Apr 072015
 April 7, 2015  activities, Around the World in 12 Dishes, Earth Day, Education, education3 Comments Off on Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees | Alldonemonkey.com

To continue our theme of learning about endangered animals, we turned our attention to Senegal (our next country in Around the World in 12 Dishes) and began to study the African manatee.  There are three species of manatees, but the African (or West African) manatee is perhaps the least known of the three and the most endangered.

Disclosure: This post contains a sponsored link for your convenience.

These animals are known locally as “Mamiwata”, an African name (unfortunately I wasn’t able to discover which African language) for the spirit believed to be embodied by the manatee.  The gentle manatees are marine mammals, which means they must surface periodically to breathe.  Most manatees are primarily herbivores, but now there is evidence that the African manatee actually eats fish, mollusks, and clams.

The African manatee can be found in the shallow coastal waters, rivers, and estuaries of West Africa and is under threat from poaching, fishing (because of getting caught in fishing nets), and habitat loss from construction of dams.  While firm numbers are difficult to come by, it is clear that the African manatee is under grave threat and its population is in danger of disappearing from several of the countries – including Senegal – where it has traditionally lived.

Endangered Animals: Learning about African Manatees | Alldonemonkey.com

To learn more about the African manatee, I created a word search and word puzzle, which you can download and print here:

African Manatee Word Search

African Manatee Word Puzzle


Additional Resources on African Manatees:

From Save Our Species

From Save Our Seas

From Wildlife Conservation Society

From Sirenian International


From IUCN Red List

Title image via http://currencewiki.wikispaces.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.

Earth Day Books and Music Giveaway

To inspire earth-friendly practices with your family, I’m so excited to be taking part in an awesome Earth Day giveaway with several other kid bloggers. Several publishers have offered earth-themed books and music prizes for your Earth Day celebrations. Hopefully, these wonderful resources will inspire a love of nature in your children and motivate them to make a difference in the world. Amazon affiliate links are below for your convenience.

The Earth Day Giveaway co-hosts are:

Kids Yoga Stories, Mama Smiles, Spanish Playground, Creative World of Varya, Crafty Moms Share, the piri-piri lexicon, All Done Monkey, and Eva Varga

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #1



Water Rolls, Water Rises, by Pat Mora
Celebrate the wonders of the water on planet Earth with this poetic and illustrative bilingual book.

Call Me Tree, by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Act out this beautiful bilingual story following a young child mimicking the growth of a tree.

Kings & Queens of the Forest CD, by Kira Willey
Act out a journey to the forest with Kira Willey’s enchanting yoga-inspired music.

Imaginations 2, by Carolyn Clarke
Use guided imagery to explore nature while learning to calm the mind and body with these relaxation stories.

Sophia’s Jungle Adventure, by Giselle Shardlow
Join Sophia and her family on a jungle adventure while learning to appreciate jungle life and doing yoga along the way.

Every Day is Earth Day Kids Yoga Lesson Plan PDF, by Next Generation Yoga
Create an earth-themed yoga session with this kids yoga lesson plan.

Compost Stew, by Mary McKenna Siddals
Dig into composting with this engaging rhyming text.

Too Much Junk song, by Elska
Get inspired to enjoy nature and simplify your life with this new musical adventure.

Backyard Garden CD, by Earthworm Ensemble
Celebrate nature, green living, and gardening with this uplifting new music.

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #2



Change the World Before Bedtime, by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good
Find out how the simple things in life that can inspire huge differences that change the world.

Picture a Tree, by Barbara Reid
Discover new ways to experience trees in this book with stunning imagery.

This Tree Counts, by Alison Formento and Sarah Snow
Practice counting with animals that live in trees.

Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green, by Eileen Spinelli and Anne Kennedy
Join Miss Fox as she teaches her forest animal students how to go green.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver, by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tadgell
Step into the historical world of Dr. Carver as he teaches children about gardening.

What’s So Special About Planet Earth?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn how planet Earth is different from other planets.

Polar Bear, Why is Your World Melting?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn why and how the world is getting warmer and what we can do about it.

Earth Day Giveaway Prize Pack #3EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY


Earth Day CD and Recycled Musical Activities eBook, by Daria Marmaluk Hajioannou
Sing and dance to catchy folk music to celebrate our beautiful rainbow world.

Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman
Take a look at nature in a new way with this book that explains all about the nature with sketches.

Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun, by Michael J. Caduto
Learn about renewable energy with 22 activities on producing and using it.

Ecology eBook – Ecology Explorations, by Eva Varga
Explore your local ecosystems with this hands-on ten-week life science curriculum.

When the Animals Saved Earth, by Alexis York Lumbard
Read a tale about how animals teach humans to restore balance in nature.

Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree, by Durga Yael Bernhard
Explore trees all over the world and see what a child sees when climbing those trees

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Apr 032015

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

As part of our study of Bolivia and the “Around the World in 12 Dishes” series, we looked more closely at one of the great symbols of the Andes – the condor.  A really great online resource about the Andean condor (cousin to the also endangered California condor) is, of course, National Geographic.

Many Americans are familiar with the famous song “El Condor Pasa,” written by a Peruvian composer last century and based on Andean folk melodies.  It was later popularized by none other than Paul Simon, who added his own lyrics.  He can be seen here singing on Sesame Street:

The condor had been respected by the native Andeans as a mystical bird, but the newly arrived Spanish saw it as a nuisance.  Ironically, the Spanish hunted it to near extinction out of a mistaken belief that it was killing their cattle.  Yet this was not the case, as the condor is a scavenger, meaning it feeds off of carrion (dead meat), just like a vulture.

My Monkey was quite indignant over this devastating mistake: “They should have killed the eagles instead!” he told me many times.  Well, not quite the “living in harmony with the natural world” sentiment I was aiming for, but at least he does have an emotional attachment to the condor!

The Andean condor is one of the largest flying birds on the planet – in fact, it is the largest if you go by wingspan, as they measure an enormous 10 feet (3 meters) from tip to tip.  They need that wing power, as they are also some of the heaviest flying birds around!

To help Monkey get a sense of just how large these birds were, we did an activity based on a display I saw at our local zoo.  The idea is to have children measure their own “wingspan” and compare it to the wingspans of various birds, including the condor.

First we researched the wingspans of various birds, from the Andean and California condors to the hummingbird.  Then, of course, we measured his!

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

Here are the measurements we used:

 Hummingbird: 4 inches
Mandarin duck: 28 inches
My Monkey: 46 inches
Bald Eagle: 7 feet
California Condor: 9.5 feet
Andean Condor: 10 feet

Then we marked the measurements all on our floor with masking tape.  (We had planned to do more birds, but Little Monkey thought the game was to pull up all of the tape markings as soon as we had put them down, so we decided to keep our list relatively brief).

We first marked a spot that would serve as our center then marked each wingspan on either side of this, so that when you look down at the floor, the wingspans line up on top of each other and you can really see how they size up.

Endangered Animals: Learning about Andean Condors | Alldonemonkey.com

Beyond learning about the Andean condor and other birds, this is a great exercise in measuring and counting.  Older kids could also help halve the wingspan measurements, since half (one wing) is on either side of the middle mark.

Our conclusion: Andean condors are big!  But don’t worry – they’ll only eat you if you’re already dead 😉

Title image via http://indiracevallos.wikispaces.com/



Find more natural parenting resources by clicking on the image above! You can also find great posts on our Earth Day Is Every Day Pinterest board:

Be sure to enter our amazing giveaway! Most prizes are for US and Canada shipping only.

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Mar 312015

Earth Day Books for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Earth Day is almost here, though it’s always a good time to share with your kids the importance of caring for our planet!  Here is a list of some great books that we have enjoyed reading that help kids understand the interconnectedness of our lives with the natural world and how to live in harmony with it.

Earth Day Books for Kids

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  I received complimentary copies of several of the books below; however, all opinions are my own.

When the Animals Saved the Earth

A new title from Wisdom Tales Press is When the Animals Saved Earth, retold by Alexis York Lumbard and illustrated by Demi.  It is the fable about humanity’s arrival on a blue and green island and the disastrous consequences of their greedy, short-sighted treatment of the land and animals.  To answer for their crimes they are brought before the powerful Spirit King.  Now, lest you think this a very modern, hippy-dippy tale, the author’s note details its long pedigree, beginning in 10th century Iraq, through medieval Europe until recent times.  It is sure to spark great discussions with your children about how to treat the earth, whether humanity should be punished for how it has abused nature, and if so, what should that punishment be?

Just Like Me Climbing a Tree

I love the concept of Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree: Exploring Trees Around the World.  The book works well on so many levels:  The simple but lyrical text invites children to imagine themselves climbing in trees, hanging like monkeys or watching caterpillars, just as the diverse children in the book are doing.  The twist is that each child in the book sits in a different tree, native to their country – from Cambodia to California.  The trees are illustrated in beautiful detail, and it is easy to imagine oneself perched atop each one of them, looking down on the lively scenes below.  Young readers can easily see the strong thread connecting all of us as we enjoy our natural world.

The Otter, the Spotted Frog, and the Great Flood

Another wonderful story from Wisdom Tales is The Otter, the Spotted Frog, and the Great Flood, a Creation tale from the Creek Indians retold by Gerald Hausman.  It teaches a wonderful lesson about the importance of paying attention to even the smallest creatures.  (Read my full review).

The beautiful book On the Day You Were Born, along with its companion On the Night You Were Born were given to us when we were expecting Monkey. Both books are beautiful imaginings of the joy a child’s birth brings to the natural world. Animals carry the news from one species to the other until they all are celebrating, including polar bears that stay up all night dancing (this is why they always seem so sleepy at the zoo!) The earth also pledges to hold the child in place with gravity, and the sun promises to bring a cheerful face to it each day. These are wonderful stories to help your little one see himself as a vital part of a loving universe, which watches over him with great joy and care.

We really enjoyed reading City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan.  I love that this book shows about how you can appreciate nature wherever you live, even in a big city.  It is also about the power of coming together as a community and the importance of beauty to the life of the spirit.  Through one girl’s passion and confidence, neighbors work together to transform an abandoned lot into a beautiful garden, and in the process re-awaken kindness in even the most unlikely people.

Sophia's Jungle Adventure | Kids Yoga Stories

Giselle Shardlow of Kids Yoga Stories has a number of wonderful children’s books that gently teach about the importance of caring for the natural world.  Sophia’s Jungle Adventure, for example, is the story of a young girl who travels to Costa Rica and in the process learns about how the natural habitat there is being threatened by humans.  (Read my full review).  In Luke’s Beach Day, a boy and his classmates visit an Australian beach only to discover signs of destruction by other people.  In both books, young readers are empowered to follow in the footsteps of the protagonists as they pick up litter and vow to raise awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife.  Plus, they learn really cool yoga moves in the process!

Interestingly, many children’s books about environmentalism (including Sophia’s Jungle Adventure above) are set in Costa Rica, which has a well-deserved reputation for environmentalism.  Morpha: A Rain Forest Story by Michael Tennyson is a gorgeously illustrated book that follows the life of a young Blue Morpho butterfly as it learns to navigate the perils of the rain forest, including humans.  See my list of children’s books about Costa Rica for more great books about caring for the natural world.

Grandfather's Dream

Set in Vietnam just after the war, Grandfather’s Dream by Holly Keller is a beautiful tale of faith in the power of the natural world to heal itself and the importance of our role in giving it space to do so.  Nam’s grandfather believes that the cranes, who left their village when the wetlands were destroyed, will return with the season’s floods now that the fighting has ending.  But if they do not, the land that he has set aside for them will be turned into farmland.  It is Nam who discovers the birds’ long-awaited return, bringing joy to his grandfather and beginning the process of healing the wounds of war in their village.

I Know the River Loves Me

Finally, the charming book from Lee & Low, I Know the River Knows My Name by Maya Christina Gonzalez, shows a young girl’s relationship with the river through the changing seasons of the year.  Whenever she arrives, the river greets her, and the two friends always take care of each other.  (Read my full review).

What are your favorite Earth Day books for kids?

Mar 262015

Passover Videos for Kids | Alldonemonkey.com

Looking for some great resources to teach your kids about Passover?  Of course, for us books are always a first stop (see this great list of kids’ books on Passover from the PJ Library and this one from Planet Smarty Pants), but we’ve also been enjoying watching some wonderful videos!  Here are some of our favorite fun videos for kids about Passover:

Fun Passover Videos for Kids

Okay, this one is just hilarious.  “Let It Go” from “Frozen” is parodied as “Let Us Go,” a duet between Pharaoh and Moses.  Still laughing over this from a defiant Pharaoh:”The plagues never bothered me anyway.”  Kids of all ages will enjoy this, enough those like my toddler who are little enough to miss the humor and just enjoy the song.

Jewish Kids! also has great videos for kids about Passover, including fake news reports about “the crisis in Egypt,” crafts, and a Passover robot!  More for older kids.

Monkey really loved this one from G-dcast, which is an entertaining video that reviews the meaning of Passover from several perspectives.  Find it here along with some fun apps!

Monkey also had a lot of fun with this kids’ version of Passover – warning! You might have to do some fact-checking afterwards (unlimited homework as one of the plagues!) but still totally fun.

And how can we leave out Sesame Street – that is, Shalom Sesame! This is a but more serious but kids will still enjoy watching Grover learn about the holiday:

Want more??  Here’s are more collections of videos about Passover for kids:

Kelly’s Classroom: What Is Passover?

The Jewish Daily Forward: 4 Coolest Passover Videos for Your Seder

PJ Library: Funny Passover Videos

Jewish Boston: Passover According to Kids Series

Passover for Kids | Multicultural Kid BlogsThis post is part of the Passover for Kids series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Go to the main page for the full schedule of all the posts in this series, as we share crafts, recipes, and more!

Mar 232015

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

This year we are participating in a series from Multicultural Kid Blogs about Easter around the world.  I thought it would be really interesting to “visit” a country outside Europe and North America; however, for the most part it is quite difficult to find out about Easter celebrations in those countries unless you happen to know someone from there or are lucky enough to have witnessed it yourself.

Ethiopia is one of the countries that has been written about a bit more.  It does make a brief appearance in a couple books I found at the library, but for the most part I relied on online sources.  Again, most mentions of it are brief, though you can find some great pictures!

One of the main things to know is that Easter (Fasika) is celebrated in Ethiopia according to the Orthodox calendar, which tends to run a week or two later than the western Church calendar.  (The Ethiopian Church is associated with the Coptic Church of Egypt).  Also, the eight weeks leading up to Easter are marked by a fast from meat and dairy.

When Easter itself comes, it is a national holiday celebrated with great festivity.  The best resource I found about it is this article which explores the food, drink, and customs of Ethiopian Easter.  It really gives you a sense of what it might be like to celebrate Fasika in Ethiopia, enjoying a special meal with your family or perhaps visiting the market.

To explore further with my Monkeys, I chose to make Defo Dabo, a recipe mentioned in the above article as being traditional for Easter as well as other festive occasions, such as weddings and birthdays.

For the recipe itself I followed this one from Celtnet Recipes.  Please, please, visit their site to get an authentic recipe for Defo Dabo.  What follows it not authentic.  What follows is what happens when you can’t find the traditional spices (bishop’s weed, black cumin seeds) and instead let your 5 year old talk you into adding chocolate chips and cinnamon.  At least we used banana leaves to cook it!

Keep in mind also that the recipe below is on a much smaller scale than what is typically done in Ethiopia, where it is meant to be enjoyed by large groups of people celebrating a festive occasion.  The Celtnet recipe is for a loaf one-sixth the traditional size, and I cut the size in half again for my small gang of little revelers.

Traditionally, the dough is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a large clay pot over an open fire.  As much as the boys would have preferred this method, I followed Celtnet’s lead in keeping the banana leaves but using a deep dish pan and a conventional oven.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

A note about banana leaves: If you don’t live in a tropical country, look for them in an Asian or Mexican market.  We got ours from the latter, where they sold large plastic bags of them in the produce section.  (They are often used to make tamales).

And layer more of them on top of the bread than you would think you’d need, as they tend to shrink when baked.  They do make the house smell wonderful, though!  And if you have tons of them left over, as we do, you can always do some more cooking with these great international recipes or do a craft!

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread


400 g of flour (approx 3 1/4 c)
1 packet yeast
cinnamon (enough so that each little helper gets several shakes)
chocolate chips (we used about 1/3 of a 11.5 oz bag, since that was all I had in the pantry!)
2 T olive oil
4 T sugar
1/2 T salt
1 very large banana leaf, cut into manageable pieces*

*Don’t attempt to just rip the banana leaf into pieces – the main part of the leaf will tear easily, but the central stem can be difficult to tear and becomes rather sticky.

Mix the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add about 1 cup of warm water and stir to dissolve the dry ingredients.  Cover the bowl and let rest for about 10 minutes, so the yeast can activate.  The mixture should be bubbling at this point.  Mix in the oil and cinnamon then add the flour.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

Mix with your hands to make a soft dough (add more water or flour as needed to get the right consistency).  Add the chocolate chips and knead so that they are evenly distributed.  Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and let it rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.


When it has risen, line a deep baking dish with the banana leaf (can substitute greased baking parchment).  Punch the dough down then add it to the pan.  Wrap the banana leaves over the top and cover the top with the remaining leaves.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

Set aside to rise for another 20 minutes.  During this time, start preheating your oven to 350 degrees then bake the bread for about an hour or until cooked through.

Ethiopian Recipe for Easter: Defo Dabo Bread | Alldonemonkey.com

Take the bread out of the pan and careful remove the banana leaves.  Let cool before slicing and serving.  Enjoy!

Easter Around the World 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Easter Around the World series on Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Follow along as we explore how Easter is celebrated in different countries!


Mar 182015

Spring Treasure Hunt {Naw-Ruz} | Alldonemonkey.com

To celebrate the coming arrival of spring, here is a fun spring treasure hunt you can do with your kids.  Specifically, I created it as a fun activity to celebrate the Bahá’í holiday Naw-Rúz, which falls on the first day of spring.  In the past I have focused mainly on flower crafts (tulips, daffodils, and poppies, oh my!), so this year I decided to do an activity instead.

I also wanted something that I could use as part of our home schooling, as a fun way for Monkey to use some of the concepts he’s been learning.  And who doesn’t love a treasure hunt??

To do this, I came up with 6 challenges for him to complete.  After each one, he’ll receive a clue to a final riddle, where he has to guess what word the clues are describing.  Once he solves that, he’ll get a treasure map leading to some treats!  (A variation on this would be to cut the treasure map into puzzle pieces and give the child one piece after completing each challenge).

Spring Treasure Hunt

Download a printable of all of the clues at the end of this post.

Challenge #1: Life Cycle of a Seed (Biology, Sequencing)

For this, I will cut out images of the life cycle of a seed (such as those here), mix them up, and have Monkey put them in order.

Clue #1: Has 6 letters

Challenge #2: Spring True/False (Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking, Science)

This challenge involves several simple true/false questions about spring and Bahá’í Naw-Rúz.  Download your copy by right-clicking on the image below:

Spring Treasure Hunt {Naw Ruz} | Alldonemonkey.com

Clue #2: Contains the letter “R”

Challenge #3: Make a flower or tree out of Legos (Art, Engineering)

You can always vary the materials for this challenge – play dough or popsicle sticks, for example.

Clue #3: Rhymes with “king”

Challenge #4: Addition/Subtraction Questions (Math)

Obviously, you can vary this according to the ability of your child.  Monkey is learning basic addition and subtract, greater than or equal to, so that is what I focused on in my questions.

Clue #4: Starts in the month of March

Challenge #5: Acrostic Poem Poster (Language Arts, Art)

We will do a simple form of acrostic poetry, in which each letter of the main word is the beginning of a new line in the poem.  Bahá’ís could use the word “Naw-Ruz,” and others could do “Spring” or “Flower.”  After creating the poem on a sheet of poster board, we will decorate it to hang on the wall.

Clue #5: Starts with “S”

Challenge #6: Missing Words (Language Arts, Critical Thinking)

For this challenge, I took a line from this beautiful Bahá’í prayer that draws on the imagery of a seed:

I am, O my God, but a tiny seed which Thou hast sown in the soil of Thy love, and caused to spring forth by the hand of Thy bounty. – Bahá’u’lláh

I wrote it on a piece of paper, leaving out key words.  I then wrote these missing words on slips of paper.  Monkey will have the complete prayer to refer to, and have to determine which word goes in each space.

Clue #6: Comes after winter

Download your copy of all the clues by right-clicking and saving the image below:

Spring Scavenger Hunt {Naw-Ruz} | Alldonemonkey.com

Now that you have all six clues, did you guess what the answer is??

If Monkey guesses correctly (“Spring”!) then I’ll give him a treasure map, leading him straight to the spot in the house where I’ve hidden some treats.  A sweet way to end the lesson, indeed!

Happy Naw-Rúz, everyone!

Apr 212014
Below is the next installment in the popular series on Random Acts of Kindness. Each month, a blogger shares the random acts of kindness they have committed with their little ones. You can visit the Random Acts of Kindness page to see previous installments of this series. You can also follow the Random Acts of Kindness Pinterest Board. Today’s post comes to us from Jennifer of The Good Long Road, one of my favorite bloggers and a truly kind person who is making the world a better place.


Being Kind to the Environment and Each Other

I’m honored to be a part of this fabulous Random Acts of Kindness Series. I wanted to focus on Acts of Kindness inspired by Earth Day — acts that are kind to the Earth. Of course, there are the obvious things like picking up trash and recycling, but I also wanted to think creatively about being kind to nature/living things and connect that kindness to helping those around us. Here’s my Top 10 Creative Acts of Kindness for Earth Day!
  1. Help Someone De-Clutter – Offer to help an elderly neighbor sort through paper clutter and shred and recycle their excess paper for them. (Every time I would visit my grandmother, I inevitably ended up doing this — piles of old magazines, catalogs, newspapers and junk mail were everywhere!)
  2. Do Yard Work for a Friend or NeighborAt Pennies of Time, Sheila shared of how she and her two boys (at 6 and 4) weeded the yard of a friend who battles a chronic illness. Nurturing our environment through planting, weeding and gardening is a great way to help the Earth. Assisting others with green maintenance, who may struggle to do it for themselves, is a great way to RAK a friend!
  3. Organize a Recycling Project and Donate Funds from Bottles and Cans to Charity – Perhaps your school, community center, gym or a neighborhood gathering place lacks adequate or clear options for recycling bottles and cans. Set up proper containers to collect those items. Let kids make fun and colorful posters that make it clear that all funds raised from recycled items will go to charity. The Corner on Character shared a great book to encourage recycling and repurposing as well as activities to go with the book that would be great for a family or school. 
  4. Commit to a Birthday or Holiday limited to Thrift Sale/Yard Sale/Reused Gift Items Only – Our family began doing this at Christmas time when I was in High School, we could only give each other gifts that were purchased at resale or yard sales. I suspect much of the reason my parents did this was to save money and to remove pressure from a high school and college student who had little money of our own to get gifts for each other and our parents. It became a tradition that we loved – often keeping an eye out many months before for that “perfect” item. Shopping in this way reduces packaging waste and limits resources and pollution that are incurred when new goods are shipped around the world. 
  5. Walk, Bike or Bus to Work and School – On Earth Day, walk or bike or take a bus to school, work, the gym or the store instead of driving. See if you can commit to doing this once a week – swapping out driving with a more ecological mode of transportation. Perhaps one day will turn into two! If you’re a two-car family, you might discover you can manage with just one car – saving resources and money. (We’ve been a one car family in Southern California for years).
  6. RAK someone by giving them a reusable water bottle or coffee mug – Pick a coffee loving friend or teacher and have your children pick out a reusable coffee mug or iced coffee drink container to give them as a surprise RAK Gift! Or, if you know someone who often has a plastic bottle of water with them, RAK them with a reusable water bottle. 
  7. Visit your Local Farmer’s Market – Buying produce or other items (like goat cheese or honey) from a farmer at a local farmer’s market is a wonderful act of kindness for that farmer and for the Earth. Typically, items at farmer’s markets are often grown in much more sustainable ways than conventional produce. Plus, less resources are spent getting those items from Point A to Point B as almost every item sold at a Farmer’s Market will be locally grown. Farmer’s Markets also offer amazing opportunities for children to learn about fruits and vegetables. ALLterNATIVE Learning recently shared a great post about taking kids to the Farmer’s Market.
  8. Host a Local Food Party – Invite friends over for a unique dinner party – local food only. Ask each guest to bring one local food item. Again, buying locally is kind to the Earth because of the pollutants and resources that are saved because of minimal transport needs. Plus, breaking bread with friends is one of my favorite acts of kindness.
  9. Map Your Food – Kid World Citizen has a great post about mapping food and having kids learn about the world by seeing where their food is from. An activity like this also helps children learn how far some food can travel and is a great activity for Earth Day as you can extend it by talking about the resources (energy, oil, etc.) and resulting pollutants that are used in the process. It will help children (and yourself) understand the value of eating locally grown food when possible – or get them excited about growing food themselves. 
  10. Share Garden Goodies with Others – If you have a garden, put together a basket of locally grown food or a bouquet of flowers or herbs from your garden and share those goodies with a neighbor, perhaps someone who is housebound or on a limited income. By sharing your own locally grown items, you’ll brighten their day and are doing Mother Earth a favor too! (If you’re like me and you don’t have a garden, then pick up some extra items at the Farmer’s Market to give to a friend or neighbor). 
Jennifer is a mom of two, as well as an independent filmmaker who has taught filmmaking to youth, most notably with her Spotlight On Hope Film Camp, a free film camp for Pediatric Cancer patients. She writes about her experiences with Wild Thing and Caterpillar at The Good Long Road with an emphasis on mindfulness, imagination, and creative activities related to her toddler and preschooler’s favorite children’s books. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
Random Acts of Kindness - Alldonemonkey.comYou can see a full schedule of the posts in this series by visiting the main Random Acts of Kindness Challenge page. You can also follow the Random Acts of Kindness Pinterest Board.

Apr 172014
 April 17, 2014  crafts, Ridvan, Spring 4 Responses »

Spring Banners and Lazy Salt Dough Roses - Alldonemonkey.com

The Festival of Ridván is approaching, and each year I try to make it special for my kids.  This year, in addition to making a Ridván tent, I thought we should do some other decorations.  Since Ridván commemorates the time that Bahá’u’lláh spent in the Ridván Gardens outside of Baghdad, I wanted to do something with flowers.

Monkey loves play dough, so I thought he would really enjoy making salt dough ornaments – and boy, did he!  (Once I was able to tear him away from his Legos, of course).  The only problem was convincing him that we couldn’t eat them once they were done cooking 🙂

I found this wonderful two-part tutorial on salt dough ornaments from Tinkerlab, which includes a recipe.  As she mentions, you will probably not need the full amount of water indicated.Spring Banners and Lazy Salt Dough Roses {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

Monkey had fun rolling out the dough and doing the shapes with cookie cutters.  For the Bahá’ís in the audience, yes, you did spy some nine-pointed stars in there!  Those super cool nine-pointed star cookie cutters were an Ayyám-i-Há gift from Grandma this year from Special Ideas!

While Monkey worked the cookie cutters (and Baby played with some of the dough), I decided to try to make some roses to set on the counters.  You can find tutorials online to make beautiful, realistic roses, but I was looking for something easy that I could make while looking after my two little guys.

I used a technique similar to what I have seen others do to make paper roses: I cut a long strip out of the dough then rolled it up and pinched together the bottom.  They won’t win any contests, but Monkey took one look and said, “They’re pretty, Mommy.”  What more could a mama ask for?

Spring Banners and Lazy Salt Dough Roses {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

Once we were done, the ornaments went into the oven to bake on 25o F for just over two hours.  (Don’t forget to use a straw to make the holes so you can hang the ornaments later!)

After they had cooled, it was time to paint!  Monkey was very enthusiastic about this part as well.  I had in mind to do lots of pretty spring colors, but Monkey had other ideas.  Right away he spotted brown paint and declared he wanted to paint only with brown.  I decided to go with it, since the decorations were for him, after all – and because I had just realized how low we were on acrylic paints, meaning that I would need to use every spare drop we had, even the brown.  (For the record, he said he was making “chocolate” flowers).

Spring Banners & Lazy Salt Dough Roses {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

As it turned out, Monkey did move on to other colors – and we did run out of acrylic paint.  Luckily we had some finger paints, which worked out fine, although they are not as bright as the acrylics.

Spring Banners & Lazy Salt Dough Roses {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

We left them to dry overnight then in the morning threaded some pretty ribbon through the holes and hung up our spring banner.  I was happy with how it turned out but was over the moon with how excited the boys were about it.  Baby couldn’t stop pointing and “talking” about it, and Monkey kept dancing around shouting “Ornaments! Ornaments!”

Spring Banners & Lazy Salt Dough Roses {Ridvan} - Alldonemonkey.com

Spring Banners and Lazy Salt Dough Roses - Alldonemonkey.com

Spring Banners and Lazy Salt Dough Roses - Alldonemonkey.com

Happy Ridván to those of you celebrating, and to the rest, Happy Spring!


For more ideas for celebrating Ridván, be sure to check out last year’s collaborative series Walking Through the Garden of Ridván.

Apr 102014

Hand Print Volcano Card - Alldonemonkey.com

As many of you know, we just returned from a wonderful trip to visit family in Costa Rica.  While we were there, we were able to take our little volcano lover to visit two of the active volcanoes in that country, Poás and Irazú.

As a result, I thought this would be a good time to share a fun volcano craft we did a few months ago.  The Monkeys and I actually did it for my husband’s birthday, but it would also work perfectly for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.  It’s easy to do with one child but also makes a great keepsake for siblings, as shown here.

Hand Print Volcano Card - Alldonemonkey.com

We used red and yellow paint for the lava.  Red had the best effect, although yellow turned out okay on the white paper.  If you are doing two or more kids, be aware that the yellow will not show up very well on top of the red, so it is better to either separate the hand prints a bit or do both in red.

Hand Print Volcano Card - Alldonemonkey.com

While Baby was napping, Monkey and I sat down to do step one.  I painted his hand red then made his hand print in the upper half of the paper.  (We did two versions just in case, since this was an experiment!)

Later in the day I painted Baby’s little hand and did my best to do a hand print with them.  He really had fun with the paints!

Hand Print Volcano Card - Alldonemonkey.com

Finally, I added the mountain below so that the hand prints look like lava exploding out of the volcano.  An older child could also do this step.  (Monkey was “too busy working” with his legos at this point so suggested that I do it).

Hand Print Volcano Card - Alldonemonkey.com

Hand Print Volcano Card - Alldonemonkey.com

I was the only one who thought my humor was funny, but since I had the pen it didn’t really matter lol 😉

Have an explosive day and always remember that we lava you!




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