The Bahá’í Festival of Ridvan just began yesterday, and this year I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to focus on acts of kindness. Here is a simple activity that families can do together, by focusing on spreading joy during this most holy festival. I hope you enjoy this Ridvan coloring page with your loved ones!
Ridvan Coloring Page: Acts of Kindness
Here is a simple activity that families can do for Ridvan to celebrate doing acts of kindness. Just download your Ridvan coloring page by clicking on the image below, then they can color in a rose each time they do an act of kindness during Ridvan.
You can find tons of ideas for acts of kindness on my Pinterest board, and I’d love to see yours! Share in the comments below or on my Facebook page, and have a wonderful Ridvan!
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.
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.
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.
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:
Many of us have heard of Diwali or perhaps Holi, but there are actually many important festivals in India. And to add to the complexity, which festivals are celebrated (and how) depends on what part of India you are in. Today I’m thrilled to introduce a lovely picture book and crafts to help kids learn about Durga Puja, a fall festival related to Navrati. Kids will love learning about this holiday, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Learn About Durga Puja
As a member of a minority religion, I can sympathize with author Shoumi Sen, who wanted to make sure that her young daughter would come to appreciate about their beliefs even without the support a large community of co-believers. Sometimes it can be hard to keep a child’s interest in your own religion when they almost totally surrounded by another. So Sen started to tell her daughter stories at night, making sure to tell them in a way that was fun and accessible.
These stories evolved into the “From the Toddler Diaries” series, designed to help Indian parents living outside India pass on their beliefs and traditions to their children. The series now includes Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! as well as Celebrate Holi With Me!. One thing I love about these books is that are very much aimed at young children, showing the joys of these Indian festivals in language that they can easily understand.
In Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! children learn about the major aspects of Durga Puja through colorful illustrations and rhyming text. I really captures the excitement and joy of the holiday as seen through the eyes of a child. Younger readers will enjoy the book as is, whereas older children can use it as a jumping off point to explore the foods, dances, and other traditions mentioned in the book.
Encourage your young world changers with these incredible books that inspire kids to be leaders! From picture books to chapter books, these works showcase people overcoming obstacles to follow their dreams as well as real life heroes who made a difference in the world. What inspires you?
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Books that Inspire Kids to Be Leaders
Mayanito’s New Friends/ Los Nuevos Amigos De Mayanito is a beautiful allegory of a young prince who befriends children from distant lands and journeys far from his rainforest home to visit them. The animals of the jungle help him on his quest, until he is reunited with his friends and even brings them back to the his village to celebrate their global friendship. Prince Mayanito declares all the children of the hemisphere as his tribe and from his home at the equator can listen to music coming from his world map. A lovely story from the late poet and playwright Tato Laviera, with gorgeous illustrations of Mayanito’s lush rainforest home. I love stories like this that celebrate what unites us despite our differences and that recognize that children don’t have to wait to to grow up to become leaders.
One of the most famous Latin American leaders was José Martí, the Cuban poet who traveled the world to advocate for the oppressed and to speak out for Cuba’s independence from Spain. This wonderful picture book tells of the inspiration behind his convictions as well as the sacrifices he made for them, living in exile from his beloved island for so many years and later dying in battle in the war for its independence. I love that Martí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad uses Martí’s own verses to tell his story, inspiring another generation with the legendary words of this great freedom fighter. Includes historical notes at the end for even more information about this incredible figure.
Remember the Ladies (Ellis the Elephant) celebrates the often overlooked contributions of America’s first ladies, such as Abigail Fillmore, who helped build the collection of the national library, and Edith Wilson, who helped fulfill her husband’s duties when he became ill. These women are remarkable leaders in their own right, including one of my personal heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt. Written by a diplomat, this book keeps a steady hand even when discussing more recent first ladies, celebrating achievements from women from both sides of the political aisle. Featuring the adorable character Ellis the Elephant, it also includes more detailed biographies of all the featured women at the end of the book.
For most kids, reading about the history of the US Senate would seem incredibly dry, but the story of Dennis Chávez is completely the opposite. Dennis Chávez: The First Hispanic US Senator/ El Primer Senador Hispano De Los Estados Unidos is a beautifully done biography for older kids of the first US-born Hispanic Senator, one of the most remarkable leaders you’ve never heard of. Indeed, as I was reading, I found myself asking over and over, Why is this the first time I am reading about him? Born in rural New Mexico before it was even a state, Dionisio Chávez grew up speaking only Spanish, tending sheep, and living in a house with dirt floors and no indoor plumbing. But he was bright and motivated, and quickly learned English and excelled at his studies. Then in 7th grade, he had to drop out of school to work and was never able to complete high school or college.
Yet he went on to graduate from Georgetown Law School and serve as a US Senator for 27 years. Inspired by his own first hand experiences of injustice, he fought tirelessly for minorities and workers, even standing up to McCarthy at a time when speaking out against him was virtually unthinkable. Throughout it all he maintained his optimism and commitment to faith and family.
This gem is written by the Senator’s own granddaughter and puts Chávez’s accomplishments squarely within the context of history. She also brings out the warmth of his personality and sincerity of his convictions. A book that will inspire any child to stand up for what they believe in, no matter how great the obstacles.
Do you ever wish you could teach bullies a lesson? The Shameless Shenanigans of Mister Malo/ Las Terribles Travesuras De Mister Malo is a wonderful bilingual chapter book about a boy who does just that, on a regular basis. Through his secret persona Mister Malo, Lance takes assignments from other fourth graders – with payment in fruit snacks – to take care of kids who are making their lives miserable. But when his payback to one playground bully backfires, Mister Malo is forced to look deeper to try and discover why bullies act like they do. Lance also faces a bully of his own and must learn to stand up for himself, without the comforting mask of Mister Malo.
This book not only teaches important lessons, it’s incredibly funny as well – but parents should be warned that there is plenty of bathroom humor, though of course young readers will love this! Let’s just say that the climax of the book is when Lance and his buddies create a school project all about why people fart! This, um, unique project is not just for laughs – it actually resolves a bully problem for a young girl who has been teased mercilessly for tooting on the playground.
Really fun bilingual chapter book for young readers about how to deal with bullies in unconventional ways.
Among the great inspirational figures of the twentieth century is the groundbreaking Jackie Robinson. The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend is written by none other than Jackie Robinson’s daughter! An accomplished author, Ms. Robinson tells the charming tale of a young white boy and his incredible friendship with the legendary baseball player during the beginning of his career in the major leagues. It was common at that time for Dodgers players and their families to rent rooms in Brooklyn neighborhoods during the season, so when 8 year old Steve finds out his hero is moving to his street, he feels like he’s just won the lottery!
But Jackie Robinson teaches Steve about more than just baseball. He shows Steve how to deal with bullies and inspires him to do well in school and follow his dreams. Even more than that, during a time of deep racial and religious divides, this African American legend showed a young Jewish boy how to reach across lines and build bridges instead. The Robinson and Satlow families remain close to this day, and their story gives a wonderful glimpse of the remarkable man behind the myth.
Baseball is also center stage in Out of Left Field, a wonderful new chapter book about a girl determined to bring the real history of baseball to light. The year is 1957, and Katy Gordon loves nothing more than standing on the mound and throwing one of her famous pitches, shocking the boys who never expect a girl to be able to play ball like she can. But when she is barred from Little League because baseball has supposedly always been a man’s sport, she turns her frustration into a zeal for digging up the forgotten history of women in baseball in order to prove them wrong.
Young readers will easily relate to Katy, an ordinary girl driven to do extraordinary things because of a passion for justice and her beloved baseball. They will also enjoy getting to know her unconventional family – the professor mom who encourages Katy in her quest, and her sisters, an engineer and an artist, who inspire Katy to follow her passion. I love that throughout Katy’s mom takes her seriously, offering support and advice without condescending or doing the work for her. And being from California, of course I enjoyed the detailed portrait of life in San Francisco during the era of Sputnik and the Little Rock Nine.
While the story is fictional, many of the women showcased in the story – such as Maud Nelson, Jackie Mitchell, and Toni Stone – are not. Generations before Mo’ne Davis pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, girls and women fought simply to have a place on the field. This book brings well deserved attention to their struggle and their incredible talent.
Ridván is the most holy time of year for Bahá’ís, and it can be a magical time for children. This year, help kids “journey” back to Baghdad in 1863 with these Ridvan printable train tickets! Great to use for prayer time at home or for children’s classes. Scroll down to print your free copy.
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.
Last year, I created this Ridvan printable for my kids – pretend train tickets to help them “journey” back to Baghdad in 1863! Just like on real old-fashioned train tickets, you can punch these tickets on each day you use them. So for example, you can punch “1” on the first day of Ridván, “2” on the second day, etc.
I’m planning on putting together some activities for the kids each day on our “train trip,” but you could also just punch the tickets each morning before saying prayers together and reading some of the history behind Ridván from a book like the beautiful The Life of Baha’u’llah. To really set the mood, many families have an indoor tent or canopy like this one. We’ve also simply hung a white sheet between two sofas as our “tent” and made tissue paper roses to decorate it.
However, you choose to use the tickets, have a magical celebration!
One of my goals is to create a calm, loving environment for my children to grow up in. In the daily struggle to complete chores and schoolwork, this can sometimes get lost, but I try to keep this goal in front of me to remind me to focus on the bigger picture, rather than what has just gotten spilled or broken or who pushed whom. Here are 5 tips that have worked for me to create a peaceful home. Share yours in the comments!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the albums 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 commissions at no extra charge to you.
Creating a Peaceful Home: 5 Tips for Families
1. Focus on Yourself
There is no way you can create a peaceful home if you do not have peace within yourself. Find out what helps you keep balance: whether it’s getting up a few minutes earlier than your kids or staying up a little later in the evening to have some time for yourself, practicing meditation or yoga, or making sure to have a coffee date with your best friend once a week. When you have a calm center, you can more easily keep your cool when things go wrong during the day, as they inevitably will.
2. Focus on the Big Picture
Know that things will go wrong, especially if you have young children. I once saw a program for new parents that stated, “If you want to be efficient, don’t have kids.” In other words, children help you focus on the journey rather than on accomplishing tasks quickly and efficiently. This was a big mind-shift for me coming from the workplace, where the emphasis was on achieving concrete goals.
With children you have to look at the big picture – for example, it may take you longer to teach your child to clean up his own mess, but you are helping to raise a responsible adult. If you stop and look at the dandelions and ladybugs with your toddler, chances are you won’t get all of your errands done before dinner, but you are making a heart connection with your child and nurturing her budding interest in the natural world. Often our frustration comes from the clash between reality and our expectations, so if you often find yourself frustrated, it may be time to look at your expectations.
3. Stay Organized – to a Point
While we do have to be realistic about how much we can get done and how well, we can also look at systemic problems that can be corrected to help our day flow more smoothly. If you are constantly rushing to get out the door in the morning, step back and think about how you might organize your household to alleviate this constant stress. Perhaps your children can take on more of the responsibility to make their own lunches, for example, or to pick out their clothes the night before. I have a snack box always stocked that I can just grab as we head out the door rather than having to put something together each time we leave the house.
Again, keep your expectations realistic, and know that you may still be late – the baby always seems to know to poop just as you are ready to get in the car – but at least you can eliminate some of your stress to have a more peaceful morning as you get ready.
4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation with Your Children
Whatever your religious beliefs, all children benefit from some sort of mindfulness or meditation practice. Whether it’s prayer, yoga, or simply breathing exercises, it is such a gift for children to learn to slow down and clear their minds. In today’s often frenetic world, we can help give them a calm center to return to, to relieve anxiety or simply help them unwind at the end of an exciting day. A mindfulness practice is a wonderful tool in teaching kids to handle big emotions or to deal with difficult subjects like bullying or the loss of a loved one.
In our family, we do some deep breathing exercises and say prayers together in the morning as well as at bedtime. At least once a week we also do yoga together before starting schoolwork. I keep it short as my children are still very young, though I try to push their attention spans a bit to challenge them to work on their lengthening their focus.
5. Create a Relaxing Atmosphere
An easy way to nurture a peaceful home is to play relaxing music. Music is such a great way to set the mood, and I know for myself that it can really help calm my nerves. Which is why I was so happy to receive two incredible new children’s albums that really do create a warm, relaxing atmosphere.
The first is The Land of Yangalele. Yangalele means “happiness” in Kikongo, a language spoken in Congo, the home of one half of the dynamic duo behind this wonderful music collection for children. “Papa Siama” and “Auntie Dallas” wanted to capture the feeling of a family gathering like those from Siama’s childhood, where everyone would sit outside under the stars to share songs and stories together.
And this warm, easygoing atmosphere is exactly what their music creates. As soon as I hit play the very first time we listened to this album, I could feel an instant change in the air. Suddenly I was more relaxed, and the kids were, too. The rhythms are so gentle and fun, and you feel as though you were gathered at the musicians’ feet, creating and enjoying music together. We often find ourselves singing the tunes throughout the day – my personal favorite is Monkey Games! – and it’s impossible to do so without a smile on your face.
Featuring traditional instruments (listen for the mbira on most songs and the shaker on the beautiful lullaby Nalingi Bosembo) and lyrics in English, Swahili, Lingala and Kikongo, these songs are also an opportunity to learn more about the Congo and make a heart connection with what can seem like a very remote place. The liner notes even include a map, a quiz, and a seek-and-find game. Highly recommended.
Who doesn’t love Ladysmith Black Mambazo? I grew up listening to Graceland and so was thrilled to find out that this world-renowned music group has recently put out a children’s album, Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around the World, which was nominated for a Grammy last year. Just as you’d expect, the music is incredible, and I love the focus on themes important to children, such as the trouble of communicating with parents (Everything’s So Stupid!). They also sing about important social issues, like racism, homelessness, and respecting women. My personal favorite is Old MacDonald – sung in Zulu! Great to put on when you want to relax and enjoy beautiful music together.