. quickedit{display:none;}

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Beat the Heat

Sure wish the Heat Miser would get outta south town!  Thinking back to 2004 when we had our first and only snow.  See the last time it snowed here was in 1895, so it was truely a Christmas miracle awaking to a snow covered beach.  And for those still interested, 2004 snow balls are still being sold from freezers near you, seriously!  

So needless to say, nothing else is going in the ground until Fall, when a box of crayons doesn't melt in my minivan cup holder, or whichever comes first.  Hopefully I can just maintain and keep the garden from melting away until then.  But this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop buying seeds on Amazon.   

So where have we been chilling besides the library?  Nope, not driving an ice cream truck, though that would be cool.  I've been busy prepping my classroom at First Baptist Academy, now that I’m the new kinder prep teacher on the block.  That’s right folks, I finally get to use my education outside my family, and the icing on the cake is Little Reader's out of public school. 

And speaking of cake, after an extensive internet, library, Mardels, and Amazon search my classroom theme is Sweet Treats.  Leading me into my second summer DIY project, a cupcake wreath.

First I wrapped blue bandana strips around a 12” foam ring and hot glued it in place.

Then using cupcake liners I bought from Hobby Lobby, I turned them inside out and stuck push pins through the center on to the ring. Using two liners works best.

I crinkled the bottom to give them a flowery look, and viola it’s done!  Just added a blue ribbon for hanging and will make a tag from blue card stock. 

And in case you were wondering about my first DIY summer craft, it was fairy lights. 
Made with clear plastic cups, scrap book papers from Walmart, my trusty glue gun, and a strand of last years Christmas lights.   A perfect addition to the kid’s game room.
Craft Wars here I come.   Just kidding, but next will attempt making lollipops with wacky noodles for my reading center.  And you just though they were for swimming!  Be rest assured, all this will not hinder my book romp, only enhance it.  And what a better place than the library to build a literacy rich classroom right!  Did you know my Masters thesis was Teaching Writing Organization Using Children’s Picture Books? I won’t bore you with all the details, but drop me a note if you want to know more.  Just making a point how books are literally part of my everyday life.

As for celebrating blue month, guess what we have done? - Nada.  Pushing it into next week during our trip to the hill country.  Little Reader’s most excited about the blueberry farm and blue food fun, while the teens are fired up about shooting AK-47’s at the firing range.  Yes, it’s true, we do cling to our guns and bibles down here in Texas.  And we also love Chick-fil-A :-)

Another totally random post I know, but what’d you expect! 

To The Romps

Grizzly Dad
Harrison, Joanna

When dad wakes up grumpy and growling he is turned into a real grizzly bear.  And what kids wouldn’t go for some grizzly bear fun?  So much fun that mom comes home to a pigsty.   I spy with my little eyes something curly and pink?  - Little Reader

By Lichtenheld, Tom

An ABColutely clever, not your average alphabet book, full of wordplays, and puns. When letter E takes a tumble ending up in the hospital, letter O has to fill in...  So every use of the letter "E" is replaced by "O" for the duration of the read.  Really for older kids, as Little Reader only got a few of the jokes, but overall the letters funny personalities make it delightful.  Can you guess what letter in the alphabet is mostly used?  E-xactly!  

Have You Filled A Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
By Mc Cloud, Karen

Just got this one from Amazon and will use this in my class.  At first glance you might think it’s cliché, but after several reads I’ve come to like the idea of bucket filling.  The bucket here is analogous to feelings, filled when doing good things and emptied when unkind.  A great visual model of empathy, and Little Reader noted the pictures look like the ones in the paper.  She’s right, the colorful sketches and happy-go-lucky expressions look like something out of the Sunday comics.  Do you read the comics with your children?
Silly Putty & Sunday Funnies 

Duck! Rabbit!
By Rosenthal, Amy Krouse

So is it a duck or a rabbit?  With a fun twist on optical illusions and simple sentences, this is an excellent read-aloud.  The adorable illustrations are key to inspiring children to think how things can be perceived in different ways. 

The Stray Dog
By Simont, Marc

Willy, an adorable little stray dog wins a family’s heart after an afternoon picnic in the park.   But when the day ends, the family sadly leaves him behind thinking he belongs to someone else.  But do not fret, on another outing the family comes to the rescue claiming Willy as their dog.   And from that day forward, he is.  A scruffy pup lovin, heartwarming true story.
Don’t Make Me Laugh
By Stevenson, James

According to Little Reader here’s the pic of the summer!  Mr. Frimdimpny the alligator, or maybe it’s a crocodile is in charge of the book enforcing certain rules along the way.  At anytime you break one of his rules like smiling or laughing, you must return to front of the book.  The funny, interactive, little mini stories guarantees re-readability and this one has earned a permanent home on our bookshelf.

By Van Leeuwen, Jean

Two brothers have a fall out on the account of "lumpy" oatmeal and continue the feud into several generations.  The cautionary exaggerated tale captures the power of one word that’s often difficult to say.  Sorry, I’m not going to give you this one!   But because of the length and how it crossed over generations my kindergartener wasn’t able to make a connection, got lost in translation.

I so adore the artwork of Brad Sneed, finding his style a perfect match for my writing, especially Dill & Emma.  So what do you think Brad, let’s hook up, I won’t let you down?
Read more »

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Red, Wild, & Blue

Amidst Fourth celebrations, cupcake making, beach going, plant tending, and working on the new blue, we  managed to squeeze in the romps. Happily the bluetransformation is underway, and just in time for National Blueberry Month.  Will be celebrating with blue reads, foods, & a trip to a blueberry farm. 

There's something I need more of, it's time to get- r all done!  I’ve always been a go-getter entrepreneurial kind of gal starting businesses and even publishing a book, Park It! A Guide to Austin Parks and Playgrounds.  (Will have this on the Wild Blue soon.)  But during these endeavourers, I wasn’t so engulfed with kid activities, romping, gardening, cooking etc...  So in order for my writing to materialize, there needs to be some changes.  With manuscripts needing to be tweaked and lots of new ideas going through my brain, I need to block out writing time.  I think morning will work, but what about pumpkin propagation? Apparently this is something I should be doing in the morning, but mating plants sounds rather well you know, and besides isn’t nature supposed to do this?   And not to mention our twenty foot pumpkin vines are full of male flowers, testosterone is running rampant through the back yard.  We are planning, planting our fall garden and what better thing to have than Gigantic Atlantic Dill pumpkins.

Only pumpkin vines so far, but the loofahs are growing.

So procrastinate no more, I will start tomorrow.  Perseverance has been key to my endeavors, so it has to be a matter of time until my books find a publishing home.  And just to add, the diminished publishing standards has led me to believe that some houses are using office staff to do the writing.  Just sayin’! 

Proceedn’ to the Readn’s

The Eleventh Hour
By Base, Graeme

It’s Horace the elephant’s eleventh birthday party and something has dreadful happened.  It’s up to you the reader to look for the hidden clues and figure out who done it.  Its poetic verse and detailed images makes this a top book for all ages.   Having previously read this, I told Little Reader to be on the lookout for a sneaky party guest.  She found the imbedded clues and by the end of the story, pegged the guilty one.   And with her attention to details, I’m now hunting for more clue books like this one.

Tia Isa Wants A Car
By Medina, Meg

This really got my gourd, and I’m not talking about the loofahs.   Tia Isa wants a car but can’t afford one because the majority of her money is sent back to her family in Mexico.  What is the point of this book, to embrace how our country’s resources are being depleted?  - And then to be chosen as a Vermont Red Clover Book for 2012-2013?  Not going to seethe beyond this point, but note the nuisance of multicultural agendas in children’s books.  Where are the old fashion values with a hip new twist?   Sounds old-school, but there are many parents like myself who would love to see more of this. 

Harry & Hopper
By Wild, Margaret

A grieving pet loss story.  Harry loves his dog Hopper and shocked to hear he dies in an accident while at school.   But then Hopper begins to visit Harry in his dreams each night until eventually fading away, giving Harry the chance to say goodbye.   A moving story good for helping children deal with loss, but Little Reader says it’s too leaky eye. 

By Yang, James

One puzzlehead kid goes looking for a place to “fit in.”  Fun illustrations, but weak plot delivered.   Little Reader did though have fun with the shapes and this led us into making puzzle pictures. 

Books by Margot Zemach

Eating Up Gladys

Gladys is one bossy sister that doesn’t let her two younger siblings do anything to help out around the house.   That is until the younger ones decide to have her for dinner, teaching her that being little doesn’t make you helpless.  A charming idiom read of cooperation and sibling rivalry.  Even though Little Reader was a bit concerned they were going to cook her in a pot, taking it literal.  

You're Mean, Lily Jean!

Sisters Carly and Sandy are faced with a new bossy neighbor, Lily Jean.  But soon the bossiness turns into bullying, and the sisters have to make a stand.  Thought this was going to be preachy, but surprised to find it cleverly written, spring-boarding a great conversation for young kids about bullying.    

31 Uses For A Mom
By Ziefert, Harriet

What do moms really do?  Chauffer, cook, and shop to name a few.  A fun tribute to all the wonderful moms out there, and in the end I’m a hair-doer, cooking mama, & snuggler.
Read more »