Feb 162018
 
 February 16, 2018  Ayyam-i-Ha 8 Responses »

It’s that time of year again! As Ayyám-i-Há approaches, party planners in communities everywhere scramble to come up with fun, meaningful activities that will appeal to a wide range of ages. Here are our best tips from veteran party planners on how to throw a community Ayyam-i-Ha party to remember! And don’t miss out on our giveaway of a wonderful new coloring book for kids for Ayyám-i-Há!

Throw a Community Ayyam-i-Ha Party Like a Boss | Alldonemonkey.com

Be sure to visit our Ayyám-i-Há Gift Guide and download your copy of our Ayyám-i-Há fun book!

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.

Throw a Community Ayyam-i-Ha Party Like a Boss

Looking for great ideas for your community Ayyam-i-Ha party? Here are suggestions from experienced party planners from around the world. Be sure to share yours in the comments!

Inviting the Wider Community

  • Invite those already involved in core activities, like children’s classes.
  • Send out an invitation (hard copy or digital, even on Facebook) to set the tone about the party so that friends and neighbours who are not Bahá’í learn about it before hand.
  • Have an open house, so friends don’t feel the need to commit and can just drop by when they’re able. Makes it easier if you have a small house, too!
  • Make invitations with pictures and a quote with a little explanation about Ayyám-i-Há.
  • If possible, try handing out invitations in person so you can explain more if anyone has questions.

Gift Exchanges

  • White elephant exchanges are very popular! “It’s hilarious to watch 50 something adults picking presents and exchanging them.”
  • Have everyone bring a simple gift then a gift under each person’s chair.
  • Treat bags for kids
  • Have every child bring an inexpensive, wrapped present. Then each gets to pick one of the presents out of the basket.
  • Have all the children bring simple inexpensive presents like pencils, stickers, or erasers then pass out one to each child. Every child leaves with new treasures, plus they get the experience of giving.
  • Hang up a sheet on a doorway, going only half way up, and decorate with pictures of fish. Make a fishing rod with a small basket on the end of the string to “fish for presents.” Each child then gets to “fish” for a small gift.

Entertainment

  • Skits about history
  • Live music & dancing
  • Talent show
  • Puppet show that shares the concepts of Ayyám-i-Há (such as hospitality, service, kindness and gift giving).

Activities

  • Break children into age groups for active games
  • Have kids make picture frames for their favorite Bahá’í quote
  • Have different stations where people can make gifts (potting plants, card marking, candle rolling, making lavender sachets) for others.
  • Face painting
  • Piñata!

Music

  • Sing songs from children’s classes together
  • Performances from the children’s classes
  • Live music

Food

  • Sheet cake
  • Pizza
  • Picnic in the park
  • Candy, but set up in a different part of the house. Each family went in as a unit, and the parents decided how much the kids could have. (There were also toothbrushes!) Then they put the candy in the fabric goodie bags.
  • Ice cream sundae bar
  • Cupcake/cookie decoration station
  • Progressive dinner (appetizers at one home, main course at another, dessert at another)

Service Projects

  • Collect items for a local homeless shelter
  • Do a food drive for a local food bank
  • Help a local family in need
  • Donate supplies to a Bahá’í school
  • Collect winter jackets
  • Make no-sew blankets for children in foster care
  • Host the party at a park then do a park clean up afterwards
  • Collect books and toys for the local children’s hospital
  • Assemble lunches for homeless youth
  • Have a station to make bird feeders (with pine cones and seeds), cat toys and dog treats to take to the SPCA
  • Make toiletry bags to give to the domestic crisis center or “blessings bags” for the homeless, with items like travel size shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, soap, toothbrush and washcloth
  • You can find more service project ideas in our Ayyám-i-Há Gift Guide or in this list from Brilliant Star.

Ayyam-i-Ha Coloring Book Giveaway!

I’m so excited to be giving away a wonderful new children’s coloring book about Ayyám-i-Há, the Fast, and Naw-Rúz from my dear friend Melissa of Delighted Hearts. COLORING BOOK – Celebrating Ayyam-i-Ha, Observing the Fast, & Celebrating Naw-Ruz Around the World has 84 coloring pages for children. It celebrates the unity in diversity, featuring over 40 languages, and 222 countries, territory, and regions of the world.

To win your copy, simply comment below by telling us how you’re getting ready for Ayyám-i-Há!

Contest runs through midnight PT on Monday, February 19, 2018. Winners chosen through random selection. US Shipping Only.

Oct 122017
 

5 million people are throwing a party, and you’re invited! Here’s why the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah matters to you – even if you’ve never heard of the Bahá’í Faith before. (There is a children’s book giveaway at the bottom, so be sure to scroll all the way down!)

Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha'u'llah: Why It Matters | Alldonemonkey.com

Friends, this is a very different post than you have read here before, but I decided I needed to share with you something straight from my heart.

The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day….

– Baha’u’llah

These days I’m afraid to turn on the news when I wake up. It seems like every day there is a fresh tragedy – another shooting, another natural disaster, another day when I’m feeling heartsick to see more people suffering.

What’s worse is that our own disunity and lack of coordinated vision prevent us from truly helping those in need.

Some days, I look at my own beautiful children and wonder about the world they are going to inherit. Sure, we can do our cute unity crafts and learn about peace and love, but sometimes there feels like a disconnect between that Kumbayah world I’m teaching them about and the one I see on the news.

And it’s not just me. Social media is full of friends in despair – people bitter, disheartened, and finding it difficult to muster the energy to wage another battle for justice or to raise the standard yet again for common decency and understanding.

Yet what if I were to tell you that a Prisoner who lived half a world away and more than a century ago foretold our sufferings and laid out a formula to heal humanity’s wounds and bind it together again as one human family?

Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship… So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.

In a matter of days, Bahá’ís around the world will celebrate the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. But wait, you might be saying, what does this have to do with me? 

He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful, cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body.

The Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah

The Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah is not so much one event as a series of activities that have been happening in local communities around the globe for the past several months, all culminating in big celebrations in every city and town marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of a spiritual Teacher whose Writings have spread around the world, inspiring and transforming families and communities in virtually every country on the globe.

The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.

Yet His words are not mere platitudes. Baha’u’llah – who spent 40 years of His life in imprisoment and exile because of His teachings – laid out a practical plan to bring about structural change in our society and create a framework for global governance that recognizes:

– the importance of both spiritual and material development

– the equality of men and women

– the underlying unity of the beautifully diverse human family

– the common spiritual foundation of all the major world religions

– the essential harmony of science and religion

– the centrality of justice to all endeavors

– the importance of education

– the need for the abolition of all forms of prejudice

And it’s already working.

More than 5 million Baha’is around the world have been putting His teachings into practice for more than a century, slowly building up institutions on the local, national, and international level that use consultation as a form of decision-making, that put the unity and well-being of the group ahead of individual egos, and that seek to carry forward “an ever-advancing civilization.”

Related Post: Resources to Teach Children about the Bahá’í Faith

A group studying the spiritual empowerment of junior youth at the Baha'i centre in Montero, Bolivia. Copyright © Bahá'í International Community

A group studying the spiritual empowerment of junior youth at the Bahá’í center in Montero, Bolivia. (Had to share this one because this is the community where I lived and worked 20 years ago!) Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

Bahá’ís live in virtually every country on the globe and reside in well over 100,000 localities. Bahá’ís come from all walks of life, and members come from roughly 2,100 indigenous tribes, races, and ethnic groups. 188 national councils oversee the work of the Bahá’í communities, and more than 300 formal programs of Bahá’í education can be found around the world.

Students from Banani School (standing), a Bahá'í-inspired school in Chisamba, Zambia teach students at a nearby elementry school as part of a service project. Copyright © Bahá'í International Community

Students from Banani School (standing), a Bahá’í-inspired school in Chisamba, Zambia teach students at a nearby elementry school as part of a service project. Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

Bahá’ís are at the forefront of social and economic development, with several thousand projects worldwide, more than 900 of which are large-scale, sustained projects, including more than 600 schools and over 70 development agencies. Bahá’í writings and other literature have been translated into more than 800 languages.

Women learning about agriculture at the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India. Copyright © Bahá'í International Community

Women learning about agriculture at the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India. Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

So whether you are a despairing mother wondering about the world her children will grow up in, a grassroots activist looking for a model to create unity of action, or a leader wanting to inspire real change, you can find inspiration and hope in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and the example of the Bahá’í community.

Baha'i Faith Light of Unity Festival: Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha'u'llah

Join the Bahá’ís this month as we celebrate 200 years since the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. Celebrations are being held in communities around the globe and you are invited. For those in Sacramento, you can find out about our local celebration, or search in your own area for the celebration nearest you.

You can also see how communities around the world are celebrating with their children and download these beautiful coloring pages!

All quotations above are excerpts from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh

Life of Bahá’u’lláh Children’s Book Giveaway

To commemorate the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, I am also thrilled to be giving away TWO COPIES of a brand new children’s book about the life of Bahá’u’lláh! In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that the author is a good friend (and hero!) of mine, and that I helped edit the book – however, I am being sincere when I tell you this is a fabulous book and a must have if you would like to teach your children about the life of Bahá’u’lláh!

The Life of Baha'u'llah | Delighted Hearts

I have been reading an advance copy with my 7 year old, and it’s really engaged him and sparked great conversations. He especially loves the family tree and full color maps. As his teacher, I really love the timeline and glossary as well. Until this point, I really hadn’t found a book for older children that gives such an in-depth view of Bahá’u’lláh’s life. I love that I can pick up this one book and know it will cover all of the major events of His life, all within the context of their spiritual and historical significance.

Written in honor of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, this 72 page book intends to share with children the story of His majestic life, through the exploration of spiritual concepts and the stages and milestones of the life of Bahá’u’lláh.

While children of all ages will enjoy the gorgeous full color illustrations, the 30 stories included in this book are aimed principally at ages 8-12.

You can find it on Etsy and Amazon (affiliate link).

We are giving away two copies of The Life of Bahá’u’lláh by Melissa López Chaperoo. One copy is available for US winners, while the other is available to ship worldwide! Enter to win by simply commenting below: Tell us 1) What gives you hope, 2) What country you live in.

Giveaway goes through midnight PT on Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Winners shown by random selection.

Aug 252017
 
 August 25, 2017  Education, multiculturalism, raising world citizens, spiritual education, World Religions Comments Off on Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids

Learning about other religions is an important of a world cultures curriculum, but one religion I did not know much about growing up was Sikhism. That is why I was so pleased to receive some beautiful books on Sikhism for kids, which prompted me to deepen my own understanding of this egalitarian, inclusive religion.

When my oldest son was very young, some friends and I had a chance to visit a local Sikh temple with our little ones. It is was an experience I’ll never forget! We were shown such kindness from everyone we met, and I was impressed with their dedication to serving others, as exemplified in the meal that was provided to everyone who attended. Since I was there with a three year old, I didn’t have a chance to really ask questions, and so was left wondering exactly what Sikhs believed and where their traditions had come from. Why do the men wear turbans, and why do they keep their hair so long? Do they believe in one god or many? Why do they all seem to have the same last names?

If you or your children have similar questions, here are great resources on Sikhism for kids that you can share.

Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Sikhism: Learning Resources for Kids

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. 

Related Post: India for Kids: Favorite Resources

A great place to start is this overview which outlines 10 things everyone should know about Sikhism, including the fact that it is an inclusive, pluralistic religion whose members have a long history of fighting for social justice. You can also get a good overview from the Sikhism Guide online or from the BBC website.

I really love the Khalsa Kids website. (Khalsa is the word for the Sikh community). This site is geared towards Sikh kids, but has one section devoted to explaining Sikhism and another just for teachers. These even include lesson plans and aids for classroom discussions. You really get the sense that Sikhs spend a lot of their time having to answer questions about themselves!

Your kids will enjoy this brief video introduction to Sikhism from Little Sikhs (be sure to check out their other resources as well!)

And now for those beautiful books I mentioned! I am grateful to the lovely Saffron Press for sharing them with me. All three are from author Navjot Kaur but with different illustrators, all of whose paintings compliment the text of each book in wonderfully distinct ways. (Side note: the author’s last name of Kaur is the female equivalent of the last name Singh. All Sikhs have one of these two last names – Singh for males, Kaur for females – to demonstrate their belief in total equality, a revolutionary idea when it was founded in 15th century India, steeped in the hierarchical caste system. Traditionally, last names were an easy way to find out what caste a person belonged to).

Related Post: Zoroastrianism for Kids

As of this writing none of the books below is readily available from Amazon; however, you can find them all on the Saffron Press website.

The Garden of Peace by Navjot Kaur | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

The Garden of Peace is a lushly illustrated book about the origins of Sikhism, using the allegory of planting a garden from seeds that no one thought would sprout. Each seed represents a central tenet of the Sikh faith, such as kindness or determination. Despite the opposition of the evil emperor and his warriors, the little seeds grow into a beautiful garden of peace, tended by a growing number of faithful followers who come from all walks of life. At the back of the book are instructions to grow your own garden of peace by, for example, planting kindness and believing in yourself. I also appreciated the extended author’s note, which gives a detailed history of the origins of Sikhism and how Sikhs today carry on this tradition of peace and service to all.

A Lion's Mane by Navjot Kaur | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

The award-winning book A Lion’s Mane focuses on the most visible marker of a follower of the Sikh faith – the turban. It explores the meanings of this “lion’s mane” by traveling around the world to connect this Sikh tradition to beliefs about lions in different cultures. For example, Richard the Lionheart of England had many brave knights, and being a Sikh also means having courage. The underlying theme of the book is that although the boy in the book may look different, the turban that looks so “strange” is precisely what connects him to others around the world, and, more to the point, each of us has something that makes us special: “I have a lion’s mane and I am different, just like you!” Don’t miss the curriculum guide that the author has created to accompany this conversation-sparking book.

Dreams of Hope | Sikhism Learning Resources for Kids

Dreams of Hope is a gentle bedtime story told by a father to his young daughter. “Where will our dream journey begin tonight, Little One?” His words travel with her as she flies through dreams to visit the nighttime creatures settling down to sleep in the meadow, on the mountaintop, and in the ocean. The text is sprinkled throughout with Panjabi words, explained in a glossary at the back, including the mantra Vaa hey guroo, which is used by Sikhs as “an expression of awe or wonder.” This gorgeous book is clearly meant to be a keepsake, as it contains space for you to write down your dreams and wishes for your child. It also includes a Dreams of Hope Travel Guide with drawings of peace monuments around the world.

Aug 022017
 
 August 2, 2017  Book Reviews, character building for kids Comments Off on Children’s Books About Being Brave

We all want our children to go off and have adventures, to live life to the fullest. An essential component of this is, of course, teach them to be brave, so they are not daunted when faced with a difficult situation or a new experience. As the beginning of the school year approaches, it can be an especially important time to remind children of the courage they have inside them. Here are some wonderful books for all ages that teach by example how to be brave when faced with challenges large and small.

Children's Books About Being Brave | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some 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.

Children’s Books About Being Brave

Poor little baby bird can think of all kinds of reasons why attempting to fly out of the nest is a bad idea. Each time he peers over the edge of his safe, warm nest, the shadows twist into the menacing shapes of his fears. NOPE! is his response whenever his mother tries to prod him to try to fly. Then just when it looks like he might never leave, his mother gives him some gentle, um, encouragement but pushing him out of the nest. A very funny story with extremely simple text but incredibly expressive illustrations. 

Jabari Jumps is actually one that several of us that review books have been chatting about because we all love it so much! (You can read another review from one of them). So many kids (and adults) can relate to wanting to jump off the high dive at the pool but then chickening out when the time comes and we see how far down it is to the water. I love the character of Jabari but also his dad, who is there to offer him encouragement. He recognizes when Jabari needs a little more time but also knows just what to say when the moment is right. I am going to remember his advice myself, that instead of being scared about something we can think of it like a little surprise – because who doesn’t like surprises?

My 4 year old requests Jabari Jumps every night at bedtime, and after he was brave enough to jump into the pool recently, he told me that he was just like Jabari!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Hello Kitty Storybook) is part of a gentle series of fairy tale adventures for very young readers. It also includes Thumbelina (Hello Kitty Storybook). If you have a Hello Kitty fan in your house, you won’t want to miss these – and if you don’t, you might after you read these books! While they present somewhat scary situations (falling through a rabbit hole, being kidnapped by a toad), here the scary factor is toned down and the emphasis is on the adventure and the happy ending.

RELATED POST: Adventure Books for Kids

The Road Home is a beautiful book about finding safety and comfort in a big world. “This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home” is the echoing refrain as woodland creatures and their children begin to prepare for the coming winter. What I love about this book, in addition to the gorgeous illustrations, is the idea that whenever we are with our loved ones, we are already home. A great book to snuggle up and read with your little ones, to remind them that they are never alone.

Black Belt Bunny is a cute, funny book your children will love! Black Belt Bunny has all kinds of super cool moves to face any challenge – but he wasn’t expecting to have to face salad! What will Black Belt Bunny do when he is asked to prepare his own salad? Mind you, Black Belt Bunny actually loves his vegetables (as all bunnies do), but he’s never had to make one before, and he’s not sure he can! Luckily this fierce little bunny summons his skills to invent his own creative way to make a salad! My favorite part, though, is the end, where the grown up, who has been encouraging him all the while, has the tables turned on him – he has to be brave enough to try something new, too!

We love Harriet the Hamster Princess! In fact, I just finished re-reading the first book in the series (Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible) with my boys. So we were all excited to learn that there was a new adventure out: as with all of the Harriet books, Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble is a re-telling of a classic fairy tale (this time Jack and the Beanstalk), but with a spunky heroine who loves to battle with the bad guys. Harriet and her friends are back in another hilarious book that blends the graphic novel and storybook formats. Great for reluctant and early readers. These books also make great read-louds!

RELATED POST: Hybrid Graphic Novels for Kids

I’m also happy to share the latest installment from another beloved series: Mystery of the Min Min Lights is the ninth book from Pack-n-Go Girls, the chapter books that take girls around the world on incredible adventures! (I should add that my son adores these books, so they aren’t just for girls!) Wendy Lee isn’t sure about having to spend a year in the Australian outback when her mom is on assignment for work, but at least she makes friends with Chloe, who invites her to stay at her family’s sheep station. Yet soon she discovers that someone is stealing the sheep – and what does this have to do with the spooky lights that can be seen at night? To solve the mystery and help her new friend, Wendy must dig deep to be brave and do what it takes to catch the thief.

As always, readers will learn about a new part of the world, as facts are woven naturally into the story. I love that the main character (the non-Australian character who is having an adventure in Australia) is Chinese American. Usually the “normal” character is a white Westerner, so this is a great change and adds another layer of complexity and richness to this wonderful tale.

In a time when immigration is constantly in the news, Evangelina Takes Flight gives middle grade readers a fresh look at the challenges faced by Mexican immigrants to the US over a century ago. At the time, most fled their homes because of war, rather than economic hardship. Evangelina is a young girl on the cusp of womanhood when rumors of wars and marauding soldiers reach their small ranch in the Mexican countryside. Though they are not wealthy, her family knows they will still be targets because they own their own land. Evangelina is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and travel with her family to the United States, where she struggles to find her voice in a new language and confront the many Americans who are hostile to the new arrivals.

As a history buff, I loved the detail about life in revolutionary Mexico, as well as what the long journey to the US would have been like. But young readers will identify with Evangelina’s painful transition to her new school and admire her being brave enough to finally confront those who would fight against immigrants rather than giving them a chance. Would be a great book to pair with Esperanza Rising, about another young woman who immigrants from Mexico several decades later.

Jun 192017
 

Looking for a fun, relatively healthy dessert your whole family will enjoy? Here is a dairy-free version of a traditional Indian treat for Eid, sheer khurma. It is a unique vegan dessert that is easy to make and delicious!

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

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Let me begin by saying that this is NOT a traditional Indian dessert. It is my own reworking of sheer khurma, a dessert that usually has a milk base, because I wanted a version I could serve to my son with a milk allergy. If you search for “vegan sheer khurma” or “dairy-free sheer khurma” online, you are unlikely to find any real results. In the original Persian, sheer khurma literally means “dates with milk,” so not a recipe you would think of making without the milk!

But when we read Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (see my review below), we became curious about this traditional dessert mentioned several times as a delicious treat for Eid. When I discovered it was made with milk, I decided I had to make a non-dairy version, a vegan dessert we could all enjoy. It may not be traditional, but it is still delicious! And it is so different from the desserts that we’re used to that it did give us a flavor of what celebrating Eid would be like in places like India.

I just love the creaminess of sheer khurma, combined with the crunch of the roasted nuts. And the cooked dates add even more body as well as natural sweetness. I must admit for my kids at first it was hard to get past the idea of having pasta in a dessert, but once they tried it, they loved it!

Related Post: Eid Books for Kids

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love

Sheer khurma (or sheer khorma) is a traditional dessert served for Eid, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. I adapted my recipe from this version from the Veggie Indian. The main change I made was to substitute coconut milk for regular milk and coconut oil for ghee. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 1 & 1/4 cups to 1/3 cup, since it already has a lot of natural sweetness from the dates.

Ingredients

4 cups of full fat coconut milk (this is slightly more than 2 cans)

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup vermicelli, broken into 2 inch pieces

3/4 cup mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc) chopped fine or crushed with mortar and pestle

1/2 cup dates, seeded and chopped (about 8-10 dates)

Golden raisins, handful

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 to 1 tsp rose water

Extra nuts for garnish (I used sliced almonds)

Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a skillet, and roast the vermicelli on a low flame till golden. Set aside to drain on a paper towel. In the same skillet, heat a tbsp of the coconut oil and roast the mixed nuts for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and keep aside.

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Heat coconut milk in a sauce pan and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the milk thickens slightly.

Add the roasted vermicelli, and let it cook in the coconut milk for 5-7 minutes, until the pasta becomes soft.

Add the sugar, nuts, dates, and raisins and mix well. Continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the dates grow soft and the amount of coconut milk reduces by nearly half. The vermicelli should be fully cooked.

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Adjust the sweetness and consistency, if needed, by adding more sugar or coconut milk. Keep in mind that the mixture will thicken even more with time.

Finally, add the cardamom powder and rosewater, stir, and remove from heat.

If desired, garnish with additional nuts and serve warm. Enjoy!

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love | Alldonemonkey.com

Learning About Eid

Related Post: Ramadan Lesson Plan for Kids

In addition to sampling a tasty vegan dessert inspired by a traditional treat, I also wanted to teach the kids more about Eid and Ramadan. A great way to introduce them to this special time is with the wonderful new book Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4). It is part of a series of books exploring Indian culture. What is surprising to most Westerners is that there is a large number of Muslims in India, though we tend to associate that country with Hinduism or Sikhism.

Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4) gives an easy to understand overview of Ramadan and Eid as it is celebrated in India, in addition to highlighting traditions from other countries. One thing I love about this book is that it shows children at different stages in their participation in Ramadan, from an older child who is practicing fasting to younger children who give up toys or sweets in lieu of fasting. This book is perfect for the classroom or home setting, as a way to help children understand why Muslims observe Ramadan and Eid and what it would be like as a child to experience them (such as by eating sheer khurma!).

What is your favorite vegan dessert?

Eid for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Eid for Kids blog hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Read all of the articles below for ideas on celebrating Eid with kids, and don’t miss our blog hop from last year!

Participating Blogs

Babelkid on Multicultural Kid Blogs: How to Celebrate Eid in Switzerland the Algerian Way
A Crafty Arab: Eid Baked Rocks {Tutorial}
Jeddah Mom: Free Printable Eid Envelopes to Gift Your Eidi
Middle Way Mom: 4 Ways to Simplify Your Eid
All Done Monkey: Vegan Dessert for Eid
Our Muslim Homeschool: Children’s Eid Party Ideas

Find even more ideas on our Eid for Kids board on Pinterest:

May 112017
 
 May 11, 2017  Book Reviews, spiritual education Comments Off on Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing

Whenever my four year old wants to do something he knows he is not supposed to, he looks at me very intently and says, “Mommy, don’t see me.” It makes me laugh every time (and I do appreciate the red flag that mischief is afoot!) but on a more serious note, it reminds me that it is a work in progress to teach children to do the right thing even if no one is watching or, more importantly, even if it is difficult or they may not get an obvious reward.

There is no magic formula, but here are some ways I’ve discovered that help raise children who do the right thing.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.

Raising Kids Who Do the Right Thing

Lead by Example

Nothing will make a bigger impact on your kids than how you act, even in situations where it may not seem like a “big deal.” For example, do you hold the door for others? Are you gracious when someone holds the door for you? Do you go back inside the store if you notice the cashier forgot to ring up one of your items? Do you step in when you see someone is being bullied? Kids take notice, and quickly learn to mimic your actions.

Inspire Them with Role Models

Of course, we as parents are far from perfect, which is why it is wonderful to be able to show them some examples of truly extraordinary people who can inspire us. I must confess that I didn’t really know much about Pete Seegar until I read the remarkable new children’s biography Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice, and then I realized how much I had already been influenced by him without even knowing it! For example, I never knew that he was the one who popularized the anthem “We Shall Overcome,” even introducing it to Martin Luther King, Jr.

This beautiful book gives us an intimate look at this pivotal figure, focusing not just on his musical legacy but on his legacy of change and fighting for justice. It is hard to read this book without wanting to get up and do something to make the world a better place – and to sing while you do it! I love the illustrations and how highlights from Seegar’s life are woven together to give the reader a cohesive message of hope and the power of one person to make a difference.

Related Post: Girls Who Changed the World

Teach Them to Look Beyond Themselves

A key element in teaching kids to do the right thing is to help them care about others. Developing empathy is key, because without it, they lack the will to take action to help others. Pass It On is a very sweet book for very young readers about sharing joy with others. It is also about recognizing the wonder of the world around you then passing that excitement on to others. Pass It On is a perfect way to teach children that sharing isn’t just about toys, it’s also about sharing a smile or a laugh with someone else.

Related Post: Children’s Books About Sharing

Teach Them to Think Long Term

A child who only seeks instant gratification will not understand the more satisfying rewards of doing the right thing, since these usually are slower in coming. Sometimes you immediately get a smile or a thank you when you help someone, but oftentimes there is no immediate reward or it may not be obvious. By helping children understand that good things come to those who wait, you will set the stage for them to do what is right, even if there is no immediate benefit to themselves.

Give Them Concrete Tools

Most children are concrete thinkers and understand better through specific examples of what behavior you expect from them. Set them up for success by giving them concrete tools of how to handle situations like bullying. For example, in our character building classes, we read stories, brainstormed how we might react in different scenarios, and did lots of role playing. These activities help build children’s confidence and give them concrete actions they can take when confronted with a difficult situation. Doing it as a group activity also helps build a community of peers that are all striving to help others and do what’s right.

How do you teach your kids to do the right thing?

Apr 132017
 
 April 13, 2017  activities, crafts, Ridvan, STEM 2 Responses »

The Festival of Ridván begins next week, and because it commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s stay in a garden full of roses, I love to do rose crafts and activities with my children to celebrate (like make these rose cookies). Inspired by the roses that were piled in Bahá’u’lláh’s tent each day (so many that His guests could not see each other over them!) I have gathered together a huge list of rose crafts, play and learning activities, and recipes for you. Enjoy!

A huge collection of rose crafts, play and learning activities, and recipes

Rose Crafts

From Living Ideas: DIY Rose Egg Craft

From Crafts by Amanda: Realistic Duct Tape Roses & Cardboard Tube Bouquet of Felt Roses

From Red Ted Art: Paper Towel Roses & Duct Tape Rose Pens

From Messy Little Monster: Celery Roses

From No Biggie: Pipe Cleaner Rose Rings

From Mum in the Madhouse: Simple Paper Roses

From Bellissima Kids: Paper Roses Bouquet

From FabDIY: Coffee Filter Rose

From Self-Reliant Living: Egg Carton Roses

From Mom on Time Out: Hershey’s Kisses Roses

From Kids Activities Blog: Paper Plate Roses

Rose Play & Learning Activities

From Teach Beside Me: LED Roses

From Schooling a Monkey: 3D Rose Model – Biology for Kids

From Mother Natured: Rose Study

From Homegrown Friends: Color Changing Rose Experiment

From Kitchen Counter Chronicle: Make a Book – The Giving Roses

From Nurture Store: Rose Petal Sensory Play Tub

From Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Rose Petal Water Play

From Childhood 101: Rose Playdough

From Crafts on Sea: Rose Scented Playdough

Rose Recipes

From All Done Monkey: Rose Cookies

From Martha Stewart: Ring Around the Rose Petal Fools

From The European Mama: Rose Petal Jam

From Gimme Some Oven: Rose Cake

From Life of a Lost Muse: Rose Apple Pie

From Heather Christo: White Peach and Rose Sorbet

From The Pretty Blog: Homemade Rosewater Marshmallows

From Global Table Adventure: Rosewater Lemonade, Rosewater Tea, Sweet Semolina Cake with Rosewater and Lemon, & Sweet Saffron Custard with Rosewater

From Posh Little Designs: DIY Raspberry Rose Ice Cubes

From A Pumpkin & A Princess: Rose Petal Bath Soak

From Lulus: Coconut Rose Body Scrub

Apr 112017
 
 April 11, 2017  Ridvan Comments Off on Ridvan Flower Board with Activities for Kids

As the Bahá’í festival of Ridván approaches, I’m pleased to share this beautiful Ridvan flower board idea from my friend Chelsea Lee Smith. It is a great way for families to celebrate this festival with kids! For more ideas, see our Walking Through the Garden of Ridván series.

Ridvan Flower Board with Activities for Children | Alldonemonkey.com

Ridvan Flower Board

Ridván is the “King of Festivals” for Bahá’ís and commemorates the 12 days that Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. camped on the banks of the Tigris River near Baghdad and, while there, proclaimed His mission to a small group of followers. (To read more click here).

I wanted to create some sort of way for our family to get a surprise on each of the 12 days (plus a decoration to have out during the Ridván period). Luckily I happened to find a piece of homemade art at a second-hand shop made out of wood with 12 wooden flowers, so I used it to make this Ridvan flower board.  I took off the random bits that were on it (stickers, pieces of paper, buttons, paper muffin cups etc decorating the flowers) and repainted it, cut up some leaves and painted them too, then added little jewels, some decorative ribbon, and some letters and numbers I bought.

Ridvan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

You can make your flower board out of cardboard, card stock, cloth, etc. You could either add leaves or flowers – if with cloth a little tab of velcro may work well to attach them, and if it’s paper then try using blue tac.

I put a little surprise activity on a post-it note on the back of each of the leaves. The leaves are attached to the frame with sticky tac, so that my son can take them off to read on the appropriate day. (You can use pictures for younger children so they can “read” the notes themselves).

For a group project, you could give each child a flower or leaf to decorate and add to the board. And you could either post up quotations or numbers on top of the flowers/leaves for each day.

Sample Activities for Each Leaf

Bake a cake for the Ridván party

Plant a garden

Do a crown craft

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Make a card for a friend

Have fun with sensory play

Enjoy tea and muffins while talking about the story of Ridván

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Get ice cream

Tell the story of Ridván using a felt board

Make tents

Rdivan Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Make a collage of flowers

Make rose cookies

Learn a new song

Go on a picnic

Ridván Flower Board | Alldonemonkey.com

Because we’ve been in the groove of celebrating Holy Days for the past few years, it is seeming to come so much more naturally now and I don’t feel stressed about getting things together but just going with the flow.  So if you are new to the idea of celebrating but want to do something, don’t worry if it seems difficult at first or like it’s too much to plan.  The smallest and simplest of things mean the most to children… like today I arranged the fruit on the plate in a pretty way for morning snack (ie grapes in the middle of the plate surrounded by cut up pears and apples) and the boys were super impressed.  Just putting in a little effort here and there to make things festive and remembering to talk about the meaning of the day is great.  And with a little practice, it will all come together easily.

Chelsea Lee Smith is a mother of three and is passionate about empowering families with tools for character education so that they can contribute to making the world a better place. She blogs at Enable Me To Grow offering activities, ideas and resources for character building and more.

Apr 052017
 
 April 5, 2017  Book Reviews, parenting, spiritual education Comments Off on Emotional Intelligence: Tips for Parents

Learning to navigate your emotions and those of others is an important set of skills for children to develop. This “emotional intelligence” is just as critical to future success and happiness as learning the multiplication tables and state capitals, perhaps more so. Children who are able to identify their feelings and work with them will be healthier, more balanced individuals who can empathize with others and connect with them in meaningful ways. Here are some tips for how you can help your children develop emotional intelligence.

Tips for parents to teach emotional intelligence

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.

Emotional Intelligence: Tips for Parents

1. Name that Emotion

The building block of emotional intelligence is the ability to identify emotions. Teaching this skill can begin very early, as babies learn to read and mimic expressions. I love board books like Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions:

My toddler loves flipping through the pages of this sweet, simple book to see the photos of the baby faces. The book explores six basic emotions by showing one enlarged photo of a baby whose expression reflects that emotion then asking the reader to find that face again on a page of various smaller photos. Books like this are great because they capitalize on babies’ fascination with looking at other babies. My daughter loves to stare at the baby faces and often mimics their expressions, trying out the emotions for herself.

My little girl loves her new book Making Faces from @abramskids! Babies and toddlers love looking at faces, and this sturdy board book makes good use of that to teach little ones about emotions by showing them pictures of other children that are angry, happy, surprised, etc. The mirror at the end is an especially big hit! Great book to keep very young readers entertained and learning. Visit @annofdoodlesandjots for another #picturebookoftheday recommendation! . . . #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #kidbloggersofig #kidlit #books #booksforchildren #homeschooling #kbnhs #ig_motherhood #childhoodunplugged #motherhoodunplugged #picturebook #boardbook #ece #mytinymoments #ourcandidlife #playmatters #instagood #instakids #learningthroughplay #love #kbnmoms

A post shared by Leanna || Parenting, Education (@alldonemonkey) on

As children get older, the naming process can become more sophisticated, as children learn to identify more nuanced emotions. For example, in the lovely Today I Feel . . .: An Alphabet of Feelings we find I is for Invisible, O is for Original, and R is for Relaxed.

This is a book my preschooler often requests at bedtime. Again, the book makes use of an interest at this age (learning ABCs) to talk about emotions. In Today I Feel…, each letter/emotion pair is accompanied by an illustration, so it is easy to spark a conversation: “Why do you think he feels invisible? What’s your favorite way to relax?”

2. Check Your Judgment at the Door

Sometimes it’s hard to feel empathetic with a little one and their big emotions, if their problems seem, well, small to you. Why is your child throwing a tantrum over which color cup he can use or who gets to push the button on the elevator? Don’t they know there are bigger problems, like paying bills or dealing with global warming??

Yet remember that to them their problems are very real and very big, and only when we treat their feelings respectfully can we help our children grapple with their emotions. When we respond with respect, we open up a safe place where children feel comfortable sharing their feelings with us. One picture book that does a great job of this is Dad and the Dinosaur:

This beautifully illustrated book does not belittle the very real fears that children have about what might lurk in the shadows or under manhole covers. Instead, it introduces coping mechanisms to help calm those fears, like having a comfort toy or confiding in a trusted adult. The boy in the story is able to face his greatest fears because of his toy dinosaur, which is not afraid of anything. When the dinosaur goes missing, however, the boy’s fears become overwhelming. I have to mention that while I love that the father in this book takes his son’s fears seriously and sets out to help him find the dinosaur, I wish that he had also taught the boy that he didn’t need the dinosaur for courage but that he had the courage he needed inside himself all along.

3. Give Them Tools

All too often we find ourselves in the position of reacting to behaviors that are the end results of an emotional process, when the emotions are already too big to be easily dealt with. Try to get ahead of this during calm times, by helping kids gain the tools they’ll need to head off emotional explosions before they reach the boiling point. Teach them strategies like taking a deep breath, talking it out, and running out their energy to help them manage their emotions. One book that does an excellent job of teaching kids how to deal with anger is The tiger in my chest:

I mean, what a great metaphor for feeling angry! First it talks through how it feels to be angry as the tiger in their chest grows bigger and bigger. Then teaches kids that tigers can be tamed and that they can be tiger tamers – brilliant! My kids really love this book, and we’ve started implementing its suggestions for calming down body and mind. This book really breaks everything down into terms that children can easily understand and put into practice right away. I also love the emphasis on learning to accept, forgive, and move on (including forgiving ourselves).

4. Show Them the Bigger Picture

Perspective is everything, and one of the easiest ways to get out of an emotional funk is to do something to help others. Serving others not only will help children get their mind off their own problems, it helps put their troubles into perspective. However, resist the temptation to make too direct a link between others’ problems and their own, or children may become defensive or feel belittled. The point will get across, and, more importantly, their spirits will be uplifted and their horizons expanded, which in the long run will make a bigger difference in changing their perspective.

If you have tweens or teens, I really recommend the wonderfully creative book Hot Air (Kindle edition). (Visit One Voice Press for the paperback version).

Bored and frustrated with living with her alcoholic mother, twelve year old Annie decides to make a grand escape – by building a hot air balloon (the perfect metaphor for anyone who has wanted to escape from their troubles)! This magical adventure takes Annie across the world, making new friends at every stop. As she visits distant lands, she finds her own strength to help others and in the process sees her own life through new eyes. I love how multi-dimensional the main character is – we see her immaturity and naivety as she begins her journey, but we also see her selflessness and courage as she chooses again and again to help those in need. A wonderful book about leaving your comfort zone to serve others and gain a new perspective.

5. Model Emotional Intelligence

Finally, remember that actions speak louder than words, and your children will learn more from watching your behavior than they will from anything you say. Take time to check in with your emotions and use the same tools you recommend for your kids. Taking several deep breaths has helped me on many occasions! And being honest with your kids when you make mistakes and apologizing if you blow your top also go a long way to helping them learn to be gentle with themselves. Kids really respond if they feel you are all in it together!

What are your tips for teaching emotional intelligence?

Mar 102017
 

I am fascinated by the Hindu celebration Holi, the one you see the amazing photographs of each year, with people showering each other with vibrantly colored powders or colored water. But to be honest, beyond the sense of it as a joyous, lively festival, I really didn’t know much about it. Well, dear reader, for you I have decided to go deeper and find out more: Here is why now I’m convinced everyone should learn about Holi!

5 Reasons Everyone Should Learn About Holi | Alldonemonkey.com

Photo by Raghuvanshidude (Holi) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I received a copy of Let’s Celebrate Holi 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.

Related Post: India for Kids – Favorite Resources for Elementary Students

Why Everyone Should Learn About Holi

1. It is incredibly fun.

Holi is one of the most fun celebrations I have heard of! The most famous aspect of Holi is how celebrants throw colored powder on each other and spray everyone with colored water, until everyone and everything is covered with beautiful, bright colors. Talk about fun, especially for kids who are always told to be careful not to spill or get their clothes dirty! (Find out how to make your own homemade colored powders).

2. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

No matter what your religion or philosophy, the battle of good and evil is a classic struggle where we all can support the same side! Sharing the story of Holi is a great way to teach children that when it comes down to it, all people believe in the same basic principles.

3. It is celebrated throughout India and around the world.

Holi is not only celebrated in one of the world’s most populous countries, it has also become popular in other countries as well, in part due to immigration but also because it is such a fun festival (see #1!)

4. The food is spectacular.

As with so many holidays, Holi is a time of eating special foods, like the gujia pastry or the refreshing spiced milk drink thandai (you can also make a dairy-free version).

5. Your kids will think you are the coolest parent ever.

Getting messy, throwing water and powder on each other, eating great food, and hearing stories that excite the imagination: no doubt about it, if you help your kids learn about Holi, they will think you are awesome! 

Related Post: Holi Crafts and Activities for Kids

Convinced? Then I have the perfect guide to teach you and your kids all about Holi! You may remember the series I have reviewed previously about Maya and Neel, the brother and sister who introduce children to Indian culture. They taught about Mumbai in Let’s Visit Mumbai! and the holiday Diwali in Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! (see my reviews here and here). In their latest adventure, Let’s Celebrate Holi!, Maya and Neel help children learn about Holi through traditional foods and activities. I love that the book also highlights regional variations in how Holi is celebrated, with colorful illustrations and maps.

I also appreciated reading the story behind Holi, something I had never really understood before. After all, what does throwing powder on each other have to do with the triumph of good over evil? Find out, plus discover what it has to do with the bonfires during Holi!

As with the other volumes in this series, the illustrations are beautiful and engaging, and young readers can easily relate to these siblings as they learn about Holi and Indian culture, as seen through the eyes of children. If you are looking to introduce your child to this festival or want a story to share in your classroom, I highly recommend Let’s Celebrate Holi!!

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