Multicultural Children’s Book Day is coming on January 27. If you didn’t read about it earlier in the week, it is an amazing celebration and encouragement of multicultural books for kids. It was created by Mia Wenjen of PragmaticMom and Valarie Budayr of Jump into a Book. These ladies are on a mission to make more diverse books available to our nation’s youth. I’m down with that, so I’m jumping on board this year to review 3 books for you by Carol P. Roman from her If You Were Me and Lived in… series.
Since I am unequivocally recommending these books, especially to homeschoolers and other teachers, I’m reviewing them one at a time. Because we so have to Story Time these babies up!
If You Were Me and Lived in the Ancient Mali Empire by Carole P. Roman
If You Were Me and Lived in the Ancient Mali Empire is no mere picture book. No, this is a book that could be an entire lesson on ancient Mali in itself. The boys and I have been studying Africa this year, and we learned more about Mali from this book than from any other source. I’m not making that up.
The ‘me’ in this book is a young girl who walks littles through almost all the parts of the ancient Mali Empire. She explains where the empire was, the Islam faith and why it was practiced, the types of houses that existed the way the government and economic systems worked… Totally not kidding, this book really covers almost everything.
Our favorite part was when her grandfather, the Griot (gree-oh), or storyteller, told the story of how the Mali Empire began. Because story. And if you didn’t have books, storytellers were the next best thing!
Just like the Ancient China book by Roman, this one lends itself to all sorts of activities.
The Mali Empire covered a large part of western Africa. This free printable has a map that shows where it was and a blank map for your littles to fill out.
Ancient Mali traded mainly in gold and salt. I don’t have any spare gold lying around, but I absolutely have salt, so let’s do some cool experiments.
Float an egg
When you add salt to water, it makes the water denser, so things float more easily. Have your littles test it out with a couple of eggs and watch how freaking cool this is.
What you need:
- 2 clear glasses or bowls
- 2 fresh (uncooked. Unless you have farm-fresh like mine. Then still uncooked but even fresher) eggs
- Liquid measuring cup
What you do:
- Fill each cup with about 1 2/3 cups water (make it kinda warm so the salt will dissolve faster)
- Label 1 cup salt and pour 1/3 cup salt into it
- Carefully place an egg in each glass and watch the difference in what happens. It’s very cool.
- Discuss why the egg in the salt water floated but the other egg didn’t (the salt water is denser and able to hold more weight)
- For a little more fun, point out that the same concept is what makes it easier to float in the ocean than in the pool
Freeze Salt Water
This one might amaze your littles more than the last one. Remind them that when it snows and gets icy out, the highway department spreads salt on the roads to help melt the ice and make them safer to drive on. Sure, it’s not the same as table salt, but table salt is exactly what I use on my porch steps every single winter (and it saves me a ton of money).
What you need:
- 2 plastic or otherwise freezable cups
What you do:
- Write salt on 1 cup with marker
- Fill each cup about half full with warmish water
- Add 1/3 cup salt to the cup labeled salt
- Put both cups in the freezer
- Check back every 20 minutes or so and discuss whether both cups of water are freezing at the same pace
After about 40 minutes, the plain water was starting to freeze (in the cup on the left) but the salt water hadn’t even begun. That’s because salt causes heat when added to water, so salt water has a lower freezing point than plain water. It actually has to get colder to freeze than plain water does. That’s also why it works on ice–it lowers the freezing point so that the ice starts to melt.
This one is fun but a little complicated. Older littles will love trying it themselves, but you will have to help smaller littles. That’s ok, when they’re done, they’ll have a little house to play with! My littlest? So excited about that.
Salt Dough Ancient Mali Empire House
What you need:
- Salt dough (see my recipe here)
- 4 small dowels or kabob sticks in 3 inch sections
- Butter knife or other instrument for cutting dough
- Small jar or bottle (roughly 3″ circumference
What you do:
- Make the salt dough
- Roll out the salt dough (you might want to flour your surface so it lifts easily) until you have a piece that is 3 x 6 inches and 1/2 inch thick
- Use a ruler and the butter knife to cut off ragged edges and get straight lines
- Use the butter knife to cut a window and door into your building
- Grease and/flour the small jar or bottle (I didn’t do this the first time and I couldn’t get the jar out of the house once it dried)
- Wrap the dough around the bottle, meeting the short sides at the back
- Press the dough together to hide the seam and make it cylindrical
- Check to make sure your door and window are still the right shape; if they’re not, reshape them
- Place the dowel rods around the building, pressing one end into the top (about 1/4 down) and making sure the ends touch the table or floor
- Cut about a 2-inch circumference bunch of raffia, about 4 inches long
- Cut a long strand of raffia to tie your bunch together near the top
- Separate the raffia at the open end and spread it out around the top of your building, centering the tie
- Trim the raffia to your liking
- Let the house dry for at least 24 hours, then slide the jar out
Multicultural Children’s Book Day Sponsors
Check out these amazing sponsors of MCBD.
Medallion level (gold, silver, bronze)- Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books
Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang
Be sure to check out MCBD’s Free Multicultural Books for Teachers
And Don’t miss Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents
Looking for fun winter activities for your littles? Check out: