Jun 142018
 
 June 14, 2018  Book Reviews, Father's Day Comments Off on New Children’s Books About Dads and Daughters

There is no doubt that the relationship between dads and daughters is a special one, and one that is formative to a girl’s growing sense of self and her future relationships. (No pressure, Dad!) So this Father’s Day, celebrate all that is beautiful and goofy about this relationship with these wonderful new picture books about fathers and their little girls.

New Picture Books About Dads and Daughters | Alldonemonkey.com

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

New Picture Books About Dads and Daughters

With My Daddy: A Book of Love and Family (Growing Hearts) is a lovely keepsake book from the author of All My Treasures: A Book of Joy, also part of the Growing Hearts series (read my full review). It is a celebration of all the ways that a girl can spend time with her father – riding bikes, swimming, or just relaxing. To me, the underlying message it about unconditional love, as her father’s unwavering support makes the main character feel safe and more sure of herself, and more able to deal with big emotions.

For a more silly take on dads and daughters, don’t miss Pet Dad! The cover alone already gives you a hint about where this book will take you! This book takes a familiar disagreement – a child who wants a pet, the parent who says no – to a hilarious extreme, as a girl explores all the ways her dad is (and isn’t) the perfect pet. Kids will love all the silliness as the main character tries to “train” her dad, and parents will notice that she is the one being trained, into asking her father for things nicely!

Related Posts:

Picture Books that Celebrate Fathers

Hand Print Volcano Card for Father’s Day

Jun 042018
 
 June 4, 2018  Sacramento, Summer Comments Off on Sacramento Summer Fun Instagram Challenge

The Sacramento area has so much to offer for families! This summer, get out and explore the River City with your kids by taking part in our #SummerFunSac Instagram challenge: You could win one of our great prizes, while celebrating Sacramento summer fun with your family! Read on for more details on this fun Instagram challenge.

Sacramento Summer Fun Instagram Challenge June & July 2018 #SummerFunSac

Sacramento Summer Fun Instagram Challenge: #SummerFunSac

Looking for a fun way to get out and explore the Sacramento area with your family this summer? Join in our #SummerFunSac Instagram challenge and giveaway, running this June and July and celebrating all the ways families have fun in the River City in the summertime!

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. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

How to Participate:

It’s easy!

  1. Post a photo(s) of you and/or your family having fun in the Sacramento area this summer! All photos must be family friendly and include the #SummerFunSac hashtag.
  2. Follow me on Instagram.
  3. Follow the sponsor of the week on Instagram, if applicable (see sponsor list below).

Just think: you could go for a hike, stop by your local library, go to a museum, or just relax in the backyard!

Drawings will be held every Monday, choosing a random winner from the photos posted the previous week (Monday – Sunday).

The Prizes

I know, I know – You’re saying, just get to the good stuff already! What could we win?? I’m proud to say that all of the sponsors are local companies or events, so let’s show them some love!

June 4 – 10 (drawing June 11)

Sponsor: Sac Town Kids (@sactownkids)
Prize: a copy of their new book 1,001 Things to Do in Sacramento with Kids (& the Young at Heart) (read my review), plus one of their denim book bags, which reads, “All good things are wild and free.” -Henry David Thoreau.

June 11 – 17 (drawing June 18)

Sponsor: Fandemic Tour Comic Con (@fandemictour)
Prize: Pack of tickets to Comic Con, in Sacramento June 22-24, 2018! (See our review from a previous year)

June 18 – 24 (drawing June 25)

Sponsor: Pure Romance (@sizzlethefizzle)
Prize: Love Story body lotion

June 25 – July 1 (drawing July 2)

Sponsor: Mighty Kong Muffins
Prize: Pack of gourmet bran muffins (read our review)

July 2 – 8 (drawing July 9)

Sponsor: Upside Over Designs
Prize: $20 gift certificate

July 9 – 15 (drawing July 16)

Sponsor: Aerospace Museum of California (@aerospaceca)
Prize: Family pack of tickets

July 16 – 22 (drawing July 23)

Sponsor: Elite Bakery Cafe (@jasminematsoyan)
Prize: Coffee and dessert/pastry

July 23 – 29 (drawing July 30)

GRAND PRIZE
Sponsor 1: Fit4Mom Sacramento (@fitformomsacramento)
Prize 1: free one month unlimited membership for Stroller Strides & Stroller Barre

Sponsor 2: Imagine Play (@imagineplayeg)
Prize 2: Two play passes

Sponsor 3: Usborne Books and More Consultant Christina Garcia
Prize 3: $25 credit to be redeemed through this consultant only (shipping not included), plus a special offer if you choose to purchase more.

So start snapping photos, and you could be featured in my Instagram feed or win one of the fabulous prizes listed above! How will you showcase Sacramento summer fun this summer?

 

Jun 012018
 
 June 1, 2018  recipes, Summer Comments Off on Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade

Lemonade is the quintessential summer drink, so why not whip up a homemade batch? It only takes minutes! Adding strawberries makes it even more special, and now you have a guilt free version that uses honey as the sweetener, so there is no reason not to enjoy a tall glass (or more!) this weekend. Honey sweetened strawberry lemonade is a refreshing drink the whole family can enjoy!

Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade | Alldonemonkey.com

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.

Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade

We are blessed with lemon and orange trees in our backyard, so when we found some ripe lemons on a particularly hot day last week, we immediately thought of lemonade! I found this wonderful homemade lemonade recipe and adapted it for our tastes, mainly by switching out honey for sugar in the simple syrup. Also, I used frozen strawberries instead of fresh to make strawberry lemonade because, let’s face it, if we have fresh strawberries we tend to gobble them up right away!

As for the honey, this recipe is very easy to adjust for your tastes and how tart your lemons are. Because you mix it all up in the blender, if you need to add extra honey later, it will mix it perfectly well.

We juiced 4 large lemons with our Cuisinart CJE-500 Compact Juice Extractor to yield approximately 2 cups of juice. If you end up with a different amount, the important thing is to make sure it is roughly a 1:1 ratio with the simple syrup. Again, as you can see, this is a very easy recipe to adjust!

Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade | Alldonemonkey.com

Ingredients

Makes 2 liters

2 cups fresh lemon juice (approx. 4 large lemons)

2 cups simple syrup (see below)

1 cup frozen strawberries

To make simple syrup:

Mix 2 Tbs honey in 2 cups boiling water. Let cool.

Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade | Alldonemonkey.com

In a blender, mix lemon juice, simple syrup, and strawberries until smooth. Add water and ice until you have 2 liters total, then mix again and adjust for sweetness, adding more honey if desired. Enjoy!

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Homemade Tamarindo Pops

Egyptian Raspberry Lemon Cooler

Cuban Mango Milkshake

May 172018
 
 May 17, 2018  Education, Summer 2 Responses »

Do you homeschool year round? Or are your children in traditional schools but you want to avoid that notorious summer slide? Here is our summer homeschool plan to balance book learning with hands on activities and simple children fun!

Our Summer Homeschool Plan | Alldonemonkey.com

Our Summer Homeschool Plan

When I first started homeschooling, I looked forward to summer as a much needed break and a chance to take stock and make any adjustments that seemed necessary as I planned for the coming year. Now that I’ve got my sea legs a bit (and my youngest is no longer an infant that requires more devoted attention), I’m ready to tackle the idea of year-round homeschooling.

As a result, this year we have embarked on a summer homeschool plan that keeps the kids’ skills sharp while also still feeling like vacation to them and a break from lesson planning for me.

I really wanted them to enjoy the simple pleasures of a childhood summer – like going to the pool and playing for hours at the park – at the same time as they take advantage of a less busy schedule to take on big projects that interest them.

Our Summer Homeschool Plan | Alldonemonkey.com

So how are we achieving that balance?

Some activities will be ongoing, such as saying prayers together in the mornings and doing our read-aloud at lunchtime. Beyond this, I divided our activities into three areas: Written Work, Projects, and Adventures.

Written Work is what we traditionally think of as schoolwork: math, grammar, history, etc. For each of the boys, I created a weekly checklist of what they need to accomplish. For my 8 year old, he has to complete two tasks off the list each day, while my 5 year old has to complete one.

Thankfully, we found curricula that we love this past year, so they just need to keep going in those. As in, no lesson planning for me, unless there is a project tie-in I’d like to do, such as a craft or engineering project to go with our history lesson.

My eight year old has to do: History, Spanish, Religious, Math (twice), Language Arts (twice), Creative Writing, Coding/Science, and Journal.

My five year old has to do: Phonics, his Kindergarten workbook, Math (twice), and Spanish.

This is less than they have to do during the school year and so still allows plenty of time for free reading and unstructured play.

Our Summer Homeschool Plan | Alldonemonkey.com

Projects are very open-ended and can relate to any subject (however loosely). For example, my five year old loves to build Lego and Knex sets, so we built a castle together. My eight year old loves coding, so he’s teaching himself to do some really nifty things in different coding languages (I expect he’ll be helping me with my website before long!) Other ideas are cooking, crafting, making slime, doing science experiments, and so on. This is the time we can dig into projects that we might not have time for during the school year, when we’re also juggling enrichment classes and sports. It’s also a great way to encourage kids to follow their passions and explore new subjects!

Adventures are a favorite area for all of us! This basically includes anything that gets us out of the house and exploring. It could be going to a park, going on a nature walk, geocaching, trying a new restaurant, or going to a museum. Summers are for exploring!

What does your summer homeschool plan look like?

Related Posts:

Educational Resources to Keep Learning Going Year Round

Homeschooling Multiple Children Without Losing Your Mind

 

May 092018
 
 May 9, 2018  activities, Book Reviews, Geography, multiculturalism, recipes, Spanish, Summer Comments Off on Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles

The weather is finally warming up in our neck of the woods, so we celebrated by concocting some fruity, chocolate-y pops! Inspired by a traditional Puerto Rican treat, these tropical chocolate mango popsicles are full of fruity goodness – mango, banana, and coconut – plus a touch of decadence from the chocolate. What better way to celebrate the fact that summer is just around the corner? Plus, you don’t want to miss our giveaway of a wonderful new children’s activity coloring book all about Puerto Rico!

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles | Alldonemonkey.com

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment 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.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles

Summer is coming, which makes us all think about tropical beaches and relaxing by the waves. To bring a little taste of the tropics to our home in Northern California, we decided to make these scrumptious tropical chocolate mango popsicles. I was inspired by Puerto Rican limber, a frozen treat similar to popsicles and often made with fresh fruits and juices. You can do all kinds of combinations, but we were especially interested in mango – which was great because I had a huge bag of frozen mango in the freezer! Of course, if you have fresh, by all means use that, but it is often hard for us to find really good mangoes in our area, plus with kids, it’s so much easier to use frozen since it’s already peeled and chopped for you.

If you want an authentic mango limber, then I highly recommend trying this recipe from Modern Mami, or you can browse this great collection of healthy limber recipes! I wanted to do something a little different, so we added a little twist to our recipe by adding shredded coconut and banana, as well as chocolate. Cocoa powder alone is quite bitter, so I actually used hot chocolate mix (!) but if you don’t have this, just use cocoa powder and sugar to taste.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles | Alldonemonkey.com

Ingredients (makes 6+ popsicles)

4 cups of mango (frozen or fresh)

1 banana

honey to taste

3 cups water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup hot chocolate mix (or combination of cocoa powder and sugar)

Combine all ingredients in blender. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Puerto Rico has been on my mind a lot lately, even since the devastation of Hurricane Maria and the excruciatingly long recovery that followed and is still ongoing. So when my friend Melissa López Chaperoo approached me to help edit her beautiful bilingual coloring activity book Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook, I jumped at the chance.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles & Puerto Rico Workbook | Alldonemonkey.com

I am endlessly impressed by the author’s talent as an illustrator but also the depth of her knowledge about the subject. Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook is incredibly comprehensive, covering topics as varied as history, geography, government, religion, sports, food, and the arts. It contains nearly 200 workbook pages (plus answer keys) appropriate for elementary school and even older (though younger kids will definitely enjoy the coloring part of it!) There is so much to explore here, no matter what your child’s interests, so it is sure to be a hit!

The book is completely bilingual, so whether your kids read/write fluently in Spanish, just un poquito, or not at all, this is the perfect book to expose them to Spanish and the rich culture and history of the Island of Enchantment.

Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles & Puerto Rico Workbook | Alldonemonkey.com

Even better, all of the profits from the first year of its publication go to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. This book is a true labor of love, dedicated to the author’s homeland during its time of need. It is a great way to support Puerto Rico and teach kids about this beautiful island that they have surely been hearing about on the news.

Giveaway

And now you can win your own copy! Simply comment on this post, letting us know which topic about Puerto Rico you think your child would be most interested in! Geography, history, the arts, sports, or … ? Let us know!

Contest ends Tuesday, May 15, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner chosen by random selection. US Shipping Only

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Jul 132017
 
 July 13, 2017  Geography, Kid Fun, raising world citizens, Summer Comments Off on DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers

Looking for a fun DIY summer camp you can do for your neighborhood kids? A world explorers camp is a great way to teach geography skills and expose children to other cultures. Most importantly, you can nurture a love for exploration and a sense of respect and empathy for other ways of life. Through simple crafts and fun activities you can spark curiosity about other cultures and set the foundation for further exploration.

DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers | All Done Monkey on Kid World Citizen

I got such great response to my Around the World Summer Camp Ideas post a few years back that I decided to flesh it out with more details on how to set up your own! So hop on over to Kid World Citizen to see my guest post!

DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers

Jun 192017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Post: Eid Books for Kids

Easy Vegan Dessert for Eid Your Family Will Love

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

Ingredients

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

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup vermicelli, broken into 2 inch pieces

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

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

Golden raisins, handful

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 to 1 tsp rose water

Extra nuts for garnish (I used sliced almonds)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning About Eid

Related Post: Ramadan Lesson Plan for Kids

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

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

What is your favorite vegan dessert?

Eid for Kids | Multicultural Kid Blogs

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

Participating Blogs

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

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

Jun 132017
 

We have all heard about the dreaded summer slide – the loss a child experiences during summer vacation, when lack of practice erodes the learning so painstakingly gained during the school year. Here are fun ways to beat the summer slide, through educational media that your child will actually enjoy!

Ideas to Beat the Summer Slide | Alldonemonkey.com

Don’t miss my summer slide giveaway – scroll down for more details!

Disclosure: I received complimentary samples 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.

Beat the Summer Slide

Reading

One time-tested way to beat the summer slide is through reading! There are so many summer reading programs available – check your local library, plus you can also participate in online programs such as this Spanish language one from Spanish Playground, or this one from Latinas for Latino Lit. At Multicultural Kid Blogs we are also in our fourth year of the Read Around the World Summer Reading series, so you won’t be at a loss for great books to read!

Related Post: Global Travel Adventure Books for Kids

A new find for us this summer is the wonderful book Find Your Way In Space: Travel through space and practice your Math and Mapping skills. It is so much fun and packed with learning! Through it, kids go on an adventure through space, sharpening their geography and math skills along the way. It is something of a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure and a seek-and-find book. It is non-sequential, so you can take various paths to reach your end goal, plus on each page there are multiple entry and exit points. All along the way you help your fellow aliens find lost objects or locate their destinations, count stars or compare sizes of asteroids, and answer math problems to get through road blocks. This is the kind of book that can be used countless times, as your child selects different missions or chooses different pathways to reach their goal.

Epic!

If you really want to get your child excited about reading, you should check out Epic!, an all-you-can-read online library of children’s books that you can access across your devices. Epic! is a dream come true for our family, since our kids go through so many books each week. We are always at the limit on our library cards and are constantly juggling how many books we have to return in order to check out those new ones they just have to have. With Epic! that struggle is over! My kids now have access to a vast library of books, audiobooks, educational videos, and quizzes. You can have up to 4 profiles on your account, so each child can have a customized reading profile with recommendations just for them.

I love the wide range of books available and how easy it is for my kids to find books they are interested in. I especially love the selection of “read to me” books for my two pre-readers, so that they can enjoy reading time as well. Epic! is perfect if you are traveling this summer, so you don’t have to worry about lugging along a stack of books!

Sign up now and read FREE for 30 days!

Media

Music and movies are also fun ways to stimulate young brains over the summer. They expect learning to be more fun over vacation, and why not? Watch some kid-friendly foreign movies or some awe-inspiring nature documentaries. You can also listen to great music and learn at the same time!

Every Kid's A Genius: Lesson 1

Every Child Wins is an example of great educational music that is so fun you’ll want to listen to it even when your kids aren’t around! It is no secret that educational music is usually very forced, artificial, and not much fun for anyone. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the album Every Kid’s A Genius actually sounds like music you’d hear on an R&B or hip-hop station, but the lyrics are related to learning the alphabet and numbers. It is very upbeat, so it is great to play as you get ready in the mornings or in the car. The tunes are catchy, so the lesson will stay with your child long after the music is turned off.

Best of all, you could win a FREE COPY of this album by commenting below before midnight PT on Sunday, June 11, 2017, with your favorite way to beat the summer slide! I have 25 copies to give away, so comment for a chance to win! Random winners will be chosen from the verified entries.

Computer Programs & Apps

Of course, you can’t talk about education for kids these days without talking about screen time! Luckily there are some truly wonderful apps and computer programs that can keep your kids excited about learning and beat the summer slide.

Smartick

One program that we’ve come to love is Smartick. I loved math as a kid, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my oldest son doesn’t. At least, he didn’t. Getting him to do math worksheets has always been like pulling teeth. Math games and manipulatives help, but for a long time math remained his least favorite subject. Yet now that we are using Smartick, doing math is a treat, not a chore! He really enjoys this online program, especially because you earn points to use in games after you finish your session.

I love that my 4 year old can also use it without my help. He was really amazed and so proud of himself for using the same program as his big brother! Each child has his own profile, and Smartick uses artificial intelligence to adjust the program to that child’s level, so they are working on problems just right for them. The idea is that your child does one short, 15 minute session a day, so that they get the repetition and practice without the burnout. I love that I get a daily report of how and what they do in their sessions, so I can track their progress. Please note that they are currently running a summer special through 7/31/17 – try it for free then choose a discounted package. It’s a great way to get started!

Read with Fonics

A great program for kids learning to read is Reading with Fonics. My preschooler has had a lot of fun with it! I love that it is right at his level, so it really builds his confidence at the same time as it is reinforcing concepts and teaching him new skills. It is a really cute, fun game that is based on the idea that reading can be decoded by teaching kids basic phonics – the sounds that letters and letter combinations make – rather than having them memorize long lists of words. Once they master the basic sounds, they can read most words they encounter, even if they have never seen them before!

I love that Reading with Fonics starts off with very simple sounds and becomes progressively more complex. Each time you master one sound, another is unlocked. This is a familiar video game format, plus it ensures that your child has time to really “get” the concept before moving on to a new one. It is a really fun game for little ones, and a great way to give them a leg up on their reading for the fall!

Summer Camps

Summer camps are a great way to keep learning going over vacation! Immersion camps are great for language learning, or you can do a world explorers camp or even a Lego theme!

What is your favorite way to beat the summer slide? Comment below before midnight PT on Sunday, June 11, 2017, and you could be one of 25 winners of a FREE DOWNLOAD of Every Kid’s A Genius music album (see above). Random winners will be chosen from the verified entries.

 

May 162017
 
 May 16, 2017  activities, Summer Comments Off on Swimming with Kids: What to Pack

This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

As the weather gets warm, we always start to think of swimming! I must admit, though, packing up all the essentials for family swim time at the pool or the lake can be a daunting task, especially with young children. Here are my tips for you really need to pack next time you go swimming with kids.

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack

Do you love swimming with your kids but dread having to pack up all that gear? Or, on the flip side, have you ever gotten to the pool just to realize you forgot something essential, like sunscreen? Here are our top tips for what you really need to have in your bag next time you go swimming with kids:

Sunscreen and sun hats: So important to protect your little ones from the sun! For very young children and babies, go one step further and keep them covered up and in the shade as much as possible. (See below for a great way to keep babies protected).

Water: Make sure to keep everyone hydrated, especially as children may be less aware of how thirsty they are getting when splashing around in the water.

Snacks: All that playing around will get them hungry, so be sure to pack some power snacks, especially if you think your child may fall asleep in the car on the drive home. Fruits like watermelon are a great choice because they can help them keep up their fluid intake and are so refreshing!

Towels: One for everyone, and usually one extra, because one towel always gets spilled on or stepped on, and then someone is left shivering!

Swim Diapers: These are incredibly convenient, plus they are required at most pools. Just make sure you have regular diapers to change your child into later, as swim diapers really don’t hold things in well outside the water.

Change of Clothes: If your child is potty trained, don’t forget to pack a pair of underwear along with their dry clothes!

Anti-bacterial gel: If you’ve ever used the bathroom at a public pool, you will appreciate how levels of hygiene (and hand soap) can vary, so better to be prepared and have some anti-bacterial gel in your bag when you go swimming with kids!

Floats: Older children can use arm floaties for a little extra support, and plus there is an incredible float just for babies! I love the SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy, which is designed for very young children (9 to 24 months), who are just getting used to the water. As Step 1 of 3 Swim Training stages, this adorable float is a safe, fun way for little ones to get comfortable in the water so they can eventually learn to swim.

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

I remember when we first put my oldest in the pool – he was terrified! That’s why I’m so glad that today we have the SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy for my one year old daughter. It is durable and very stable in the water, with a patented inner spring around the outer edge for extra security. Plus it has a wonderful shade that you can adjust in two different positions or remove altogether with easy snaps. The shade also has UPF 50+ so I know she will be well protected from the sun.

I love how soft the mesh seat is and that there is a mesh play area so she can play and splash around. The SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy is the perfect combination of comfort and security. I can relax knowing that she is safe and supported, and she feels great and can have a blast!

Swimming with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

And despite the fact that it is so wide when it is open (part of why it is so stable and balanced), the SwimWays Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy actually folds up easily into three flat, compact circles that fit into an included bag for easy carrying and packing. So important when you are carrying around other gear as well!

Don’t miss out on this great float for babies, available at Target (in-store and online)!

National Learn to Swim Day

Did you know that May 20th, 2017 is National Learn to Swim Day? SwimWays is a leader in promoting water safety and helping children learn to swim. That’s why they started National Learn to Swim Day in 2012. It is always the 3rd Saturday in May, so that as pools open across the US parents are aware of the importance of swim safety and teaching children how to swim. Learn more on the Teach Me to Swim website!

May 082017
 

When our oldest son was little, and our bookshelves started to fill with colorful, engaging board books, my husband made an observation that has stuck with me ever since – nearly all of the books focused on the child’s relationship with the mother, but very few included the father. Thankfully this is not universally true, but I was surprised to see how widespread this pattern was. Ever since then, I’ve sought out books that also include the father and especially ones that celebrate their special relationship with their children. And so, in honor of Father’s Day next month, I’m happy to present to you some favorite children’s books that celebrate fathers, plus we have a giveaway for you, so be sure to scroll to the end of the post to enter!

Books that Celebrate Fathers | Alldonemonkey.com

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

Books that Celebrate Fathers

I love the adorable new book Daddy Honk Honk! Set in the Arctic, it is the tale of Aput the fox, who is thrust into fatherhood when an abandoned goose egg hatches and the little gosling mistakes Aput for its daddy. With each page we see Aput’s transformation as he learns to care for the baby but more importantly as his affection for it steadily grows. This is also a beautiful tale of the importance of community in supporting families, as Aput’s friends all help teach him what a baby needs and help surround them both with love. Very sweet tale to share with your little ones! My preschooler and toddler both really enjoy this story.

Charlie Rides: Planes, Trains, Bikes, and More! is a cute board book that your kids will love! Like so many young children, Charlie loves getting out and seeing the world using any means possible: trains, boats, bikes, soapbox derby cars, and more! While the main focus on the book is on different modes of transportation, a recurrent element is Charlie’s dad, who is with him every step of the way. This colorful book is a tribute to how fathers nurture children’s curiosity about the world and support them in all their adventures.

Be Glad Your Dad…(Is Not an Octopus!) was a lucky find at the library and has stayed in our regular rotation ever since. It is a funny book that not only teaches appreciation for dads (even when they sometimes get mad or are just totally gross!) but also teaches facts about animals in a really fun way. For example, be glad your dad is not an octopus, because he would always win at tag! My favorite, though, is the tortoise dad – who is so slow getting an ice cream cone that the ice cream actually melts before the kid can eat it! I love the illustrations, especially the kids’ reactions to the animal dads. Cute reminder about why human dads are so cool! More details about the animals can be found at the back of the book.

What are your favorite children’s books that celebrate fathers?

Daddy Honk Honk! Giveaway

I am so excited to be hosting a giveaway of Daddy Honk Honk! to one lucky winner! The winner will receive:

  • 1 set of four magnets
  • 1 button
  • 4 prints (2×9”)
  • 1 deluxe print (2×9”)
  • 1 book

Daddy Honk Honk Giveaway

To enter, simply comment on this post, telling us something you appreciate about a special father in your life. The contest goes until midnight PT on Sunday, May 14. US shipping only. Good luck!

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