teach the children as well:
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.
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.
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.
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!
This book is part of the Basque Dragon book tour. Find out more in the links below!
Looking for a fun, easy decoration you can make with your child this holiday season? Here is a festive DIY ornament inspired by the Philippines that is fun to do and also reinforces those fine motor skills!
When it comes to “around the world” celebrations, I normally have a very hard choosing which country to research and present. This year, however, when it came time for our World Explorers Club holiday party, I knew exactly which country I wanted to showcase: the Philippines are known for their incredible holiday spirit and amazing Christmas celebrations, which start as early as September! That’s right, while the rest of us are thinking about back to school shopping, Filipinos are already busy decorating for Christmas!
One of the most iconic Philippine decorations is the parol, the gorgeous star lanterns originally used to light the way to early morning mass in the 9 days leading up to Christmas. (For those that speak Spanish, notice the similarity to the word farol, or lantern! This dates back to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines).
Welcome to our fifth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! This year each participating blogger will focus on a different country, sharing a traditional dish and more about Christmas in that country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016) plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest!