Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of The Soccer Fence for this book review; however, all opinions are my own.
As the World Cup draws to a close, it is worth remembering that the game has reverberations off the field as well as on. Kids around the world grow up playing football (soccer) on well-kept pitches, in dusty alleys, and on muddy fields. They cheer on their heroes, celebrating every kick and goal.
So what does it mean to someone born into apartheid in South Africa to later watch a newly integrated team win the African Cup of Nations?
Phil Bildner’s The Soccer Fence brilliantly captures the juxtaposition of two worlds in apartheid South Africa through the eyes of his main character, Hector, a boy who grows up playing soccer in an alley in a black township. Each time he goes with his mother to her housekeeping job in a white neighborhood, Hector yearns to play on the grassy pitch with the little boys he sees there, but they always ignore him.
Years later, after the breakdown of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela, Hector watches as the national soccer team – now made up of both black and white players – wins the African Cup of Nations. He is not the only one deeply moved by the victory, and the example of the integrated team has ripple effects into his own life.
This beautifully illustrated book can be read on several levels. At the most basic, it is a wonderful way to introduce your child to the idea of fair play and inclusion, but it can also be a great way to begin to discuss the history of apartheid in terms they can understand.
I highly recommended The Soccer Fence. It is primarily for school age children, though my preschooler also enjoyed it.
According to Maria Montessori, “Play is the work of the child.” Yet in many communities around the world, children are denied this simple, basic developmental need because of poverty or other hardship.
That is why we are so excited to support One World Futbol in their mission to bring the healing power of play to youth worldwide through their nearly indestructible soccer/football. The One World Futbol never needs a pump and never goes flat—even when punctured multiple times—due to its ingenious technology. But what we truly love about their model is for every ball purchased, they donate one to organizations working with youth in disadvantaged communities worldwide.
Follow along by using the hash tag #MKBWorldCup!
We have a special giveaway planned during the World Cup with Multicultural Kid Blogs and One World Futbol. It’s unlike a usual giveaway as this time you, our readers, are using your collective power to vote to give the ball away to a community in need! We need your help so we can donate one of the One World Futbols (generously supplied by One World Futbol) to the Mustard Seed School in Sacramento, CA, which serves homeless children in the Sacramento area.
But here’s the thing–there are 9 blogs participating in this contest, and One World Futbol will donate balls to the three blogs that get the most shares on their posts. So we need your help–please SHARE this post on Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Pinterest and contribute your power, your vote to help us donate this One World Futbol. Each share is tallied as a vote. And whoever get the most votes, donates the ball! Let’s show how strong our voices are with our votes.
We have until midnight ET on Sunday, July 13 to get as many shares as we can on this post. (The tally will be made based on the number on the social share buttons at the end of this post). So let’s start now!
Mustard Seed is a free, private school for children 3-15 years old which provides a safe, nurturing and structured environment, a positive learning experience, happy memories, survival resources of food, clothing and shelter referrals, medical and dental screenings, immunization updates, counseling for children and their parents, and assistance entering or reentering public schools.
Mustard Seed School was established in 1989 to help meet the needs of homeless children. Many school age children do not attend school because of their homelessness; some lack immunizations, birth certificates, or other documents, some are in transit, and almost all lack a support system. In spite of their situations these children are eager to learn and to be accepted.
Many homeless children are not enrolled in school because the places their families find to sleep are often not near a child’s school and the family only plans to be there a short time. Sometimes the school needs an address or updated immunizations which homeless families cannot provide.
From fifteen to thirty-five children may attend our school each day, and an average stay is just three to four weeks. Some children have been out of school for a long time and need help to go back. A major goal of the Program is to prepare and enroll homeless children into public schools, and preschool for younger children, when families have found housing stability. Since the school began, over 4500 individual children have participated in Mustard Seed.
Please share this post to help us donate a One World Futbol to the Mustard Seed School! Feel free to use #MKBWorldCup when you share!
And don’t forget to visit Multicultural Kid Blogs to help them “unlock” an additional two One World Futbols to donate!
One World Futbol
One World Futbol Project is a B-corporation based in Berkeley, CA and was founded by Tim Jahnigen, the inventor of the One World Futbol. One World Futbol was inspired by refugee youth in Darfur, who had such indestructible spirits – and love for football! – despite their hardships. Tim Jahnigen wanted to give them something more, so he invented a soccer ball that would never need a pump and would never go flat, even when punctured multiple times. One World Futbol Project and its virtually indestructible ball have now reached more than 170 countries and continue to bring the healing power of play to youth worldwide. The Buy One Donate One model makes it easy for consumers to donate these amazing One World Futbols to needy communities.
The following member blogs are participating in this contest. Visit them to see which organizations they have chosen. Remember, sharing is caring! The 3 blogs with the most social shares (as shown on the share counters on their blog posts) will get to donate a football to the qualified organization they have chosen!
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing about our volcano birthday party!
My Monkey loooooves volcanoes! We even got to visit several with him on our recent trip to Costa Rica:
Volcán Irazú is not (very) active, so we were able to climb up and look right into the main crater. Monkey was a little nervous about getting too close, but in the end curiosity won out!
Volcán Arenal is the most famous volcano in Costa Rica, and rightly so! It is very active, and many visitors are able to see small eruptions. We were not so fortunate, but we still enjoyed the spectacular view.
So it wasn’t hard to pick the theme for the boys’ birthday party last year – volcanoes! Our parties are always very small, but I still wanted to make it something special. Here is what we did:
For decorations I relied heavily on the Dollar Store and Party City. We found plenty of red streamers (though we ran out of tape – details, details!), plus some fun “fireworks” decorations made out of ribbons and stars. I even stuck some shiny red pom-pom gift wrap bows around. I also cut out volcanoes out of black and red poster board and taped them up on the walls. But the best find were the sparkly door streamers! The kids loved running through the “lava”! In fact, this was the last decoration to be taken down after the party – more than a week later!
To be honest, for the food I didn’t worry much about the volcano theme, but for drinks I had to make “lava juice”! Really this was just strawberry lemonade, which I made by blending lemonade (from concentrate – keep it simple!) with frozen strawberries and sugar to taste. It was so yummy! While the adults got the full affect of the colorful juice in their “grown up” glasses, I wasn’t about to let hyper preschoolers run around our house with cups of red liquid. So instead I found inexpensive red sports bottles, which we labeled with each child’s name. The “volcano cups” went home with the kids as part of their favors.
We kept the games low-key and open ended. I cut out some “volcanic rocks” from black poster board, which I scattered around our entryway. When the kids arrived, they were warned to stay on the volcanic rocks so they wouldn’t fall into the lava!
I also set up a play dough table with a big volcano (made with a double batch of brown play dough, plus red and yellow for the lava), along with dinosaurs, cars, and trucks, all laid out on a green tablecloth. (You could also add moss, which you can find with materials for floral arrangements). I actually molded the volcano around an empty plastic salsa bottle – it was perfect! My husband even dropped a little dry ice inside for a super cool effect!
Since we only have one low kids’ table, when it was time to eat we just moved the play dough and toys out of the way, along with the now messy green table cloth, to reveal a clean red table cloth underneath – easy! (The volcano is sitting inside a plastic red serving tray I found at Party City, so that was easy to keep intact).
The cake was the most fun part for me. I took my favorite yellow cake recipe and used strawberry jam in between the layers – yum! (You actually also need to put frosting on the top of each layer to “seal” it from the layer above. The jam goes on the bottom of the upper layer). I then made several batches of frosting – brown, red, and green. The volcano, of course, was brown, with red lava coming out of the crater. The green frosting covered the base for the grass.
Here is a great tutorial for making a stacked volcano cake. I couldn’t find exactly what she called for, so I did a 9 x 12 cake on the bottom (the grass), then 2 – 9 in round cakes, with a Bundt cake on top. I then shaped them all with a serrated knife.
But the real finishing touch was the dry ice. (I saw this suggestion in several places, such as this volcano cake post). As it turns out, you can buy dry ice at our grocery store. You just have to be careful that the kids don’t try to touch it, but wow! It was so cool!
Unfortunately a lot of the smoke had already started to fade by the time we got this picture, but it gives you an idea.
(For another cake idea, you can also see what I did for Baby’s smash cake! And yes, we did a combined party for the boys – we’ll see how many years we’re able to get away with that!)
For favors, in addition to a few super hero trinkets, I put together DIY volcano kits, based on this awesome tutorial from Crayon Box Chronicles. We had so much fun playing with ours the next day! They were wrapped up in my version of these cute volcano treat bags.
I also had a lot of fun making these volcano hats, based on this photo I found on Pinterest. I had to figure out how to reverse engineer them, so here is a glimpse at the work in progress. I taped together a few strands of red gift ribbon and then taped that to the inside of the “crater” top (made by cutting a small semi-circle from the top of the cone).
Taping the edges together was a bit of a pain, but they held together well. We didn’t want any of the kids getting scratched by a staple! I also taped a strip of red poster board along the bottom for the lava. For the straps, we used jewelry wire, which worked okay, but next time I’ll stick with ribbon or yarn. Unless you have the fit exactly right, the jewelry wire can really irritate the kids’ skin.
Overall I was thrilled about how thehats turned out. I even made mini ones for Baby and another toddler friend.
Hope you enjoyed this glimpse at our volcano birthday party! It was the perfect way to celebrate our two little volcano Monkeys 🙂
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing a geology activity we did to learn about Iran’s tectonic plates!
This post contains an affiliate link. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. We appreciate your support!
Monkey is very interested in anything related to geology – earthquakes, volcanoes, rock formation, etc. – so when we started to study Iran, I knew he would really enjoy learning more about its geology. Iran is one of the most seismically active countries, squeezed between the Arabian Plate to the south and the Eurasian Plate to the north.
Source: Global Voices Online
Many of us remember the deadly earthquake in Bam in 2003 (I recently reviewed a great children’s story based on it) and the more recent quake last year. Both happened in the beautiful Zagros Mountains that run along the western border of Iran. These mountains were (and perhaps still are) formed by the collision of two tectonic plates, much like the Himalayan Mountains.
Source: Global History Cullen
Monkey already knows about tectonic plates and fault lines, so I decided to make this a hands-on activity that would really reinforce the lesson. He loves play dough, so I did a play dough mat with the tectonic plates surrounding Iran by making a freehand sketch on cardboard. My first attempt didn’t turn out so well, prompting Monkey to ask if he could draw his own country. I guess he figured if I had made one up, why couldn’t he? (And probably he thought he could do a better job!)
My second attempt came out much better, so I laid it out on the table, along with our play dough. I divided the play dough into two flat pieces and put one on either side of the boundary between the two plates. We talked about how mountains are often formed from two plates colliding. As I talked I pushed the play dough disks together until they started to push upwards to form “mountains.” I have to say Monkey was only half paying attention during my earlier explanation, glancing up now and then from the play dough robot he was making. But when the mountains started to push up from the table, he was fascinated. We also simulated a few earthquakes along the fault lines, talking about the different ways tectonic plates can interact with each other.
After that I let Monkey take the “plates” back apart and form the mountains again (and again). Soon enough, of course, the Zagros Mountains were populated with play dough robots and dinosaurs, and new mountain ranges were popping up all over the place. Baby really got into it too, though I won’t claim he learned anything about tectonic plates 🙂
This was a very simple activity, but the visual and sensory aspects really helped keep Monkey’s attention and drive home the lesson about how mountains are formed.
It made me want to try more hands-on geology activities with Monkey, such as these great ones I found online (see below). I also really recommend The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth. Monkey loves the show and the books. This one focuses on geology, as the kids and Ms. Frizzle go deeper and deeper into the layers of the earth.
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing some of our favorite spots to visit in San Jose Costa Rica!
I am been lucky enjoy to visit Costa Rica a number of times since marrying my tico husband, but our visits since we have had kids are been totally different than our earlier trips. For one thing, the places we choose to visit on our trip have changed. If you are headed to Costa Rica and will be spending some time in its capital, San José, here are our top recommendation of places to visit with your kids! (Don’t miss my look at neighborhood life in San José!)
There are lots of great museums in the San José area. For younger kids especially I recommend the Children’s Museum (Museo del Niño). It has tons of exhibits on everything from the solar system to an the human body. Monkey loved the oversized mouth you could climb inside, and he had so much fun at the “archaeological” dig. While most of the exhibits are for preschoolers and older, younger siblings will still have fun toddling around. Baby especially loved climbing into the space “rover.” We also spent a good deal of time in the baby/toddler play area. Plan to spend a whole day here!
The amusement park in San José is tons of fun. There are lots of rides suitable for younger kids, and an indoor play space just for babies and toddlers. There are also plenty of open spaces for them to run around or just relax. I loved the recreated old San José. My favorite part is that it gave us something to do with Monkey’s cousins where language wasn’t a barrier.
3. The Volcanoes! (Irazú and Poás)
You simply can’t go to Costa Rica and not visit a volcano! And luckily for you there are two within an easy day trip of San José: Irazú and Poás. Two pieces of advice: go early and dress warmly! The fog tends to roll in by early afternoon, making it nearly impossible to see anything. And because you are going to a high elevation, it will be chilly, no matter what time of year – As in, I wish we had worn out winter coats!
4. Culture Plaza (Plaza de la Cultura)
At Plaza de la Cultura, you get a glimpse of the old San José, when people still hung out at the plazas. This is a must visit if you want to give your kids a flavor of community life in Costa Rica, as you can find the traditional vendors, and people strolling through or taking a lunch break. Be warned that it is located in a busy section of downtown San José, so if you do visit you should be alert, just as you would be in any large city.
5. Central Market (Mercado Central)
Again, I included this one to give a flavor of the older parts of San José. While the Mercado Central is still an incredibly busy place, these days many people prefer to shop at a mall. Still, there is something about the crowded stalls and requisite haggling over prices that I love. A great place to go people watching!
Sarchí is a beautiful town nearby San José, known as a premier place to shop for artisan goods and souvenirs. There are many different shops to visit, plus great places to eat. This is more for older kids, though younger ones will enjoy a brief visit to look at all the amazing handicrafts.
7. Farmer’s Market Zapote (la Feria)
We had so much fun visiting this enormous Farmer’s Market in Zapote, a part of San José. While there are many farmer’s markets in San José, this one is probably the biggest. You can find so many wonderful fruits and vegetables here – all much bigger (and cheaper!) than you would find in the US. For younger kids, I recommend bringing water, as it can get very hot and there is not much shade. We were also glad to have an umbrella stroller handy, as it can be a lot of walking for younger kids.
INBioparque in Heredia (just outside San José) is just gorgeous. It is an interactive ecological park, designed to bring people in closer contact with Costa Rica’s natural resources. There are many different areas to the park, so plan to spend all day! (By the way, it has a really great cafeteria!) There are plenty of exhibits for little ones, including a petting zoo, plus lots of walking paths through different habitats. We especially loved the butterfly area. This is a really nice break from the hustle and bustle of San José and a great way to see a variety of the very diverse natural life in Costa Rica. Another fun spot for nature lovers is ZooAve, the local zoo. (I apologize if that link isn’t working – as I write they seem to be having trouble with their server!)
9. Terra Mall
Okay, okay, I can hear you groaning. No one really plans to go to the mall when visiting another country, but let’s be real – It’s a great, easy place to cool off and wind down with your kids, especially since it can feel very familiar to them when traveling abroad. So if you do find yourself looking for a mall, I recommend Terra Mall in Escazú (a more upscale part of San José). If your kids need a little break from culture shock, they will feel at home walking around here. Plus little kids will have fun riding on the kids’ train that winds its way through the mall. And then there’s the movie theater – Have you ever heard of VIP seating? I hadn’t, but now I wish we had it here! It costs a bit extra (though still far less than you’d pay in the US), and for that you get an assigned seat, a really comfy seat, lots of leg room – and a waiter! No more waiting in line for popcorn, baby! Downside, of course, is that kids’ movies are all dubbed in Spanish, so this will be challenging for kids that aren’t fluent.
10. A Football Game!
Of course, with the World Cup going on, how could I not mention every Costa Rican’s favorite sport? To really get in touch with Costa Rican community life, just stop by the football pitch, or la cancha. There are easy to find in most any neighborhood in the city, and usually on the weekend this is where you will find the “guys,” hanging out and playing in informal leagues. And if you have the means, you can also go to a game at the new national stadium in the La Sabana area of San José. It is a beautiful modern stadium, where you can catch a battle between rival Costa Rican teams (go Liga!) or international events, such as the women’s soccer under-20 championship this past spring.
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing some summer treats inspired by Persian cooking!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. I appreciate your support!
Some of my best memories from childhood are of Persian cooking – delicious rice dishes (mmm, tahdig!) and delicately spiced sweet treats. But integral to this was the hospitality and generosity inherent in Persian culture. Years later, when I was a homesick college student, this would mean even more, as Persian mothers in our local Bahá’í community would graciously take us in and feed us heaping quantities of delicious food, as we basked in their attention. (Btw, if you are so lucky as to be invited to dine at a Persian home, you will quickly learn that it is futile to refuse any food or drink, no matter how full you are! It is best to surrender to your fate and just enjoy yourself completely :)).
Because it is summer (and because I am a fraidy cat about attempting Persian cooking!) I decided to try some cool treats with my kids. For this I drew from a wonderful cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij, the woman considered by many to be the best expert on Persian cooking. She has many great cookbooks, but for this I used Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year. Yes, I know that the Persian New Year (celebrated on the first day of spring) has already passed, but she has great kid-friendly recipes in here that can be enjoyed year round. (For another great source of Persian dishes, try My Persian Kitchen!)
Monkey loves popsicles and ice cream, so I immediately draw to Ms. Batmanglij’s versions of these – what a perfect way to celebrate the warmer weather!
Her pomegranate popsicle recipe is super easy – but when I spied the ready-made pomegranate drink on the shelf at the store, I decided to make things even easier by just using this to make popsicles, rather than making my own batch from pomegranate juice, lime juice, etc. Next time I would like to try her full version, but for now this was just right for us.
I will warn you that these are a mess! That beautiful deep ruby color is not so pretty when seen on your furniture, so I would recommend enjoy these treats outside! Even so, my Monkey looked more like a wolf pup when he was feasting on these, with the dark red liquid dripping down his little chin.
For the next treat I deviated completely from her recipe, simply because we do not have an ice cream maker. We do, however, have a Yonanas Ice Cream Treat Maker, which makes it easy
to make healthy frozen treats for your kids. (You can also make the recipe below with a high quality blender, though I prefer the Yonanas). The key to making this diary-free “ice cream” is bananas. (Not in Ms. Bajmanglij’s original recipe!) The flavor really isn’t very strong, but the bananas really add a great creamy texture that mimics real ice cream.
Inspired by Persian sweets, I decided to add pistachios, plus some cardamom and rose water. The pistachios were easy to find (especially here in California!), and the cardamom and rose water are sold at many ethnic grocery stores. We found ours at the Indian store nearby. (Now I can make this rose water cheesecake I’ve been drooling over for quite a while!)
Dairy-Free Pistachio Ice Cream
*Note* The proportions are all to taste, particularly for the flavorings. If you are not familiar with them, I would suggest just adding a bit at a time and taste as you go.
3 very ripe bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
1/4 c. unsalted, shelled pistachios (can freeze these as well)
Dash of cardamom
Splash of cooking rose water
Mix bananas and pistachios in your Yonanas or blender. Add cardamom and rose water to taste.
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing about one of our favorite snacks!
Many countries throughout Latin America have some version of the empanada – the hand-held savory pastry that has echoes of the Indian samosa and Cornish pasty. The Costa Rican version is made with corn meal and is typically filled with a black bean mixture or just cheese, as in the recipe below.
If you visit with families in Costa Rica, chances are you will be treated to these tasty snacks, which kids there love (including mine!) They are usually served mid-afternoon, along with a good cup of coffee (for adults) and agua dulce for kids.
Here is own you can make your own! Keep in mind this is something that is usually made more by feel than by following a strict recipe:
Costa Rican Empanadas
Couple cups of masa harina (corn masa flour) (We use Maseca)
Pinch of salt
Spices (Often crumbled cubito – bouillon cube – and a dash of Salsa Lizano. We also like adding a bit of garlic powder)
Grated white cheese (We use Monterey Jack)
1. Mix together the Maseca, salt, and spices then slowly add water until you get a dough-like consistency. (This for me is always the difficult part, determining when the masa has just enough water without getting too soggy).
2. Pinch off a small portion and form into a ball. Flatten into a disk. (There are tortilla presses you can use, though many people just use a plate. It also helps to form your disk on a piece of plastic or wax paper, which makes the folding in Step 4 easier).
3. Layer grated cheese onto one side of the disk, leaving a margin of roughly 1/4 inch.
4. Fold over to form a semi-circle. Pinch together the edges.
5. Fry in an inch or so of oil, turning halfway through until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing some children’s books to teach kids about this beautiful country!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!
Some of you may wonder why I chose to blog about Iran for our World Cup for Kids project, but for me it was a natural choice. The Bahá’í Faith started in Persia (modern day Iran), and as a result, I grew up around many people from there. Though I only know a few words of Farsi, the sounds of that melodic language are nearly as familiar to me as my own. I was raised eating adas polow (although we just called it “Persian rice”); played with kids named Farzad, Nasim, and Nadia; and sat many a Sunday morning on a beautiful Persian carpet in someone’s home listening to the mournful sounds of prayers chanted in the Persian style.
To celebrate this beautiful country, here is a list of children’s books about Iran:
I just love Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch. It reminds me a bit of The Remembering Stone from our Costa Rica book list in that it is about a child’s magical journey back to the homeland of a parent, in this case his father. A grandfather, whom he has never met, sends the boy a mystery bottle, which releases a mighty wind that carries him across the ocean to his grandfather’s house. The illustrations, with their whimsical collages of maps and landmarks, are wonderful, as are the sweet scenes of a boy connecting with his long-lost grandfather.
The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli is based on the 2003 earthquake in Bam. It is a magical tale of a girl orphaned by the quake, as she tries to find companionship in the animals that remain in her town. To be honest, I was a bit worried about whether this topic would be too scary for Monkey, but it is beautifully told and focuses more on exploring the idea of what makes us human. At first the girl tries to become like the animals she is trying to befriend, but after they reject her, she instead rejoices in her humanity – music, laughter, and generosity – and this, in the end, is what wins the animals over.
Ali and the Magic Stew by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim is a fantastic original tale set in long-ago Persia. It is a moral fable about humility and kindness. Ali ibn Ali is the spoiled son of a rich merchant, who must become a beggar in order to obtain the magic stew that will save his dying father. Being forced to suffer this way changes the way he treats others and helps him learn to become a true Muslim, who knows that “the gentle heart brings life and joy.”
Author Shirley has adapted a number of other global Cinderella tales. (Did you know that versions of the Cinderella tale can be found around the world?) The Persian Cinderella is a gorgeous retelling of the classic story of a beautiful, kind-hearted maiden tormented by her stepsisters. Kept from attending the royal New Year celebration (Naw Rúz), Settareh is aided by a mysterious blue jug that allows her to go to the party and win the heart of the prince. This beautiful tale with its lush illustrations captures wonderfully the beauty of Persia and its culture.
This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing some children’s books to teach kids about this beautiful country!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!
Costa Rica is very dear to my heart, as it is where my husband is from and where we have spent so many wonderful visits. It is important to me to teach my sons about this side of their heritage, plus it is just a wonderful place for anyone to get to know! Reading is a great way to introduce a child to another country. Here are some great books for kids to read about Costa Rica. If you have any other recommendations, please let me know!
We just adore The Parrot Tico Tango by Anna Witte. This funny tale of a greedy parrot is fun to read aloud – and to act out! The text is delightfully rhythmic, and kids will love the colorful illustrations of the jungle animals.
The Remembering Stone by Barbara Timberlake Russell is a new favorite. In part, I must admit, I love it because it’s not about the rain forest, as so many of the books about Costa Rica are! But I also love that it is such a sweet tale about a girl’s desire to fulfill her mother’s wish to return to her native Costa Rica. The imagery in this story is just beautiful, as the girl imagines herself as a bird returning to to her mother’s homeland, bringing back news of her family there. It is a story of family, love, and the importance of having dreams to believe in.
For a wonderful interactive read, try this yoga adventure from Kids Yoga Stories! Sophia’s Jungle Adventure tells of a girl from the US who travels to Costa Rica with her family, delighting in the beautiful nature she finds there but saddened by the deforestation and what it will mean for the animals. You can read my full review here.
We also love this story by Douglas Keister, Fernando’s Gift/ El Regalo de Fernando. Kids will instantly relate to Fernando, a boy who loves his dogs and taking long walks with his grandfather. Yet they will also be fascinated by the details of Fernando’s life in the rain forest – and how he is working to help prevent the forest he loves from being destroyed. Text is side-by-side in English and Spanish.
My Monkey and I really enjoyed reading When the Monkeys Came Back by Kristine L. Franklin. It is the story of a young girl who witnessed the destruction of the forest surrounding her village and the subsequent departure of the monkeys who had lived there. Determined to bring the monkeys back, she dedicated her life to rebuilding the forest, bit by bit. She is rewarded for her lifetime of hard work when, as an old woman, she witnesses the monkeys return.
Morpha: A Rain Forest Story by Michael Tennyson tells the adventures of one of Costa Rica’s famous Blue Morpho butterflies, as she learns to navigate the dangers of the rain forest – from spiders to humans!
I will be the first to admit that I’m not a big sports fan – except when it comes to two events: the Olympics and the World Cup!
Given our focus on multiculturalism and raising world citizens, this should come as no surprise. These two global sporting competitions bring people together in a way nothing else seems to. Viewership cuts across typical divisions of class, race, and nationality; and the focus is on achievement, cooperation, and a celebration of sheer talent and hard work.
As a mother, I see the World Cup as an opportunity to help expand my sons’ horizons and teach them about other countries, some of which they may know little about. And, of course, it is also a time to celebrate their dual heritage – luckily there is very little chance of Costa Rica and the US facing off in the finals, or there would be trouble in our house!
To help the Monkeys learn more about the countries participating in this year’s World Cup, I have teamed up with some fantastic bloggers for the Multicultural Kid Blogs World Cup for Kids Project! My friends and family already know not to bring up the subject of the World Cup around me, or else I will go on and on about how COOL and AMAZING and AWESOME this project is going to be!
Why? Each team has been “adopted” by a different blogger, who will create posts to introduce children to about that team’s country. So for example, I have chosen Costa Rica and Iran, two countries very dear to me. Each time either one plays, I will do a post on some aspect of that country, such as food, travel, children’s books, and so on. What am I going to blog about? I won’t tell, but I do see a lot of great food and books in our future (and maybe a few volcanoes!)
One aspect of this project that really has me excited is the amazing World Soccer Cup 2014 Activity Pack for Kids put together by several of our very talented members. It is designed for children preschool through 4th grade. Monkey and I have already had a lot of fun with it!
Are you ready for the World Cup? Who are you rooting for?
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