Sep 212018
 
 September 21, 2018  Book Reviews, World Religions No Responses »

Many of us have heard of Diwali or perhaps Holi, but there are actually many important festivals in India. And to add to the complexity, which festivals are celebrated (and how) depends on what part of India you are in. Today I’m thrilled to introduce a lovely picture book and crafts to help kids learn about Durga Puja, a fall festival related to Navrati. Kids will love learning about this holiday, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil!

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Learn About Durga Puja with a Picture Book and Crafts | Alldonemonkey.com

Learn About Durga Puja

As a member of a minority religion, I can sympathize with author Shoumi Sen, who wanted to make sure that her young daughter would come to appreciate about their beliefs even without the support a large community of co-believers. Sometimes it can be hard to keep a child’s interest in your own religion when they almost totally surrounded by another. So Sen started to tell her daughter stories at night, making sure to tell them in a way that was fun and accessible.

These stories evolved into the “From the Toddler Diaries” series, designed to help Indian parents living outside India pass on their beliefs and traditions to their children. The series now includes Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! as well as Celebrate Holi With Me!. One thing I love about these books is that are very much aimed at young children, showing the joys of these Indian festivals in language that they can easily understand.

Learn About Durga Puja with a Picture Book and Crafts | Alldonemonkey.com

In Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! children learn about the major aspects of Durga Puja through colorful illustrations and rhyming text. I really captures the excitement and joy of the holiday as seen through the eyes of a child. Younger readers will enjoy the book as is, whereas older children can use it as a jumping off point to explore the foods, dances, and other traditions mentioned in the book.

Learn About Durga Puja with a Picture Book and Crafts | Alldonemonkey.com

Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! is great whether you’re teaching children about your own heritage or exposing them to a holiday from another culture. For background, you can learn more about Durga Puja and other Indian festivals from author Shoumi Sen.

Crafts for Durga Puja and Navrati

Kids can also celebrate Durga Puja and Navrati with these fun crafts and activities, plus there are some tips for parents!

Art with Children: Children’s Art for Durga Puja and Dussehra

Lil Creative Kids: How to Draw Durga Maa Step by Step

Hindu Mommy: Coloring Pages for Durga Puja

Artsy Craftsy Mom: 21 Navrati and Dussehra Crafts and Activities

Raising World Children: Guide to Meditation and Fasting During Navrati

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 192018
 

As a Spanish (non-native) speaker, I have mostly blogged about my experiences teaching Spanish to my children. Last year, however, we decided to try something new and add French to our repertoire. I have always wanted to learn myself, and it has been a very different experience learning a language alongside my children instead of teaching them from years of experience! Here are our favorite resources to learn French no matter what your age!

And don’t miss out on receiving a FREE code for a French learning app for kids! Details at the end of the post.

Learn French as a Family: Favorite Resources | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I receive complimentary copies of many 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.

Learn French as a Family: Favorite Resources

I am so excited to learn French with my kids! It is a language I have always been fascinated with, but I have had only limited exposure over the years. I have no formal training in French (I studied Spanish and a little Portuguese in school), so there were many surprises for me. (Did you know that when you say eighty in French you are literally saying “four twenties”? And why do they pronounce so few of the letters in their words??)

If you want to learn French along with your kids, don’t be intimidated by your lack of knowledge. In fact, there are many benefits to learning a language alongside your children. If nothing else, they will love seeing that Mom and Dad can make mistakes, too!

Books

Beep Beep In Paris is a very sweet picture book about a little car who is off having adventures in Paris. It is a wonderful way not only to practice French but also to learn about famous landmarks of Paris. As we are just learning French, it is very helpful to read a bilingual book like this, so we can check our understanding without missing the flow of the story. Be sure to enjoy with a warm cup of chocolat! 

At Home with Betty and Cat sample

At Home with Betty & Cat is part of a series of unusual bilingual books. Most bilingual books have the complete text in one language alongside the complete text in a second language. Yet the concept of these clever books is based on how children often play with language, frequently switching back and forth between languages (“code switching”). In the Betty & Cat stories, the dog in the story speaks one language, while the cat speaks another. This language distinction is just one of the differences between the pair!

This series is available in a variety of combinations (we chose Spanish and French!) The ideal reader is one that already has a basic understanding of the target language, though this need not be perfect. Especially great for kids that have started at an immersion school, whose grandparents speak another language, or whose families are bilingual.

Apps & YouTube

Gus on the Go French

Gus on the Go is a super fun, play based app that will have your children learning and playing with French words right from the beginning! Your child does not need any prior knowledge of French to get started, as vocabulary is gradually taught with fun visuals and games. But as they work their way through the levels, they gain nearly 90 new words in French!

My kids took to this app right away. They thought the games were really fun, and they loved earning rewards – always a great motivation!

Now you can try out this app, too, just by being one of the first to comment on this post! (See details at the end).

Another great language learning app is Duolingo. In fact, it keeps popping up in chat groups as an app that works well for adults as well as older children. It is easy to use and very engaging. I love that it utilizes several different kinds of questions to learn the same vocabulary – matching, translating to/from French, writing what you hear, and so on. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t actually explain the rules of the language. For an analytical person like me, it’s easier to be told the grammar rule rather than just having to guess it from the examples.

Which is why I also love Learning French with Alexa on YouTube. Alexa has a very funny personality, with well organized lessons. So you can systematically go through them, or jump right into one that grabs your interest (or that you didn’t quite understand from other sources). Also, I love getting more exposure to proper pronunciation, as this is a real challenge for me coming from Spanish.

Learning Aids

Linguacious™ Around the Home French Flashcard Game is an innovative, award winning tool that your kids will love! If you have decided to learn French along with your child, you may worry that you aren’t able to teach them the proper pronunciation. Linguacious™ Around the Home French Flashcard Game is a clever solution to this common problem. These sturdy flashcards come not only with engaging photos and vocabulary but audio, too!

All you have to do is scan the QR code on each flashcard to hear a native speaker pronounce the word. (Btw this is a great way to engage tech-loving kids! Mine love scanning the code themselves). And in the time since I reviewed their Around the Spanish Flashcard Game (read my full review), Linguacious has come out with their own app to scan the QR codes. It works so much more quickly, making learning new vocabulary even easier than before!

Now, if you are like me and want to feel like you’re taking a class (without actually having to take a class), I recommend Living Language French, Essential Edition: Beginner course. It comes with a coursebook, 3 audio CDs, and free online tools. Last summer I spent time reading the book and doing the exercises, but what I really loved was listening to the CDs. It was so easy to put them on when we were running errands, and, though it is aimed at adults, it was great to expose the kids to more French!

Pinterest Boards

There are so many wonderful language learning ideas out there. Find even more on these Pinterest boards – I’m always finding something new!

Multicultural Kid Blogs: Teaching French

The Piri-Piri Lexicon: French Resources

Biracial Bookworms: Learning French

For even more resources and activities to learn French, check out this incredible collection from my friend at Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes!

Giveaway

Now for the giveaway! You can try out Gus on the Go French app simply by being one of the first ten people to comment on this post! Just let me know why you’d love to learn French with your kids.

Please note that the codes are for Android devices, but Gus on the Go has generously offered to make iOS codes available as well – just make a note if you need one of those instead!

All participants must have a valid email address. Giveaway open through Friday, July 27, 2018, at midnight PT. Winners will be the first ten verified people to comment on this post.

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?

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

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!

Related Posts

Earth Day Books for Kids

Games to Learn About Endangered Animals

Endangered Animals: Learning About African Manatees

May 242018
 
 May 24, 2018  family, multiculturalism, raising world citizens Comments Off on Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families

The wedding season is upon us, highlighted by the recent royal wedding. But if you are invited to a wedding from a culture other than your own, it can be difficult knowing what to expect – especially if you have children. Are children included in the invitation, and if so, how are they expected to behave and dress? I’ve asked parents from around the world to share their tips for wedding etiquette for families from their own cultures, and it’s a fascinating view!

Many thanks to those that graciously shared their experiences with me for this article! Share your tips on wedding etiquette for families in the comments, and don’t miss my review at the end of the post of a new children’s book about Indian weddings!

Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families

What to Expect

India: Sumiti: “I grew up in a big Punjabi family. And weddings were a big affair. It was minimum 4 days affair (could go up to a week) and the relatives and friends from across the world would stay at our house. The meals (breakfast/lunch/supper/dinner) were catered for all or women of the house would take turns making meals.There is one big evening only for Henna Ceremony, where men are at the bar and women are getting henna done and it’s an evening of dance and fun. All the neighbors are invited for the functions and are treated as family.”

India: Puneeta of Maple and Marigold: “Indian wedding celebrations traditionally carry on for many days. Close family and friends will often travel far distances to attend…Mid-morning naps, dinner before you leave home and comfortable shoes, all work for kids. And parents too. There’s usually loud music so carry headphones for the little ones.”

China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “A Chinese wedding is like marrying two families. It is a huge event, and it often starts from the engagement ceremony and the delivery of engagement cookies with fancy packaging to relatives and close friends. A Chinese wedding can be extravagant, and it can easily have several hundred guests in a hotel ballroom, a restaurant, or a huge block wedding feast with live music entertainment.” 

Mexico: Becky of Kid World Citizen: “There is a lot of dancing, and the party goes on very late.”

Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “There is a mass or wedding vows at a town hall and then a wedding party at a ball room/hotel,etc. Loads, loads of food. Traditionally people had a band playing live music instead of a DJ. Many still do. Tons of food and vodka during the whole night. Hot food is served all the time. It’s not a single dinner. There is often a brunch on the next day also involving alcohol.”

Fiji (Indian): Ashi: “Indian weddings in Fiji are traditionally multi-day affairs which encompasses many elaborate ceremonies such as putting hardi (turmeric) on the bride and grooms body, henna (mehndi) which is painting beautiful designs on the hands and feet of the bride, prayer ceremonies and etc. I would say, the weddings are divided into three segments, pre-wedding, main-wedding celebration and post-wedding celebrations. For each daily festivity, they expect close to 100 people to show without any RSVP. In Fiji, people do not believe in the concept of RSVP. My grandma always said to us guests is like gods. They’re okay having extra food prepared but no one should leave the wedding functions hungry.”

Mexican-American: Chantilly of ChantillyPatino.com: “People stay forever, eat, drink, dance, visit, etc. A wedding is an opportunity for community and reuniting family you might not have seen in a while. There’s usually recuerdos, candies, cake or centerpieces to bring home. Nobody goes home empty handed.”

Russia: Varya of Creative World of Varya: “In Russia the wedding is celebrated 2 days – first day at the bride’s home where her parents give her away, second day – at her new home, where the groom’s parents receive her into the family. Lots of food, dancing, some love inviting entertainment.”

Read about a traditional wedding in Malawi!

Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

What to Wear

Across the board, the safest bet is to not wear white – no matter what the bride is wearing! Rita of Multilingual Parenting shares, “I once wore a cream dress when the bride had chosen dark red and felt a bit awkward.”

USA: Even within the US, there is some debate about what is appropriate to wear. Diana of Ladydeelg in NYC thought wearing black was very chic, while Mary-Helen, who grew up in New Orleans, said that “In the South, wearing black to a wedding is a passive aggressive way of saying that you REALLY are unhappy with this particular union” and are treating it “as if there has been a death in the family.” Instead, one should wear something “floral or happy looking.”

India (Punjabi): Sumiti: “Wearing black and white outfits to the wedding or reception is a total No No. The outfits should have bold colors and ladies were expected to wear heavy jewelry.”

India: Puneeta of Maple and Marigold: “Since Indian wedding usually involve dancing until late in the night, comfortable shoes are great for kids and adults. Wear leggings underneath the lehenga (Indian skirt) in case a quick change of attire is needed on the dance floor.”

India: Charu of Ketchup Moms: “In India kids are expected to be dressed in Indian attire for weddings mostly. And interestingly a young boy from the immediate family of the groom’s side is dressed just like the groom and then he ride on the horse with the groom (another custom) to the house of the Bride to marry her. He is called ‘Sarwala’.”

Mexico: Becky of Kid World Citizen: “People get VERY dressed up. Here in the Yucatan, men always wear a guayabera, but everywhere else it would be a suit or tux.”

China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “You will see children dress in new clothing to attend a wedding. Red is always a good color but any bright happy colors are good choices. No black clothing for children or adults.” 

Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “You should not wear white to the wedding. Or black (brings bad luck).”

Read about the tradition of a “cake pull” in the US South!

Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

Should Kids Attend?

One of the most hotly debates aspects of wedding etiquette for families in the US is about including children. As we saw at the recent royal wedding, children are often included in the wedding party at British weddings, while in the US they are often not even invited! So how do you know whether or not to bring your kids when you receive an invitation? It depends on where you are:

Yes 

India: Sumiti: “Children are expected to attend, and it is a fun event for all ages.”

India: Vandana: “Kids are a part of the celebrations and very welcome. When we give the invitation, it’s implied that it is for the whole family, unless specified, which is very very rare.”

China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “Children are always welcome to the wedding. You will see children dress in new clothing to attend a wedding. Children are an important part of a Chinese wedding because they bring happy spirit to the bride and the groom. They are also a reminder for the bride and groom of having a family. There is a Chinese tradition that one healthy happy little boy of a close relative of friends will be chosen by the bride’s or the groom’s family and this child will jump on the bed of the newlyweds prior to the weeding banquet to symbolize the couple will have happy healthy kids.”

Latvia: Ilze of Let the Journey Begin: “In Latvia kids are welcome to all weddings, have never heard of asking people to not bring their children to the wedding (or a part of it) as it sometimes happens, e.g. in the US. Most commonly, the wedding takes place in one location and then the party at another with accommodation included (hostel-style and free of charge for the guests). So many parents just let the kids stay up until they drop, put them to bed, and continue celebrating. On the second day of the wedding, as the guests are slowly getting up, having breakfast and getting ready to leave (noon-ish) you’d usually see children running around and playing.”

Fiji (Indian): Ashi: “When people give out wedding invitation cards, they generally expect everyone from the family to attend most of the festive activities. They’ll invite everyone they know (the whole village). Kids are the blessings of the family and they’re included in all the wedding festivities.”

Multicultural Guide to Wedding Etiquette for Families | Alldonemonkey.com

No 

Poland: Hanna of HannaCheda.com: “Kids used to take part in the wedding, but many parents including us do not bring them. Preferably I prefer to have fun on that night, drink, dance and not to chase after my kids. Only took them to one wedding when they were small and didn’t enjoy it at all.”

Maybe 

USA: In the US, it is mixed whether or not children are included in a wedding. Many report that children are often excluded from weddings, while others say that they are usually invited to daytime weddings. Often people assume that children are not invited and so leave them at home. Even Martha Stewart (or at least her organization) weighed in on how to decide whether to include children at a wedding. Your best bet? Unless it is specifically stated on the invitation, be sure to ask.

But keep in mind this is not true for many groups in the US. Chantilly of ChantillyPatino.com shares that for Mexican-American weddings, “Many times it’s expected that you’ll be bringing the little ones, grandma, etc. I’ve heard that in many American weddings (at least those uppercrust ones) that people have to request to bring their kids. In MexAm culture, for most, it’s expected you would bring them…from newborns to teens. This is a family event after all.”

How Are Kids Expected to Act?

If you do take your children, what behavior will be expected of them? Here are tips on wedding etiquette for families from experienced parents!

Mexican American: Elizabeth says, “Kids were always included and expected to act like kids – dance silly, run around, fall asleep.”

China and Taiwan: Amanda of Miss Panda Chinese: “Children love going to the wedding as well. They always have fun with the candy and soda provided on each table prior to the beginning of the 10 or more dishes are brought to the table one by one. The tips for bringing kids to a Chinese wedding is to make sure they sit through the wedding ceremony (it can go up to an hour) before the banquet starts.”

Latvia: Ilze of Let the Journey Begin: “On the second day of the wedding, as the guests are slowly getting up, having breakfast and getting ready to leave (noon-ish) you’d usually see children running around and playing.”

Fiji: Ashi: At a wedding in Fiji “you’ll hear screaming, crying, whining, kids running around but we’re all accustomed to all these noises. Children are considered blessing, they’re included in all the functions in Fiji Islands.”

New Children’s Book About Indian Weddings

I received a complimentary copy of Let’s Celebrate an Indian Wedding 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.

And now you can share the joy and beauty of an Indian wedding with your children thanks to the new children’s book Let’s Celebrate An Indian Wedding! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 9). This book is a great way to prepare if you are attending an Indian wedding or simply want to learn more about it. This is the latest installment of the adventures of Maya and Neel, and it does not disappoint!

I love the emphasis on the diversity of Indian weddings. While Maya and Neel are attending a wedding in New Delhi, there is also information about weddings in other regions, such as Tamil Nadu, where the bride and groom sit on a beautifully decorated swing!

Related Post: India for Kids: Favorite Resources for Elementary Age

Maya and Neel get to participate in all stages of the wedding, including of course lots of dancing! Kids will love learning about lovely traditions such as stealing the groom’s shoes in order to get a treat!

This is a wonderful book to share with children if you are attending a wedding this summer, or if you’d like to learn more about Indian culture!

What are your best tips on wedding etiquette for families?

May 212018
 
 May 21, 2018  bilingualism, Spanish Comments Off on Homeschooling Spanish for Multiple Children

Are you homeschooling Spanish for multiple children? It can be a real challenge to meet the needs of all of your children at their different stages of learning.

Visit us on Spanish Playground today to find out what works for us! I’m sharing tips for how you can balance group activities with individual attention and an immersive environment so you can meet the needs of all your children and their learning needs:

Homeschooling Spanish for Multiple Children

May 112018
 
 May 11, 2018  Book Reviews, Spanish, spiritual education Comments Off on Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders

Encourage your young world changers with these incredible books that inspire kids to be leaders! From picture books to chapter books, these works showcase people overcoming obstacles to follow their dreams as well as real life heroes who made a difference in the world. What inspires you?

Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders

Mayanito’s New Friends/ Los Nuevos Amigos De Mayanito is a beautiful allegory of a young prince who befriends children from distant lands and journeys far from his rainforest home to visit them. The animals of the jungle help him on his quest, until he is reunited with his friends and even brings them back to the his village to celebrate their global friendship. Prince Mayanito declares all the children of the hemisphere as his tribe and from his home at the equator can listen to music coming from his world map. A lovely story from the late poet and playwright Tato Laviera, with gorgeous illustrations of Mayanito’s lush rainforest home. I love stories like this that celebrate what unites us despite our differences and that recognize that children don’t have to wait to to grow up to become leaders.

One of the most famous Latin American leaders was José Martí, the Cuban poet who traveled the world to advocate for the oppressed and to speak out for Cuba’s independence from Spain. This wonderful picture book tells of the inspiration behind his convictions as well as the sacrifices he made for them, living in exile from his beloved island for so many years and later dying in battle in the war for its independence. I love that Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad uses Martí’s own verses to tell his story, inspiring another generation with the legendary words of this great freedom fighter. Includes historical notes at the end for even more information about this incredible figure.

Remember the Ladies (Ellis the Elephant) celebrates the often overlooked contributions of America’s first ladies, such as Abigail Fillmore, who helped build the collection of the national library, and Edith Wilson, who helped fulfill her husband’s duties when he became ill. These women are remarkable leaders in their own right, including one of my personal heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt. Written by a diplomat, this book keeps a steady hand even when discussing more recent first ladies, celebrating achievements from women from both sides of the political aisle. Featuring the adorable character Ellis the Elephant, it also includes more detailed biographies of all the featured women at the end of the book.

For most kids, reading about the history of the US Senate would seem incredibly dry, but the story of Dennis Chávez is completely the opposite. Dennis Chávez: The First Hispanic US Senator/ El Primer Senador Hispano De Los Estados Unidos is a beautifully done biography for older kids of the first US-born Hispanic Senator, one of the most remarkable leaders you’ve never heard of. Indeed, as I was reading, I found myself asking over and over, Why is this the first time I am reading about him? Born in rural New Mexico before it was even a state, Dionisio Chávez grew up speaking only Spanish, tending sheep, and living in a house with dirt floors and no indoor plumbing. But he was bright and motivated, and quickly learned English and excelled at his studies. Then in 7th grade, he had to drop out of school to work and was never able to complete high school or college.

Yet he went on to graduate from Georgetown Law School and serve as a US Senator for 27 years. Inspired by his own first hand experiences of injustice, he fought tirelessly for minorities and workers, even standing up to McCarthy at a time when speaking out against him was virtually unthinkable. Throughout it all he maintained his optimism and commitment to faith and family.

This gem is written by the Senator’s own granddaughter and puts Chávez’s accomplishments squarely within the context of history. She also brings out the warmth of his personality and sincerity of his convictions. A book that will inspire any child to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how great the obstacles.

Do you ever wish you could teach bullies a lesson? The Shameless Shenanigans of Mister Malo/ Las Terribles Travesuras De Mister Malo is a wonderful bilingual chapter book about a boy who does just that, on a regular basis. Through his secret persona Mister Malo, Lance takes assignments from other fourth graders – with payment in fruit snacks – to take care of kids who are making their lives miserable. But when his payback to one playground bully backfires, Mister Malo is forced to look deeper to try and discover why bullies act like they do. Lance also faces a bully of his own and must learn to stand up for himself, without the comforting mask of Mister Malo.

This book not only teaches important lessons, it’s incredibly funny as well – but parents should be warned that there is plenty of bathroom humor, though of course young readers will love this! Let’s just say that the climax of the book is when Lance and his buddies create a school project all about why people fart! This, um, unique project is not just for laughs – it actually resolves a bully problem for a young girl who has been teased mercilessly for tooting on the playground.

Really fun bilingual chapter book for young readers about how to deal with bullies in unconventional ways.

Among the great inspirational figures of the twentieth century is the groundbreaking Jackie Robinson. The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend is written by none other than Jackie Robinson’s daughter! An accomplished author, Ms. Robinson tells the charming tale of a young white boy and his incredible friendship with the legendary baseball player during the beginning of his career in the major leagues. It was common at that time for Dodgers players and their families to rent rooms in Brooklyn neighborhoods during the season, so when 8 year old Steve finds out his hero is moving to his street, he feels like he’s just won the lottery!

But Jackie Robinson teaches Steve about more than just baseball. He shows Steve how to deal with bullies and inspires him to do well in school and follow his dreams. Even more than that, during a time of deep racial and religious divides, this African American legend showed a young Jewish boy how to reach across lines and build bridges instead. The Robinson and Satlow families remain close to this day, and their story gives a wonderful glimpse of the remarkable man behind the myth.

Baseball is also center stage in Out of Left Field, a wonderful new chapter book about a girl determined to bring the real history of baseball to light. The year is 1957, and Katy Gordon loves nothing more than standing on the mound and throwing one of her famous pitches, shocking the boys who never expect a girl to be able to play ball like she can. But when she is barred from Little League because baseball has supposedly always been a man’s sport, she turns her frustration into a zeal for digging up the forgotten history of women in baseball in order to prove them wrong.

Young readers will easily relate to Katy, an ordinary girl driven to do extraordinary things because of a passion for justice and her beloved baseball.  They will also enjoy getting to know her unconventional family – the professor mom who encourages Katy in her quest, and her sisters, an engineer and an artist, who inspire Katy to follow her passion. I love that throughout Katy’s mom takes her seriously, offering support and advice without condescending or doing the work for her. And being from California, of course I enjoyed the detailed portrait of life in San Francisco during the era of Sputnik and the Little Rock Nine.

While the story is fictional, many of the women showcased in the story – such as Maud Nelson, Jackie Mitchell, and Toni Stone – are not. Generations before Mo’ne Davis pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, girls and women fought simply to have a place on the field. This book brings well deserved attention to their struggle and their incredible talent.

How do you inspire your children to be leaders?

Related Posts:

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing

Gifts for Kids that Want to Change the World

Biographies for Kids About Following Your Dreams

Apr 252018
 
 April 25, 2018  music, parenting 6 Responses »

Does your child have trouble falling asleep at night because of fears or anxieties? This is unfortunately a common occurrence, but there are ways that you can make bedtime a more relaxing time for everyone with these 5 tips for helping an anxious child fall asleep. Includes a review of a beautiful new children’s album of lullabies in Spanish – be sure to enter the giveaway at the end for a chance to win your own copy!

Helping an Anxious Child Fall Asleep: 5 Tips for Parents | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of La Luna 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.

Helping an Anxious Child Fall Asleep: 5 Tips for Parents

1. Know the Triggers

You know your child better than anyone, so keep an eye out during the day for things that may be causing anxiety at bedtime. This could be, of course, a major life event or an incident at school, but you should also be aware of what they are watching and reading. Even media considered kid-friendly may be upsetting for a sensitive child. My son once was afraid he would get nightmares after seeing a photo of a shark in a kids’ encyclopedia! Consider how to minimize or manage whatever is causing the anxiety.

2. Create Visual Reminders

One method for helping an anxious child fall asleep is to give them child a concrete embodiment of their fears, such as worry dolls, that they can interact with. This helps them feel in control of their fears and can help them deal with them more easily. This may seem silly or superfluous to us as adults, but children really do benefit from these visuals. Depending on the age of the child, you could have them use a stuffed animal or doll to represent their fears and have them talk to it. You could also Set up a monster trap in the closet, or hang a dreamcatcher over the bed to catch nightmares.

3. Natural Remedies

Consult with your healthcare provider about the use of natural sleep aids. We have had great success with Hyland’s 4 Kids Natural Calm’n Restful Tablets as well as Bach Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief Pastilles.

4. Meditation

Simple breathing exercises can help a child let go of their anxieties and calm down for bed. You can also try doing some guided meditations with them. These are great for kids that just can’t seem to shut off their brains at bedtime. I adore Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Bedtime Story and Imaginations: Fun Relaxation Stories and Meditations for Kids – both are fun and easy to use with kids of a range of ages (read my full review).

5. Soothing Music

A wonderful way to set the mood for helping an anxious child fall asleep is to play soothing music. A new favorite album at our house is the beautiful La Luna (Canciones para Soñar) from Latin Grammy-winning 123 Andrés. It is the perfect album to put on at bedtime, though I also love putting it on during the day to bring a little calming influence to our busy household!

These Spanish language songs are a mix of classic lullabies like Velo qué bonito and new gems. Infused with the sounds of the Andes, La Luna (Canciones para Soñar) features guest vocalists from Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and the US. Even songs with which I was already familiar, such as Un elefante, are presented with such fresh instrumentation that I never tire of hearing them.

If you are teaching your children Spanish, there is the added benefit, of course, of exposing them to beautifully done music in the target language. I really appreciate how clearly the lyrics can be heard, making it easy for little ones to understand even if they aren’t native speakers.

And I am thrilled that 123 Andrés is partnering with diaper banks in the US: $1 from every copy of La Luna purchased during the first year of its release will go to support the Greater DC Diaper Bank and the National Diaper Bank Network!

Giveaway

And now you could win your very own copy of La Luna (Canciones para Soñar) from 123 Andrés! Simply comment on this post, letting us know your child’s favorite part of their bedtime routine – is it bedtime stories, or a snuggle with a favorite stuffed animal? Let us know!

Contest runs through Tuesday, May 1, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner selected by random selection. US shipping only.

Related Posts:

Favorite Bedtime Stories

Latino Bedtime Stories

Creating a Peaceful Home

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