Like so many of you, our family is thinking more and more about the impact we make on our planet. While there are many great resources to teach children about conservation, nothing beats hands on experience! I’ve always wanted to compost, so this year we finally did the research and got started! Here is a look at what you need, plus tips from other composting families!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Composting: Tips to Get Started
What to Buy
If you have a big enough space in your backyard, there is no need to purchase a bin; however, if you have a smaller yard, as we do, or simply don’t want to use your yard space for a compost pile, there are great options for composting bins you can purchase!
After a lot of research, we purchased a FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter. It is perfect for us because it doesn’t take up much room and is super easy to use. The kids love helping turn the bin!
The guide put out by our city recommends the Compost Bin by GEOBIN. It is easy to set up and very economical.
An easy way to collect your kitchen scraps before taking them out to compost is an indoor bin like the Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Compost Bin for Kitchen Countertop. It is small enough to sit on the kitchen counter and comes with a lid and charcoal filter so you don’t have to worry about a smell! Just to be clear, this isn’t actually for composting, just to collect the scraps until you can take them outdoors.
What does multicultural parenting look like in our family? Today I’m honored to bring you my recent interview on Talking Louis, part of their series of interviews called My Mixed Life. Read on for more details!
What does being a “world citizen” mean to me? How does being in an intercultural marriage influence how we are raising our children? Find out answers to these questions and more on this interview on multicultural parenting:
Looking for a simple, well-organized planner that you can customize to your needs? Tired of writing in all the Bahá’í holy days and Feast days into your planner? Want help planning family service projects and holiday celebrations? The Coral and Pearls Planner for Baha’i Parents is for you!
The Coral & Pearls Planner for Baha’i Parents was born out of my own need to have a planner customized for the needs of Bahá’í parenting, such as inclusion of Bahá’í holidays and space for reflection. In this 42 page planner, you will find pages monthly and weekly calendars, as well as pages to plan service projects and Holy Day celebrations.
This digital planner can be downloaded to your computer and printed as needed. Here’s what you will find:
Monthly Pages (includes Bahá’í holidays and Feast days)
If you are a homeschooler, don’t miss our Homeschool Supplement! As a homeschooler myself, I was searching for a planner that would fit my needs as a Bahá’í parent. While many of my needs & interests are common to other Bahá’í parents (and included in the main Coral and Pearls Planner), I also knew that there were other concerns specific to homeschoolers. In this digital Homeschool Supplement, you will find templates for fleshing out your family’s daily and weekly routines, organizing curricula and resources, as well as (of course!) lesson plan templates.
I also know how diverse homeschoolers are! There are so many ways of organizing a homeschool; therefore, I have included several different lesson plan templates, also recognizing that some of you may not use lesson plans at all!
The Homeschool Supplement is designed for you to print as needed. This way you can print only the pages that fit your homeschool. Inside you will find:
Want to teach your children about racial justice but not sure where to begin? Looking for tools to incorporate discussions of race into your classroom? Luckily there are so many great resources available these days. You can find me today over at Multicultural Kid Blogs, sharing the best resources we have found from our bloggers and across the internet for teaching kids about racial justice. You’ll find everything from lesson plans to children’s books, plus much more:
The pre-adolescent years are a time of great change, which often brings confusion but also growth. Kids have to deal with bullying, friendship, family issues, and discovering their own unique voices. For many, sports can be a fun way to sort through these issues while also exploring their own interests. Below are wonderful new middle grade books about sports that teach life lessons that kids this age often face.
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.
Middle Grade Books About Sports and Life Lessons
Ollie dreams of being a pro wrestler one day, so he can win back the golden championship belt his mom lost to a cheating opponent years before. But it’s not until he is given a disgusting, old piece of gum that belonged to a former wrestling champion that this scrawny boy sees any hope that his dream might actually come true. Slamdown Town is the story of what happens when a kid is suddenly able to transform into the body of a pro wrestler. Ollie thinks it’s a dream come true – a chance to win back the championship belt, get enough publicity to save the local arena, and maybe even get revenge on his bullying older brother.
Yet as Ollie’s attention becomes more and more absorbed by his secret identity as a wrestler, it has grave consequences for his already lackluster grades and for his relationship with his best friend Tamiko. In the end, Ollie has to decide what is most important to him and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get it.
Slamdown Town is a super fun read, even for someone like me who isn’t a big fan of pro wrestling. It’s obvious that the authors are huge fans, and their (and Ollie’s) enthusiasm is infectious. Also, the dialogue is hilarious! I especially love Tamiko, Ollie’s best friend and a girl gamer who keeps Ollie on his toes. (And by the way, I love that Ollie and Tamiko are besties without any hint of romance). Plus the descriptions of his older brother and his attempts to be cool are particularly funny. A fun book that explores life lessons in a very unusual way.
When Jack starts fifth grade, he hopes that the bullying from the year before will stop, but instead it starts again with increased fervor. To make matters worse, he is afraid to tell his best friends and his parents, because he doesn’t want to look like a coward. Jack tries every solution he can think of to avoid the bullies, but they always find a way to make his life miserable. Meanwhile, his shame at not being able to handle the problem himself only increases.
Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball from TCK Publishing explores the all too common theme of bullying. What makes this latest book from Phyllis J. Perry different is that it not only gives Jack’s perspective as a bullied kid, it also helps him see how easy it is to be unfriendly people that are different. When Jack is assigned to help a new student from Germany, Jack struggles to be patient with Hans’ lack of English and frequent misunderstandings. Yet eventually he learns to appreciate Hans, in part through their common love of baseball.
When his bullies steal Jack’s prized baseball mitt, Jack knows they’ve gone too far and comes up with a plan to stop the bullying once and for all – but only after enlisting the help of his parents, friends, and teacher. A great book about friendship, courage, and knowing when to ask for help.
When my friend Daria from Daria’s World Music approached me about sharing her Indian drum craft along with a related children’s book, I was so excited! Daria and I have been friends for a long time, and I’m a big admirer of her work. She does such an incredible job of getting kids excited about world music. You can see below how much fun we had recently making the dhol Indian drum and reading a folktale about it!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the resources below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Indian Drum Craft and Book
The dholis a drum from North India and surrounding areas, especially the Punjab region. This double-sided drum is hung around the neck with a thick strap and played with wooden sticks.
It is easy to do with resources you probably have on hand right now.
The kids loved getting to decorate the drums with their own designs, but best of all was running outside once they were done to find sticks and get playing!
While the kids were working, I read them The Drum, a folktale from India about a boy who longs for his own drum. Being from a poor family, however, he knows they cannot afford it. But when his mother brings home a magical stick, given to her by a mysterious stranger, the boy’s luck changes. He immediately begins a series of adventures, where his compassion leads him to help people in need, who each repay him as best they can. In the end, he gets his drum! A really fun story of a good-hearted kid being rewarded for his kindness.
As parents, we all want to raise children who are kind and treat others with courtesy. Yet figuring out exactly how to do so can be hard! Here are wonderful new books for teaching manners, plus a simple courtesy craft.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy 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.
Teaching Manners: Resources Plus Simple Courtesy Craft
Light of Courtesy Craft
For a recent Bahá’í virtues class, I focused on teaching manners. First, we studied this quote from Bahá’u’lláh, “Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy.” We discussed how courtesy is like a light: it can brighten someone’s day, just like sunshine can brighten up a room!
For this simple courtesy craft, you could either cut out the base and lampshade shapes ahead of time, or have the children do it themselves, depending on the ages of the children. The base can be any color, but the lampshade should be yellow, to represent light.
After they glue the pieces together to make a lamp, have them write “Courtesy” on the base (help, if needed) and decorate the lampshade with examples of courtesy. Older children can write things like “please” and “thank you,” while younger ones can draw pictures.
Afterwards, they are free to decorate as they wish!
New Books for Teaching Manners
As the holiday season approaches, it’s a great time to reinforce the importance of being generous. The Gift Inside the Box is an innovative new picture book that is actually shaped like a box, just like might arrive in the mail this time of year. In the story, various children imagine what might be inside, thinking only of themselves and what they would want. The box runs away from each in turn, until finally he is discovered by a little girl who wonders to whom she could give this wonderful gift. A lovely reminder that giving is even more beautiful than getting.
Kindness Rules! is a hip new board book that is perfect for teaching manners to kids. Fun animal characters demonstrate kindness through real world scenarios kids find themselves in every day, such as sharing toys, meeting someone new, and apologizing. A superhero elephant (wearing “respectables” and “positive pants”) shows how to act, with commentary from a cast of friendly animals. I love that standing up for others is included, since bullying is such a big problem these days.
On this blog we talk a lot about activities to teach Spanish or resources for raising bilingual kids, but for many parents, a foreign language is not a high priority to add to their child’s already long list of activities. Many wonder, why should my child learn another language when they have so much on their plate as it is?
I recently had the pleasure to interview an amazing musician and advocate for teaching Spanish, the wonderful Super Stolie. Below she talks about her own journey to learn Spanish, and why she feels it is so important to expose children to other languages and cultures.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why My Child Learn Another Language?
Interview with Super Stolie
Super Stolie (that is, Rebecca Stoelinga) has been performing for children for over a decade. While she has incorporated Spanish into her music previously (see my review of her album Family in Harmony), her latest album Hola Ola is her first fully bilingual collection. Her music is fun and super catchy, and, on a personal level, I have to say how encouraging it is that Super Stolie is not a native speaker, yet she still has achieved a high level of fluency in Spanish!
But given that she is not a native speaker of Spanish, why is it (and the culture) so important to her, and why does she feel so strongly that children should learn another language? Read my interview below to find out!
1. Tell us more about your love for Spanish and Latin culture! How did it begin, and why does it continue to be important to you today?
When I was in junior high, we were allowed to pick between Spanish or French as a foreign language to learn. Even at 12 I was aware of the influence of the Spanish language and culture, so the decision was clear! I think being able to communicate in another language is like having a super power— I actually have lots of memories of when my language skills saved the day! Since I’ve been making connections through music for so many years, combining that now with my second language seems like a job for Super Stolie!
2. Why do you think it’s important for children to learn another language?
I think it’s important for children to be globally educated, and knowing another language connects us with more people in the world, opening doors to new opportunities in travel, career and friendship. Plus, exposing yourself to a new language can help increase comprehension and speaking abilities overall by literally developing your tongue!
3. What can parents do to encourage their children to learn another language? (Or to learn one themselves??)
The first part of the journey is to increase awareness and exposure to another language, and preferably in a daily practice. This can be with books from the library, watching programs in the second language, using apps or flashcards, calling a relative or family friend who can pepper the language into a conversation. But my favorite — listening to music! One of my early practices was singing along to songs I loved (usually with lyrics printed in front of me) because it really helps with language fluidity.
4. What is the story behind your latest single, “Fuerte sin parar”?
In 2012 I released an album called Press Play! with a song called “Top of Our Lungs” about singing and back-seat leg dancing in the car. “Fuerte sin parar” is a pop remix of that song, with an additional Spanish translation of the original lyrics weaved throughout the song. The new version is totally different, very poppy! I used the Spanish lyrics for the chorus and reworked the original English chorus to a rap in the bridge of the song.
5. What message do you hope your young listeners take away from your music?
There are plenty of materials already out there for language learning. As I’ve been shifting into making bilingual music for kids, I’ve discovered that my expertise as a songwriter, and now a bilingual speaker, is to offer music — for entertainment — for those children who are being raised bilingually or who already are. Why should your favorite music be in just one language, if you can speak or understand two? I hope listeners who share a passion for multilingualism continue to support a world where language crossover is another way we can unite as a whole!
As a kid, it is sometimes hard to feel like your voice makes a difference. It’s important to show kids that they can change the world, by empowering them in the choices they make on a daily basis, and giving them examples from history of kids who have made a difference. Here is a fun Birth of the Bab activity that helps kids see themselves as the spiritual descendants of the Dawn Breakers.
Birth of the Bab Activity: Spiritual Descendants of the Dawn Breakers
This year, to celebrate the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, I wanted the kids in our community to realize that, as the Guardian so beautifully stated, they are the spiritual descendants of those very early believers in the Báb:
The community of the organized promoters of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the American continent—the spiritual descendants of the dawn-breakers of an heroic Age, who by their death proclaimed the birth of that Faith—must, in turn, usher in, not by their death but through living sacrifice, that promised World Order, the shell ordained to enshrine that priceless jewel, the world civilization, of which the Faith itself is the sole begetter. – Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice
Sometimes it can be hard for kids to see how their lives are related to the lives of those incredible heroes that lived so long ago and far away. This worksheet (which can be done individually or as a group) helps them think about concrete ways they are making the world a better place and helping bring about an ever-advancing civilization.
Some examples that our kids came up with at Feast: picking up trash, standing up to bullies, hugs, collecting food for the homeless, and smiling at people! I’d love to hear the responses from the kids in your community!
To download your copy of the worksheet, simply right-click on the image below:
Want to simplify your life and declutter your house? Many people I know want to achieve these goals but are concerned about the effect on their family. Be encouraged that you are doing the right thing! Here are reflections on minimalist living with kids from people that have made the change themselves, and why they think your family will not only survive, but thrive! Includes a review of a new picture book on tiny house living.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission, at no extra charge to you.
Minimalist Living with Kids
Learn more about minimalist living with kids from parents and educators who have made the change!
A great resource to talk to your kids about minimalism and “tiny living” is Sissy Goes Tiny, created by long-time friends Rebecca Flansburg and Ba Norrgard. Sissy is an ordinary girl, who loves her home, her toys, her spacious backyard, and her big, cozy bed.
So when her mom and dad (a beautifully portrayed interracial couple) break the news that the family will be going tiny, Sissy is understandably skeptical. But her parents explain that while living tiny does mean fewer things, it also means more freedom and more experiences.
The book goes through each stage of the downsizing, including donating many items, re-purposing others, and making a scrapbook of their favorite things. Though this process is at times difficult, as it progresses Sissy’s skepticism soon turns to excitement, until it finally culminates in the arrival of their beautiful new tiny home!