DIY Backyard Activities.

There is still plenty of summer fun to be had even if we stay close to home.  You can get kids out of the house and keep them busy by making your own backyard a fun-filled oasis for the kids.  Besides the usual sprinkler, water balloon fights, and assorted water games, check out these really cool outdoor activities from Buzz Feed.  There’s backyard dominoes, lawn twister, bean bag toss, giant bubbles and a do-it-yourself slip and slide.

Many of the activities use things already on hand, so there is no need to invest in new gadgets.

hopscotch

https://www.buzzfeed.com/cieravelarde/suns-out-funs-out?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Parents%20614&utm_content=Parents%20614%2BCID_04fc34111fe2dc9b39baa67b7b04ef20&utm_source=BuzzFeed%20Newsletters&utm_term=.poglK3NawX#.cdy5Aw7rVb

summer pic

Happy summer fun!

Free Rice: Increase Your Vocabulary and Feed the Hungry.

There is a wonderful site that I go to now and then to challenge my vocabulary.  It’s called Free Rice.  Not only are there levels of difficulty to help develop vocabulary skills, every time you successfully define words, grains of rice are added to your account.  This number quickly adds up.

Where does this “Rice Money” go?  To those in need.  For each answer you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

We spend so much time on social media and computers.  Why not take a few minutes to help ease hunger while doing it.  Here’s the link to the site:

http://freerice.com/#/english-vocabulary/1458

Over 96 billion grains have been donated to date

WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance.  It also makes you feel good.

 

Six New Children’s Books For Summer Reading + a give-away.

I’ve been enjoying some wonderful books during this “sheltering in place” season. Here are three recent reads that are perfect for summer enjoyment for kids from 4-9.

OUR FRIEND HEDGEHOG: THE STORY OF US by Lauren Castillo is a tender, sweet, and thoughtful story that will delight young readers. Endearing illustrations add whimsy and heart to a friendship tale destined to become a favorite.

SWASHBY AND THE SEA written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.

Old Salt Swashby loves the quiet life by the sea. So salty and serene. No time or need for noisy new neighbors who disrupt his peace. He writes his displeasure in the sand. But the sea knows what’s best and changes his messages until Swashby realizes maybe the sea is right. Delightful for sea lovers big and small. Illustrations add heart and soul to a tale that dances and sings the magic of the sea.

WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade is a lyrical story of caution, celebration, and endurance. The words are a tribute and honor to the thing most important to life – water. Illustrations flow, undulate, and embrace plant and animal life and remind us how we are all one on this Mother Earth.
The author and illustrator are members of indigenous tribes who know what it means to be one with the land and all its living creatures. They show how taking action and standing up for environmental justice is important and necessary. We need books like this now more than ever.

HELLO FROM RENN LAKE by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Hello From Renn Lake cover

Annalise and Renn Lake, the beloved lake at her parents resort, are connected to one another ever since Annalise was a baby. An abandoned baby found after an unexpected flood at the lake.

Annalise talks to Renn and Renn listens. Renn answers. Renn knows things about Annalise that no one else knows. Renn is a comfort, as dependable as a friend. Until one day Renn is silent.

As an algae bloom threatens to choke the life out of the lake, Annalise is determined to do something to save Renn.

A brave and beautiful tale of our interconnectedness to nature, and how when one thing in the chain of life is sick, it affects us all. Annalise and her friends become environmental heroes who

take activism to the next level and do what needs to be done to make change.

A perfect story for our time. A story that reminds us we all need to listen to as well as observe what is happening around us. Nature speaks. We just need to listen. Should be part of every STEM classroom curriculum.

The book back matter lists links to numerous science sites about lakes, rivers, algae blooms, and how to get involved in environmental causes.

TODAY IS A BEACH DAY by Nancy Viau

Beach Day cover jpeg

Come along for a trip to the beach in this lively, sensory story written in alliterative rhyme. Little ones will experience the sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and feelings a day of sand, sun, and surf have to offer. A perfect read-aloud for the youngest beach lovers.

 

 

And finally, my own book, filled with summer fun: WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston).

WoCCover01

Here is what three teachers had to say about the book:

Darlene Andre  5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging book with important life lessons

 “Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand up to a Bully is a brilliant book written in verse that gives readers a look into the world of Jack, his family, and friends as they navigate difficult issues. This book, while taking place in the 60s, resonates with readers today. So much wisdom and hope are spread throughout the pages of this book. My fifth graders loved it.”

Trish Lugo  Apr 21, 2020 Trish rated it 5 stars: it was amazing

“This beautifully written novel-in-verse tugs at the heart strings. Jack and Jill have reeled in a magical one-eyed fish that grants wishes. When Jill’s wish doesn’t quite go as planned, Jack realizes that it really is important to be careful what you wish for. I couldn’t put the book down, and my class enjoyed it just as much as I did. This one will be read year after year with my fourth-graders!”

May 14, 2020 Hallee Adelman rated it 5 stars: it was amazing

“Wishes, Dares, & How to Stand Up to a Bully is a wonderful book filled with heart. The characters are sweet, relatable and lovable. They grapple with big issues, which Jacobson handles deftly and honestly. Like books by Linda Mullaly Hunt and Donna Gephart, readers will feel how much Jacobson cares about young readers. A fantastic historical fiction story in verse that I’d not only read again, but also share with other educators for their students.”

I will give away a signed copy of WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY + a classroom activity packet to a teacher who leaves a comment sharing one of the books you recommend for your student’s summer reading. If you share this post on your social media, let me know and I will add your name a second time to the list. One winner will be drawn at random and announced on this blog later in the month.

 

Once You Get a hold of Yeast…Make Fool-Proof Soft Pretzels.

I’ve made these soft pretzels with developmentally delayed Pre-K classes for years and have never had an instance when they didn’t turn out well.  The only prep needed are clean hands, a sheet of waxed paper for each student, and an oven. ( I used a toaster oven in the classroom and they turned out great.)

SOFT PRETZELS: 1 pk. yeast,  4 C. flour ( I use 1 C. whole wheat, 3 C. regular),  1 1/2 C. warm water,  1 T. sugar,   1 T. salt,   1 egg beaten for glaze,  poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

1. Mix yeast, water, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

2. Stir in flour. Knead until smooth. Here comes the fun part. Give each child a glob of dough to roll and shape into the first letter of his/her name.  This will ensure that each child gets his own pretzel when it comes out of the oven.  Once they are shaped and placed on a cookie sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice.

3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15- 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. They may look crazy, but they will taste great. Guaranteed! The texture is like a bagel and it’s hard to eat just one.

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes. I’d love to see the results.

Virus Vocabulary Adds To Our Shared Experiences by Marilyn Ostermiller.

“Social” and “distancing” weren’t usually found in the same sentence before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Now “social distancing” is “short hand” for leaving plenty of space between you and everyone else.

logan-weaver-gTyj_tABGsQ-unsplash

Quaranteen (note the spelling) is also part of the virus vocabulary. It refers to the socializing restrictions that have hit teens especially hard, especially high school seniors who are missing proms, varsity sports, and graduation ceremonies.

Vernacular English are the words we use to describe common experiences. Say “9/11”, and everyone will know you’re talking about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the World Trade Center.

Most words coined to describe what’s happening in our society aren’t somber, but they can confuse. And, sometimes the meaning changes with the times.

For example, these days moonshot is a technical term to describe an ambitious or groundbreaking project. Its origin was the challenge President Kennedy issued in September 1962 to America’s scientific community: Get a man on the moon within the decade. That challenge was accomplished July, 1969 when Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind.”

Meltdown is another term with a varied history. It was used as early as 1922, according to etymonline.com, as a process for melting metal. In 1956, it was updated to describe the accidental  melting of the core of a nuclear reactor. Since about 1979, it’s come to describe lack of self-control. Go figure.

The Roaring Twenties gave birth to lots of colorful expressions. Someone extraordinary in those days was the “Bee’s Knees” or the “Cat’s Pajamas.”

The thing with slang is that words come in and out of fashion and it’s difficult to keep current. One of the books that provides an overview is “A Very Modern Dictionary: 400 new words, phrases acronyms and slang to keep your culture game on fleek,” by Tobias Anthony, published in 2017.

https://www.amazon.com/Very-Modern-Dictionary-phrases-acronyms/dp/1925418308/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=slang&qid=1588634471&s=books&sr=1-2

What are some of your favorite additions to our collective vernacular? We’d love to hear from you.

Marilyn OstermillerMarilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who enjoys writing about children’s literature, cooking and the English language.

 

Two Winners For Copies of Nancy Churnin’s New PB’S.

Featured

Last month I featured the two most recent PB released by author NANCY CHURNIN. Today I am thrilled to announce the winners of signed copies of those books.

Danielle Dufayet wins a copy of BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING.

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Jane Healy is the winner of a copy of FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.

thumbnail 5Congratulations! to Danielle and Jane and thanks to all who commented. Please send me your address so I can let Nancy know where to send the books.

Backyard Camping, Kite Flying and Other Summer Pleasures.

While places are beginning to reopen and we are staring to venture beyond our own backyards, many of us are still worried about summer travel and vacations. Until we are back to a world where we can come and go without worry, why not tap into some of the fun things you may have enjoyed as kids and make some family memories?

CAMPING in the backyard can be as simple as setting up a pup tent and sleeping bags for a night out in nature. But make it a bit more exciting for the kids by packing snacks, roasting hotdogs on a grill or campfire, and bringing flashlights. You can make shadow creatures inside the tent, tell scary stories, capture lightening bugs in a jar, and be the first to wake up and greet the sunrise.

KITE FLYING never gets old. There is a real sense of fun being able to get a kite up into the air and watch it soar. You can buy kites in all prices and from all materials. But, wouldn’t it be fun to try making your own kite?  Here are TWO videos that show you how.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=make+your+own+kites+for+kids&qpvt=make+your+own+kites+for+kids&view=detail&mid=E165F33EF575A90EE1EAE165F33EF575A90EE1EA&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dmake%2Byour%2Bown%2Bkites%2Bfor%2Bkids%26qpvt%3Dmake%2Byour%2Bown%2Bkites%2Bfor%2Bkids%26FORM%3DVDVVXX

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=make+your+own+kites+for+kids&qpvt=make+your+own+kites+for+kids&view=detail&mid=2C48F22FA01A847BAD612C48F22FA01A847BAD61&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dmake%2Byour%2Bown%2Bkites%2Bfor%2Bkids%26qpvt%3Dmake%2Byour%2Bown%2Bkites%2Bfor%2Bkids%26FORM%3DVDRE

Here are two poems from my MG novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston) where 11 year-old Jack and his 5 year-old sister Katy get ready for a camp out in their grandparents backyard.

HUGE
Katy makes a huge deal
out of the camp out with Jill.
For me, getting ready is
putting a sleeping bag and pillow in
the tent with a flashlight, canteen of water.

Katy packs like she might be gone for a week,
stuffed animals
every sock she owns
her favorite books
Bouncy, the beachball
All stuffed into the tent that seemed big enough,
but now looks like it might explode!

It’s one night, I say.
This is what I need for one night, Jack.
Where will Jill put her sleeping bag? I ask.
Katy pats a skinny spot next to
the wall of the tent.
Right here, next to me, she beams
like her face is made up of
lightening bug butts.

The idea of a sister,
even a borrowed one,
is too much for a
little kid to hold inside.

PINK

Katy vibrates with excitement,
all three of us in the tent.
There is so much pink,
I feel like I’m stuck
inside a cotton candy machine.

We catch lightning bugs
and take Bouncy for a hop in the dark.
Jill ties fancy knots like sailors do
and has a pocket knife like the one Dad gave me.
She shows us how to blow a whistle,
a blade of grass pressed between our thumbs.

I teach her how to finger snap.
We don’t stop until our fingers get sore.
We take turns reading Katy’s favorite books,
making goofy voices for the characters,
until Katy yawns and closes her eyes.kites

Enjoy some simple summer fun camping, or kite flying, right from your own neighborhood and backyard.