Hug a Tree…And Celebrate Arbor Day.

We take trees for granted, so having a day that reminds us of their wonder and life-giving presence should be celebrated. Tomorrow – April 27, 2018 is ARBOR DAY.  Here are some fun facts about trees:

The tallest species of trees in the world include the Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Coast Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Australian Mountain Ash.

The Giant Sequoia is not only tall, it is also wide. Because of its amazing size, some believe that the Giant Sequoia is the largest living organism in the world!

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Trees produce oxygen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They purify the air we breathe. If it weren’t for trees, we wouldn’t be alive!

For more tree facts visit: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/plants/trees.html

For fun, printable worksheets about trees visit: http://www.kidzone.ws/plants/trees.htm

There are lots of picture books that honor trees.  Here’s one I especially enjoy.

THE LITTLE TREE by Muon Van (Creston Books 2015) The Little Tree

Visit this blog on Monday, 4-30-2018 for my poem honoring the Oak Tree.

Now, go outside and hug a tree!    tree hugHAPPY ARBOR DAY!

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VIVIAN KIRKFIELD PRESENTS:#50 Precious Words For Kids Contest

A Children’s Book Week Activity:  #50PreciousWordsforKids

Celebrating Diversity in Imagination

A writing contest for kids from all over the world.  Writing a story in 50 words or fewer.  Contest runs from April 30 through May 6, 2018.

 GUIDELINES:

  • Each child, grade K-6, writes a story of 50 words or less.
  • Title not included in word count.
  • Story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Happy or sad, silly or serious, true or make-believe.
  • Teachers/students choose one story to submit per class.
  • Homeschooling parents submit one story per child.
  • Please email story to: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by May 7 at 11:59pm EST. This challenge is INTERNATIONAL.
  • Stories post on my blog: viviankirkfield.com on May 11.
  • Teacher receives a certificate to copy and present to each child who wrote a story
  • Giveaway of seven mini-Skype author classroom visits.

Picture 158 B 2

Picture 158 B 2

Here’s the link from last year’s contest: https://viviankirkfield.com/2017/05/11/50preciouswordsforkids-international-writing-challenge-stories-are-here/

Questions? Contact Vivian Kirkfield at:  Viviankirkfield@gmail.com

Music in the Schools Month: Make your own Clarinet…With a Carrot!?

What better way to celebrate MUSIC IN THE SCHOOLS MONTH than to help the kiddos make some musical instruments.  One of my favorite tutorials on making a clarinet involves using a carrot. You will be amazed watching Linsey Pollak create that mellow clarinet sound from an ordinary carrot.

To make your own carrot clarinet:
Watch the amazing demonstration by Lindsey Pollack at TedxSydney2014.  When you get ready to make your own clarinet, adult supervision is needed.  Use caution with the drill bits.
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/02/he-starts-out-with-only-a-drill-carrot-and-mouthpiece-but-its-the-final-product-thats-leaving-people-in-disbelief/

Who knew carrots were not only delicious but also quite lovely to listen to.

For other interesting sites that have easy-to-make instruments, check out:

http://www.spoonful.com/crafts/music-instruments

and: http://www.freekidscrafts.com

EVOLUTION REVOLUTION SERIES by Charlotte Bennardo: Curriculum Guides for the Classroom

The Evolution Revolution Series: by Charlotte Bennardo

Book three in the series

Based on the third-grade science curriculum and the introduction of simple machines, the award- winning Evolution Revolution trilogy employs numerous scientific and literary concepts. Simple Machines, book one in the series, shows Jack, an adventurous common gray squirrel, trying to outwit Fox, learning how to use a simple machine like the wheel from a boy, and then applying that basic knowledge to stop the construction machines that have come to cut down his woods. In Simple Plans, the sequel, Jack and Rat, now friends, spy on the humans who hide in their woods, studying them- until Rat gets caught. Jack, learning more simple machines like the axle from Collin, the boy who teaches him, frees Rat, but now must go on the run from the scientists who want to capture him. In the final book, Simple Lessons, Jack is taken to an animal sanctuary so he’s protected from the scientists. There, he teaches other squirrels what he’s learned, and bands together with various rescued animals to fight the humans one last time. While he wins the battle, Jack must choose whether to leave behind the woods he fought to protect. These books work well with grades 3-6 to learn, explore, discuss and understand concepts like simple machines, evolution, loss of habitat and environmental destruction, using literary devices like animals, adventure, allegory, and humor.

Resource links: Educator Resource Guides (with vocabulary lists, discussion questions, school/home projects and demonstrations, suggested further reading lists).

 

Until Hollywood calls, Charlotte lives in NJ with her husband, three children, two needy cats and sometimes a deranged squirrel. The Evolution Revolution trilogy: Simple Machines, Simple Plans, and Simple Lessons are her first solo novels. She is co-author of Blonde Ops (St. Martin’s/Dunne) and the Sirenz series: Sirenz, Sirenz Back In Fashion, (Flux), and one of 13 authors in the anthology, Beware the Little White Rabbit (Leap). To put books in the hands of kids, she contributed to the fundraising ebook anthology of horror, Scare Me To Sleep. She’s written for magazines and newspapers, and has given presentations and workshops at NJ SCBWI conferences, schools, libraries, and other venues. Currently she’s working on sci fi, historical, fantasy, and time travel novels for middle grade, young and new adult readers. Connect with her on Twitter (charbennardo), Author Charlotte Bennardo on FB, on Pinterest and Instagram as Charlotte Bennardo, and through her blog, http://charlotteebennardo.blogspot.com/

Get Crafty For Easter.

With spring finally here, and Easter and Passover right around the corner, there are lots of ways to celebrate the season with crafts and egg decorating. Some of the easiest and festive kids crafts can be found on the RED TED ART sight.  There are 40 Easter crafts using eggs, pompom balls, and readily available materials.  http://www.redtedart.com

When I was a kid, we died eggs by dipping them into cups of colored water.  You can still  do that, but now there are many other ways to decorate eggs for the holiday. You can use non-toxic water color paints to create works of art.  Try paint daubers to make dots, Crayola or other non-toxic markers to draw designs. The Red TED sight has many other ideas for egg decorating.  If you wish to try the Polish art of PISANKY egg dying, you can order your own kit from: http://www.chinaberry.com

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

Here’s a unique way to give out chocolate treats for the holiday:  Create egg-shaped baskets out of balloons and dazzle family and friends with your talent.  Check out the how-tos for MAGIC BALLOON TREATS  at: http://www.thewhoot.com.au

Happy Easter and Happy crafting!

Heal The Earth Classroom Contest.

After the long winter, kids in your classroom may long to get outside and play or explore.  Why not make it part of the curriculum?  Perfect for Earth Day or Arbor Day, here’s a contest your classroom can participate in to show ways we can help heal the earth. 

http://healtheearthclassroomcontest.pagedemo.co/

The contest is open to classroom teachers and librarians.  Winners will receive a signed copy of Author Julian Lennon’s new book HEAL THE EARTH.

What creative activities and projects can your class come up with that promote a positive message about taking care of Planet Earth?  Check the website for rules and entry forms

All submissions must be received by midnight EST on Monday, April 30.

Fun Facts on Flying Squirrels by Shiela Fuller.

GLIDERS OF THE NIGHT

Most of us are familiar with the gray squirrel that is found in parks and backyards but did you know there is a squirrel, also found in parks and backyards, that flies?  They do not fly with wings as birds do but glide through the air with a web of skin connecting their wrist to their ankle, called apatagium.    This excess web of skin is easily observed in this photo.

Flying squirrels like to eat nuts, seeds, insects, bird eggs, flower buds, mushrooms and fungi.

Usually the flying squirrel nests in cavities in old trees but occasionally will build a leaf nest called a drey, like the gray squirrel, or use a nest box.

Build a flying squirrel nest box for shelter and place it on tree in your own neck of the woods and try to attract them with food, and a source of water.

In this picture, the nature walk guide opened up the nest box.

In winter, many flying squirrels of varying ages will occupy one cavity or nest box to maintain warm body temperatures during the cold.  When supplying nest boxes,  it is important to put up more than one box, so the squirrels can chose among them.  Once you know your boxes have squirrel families residing in them, give them their space, as you would any wild animal, otherwise the squirrels may relocate.

Flying squirrels are nocturnal and because of this they have extra-long whiskers, better for touching things in the dark, keen eyesight, and very sharp hearing.  Because they are nocturnal, the flying squirrel is a preferred food for nocturnal predators like eastern screech owls, great horned owls, martens, foxes and coyotes. Of course, squirrels also fall prey to snakes, hawks, and domestic cats.

The best way to see flying squirrels is on a guided night hike in an area where they are known to live.  Reach out to your local state park for more information on night hikes and ask about the kinds of animals seen.  Each February at the Eagle Festival in Mauricetown, NJ, a guided walk is taken along the Glades Wildlife Refuge.  If you’re lucky, you might just see a flying squirrel.

https://www.cumauriceriver.org/event/eagle-festival/

http://www.animalspot.net/northern-flying-squirrel.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_flying_squirrel

http://www.nestboxbuilder.com/pdf/FlyingSquirrelNestbox4.pdf

 

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.