Apr 182019
 

Want to raise children with healthy self-esteem? Of course, we all do! Below some wonderful children’s books and music that will help reinforce a positive self-image in children and remind them that they are surrounded by unconditional love. These beautiful resources reinforce your own efforts, inspiring your child to love themselves and their own unique ways.

Inspiring Your Child to Love Themselves | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books and music 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.

Inspiring Your Child to Love Themselves

My children adore You Can Be. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve read it together. It has just the right blend of silliness and inspiration, teaching children that there are many ways to be a kid – funny, sensitive, smelly, grumpy – and that they can be anything they want to be – except mean or rude, of course! I love the diverse children depicted in this simple picture book, as well as how it works very hard to not reinforce gender stereotypes. For example, it is a boy that is shown to be sensitive, crying over an emotional book, and another boy shown to be caring, by watching out for a younger child. And “dirty” is exemplified by a girl playing on the ground with a truck, and “smelly” is demonstrated by a girl tooting (my kids always crack up at that one!) A lovely book inspiring your child to love themselves however they feel like being that day!

Reading That’s Me Loving You to your child is the verbal equivalent of wrapping them in a big, warm hug. It is a wonderful way to remind little ones that even when you are apart, your love always surrounds them. Best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses beautiful imagery from nature to emphasize this point, “That shimmering star?/That’s me winking at you./That drifting cloud?/That’s me thinking of you.” A sweet book to share with younger children, especially if they are just starting school or daycare.

Do you have a child that’s fallen behind on the growth curve, or who feels like they can never catch up to older siblings? Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) is a great book to show children that while being small may have its challenges – like not being able to reach high shelves or being chosen last in sports games – it also has many advantages – like having more leg room on a plane or being able to squeeze into small spaces you want to explore.

I love the obvious love the mother shows to her daughter as she comforts and encourages her, as well as the little touches that demonstrate how loved she is, like the girl’s self-portrait hanging on the wall that show her as a princess surrounded by hearts. It is a wonderful way of inspiring your child to love themselves in whatever kind of body they are in, big or small!

Love Is Te Quiero, now available for pre-order, is a lovely album of bilingual English and Spanish music from award-winning artist Alina Celeste. Love Is Te Quiero is a celebration of hyphenated heritage (Celeste herself is Cuban-American) and love in two languages, inspired by her hometown of Miami. This is reflected in the language mixing in the title itself, which many Spanglish households like ours will immediately recognize! (As my son once put it, “I te amo you, too, Mommy! I te amo everyone in the whole world!”) The music is also a joyous blend of influences, interweaving bluegrass, Caribbean, Latina American, and contemporary styles. For this collection Celeste draws inspiration from sources as diverse as a Civil War-era ditty, an old Caribbean nursery rhyme, and a 20th century Spanish children’s song. One of my favorites is Chito and Abu, a melodic celebration of childhood friendship.

Celeste is also a champion of a cause close to my heart, bilingualism. In fact, she co-founded the Being Bilingual Rocks Foundation, which advocates not only for learning multiple languages but also for engaging with other cultures.

What is your favorite way of inspiring your child to love themselves?

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Mar 142019
 
 March 14, 2019  music 4 Responses »

We are a very music loving family: It’s rare that someone isn’t listening to a recording or humming a tune (or screaming it over-enthusiastically, in one child’s case!) Some of the most contested negotiations among my children are who gets to have the first turn choosing the music in the car – even when we are driving literally 10 minutes to the park or library. So I love to get to introduce my family to wonderful new music for kids. Who knew there were so many great artists out there recording for children these days??

Below is our take on new music for kids that you won’t want to miss! Be sure to scroll all the way down to find out how to enter to win your own copy of one of these incredible albums!

Colorful New Music for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the music 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.

Colorful New Music for Kids

The Family in Harmony album from Super Stolie is literally a celebration of color, a beautiful metaphor for how we are all different yet come together to make a beautiful rainbow. I just love her voice, showcased on songs like the title track “Family in Harmony” and the lovely “Peace Like a River.” My kids especially enjoy the silly “Chicken in the Kitchen,” and of course I love that the mix of Spanish on several of the songs. And parents everywhere will appreciate having a song (“Will You Get My Back?”) about remembering to wear your sunscreen! Now you can also get a Super Stolie Family in Harmony: Read-Along, Sing-Along Lyric Book to go along with the album. It’s a great way to practice literacy skills while you enjoy the music! 

Swamp Romp is a lovely, rollicking tribute to the music of New Orleans. Johnette Downing and Scott Billington are true enthusiasts, and their knowledge of the area’s music (and their talent for playing it) is deep. Swamp Romp encompasses a dizzying variety of musical styles, all brought into harmony by the unifying thread of Downing’s vocal talents and songwriting prowess, as well as an abiding respect and love for New Orleans. My personal favorites are the bilingual “J’ai vu le loup, le renard et la belette” and the gorgeous “Star in My Sky.” This album is truly an education, but also wickedly fun. In addition to the talents of Downing and Billington, it features an impressive array of local musicians, including one known for playing the washboard! For grown ups and older kids (and teachers), I highly recommend the liner notes, which I enjoyed almost as much as the music itself! For example, do you know the origin of the name of the “po’ boy” sandwich, or that there was a community of Canary Islanders in New Orleans (Isleños)? 

From the moment we started playing Buenos Diaz, I knew it would be in constant rotation at our house. All of the songs are so much FUN! This is an album that I listen to even when my kids aren’t around, just because I enjoy it so much. As every song starts, I think, “I’m going to be singing this one all day!” The album (releasing April 5th) is available for pre-sales, but if you want a taste of what I’m talking about, you don’t have to wait! Just check out this fun video they just released, a tribute to Mexican sweet bread, pan dulce. Many of the songs on the album are in Spanish, and others a fun Spanglish mix, and perhaps for this reason they can play with some of the stereotypes about Mexico, like instant classic “Nacho Cheese” or the dance party tune “Taco Tuesday.” The music on this album is stellar, part of why Alt.Latino chose “Pan Dulce” as one of their weekly picks. Scroll to the end of the post for details on how you can enter to win your own copy!

Building Blocks celebrates all those magical milestones of childhood, like learning to ride a bike or starting a new school. It acknowledges the difficulty of each new challenge but also encourages children to trust themselves and “Jump Right In” to every new endeavor. This album from Grammy Award winning artist Tim Kubart is filled with energy and enthusiasm, though I also love the more laid-back, Jason Mraz vibe of “Oopsie-Do!,” which reminds kids that everyone makes mistakes. The catchy pop tunes on this album deliver an important message to kids who are starting to stretch their wings – that because they are surrounded by love, taking flight might be scary but also exciting and well worth the effort. (As a side note, among his many accomplishments, Kubart wrote the Sesame Street song “We Can All Be Friends,” which introduced the show’s first character with autism!)

Related Posts:

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New Children’s Music Review

 

Giveaway!

And now you can enter to win some of this incredible new music for kids for your family! We are giving away a copy of Buenos Diaz to one lucky winner. (If in the US, winner will receive a physical disk; if outside the US, winner will receive a digital download). To enter, just comment below to let us know what music your family loves listening to together. Contest ends Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at midnight PT. Winner will be chosen by random drawing.

Dec 072018
 
 December 7, 2018  music, recipes, Winter Comments Off on 20+ Kid-Friendly Winter Drinks to Keep the Whole Family Cozy

As we settle into colder weather, we all could use a little something to warm us up. Here are 20+ kid-friendly winter drinks to keep the whole family feeling cozy and snug this winter! And don’t miss our review of a fabulous new children’s album that will help everyone beat cabin fever all winter long!

20+ Kid-Friendly Winter Drinks to Keep the Whole Family Cozy | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Winterland 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.

20+ Kid-Friendly Winter Drinks to Keep the Whole Family Cozy

Enjoy these kid-friendly winter drinks, including egg nog, hot chocolate, apple cider, tea, and more!

Haitian Pineapple Nog from All Done Monkey

Coquito: Puerto Rican Egg Nog from Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

Magic Milk from Multicultural Kid Blogs

Spiced Vanilla Oatmeal Steamer from All Done Monkey

Homemade White Hot Chocolate from Crayons & Cravings

White Hot Chocolate with Polar Bear Marshmallows from Gluesticks Blog

Oreo Creme White Hot Chocolate from The Soccer Mom Blog

Jaggery Hot Chocolate from Multicultural Kid Blogs

Pink Velvet Hot Chocolate from Crayons & Cravings

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate from Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Monster Hot Chocolate from Easy Peasy Fun

Mint Hot Chocolate from Happiness is Homemade

Healthy Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate from In the Kids Kitchen

Mexican Hot Chocolate from MommyMaestra

Guatemalan Hot Cocoa from Global Table Adventure

Chai Tea Latte from Let the Journey Begin

Moroccan Tea from Kid World Citizen

Kahwa: Indian Tea from Maple & Marigold

Holiday Cheer Cozy Drink from Bicultural Mama

Holiday Spice Wassail from Gluesticks Blog

Cranberry Apple Cider from Salt & Baker

Fizzy Crockpot Apple Cider from In the Kids Kitchen

What are your favorite kid-friendly winter drinks?

New Children’s Album for Winter Fun

Just in time for the cold weather is a new album of 16 original songs from GRAMMY® Award-winning The Okee Dokee Brothers. Winterland is an upbeat, toe tapping album that celebrates everything that is glorious about winter, from playing out in the snow to getting to know a Yeti. My favorite is “Keep Me Warm,” (see the video on their YouTube channel), while my kids keep requesting “The Abominable Yeti.” (I love the rhymes on that one!)

This fun loving pair of childhood friends will catch children up in the excitement of exploring and enjoying the outdoors in winter. In a time where children often experience the world via screens, it’s refreshing to have music that takes us back to the wonders of nature and appreciating the changing seasons.

The Okee Dokee Brothers will also be celebrating the album’s release with several family concerts, so see if you can catch a live performance!

 

Nov 092018
 
 November 9, 2018  music, Sacramento 4 Responses »

Did you grow up singing along to “Down by the Bay” or help your kids “Shake My Sillies Out” to Raffi’s infectious tunes? Then you won’t want to miss his live show, coming soon to a city near you! I’ve got all the concert details, plus a giveaway for my Sacramento readers, so just keep scrolling down while you eat, eat, eat your “Apples and Bananas”!

Raffi Live in Concert in Sacramento - Giveaway! | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the music below and tickets to the concert 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. 

For four decades Raffi has delighted audiences at his concerts and through his numerous albums, and now is your chance to share his music live with your little ones! Raffi is on tour now, singing from his beloved classics as well as his brand new 15-song album, Dog On The Floor (see my full review). Proceeds from his concerts benefit the Centre For Child Honoring.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see Raffi live in concert! For my Sacramento readers, scroll to the end to see how you can enter to win your own tickets!

Remaining dates are as follows:

Sunday, November 24, 2018 – Sacramento, CA – Crest Theatre – 1:00 PM (SOLD OUT), 4:00 PM

Sunday, November 25, 2018 – Glendale, CA – Alex Theatre – 1:00 PM

Saturday, January 19, 2019 – Tampa, FL – Tampa Theatre – 1:00 PM

Sunday, January 20, 2019 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Parker Playhouse – 1:00 PM

Saturday, March 2, 2019 – Calgary, AB – Jack Singer Concert Hall – 1:00 PM & 4:00 PM

Sunday, March 3, 2019 – Edmonton, AB – Winspear Centre – 1:00 PM

Saturday, March 16, 2019 – Tucson, AZ – Fox Theater – 1:00 PM

Sunday, March 17, 2019 – Mesa, AZ – Mesa Arts Center – 1:00 PM

Saturday, April 6, 2019 – Hamilton, ON – First Ontario Concert Hall – 1:00 PM

Sunday, April 7, 2019 – Montreal, QC – Maisonneuve Theatre – 1:00 PM & 4:00 PM

Sunday, April 14, 2019 – Victoria, BC – Royal Theatre – 1:00 PM

Saturday, September 28, 2019 – Ottawa, ON – National Arts Centre – 1:00 PM

Sunday, September 29, 2019 – Mississauga, ON – 1:00 PM

Find more details for the Sacramento concert as well as other stops in the tour.

Raffi Live in Concert in Sacramento Giveaway!

And now for our giveaway for Sacramento readers! Enter to win a pair of tickets to his November 24, 4 pm show in Sacramento! Just comment below to let us know your family’s favorite Raffi song!

Giveaway ends Thursday, November 15, 2018 at midnight PT. Winner chosen by random selection. Must be able to attend 4 pm show on November 24, 2018.

Sep 272018
 
 September 27, 2018  Book Reviews, multiculturalism, music Comments Off on Latin American Music to Honor Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to share some of the many treasures of Latin American music with your children! Latin musical traditions are so rich and multifaceted, that it is sometimes hard to know where to begin! Here are some wonderful new picture books that celebrate Latin American music, from lullabies to rock and roll.

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 charge to you.

Latin American Music to Honor Hispanic Heritage Month | Alldonemonkey.com

Latin American Music to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

To start at the very beginning, in more ways than one, you really should go back to nursery rhymes and lullabies. They are the beginning of Latin American music because they have been enjoyed for so many generations, and because they are the first melodies that many children in Latin America hear, often in the lap of a loved one.

The Hummingbird Sings and Dances – Latin-American Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes, also in a Spanish edition, makes these wonderful songs from throughout the Americas available to a wider audience. 19 beloved lullabies and nursery rhymes are beautifully illustrated in the picture book and performed on the accompanying CD for a new generation to enjoy.

They range from the lively La víbora de la mar from Mexico to the gentle Duerme negrito from Cuba. (Keep in mind that many of these songs are enjoyed in more than one country, but the country mentioned is the one whose version is shared here).

It is perfect for non-native speakers like me, who didn’t grow up with these nursery rhymes and lullabies. With the CD, I can assure that my children hear the original songs as they were meant to be sung, plus the full lyrics (in English and Spanish) are at the back, so that we can learn to sing them ourselves.

But Latin American music isn’t just about lullabies. It is also about finding expression through modern media like electric guitars. Few Latin American musicians embody this spirit of fearless innovation like the legendary Carlos Santana, who forged his own path by creating a unique blend of Latin, European, and African influences. Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World celebrates this giant of Latin American music by telling the story of Santana’s early years. It is a story of perseverance in difficult circumstances but also about the struggle to find your own voice.

Santana was heavily influenced by his father, a mariachi musician whom young Carlos admired greatly. Yet he also realized early on that his path was different from that of his father. He felt no joy in playing mariachi and wanted to experiment with new sounds rather than playing the same songs over and over.

Despite his misgivings, Carlos’ father eventually gave his son a used electric guitar, which would change the path of the teenager’s life – and modern music – forever.

The artwork of the book is stunning and uniquely suited to Santana’s style. In fact, the artist was the same that Santana commissioned to create the iconic cover of his Shaman album.

What is your favorite style of Latin American music?

Hispanic Heritage Month Series 2018 | Multicultural Kid BlogsWe are so excited for our seventh annual Hispanic Heritage Month series! Now through October 15, you’ll find great resources to share Hispanic Heritage with kids, plus you can link up your own posts on Hispanic Heritage!

Find even more ideas on our Latin America Pinterest board:

September 17
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Three Course Meal Your Kids Can Make to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

September 18
Mundo de Pepita: Celebrate el Día de la Patria en Chile

September 19
Embracing Diversity: 10 Dominican Sayings that Hold Wisdom and Cultura

September 20
MommyMaestra: Puerto Rico Coloring Activity

September 21
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

September 24
Hispanic Mama: 5 Films Based in Latin America that Impacted Me
Pura Vida Moms: 13 Spanish Netflix Shows for Kids

September 25
For the Love of Spanish: Barefoot Books to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

September 26
All Done Monkey

September 27
Crafty Moms Share

September 28
Spanish Mama on Multicultural Kid Blogs

October 1
Spanish Playground

October 2
Kids Spanish Book Club

October 3
LadydeeLG

October 4
Kid World Citizen

October 5
Mama Tortuga

October 8
Kids Spanish Book Club

October 9
La Clase de Sra. Dufault

October 10
Embracing Diversity

October 11
Recetas Latinas Veganas

October 12
Little Nomadas on Multicultural Kid Blogs

October 15
Hispanic Mama on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Don’t miss all of the great posts from previous years as well: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017


Sep 142018
 
 September 14, 2018  music Comments Off on New Children’s Music to Brighten Your Autumn

As the days get shorter and families get settled back into the school routine, sometimes we need a little something to put a bounce back in our step. Which is why I’m so happy to bring you this list of wonderful new children’s music to brighten your autumn and keep everyone dancing their way through the crisp fall days and nights. And don’t miss an announcement about a music tour from one of the giants of children’s music!

New Children's Music to Brighten Your Autumn | Alldonemonkey.om

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the music 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. 

New Children’s Music to Brighten Your Autumn

If you have heard of any children’s musician, chances are that it is Raffi. For four decades he has delighted audiences at his live shows and through his numerous albums. Little ones seem to instinctively respond to his gentle music and uplifting lyrics. At the age of 70, you’d think this music icon would be slowing down, but he just released a brand new 15-song album, Dog On The Floor. Young animal lovers will adore the songs inspired by Raffi’s dog Luna, as well as the other animal songs. And parents will appreciate his interpretation of “Here Comes the Sun.”

I am delighted to share that Raffi is also going back on tour and is coming to Sacramento! Proceeds from his concerts benefit the Centre For Child Honoring. Remaining dates are as follows:

Saturday, October 27, 2018 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre – 1:00 PM

Sunday, October 28, 2018 – Easton, PA – State Theatre – 1:00 PM

Saturday, November 3, 2018 – New Haven, CT – Shubert Theatre – 1:00 PM & 4:00 PM

Sunday, November 4, 2018 – New York, NY – Town Hall – 1:00 PM & 4:00 PM

Sunday, November 24, 2018 – Sacramento, CA – Alex Theatre – 1:00 PM

Sunday, November 25, 2018 – Glendale, CA – Alex Theatre – 1:00 PM

Saturday, January 19, 2019 – Tampa, FL – Tampa Theatre – 1:00 PM

Sunday, January 20, 2019 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Parker Playhouse – 1:00 PM

Find more details for the Sacramento concert as well as other stops in the tour.

The very first song on Blue Skies and Sunny Days references the Beach Boys, and it is an apt reference, as this album from Grammy nominated Frances England definitely has the same laidback, cheerful vibe. Anytime we play this album, it puts me in a more peaceful state of mind. England has a wonderful ability to tune into the mood of a beautiful day (“Perfect Tuesday Afternoon”) or even a bad one (“Mama Said”).

Ms. England says, “I hope these songs provide an antidote to all the bad news out there…I wanted to make something that sounded really light and loose…I knew that’s what I wanted to share with children and families next because I feel like that’s what’s needed right now.” If you need a pick-me-up, be sure to listen to this album, which will remind you there is still so much to sing about.

Back to the Land

Back to the Land is an old-school style album, returning to roots “to honor the great tradition of children’s music where families could all sing along and share the experience,” as their band leader puts it. I love the diversity of musical styles – in addition to the folk influences of greats like Pete Seegar, there are also tunes based on Liberian music traditions (“Funga Alafia”) and Caribbean influences (“Ven Conmigo Para Esta Tierra”).

My little one loves “Listen to the Water,” which features animal noises, while my oldest begs to hear “Big World Kid” over and over again. A really fun multicultural family music band you don’t want to miss!

Ready Or Not! (releasing September 21) is the 7th album from the energetic group the Not-Its. The music absolutely sounds like something you would hear on a rock station, so kids and parents alike will love it! It is geared more to school age kids, addressing their interests (like playing hide and seek or having a staring contest) as well as their concerns, like what to do when you’ve told a lie. And I believe this is the first time I have ever heard a song about budget cuts at school! The Not-Its approach all of their music with a real understanding of a kid’s point of view. All of their music is really rockin’, but it is also very melodic and several songs, like “Heading Home,” are quite beautiful.

Be prepared to giggle with the new album I Am Your Food from Grammy nominated Gunnar Madsen. (Look for guest vocals from Frances England, among others). Though the songs are frequently silly, the music is still top-notch. My oldest identified right away with “10,000 Pancakes,” about a kid who never quite feels full, while my younger two loved “Divine Bovine,” sung from the point of view of a cow. Often the songs are about what happens to food, such as “Egg Salad in the Sun,” and one asks the important question, What happens if fast food is so fast that you can’t catch it?

I’m thrilled to share something very special with you – a brand new video from artist Sara Lovell that just debuted yesterday! It is the title track from her award-winning album Wild Is Everywhere. As someone raising city kids, I love the message that nature is everywhere, and children can be explorers wherever they are. The ethereal vocals highlight the beauty of the lyrics. Enjoy!

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Aug 292018
 
 August 29, 2018  Book Reviews, Education, Kid Fun, music, parenting Comments Off on Encouraging Pretend Play: 3 Simple Tips

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 132018
 
 July 13, 2018  Education, music Comments Off on Music Appreciation: Classical Music Concert Activities for Kids

Are you planning to take your children to a classical music concert but are afraid they are going to get the wiggles partway through? Are you looking for music appreciation tools to keep them engaged with the music during the concert? Here are three fun activity sheets designed for elementary aged children to use during a classical music concert. No extensive knowledge is needed here – these are meant to help kids keep their eyes and ears open during the concert and start to engage with the music itself.

What are your experiences taking kids to classical concerts? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Music Appreciation: Classical Music Concert Activities for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Music Appreciation: Classical Music Concert Activities for Kids

Recently I had the opportunity to take my children to a weekly classical music concert at a local church. I knew I needed something to keep them engaged and learning during the concert, so I went online to find some activity sheets we could take along.

(Notice that I am studiously avoiding saying “worksheets” because that sounds so boring, even to me, and I love worksheets!)

I found quite a few wonderful music appreciation resources that focused on listening exercises in a class or at home, but I couldn’t find anything related to actually taking children to a classical music concert.

Being a blogger, I of course decided to make some of my own! Here are three fun music appreciation activity sheets you can print out and take with you. Just right-click on each image to print!

The first (Concert Scavenger Hunt) can be used for younger children, as it is mostly pictures.

Music Appreciation: Concert Scavenger Hunt | Alldonemonkey.com

The next two are more geared towards older elementary students. (My third grader really enjoyed them). The Program Scavenger Hunt can be done while you are sitting waiting for the concert to start, as they look over the concert program.

Music Appreciation: Program Scavenger Hunt | Alldonemonkey.com

You will want to print multiple copies of the Listening Sheet, as it is designed to be used for one piece at the concert. (Keep in mind that your child may tire of doing this for every piece. I told my eight year old to do a Listening Sheet for three pieces of his choice). A younger child could do a Listening Sheet with help, focusing mostly on the drawing portion.

Music Appreciation: Listening Sheet | Alldonemonkey.com

I would also recommend bringing plenty of blank paper (or a sketch pad) for them to draw. This really helped occupy all three of my children during the concert, even when their interest in the concert itself was starting to fade. I also used it to do tic-tac-toe with my 5 year old near the end, when he was getting particularly restless.

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Jul 102018
 
 July 10, 2018  Book Reviews, music, parenting Comments Off on How to Raise Confident Kids: 5 Pro Tips

Want to raise confident kids? We all want to raise well adjusted kids who are ready to take on the world, but sometimes it can be hard to know how to best encourage and support them. Here are 5 pro tips to help you set your child on the path to success.

How to Raise Confident Kids: 5 Pro Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

How to Raise Confident Kids: 5 Pro Tips

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.

1. Support Their Dreams

Kids are full of amazing ideas and have a natural inclination to dream big. Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up, and you’re bound to get some fantastic answers! Yet adults often squash these glorious ambitions with a dose of (supposed) reality – this is often done with good intentions or perhaps just carelessly, but either way it just serves to make a child more self-conscious about their dreams.

Instead, find ways to support your child’s passion without pressure or judgment and give them space to experiment. Let them express themselves creatively without feeling the need to step in with a reality check.

And don’t forget to be a role model for them – share with them your own dreams and how you are following your passion!

I love Mia and the Rocket Ship Tree because it takes children’s fantasies seriously and encourages them to let their imaginations run wild. Author/illustrator Boaz Gavish created this colorful work for his niece when he saw the need for more books with girl heroes. And Mia is the epitome of a girl hero – a great role model for confident kids everywhere! The hand paintings showcase wonderfully Mia’s incredible (and tickly!) space adventures with her robot. This is a book sure to excite your child’s imagination and spark their own imaginative adventures.

But what I really love about this book is that when Mia decides to go on an adventure, she sets off despite the fact that none of her friends will join her. She is confident enough in herself that she doesn’t give up on her quest for a good adventure, even when others tried to change her mind. Beautifully creative book to share with your little explorer.

2. Encourage a Positive Outlook

Confident kids are optimistic about the future and are able to put a positive spin on events that don’t go according to plan. Teach your children how to see mistakes as opportunities for growth, and model flexibility and resilience when the unexpected happens. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances and have optimism about the future instills a sense of confidence in your child that she can handle whatever the world sends her way.

I have been a fan of Nikki McClure and her incredible cut paper art since my sister-in-law gave my firstborn a copy of Mama, Is It Summer Yet? In All in a Day, McClure teams up with Newberry Medal winner Cynthia Rylant to create a gorgeous picture book about embracing opportunities and learning from mistakes. This lovely book inspires young readers to see the beauty in each day. I especially love the message that each day is a chance to start fresh and seize the moment. Also a wonderful book for encouraging a love of nature and taking time to enjoy lying in the grass with a friend.

How to Raise Confident Kids: 5 Pro Tips | Alldonemonkey.com

3. Embrace Their Uniqueness

One of the main reasons kids lack confidence is because they feel different from their peers. As adults we have grown to be more comfortable in our own skin, but children usually want to just fit in and not be seen as too “weird.” Help your child gain self-assurance by encouraging his uniqueness and helping him connect with others who share his interests. In the busyness of our every day, we can often slip into the habit of wishing our kids would just “act normal” – usually to make our lives easier, or perhaps because we think it will make their own more stress-free.

But in the long run, encouraging a child’s unique way of being in the world promotes self-confidence and sets him on the path to becoming a well-adjusted, interesting adult.

One of a Kind is a great book to nurture confident kids by encouraging them to march to their own beat. Here is a character who doesn’t mind standing out from the crowd and doing things his own way, from how he dresses to the music he loves. It also lets kids know that even if they sometimes feel so different from everyone else, they can often find others who share their interests.

I love the bold artwork in this book, which will remind your child of a graphic novel. Great book to encourage kids to not be afraid to make a splash.

4. Arm Them with Knowledge

A surefire way to raise confident kids is to arm them with knowledge. As children enter the tween years and are hit with all sorts of physical and emotional changes, it can be confusing and disorienting. Often children feel unsure of themselves and uncertain of how to relate to their peers, who are going through major changes themselves. Maintain open communication and let your kids know you are available for questions and conversations without judgment. Provide them with resources – books, websites, and trusted adults – who can help them understand the changes they are undergoing and begin to think through the grown up they wish to become.

Boying Up: How to Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant is the sequel to the equally brilliant Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular. In this series, actress and scientist Mayim Blalik dishes on all sorts of changes that happen as you go through puberty. The books are packed full of scientific information, all presented in an easy to read and often humorous way. There are also many personal anecdotes from Blalik about her own and her children’s experiences growing up.

The books cover an incredible range of topics – from nutrition and exercise to dealing with stress and discovering your passions. But what I most love is the respect with which the books treat their young readers and their concerns. I also love the emphasis that there is no “right” way to be or to experience puberty. Some kids, for example, may find themselves suddenly interesting in dating, while others may still run the other way at the mere mention of romance. No matter what you are feeling or going through, Blalik has got you covered and reassures you at every turn that you are completely normal and great just the way you are.

Be aware that these books address all topics, including sexuality, very openly and frankly, so be sure to preview them ahead of time. (And for yourself, don’t miss Blalik’s website, Grok Nation!)

5. Inspire Them

Surround your child’s world with role models and encouragement. Make sure they have other trusted adults in their lives that they can look up to, and fill their minds with real life examples of people who have followed their dreams and made a difference in the world. Because in the end, what really will make a difference to them is what touches their hearts and sparks their imaginations.

Every Voice is a danceable album of catchy tunes you and your kids will find yourselves singing long after you turn off the music. But more than just great music, it shares powerful messages that stay with you as well.

“You don’t have to be a cool girl…You can be a real girl.” The lyrics inspire confidence, compassion, and hope, all delivered via original songs from an award-winning artist.

The album is a departure for musician Kira Willey, who is best known for her yoga albums and mindfulness workshops. While there are slower, softer songs here, the majority are heart-pumping tunes your children will love to dance to. And of course, don’t miss guest singer Laurie Berkner, who also teams up with Willey on her “Music You Can Move To” radio series.

Great music for kids with a message you can feel good about!

What are your pro tips for raising confident kids?

Jun 112018
 
 June 11, 2018  Book Reviews, music, natural parenting Comments Off on Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources

Raising the next generation of conservationists means encouraging a love of nature in children. Helping children get outdoors and explore is a large piece of this puzzle, as is providing them with resources like music and books that nurture this spark inside them. I’m happy to share with you new music from an Grammy nominated artist and a lovely new children’s book perfect for budding environmentalists. And you could win a free song, see details at the end of this post!

Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the songs and 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.

Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources

We can offer children facts about conservation and its importance, yet in order to really influence them, we must also speak to their hearts. This is where art in all its myriad forms can help.

Katherine Dines - Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources | Alldonemonkey.com

I’m excited to share that Grammy nominated pioneering indie children’s music artist Katherine Dines has just released two new songs celebrating the planet and a love of nature (watch for a full album release in the fall!)

Earth Day Singles - Encouraging a Love of Nature: New Resources | Alldonemonkey.com

The songs are very gentle and upbeat, something you and your children will both enjoy listening to! I love the incorporation of sounds from nature and how the use of international instruments underscores the lyrics’ message of harmony and global awareness. “Thanks to the Earth” especially borrows from Middle Eastern music traditions to create a beautiful love song to the planet.

“Thanks to the Earth, Mother of life, wake up from Heaven’s embrace. … let springtime warm every face.”

Both songs are now available for purchase, plus five lucky readers will win a free song! To enter this giveaway, which is open internationally, just comment on this post letting us know what brings you closer to nature! Entries accepted through Sunday, June 17, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner will be chosen by random selection.

Another great resource for encouraging a love of nature is the beautiful new picture book Agua, Agüita/ Water, Little Water. This bilingual book is filled with gorgeous illustrations that perfectly complement the poetic tribute to the life-giving force of water. Tracing its origins deep within the earth, the book follows water through its entire life cycle, celebrating its dynamism and the interconnectedness of the natural world.

I also love that this book celebrates the indigenous heritage of El Salvador, where author Jore Tetl Argueta (now Poet Laureate of the San Francisco Public Libraries) grew up. Illustrator Felip Ugalde Alcántara includes native themes and symbols in his paintings, and the complete poem appears at the back of the book in Nahuat, an indigenous language of the region. Beautiful work children and adults will love!

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