Peanut Butter Dip: For Picnics and Beyond…

Here is an easy to make recipe for a dip that will be perfect for summer picnics, parties or game nights.  Children love the sweetness and will eat the fruit and veggies without protest.

PEANUT BUTTER DIP:1/4 C creamy peanut butter, 3 oz. low fat cream cheese, 1-2 T. apple or orange juice, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce.

1. Combine the PB, cream cheese, juice and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Add applesauce, a little at a time, until it is the right consistency for a dip. Chill before serving with the following:

sliced bananas, carrots, celery sticks, broccoli florets, apple slices, graham cracker sticks, pretzel rods, or any assortment of fruits and veggies you choose.  It’s amazing how many things taste great with peanut butter.  Feel free to try it with non-traditional dippers such as pickles, pepper slices, sausage pieces or whatever. Refrigerated, it will be good for 2-3 days.   If you have allergies to peanuts, try substituting another butter in the recipe.

Let me know how you like it. It’s been one of our favorites for years. Happy Munching!

Alternative Speech Communication.

If your child has difficulty speaking or communicating verbally, don’t despair.  There are a lot of alternative ways to communicate, many of them available for tablets and smart phones.  Here’s one for a speech assist board app available through iTunes that you can check out. (I am not endorsing this product, just mentioning it as ONE possible option for augmenting communication.)  There are many other options out there, so browse the internet and get a sample of what’s available.

You can also consult with your local school district’s SPEECH/LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST about other alternatives.

Speech assist board app:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/speech-assist-board/id1176798722?mt=8&utm_content=buffer51d46&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

EducationalAppAdvice‏ @edappadvice

Book Giveaway – In the Red Canoe

This is such an inspiring story, I had to reblog it!

Writing and Illustrating

Congratulations to author Leslie A Davidson on her new book IN THE RED CANOE. She has agreed to participate in our book giveaways. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Ducks and frogs, swallows and dragonflies, beaver lodges and lily pads―a multitude of wonders enchant the child narrator in this tender, beautifully illustrated picture book. A tribute to those fragile, wild places that still exist, In the Red Canoe celebrates the bond between grandparent and grandchild and invites nature lovers of all ages along for the ride.

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1…2…3…Butterflies!

Here’s a novel way to encourage children to practice counting and other math skills: try counting butterflies.  All across the US, volunteers are counting butterflies in the name of science. In 1975, the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) launched it’s annual butterfly count program. Volunteers from all over North America  join together on designated days to identify and count butterflies – no scientific degree needed. By using only your eyes and enthusiasm, you will contribute to scientists understanding of local butterfly populations and how they have changed over time.

For more information on where and when these counts take place check out the NABA website: http://www.naba.org

You can also learn more about butterfly counting at: http://www.monarchnet.uga.edu,  or at: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org.

Happy Counting!

Use Native Plants For a Healthy Yard…and Planet.

Adding flowering plants to your garden supports earth-friendly pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  But not just any flowering plant will do.  NATIVE PLANTS are necessary in order for insects such as butterflies to reproduce.  Without pollinating insects, our crops and food supply is at risk.

What is a native plant?  A plant that grew in the US in free colonial days.  More importantly, the plant should have grown and evolved LOCALLY.  Plants native to Maine would not be the same as those found in Kansas.  To create healthy ecosystems, our gardens and farmlands are best pollinated by creatures that depend on NATIVES for their survival.  One great example is planting milkweed for the monarch butterfly – an endangered species.  While butterfly bushes ATTRACT these insects, monarch butterflies DO NOT lay their eggs on anything except the milkweed.   

Milkweed from my garden.

For more information about native plants in your area, visit: http://www.npsnj.org

http://www.natureconservancy.org

Also check out the children’s environmental site: http://www.Parade.com/turfmutt

Follow the “right plant, right place” rule when you plant your garden.  Transitioning to Native Plants makes a positive contribution to our environment and the future health of our planet and food supply.

Mother’s Day Craft: Easy Compass Flowers.

When I was a kid, my sister and I spent endless hours making fancy and colorful pictures using a compass and crayons or colored pencils.  We called these compass circles flowers and decorated the house with them.  You and your child can create a few of these easy “flowers” just in time for Mother’s Day.

You need: a compass, a clean sheet of paper, colored pencils, crayons or markers, scissors.

Draw two circles of the desired size with the compass as shown.  You will be able to make them darker later.

Now comes the fun part.  Place the POINT of the compass – NOT THE PENCIL END – on the circle edge.

Move the pencil from one side of the circle to the other as shown below.

Keep repeating by moving the compass point to the new line,  drawing the arc to connect with the outer line of the circle, until you connect the arcs into flower petals.  Smaller Circles can be made by adjusting the compass to a smaller circumference.

You can experiment with designs….there is no right or wrong way to do this. 

Color your flowers as desired.  

Use as a greeting card, or as package decorations. Cut them out and mount to sticks for “flowers”.  Why not give compass flowers a try?

Laurie Wallmark Presents: A new PB about Grace Hopper, Queen of Computer Code.

WHAT 3 WORDS BEST DESCRIBE GRACE HOPPER?

Curious. Persistent. Unique                       

HOW WAS SHE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TERM “COMPUTER BUG”?
The term “bug” to represent a problem in machinery pre-dated Grace by quite a bit. Thomas Edison coined the term in the 1870s to refer to a problem in a telegraph system he was designing. Grace was the first one to use it in reference to computers, though. Her team found an actual bug, a moth, stuck in a computer relay. This “computer bug” caused a program to malfunction.

HOW DID GRACE SERVE HER COUNTRY?

Grace was proud to serve her country in the United States Navy. From the beginning, her service always involved work with computers. She retired at age 79 as a Rear Admiral. Her feelings about the Navy are summed up with the following quotation: “I’ve received many honors and I’m grateful for them; but I’ve already received the highest award I’ll ever receive, and that has been the privilege and honor of serving very proudly in the United States Navy.”

GRACE SEEMED TO HAVE A FEW SAYING’S OR BELIEFS ON HOW TO GET THROUGH LIFE.  WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I love the self-confidence she exhibited at age nine when she wrote, “The world will be a better place / When all agree with me.” Don’t we all feel that way now and then?

Click here to join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code.

Laurie Wallmark
www.lauriewallmark.com    

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, May 2017)

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston, 2015)

 

Patricia Keeler Presents Her PB: Lizzie and Lou Seal + Win a Signed Copy.

Today’s post comes from Author/Illustrator Patricia Keeler who just released her debut picture book LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL.  I had the pleasure of reading this delightful book.  Here is my review:

“LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL by Author/Illustrator Patricia Keeler is a delightful PB about a busy girl named Lizzie who loves her flip flops and her inflatable companion Lou Seal. Lizzie also loves exploring the beach and sets out with Lou Seal for a day of sand, surf and fun. Until…Lizzie loses her flip flops and something strange happens to Lou Seal. Can Lizzie fix things so they can both go back to the beach?
A perfect beach book for ages 3-6. Makes you want to put on your flip flops and head to the surf with a “swimmy friend” of your own”.

How did LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL come about?

In the original story, Lizzie walked barefoot on the hot sand at the beach. “Ooch, ouch, ouch!” Lizzie spotted some older kids wearing flip-flops. She had that Aha moment. “I need flip-flops!”

Lizzie tried out her new flip-flops

on the living room rug                                 shroop shroop shroop

            on the kitchen tiles                                      slap smack slap smack

            on the wooden stairs                                   clap clap clap clap

            even in the bathtub                                     splish splash splosh splush

 I love onomatopoeia, just like Lizzie loved all her flip-flop sounds.  Kids, young kids especially, love to hear the sounds things make read aloud.

In an earlier version, an older Lizzie wanted to wear her flip-flops to school . . . to ride her bike . . . to the ballet performance. At every turn, she was told, “not in those you don’t.” “Urghh!” flip stomp flip stomp flip stomp  “So where can I wear them?” Fortunately for Lizzie it rained the next day, and she rushed to the enticing mud puddles outside.

At last,” she said, “my flip-flops are just right for here.”

FLIP SPLISH, FLOP SPLASH, FLIP SPLISH, SLOP SPLASH

Until . . .   SHHLUK!

          “Oh, no! I’m stuck.”

She pulled on her foot. SHLOOP!  It pulled free. But, uh oh, the flip-flop stayed in the mud. Lizzie reached down to get it. “Yuck!”

I worked on this version the second half of 2013. I made sketches and work-shopped the story with my writer and illustrator groups. I shared it with agents and editors at the Fall NJSCBWI conference. I received wonderful encouragement and constructive criticism.

Back to the drawing board, this time with a working title FLIP FLOP STOMP. Then came more rewrites, more sounds, more sketches, more work shopping with my groups. And again I received good comments for my FLIP FLOP STOMP dummy at the spring 2014 NJSCBWI conference.

Home again, I revised my manuscript. I started the story at the beach, in a small retro trailer. I scrapped Lizzie’s parents and gave her a pal, a blow-up seal, named Lou Seal. I began to illustrate the dummy. As I sketched, Lizzie got younger and Lou Seal got bigger. A lot bigger!

So what was Lou Seal doing while Lizzie was fussing with her flip-flops? Going along with Lizzie, of course, as she made her way out of the trailer and out to the beach. It occurred to me that Lou Seal could be having his own difficulties. Ones Lizzie doesn’t see, but the reader does! Even the youngest readers/viewers like catching onto the story before the main character does.

With this new dummy, I pursued Liza Fleissig from Liza Royce Agency for my agent, and Julie Matysik from Sky Pony Press for my editor—and won both! By Spring 2015, I had a two-book contract with Sky Pony Press—and a May 2016 deadline to complete LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL. “YAY!”               

What was your path to illustrating Lizzie and Lou Seal?

Here are some sketches from the early FLIP FLOP STOMP dummy.

 

 

My favorite part of my color work on LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL was my discovery and experimentation of the encaustic wax process. I used it to show Lou Seal as plastic, and for the ocean waves. Here’s a You Tube video of me creating the waves in LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evADOs7z068&feature=youtu.be

What comes first for you, illustrations or story? 

In the case of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, the character came first. I’ve always loved feisty, “I want to do it my way!” little girls.  This key aspect of the feminine personality has often gotten little play in picture books. Visually, I had in mind several solid, tough, little girls I knew.               

The illustrations, the sounds, and the story came up together. Sometimes, I’d write something, and then in drawing that scene, I’d see that I could cut or change my words significantly. Sometimes, after tossing and turning in my sleep, I’d awake with a totally new scene in mind. I’d sketch it up, and then all I’d need to complement the art would be one bold, dramatic sound. “Whoa!”

My general rule-of-thumb, once I’ve sketched up the story for the first time, is to reduce my text as much as possible. Young listeners delight in figuring out what’s happening in the story as much from the illustrations as from the words being read to them.

What does your favorite pair of flip-flops look like?

 Of course, I had to give Lizzie the bigger polka dots that she so loves!

What other projects are you working on?

 I’m currently finishing up a second book for Sky Pony Press. It’s entitled SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK. I can’t begin to express how much I love this book and the joy I’ve had in creating it. SCOOP should be out in Spring 2018. The inside scoop on this story is that besides the retro ice cream truck, the other main character is a spunky little girl. She may well be younger and more demonstrative than Lizzie!

Patricia is thrilled to set a book and necklace aside for one lucky winner.  To enter the give-away, comment below for one entry.  Tweet and/or share on FB for a second entry and reblog this post for a third entry.  The winner will be announced on this blog on WEDNESDAY, 5-17-17.

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