I recently stumbled on a song called Black Made That on Instagram. I only heard a snippet of it so immediately started clicking around until I found the full song on YouTube. What I found was a rap song and video that, in such an incredible way, educated listeners about black inventors and their inventions that have changed the world. Griot B, also known as Brandon Brown, and the School Yard Rap movement instantly captivated my daughters and I. Like clockwork, I now hear, “Mommy, turn on Black Made That!” during our daily designated learning time.
After a few more clicks I discovered Griot B had created an entire album, Ourstory, dedicated to educating people of all ages, especially school-aged students, about black innovators, current racial events, history and an overall appreciation of black culture. This discovery has made my job as a homeschooling educator a little easier. Teaching history to five and six year olds can be challenging. At those ages, history can be deemed boring if not presented in a creative way for easy comprehension. My daughters constantly sing and dance, so this album was the answer to our not so exciting history lessons.
Brandon “Griot B” Brown is an educator in California and knows music is one of the best ways to get a message across to young people. With the album, Ourstory, he has done something that I have never seen before. He has taken rich history and culture of black people and has placed it in a format that translates to children and adults in a world that is heavily influenced by a Hip Hop culture. The album is 18 tracks of black history and culture, inspiration and affirmation. It’s more than just simple words thrown together and put over a dope beat. Unlike many of the mainstream music of today, Ourstory includes lyrics and flow are eye-opening and lack gimmicks. Our children needed this work of art yesterday.Griot B didn’t hesitate to share about topics that some would consider taboo. This album is so well-rounded! Check out just some of the topics on the album:ancient kings and warriorsThe Harlem RenaissanceHistorically Black Colleges and Universitiesappreciation of skin colorJuneteenthrevolutionary slavesThe Black Panther Movement
Why the World Needs to Hear It
I wasn’t introduced to black history outside of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks or encouraged to fully embrace it until high school. My African studies teacher, Mrs. Owensby helped change my perspective of people of color. She introduced me and thousands of other students to HBCUs across the country and encouraged us to take pride in who we were through how we behaved in and outside the classroom. Although I am grateful for the introduction, I wish it had happened earlier.
The world needs to learn the truth as early as possible. As a society we have historically been fed falsehoods about many communities and people of color. It’s due time our children learn historical facts, develop a love and appreciation for black culture, and receive inspiration for their bright futures.
Ourstory in ClassroomsEducators can easily use this album in schools, after-school childcare programs and recreation centers to open the minds of young people. In songs like, Black Made That and Nubian Queens, we have heard names of historical figures in history and further researched them. One inventor my daughters wanted to learn more about was Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker water gun. The album does what text books just can’t do.
Celebrating the history of all people can and should be done all year long. I encourage this in my home because I want my kids to know that history is full of diverse people who have made contributions to bettering the world. I am raising African American children, so I put a lot of emphasis on learning black history and finding black history resources for kids.
As a homeschooling parent I have found many homeschooling history curriculums exclude the rich history and notable contributions of black people. This is just one of the reasons why I choose to piece together our homeschool curriculum. My aim is to create a well-rounded curriculum that allows my children to gain knowledge about diverse people and cultures and encourages them to think critically. I know other parents desire the same, which is why I’m sharing some of my favorite black history resources for kids I have recently discovered.
Black History Resources for Kids
50 Inspirational Bedtime Stories: 50 Amazing Black People Who Changed the World
Written by L.A. Amber | Illustrated by T.Z. Nissen (Recommended for ages 5+)
This is a fantastic resource that can be used as a reference book for many years. Each page features a black revolutionary, innovative or gifted legend, from Sojourner Truth to Ray Charles to former President Barak Obama. What I love about 50 Inspirational Bedtime Stories is it features world changers who are living and those of the past. Its vibrant illustrations of all 50 people are colorful, detailed and simply captivating. Readers will find the stories of these amazing people inspiring and informative. Each story ends with, “Did you know…” giving readers a quick, often unknown, fact. Find out how you can get this book for your library here.
Our Legendary Ladies: Harriet Tubman
Written by Megan Callea | Illustrated by Jennifer Howard (Recommended for readers up to 8 years old)
This is the first board book I have ever read that shares black history with young readers. I love the motto that Our Legendary Ladies often shares–Start them young. They are right. It’s never too early to share historical literature with children, especially when the story is of a revolutionary like Harriet Tubman. Although the book is made up of a handful of page turns, the simplicity and preciseness of the words on each page allow young readers an opportunity to learn about slavery and the courageous woman who helped free many. Harriet Tubman is historian approved and the illustrations easily draw in readers and depict the journey Harriet embarked on time and time again. Learn more about this resource on the Legendary Ladies’ social media channels. Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens
Written by Nina Nolan | Illustrated by John Holyfield (Recommended for ages 5-10)
It’s not often that the story of a gospel legend is shared. This work by Nina Nolan and published by Harper Collins, is a new favorite of mine because of that. The name and voice of Mahalia Jackson is known across the world, but details of her life aren’t as widely known. Her dedication to singing Gospel music, not just in the church, and being a part of the Civil Rights movement are shared in a way that children will forget they’re reading a biography. My daughters love to sing and dance, so this book had them completely enthralled. Share the life of Mahalia Jackson with a young reader you know by visiting NinaNolanBooks.com.
Urban Intellectuals Black History Flash Cards
Created by Urban Intellectuals (Recommended for ages 5 and up)
Black History Flash cards by UI are what we have needed for a long time. This deck of 52 cards features phenomenal black events and people, none of which should ever be forgotten. The face of the cards show photographs of the events and people and dates. The backside of the cards features multiple facts that will cause children to want to learn even more black history facts. There are two volumes of cards available. Learn more (affiliate link) here.
Love these black history resources for kids? Let me know in the comments.
This post is in partnership with Brightly. Thoughts shared are 100% my own.
Like you, I love free stuff. Free things, especially educational resources, bring me and my bank account joy. I recently discovered resources at Brightly and all the wonderful things they provide to students, teachers and families for fun learning, especially through reading. As partners of Penguin Random House, the site features recommendations of books and authors for all ages.
Brightly’s resources are inspiring both kids and adults to become lifelong readers. How do you turn children into lifelong readers? By making learning fun, of course. Brightly is doing that by offering a FREE downloadable mega pack of Mad Libs. Mad Libs provide fun with words and kids can get creative and by creating silly stories while learning parts of speech.
If you’d like to grab this pack for your little ones, just click here. Your children can easily spend a lot of time with these Made Libs. You can add them to your homeschool lesson or keep them in the car for road trips or just drives around the city. Happy teaching, reading and learning!
I received complimentary copies for review purposes. All thoughts are my own.
Finally, there is a book series that is celebrating the brilliance, strength and creativity of boys–black boys. Jaden Toussaint The Greatest book series is inspiring and shows a positive image of a black boy and family and I love it!
With three daughters, I see a lot of pink and read plenty of books about princesses, ballerinas, and hair (I enjoy it all) but discovering the Jaden Toussaint series, authored by Marti Dumas, provided my young readers and I a chance to read something different. Typically my daughters are all about girl power and only wanting to hear songs sang by females (I guess that’s what 5 and 6 year olds do), but they were extremely receptive to learning what these books were all about. In fact, one day during our homeschool lesson I set aside time for reading. Right before it was time to move on from reading to our math lesson, my oldest asked me, “Mommy, can I please keep going and read chapter four?”. There was no way I could deny her request to read; this was a proud mommy moment!
I used this quick video to introduce the series to my daughters:
In each book in the series is a new episode where Jaden, a five year old scientist, debater and ninja dancer with an afro, goes on a new adventure using his superpowers for good. We were able to read episodes #1 (The Quest for Screen Time) and #3 (Muffin Wars), where his superpowers were used to convince his parents for more screen time (what every kid wants to do) and to out-smart and out-shine his equally brilliant and impressive cousin, Muffin.
These are the perfect chapter books for young readers, with only 50 to 60 pages, a relatable character, adventurous story lines and just the right amount of illustrations to continue captivating readers. I highly recommend this book series for kids ages 5 to 9. You can add the book to your library and check out all the episodes in the collection by visiting here.
I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. All thoughts are my own.
I love a book that can be read over and over and add value to our personal library for many years. As homeschoolers, these types of books often come in handy, finding their way into our lessons. Jack Hanna recently released Jack Hanna’s Awesome Animal Almanac that perfectly fits that bill. Jack Hanna is no stranger to our city, Columbus, Ohio, or the world. As Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Wilds, he has proven that he knows a ton about the animal kingdom. Children who love animals will simply be captivated by this latest work.
Awesome Animal Almanac
Jack Hanna’s Awesome Animal Almanac is a fantastic alphabetized reference book with over 192 pages of animal photography and facts. It’s not the typical reference book where animals can be found by their name. Jack Hanna has centered the book around the attributes of animals, for example, “F” is for Flight, as in animals that fly. Readers can learn about both common animals, such as an elephant, and rare animals, like the axolotl, with each turn of a page. There are three animals per letter, which makes the content easy for children to consume. You can add it to your library by grabbing a copy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Learning and Crafting
My daughters often ask me if they can learn about a specific topic. The topics are usually random, but with resources such as this one in my library, I can stay ready to answer questions regarding animals. Over 200 animals can be explored in the almanac, which means many zoology and biology lessons can be created with it, which can easily include craft time.
When I thought about the future lessons I’ll create with the Awesome Animal Almanac I immediately thought of how I could tie in a craft time. I have made a list of 10 animal crafts that are super cute and easy that will help learning about animals become an even more exciting time. You can check them out yourself below.
10 Animal Crafts to Do with the Awesome Animal Almanac
Paperplate Walrus Craft by My Mommy Style
Pipe Cleaner Snake by Kids Activities Blog
Watercolor Resist Spider Web by Let’s Lasso the Moon
Paper Roll Owl by The Centsible Life
Butterfly Life Cycle Craft by Buddy and Buggy
Balloon Elephant by Glued to My Crafts Blog
Ladybug Craft by Easy Peasy and Fun
Foam Cup Frog by Crafts by Amanda
K-Cup Whale Craft by Craft Create Cook
Paper Bag Hippo by I Heart Crafty Things
Are there any animal lovers in your house?
This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure here. Some products were received for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.
What should be on a homeschooler’s Christmas list? I’ve discovered these great items and put them together in this homeschooler’s holiday gift guide so you too can discover and share these items with your little learners, creating fun-filled days of learning.
A Homeschooler’s $50 And Under Holiday Gift Guide
Delta Character Chairs
If you’re raising avid readers, then great books and a cozy corner is a must! If your child doesn’t get excited about diving into a book, add their favorite characters to the mix. Delta offers both club and upholstered chairs with characters that kiddos love and sized perfectly for children ages 1-5 years old. Their club chairs ($29.99 at Target.com) are available in Cars, Frozen, Minnie Mouse and Ninja Turtles. The upholstered chairs, like the one pictured above, (currently $47.99 at Target.com) are available in Frozen and Paw Patrol. You can grab yours at Target.com. If you’re looking for the Paw Patrol style you’ll have to order online and choose store pickup at your local Target store.
I received the Delta Chair as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts program.
Mama May I Story Starters
The Mama May I Story Starters kit ($25.00 at Educents.com) inspires children of all ages to use their imagination and create awesome stories. Get your learners enthused about creative writing and storytelling with this classic tool. Each Story Starters kit comes in a tin box which includes:
- 4 Six-sided topic wooden dice
- Moleskin notebook for writing a story
- Symbol key
- Play instructions and suggestions
This kit would make a great stocking stuffer and can last for years to come. Want ideas on how to play? Check out my full review of the item.
Highlights Puzzle Buzz Club
Puzzle lovers, like my children, could sit for long amounts of time with Highlight’s Puzzle Buzz Club (Regularly $5.95 per book, plus $2.98 S+H). This club is kids ages 4-7 and includes:
- 2 new books every four weeks
- 32 pages of fun for quiet time or for sharing with friends
- Mazes, word games, codes and more activities
- 3 sticker puzzles in each book
Highlights is currently running a great promotion for you to get the first two books free! Click the link below to take advantage of the deal.
Receive 2 FREE books + a free tote with every Puzzle Buzz purchase at Highlights.com
Highlights Top Secret Adventures Club
Yep, another Highlights Item has made my list. I grew up with Highlights and their brand has been consistently providing great resources and fun to children for years. The Highlights Top Secret Adventures Club is for cool kids ages 7 and up who are curious and, of course, adventurous. Readers can “travel the world” through each book which includes:
- Mission Assignment Letter
- 32-page Puzzle Books
- Villain Cards
- Fact-filled Country Guidebooks
- Case File storage Portfolio
- FREE World Map and Passport with Visa Stickers
- FREE Mission Tag and Spy Ring
The Top Secret Adventures Club books are regularly $13.95 per kit every four weeks, plus shipping for $2.95. There’s a special going on to receive a kit for FREE plus 99¢ for shipping.
Melissa & Doug Tabletop Puppet Theater
Turning cardboard boxes into cars, boats, and puppet theaters for puppet shows excites my daughters more than a lot of things. Like most children, they love using their imaginations AND putting on shows. If you’re kiddo does too, Melissa & Doug have the perfect tabletop theater ($49.99 on Melissa & Doug) to allow your kids’ imaginations run wild. If you’re familiar with Melissa & Doug then you know you can count on their toys to be made of top quality materials that last.
After long days of learning, kids can wind down by playing their Nintendo 3DS. Animal lovers will love the Petz Beach by UBISOFT ($11.46 on Amazon.com) where they can explore sandy beaches while learning about a couple dozen breeds of dogs, several breeds of cats, plants and insects.
What’s on your Christmas list for your classroom?
This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure here.
Getting a three year old and four year old to sit down to practice writing is hit and miss. Sometimes writing time ends up as doodling time or arts and crafts. Getting a three year old and four year old to use their imagination, however, is no challenge at all. The girls and I recently had a little fun with a new learning tool that sparks creativity in writing and story-telling, Mama May I Story Starters.
The Mama May I Story Starters kit inspires children of all ages to use their imagination and create awesome stories. The kit comes in a tin box which includes:
- 4 six-sided topic wooden dice
- a Moleskin notebook for writing a story
- a pen
- symbol key
- play instructions and suggestions
How We Used the Story Starters
Mama May I includes several suggestions on how to use the Story Starters. However you choose to use them will most likely result in building skills such as improv, public speaking, problem-solving, greater vocabulary and imaginative thinking.
I intended to use the kit by rolling the dice and having my daughters share a story aloud while I wrote it all down; however, with preschoolers you often have to go with the flow and allow them to lead the learning time. We rolled the dice and landed on the images representing a party, a boy, the sun, and signs. As I prepared to write, my oldest daughter said she wanted to draw the story. It took me zero seconds to realize that was a brilliant idea. So, we got out our drawing supplies and created a story through art about a boy’s birthday party that started out with lots of sunshine and turned into a snowy party. The activity was a great way to spend 30 minutes of our morning together and added some cute art to our cork board.
Other Ways to Use the Story Starters
In a Classroom: Divide students into groups. Have each group roll dice to see what prompts they will use to create a story. Have each group write their stories and share with the class.
While Traveling: Road trips without activities for little ones can be challenging. Roll the Story Starters dice and have each person in the car share a story that includes each object or idea that the roll decided.
Family Time: Create your own bedtime story with the Story Starters. Your family will never hear the same bedtime story twice. Take turns and allow both the parents and kids to share stories.
What’s great about this resource is it can be used for many years. The quality of the hand-stamped images on each die, topic suggestions and tin box makes the Mama May I Story Starters capable of encouraging creative writing from preschool years all the way to high school.
You can find this Mama May I resource and MANY others at Educents.com.
Other Writing Tools on Educents
Writing Poetry With Children– Step-by-step directions lead students through writing couplets, cinquains, haikus, and limericks.
The Essential Homeschool Writing Tool– Kids of all ages follow WriteWell’s self-directed instructions to compose a full essay.
Cursive Writing Hero Worksheets– Meet the Educents Heroes! They’re here to help your child learn cursive upper and lower alphabet letters with 53 pages of FREE writing worksheets!
I received this product for review purposes. All thoughts expressed are 100% my own.
What are your favorite writing resources for children?
According to the CCBC, in 2014 over 5,000 children’s books were published. Only 13% of those books were about people of color and of that 13%, only 17% were written by authors of color. These statistics say two things: 1. There’s a need for authors of color and 2. There’s a huge need for multicultural books. So when I discover a new multicultural children’s book or new authors of color I am eager to share it with my family and friends. This year I was introduced to a few new multicultural children’s authors, books and programs that are just as excited about providing children with literature that is both entertaining and a reflection of themselves.
Multicultural Books By Multicultural Authors & Products to Add to Your Young Reader’s Holiday List
Beautiful Beautiful Me by Ashley Sirah Hinton
Every shade and ethnicity is represented in this multicultural book. Children are encouraged to be accepting of themselves and others, seeing all skin as beautiful. You can see the gorgeous illustrations inside the book here.
Curiously Coiled by Fila Antwine
Naturally curly hair is being embraced by more people and cultures than ever. If you have little curlies in your home, this book is great for helping them to appreciate and love their curls. It may even cause you to want curls too! Learn more about Curiously Coiled here.
I Am Amazing/You Are Amazing by Ty Allan Jackson
A little encouragement goes a long way, whether your an adult or child. Pictures of real children and words that empower youngsters can be found on every page of I Am Amazing/You Are Amazing. This work by Ty Allan Jackson is also two books in one! Click here for all the details.
When I Close My Eyes by Ty Allan Jackson
Great illustrations are key to grabbing the attention of young readers and When I Close My Eyes has them. If your kiddo enjoys using their imagination and is a big dreamer, they will love this picture book. Take a peek inside the book.
Bee Me Bookshelf, Created by Nina Candia
I discovered Bee Me Bookshelf on Instagram. They are on my list of black businesses to support which is why I’m including them in this gift guide. Bee Me Bookshelf is a monthly subscription where children receive age appropriate books. They currently offer subscription packages for two groups, ages 0-3 and ages 4-8. The mission of this company is simple. They are “.. committed to providing access to important books that reflect our diverse world, and a robust curriculum to help children think through and understand the words they are reading.” Visit their website to find out how you can subscribe.
This post is a part of the 2015 Mom’s Guide to All Things Holiday Blogger Collaboration. Scroll down to see what fellow bloggers are talking about this week!
Monday: Gift Guide & Shopping Tips
Kat of Type 4 Naturals
Danielle of Mamademics
Tuesday: Holiday Family Activities & Traditions
Toya of Mrs. Toya Carter
Cynthia of Mrs. Wright Writes
Jennifer of Baby Making Machine
Wednesday: Holiday DIY and/or Home Decor
Sheena of Sophistishe
Bee of Bee So Simple
Erin of Live Pretty on a Penny
Britney Britney Dearest
Thursday: Holiday Recipe
Shanna of Ms. Naturally Random
Arnitris of Blessed Be the Tie
La Dale of Johanna’s Mama
Friday: Holiday Fashion
Tamara of Simply T Nicole
Diedre Anthony of Are Those Your KidsTroy Cooke of Thriftanista in the City
My family and I attended a Barnes & Noble Homeschool event not long ago and I was so surprised to learn about all the store offers to educators, including homeschoolers.
This is not a sponsored post. Affiliate links are included.
I love to see local organizations and businesses showing their support of homeschoolers. I have shared our experience at a local waterpark and zoo as homeschoolers. From special days, classes, and discounts, you will find that many local and national organizations and businesses do not discriminate against homeschooling families, giving you more opportunities to find fun and social activities and events.
Our evening at the Homeschool Event at Barnes & Nobles included a brief introduction of what is available for homeschoolers, a giveaway, Pete the Cat crafts for the kids and freshly baked cookies for all attendees–my favorite was the apple ginger cookie whose recipe was created by a B&N shopper. The store manager shared all the benefits of the store that one might not be aware of, including LEGO building events, multiple educator appreciation sales a year, and the store’s donation of unsold clearance books.
There are many ways homeschoolers can benefit from visiting their local Barnes & Nobles and I am sharing them all.
A Homeschooler’s Guide to Barnes & Noble
- Join the Kids’ Club Children get a free item selected by the store plus opportunities to earn reward certificates through a loyalty program.
- Save Money & Get Discounts Homeschool educators can sign up to receive a free discount card to receive 20% off classroom related purchases and get 25% off books, gifts and cafe purchases, plus 10% off on CD and DVDs during the multiple educator appreciation weeks (There are four a year).
- Raise Money Homeschool co-ops can team up with B&N to raise money through a book fair. Book fairs are done in-store and allow supporters to make purchases on their own time.
- Take a Field Trip Homeschool groups and co-ops can get a behind the scenes look at the store, helping students to learn exactly how the store operates
- Have Story Time You will have to call your local B&N to find out times and days, but stores offer story time for the little ones.
- Homeschool Educator Events Events like the one my family and I attended are offered throughout the year. Be sure to check out your local B&N calendar to attend one near you.
- Rewards for Reading During the summer, children can read books (bought from the store or borrowed from the library), write about their favorite part of the book and return it to the store to receive a free book.
- Donated Clearance Books Did you know that B&N donates unsold clearance books? If you have a homeschool group/co-op that would like some donated books, call your local store. According to our local manager, they may give you their books!
Do you and your family visit your local Barnes & Noble?
This post is sponsored by Educents. All thoughts are 100% my own.
As a parent and homeschooler, I want to make sure my children receive a well-rounded education that includes an array of topics. I have no problem admitting that I don’t know it all and that I look for great resources such as books, professionals, videos and some media to help educate my kiddos.
Supplemental materials are essential and discovering God’s Big WORLD, one of three publications from WORLD News Group, offered a breath of fresh air to our usual letters, numbers, and phonics learning routine. God’s Big WORLD is a magazine that offers a glimpse into God’s creation for children in grades pre-kindergarten-1st. Issues are full of colorful pictures and photography sparking, children’s interest about subjects that probably would not cross the average parent/teacher’s mind, but provide valuable bits of knowledge.
Our first look at the God’s Big WORLD magazine included:
- Learning about trees and how to tell their age
- Reading and reciting a scripture related to trees
- Taking a closer look at cicadas, which led to us looking up videos to hear their sounds
- Discussing what instruments have strings
- Taking a look at the world map and identifying continents
- Completing a worksheet to work on sequences
My preschool age daughters were totally engaged by all the cool topics and ready to continue with lesson number two. Thankfully, God’s Big WORLD has a website and app that allows learning to continue, even when mom or dad aren’t instructing so the girls had a chance to watch a few videos on the website.
What I Love About The Magazines
- Pictures of real people, objects and places are on every page
- Current world events and culture are shared
- Children can learn fun facts about the world around them
- The magazine is organized by lesson, which allows parents and children to have a structured experience (if they desire) while exploring the issue
- Scripture and inspiration is woven throughout the publications without a cheesy presentation
- Several teaching subjects (i.e. math, reading, geography, etc) are included in each issue
- An easy and great way to share God’s creation and word with your family
WORLD News Group also publishes WORLDkids (suggested for children in grades 2nd-5th) and WORLDteen (suggested for children in grades 6th-9th). Each magazine offers age-appropriate content, as well as interactive websites that include additional content and learning through videos and quizzes. They also have apps that are free to download on mobile devices.
You can learn more about all WORLD News Group publications, how to subscribe to the magazine that best fits your child’s age, including God’s Big WORLD here.