Daria World Music for Children

 

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Instruments, music books, CDs, videos, coloring pages, crafts and more – all about world music! Wow!

I was looking for resources to compliment the Early Explorer’s world music theme from Little Passports, and I was blown over when I found dariamusic.com.  My search is over.  I have everything I need. :) Daria is a children’s performer who loves to travel the world. Her website is an amazing archive of instruments from all over the world.

I really like the page of crafts and coloring pages. You can make instruments with recycled materials from around your house.  If you have a colorer, you can print out coloring pages.  She also has an instrument section where you can listen to sound clips of the instruments.

There is so much more on her site than I could possibly cover here.  If you are learning about world music or cultures with children, you have to check it out!!

Have you found other great resources for exploring music around the world? Please share in the comments below!

Homeschool Family Tree Resource

I just found a fantastic resource for our homeschool! Samuel (4yrs) and I have been learning more about our family history – what a great place to start history lessons. I am working on organizing our study a bit more.  In my quest for useful tools, I found Familytreekids.com.  It’s such a wonderful starting place!

It has all sorts of resources and ideas for learning more about your family history.  It’s great for older kids to use on their own, or for younger kids (like in our case), parents can find some great ideas and pritable worksheets and activities to do with their kids.

Our plan is to print out the family tree and spend about a month (give or take) working on each branch. We plan to use some of the interview questions they provide as well as many of the other great resources.

If you are working on family history or genealogy as part of your homeschool curriculum, I highly recommend this website. :)

Isabella: Girl on the Go – Book Review

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While looking for a book to compliment the Early Explorer’s landmarks unit from Little Passports, I stumbled upon this gem.  Isabella is a little girl with a big imagination.  While her father solicits her help for things from gardening to painting to fixing her fort, Isabella imagines away her duties as she digs in tombs of kings (Pyramids of Giza), builds a wall (the Great wall of China) to protect her people, and so much more.  After her eclectic world travels, at the end of the day, Isabella discovers that the most wonderful place is her home.

Isabella: Girl on the Go is a book of imagination. I can see my son so much in Isabella – both in her response to chores and in her incredible imagination. I am a fan of realistic illustrations in children’s books.  The artwork in this book isn’t particularly realistic, but it fits the flavor of this book quite well. I find some of the wording a bit awkward.  For example, Isabella is referred to as “the girl” and, her father as “the father”, so phrases read like this: “‘Then who will help me tend the garden?’ asked the father.” There are also several puns in the book.  This makes reading a lot more enjoyable for parents and older children, but again, some of them are a bit awkward.

As a stand alone book, I would say this one is . . . meh.  I would give it three out of five stars.  It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t have any reason to get excited about it.  However, it is a perfect companion for the first unit in the Early Explorer’s curriculum!  It introduces children to four of the five landmark souvenirs that come with the unit and all but one of the landmarks in the book are on the Little Passports wall map! It is a great way to open conversation. Samuel asked questions like, “Why does she paint at the Eiffel tower?”, “What is a mummy?”, or “Why was she a warrior?”  It also opened the door for creative play as Samuel promptly stood his post as Lady Liberty. I also really appreciate the section in the back that gives a brief description of all the places mentioned in the book as well as explanations of the characters Isabella pretended to be.

My only true disappointment about this book is that I didn’t have it when Samuel first received his package from Max and Mia at Little Passports.

Bottom line: For the average 3-7 year-old, this is a fun read, but you could take it or leave it.  However, for an Early Explorer with Little Passports, this is a MUST HAVE for your library. 

If you haven’t heard about the Early Explorer’s program by Little Passports, or if you want more supplemental ideas, check out my review here.

*All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated in any way for this review, nor was I asked to write it. This post contains no affiliate links*

 

Taj Mahal

Photo by Subhadip Mukherjee

Photo by Subhadip Mukherjee

When Samuel expressed his interest in learning more about the Taj Mahal, I immediately imagined the captivating story and accompanying activities I would write for him. Then, I came back to reality.  The only thing I knew about the beautiful structure was it’s name and that it stands in India. Not much to go on for a thrilling tale. After realizing the hours it would take to research and write for such a venture, I settled for compiling information from other sources.  Here are some of the best resources I have bumped into about the Taj Mahal.  If you are using the Early Explorers program by Little Passports, or are investigating the Taj for any reason, you may find some of these links and ideas helpful.  Are there any other fun ideas or resources you and your kids have enjoyed about this captivating palace? Please share them in the comments.  I would love to add more to this list!

Start here if you, like me, know nothing about the Taj Mahal.  A little dense for the youngest learners, this a great place for parents or older kids (8 and up) to brush up on your Taj history. It also has great pictures for all ages.

My favorite intro story to the Taj Mahal from PBS – This is well written and leaves out unnecessary violence – great for younger learners.

Tour the Taj Mahal with Google 360 degree street view map.

Taj Mahal Photo Gallery.

Videos:
Guided tour of the Taj Majal
Engineering the Taj Mahal 
Basic Introduction and Fun Facts – this video requires reading, but is fun. :)

Printables:
Taj Mahal Coloring Pages
Cut out, color and build a paper model

Continued Learning
Here are some other ideas of things you might explore to expand the learning experience across subjects.
Symmetry
Mosaics
Gems used in construction
Learn more about working Elephants

 

Little Pasports’ Early Explorers Review

Are you homeschooling? Do you have a child between the ages of three and twelve? Does your child enjoy receiving mail? Are you looking for a fun way to teach geography? You should consider a Little Passports subscription!   Early Explorers helps preschoolers (3-5) explore all seven continents and corresponding landmarks, music, animals and more. The World Edition uses letters, souvenirs, and activities from Sam and Sofia to show children ages 5-10 countries around the world. Designed for 7-12 year-olds, the U.S. Edition provides logs and activity journals for learning about all 50 states.

I’ve been eyeing Little Passports for a while, ready to subscribe as soon as Samuel seemed ready to tackle the world edition.  Little Passport’s set up seemed perfect for his learning style.  I’m sure you can imagine my delight when Little Passports launched their newest program, Early Explorers, and Samuel was smack dab in the middle of the suggested age range (3-5)! How perfect!

The first month, Samuel was super excited to get his bright orange suitcase in the mail.  We immediately hung up the big, colorful wall map and explored the continents, singing the contents song. Samuel stuck his stickers on his suitcase and eagerly filled out the passport in one go. We were excited for the next month’s package!

The first “regular” (meaning non-introductory) month came a week or two ago. It included another passport/workbook, a couple stickers, a totally awesome flashlight adventure, and five little figures of famous world landmarks.  Samuel, again, was excited about the passport, figures, and the flashlight adventure . . . SO cool! However, my knowledge thirsty little boy was left dry and I was left feeling inadequate. There was no information about any of the landmarks. My own lack of world knowledge was highlighted as I simply had very little to say about Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.  I could recognize the Sphinx, the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but I knew very little about them, and I felt like an explorer without a compass (or GPS if I want to be all modern ;) ).

My understanding is that the World and US editions have additional online content to expand the adventures for inquiring minds.  I wonder if there are plans to roll out some of these things for Early Explorers in the future.  I hope that I just happen to be jumping in at the brand-new, baby stages and Little Passports hasn’t had a chance to show us everything it’s got.  Max, Mia and Toby are the characters we see every month but they are fairly abstracted from the rest of the program. They send a picture to match the theme, but with no explanation, just the photo. The absence of a story or letter was the biggest disappointment. The map has landmarks that aren’t named anywhere. Despite these shortcomings, I think the program is a great way to spark interest.  I find that, with my little one, imagination and curiosity needs a little spark, and learning takes flight. For me, it’s a matter of knowing I’m going to have to do some footwork on my own. 

Bottom Line: Early Explorers is not a complete curriculum, but it’s a fantastic base to bring out the little world traveler in your preschooler.  Because this is a monthly subscription, the monetary risk isn’t as high as other homeschool curriculums.  You can pay up front, but you can also go month-by-month, taking things at your own pace or stopping altogether if the program simply isn’t a fit.  It’s great.

If you like the program, but don’t want to spend time searching for additional materials, feel free to use some of the resources below that we have enjoyed. I will be adding as I go along. Please share any great activities or resources you enjoy and we can add them to the list for other explorers.

Month 1: Introduction
The Continents Song

Month 2: Landmarks
Any of the landmarks can be constructed out of play dough, toothpicks, cardboard, popsicle sticks or any other materials you may have around.
Isabella: Girl on the Go
Taj Mahal

Month 3: Music
Daria – World Music for Children

*All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated in any way for this review, nor was I asked to write it. There are no affiliate links*

His Compassions Never Fail

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Yesterday and today I have felt like a failure in many ways. I feel the enemy’s strong pulls to discourage me, to have me throw in the towel and give up.  Yet, I have hope.  I have hope because I know my God is bigger.  I know He is abounding in mercy and is long suffering. I know that nothing, not even the stubbornness and insufficiencies of me, is too big for Him.  I choose hope and I will start right now, in the middle of the afternoon, afresh.  I will continually hope.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
~ Lamentations 3:22-24

Encourage One Another

Encourage one another and build each other up. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Photo Credit: Carl Dwyer

Photo Credit: Carl Dwyer

In an age where sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions with the masses is easy via social media, I have noticed a few trends. One is criticism. This isn’t always bad. In a world that bombards us with more information than we can possibly digest, we must learn to be critical, and to discern right from wrong, good information from faulty information.

Another trend is a willingness to share.  People share things they would never dream of saying in a real-life setting. Sometimes this is good as it helps people open up and explore. We hear profound wisdom from introverts and people who are often too shy or self-conscious to speak up one-on-one or in a small group.

However, sadly, this combination can also be quite destructive. It’s easy to critique everything and everyone, examining every word and action through a microscopic lens, judging a person’s motives or character when we know little about them or their situation.

I recently ran across a news story about a man who bought all of the pies at a Burger King to spite a child misbehaving in the line behind him. While this story is certainly something else , what captures my eye and truly brings sorrow to my soul is the comments on this page. So many people comment on how awful the mom is, how she needs discipline, etc. I honestly couldn’t read it all because it was too heart breaking. (Yes, I realize I am sensitive, but is it possible that we are generally desensitized as a culture?) With this kind of banter, it is no wonder callouses are building, defenses are going up and people are feeling more discouraged and depressed than ever before. I know there are several factors that come into play here, but I’m sure the constant and often cruel criticism does not help.

Imagine for a moment that you are the mom in the article above. Maybe this is typical or maybe you’ve had a rough day. It doesn’t matter. Imagine someone in line in front of you who truly cares about you, not because they know you, but because you are a child of God and you are valuable to Him. Now imagine instead of someone telling you to “Keep that child quiet. In my day, we used things called spankings. . .”, they talk to your child for a minute, they are kind and encourage you in your walk as a mother with words like “Don’t worry mama, we’ve all been there. Some days are rough, but the work you are doing is so important. Hang in there and this little one will reap the benefits.” Wouldn’t that buoy you up? Wouldn’t that encourage you to press on and excel?

In His word, God continually implores us to encourage each other. (1 Peter 4:8-10, Ephesians 4:29 and Hebrews 10:24 just to name a few. ;) ) I believe that we grow best through encouragement and others helping us grow in our gifts. And then through our gifts and the working of the Holy Spirit, we may find what we need to overcome our weaknesses. At this time in our world, when criticism is at an all time high, encouragement is needed more than ever!

What about you? How can you be an encouragement to those around you today? When has encouragement meant a lot to you or someone you know? What ideas do YOU have for encouraging others around you? I would love to hear from you!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.       ~2 Corinthians 1:3-5