Easy Peasy Party Pumpkins + Wheelchair Costumes.

Last year I volunteered in a Kindergarten classroom for a Halloween party and the room mother made these simple, festive snacks to celebrate the season.  You know your kids will get tons of candy.  So these CLEMENTINE PUMPKINS  are a welcome break from all that.  Better still, kids love easy-to-peel-and-eat clementines.

pumpkinYou can have a clementine decorating party of your own.  Be sure to use WASHABLE NON-TOXIC markers.  Happy snacking!

I came across an amazing article in the October 2016 issue of Family Circle Magazine that featured a dad who makes wheelchair costumes for his son.  He decorates the entire wheelchair to look like a pirate ship, dinosaur, or superhero. When his son went trick or treating, people saw past the wheelchair to the boy  in it.  Since then, Ryan Weimer launched a Kickstarter program with chapters around the country to build costumes for other children each Halloween.  Magic Wheelchair now has chapters in 10 states.

For more info or to donate to this worthwhile cause check out: http://www.magicwheelchair.org

Check out some of the amazing costumes here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/this-nonprofit-creates-whimsical-halloween-costumes-for-kids?utm_term=.dur5owMka#.bjXyGEKA9

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Don’t Throw Away Orphan Toys. Do This Instead.

With summer winding down, we often want to welcome fall with a bit of cleaning and getting rid of some of the “stuff” that accumulated all summer long.  If your children are tired of their old toys and books or you just need to make some room, try donating the items to some of the following:

http://www.stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org  delivers gently used toys to children in need. Go on the website to check for your local community chapter.       

http://www.Babybuggy.org  takes kids and baby gear along with maternity and children’s clothing that is in good condition.  They distribute it to needy families.

For books contact:  www.donationtown.org    to schedule a pick up along with others in your area.  Just enter your zip code and choose from local charities you’d like to sponsor.

Another way to re-purpose books is at: www.booksforafrica.org     You pay for shipping to the Atlanta warehouse, but it is tax-deductible.

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You can also donate unwanted items to your local GOODWILL, SALVATION ARMY, VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA   www.pickupplease.org    And, Habitat For Humanity will accept household items and furniture at their ReStore outlets to use in their building projects. Check out their needs at: www.habitat.org

Got Museums? Go For Free.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22  is Museum Day.  You can take the WHOLE FAMILY out for a free day at a museum, zoo or cultural center near you.  SMITHSONIAN Magazine has paired up with museums in almost every state to encourage families to explore local museums and cultural centers. 

Check out http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/museumday to find a museum near you and to get your tickets.

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Easy, Creamy Asparagus Soup.

Here in NJ we’ve had a bumper crop of asparagus this year…thank goodness!  For those who are wondering what to do with these gems besides grilling or adding to omelets and stir fries, try having the kiddos help make a batch of this light and delicious ASPARAGUS SOUP.  It is so easy, you will have it ready in about 30 minutes.

Dice up about 1 pound of asparagus.  Set aside.

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In a 2 quart pot, saute diced leeks or onions in olive oil until  wilted.  Add 2 Cups water or vegetable broth (if you use the broth, no need to add salt), thyme, one Bay Leaf, the asparagus.  Cook about 15 minutes or until tender.

2017-05-31 19.55.57   Remove the Bay Leaf, add 1 Cup of milk.  Pour mixture into a food processor and PUREE until smooth.  Add a dash of nutmeg and serve with asparagus spear as garnish.

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I told you it was easy!  You can freeze leftovers to enjoy throughout the summer.

 

Author Kathleen Burkinshaw With a Discussion Guide for THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM.

One of the most timely and heart-wrenching middle-grade books I’ve recently read is THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw.  It is my pleasure to feature the Discussion Guide for this book that should be in every classroom.

 

THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM       

Discussion Guide: By Kathleen Burkinshaw

1.Do you have relatives who were teens during WWII in the U.S.?  What were there worries or fears at that time? Were they similar to what the Japanese children felt? If different, how were they different?

2.Did you or someone you know have to deal with a new step family.  Was it difficult to meld the two households together? What made it easier? Did anything that made it easier surprise you?

  1. Yuriko, like many of us, hated change. How would you have handled the news about her family secrets, if it happened to you?
  2. Why do you think the author chose THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM for her title? What do you think it signifies?
  3. Cite specific examples from the book that show how protective Yuriko was of her Papa. Why do you think Sumiyo came to mean so much to Yuriko? How or when does this change occur?
  4. What aspects of Japanese culture were revealed in THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM?
  5. Which cultural details interested you the most? Which details surprised you the most of life in Japan during the war?
  6. How do you think the time period that THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM took place influenced Yuriko’s personality?

9.What did you know about Hiroshima Japan during WWII, before reading THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM?

10.Does reading THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM change your view on using nuclear weapons in the future? Why or Why not?

11.List the Statistics of Hiroshima and state which surprised you the most? Which surprised you the least? Why?

Kathleen Burkinshaw would love to hear from you. You can email her through her contact page on her website: http://kathleenburkinshaw.com/#contact

For more information on what nuclear weapons could do if used today visit:

www.ICAN.org

Also, for more information on Hiroshima bombing please visit the Kids Peace Station of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum:

http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/kids/KPSH_E/top_e.html

Instruction on how to make an origami crane, now a symbol of hope and peace:

http://www.origamiway.com/origami-crane.shtml

revised 9/2017

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.

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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

Laurie Wallmark Presents: STEM books with Curriculum Guides for Teachers.

Looking for great STEM books to use in the classroom?  Check out these gems from Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark.

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code and Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine are picture book biographies of computer science pioneers. These book and the associated teacher guide activities are appropriate for grades K-5.

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, 2017) by Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu

 

 

http://www.lauriewallmark.com/resources/Grace%20Hopper%20guide.pdf

 

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu

http://www.lauriewallmark.com/resources/Ada%20Lovelace%20guide.pdf

 

www.lauriewallmark.com

Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark’s debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, 2015), received four starred trade reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal) and many national awards including Outstanding Science Trade Book and Cook Prize Honor Book. Her latest picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), earned a Kirkus star and is on several public library’s best of lists. Laurie has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. When not writing, she teaches computer science at Raritan Valley Community College.