I was looking for an easy gratitude activity to do with my kids, but as always I had my hands full with the baby, so I knew it had to be something easy but also fun enough to keep their attention. This gratitude game requires no prep, but it is great writing practice and builds critical thinking skills. It helps kids focus on gratitude ahead of Thanksgiving, yet the end results are often hilarious.
Easy Gratitude Game
This gratitude game only requires paper and pencil and takes just a few moments.
Each person writes a list of what they are grateful for, without letting anyone else see. For younger children, give a specific number of items they should write (we did 5). For older children, you could time it and see who can write the most number of items in a certain amount of time.
Once everyone has their list, have them try to write down what they think each other person’s list would be. (If possible, don’t tell them ahead of time about this step of the game, as otherwise they may purposely write a list that is difficult to guess). In our case, it was just the two boys, so they tried to guess each other’s lists, but with a larger group you could ask them to guess the list of the person sitting to their right.
When time is up, see how many you got right! We had a lot of fun with this part, as it was so funny to see what each thought the other had written down. It is harder to guess than you might think, even with hints! (My 6 year old’s list: PS4, basmati rice, life, the Earth, chicken).
Younger children can draw their answers if they can’t write yet, but I really recommend this for elementary age children. It was a good exercise for my preschooler to make his list, but it was so random that it was next to impossible for anyone to guess his answers. (“You’re grateful for a chicken bone?” “Yes! And flowers!”)
Looking for a fun, no-prep Day of the Dead craft using materials you already have? Here is a fun one that you can do anytime with your kids – and it’s not even messy! (Mom for the win!) All you need is paper, markers, glue, and cereal – that’s it! It’s a great after school activity to encourage creativity and learning, and it comes with a built in snack 😉
Easy Day of the Dead Craft
Cereal: We used Trix and Cocoa Puffs because they are so colorful, just like the Day of the Dead skulls and decorations. My kids didn’t mind having them to snack on while they worked, either!
Draw or download a Day of the Dead skull image
Decorate the image using your markers until you have a final design. Day of the Dead skulls are often decorated with flowers. You can also give yours a fun hat or costume!
Diwali is coming, and I’m excited to share some great Diwali books with you! These are great ones to read with your kids whether they are already familiar with Diwali or not. For those who are just learning about it, it’s a wonderful way to discover this joyous time; while those who already celebrate with their families will enjoy seeing their holiday represented in books and learning the meaning behind the traditions!
I received a complimentary copy of Let’s Celebrate Diwali and Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali 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.
Diwali Books for Kids
We have just discovered the wonderful story for young children, Let’s Celebrate Diwali, published by Bharat Babies. The first thing that strikes you is how colorful it is! A young girl is nervous to share about Diwali with her classmates, but she is surprised to find out several of them are also celebrating Diwali! What is even more surprising is how differently they celebrate, as she learns that Diwali is recognized not only by Hindus but also by many Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. Includes brief, kid-level explanations behind each religion’s Diwali celebrations.
I adore The Diwali Gift, and not just because the main characters are monkeys! This is a super cute book that kids will really enjoy. The story is a fun little mystery for very young kids that incorporates elements of Diwali in a very natural way. (Read my full review).
I love activity books, so My Diwali Coloring Book sounds wonderful! Recommended for ages 4-8, its illustrations range in difficulty to match different abilities. Includes a simple version of the story behind Diwali as well as conversation starters about Diwali and Indian culture.
Let’s Celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! is a gorgeous book that presents the story of Diwali in a very engaging, easy to understand way. I love how the characters Maya and Neel lead children through the activities of each of the 5 days of Diwali, with a colorful overview at the back. Younger kids will love the illustrations and overall story, while older kids will also enjoy learning more details about this festival.
Where to Buy Diwali Books
Two of my favorite places to find Diwali books are the same ones where I found such wonderful books for Eid! Read on to find out why you don’t want to miss these online shops:
I love that they are so committed to getting diverse books into schools. In their Diwali giveaways, they are asking people to tag teachers and librarians, since they will be sending two books to schools and libraries to increase their diverse books as part of their Donate for Diversity campaign.
And they are running a special just for All Done Monkey readers!
Use the code ADM10 to get 10% off your order at Kitaab World this Diwali!
Looking for some great Rosh Hashanah recipes but worried about sticking to a gluten free diet? I’ve done the research for you to find Rosh Hashanah recipes that are also gluten free!
Today I’m guest posting on Multicultural Kid Blogs to share some wonderful gluten free Rosh Hashanah recipes I’ve found. If you are like me and have a loved one that follows a gluten free diet, you know how challenging it can be to keep to it during holidays and celebrations, when we tend to turn to traditional foods. Luckily, there are so many resources available these days. I’ve found some really wonderful dishes for you – some of them recreate traditional dishes with creative substitutions, while others put a modern spin on classic recipes to make them easier for those on special diets. So be sure to visit Multicultural Kid Blogs to read the full list!
Pumpkin bread is a fall staple in our household. I grew up eating my mother’s version and now that I’m a mom I make it often for my family. The main change is substituting coconut oil for vegetable oil and using some non-traditional flours and flaxseed. Also, I leave out the ground cloves because to me it competes too much with the coconut flavor.
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin or sweet potato (1 can pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)*
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup water plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
*If you have time, roasting the pumpkin or sweet potato and pureeing in the food processor gives a much richer flavor than the canned pumpkin
1. Oil two small loaf pans. Combine eggs and sugar; mix well.
2. Add pumpkin, coconut oil, and water. Blend thoroughly.
3. Add all dry ingredients and mix until combined. Note: The batter will be much denser than with traditional pumpkin bread.
4. Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until an inserted knife comes out clean.
This is Carrie from Crafty Moms Share. Leanna asked me to share with you about one of my favorite topics to learn about–Native Americans. With Thanksgiving coming up I thought I would share about a man who had a lot to do with the first Thanksgiving. You have probably heard of Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims survive. Did you ever wonder how he was able to help them?
Squanto or Tisqunatum was a Native American in the Patuxet tribe. The Patuxet tribe was a tributary of the Wampanoag Confederacy. Squanto is believed to be born between 1555 and 1592, but no one knows for sure in the Patuxet village that is in the area of present day Plymouth, Massachusetts. He grew up in this vibrant village learning how to plant the crops, catch the fish and hunt. There are a few versions of what happened in his life here is what seems to be in every version. Squanto was kidnapped along with others. He lived with Spanish friars and lived with Sir Ferdinando Gorges in England. He learned English and to read and write. He was brought back tohis homeland by Captain John Smith. This all took place between 1604 and 1619. He may have been kidnapped twice, but the stories are different. In 1619 he managed to make his way back home only to find his entire tribe had died and his village empty. He went and lived with the neighboring tribe, the Wampanoags. The Wampanoags explained to Squanto that his tribe died of the white man’s disease, smallpox.
The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. They were lucky enough to find land already cleared to build Plymouth Colony. The land of course was once the Patuxet villagewhere Squanto grew up. Living in Massachusetts I have been lucky enough to visit Plymouth Rock, Plimouth Plantation and the Mayflower II several times. The pictures I share here are from one of those visits. In 1621 Squanto was brought to Plymouth Colony by Samoset, an Abenaki (from Maine) who learned English from traders. Chief Massasoit wanted Squanto to help interpret between himself and the English as well as to spy on the English since there was not a full level of trust. Imagine the Pilgrims surprise when Squanto walked into the colony speaking perfect English.
Long House or Nush Wetu
Squanto helped the Pilgrims survive by teaching them how to grow the three sister crops: corn, beans and squash and where to catch fish and hunt. He really saved them. He also helped negotiate a treaty between the Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoags. Chief Massasoit wanted peace and made promises to the Englishmen. His sons and he later regretted all that they did for them as the English took more and more land. Squanto died in 1622 in Chatham, Massachusetts (on Cape Cod) of a fever. He had been acting as a guide to Governor William Bradford.
For more on Squanto check out the many books on him. Here are some we found at our local library. We really enjoyed the Squanto & the First Thanksgiving DVD as it told the story in a way my 6-year-old could see and understand.
The Wampanoag region stretched from Southeastern Massachusetts to Rhode Island and included Martha’s Vineyard. Their language isa dialect of the Algonquian language family. The word Wampanoag literally translated to people of the dawn. The Patuxet was an extinct band of the Wampanoag. The Wampanoags had two types of houses, the long house or nush wetu and the wigwams or wetus. The long houses had three fires in them.
Wigwam or Wetu
So on Thanksgiving think about the former slave who helped save the second colony of the United States and perhaps say a prayer for all the Native Americans.
Carrie is a former high school math teacher with diversity training and helped advise many diversity clubs at the schools she taught. Now she is a stay-at-home mother of an almost five-year-old and very active with her church. She writes about her life with her daughter and the fun things they do at Crafty Moms Share. You can also find her on Pinterest and Google +.
Welcome to our second annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month! All month long we’ll be sharing posts about sharing these rich cultures with kids. Find our full schedule of posts below, and don’t forget to link up your own as well! We’ll also be having a big giveaway (details coming soon!) You can find even more ideas on our Native/Indigenous Cultures Pinterest board:
The Day of the Dead is rapidly becoming a popular holiday in the United States. The following books are great to teach children about the holiday, and range from books that are more informational to those that are more for fun and finally to those that center on children who are dealing with the loss of loved ones.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
Children’s Books for Day of the Dead
A great book to introduce children to this festival is The Day of the Dead/El Dia de Los Muertos. It’s rhyming text covers the basics of the holiday without being too overwhelming for young readers (additional information is included at the book). The artwork itself – which was inspired by the work of well-known Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada – is wonderful, incorporating traditional symbols and capturing the spirit of Day of the Dead.
One of my favorite discoveries was Un barrilete / Barrilete: para el Día de los Muertos / A Kite for the Day of the Dead. It is a beautifully photographed book about a young boy in a village in Guatemala famous for the incredible kites the villagers make every year for Day of the Dead. It is a wonderful book because it tells how Day of the Dead is celebrated outside Mexico and lets children take a peek into the lives of other children as they prepare their incredible kites and get ready for a very special day.
Fun with Calaveras (Skeletons)
Some of these books do not specifically mention Day of the Dead, but they all either exhibit artwork associated with the holiday or are in the spirit of the festival.
The art of paper mache skeletons is celebrated in this ABC book for Day of the Dead. Based on the life and work of a real family of artisans in Mexico, Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book tells of a family getting ready for Day of the Dead by making their special life-sized paper mache skeletons, which are then featured in an A-Z display of all the different professions an aspiring skeleton might be, whether an Angel or Bruja or a Zapatero!
I love the illustrations and poetry in The Festival of Bones / El festival de las calaveras, a wonderful look at how skeletons celebrate Day of the Dead after being cooped up all year. Also includes an essay at the end about the holiday, including recipes and activities.
Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family does not actually mention Day of the Dead, though its theme of a skeleton family is an obvious reference. The text itself is quite simple; the real star is the artwork: paper mache skeletons made by a young artist from Oaxaca, Mexico, in the traditional method. (Each figure took one month to construct!) This is a great book to showcase skeleton art from Mexico and how, unlike in the United States, skeletons there are not seen as creepy or scary at all!
A list of Latino children’s books just wouldn’t be complete without including the incomparable Yuyi Morales. Just a Minute! is a fun trickster tale and counting book, in which clever Grandma Beetle outwits Señor Calavera (Mister Skeleton), who has come to take her away. She agrees to go but delays him with Uno (One) having to sweep one house, Dos (Two) having to boil two pots of tea, and so on until Señor Calavera unwittingly helps Grandma Beetle prepare a special surprise that makes him forget all about taking her away! We love reading this book together, as well as the sequel Just In Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book, when Señor Calavera prepares for Grandma Beetle’s party by looking for a very special gift. Learn vocabulary and the Spanish alphabet as he searches for what Grandma Beetle would love the most.
Another fun skeleton book is The Dead Family Diaz, about a dead family preparing to make their annual trip to the Land of the Living during the Day of the Dead festival. But young Angelito is scared about what the living are like. Is it true that they are squishy and have bulging eyes like his sister says? When he gets separated from his family and becomes lost among the living, Angelito must turn to a new friend to help him. A really cute book that showcases many aspects of the Day of the Dead festival and imagines a friendship between two young boys from opposite worlds.
Dance along with the skeletons in Clatter Bash! A Day of the Dead Celebration as they come out of their tombs to celebrate Day of the Dead. They enjoy the offerings left for them and enjoy playing in the cemetery and around the town. The text is simple but lively, to go with the colorful pictures of the skeletons’ fiesta.
Remembering Loved Ones
Ghost Wings is a beautiful book about a girl dealing with the loss of a beloved grandmother. Her father tells her that when you love someone, they never really leave, just like the monarch butterflies that return to the Magic Circle in the forest every autumn. When the butterflies return that fall and the Days of the Dead arrive, she discovers the joy in remembering her grandmother and celebrating her life. Includes information about Day of the Dead and the monarch butterflies as well as a guide to using the book to discuss feelings and memories with children.
The image of butterflies can also be seen in Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead. Each year when the monarch butterflies return, Lupita knows that Day of the Dead will soon be here. But this year’s celebration will be different for Lupita, whose favorite uncle has just passed away. It was he who taught her not to harm the butterflies, since they are believed to be the souls of the departed. Though the rituals of Day of the Dead comfort Lupita, it is not until she sees a lone butterfly flying above her uncle’s grave that the gloom begins to lift from her heart.
Beto and The Bone Dance is also about a child remembering his grandmother during the Day of the Dead, though it is a bit less melancholy than other of the books listed here. Beto wants to make something special for his Grandmother, who has recently died, but others have already made pan de muertos and Grandmother’s favorite drinks and foods. Luckily, Beto receives help from someone very special to add to the altar what Grandmother loved of all.
Another book about a child dealing with loss is Felipa and the Day of the Dead. It is from a German author, who was moved by the Day of the Dead celebrations she witnessed when studying art in Mexico. Years later she traveled to Bolivia and studied their Todos Santos traditions, on which she based this beautiful book. When Felipa’s grandmother dies, Felipa asks all the animals and searches through the mountains to find her grandmother’s soul. Her father tells her that the souls of the dead live in another world, but they come to visit every year in November. When the day finally arrives, Felipa helps with the preparations and visits the cemetery to remember her grandmother and visit with her there. She is still sad but hopeful that each year she will have this special day to visit with her grandmother.
A beautifully done book about loss is Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead. Though Maria’s family does not have much money, they find special ways to celebrate Day of the Dead, which she describes as being like a family reunion. For Maria, the heart of the festival is spent in the graveyard, remembering loved ones who have died. (Note: One of those that Maria has lost is her infant brother, Pablo). When Maria moves with her family to the United States, she wonders how they will continue to honor the dead in their new home, yet she discovers that the spirit of Day of the Dead can be continued even far away from Mexico.
When Rosita’s grandmother dies, Rosita is inconsolable, until her grandfather tells her that she can show her grandmother how much she misses her by making her a gift for Day of the Dead. Gift For Abuelita / Un regalo para Abuelita really shows the love that infuses all of the rituals of the Day of the Dead, and what a comfort it can be to loved ones.
This post is part of the Day of the Dead series on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Follow along all month as we share ideas for teaching children about this festival!
Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love all the pumpkin decorations, pumpkin picking, pumpkin treats, and of course the pumpkin crafts. The kids and I love getting the craft supplies out and finding simple crafts to use as decorations. We had pumpkins on our minds so we made a fun balloon print pumpkin garland to hang up in the house. It was easy to make and fun for all of us as well.
Balloon Print Pumpkin Garland
Supplies/what I used:
To start we made our pumpkin craft. We took blown up balloons and dipped them in orange paint. The kids pressed the balloon down on the paper to make a “pumpkin”. The kids made several pumpkins with the balloon. We left them to dry overnight.
The next afternoon I grabbed the scissors, sharpies, yarn, and hole punch. I used the sharpies to draw a brown stem and green leaves. Now the prints started to look more like pumpkins.
The kids helped me cut out the pumpkins. We cut them to look like the pumpkin print was on an index sized card. Now for one of their favorite parts. Using the hole punch! This always gets my kids excited. They love to make holes with the hole punch. We put a hole in each corner on the “card”. We did this till we had them all finished.
Now take the orange yarn and cut a piece long enough to fit the size banner you want. We used 6 pumpkin cards to make our garland/banner. This was the perfect size to hang up on the cabinet. We threaded the yarn through the holes. Now we had a balloon print pumpkin garland to hang up. We used tape and taped each end down on top of the cabinet. The kids love telling anyone that comes over they made it.
I am always on the lookout for fun activities I can do with my kids to learn Spanish, and what is more fun this time of year than Halloween? Here are some of my favorite Spanish Halloween activities to help you and your kids have some learning fun getting ready for el día de las brujas!
Note: Most of the activities and printables included below are free. Those few that are paid are very inexpensive and well worth it!
Spanish Skeleton Song – Spanish Playground: My kids and I have already been having fun dancing to Los esqueletos thanks to this post! It is great for practicing numbers, time, action words – and of course, your best skeleton dance moves!
Of course, Halloween is not traditionally celebrated in Latin America, though it has become popular in some places in recent years. From what I’ve heard from my Costa Rican family, for example, it was something of a fad a few years ago! Just for fun, you can share with your kids how people have started celebrating Halloween in Spain! (Day of the Dead – or el día de los muertos – is not just a version of Halloween but an entirely different tradition, though it also stems in part from All Saints Day).
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is coming soon! To celebrate I’ve put together a list of books for children about this beautiful holiday. Enjoy!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.
Children’s Books about Rosh Hashanah
Every year Katy looks forward to making a special batch of homemade applesauce with her mother for Rosh Hashanah. But when a new baby cousin arrives early and her mother must go help, the holiday is ruined! Or is it? Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story is a sweet story of friends and neighbors coming together to make a very special New Year for a little girl. Applesauce recipe included!
What a Way to Start a New Year!: A Rosh Hashanah Story has a similar theme. Dina is not sure how her family can have a happy new year in their new home, without any of their old friends. When they try to make a visit back to their old neighborhood for the holiday, one thing after another goes wrong and they miss the celebration. Yet a warm welcome into their new community makes it a wonderful start to the new year after all.
Daniel knows that Rosh Hashanah celebrates the beginning of Creation, so he decides to throw a birthday party for the world! But when he shares his idea, everyone tells him he can’t possibly invite the whole word over for a party. Luckily for the reader (and the world!) Daniel is not discouraged. The World’s Birthday: A Rosh Hashanah Story is a great book about determination and coming up with creative solutions!
Rabbi Benjamin is thrilled when his congregation gives him a special gift for Rosh Hashanah – a beautiful holiday vest with four silver buttons. But as the year passes and Rabbi Benjamin celebrates the holidays with the different families in the congregation – including eating plenty of delicious food! – one by one the buttons on his vest pop off. What will the congregation say when Rosh Hashanah comes again and the Rabbi’s holiday vest is ruined? Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons is a really cute book about the love between a Rabbi and his congregation. It is also a great way to teach children about the holidays of the Jewish year.
Beni is excited that his family is going to spend Rosh Hashanah with his grandparents – until he finds out that Cousin Max will be there, too! From the beginning of the visit, Max torments the other children, from hiding plastic spiders and worms under their pillows to taking the last date before they can have any. Beni is furious at Max, until Grandpa explains to the children the tradition of Tashlikh, and the boys learn to forgive and start the new year fresh. Happy New Year, Beni is a great way to introduce children to the traditions and true spirit of Rosh Hashanah.
Tashlich at Turtle Rock is a gentle book about one family’s Rosh Hashanah tradition of taking a hike into the woods together. This year it is Annie’s turn to lead the way to Turtle Rock, where they throw crumbs into the river as a symbol of the mistakes of the past year. The story also includes fun non-traditional ways that a family can reflect on the past year and plan for the next.
Part of a series on Jewish holidays, Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride is wonderful for little train lovers! Engineer Ari is so excited to be driving the train all the way to Jerusalem that he doesn’t realize his friends’ feelings are hurt. Through his trip he learns about the true spirit of Rosh Hashanah and comes up with a plan to help them feel better. Based on the true story of the opening of the railway from Jerusalem to Jaffa during the High Holidays in 1892.
I love love Even Higher!. A newcomer is skeptical when the villagers of Nemirov say their rabbi goes to heaven every year on Rosh Hashanah to plead for a good year for them. So as Rosh Hashanah approaches, the newcomer hides and follows the Rabbi to find out where he really disappears to. What he discovers, though, is a secret even more wonderful than the tale he had been told. Does the Rabbi go to heaven? No, even higher!
As a lover of history, I adore The Secret Shofar of Barcelona, which takes us back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition, when Jews had to hide their religion or face imprisonment or worse. Musician Don Fernando longs to hear the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, but in Barcelona in the late 1500s, this is not possible. Yet when he is commissioned to perform a concert celebrating the colonies in the New World, he and his son Rafael come up with a daring plan to usher in Rosh Hashanah with the shofar during the concert itself, with Spanish nobles in the audience! This is a wonderful story to help children appreciate being able to celebrate the High Holidays in peace, as well as to imagine themselves courageous enough to play the shofar at that long ago concert in Barcelona! Based on a legendary – though never verified – tale of a daring Spanish converso.