Like so many of you, our family is thinking more and more about the impact we make on our planet. While there are many great resources to teach children about conservation, nothing beats hands on experience! I’ve always wanted to compost, so this year we finally did the research and got started! Here is a look at what you need, plus tips from other composting families!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Composting: Tips to Get Started
What to Buy
If you have a big enough space in your backyard, there is no need to purchase a bin; however, if you have a smaller yard, as we do, or simply don’t want to use your yard space for a compost pile, there are great options for composting bins you can purchase!
After a lot of research, we purchased a FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter. It is perfect for us because it doesn’t take up much room and is super easy to use. The kids love helping turn the bin!
The guide put out by our city recommends the Compost Bin by GEOBIN. It is easy to set up and very economical.
An easy way to collect your kitchen scraps before taking them out to compost is an indoor bin like the Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Compost Bin for Kitchen Countertop. It is small enough to sit on the kitchen counter and comes with a lid and charcoal filter so you don’t have to worry about a smell! Just to be clear, this isn’t actually for composting, just to collect the scraps until you can take them outdoors.
These wonderful books celebrate African-American heroines by having black girls not just as side characters but as protagonists, in settings as diverse as rural Jamaica, a modern city, and a space station. The list includes picture books as well as an early chapter book and a graphic novel, because black girl magic is for kids of all ages! Be sure to hop over to Multicultural Kid Blogs read the full list:
The Year of the Rat is beginning soon! Celebrate Chinese New Year with these fun mouse crafts, plus don’t miss a gorgeous new picture book about special days and celebrations around the world.
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 cost to you.
15+ Year of the Rat Crafts: Chinese New Year
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with these fun rat and mouse crafts!
Books are a great way to teach children about important holidays like Chinese New Year. And now there’s a gorgeous picture book that showcases 13 celebrations from around the globe! I was sent Let’s Celebrate!: Special Days Around the World from Barefoot Books as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (see below). It is such a beautiful way to teach young readers about celebrations from other countries and cultures. I love that the text is very simple, with a focus on the joy of each special day. There is more information at the back for older children, which is great because several of the celebrations you probably have never heard of before, like Matariki in New Zealand and Inti Raymi in Peru. There is even a timeline so you can see at a glance when the holidays are celebrated in relation to each other.
The book demonstrates in simple yet powerful images that although we may have differences, we all value community and family, and enjoy celebrating with those we love.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.
MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
So many families enjoy reading Christmas books and listening to holiday music together. It’s a wonderful way to mark the season and create those special memories! Here is a batch of fabulous new Christmas books and music for families to enjoy together. They are guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the items 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.
New Christmas Books & Music for Kids
A new favorite at our house is the adorable When the Clock Strikes on Christmas Eve. Author Ferland wrote an equally adorable book When the Clock Strikes on Halloween (see my full review). As with her previous book, this new Christmas picture book also reinforces telling time skills, with a clock on every page spread. As the clock strikes each hour, we see families getting ready for the holidays with special traditions, such as ice skating, sitting by the fire, and decorating the tree. My son loves seeing how other families celebrate Christmas, plus he of course laughs at the mild potty humor (a farting elf!) I love the sweet illustrations and the rhyming text. This makes a great book to read by firelight just before bed on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Is Awesome! is a fun romp through all the reasons that Christmas really is awesome! There are twinkling lights, ugly sweaters, and, of course, being nice! I love the action-packed illustrations, which kids will be poring over to see every last hilarious detail. My favorite character is a grumpy little lump of coal. Even he gets a present, although he was all set to ring bells on the “silent nights” page! Dog lovers like my daughter will adore the “mistletoe” page, which has a dog giving a very big doggy lick to a cat. And of course, I have to mention that Santa’s elves are diverse, one of those little details that makes a difference! A really fun new Christmas book that everyone will enjoy.
I confess it is rather misleading to include Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays: Songs and Stories That Celebrate Global Light in a Christmas list, because it encompasses so much more than just Christmas! Of course, there are quite a few Christmas songs here, but there is also music to celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year! So many winter holidays from different religions celebrate light, so this point of unity can be a wonderful avenue to teach children about other beliefs. Tracks on Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays often begin with a brief explanation of the featured holiday and how it is celebrated. We love to put it on in the car when the kids are focused and ready to listen, and it would also be wonderful to use in a classroom. This album is a wonderful way to teach children about the many special days that are celebrated around the world (and in your own neighborhood!)
Our family loves Halloween, and that of course includes enjoying some spooky reads as soon as the weather starts to cool off! Young readers love interactive books, which is why today I’m sharing some wonderful lift-the-flap Halloween books we are loving reading this season. Do you have a favorite Halloween book? Let us know in the comments!
Disclosure: I receive a complimentary copy of Monsters Come Out Tonight 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.
Lift-the-Flap Halloween Books for Spooky Fun!
Lift-the-Flap Tab: Spooky House is great for kids that really love to lift those flaps! All of the page spreads in this book have multiple flaps, sometimes up to five! It is also a tab book, which means that kids can go straight to the page they want by using the colorful tabs along the book’s exterior. The book takes you through the rooms of this spooky house, where you get to meet tons of fun Halloween characters. My kids’ favorite room is the bathroom, where you can even find a monster hiding in the toilet!
Monsters Come Out Tonight! was an instant hit in our house. It is a wonderful new Halloween board book about monsters getting ready for a big monster ball! The flaps are large and sturdy, so they are easy for little hands to manipulate, and there are plenty of silly suprises to find. I love the juxtaposition in each page spread between a child, dressed up in their Halloween costume, knocking on a door, which is then answered by the actual monsters that the child is pretending to be. The best is at the end, though, when the both pages open up into one large spread showing kids and monsters partying together!
Ghost in the House is another of our favorite lift-the-flap Halloween books! This time around, the monsters are the ones getting spooked by the strange noises they hear in the house. Each time it is just another monster, who joins them as they creep from room to room – until the twist ending, when they are surprised by the scariest creature of all, a human boy!
Seriously, who doesn’t love Pete the Cat? That groovy feline returns in a not-too-spooky Halloween book for kids that are a bit anxious about Halloween. Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete helps kids who are worried about Halloween by showing that trick or treating doesn’t have to be too scary. In fact, often what we think is something scary is just a friend in a costume, or something familiar hidden in the shadows. Full of all your favorite Pete the Cat characters and lots of flaps to lift, this book shares the message that Halloween is full of sweet surprises.
June 5, 2019music, SummerComments Off on Summer Music Playlist for Families
Taking a road trip this summer or simply looking for some great kid-friendly tunes to listen to at the pool or a backyard barbecue? We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn about fab new music children’s music, plus a summer music playlist for you! And don’t miss your chance to win a pack of four CD’s in our summer music giveaway!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the music below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Summer Music Playlist for Families
Get your summer started with some toe-tapping music by streaming this amazing summer family road trip playlist, put together by Sugar Mountain PR! Read on to find out more about the music featured on the playlist, plus don’t miss our big giveaway at the end of the post – you could win a package of ALL FOUR of the albums below!
Earworm is a fitting title for the latest album from Sean McCollough, because you’ll find yourself singing these songs all day long (though not in an annoying way!) McCollough is Parents’ Choice and NAPPA Award winner and host of the Kidstuff Radio show on WDVX in Knoxville, TN. As if that weren’t enough, I discovered that we have a personal connection! One of the guest artists on Earworm is Billy Jonas, a friend of my brother (and amazing musician) Chris Rosser! I have a lot of respect for Billy Jonas, so having him give his seal of approval for this album just confirmed my feelings that Sean McCollough is the real deal when it comes to great children’s music!
I love love the concept behind Canta Las Letras. I was already a big fan of 123 Andrés, so my expectations were high, and I wasn’t disappointed! If you have a preschooler, like me you are likely inundated with ABC songs and stories; yet, I struggled to find versions I liked in Spanish. Canta Las Letras has songs for every letter of the Spanish alphabet, teaching children the sounds for each letter. And far from being boring “educational” songs your kids will dread listening to, these 38 original tunes are so catchy you can’t help but hum along! A must to add to your collection if you are raising a bilingual preschooler or if you are just trying to learn a little Spanish yourself!
My kids love Can You Feel It from Jessa Campbell and the Saplings. In fact, now whenever we get in the car my three year old requests “The T Rex song”! I wasn’t surprised to learn that Campbell is based in Oregon, because the whole album has a PNW (Pacific Northwest) vibe, with its emphasis on ecology and nature, and folksy feel. Campbell has a beautiful voice, with a background in performance that includes opera, theatrical pop, and even touring with “Dragon Tales Live”!
Under the Big Umbrella from Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could is a feel-good album that is sure to lift spirits and encourage kids to be themselves. It is full of tunes that celebrate diversity, kindness and respect. Rymer is a three-time Grammy nominee, and his joyful music has a message of “hope for a future with ‘room for everyone.’ ”
Summer Music Playlist Giveaway
Enter for a chance to win all four of the CD’s reviewed above, a value of approximately $50! Just comment on this post to tell us your family’s summer plans! (You can also enter by commenting on our post on Instagram). US residents only. Contest ends Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at 11:59 pm PT. Winner chosen by random selection.
As Father’s Day approaches, it is the perfect time to celebrate the fathers in our lives through pictures books. Yet many children do not see their own fathers reflected in the stories they read, and getting diverse books published – especially by diverse authors – is still an uphill battle. So it’s important to share those books that are available. Here are some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers that we have found. Do you have a favorite?
Disclosure: I received copies of My Papi Has a Motorcycle (English and Spanish versions) 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.
Multicultural Children’s Books About Fathers
Find below some of our favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers, from those for very early readers to those for older children.
Baby Dance is for very young readers who love to move with their caregivers. This is a sweet board book about a baby and her daddy dancing around the room while her mother sleeps. I adore the illustrations, which seems to be motion themselves, gently swaying across the pages.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle (also available in Spanish as Mi papi tiene una moto) is a vibrant story about a girl and her father. No matter how tired he is, he always has time to take his daughter out for a spin when he gets home from work. Their motorcycle ride zooms through marvelous illustrations of a city that hums with life. Everywhere they go on their motorcycle ride, they see people and sights beloved to them, like the taquería or a friend’s house, the librarian that nods to them as he leaves the market. But there are also signs of change, as a favorite store has closed, and new homes replace the last of the citrus groves.
Award-winning author Isabel Quintero is herself the child of Mexican immigrants and has sweet memories of riding on the back of her own papi’s motorcycle as a child. So it is fitting that this book is available in both English and Spanish, and that even in the English version, the dialogue is given in English and Spanish, and many of the signs throughout the city are in Spanish. This book is intended as a love letter not only to hard working fathers but also to the communities that nurture us and what endures through all the changes that may come.
It’s Great Being a Dad is a really fun tribute to dads who are always there to “fix” things for their children. Although not specifically multicultural, I love that a book that is not about diversity features an African-American daughter and her father. This is one girl with a big imagination! She thinks through what would be great about being different mythical creatures – from a unicorn to the Loch Ness Monster – but always seems to find the fatal flaw (like how sad it would feel to have everyone call you a “monster”). I love that the girl (a self-described fairy queen ballerina doctor) is able to fix all these creatures’ problems, by doing a happy dance for the Loch Ness Monster, for instance. Yet when she has a problem of her own, it is her father that is able to set things right and restore peace to the kingdom/backyard.
I loved finding Father’s Chinese Opera because it is one of those books that really gives you a window into something most of us would normally never have the chance to experience – behind the scenes of a Chinese opera. A young boy, whose father is the band leader and composer of the opera, watches from the wings, desperate to join in the opera himself. Through his eyes we see the rehearsals and hard work that go into these spectacular performances, and the magic they create onstage. The boy is impatient to become an acrobat in the opera, and humiliated when he is laughed at for such an idea. Just a few quiet words from his father help the boy see that he must have patience and be willing to work hard to fulfill his dream.
What really brings this book to life is the fact that author Rich Lo is himself the child of a famous musician of the Chinese opera and sat in on many rehearsals and performances as a little boy. His father was forced to abandon this career when the family immigrated to the United States, so in many ways this book is a tribute to him and what he sacrificed to provide a better life for his children.
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems about Dads is a lovely collection of poems about dads and what makes them so special. Each celebrates a special time spent together, such as dancing, playing catch, or learning to ride a bike. But it also explores the difficult moments, like writing a letter to a dad serving overseas or being punished. This book quietly explores diversity in its many facets – not just through the varying skin tones but also the dads that stay at home rather than go to an office, or the dads that live far away. But what shines through in each instance is the love and security that each child feels with their father.
My Father’s Shop is often recommended as a book about learning about other cultures. A young boy in Morocco loves spending time in his father’s carpet shop, but he gets bored when his father tries to teach him phrases in other languages, which is useful in their business. Instead, the boy runs out to play in the market, but as it turns out, he meets plenty of tourists there, who teach him how to make animal noises in other languages – and they give his father’s shop extra business!
Visiting Day, from multi-award winning Jacqueline Woodson, tackles a subject rarely covered in picture books: a little girl visiting her father in prison. Based on her own experiences with a favorite uncle who was incarcerated, this heartfelt book captures the conflicting emotions a girl feels as she and her grandmother get up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare food and make the long trip to visit her father. It is a beautiful way to explore a situation many children find themselves in, and to emphasize that parents aren’t perfect, but we can still have loving relationships with them.
Papa and Me is another bilingual book about a loving relationship between father and child. In this instance, the text is primarily in English, with Spanish phrases sprinkled in, easily understood from context. I love the illustrations, which glow with joy. The author and illustrator both wanted to convey their own experiences as fathers and sons, and it definitely comes through in the loving relationship portrayed here.
What are your favorite multicultural children’s books about fathers?
Even in today’s digital world, learning to tell time on an analog clock is an important skill, as it helps children learn about the passage of time as well as important math facts. Yet it is increasingly difficult for children to learn as fewer homes today have analog clocks. Here are great resources for parents and educators to teach children telling time, including an amazing new book launching today and tons of activities!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Telling Time: Resources for Parents and Educators
Hands down, my younger son’s favorite holiday is Halloween, so I was thrilled to learn that author Lisa Ferland and illustrator Pei Jen have just created an amazingly fun Halloween book – that actually teaches kids how to tell time! (I reviewed one of Ferland’s books for grownups over on Multicultural Kid Blogs).
When the Clock Strikes on Halloweenis a spooky – but not too scary – rhyming book for kids ages 4-8. It takes young readers through every hour of Halloween, including a large analog clock and a spooky (and sometimes silly) rhyme about what happens at that hour. What a fun way to teach children how to tell time!
I have to say this beautifully illustrated story was an instant hit with my son! I mean, how could he resist a book that talks about goblins having to pee?? This book definitely keeps the attention of older kids, but the text is simple enough that younger kids can enjoy it, too.
And of course I love that at the book are questions for discussion that take the learning beyond just basic clock reading skills to discuss more in depth concepts about the passage of time as well as building literacy skills.
I’m not a scientist and have no real expertise in the how of conservation, but what I can teach my sons is the why. Having a global worldview is a passion of mine and was the driving force behind the creation of Multicultural Kid Blogs. What has always fascinated me about conservation is what it teaches us about the interconnectedness of our small planet, so I came up with this simple STEM activity that is perfect for an Earth Day science experiment or for use with a unit on waterways.
I was a child when acid rain became a threat, and I remember clearly the point that the experts kept repeating: The environment knows no national boundaries. The pollution in one country creates the acid rain in a neighboring country. What we do to our environment matters, not just to us but to everyone else on the planet.
I wanted a way to drive this point home to my then preschooler, so I created this simple science experiment using materials we already had around the house. He had a blast and (hopefully) got something of the message behind the activity.
Earth Day Science Experiment: Our Interconnected Waterways
You will need:
Egg carton (cardboard is best)
Flax seed meal or other powdery material
Tray or cookie sheet
Lots of water!
First off, I recommend setting your egg carton on a napkin, laid inside a tray, for reasons that we become clear later. You’ll notice that I did not start this way, but soon learned my lesson!
To start we poured water into the egg carton. We had to fill it enough that the water poured from one cup to another. I talked to my son about how the waterways were all connected to each other – creeks run into rivers, which run into lakes and oceans.
Next we talked about how if we throw trash into a creek, it doesn’t just get that creek dirty. The water carries the trash to other places, like lakes and rivers. To demonstrate this principle, we took the flax seed meal and poured it into one of the egg cups. You actually have to dump quite a bit before you see an effect, but my son didn’t mind helping with this 🙂
Then we added drops of food coloring to another cup and watched as the color slowly spread throughout the egg carton.
And then the experiment jumped out of the neat boundaries I had set up, which, of course, was really the whole point. It turns out that if you let water sit in a cardboard egg carton for a long time, it will leak! And not just water, of course, but the food coloring that was just added to it.
Luckily I was able to roll this potential mishap into our Earth Day science experiment, talking to my son about how even when the connections aren’t obvious, they are still there. Water in a lake doesn’t just stay in the lake, of course, and neither do the chemicals and dyes we dump into it. All that junk seeps into the ground and spreads, just like the dye from our egg carton, which quickly stained the napkin I had hurriedly put under it.
My little mess-maker really enjoyed this Earth Day science experiment, and it was a great visual to talk about how interconnected our environment is. My son’s response? That we need to get a trash boat so we can go clean up all that trash out there! Alright, kid, I’ll put it on my list! Right along with the submarine he wants to get to scout out underwater volcanoes 😉
How much do you know about the Jewish celebration of Purim? I recently wrote a guest post on Multicultural Kid Blogs, teaching kids (and adults!) fun facts about Purim.
Click on the link to find out fun facts about Purim, such as where the name “Purim” comes from, why people eat hat-shaped cookies, and where a very special Purim was celebrated during World War II in Germany:
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