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.
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?
A common experience of childhood (and beyond) is feeling that you don’t belong. Maybe you don’t have the right clothes, know the right jokes, or just aren’t “cool” enough (or at least you feel this way). On a more insidious level, children who look or act different (because of, for example, race, class, religion, or gender norms) grow to feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. Following is a collection of books for children about not fitting in. These lovely and often funny books are a great way to start a conversation with young children about how differences can be beautiful and sources of pride.
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.
Books for Children About Not Fitting In
Unstinky is one of my son’s favorite books because it’s all about wanting to be gross and stinky! Bud is a bug that just can’t find his stink. Whenever he’s in a stink contest, he puts out smells like fresh baked bread or flowers instead of gym socks or armpit! Bud is embarrassed, until a new friend helps him discover his real talent. A really funny look about not fitting in
Twig is a beautifully illustrated book about a stick insect on her first day of bug school. She is excited to make friends, but bug school is so busy that no one notices her – especially because she is tall and thin just like a twig! Heidi becomes more and more isolated, until a near mishap with another student finally pushes her to cry out. Once she has everyone’s attention, the others realize that her camouflage was working a little too well! The teacher comes up with a clever way everyone can help Heidi stand out more, by weaving her a beautiful scarf. I love the detailed illustrations of the insects, which are so realistic yet filled with emotions.
Piggy: Let’s Be Friends! is a very sweet story that will help young readers feel more at ease in situations when they feel they are not fitting in. Poor Miles the mole wants to make friends, but he’s just too nervous, especially when he has to venture above ground. Big-hearted Piggy persists in searching for a way to help Miles feel at home – and even take part in an underground tea party with his new friends! One thing I love about this book is that even though some of the characters make fun of Miles at first because he is so different, but they soon come to see that he was just looking for friends. Together, they all work together to make things right with Miles.
How many children’s books have an endorsement from a famous comedian? Thanks to author Elliott Kalan’s time as a writer on The Daily Show, Horse Meets Dog has just that – an enthusiastic endorsement from Jon Stewart! And it’s not just empty praise. This wildly funny book describes an encounter between a horse and a dog, both of whom see the other as a bad version of himself. For example, Horse sees Dog as a very odd looking horse, while Dog sees Horse as an awkward, overgrown dog. An absurd lesson for kids about appreciating others for who they are, rather than who we think they should be.
Stellaluna is a well-loved classic about a baby bat who ends up in a bird’s nest. In a way, it is a re-telling of the ugly duckling tale, as Stellaluna feels there is something wrong with her, that she can’t be like her adopted siblings. She is forced to sleep in the nest at night instead of hanging upside-down by her feet during the day and even (gulp!) eats insects instead of the fruit she craves. Then, one fateful night, she discovers a group of bats and learns that she has talents that her bird brothers and sisters don’t, like the ability to see at night. When he is finally reunited with his bat mother, the story comes full circle.
One aspect I love about this book is that when Stellaluna first lands in the best, the baby birds are fascinated by her habits. They even try hanging by their feet, until their mother discovers them and forbids them – and Stellaluna – from doing it again.
This diversity craft is easy to do and uses materials you probably already have! More importantly, it teaches children about unity in diversity, and how we can celebrate our differences while still coming together to create something beautiful. For those getting ready for Ayyám-i-Há, the nine-pointed stars also make a great decoration!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Diversity Craft for Kids: Easy Nine Pointed Stars
Today more and more people are coming to appreciate the joys and strengths in our diversity. Yet others confuse this celebration of differences as fundamentally divisive. This simple diversity craft teaches children that this does not have to be the case!
When we recognize our essential unity as a human family, there is nothing to fear from recognizes our differences. Instead, we can celebrate them. After all, what a boring world it would be if we were all the same!
This diversity craft teaches children about unity in diversity in a visual way, and it’s incredibly easy to do.
Why a nine pointed star? First, it lets you use three different colors, so it’s very beautiful! Also, since nine is the highest single digit, it is often used as a symbol of unity.
What You Need:
Tissue paper in at least three colors. You can also use Kite Paper, which is less likely to wrinkle and so makes for even more beautiful stars.
Tape – regular tape works fine, but if you have double-sided, even better!
Piece of light weight cardboard (like from a cereal box)
Ahead of time, trace a nine pointed star onto the light weight cardboard. Separately, use the nine pointed star to trace just one of the star’s triangles. (Just trace the points from the star then connect them to make a triangle). Cut out both the star and the triangle to make your templates.
Use the triangle template to cut out triangles from the tissue paper, 3 per star. (Depending on the age of the children, they can do this step or you can prep ahead of time).
Have the children each pick out three triangles, each triangle of a different color.
Using the star template to see how to position the triangles, have them layer the triangles on top of each other to make a nine pointed star. Use tape between each layer. If you don’t have double side tape, just make a little loop out of the tape so that it sticks to both triangles. Note: I originally used glue instead of tape, but it ends up looking mottled even when dry, so I don’t recommend it.
Now you have a cute, multicolored nine pointed star! What’s beautiful about them is that the three colors are seen distinctly in each of the points, but – especially when you hold the star up to the light – the colors also blend to make new shades together! A super simple but powerful way to teach children about the beauty of unity in diversity.
January 31, 2019parentingComments Off on Strengthen Your Child’s Self Esteem and Positive Self Image
We all want to nurture a positive self image in our children but sometimes are unsure of how to go about it. Guest writer Viki de Lieme from ParentsEnlight shares with us a simple but powerful practice to strengthen your child’s self esteem as well as build your relationship!
Helping our little ones build a positive self image and a strong self esteem is much more than praise; here is a simple, yet mindful practice that will enrich your daily activities, empower your child, and even help grow their vocabulary.
Strengthen Your Child’s Self Esteem and Positive Self Image
Mindfulness is on the top of the list of traits somewhat lacking in modern parenting. We’re busy, we have so much to do and so little time, and thus so many parents resort to praise whenever their children engage in a desired activity. Praise however, was already proven problematic.
When Possible, Avoid Praising Your Child
Children’s brains are different than adults’ brains in so many ways. They lack the knowledge and experience that we, adults, have already acquired. They lack the ability to evaluate and judge words, instead – they feel our words. What we process through our brains, children process through their hearts. And this means a whole lot about the way children experience words, about the way they fathom our words.
When a child is doing something he is truly enjoying (drawing, building), or something that his heart told him to do (help you around the house, bring you a glass of water), he is following his internal motivation to get his needs met – either his need for creativity and entertainment or his need for love and connection. Whatever it was that he did – he did it for himself, even when his deeds ended up pleasing you. We are, all of us, selfish that way. We want to make others happy – because it makes us happy.
What Really Happens When We Praise a Child?
Praise is a motivation shifter. Praise takes inner motivations and shifts them into external motivations. If the child was happily drawing to meet his own needs, he will now know that when he draws your needs are met, too. And thus next time, instead of following his heart to the canvas, he will consider your needs, too. And if you’re not that connected that day? If meeting your needs doesn’t meet his own needs at the moment, the canvas might end up white and deserted.
More often than not, what we consider as confidence building (good boy! You got this!) and self image boosting (I told you you can make it!) is actually everything but that.
So How Can You Boost Your Child’s Self Esteem?
The practice I’m sharing with you now is one of my favorite mindful parenting practices, because with so little – it achieves so much. I advise parents to children of all ages to begin using these cards, yet it is best practiced with children over 4 who can play this game, too. To practice this, you’ll need to hold on to your praises (I know it’s hard, kids are so great!) and set 5 minutes each evening to discuss your day with your little one using this mindful tweak on gratitude cards.
Gratitude Cards – With a Mindful Tweak
Usually gratitude cards are used to thank people for doing, in our case – these cards thank our little ones for being. All you need to do is print these cards out and laminate them (just so they would live longer). Then, at bedtime, or any other moment of peaceful connection, take the cards out and put your day’s experiences into positive traits. Not only that your little one will learn the true meaning of his actions, but he would also learn the proper names for his inner needs. Your gratitude towards his deeds will teach him how proud you are of him, but it will achieve that through his heart, without that switch in motivations.
In addition to naming the trait behind the deed, you can ask your little one which other traits were involved in the same did, you can ask him to switch and find the traits he recognized in your deeds today, you can ask him how these deeds made him feel and stress that pleasant deeds derive pleasant emotions. There are, really, endless possibilities to this card game, all of which boost your child’s self esteem and positive self image by touching his very heart, and enhancing the connection between the two of you.
Here are a few examples taken from conversations I had with my own son:
Lately my little one is all about picking up his toys, putting dishes into the sink, turning lights off and whatnot. Everything we were modeling for the past three years if finally showing 🙂 At bedtime (I always do this during bedtime) I brought out the cards and told him how responsible it is of him to put everything back in place (surely there was more detail in our actual conversation), and how proud I am for his growing sense of responsibility.
He then said “responsibility? I am responsible”? We named the trait, made him feel good about what he had done, and made him acknowledge is strength – on his own.
When taking extra time to build the “perfect” (to him) tower, or complete a more challenging puzzle, I thank him for his perseverance. Especially if there were a few “failures” on the way. This teaches him that not making it is a huge part of eventually making it, it teaches him that practice makes perfect, and it teaches him that hard work gets things done. Whenever the perseverance card is pulled out, I always ask him how completing the task made him feel, and whether this pleasant feeling was worthy of the unpleasant feeling the “failure” caused him. By now he already knows that he is perseverent (he says it himself), a trait that will follow him for the rest of his life, and that small “failures” are a part of the big picture of success.
The authenticity card is definitely one of my favorite cards. We live in a world where most children (and adults, too) are catering to the needs and feelings of others, on the expense of their own. Mindfulness is about being present, with ourselves, at every given moment. Being authentic to ourselves, and expressing ourselves authentically. I pull this card out when my little one tells me what he thinks, what he wants, and what he doesn’t want (whether I like it or not). Not too many kids out there are thanked and appreciated for not hugging aunt Sophie when they don’t want to – yet the ability to refuse an activity that doesn’t meet our needs is one of the most important abilities when these little ones enter their teen years and beyond. “No” saves lives and there’s no better time to teach this, than now.
Generosity had gone unnoticed, yet all kids are naturally generous (because making their friends/parents happy meets their need for connection). The more we celebrate it, the more we put an emphasis on their natural generosity, the better are our chances of raising truly generous adults, who give from their hearts and for the sake of giving (rather than from their brains and with the hope of receiving).
When my little one candidly offers his friends his own snacks, and especially when he gives out everything he has – without leaving anything for him (yes – that happens) – he later on finds true pride in being generous.
Celebrate Your Child’s Strengths, Every Day
This mindful activity is a powerful activity to enhance children’s positive self image and boost their self esteem. They love playing with the cards, learning the words, and looking for the deeds that fit those words. They love learning who they are, the love learning that all this positivity comes from within, they love learning how proud these traits of theirs make us feel.
Parents’ Role in Children’s Positive Self Image and Strong Self Esteem
Kids believe what we tell them. This is how it works, and this is why a positive, mindful language is the single most important tool we have in our children’s education. The more positive words we use, the more mindful we are about our own actions and about the actions of our little ones, the easier it will be for us to keep the deep connection and attachment with our children.
Is there anything else that we, really, want?
This deck of Gratitude Cards includes 20 of the most powerful and empowering traits: authenticity, compassion, courageousness, fairness, forgiveness, honesty, initiation, integrity, kindness, lovingness, loyalty, modesty, optimism, patience, perseverance, reliability, sensitivity, and responsibility. The cards are 14.8*10.5 cm and are optimized for print. Get your link, email it to the nearest photography store, ask for laminated cards and pick them up within the hour. It’s totally worth it 🙂
You can download your cards (for free) from ParentsEnlight and start practicing this amazing confidence and self esteem boosting activity.
About the Author
Viki de Lieme is the owner and head coach at ParentsEnlight. A Nonviolent Communication specialist, a human rights activist, attachment parenting advocate, and a firm believer in a better future through mindful parenting.
Want to help get more diverse, multicultural children’s books out into the world? Support Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 25, 2019 with free resources and a classroom kit offered on their website. And be sure to use #ReadYourWorld on social media and spread the word!
Welcome to our 6th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Here’s how to celebrate:
Link up your diversity book reviews below.
Join us tonight at our 6th annual Twitter Party! Follow @McChildsBookDay to join in on the diverse book discussions, discover new titles and authors and for a chance to win one of our twelve book bundles. Party time is 9 pm to 10 pm EST. RSVP here. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld.
We want to extend a huge THANK YOU to all of the Sponsors, Authors, Publishers, Organizations, Book Reviewers, Book Donators, Parents, Caregivers, Educators and Librarians who devote their time and energy to helping us to achieve our mission of getting multicultural children’s and YA books into the hands of readers. We appreciate you!
Teach your students all about the upcoming Lunar New Year with these wonderful Chinese New Year books for kids! They include picture books as well as easy readers and a chapter book. Some are straightforward informational books, while others are fairy tales that bring to life some of the aspects of the Chinese New Year, like the animals of the zodiac. Some focus on the difficulty of being away from family during this special holiday, or the challenges of finding your identity as a Chinese American.
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.
18 Chinese New Year Books for Children
Bringing In the New Year is a wonderful board book that introduces the youngest readers to Chinese New Year. In colorful illustrations, it demonstrates how a family prepares for the New Year – by, for example, sweeping out the old year and hanging up spring-happiness poems. Little ones will especially enjoy the depictions of the celebration with lion dancers, firecrackers, and a dragon parade!
A cute book to teach older slightly children about the holiday is Chelsea’s Chinese New Year. Chelsea and her Chinese-American family are getting ready for the Chinese New Year, and she can’t wait! Most of all she wonders how she will stay up so late the night before! Can be read as a simple story, or add in the fun facts that are seen in bubbles throughout the book. A fun look at the celebration through a child’s eyes. Includes a glossary, list of zodiac animals, and additional resources.
PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year also follows a young Chinese-American girl celebrating Chinese New Year, but with a twist – she is learning all about it from her grandmother (PoPo), who is visiting from China! The first thing she learns is that there are a lot of rules to bring luck for the New Year, like don’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day, and don’t use knives and scissors. Can she follow the rules to have the luckiest year ever?
This Next New Year is another great introduction to the customs of Chinese New Year. One thing that makes this book a little different is its emphasis on how people of different Asian cultures (and many who aren’t Asian at all!) celebrate this holiday, including the main character, a young boy who is half-Chinese and half-Korean.
In Li’s Chinese New Year, Li learns about Chinese New Year and the zodiac as he tries to decide which animal to be at his school’s Chinese New Year parade. Read to find out more about his teacher’s clever solution!
Home for Chinese New Year is a very sweet story about a father going to great lengths to return home for Chinese New Year. Jiajun’s father works in a city far from home, but takes a train, bus, three-wheeled motorcycle, and ferry before walking many miles to make it home to his family for Chinese New Year. Emphasizes the importance of being with family for the holiday, and the incredible efforts people make to celebrate this special holiday together, even if only for a few days.
A New Year’s Reunion is a very similar story of a little girl whose father builds houses far away and only comes home for a few days a year, at Chinese New Year. This book captures the mixed emotions the young girl feels – excitement as she waits for her father’s arrival but fear as he looks so different than she remembers, joy as they celebrate Chinese New Year together and finally sadness when he leaves again just a short time later.
A Gift also emphasizes the importance of family during Chinese New Year, even when it is impossible for everyone to be together. Amy’s mother is from China, and although Amy has uncles and an aunt there she’s never met, they always remember her during Chinese New Year. This year they send a special gift all the way from China, to show their love and bring her luck for the new year.
In New Year we meet a young boy who has just moved to Los Angeles from Hong Kong. At first he is excited to go to school, but he quickly becomes frustrated when he doesn’t understand anyone else, except for another Chinese student who is embarrassed to talk to him in Chinese. Yet with help from his teacher (also an immigrant, from Mexico) and his mother, he learns to be proud of where he is from. Through his art, he gains confidence and shares with the other students his special memories of Chinese New Year.
If the story of a little girl walking through the woods to give her grandmother a present sounds familiar, don’t worry! In Ruby’s Chinese New Year no one gets eaten by a wolf. In fact, all of the animals Ruby meets on her journey are friendly and want to help her take a special Chinese New Year card to Grandmother. A clever way to introduce children to the animals of the zodiac and learn about the true spirit of Chinese New Year along the way! Includes additional information about the zodiac and Chinese New Year crafts.
When Xingling learns from her PoPo (grandmother) about the Nian monster who used to terrorize the countryside every year on Lunar New Year, she never imagines it will come back to life! In The Nian Monster, this clever girl must figure out how to use the traditions of Chinese New Year to defeat the Nian Monster before it devours her and the whole city of Shanghai! Beautifully told story that not only showcases many of the features of Chinese New Year but also landmarks of Shanghai.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a fun retelling of the classic tale, this time set during Chinese New Year. Poor Goldy Luck just can’t catch a break. She tries to help her mother delivers a plate of turnip cakes to their neighbors (a family of pandas), but instead ends up stumbling into their apartment when they aren’t home, spilling the cakes, eating a whole bowl of congee, breaking a rocking chair, and – to top it all off – falling asleep in the little one’s bed! Find out how Goldy turns her situation around and finally finds some good luck to start off the new year. Includes a recipe for turnip cakes.
Inspired by the Danish folktale the Talking Pot, The Runaway Wok tells the story of a poor family in Beijing, who wishes they had enough food for a proper Chinese New Year feast to share with their neighbors. When the son finds an old, battered wok at the market, he is shocked when it begins to sing to him! Sure it must be magic, he brings it home, and soon the wok goes to work to make this a Chinese New Year to remember for this generous family and the other poor families of Beijing.
In The Runaway Rice Cake it’s the food itself that’s on the run. The Chang family only has enough rice flour to make one rice cake for the whole family to share for Chinese New Year, but when it is ready, it jumps up and runs out the door! The resolution to the story emphasizes not simply cleverness but kindness and generosity. In the end, the family is rewarded for their selflessness when they (and their rice cake) find someone in even greater need than themselves.
If you have a Curious George fan in your house, you won’t want to miss Curious George Dragon Dance. This time George’s curiosity leads him to investigate a Chinese New Year parade and help a new friend by becoming a lion dancer! Includes a craft.
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year is different from the others because it follows a real life boy as he gets ready to be a lion dancer for Chinese New Year. It is chock full of beautiful photos of this family as they prepare for and celebrate in New York City’s Chinatown.
Max Celebrates Chinese New Year is part of an easy reader series. In this simple story, Max learns all about Chinese New Year as he helps his friend Lily and her family celebrate. A good introduction to basic traditions of the holiday.
The Year of the Dog is told from the point of view of a Chinese American girl, one of the only non-Caucasians in her town. According to her mother, the Year of the Dog is all about finding yourself, so the young girl struggles with her identity: Should she be called Pacy (her Chinese name) or Grace (her American name)? Is she American or Chinese or Taiwanese, or can she be all three? And can she find her own special talent before the Year of the Dog is over? Author Grace Lin started the Pacy Lin series because it was the kind of book she wished she could have read when she was growing up. Pacy/Grace faces problems any child will recognize (whether a crush likes her, getting a role in the school production of The Wizard of Oz), but these are sometimes complicated by her background (can Dorothy be Chinese?) The characters in the book are so well-written, and the story is both poignant and quite funny. And what pulls it all together is the idea of Chinese New Year, and how the concept of the Year of the Dog shapes Grace/Pacy’s quest for identity. While most children’s novels take place over a summer or over one school year, this one starts and finishes on Chinese New Year. Will one year be enough time to find herself? Highly recommended.
What are your favorite Chinese New Year books for kids?
Welcome to our fifth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on February 5. It is the beginning of the Year of the Pig, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2017, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:
Take your kids around the world this holiday season by hosting an around the world holiday party! It’s the perfect way for a school club or a homeschool group to celebrate this festive season.
Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids
Last year we started a World Explorers Club in our homeschool group. Each month we get together to learn about a different country with the kiddos. Earlier this month the World Explorers Club put on our second annual around the world holiday party. Everyone had a blast!
Each family picks a country to represent and shows how a popular winter holiday is celebrated there.
At our party this year we learned about Christmas in Sweden, Russia, Italy, UK, and the Netherlands; Hanukkah in Israel; Diwali in India; Chinese New Year in China; and Ayyám-i-Há. (The Bahá’í holiday of Ayyám-i-Há was a bit of an exception, since it isn’t based in any one country).
For their chosen country, each family prepares 1) a craft or activity, 2) a traditional treat. So, for example, last year our family did the Philippines, so the kids made a version of a traditional star decoration and sampled some homemade coconut milk cake. For India (Diwali) this year we brought ladoos to share and helped the kids make paper diyas. For Sweden, the kids crafted some adorable Christmas gnomes and decorated cookies, while for Israel (Hanukkah) they played dreidel to win chocolate coins.
We have done this two different ways, so see which works for your group! Both times, we set up “stations” around the room, generally one country per table, and the kids could spread out and take turns visiting each.
Last year, the food and the craft were at each station, whereas this year we moved all the treats to a food table and saved them until the end. They were only able to get the food after completing a quiz about the countries they had learned about!
The holiday quiz! They had to work together to answer the questions before they could have their treats 🙂
Whichever way you do it, make sure to have their first stop by a station where kids decorate treat bags. They’ll need one to collect all the crafts they will be making! This is a great activity for them to do as people are arriving and setting up.
Next year, we definitely have to add a Mexican style piñata!
Part of our character building classes is teaching children about heroes in Bahá’í history and how they can emulate their qualities. Bahiyyih Khanum, daughter of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, is a leading Bahá’í heroine and holds a unique place in religious history. In these lessons, the children studied a prayer and learned about her qualities of service and leadership.
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.
Bahá’í History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum
Also known by the title Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahiyyih Khanum was born in 1846, the daughter of Bahá’u’lláh and His wife Navváb. She was only a child when her family was forced from their homes and, along with the other members of her family, spent the rest of her life as an exile.
She also holds the distinction of being the first woman in religious history to lead a worldwide faith community. When her older brother ‘Abdu’l-Bahá died in 1921, Bahiyyih Khanum assumed the helm of the Bahá’í community, shepherding it through some of its most difficult times, as it prepared to transition to the leadership of the young Shoghi Effendi. Grownups can read more about her extraordinary life in Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Baha’i Faith.
The children’s class activities outlined below were taught over two classes and focused on Bahiyyih Khanum’s qualities of service and leadership, as well as teaching about the Holy Family.
For some aspects, like the prayer book, we did half during one lesson and half during the other. The other activities you can divide between two (or three) lessons as you see fit.
Children’s Prayer: “O Thou Kind Lord”
At the beginning of each class, after our opening prayers, we studied the following prayer from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “O Thou Kind Lord! These lovely children are the handiwork of the fingers of Thy might…” (read the whole prayer).
The children made a prayer book from two sheets of construction paper stapled together. During the first lesson, we pasted on the cover a copy of a photo of Bahiyyih Khanum (from the resource pages of the Core Curriculum Preschool lesson book). On the first inside page, they pasted a copy of a the first paragraph of the prayer. On the opposite page, they traced their hands, to go along with the idea of “handiwork.” Their homework was to read over and begin to memorize the first paragraph of the prayer.
During the next lesson, they pasted the second paragraph on the next page of the prayer book, which includes “…enable them to render service to the world of humanity.” On the opposite page, they drew pictures of things they could do to help others.
On the last set of pages, they pasted the final paragraph, which includes, “These children are pearls, cause them to be nurtured within the shell of Thy loving-kindness.” Then we folded over a piece of card stock and cut out a shell shape, being careful to have the top (the “hinge”) of the shell on the fold, so that the shell can open and close.
They then drew a heart on the outside of the shell (for “loving-kindness”) and a pearl on the inside. They then pasted the finished shell to the page opposite the final paragraph of the prayer.
Holy Family Tree
Next we focused on learning about the life of Bahiyyih Khanum, first by helping the children understand how she fits into the Holy Family (the family of Bahá’u’lláh). For this, I drew on the expertise of my friend Melissa at Delighted Hearts, who worked with me to develop this beautiful Holy Family Tree, which children can use to help them understand the relationships between the members of Bahá’u’lláh’s family. Be sure to visit her website for the printable worksheet!
To learn about her life of service, I adapted a story from Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Baha’i Faith about when Bahiyyih Khanum was very young. Though she was just a small child and not very strong, she would still help to serve tea using a very heavy samovar, an act of service that impressed Bahá’u’lláh’s guests. I loved sharing this story with them, because it shows that even though they are young, they can still serve others and teach the Faith.
Since the children were not familiar with the samovars commonly used in Persia at that time, a local Bahá’í kindly loaned one to use to demonstrate.
As a follow up to last week’s stained glass heart craft for the Birth of the Báb, today I’m sharing a craft for the upcoming Bahá’í holy day the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh. This is an easy movable sun craft, which anyone can make as a cheerful decoration, or you can customize it with a quotation for the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh.
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Movable Sun Craft: Birth of Baha’u’llah
The Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Mirza Husayn Ali, is customarily known by the title Bahá’u’lláh, which is Arabic for “the Glory of God.” For this craft for the upcoming Bahá’í holy day celebrating the anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth, I have focused on the word “glory,” here represented by the sun.
This craft is an easy one to do at home with your child or to do with a group of children in a class or at a holy day event. If you do, please share your photos! You can either share on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram (@alldonemonkey).
Materials (per child)
3 sheets of construction paper or colored card stock
To make this movable sun craft for a class of 3-6 year olds, I prepped ahead by doing steps 1 and 2, as well as the final step. You may decide to have your students or child do those steps with you, depending on their age and attention span.
1. Stack your sheets of colored paper. Trace a large circle on the top layer and cut out the shape so that you have three identical circles, one from each sheet of paper.
2. Leave your yellow circle as is. Fold your white circle in half, lightly crease it then open again. Fold in half the opposite direction. Cut along the line of your first crease except cut a small quarter circle as you approach the edge of your new fold.
When you open it again, you should have a semi-circle topped with a small semi-circle in the middle (almost like a little UFO!). The small semi-circle will be the base of the rising sun.
3. Have the children color the smaller semi-circle either orange or yellow, to represent the sun.
4. Next, cut your orange sheet into rays. You can let the children cut the rays themselves in whatever pattern they wish, just as long as they cut out some pieces, so that when it is placed on top of the yellow circle, some of the yellow will show through. (In other words, don’t just cut a fringe by cutting slits all the way around).
If you would like a more even pattern, you can fold the orange circle in half, then in half again, and then once more. Cut out a “V” in the middle of this triangle, making it as much in the middle as possible, so that the sides remaining are even.
5. Open the orange circle (if folded) then glue onto the yellow circle.
6. Place the white sheet on top and secure them all together with a round fastener right in the middle, so that the sun can spin.
7. If you are just making the movable sun craft as a fun decoration, you can stop – you’re done! However, if you are making it for the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh then write “Bahá” on four consecutive orange rays.
8. Spin the sun until “Bahá” is hidden then write “Glory” on five of the yellow rays. If you did the folded method of making the orange rays then you will have exactly the right number to write both phrases. Note that for “Glory” the first and last letters will be on half spaces, so that they don’t show when you spin to show the “Bahá” side.
9. Finally , on the white semi-circle, write the following quote (this could also be done ahead of time):
In anticipation of the upcoming Bahá’í holy day, here is an easy but beautiful stained glass heart craft for the Birth of the Báb we did in our children’s class. It only requires a few materials yet allows children to be creative and add their own personal touch on it.
Stained Glass Heart Craft: The Birth of the Bab
Next week, Bahá’ís will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of one of the Prophet-Founders of the Bahá’í Faith, known by His Arabic title, the Báb (“The Gate”). This stained glass heart craft is a fun activity for the holy day to use in a children’s class or at home. It makes a beautiful gated frame for a short prayer from the Báb.
Materials (per child):
1 sheet of card stock
1 block of contact paper, about the size of the sheet of card stock
Torn tissue paper of varying colors
For this stained glass heart craft, I did steps 1-6 myself ahead of time, to prep for a class of 3-6 year olds; however, if you are working with a child one on one or have a group of older children, you may choose to have them do some of these steps.
1. Fold the card stock in half cross-wise. Lightly crease then reopen.
2. Fold each end toward the crease mark so that they meet in the middle. This will be your gate. Sharply crease these edges then reopen the sheet.
3. Fold the card stock in half again (as you did originally) and cut out a large heart shape. Make sure not to pass the creases you just made in Step 2.
4. Take the cut out shape and make it smaller by cutting off about an inch all the way around. The amount you cut off will be the amount of space you have for the “stained glass” to show through.
5. On this smaller heart, write this short prayer (see below of a melody you can teach for this prayer):
O God, my God,
my heart’s Desire.
– The Báb
6. Fold the contact paper in half (with the sticky side facing in). Trim so that it is about the size of the back of the gate when refolded.
7. Peel the paper off of one half of the contact paper and have the children place the small heart with the quote in the center.
8. The children can then decorate the remaining area of the contact paper with the torn tissue paper. You may also wish to give them other items, such as glitter, to use.
They can fill the space completely or leave some spots empty, as they wish. Just make sure they leave room around the edges so that you can seal off their creation at the end. They should focus on decorating the center of their rectangle, as only the area around the heart will show through at the end.
9. When they are done, peel off the backing of the rest of the contact paper and fold it over the decorated area to seal it in.
10. Glue this sealed contact paper to the back of the gate, so that the small heart shows through in the center of the cut-out heart space.
Once you have finished, children could also decorate the rest of the gate frame with markers or stickers, if they wish.
Here is a melody for the above prayer that you can teach the children as well: