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!

Whistling Grass

Here is a simple and fun activity everyone can enjoy when you’re outdoors and anywhere near grass.  Just take a wide blade of grass and place it tightly between your thumbs.  Blow onto the small opening and the grass will whistle!

It actually sounds like a turkey call.  Try different blade thicknesses and widths to see if you can change the sound.

 Can you make up a song using this whistle from nature?

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.

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.

 

 

#BIKEMONTH: Get Out and Ride

You may or may not know that MAY is #BikeMonth. What is a more iconic sign of spring heading into summer than taking a bike ride? During a recent post on this blog featuring the wonderful PB by Teresa Robeson TWO BICYCLES IN BEIJING, I asked readers the question about their favorite memory from childhood involving a bike.

Mine involves the one and only bicycle I had as a kid – a turquoise Columbia bike with a white and turquoise vinyl seat, and wire basket in the front for carrying whatever treasures I deemed necessary for a ride. I got the bike for my twelfth birthday. Up until that time, after graduating from a tricycle at 5 or 6, I was bikeless. So, it wasn’t until the ripe old age of twelve, that I learned to ride a two-wheeler.  That’s not something you’re likely to forget. Didn’t take long to master it, and once I did, there was no going back. I loved that bike and rode it everywhere.

I only have one faded black and white photo of the bike. But here is what it looked like…at least this is what I remember it looked like from this internet photo. Pretty sweet, huh?

See the source imageSo now that we are getting back out into the world again post-virus, how about sharing some of your favorite childhood bike adventures?

Here is a share of sorts: the main character from my new MG WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY discovers his Dad’s old bike while he is visiting his grandparents house. Do these next few poems bring back any memories of your childhood biking days?

BIKE

I find a bike, a red Schwinn,
covered in cobwebs in Pops’ shed.
One flat tire and the chain needs oil.
A polish with some of Pops’ car wax
brings back the shine.

A Joe DiMaggio baseball card is clothespinned
to a spoke on the back wheel, like my bike
at home, with a picture of
Mickey Mantle in the same place.

Can I ride it, Pops?
You bet, he says.
Your dad rode that bike everyday until
he got a car.
Pops chuckles when he tells me
the bike has a name.
Flash

Todd rode like a Flash all over town.
I stare at Pops. He can’t see me
because he’s remembering,
watching Todd,
Dad,
ride Flash.

RIDE

I take Flash for a ride,
gliding through the air like
a warm knife glides
through butter. The seat
feels like my butt has been there before.

I pedal until my legs
are
on
fire.
Going everywhere
nowhere
anywhere
but here.

What would happen if I rode forever?
Would I stop thinking about Dad?
Would I stop missing our house
and the fort Dad helped me build
in the backyard?

If I rode backwards
Could I go back in time
to when everything was
boring
dumb
ordinary?
Why did I complain
when things were so good?
 
Why do I only miss something
once it’s gone?

GIRL

I streak past a bike on the side of the road,
pink and purple streamers on
the handlebars. Where’s
the girl who rides?

I stop, look around a field
filled with wildflowers.
In the middle, a girl as wild as a bird
spins
dances
jumps
through the tangle of blooms,
a fistful in one hand. She
stops
waves
shouts hello
as she runs up to me.

My name is Jill.
Jack, I say.
She giggles as she sings
that old rhyme that has our names.

When she’s done singing, she
smiles and says, Don’t
expect me to
tumble
crumble
or fumble.
I’m
not that kind of
girl.

What kind of boy or girl were you when you rode your childhood bike?

Happy #BIKEMONTH.

Rachelle Burk Presents Oodles of Writing Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Kids.

New Jersey children’s author, Rachelle Burk, provides these RESOURCES FOR WRITERS for anyone who wants to write for children and see their work in print. You will find a wealth of resources to improve your writing, network with other children’s writers, and get your work published. And, it’s all gathered in one place.
There are categories for everything from Articles, Agents. Publishers, Magazines, Online Critique Groups, Forums, and much more.
Rachelle also has a comprehensive listing of resources for kids who write. So, rather than scroll through numerous websites, make Rachelle’s site your first stop for ALL THINGS to do with writing for kids.
rachelle
 
Rachelle Burk writes fiction and nonfiction for children ages 3-13. Her works include picture books Don’t Turn the Page!, Tree House in a Storm, The Best Four Questions (a PJ Library selection), and the award-winning biography Painting in the Dark: Esref Armagan, Blind Artist. Her chapter book The Tooth Fairy Trap has been a One School/One Book choice, and her middle grade science adventure novel, The Walking Fish, is a National Science Teachers Association award winner. Rachelle a has written for numerous children’s magazines, including Scholastic Science World, Scholastic SuperScience, Scholastic Scope and Highlights. She is the founder of the writer’s resource site ResourcesForChildrensWriters.com. A retired social worker, Rachelle is also children’s entertainer (Tickles the Clown and Mother Goof Storyteller). When she’s not writing, Rachelle enjoys adventure travel, scuba diving, hiking, and caving. You can find out more about her books and school visits at RachelleBurk.com

Stuck Indoors? Get Your Craft On!

I know we’re all at the point where we’re getting itchy from “sheltering in place”. Tired of videos and online learning. But, there is one sight out there that can provide hours of crafting fun for kids of all ages.

I’ve mentioned RED TED ART on this blog before, and it is still one of the best craft sites out there. Origami crafts, recycled object crafts, paint, pencil, clay,  paper mache, you name it, there’s a craft for it. Here is a sample using newspaper:

How about Newspaper Easter Bonnets?

Eco & Thrifty, but still GORGEOUS. Fun ways to craft with Newspapers this Easter. Inexpensive craft ideas for Easter. Find Easter Crafts with Newspaper ideas. Great Easter inspiration for all ages. Love newspaper diy crafts and ideas!

Newspaper flowers?

Eco & Thrifty, but still GORGEOUS. Fun ways to craft with Newspapers this Easter. Inexpensive craft ideas for Easter. Find Easter Crafts with Newspaper ideas. Great Easter inspiration for all ages. Love newspaper diy crafts and ideas!

Newspaper Flower Headbands.

Each craft comes with easy step-by-step- instructions on video so everyone can follow along.

For another way to get your kiddos engaged and learning while having fun and creating something unique, check out Red Ted Art.

https://www.redtedart.com/easter-crafts-with-newspaper/

Celebrate National Popcorn Day! Make Popcorn Balls.

Sunday, January 19th is NATIONAL POPCORN DAY.  popcorn

Why not celebrate one of our favorite snack foods by having the kids make up some popcorn balls. Here is an easy recipe for MARSHMALLOW POPCORN BALLS taken from the I (heart) Eating website:

https://www.ihearteating.com/easy-popcorn-ball-recipe/

Ingredients

1 bag natural microwave popcorn*

1/4 cup butter

10 ounce bag mini marshmallows

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Pop popcorn according to package directions; set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter.
  • Continue cooking until butter begins to turn golden brown.
  • Add marshmallows, and stir constantly until marshmallows have melted.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
  • Add popcorn, and fold into marshmallow mixture.
  • When mixture is cool enough to handle, lightly spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Scoop about 1 cup of the popcorn mixture and smoosh it into a ball.
  • Place on a sheet of waxed paper, parchment paper, or silicone baking mat to cool.

Notes

*Or about 9-10 cups of popped plain popcorn
**You can press candy pieces into the outside of popcorn balls.

***Nutrition values are estimates.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1popcorn ball: Calories: 131kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 23g (8%)Fat: 4g (6%)Saturated Fat: 2g (10%)Cholesterol: 12mg (4%)Sodium: 63mg (3%)Sugar: 16g (18%)Vitamin A: 140IU (3%)Calcium: 1mgIron: 0.1mg (1%)

Popcorn balls with M&M's on the outside

More popcorn ball recipes

HAPPY POPCORN DAY!

One Resolution For the New Year:Help Teachers Serve Those Underserved.

As students get back into the school routine after winter break, many classroom teachers might be struggling to help the most needy in their schools. You can help those underserved students, and the teachers who serve them, by donating school supplies.

DonorsChoose.org is an organization that empowers teachers in public schools across the nation to request materials and experiences greatly needed in their classrooms. Recent statistics indicate that 81% of all public schools in the US have at least one teacher who has posted a project or request on its website. Most of the schools who participate have more than half of the student population coming from low-income families. Requests can be as simple as paint to freshen up a classroom, mulch and topsoil to create a garden space, art supplies for a classroom, and more.

I donated to a classroom in MI asking for funds to purchase high interest Chapter Books for its students.

Feed  the hunger for knowledge by making a classroom teacher’s job a bit easier. To learn more: http://www.DonorsChoose.org

Easy Last-minute Thanksgiving Treats Kids Can Make.

I recently went to a party and we did this “food craft” with the kids. They had fun making these treats and serving them to everyone afterwards. The recipe was on the package of Kisses.

Candy Acorns

You will need:  Hershey Kisses unwrapped, peanut butter morsels, mini Vanilla Wafers, vanilla frosting for glue.  Take a look at the photo…it’s self-explanatory.

acorn treats

MAY YOU AND YOURS HAVE A SAFE AND BLESSED THANKSGIVING!