Celebrate indigenous creators with these wonderful picture books by Native authors and illustrators! Perfect to share for Native American Heritage Month or any time of year!
Books by Native Authors and Illustrators
Books by Native Authors and Illustrators
We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know presents issues faced by Native peoples in the past and today, such as assimilation and self-determination. The main message is that Native peoples are still here; they are not a relic of the past! I love how the book highlights the diversity of Native Nations. There is also a wealth of additional information at the back of the book on each of the topics covered. Best of all? I recently got to present on this wonderful book at the monthly Multicultural Children’s Book Club meeting from Walking in Other People’s Shoes! We even had a visit from award-winning author Traci Sorell, a citizen of the Cherokee nation. Check the website soon for a recording of the event.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing author Sherri Maret about her wonderful book The Cloud Artist. Written to celebrate Maret’s Choctaw heritage, The Cloud Artist is about learning to listen to your own inner voice. It also teaches children that beauty is meant to be shared, not sold. What makes this bilingual English-Choctaw book even more special is that it is is illustrated by Choctaw artist Merisha Sequoia Clark – who, they discovered later, is Maret’s cousin!
We Are Water Protectors is a powerful call to protect the Earth and its natural resources. Its vibrant illustrations earned illustrator Michaela Goade a Caldecott Medal, the first Native American to do so. This best-selling picture book is a must read to help children understand the urgency of taking action to protect our precious resources from harm.
When I Was Young in Nunavut is a celebration of the author’s own childhood and Inuit heritage. It looks at all the activities she enjoyed growing up, such as finding the flowers blooming on the tundra in the summer, or harvesting berries in the fall. And of course, there were the glorious northern lights to watch stream across the sky. When I Was Young in Nunavut is a joyful look at the seasons and the natural world, as well as a warm remembrance of family and simple pleasures.
Learn more about Apple Hill, a popular fall destination in Northern California! It is an annual tradition for most Sacramento families, with lots of great food, spectacular views, and activities for kids.
For many families in the Sacramento area, making a trip to Apple Hill is a fall tradition. In part this is because here in the Sacramento Valley we are “seasonally challenged.” It’s not that we don’t have seasons, it’s just the two main ones we experience are 1) Incredibly Hot (summer) and 2) Rainy and Cold (winter). Spring and fall are just brief periods during which the weather jumps back and forth between these two extremes, as if unable to make up its mind.
So for many of us, a day trip up in the mountains to Apple Hill helps us feel like we are experiencing what autumn should be like: cool yet sunny weather, gorgeous fall colors, and apples everywhere you look – in barrels, boxes, and bins, and in cider, tarts, jams, sauces, breads, and – of course – pies.
The Apple Hill Growers – Contact Info and Schedules
Apple Hill is an association of apple orchards, all located within driving and sometimes even walking distance of each other in the towns of Camino, Placerville, and Polluck Pines, California. But if you think Apple Hill is just about apples, you’d be mistaken. Most of the orchards feature bake shops and/or craft stores, and many also have small cafés or specialty shops. And best of all, there are quite a few with activities for kids, such as petting zoos and hay rides (more on this below). You can even pick your own apples and pumpkins at some of the orchards.
Every year the association also publishes a complete list of growers offering kids’ activities. There are pony rides, hay bale mazes, nature trails, crafts, and face painting. (Please note that some of these activities are only offered on the weekend, and some may involve a small fee).
There are so many orchards at Apple Hill that it is impossible to visit them all in one day. I have only visited a handful, although I have a friend who makes sure to visit a new orchard every year, with the goal of eventually visiting them all. She is the person to ask about who has the best pie! (See her recommendations below).
There are so many good spots to visit in Apple Hill. Here are just some of our favorite places to go:
We always have a good time at Apple Ridge. This is without a doubt my favorite place to visit for those with young children. When mine were small, they loved running up and down the hill that leads to the petting zoo, where kids can see and even feed goats, sheep, chickens, and bunnies. There is also a pumpkin patch and a nature trail, plus a tractor to climb on!
This is also where we usually stop to eat, either for a picnic lunch or a sandwich from their café; it is truly beautiful to sit out and enjoy a meal (or pie or cider) under the trees. This is also a good place to pick up a pie to take home or goodies such jams and sauces.
Denver Dan’s is a great place to take kids, especially if you’d like to pick your own apples. Don’t be put off by the odd look of the large silver bunker that houses their shop. This is a really fun place for little ones, and it’s a great spot to buy a whole pie (see recommendations below) or some of the other specialty items. They even do small pie-making classes. Sometimes there is a (very) small petting zoo outside (think llamas!), but for us, the main attraction is the older gentleman who works at the back of the store. He will let you sample all of the many kinds of jams and jellies they sell (including many flavors you would have never imagined), but he is best known for showing kids how to use the hand-cranked apple peeling gadget mounted on the back table. He is such a sweetheart and a real character – trust me, he alone is worth the stop!
This is one of the most popular spots in all of Apple Hill, partly because they have such a variety of activities and products, and partly because it is one of the first stops off of the highway. One of the most popular features is a large fish pond, where you can either feed the fish or catch them with your fishing pole! There are also ducks wandering around, which my kids love.
A warning, however: If you have a toddler as curious and active as mine were, you may want to hold off visiting High Hill Ranch until they are old enough to not want to run straight into the water (or go before they are old enough to walk!) My oldest used to love High Hill Ranch, but I found it exhausting, as I spent most of my time chasing him around. This is especially difficult because the pond is located at the bottom of a steep hill, which he also found very entertaining.
Beyond this, though, High Hill Ranch is a lot of fun. One of the highlights for us was seeing workers clean and peel the apples in big machines and then making them into cider, which they give out in free samples.
Boa Vista is not known for its kids’ activities, although they do have a small area to walk around and pick pumpkins. But it is a very popular spot to stop and enjoy some baked goods or buy jams and sauces. In fact, now that my kids are older, this is our favorite destination because the food, including a café serving lunch, is really amazing. If you have small ones, keep in mind that there is a busy road running right through Boa Vista, which you have to cross to get to the main picnic tables.
Apple Hill: Plan Your Trip
If you go to Apple Hill, you must pay attention to the schedule, especially if you are looking for something fun to do with the kiddos. While some of the locations are open year-round (though often on a limited schedule), many of the orchards only open in the fall (usually September through December). If you are unsure whether a location will be open, it is best to call ahead before making the drive.
Getting Around Apple Hill
Apple Hill is located in a beautiful area, but this means that once you arrive, your drive will be on narrow, winding roads. (The drive to and from the area is all on highways). This makes for a scenic drive, which is lucky because if you go on an autumn weekend, chances are you will spend much of your time in your car, looking out at the fall foliage, since you will be stuck in the traffic from all the other folks driving around on these small roads.
If possible, we go on a weekday morning instead, which makes for a much more relaxed experience with hardly any traffic.
Parking is free at each location, in parking lots of varying sizes, and usually easy to find, although if you go on the weekend, you may have to walk a bit at the most popular spots from the back of the lots.
Keep in mind that cell reception is very spotty throughout Apple Hill, though it has improved. So don’t count on having service until you get back on the highway.
Bathrooms are available at most places, but be aware that this often means a port-a-potty or a tiny stall at the back of a store. Back when I had little ones, I could never find a changing table, so we always had to do diaper changes in our car.
Most locations are free to enter, though they may charge for the activities. In many instances, though, this is fairly minimal – for example, fifty cents for a cup of food to feed the goats at a petting zoo.
Food in Apple Hill
The main food you can find at Apple Hill are baked goods. Some but not all orchards offer lunch, so we often packed a picnic, and it is easy to find beautiful picnic spots. We have also found good meals to purchase as well. Most are casual dining, offering sandwiches, salads, or barbecue that you can eat from paper plates at nearby picnic tables.
So, who really has the best pie in Apple Hill?
Every person you ask has a different opinion, and truthfully, it would be hard to go wrong with any Apple Hill pie. (Pie is, admittedly, one of my main reasons for going to Apple Hill in the first place!) But I asked my friend Crystal, who grew up visiting Apple Hill with her family and has now visited nearly every orchard, whose pies she likes best. Her recommendations?
It’s almost Halloween, which means new Halloween books for kids! Here are some of our favorites, from board books and to a middle grade novel about a zombie cat!
Disclosure: I received 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.
New Halloween Books for Kids
Enjoy these new Halloween books for kids! What is your favorite Halloween read?
Owl Has a Halloween Party is an adorable Halloween book for little ones. It is a sweet story that follows Owl as he visits all of his friends to invite them to his Halloween party. At each stop, we get to preview the animals’ costumes by using the sturdy pull-tabs, which are chunky enough for little hands to grab. A cute first book about Halloween that young readers will love to read again and again.
Vegetables in Halloween Costumes is a fun story that addresses that classic childhood dilemma: what to wear for Halloween? The vegetable friends help us think through all the different possibilities, and children will love the indecisive Carrot’s creative solution to the problem! A fun book all kids will be able to relate to.
Poultrygeist is my daughter’s new favorite book! It has been on constant rotation at bedtime and often a few times during the day as well. It is a fun twist on why the chicken crossed the road – and what happened when he got to the Other Side (thanks to a passing truck).
The illustrations are spooky without being too scary, and the story is so cleverly done that my older kids enjoy it as well.
Twitchy Witchy Itch is a great read to help children appreciate that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfectly bewitching. Itch the Witch rushes around to get her house ready for visitors, but when they arrive she gets a lesson in accepting imperfections – in herself and in others.
Eenie Meenie Halloweenie is another adorable new Halloween picture book. It is another look at the difficulty of deciding what Halloween costume to wear. I love that it gives children (and grown ups!) lots of ideas for DIY costumes, as the main character thinks through all the different animal costumes she could make. In the end she comes up with a creative solution that incorporates all of her favorite animals!
Trick or Treat, Crankenstein a follow up to the popular book Crankenstein. Kids will relate to the awful feeling of being cranky on a day, like Halloween, that you’ve been really forward to. Somehow it is much worse than being cranky on any other day! The illustrations are so clever, that kids will love poring over them for all the fun details. And it is a good way to talk to kids about how sometimes things don’t go as planned, but in the end it can still turn out to be fun after all.
Older kids will enjoy reading Return of ZomBert, a middle grade read that is the follow up to Rise of ZomBert. When Mellie adopted a stray cat, she didn’t realize that he had actually escaped from a laboratory. The lab was secretly testing on animals, which would explain the cat’s amazing strength and smarts. While Mellie is just focused on getting Bert ready for the pet contest at the local Harvest Festival, the lab workers (backed by a powerful corporation) are working on re-capturing their prize experiment. Can Mellie discover the plot in time to help Bert stay free of the lab’s clutches? A great read that incorporates a lot of science (some of it a little gross!) and sensitive portrayals of family dynamics and bullying.
Pura Belpré was a champion storyteller and the first Puerto Rican/Latina librarian in New York City, but many of us only know her name from the award named in her honor. This Latinx Heritage Month (Hispanic Heritage Month) learn more about the trailblazing woman behind the famous children’s book award. Scroll down for a review of a new children’s book about her life!
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. I received a complimentary copy of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Pura Belpré: Latinx Heritage Month
Pura Belpré had a gift for stories and an especial love for tales from her native Puerto Rico. But when she became a children’s librarian in New York (the first Latina library in New York City), she saw that these stories were not being told to the children.
Pura Belpré filled that gap by telling the cuentos (or stories) that she grew up with. She also saw that many of the children of other immigrant families were not participating in the library and made an effort to invite and include them as well.
One of her innovative ideas was to create bilingual story times, something we have personally benefited from. She was the first librarian to hold bilingual story times in New York!
Today her legacy is honored in the Pura Belpré Award, given annually to the Latinx illustrator and author whose work best celebrates the Latinx experience. Here are the 2021 winners:
And for a lovely new book about Pura Belpré herself!
Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories is a wonderful way to share the story of this Latinx heroine with children. This beautiful book pays tribute to this pioneering librarian, who made such a difference for so many children, not just in New York City but throughout the country. It tells of her early love of stories and her journey to bringing those stories into the library, and in turn bringing more children into the library as well.
The vibrant illustrations capture Belpré’s joy for storytelling, catching the reader up in the same enthusiasm that the children in the library must have felt on the rug at story time. The story of Pura Belpré is a wonderful way to teach our children the power of stories to bridge cultures.
And next Wednesday, September 22, at 3 pm ET, be sure to watch my interview – in English and Spanish! – of the both author and illustrator of this book: Annette Bay Pimentel and Magaly Morales.
The start of a new school year means another new crop of great back to school books for kids! This collection ranges from picture books to early chapter books and middle grade novels. They tell the stories of children starting school for the first time as well as those who have moved to a new school. Some are dealing with the normal first day of school jitters; some have an added layer of feeling “different” than the other kids. All of the children wonder if they will make new friends.
These back to school books are a wonderful way to help kids prepare for and process those exciting and nerve wracking first days!
Back to School Books for Kids
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.
Enjoy these new back to school books for kids!
School Is Cool! is another wonderful picture book from the authors of Hello! Lucky books (read my recent review of their book Go Get ‘Em, Tiger!). Just like all the books in this series, School Is Cool! is bright and colorful, with adorable animal characters. Its rhyming text fairly bounces off the page, contributing to the cheerful, upbeat feel of this joyful book. A great way to get kids excited about their first day.
Sounds Like School Spirit is the perfect book to get your kids pumped up about starting school! The rhyming text takes the form of a chant, so it would be great to read out loud, especially at circle time! I love that the students and teacher are so diverse, and that there is an emphasis on working together to have a great school year. Go team!`
Emily D. and the Fearful First Day is the third book from Sivan Hong, who has dedicated herself to writing books that include neurodiverse kids. As in Hong’s first two books, the main character, Emily D., is neurodiverse, and the book shows how she is successful at tackling a challenging situation, in this case a new school year. The story incorporates elements that often help neurodiverse kids, like fidget toys. I love that the author took such care to make sure that the book was appropriate for neurodiverse kiddos, like making simple illustrations for kids that are easily distracted, and choosing a font that is easier for kids with dyslexia. Hong was also careful to challenge our stereotypes about neurodiverse kids (usually thought of as white boys) by making the main character a Black girl. A great book for all kids to read!
What Should Danny Do? School Day is part of the Power to Choose series, where children help the main character choose what to do in various situations. Depending on their choice, they follow the story in one direction or another to see the consequences of that action. So each book is really 8 stories in one! It is a brilliant didactic technique, as children get to see how different scenarios work out. (Read my recent review of What Should Darla Do?). This latest book, What Should Danny Do? School Day, focuses specifically on situations that children often encounter in school, such as being picked for the losing team at basketball, or how to help a classmate that’s sad. I love that the scenarios are so realistic to what kids will face at school. My kids read this book over and over to try all the different storylines. Wonderful book to teach children that they have the power to choose how they respond to the challenges they face.
In Becoming Vanessa, we experience the excitement of young Vanessa as she heads off to her first day of school – only to discover she is not like the other children, who don’t wear flamboyant clothes or have unusual names. Vanessa decides that she no longer wants to be “special.” The next day she wears a more muted outfit, and she announces that she has changed her name. Then her mother tells her the story behind her name, which means “metamorphosis,” just like a butterfly. With her parents’ encouragement, Vanessa learns to take pride in her name and in herself. A beautiful story for children who feel like they don’t quite fit in, especially knowing that the book is inspired by a true story!
When the pandemic hit in 2020, children everywhere had to learn how to do school at home. For many, it meant adjusting from a classroom setting to remote learning in front of a computer. Back-to-School at Home! is a wonderful book that addresses this new reality, incorporating some of the common challenges as well as the surprising joys. And I love that this series was created by a mom who was frustrated because she didn’t see multicultural families like hers (with heritage from Togo & Japan) represented in picture books. A great book that children will easily relate to.
One of the biggest milestones of starting a new school year is making new friends. How to Spot a Best Friend follows a young girl confident that she will make a new best friend at school that year. She recounts to her mother all the ways you can recognize a best friend, such as someone who holds your hand during a scary story and who celebrates your successes. But most of all, to find a best friend you have to be a great friend, too!
1, 2, 3, Off to School! is about Pom, a child so excited to start school that she decides to get a sneak peek a year early! Pom visits the different animal schools of all the woodland creatures, from the mice and hedgehogs to the bears. At each school, Pom learns more about how schools work and what students do there. Now Pom is ready for kindergarten! This is an adorable book with detailed illustrations that children will love to spend time exploring.
I Wish You Knew is a poignant book that reminds us that children don’t come to school as clean slates. They bring with them all of the problems and trauma that they have experienced. Factors such as poverty and loss mean that many children are burdened with fear, anger, hunger, and sadness that make it difficult for them to learn. In I Wish You Knew, Estrella misses her father terribly after he is deported. When her teacher begins an “I Wish You Knew” sharing circle at school, Estrella feels her own burden lighten as she realizes that she is not alone. A must read for teachers and students alike.
Every child has experienced nervousness on the first day of school, especially when starting at a new school, but has anyone actually turned into a turtle because of it?? That’s exactly what happens to Tally in this first book of a wonderful new early chapter book series. In Tally Tuttle Turns into a Turtle, an already nervous Tally is overwhelmed when her new classmates make fun of her full name, Tallulah. She is just wishing she would shrink and disappear, when she turns into a turtle! Through her experiences as a turtle, Tally gains the confidence she needs to get to know the other students (when she’s a human again!) That is the magic of Mrs. Norrell’s classroom – in each book of the series, a different student will transform into an animal to learn important life lessons (and some science facts as well). A fun way to let children look at their problems from a different perspective.
Starting at a new school is never fun, but when you are a Muslim kid, there is an extra layer of fear and uncertainty. The award-winning middle grade novel Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet tackles this tough situation. Omar has all the usual worries about how tough the schoolwork will be or if the new kids will be mean. But then a school bully makes his life miserable, including telling him that Muslims were going to be kicked out of the country! Omar is such a lovable character, with his incredible imagination, and he is so relatable, whether you are Muslim or not. It is a great book for teaching us to see past our differences and get to know people beyond just the stereotypes. It’s also a great book for reluctant readers, as it mixes a lot of graphics into the text.
Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year, another Own Voices book, takes on a similar situation, as Ahmed and his family move from Hawaii to Minnesota because of his father’s illness. On top of the stress of his father’s health, Ahmed has to deal with a bully and being one of the only minority kids in a very white school. Ahmed has always been an underachiever, so he is surprised to enjoy the assigned books from school, learning important lessons from literature about courage and being confident in yourself. A thoughtful read that also has a lot of humor.
As a homeschooler, I was drawn to Lily’s Promise instantly, as it tells of a girl starting at the local elementary school after years of being homeschooled. Still reeling from the death of her father, Lily struggles to keep her promise to him to speak her mind. When she and her new friends face bullying, Lily learns to overcome her anxiety in order to stand up for herself and others. The heaviness of the story is given a humorous counterpoint with an innovative element: commentary from Libro, the book itself, whose voice is snarky and funny. A beautifully told story of grief and courage.
What are your favorite back to school books for kids?
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.
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.
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!
Looking for a fun Day of the Dead activity for kids? Why not make an escape room? It is a fun way to engage a group of kids in crafts and puzzles related to Day of the Dead! We have you covered with a complete (though flexible) plan to set up your escape room, including a free printable pack! Perfect activity for a classroom setting or Day of the Dead party.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Day of the Dead Activity for Kids: Make an Escape Room
Are you throwing a Day of the Dead party or looking for a fun Day of the Dead activity for kids for your classroom? Here is a complete plan, including a printable (see below), though it is also flexible to allow you to adjust to suit your needs.
Below are eight activities (many included in the printable pack) that you can use for your Day of the Dead escape room. Any of these can be swapped out or modified to suit your group of students; however, make sure that you end up with EIGHT activities total, so that they can solve the final puzzle. The activities can be done in any order, but all must be completed before they are given the final puzzle to solve.
For each activity done or puzzle solved, the students will receive one letter (included in the printable). Once they receive all eight letters, they can solve the final puzzle.
Variation: To add some excitement to this Day of the Dead activity for kids, you could set a time limit to the game then blow up some of these skeleton balloons and pop one every few minutes. (So, for example, if you are going to give them 30 minutes for the activity, blow up 6 balloons and pop one every 5 minutes). Once the last balloon is popped, time’s up!
Depending on your layout and the size of the group, the children could work together on each activity on one large table, or you could set up each activity on a separate, smaller table, and have the children work in smaller groups, each of which would complete several of the activities. (For example, 4 small groups could do 2 activities each). However you decide, the entire group should solve the final puzzle together.
Work together to complete a Day of the Dead fill in the blank activity (included in the printable).
Activity 5: Papel Picado
Make banners with beautiful papel picado, either using this template or their own design.
Activity 6: Word Problem
Solve a Day of the Dead themed word problem (included in the printable).
Activity 7: Acrostic Poem
Get creative by writing their own acrostic poem about Day of the Dead! (Template included in the printable).
Activity 8: Honoring Loved Ones
While Day of the Dead has become a popular holiday, it’s important to remind kids about the real meaning behind it, which is to honor and remember loved ones that have passed on. Have each student make a drawing of a loved one or hero that has passed on, along with a sentence or two about what they remember about them. (Worksheet included in the printable).
Finish off your Day of the Dead activity for kids by having them solve one final puzzle! This puzzle (included in the printable) is solved using the letters earned with each completed activity.
While they enjoy their treats, read this fun new picture book for older kids! A Marvelous Mexican Misunderstanding is a great introduction to Day of the Dead from the perspective of a young boy whose family has recently moved back to Mexico. Like most children, Adri has heard some about Day of the Dead but finds much of it confusing. And to top it all off, his older sister decides to play a trick on him, telling him that Day of the Dead is when Adri is going to die!
Young readers will identify with Adri’s confusion and enjoy the happy resolution, learning all about the beautiful Day of the Dead holiday along the way.
I loved the artwork in A Marvelous Mexican Misunderstanding, which captures the emotional tenor of the story as well as providing some stunning views of Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. My favorite was the nighttime boat ride to the island of Janitzio, twinkling with candlelight. My sons enjoyed Adri’s sometimes funny, sometimes nerve-wracking misunderstandings – plus his pet axolotl, of course!
Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting another blog hop for Day of the Dead! (Don’t miss our series from last year, 2017, and 2016!) Be sure to visit all the posts below for great ideas on sharing Day of the Dead with kids:
Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to share some of the many treasures of Latin American music with your children! Latin musical traditions are so rich and multifaceted, that it is sometimes hard to know where to begin! Here are some wonderful new picture books that celebrate Latin American music, from lullabies to rock and roll.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the products 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.
Latin American Music to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
To start at the very beginning, in more ways than one, you really should go back to nursery rhymes and lullabies. They are the beginning of Latin American music because they have been enjoyed for so many generations, and because they are the first melodies that many children in Latin America hear, often in the lap of a loved one.
They range from the lively La víbora de la mar from Mexico to the gentle Duerme negrito from Cuba. (Keep in mind that many of these songs are enjoyed in more than one country, but the country mentioned is the one whose version is shared here).
It is perfect for non-native speakers like me, who didn’t grow up with these nursery rhymes and lullabies. With the CD, I can assure that my children hear the original songs as they were meant to be sung, plus the full lyrics (in English and Spanish) are at the back, so that we can learn to sing them ourselves.
But Latin American music isn’t just about lullabies. It is also about finding expression through modern media like electric guitars. Few Latin American musicians embody this spirit of fearless innovation like the legendary Carlos Santana, who forged his own path by creating a unique blend of Latin, European, and African influences. Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World celebrates this giant of Latin American music by telling the story of Santana’s early years. It is a story of perseverance in difficult circumstances but also about the struggle to find your own voice.
Santana was heavily influenced by his father, a mariachi musician whom young Carlos admired greatly. Yet he also realized early on that his path was different from that of his father. He felt no joy in playing mariachi and wanted to experiment with new sounds rather than playing the same songs over and over.
Despite his misgivings, Carlos’ father eventually gave his son a used electric guitar, which would change the path of the teenager’s life – and modern music – forever.
The artwork of the book is stunning and uniquely suited to Santana’s style. In fact, the artist was the same that Santana commissioned to create the iconic cover of his Shaman album.
What is your favorite style of Latin American music?
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