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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Countdown & 50 States

The countdown for Christmas has begun and its official, I’m going with a red & white color scheme this year. Not the Target look, but something more along the lines of striped candy canes and red barns. 

Today I just finished a most amazing story. No not really, but here’s what I did finish. A candy cane countdown to Christmas chain.  The kids will take a link off each day, and from the Little Reader to the teenager fun will be had by all.  Here’s our list of activities and what we are doing. 

1.    Texas Tech Basketball game. Wear red.
2.    Gingerbread books & make gingerbread sandwiches
3.    Make paper bag gingerbread houses
4.    Read Legend of the Candy Cane & make candy cane sun catchers
5.    Watch a Christmas movie
6.    Christmas tree books
7.    Pinecone Christmas trees
8.    Santa Claus books & letters to Santa
9.    Nutcracker books
10.  Nutcracker stick puppets
11.  Christmas puzzles
12.  Snowman soup & make a gingerbread house
13.  Reindeer books & make ornaments
14.  Reindeer food
15.  Drive around to look at Christmas lights & bundle up for a neighborhood walk.
16.  Read The Giving Tree & surprise someone with an act of kindness
17.  Christmas Story & Nativity craft
18.  Bake cookies
19.  Snow globe books & make snow globes
20.  Christmas popcorn
21.  Animal hibernation books
22.  Make ornaments for the birds and squirrels
23.  Read snow books & have an indoor snowball fight
24.  The Night Before Christmas & reindeer rest
25.  Merry Christmas!

      Cut strips and pasted activity on each.  Bell template from website. http://www.freekidcrafts.com/countdown-christmas-bell.html
Christmas Chain Poem:
From now until Christmas
Is the longest time of the year.
It seems as though old Santa
Never will appear.
How many days ‘til Christmas
Is mighty hard to count.
So this little paper chain
Will show the exact amount.
Take one of the chains off each night.
When Sandman casts his spell.
And Christmas will be here real soon.
By the time you reach the bell!

      Voila!  There you have it, our candycane chain.
      We are so excited for our first activity.

Other Happenings
Look what my Big Reader (C) found on a romp with Mom
(He’s getting ready for a 50 states test)

The United States Cookbook: Fabulous Foods and Fascinating Facts From all 50 States
By D’Amico, Joan

Gobble up factual tidbits and tasty bits native to each of the fifty states.  No, we are not going to attempt eating all of America, but will pick out a few that look interesting.  C started with the Wisconsin Cheddar Dill Puffs.  How much food can an eleven year old consume?

The Scrambled States of America
By Keller, Laurie

During a party the states amusingly decide they want to switch locations. But after leaning the grass isn’t greener on the other side, they must find their way home.  A perfect blend of education and entertainment, and to make more enjoyable they have the game as well. 

The Scrambles States of America Talent Show

The states are at it again and now putting on a talent show.  As stage fright sets in, what will it take for the show to  go on?

This Little Texan’s stockpiling books. “GIT-R-READ”

A Few off the Top!

Christmas is Coming
By Bowen, Anne

Night Before Christmas in Texas, That Is
By, Harris, Leon A

Redheaded Robbie’s Christmas Story
By Luttrell, William

A New Improved Santa
By Wolff, Patricia Rae

On the carousel today. Did you know there is candy cane Jell-O and spoons?  I didn't.
This will be a great addition to our candy cane activity.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Talk

Hope your Thanksgiving was full of wonderful!  We are back from the hills and thought this would be a good time to talk turkey and answer questions. 

#1. Yes, I always parallel books to what is going on in our lives. (Everything becomes a readable moment at our house.) And yes, I'm still sticking to my methodical system as well. We are in the G section and I’m putting holds on relevant reads including gingerbread men, candy canes, red books, and Christmas frogs.

#2.  Apparently librarians also do this. A vacation isn’t a vacation until you’ve paid a visit to the local library.  Before going anywhere, I love to check out the library website and plan an excursion. 
Look what we found romping the Wimberley Library
The Runaway Pumpkin
By Lewis, Kevin

With animated rhyme and super illustrations, a gigantic pumpkin comes to life.  After the children accidently send the pumkin rolling down the hill, how will they stop it and turn it into a meal?   This one’s on its way to being a part of our home library. 
Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins
By Ochiltree, Dianne

Another rhyming runaway pumpkin story, although not as good as the previous one.  When Sam learns that too many pumpkins makes for wagon trouble hill, he has to save them rolling down the hill. 
“Can we read the other pumpkin story now?” - Little Reader   Nuff said!

These reads fit with our “chunkin of the punkins.”  What a better way to end Thanksgiving and dispose gourds by shoot’n and then chunk’n them down the hill. 

Everybody Needs a Rock   
By Baylor, Byrd

I’m so thankful for my hill-country friends.  Rocks are some of my favorite people. Everybody needs to have a rock friend, and who’s a better person to give you the 10 rules for finding your own rock, than a girl living in the desert. It’s about simplicity and taking a look at what brings enjoyment.  Sure your kids have tricycles, dolls, blocks, and those electronic gadgets, but it’s high time they make friends with rocks.  

This read fit with our buildin’ of cairns. What’s that?  Simply a pile of stones built as a monument or landmark." A monument to what and a landmark to where you ask?  The answers to these questions tends to promote only more questions.  So have fun coming to your own conclusions.

#3. After returning home, we were glad to see One Guy & Dominos had not turned into froglets yet.  Little Reader got a book today to read to them.

Froggy’s Best Christmas by Jonathan London

#4.  And last, the library allows me to surround myself with things I love, (books) and the teacher in me is always looking for ways to extend these into hands-on experiences.  From food to crafts, and now becoming an Amazon junkie.  I love adding our favorite library books to the home library and other fun educational things toys. 
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Bog

Cranberry Thanksgiving
By Delvin, Wende & Harry

Heading to the hill country.  One holiday book bag, four kids, one husband, one dog, and three bags of fresh cranberries all packed. Why so many cranberries?  Why not! Well, we will start with our traditional read of Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende & Harry Delvin.  This 1971 oldie is about a cranberry bread recipe and a recipe thief. But I’m not revealing the real thief, but will say not to judge others based on their appearance.

Back to the cranberries. Imma makin’ Grandmother’s recipe in the back of the book.  Here it is! – Yum

Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup light raisins
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once; stir just until mixture is evenly moist. Fold in raisins and cranberries.

Spoon into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Clarence: The Cranberry Who Couldn't Bounce
By Coogan, Jim

Activity: Did you know that cranberries bounce because they have pockets of air inside of them.  So after bouncing berries down the hill, I'll share this story with the kids: In the 1880s, a New Jersey grower named John 'Peg Leg' Webb discovered that cranberries bounce. Instead of carrying his crop down from the storage loft of his barn, Webb poured them down the steps. He noticed that only the freshest, firmest fruit reached the bottom; rotten or bruised berries didn't bounce and remained on the steps. This discovery led to the invention of 'bounceboards' that are tools used to separate rotten berries from fresh ones.

Other cranberry ideas welcome, I’m up to my ears in these berries and wondering why I bought so many.  Maybe I’ll take this into Christmas and go with red this year, instead of blue.

Turkeys in the Bag

Daisy's Crazy Thanksgiving
By Cuyler, Margery

Not sure this would hold attention, but overall was a good story.  Daisy goes to spend Thanksgiving with her crazy chaotic Grammy & Grampy, and learns to appreciate quietness. I made it more enjoyable by having Little Reader draw a picture of a crazy holiday after reading.  

Thanksgiving Rules
By Friedman, Lauire

Do kids need instruction on how to stack their Thanksgiving plate? It’s all here in funny rhyme and fantastical illustrations.

An Outlaw Thanksgiving
By McCully, Emily Arnold

Historical fiction showing a different side of the notorious Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  (Kinda partial to the Western, I’m a native Texan, what can I say!)

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
By Pilkey, Dav

It’s all about saving turkeys in this comical rhyme, just like the original Twas the Night Before Christmas. After a turkey farm field trip, the children decide to save the turkeys from their grave fate.  After stuffing turkeys under their clothes they return home and live happily ever after, with their turkeys.  We are not vegetarians, and still planning on gobbling up turkey and all the fixins.

Thanksgiving Mice!
By Roberts, Bethany

Quite simply, a lovable book about mice putting on a Thanksgiving play.  Little Reader had a First Thanksgiving feast at school and as the Indian “snow wolf” reenacted this mouse story to her classmates.  As always, the queen of the scene!

Just got our Thanksgiving gumballs and Jigsaw software today.  Yippee! Wishing you a Turkeylicious Thanksgiving.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Sweet Amphibians

It’s been a few since I’ve blogged our romps.  Just trying to keep up with life, and now just realized how behind I really am. Christmas decorations and holiday gift guides at every turn, my apologies to Thanksgiving, apparently tis the season to shop! 
So what’s something magical, you can never have enough of, that creates memories leaving a lasting impression? Um no, this is not that kind of blog.  Its books!  Looking for a book theme here? What would my recipients enjoy?
“Everyone loves cupcakes and tadpoles Mama!” - Little Reader  "M’mm a confection of buttery sweet amphibians." - CR

In case you were wondering?  We are reading about cupcakes and look what just arrived in the mail.

Two tadpoles, One Guy & Dominos
(named after her favorite pizza places)

Frogalicious Reads

Fine As We Are
By Hall, Algy Craig

Growing Frogs
By French, Vivian

The Mysterious Tadpole
By Kellogg, Steven

A Frog In the Bog
By Wilson, Karma & Rankin, Joan
(Top Choice)

Sweet Reads

Cupcake: A Journey to Special
By Harper, Chase
(Top Choice)
Baby Mouse Cupcake Tycoon
By Holm, Jennifer

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
By Numeroff, Laura Joffe
(Top Choice)

My Name is Yoon
By Recorvits, Helen & Swiatkowska

Kermit Snack: Green Jell-O Frogs

This recipe will create firm Jell-O that can be cut into shapes and does not melt. Combine 4 envelopes (1/4 oz. each) of unflavored gelatin with 3 packages (3 oz. each) of lime flavored gelatin in a large bowl. Add 4 cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved (about two minutes). Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan and chill until set (at least one hour). Either use a cookie cutter to cut frog shapes, or simply cut the Jell-O into triangles and press in two mini chocolate chips for the eyes.  - Ribbitt-Ribbitt 
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