Easy, Refreshing Summer Salad

As summer winds down, you may be wondering what to do with the abundant harvest of greens and tomatoes still left in the garden.  There are still enough warm days to enjoy a SUMMER SALAD as a main course for lunch or dinner.

summer saladFor this salad, have the kids wash and layer an assortment of fresh greens. I used romaine, arugula, spinach, purslane (look it up if you’re wondering), and radicchio.  Then I added sliced cucumbers, yellow beets, black olives, sliced grapes, and yellow tomatoes.  Then I sprinkled on a 2 oz. packet of salmon, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, slivered almonds, and grated Parmesan cheese.  Top with your favorite dressing and you’re all set.

You can easily substitute the following to make it your own: diced, cooked chicken, cooked salad shrimp, tuna, dried cranberries, walnuts or pecans, pineapple chunks, shredded carrots, apple slices, orange segments…the list goes on.  It’s delicious, filling and nutritious as well.   Why not pack a smaller version of this  for school lunches?  Serve with some whole grain crackers for added crunch.

What are your favorite salad add-ins?

The Wheels on the Bus and Other Ways Kids Travel to School. by Shiela Fuller

Darlene here: I don’t know about you, but I found this post fascinating!  It seems that some children will do just about anything to get to school.  Here’s Shiela Fuller with an around-the-world look at how children travel to and from school.

In the United States, children are required by law, called compulsory education, to be educated between the ages of six and  sixteen (The Amish community is not bound by this law). Around the world, compulsory ages range from: six through eighteen in Belgium, six to twelve in Iran, six to fourteen in Uruguay, seven to twelve in Singapore, etc. A complete chart can be found here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_education .

Think about how you get to school. Do you carpool? Ride a bus? Walk? How far is school from where you live? Next time you leave home for school, think about these kids and the determination that drives them, despite the treacherous journeys they travel to school.
In Indonesia, schoolchildren must cross a frail suspension bridge that hangs low over the Ciberang River. It became damaged after a flood and the children risk crossing it because it is the shortest distance. In other parts of the country, students travel to school by canoe, bamboo raft, and some ride on the tops of wooden boats. In Sumatra, students are willing and daring, to cross a tightrope above a river and then walk an additional seven miles to school.

In rural China some children climb ladders that rest along the mountainside to reach their school and others travel along narrow paths carved into the cliffs. When “school season” begins in yet another region of China, the teachers chaperon the boarding school students on a two day journey along cliffs, gravel, and rapids, and “wade through four freezing cold rivers and slide across a 200 m chain bridge on four single plank bridges” http://www.chinahush.com/2011/11/14/treacherous-road-to-school/ .

A quarter of a mile above the Rio Negro River in Columbia, South America, zip wiring is the way to go. Kids fly through the air at 40 mph on steel cables that connects their home to the other side of the valley. This is the only way in and out of the village.
In the Rizel Province, Manilla, Philippines, kids carry inflated tire tubes to school an hour each way so they can float across the river that separates them from school. If the river is flooded, they have to find shelter and wait until the river is safe to cross.

As a new school year begins, and you line up to get on the school bus, or hop in the car pool, remember these kids and the hardships they endure as they make their commute to school. Education is so important, they are willing to risk their lives for it! And just in case, perhaps put a tire tube in your back pack!

Pictures and more information about the ways kids get to school around the world can be found in these links:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1259691/The-children-ride-40mph-zip-wire-quarter-mile-high-to-school.html
http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/12/14390958-risky-river-crossing-filipino-kids-tube-to-get-to-school?lite
http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/03/kids-risking-their-lives-to-reach-school.html
http://www.chinahush.com/2011/11/14/treacherous-road-to-school/

http://www.boredpanda.com/dangerous-journey-to-school/

http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/family/photos/back-to-school-around-the-world/page/18

Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.

Building Your Child’s Vocabulary: by Lorian Steider Brady

I met Lorian Steider Brady at the NJSCBWI Conference back in June, where we shared a lunch table and had an interesting conversation about her work with ESL children.  Teaching vocabulary to any student can be a challenge.  Trying to build the vocabulary of a student whose primary language in NOT English can be downright daunting.  But Lorain’s passion for the task won me over.  Here she shares some techniques that have worked for developing vocabulary.  I even learned a new word ( I highlighted it in BOLD GREEN at the end of the post).  Here’s Lorian:

I am officially in awe of brains.
Especially children’s brains.
Especially, especially the brains of children learning English.
English Learners’ brains work double time, all the time. They are processing the overt and covert elements of English to learn the language of social interactions and the language of academic interactions. And they do it simultaneously!

Think about the variation in vocabulary necessary for each of the following: a thank you to grandma, an essay for class, talking to your best friend… you get the idea. Register and vocabulary matter.
All learners, not just English Learners, benefit from an increased vocabulary. The more words you know, the more likely you are to choose the best one when it really counts.
The good news is that kids are wired to learn words. Not surprisingly, they do this best through meaningful interactions with real people. In a Flashcards vs. Conversation throw down, my money is on Conversation every time. In education, we call this oral language development and it’s the foundation on which reading and writing are built.

There are lots of engaging ways to expose children to new words at home, at school, in the car, anywhere you go!

• Reading Aloud
Still one of the very best ways to expose children to vocabulary words while modeling the rhythm of language and enjoying a tale together.

• Wordless books
These have pictures, but readers tell the story. You’ll find some at your local library.

• Mind Reader Game
Think of a secret word and give your family clues to help them to guess it.

• Hide and Seek
In this car game one person imagines themselves hiding somewhere in their home or another familiar place. The rest of the people in the car try to find the hider by asking only YES/NO questions.

Whether English is your first language, or just your latest, you’ll learn faster and remember better if you have fun while doing it. After all, grins are a universal language.

For more information about vocabulary and oral language development you can visit:
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/oral-language-expanding-your-childs-vocabulary
http://www.colorincolorado.org/web_resources/by_topic/vocabulary/       HeadNShoulders_Lorian_Steider Brady

An educator of 21 years, Lorian Steider Brady currently teaches young English Learners in Arizona where she is coming to terms with the need to estivate and slowly learn to play the banjo. You can reach her at lorian.steideratgmail.com.

Query Letters Analyzed

darlenebeckjacobson:

I thought some of my followers might be interested in this, so I’m reblogging from a Writer Friend’s post.

Originally posted on Writing and Illustrating:

sharkThought you might be interested in reading this post from agent Janet Reid’s blog, Query Shark.  She does all writers a great service by commenting on query letters she receives. 

Below is a query letter for a thriller novel that she has analyzed. If you feel this was helpful, you should use the link below to read the other query letters she has analyzed. It could improve your skills in this area. 

Here it is:

Dear Query Shark:

Most people, when offered a new job, find the decision process fairly straightforward. Since Sandra Lee Johnson’s profession is killing people, her decision process is understandably more complex.

If this is a query for a book about whether to take a job, you’ve set the stakes pretty low, even if the job is assassin.

Approached by her former ex-Army lover, Sandra is given the opportunity to kill terrorists for her country. And not just kill them, but…

View original 560 more words

Back to School Treats

 It’s that time of year again.  Back to School.  And, back to trying to figure out how to make kids lunches that are healthy and will be eaten.  Here are some simple and nutritious recipes for back to school lunches and snacks.  The Peanut Butter Dip recipe is one I’ve adapted through trial and error.  Unless you’re allergic to PB – in which case you can substitute another nut butter – It has been a hit with all the children I’ve served it to. Adults like it as well since it is not too sweet.  It keeps well in a lunch box with a cold pack and can also be spread on a bagel or other bread in a sandwich with sliced bananas or other fruit of your choice.

PEANUT BUTTER DIP

 1/4 C creamy peanut butter                   3 ounces cream cheese

2 T of orange or apple juice                1/2 t. cinnamon

1/8 to 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce

  1. Combine peanut butter, cream cheese, juice and cinnamon in a food processor or mixer. (Be sure to have an adult assist with this part)
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add applesauce, a little at a time, until it is the desired consistency for a dip.
  4. Chill before serving.

This dip is great served with apple slices, carrots, banana slices, celery sticks, graham cracker sticks, or broccoli pieces. You can also try mini rice cakes, pretzel sticks, and other fruits or veggies. If you let the kids make the dip, they will taste it and want to dip all sorts of fruits and vegetables.  It’s a better option than fat laden sour cream dips and salad dressings.

You can also try Hummus with veggies as well.

Try different ingredients in a soft tortilla.  I like spreading the tortilla with hummus, shredded carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.  OR you can roll them up with lunch meat and cut them into spirals for “fun” shapes.  Tortillas also make a fun way to enjoy the traditional PB and J sandwich.

Whole grain crackers no longer taste like cardboard.  Kids will enjoy cracker “sandwiches” they can make themselves with various fillings.

Don’t forget fresh fruit.  If you want kids to eat it, make it kid friendly and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Crisp, fresh apples are a welcome sign of fall.  To make it easy for your kids to enjoy these treats, slice and core the apple as shown.  Then, use a rubber band to reassemble it and hold it together so it won’t turn brown.    See photo:   apple 1

Check out the previous postings on this site for more lunchbox friendly recipes kids will enjoy such as soft pretzels, Krispie Treats, and homemade granola.

 

Enjoy the last days of summer knowing that back to school lunches are covered.

Interview With PB Author Paul Czajak

1. What led you to a career in writing for children?
Writing for children was definitely not part of the plan when I was younger and thinking about careers. But after having kids I started getting several ideas for picture books, usually due to what my kids would say and do. Eventually my wife grew tired of me saying “man that would make a great picture book”, and told me to sit down and write it! Once Mighty Media picked up my first Monster & Me story and decided to turn it into a series I knew I was onto something good. Though it wasn’t until I moved to New Jersey that I decided to try this writing thing full time. It’s still up in the air whether or not me being a full time writer will stick, but I figured I’d give it a shot.    monster-banner-12. Your Monster series is very popular. (Monster Needs A Costume, Monster Needs His Sleep, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree, Monster Needs A Party, Monster Needs Your Vote) How did you come up with the ideas for these fun- to- read books?

This is a story as old as time itself. Actually it’s only about 3 yrs old but I was trying to be dramatic. When I was driving my daughter to daycare she was playing with her dolls in the back seat when for some reason she said, “my monster needs a haircut”. Which I thought was the greatest line I ever heard. By the time I dropped her off and got to work I had half the story written in my head. Once I had the first one complete, I started getting more ideas what Monster might need based on what any kid might need. Whether it’s a costume for Halloween or an apron to cook in, the topics are endless.

MonsterVote_spread1_Helix3. If you could be a monster, what kind would you be and what would you need?

I would absolutely be a monster like Cookie Monster and I would need a whole lot of cookies!

4. Tell us a bit about your writing process.

When ever I get the urge, or when I have the time I am either writing or revising. I have no specified time or place. In fact, here I am writing the answers to these interview questions.       photo 2And then here I am writing a new story.
Looking at these pictures, I guess as long as I can put my feet up I’m in my writing spot.
photo 1

5. Your latest book, SEAVER THE WEAVER is about an amazing spider who thinks “outside the web”. Where did you get the idea for it?
My brother in law and his wife had an orb spider living outside their patio door which they named Seaver. I thought it was a great name but at the time didn’t have a story to go with it. Later that summer I was working in the yard and I noticed about six big orb spiders all sitting in their own webs, one of which was a bit broken and no longer looking very orbish. That’s when I got the idea of Seaver not wanting to weave circular shapes and the story took shape, no pun intended, from there.

6. What would readers be surprised to know about you? What’s the most amazing thing that’s happened to you since you became a PB writer?
The most amazing thing that has happened to me as a picture book writer happened right out of the shoot, and that was signing my very first story as a series. Things like that don’t normally happen to no name newbies like myself. In fact when I first received the letter saying they loved my story and would I like to write more of them I thought it was a scam. That some how I missed something when I researched – at the time Scarletta – now Mighty Media. Turns out I didn’t miss anything and Mighty Media is a fantastic publisher!

What would readers be surprised about knowing about me? I guess that I have dyslexia, am a horrible speller and I hated reading when I was a kid. Luckily I didn’t let any of that get in the way when I decided to start writing.

A ALA San Fransisco 2015: Where I had the pleasure of meeting fellow NJ author, Paul Czajac.

At ALA San Fransisco 2015: Where I had the pleasure of meeting fellow NJ author, Paul Czajac.

You can learn more about Paul, his books and Mighty Media Press at:

www.mightymediapress.com

Here is a link to the Campaign Press Kit for MONSTER NEEDS YOUR VOTE, the newest book in the Monster series.

http://mightymediapress.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/MMP_MonsterCampaignKit.pdf

And the Winners of Free Books are…

I am happy and excited to announce the two winners of signed books based on two separate drawings held on this blog.

The winner of a signed copy of the middle grade novel THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS by Jane Kelley is: Jennifer Bardsley.

The winner of a the new PB by Beth Ferry titled LAND SHARK is: Cathy Ballou Mealey

Congratulations!  Cathy , I need your e-mail to notify Beth.  You’ll really enjoy LAND SHARK…it’s a winner.  AND, I have already added Jane’s book to my MUST READ list!