How to “BEE” Kind to Bees.

For thousands of years, honeybees have transformed flower nectar into that wonderful sweetness called honey.  Not only is honey a delicious treat in recipes or to sweeten a cup of tea, it has many medicinal properties as well.  Due to its sterile qualities, doctors used it as wound dressings during the civil war.

honey bee

Honeybees are important in another crucial way – as pollinators of our food supply.  The USDA estimates that “about one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee pollination”.  Some crops, such as almonds, rely completely upon honeybees for propagation.

So what, you might ask?  Honeybee populations are dwindling worldwide from a combination of factors that contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder. This happens when worker bees leave behind a colony with only a queen and a few immature bees, resulting in death of the colony. Currently the main factors are thought to be: viruses, parasites, management stressors, migratory stress and pesticides.  To view a film on CCD: http://www.vanishingbees.com

Honeybees are one of many indicators of a healthy environment.  A disturbance in their life cycle, could be a symptom of larger issues.           

HOW CAN WE HELP?

  1. Buy organic to help reduce pesticide use.  Refrain from use of pesticides in your own yard and garden.
  2. Plant pollinator-friendly plants such as bee balm and red clover.
  3. Buy local and single producer honey to support small scale bee keepers in your own community.
  4. Enjoy the wonderful taste of local honey in your own recipes.
  5. Give bees a place to stay. You can find “bee hive kits” like the one pictured below in any garden center. Mason bees will use the cavities to lay their eggs and emerging bees will visit your garden.

bee hive

BEE KIND TO BEES…Our Food Supply Depends on it!

Author/Illustrator Mike Ciccotello Presents: Draw With Mr. Mike

Are you an author who writes picture books and would love to know how to illustrate them? Do you have or know children who love to doodle and draw? Do you want to stretch your creative muscles and learn something new? Then I’ve got a great YouTube series for you: DRAW WITH MR. MIKE starring PB Author/Illustrator Mike Ciccotello. Here’s Mike to tell you about his series in his own words:

Thanks for the invite to talk about my drawing program, Draw with Mr. Mike!

When my twins were three, I observed how they started to create art. I had an idea of showing them how to use basic lines and shapes to create complex objects. We worked on a few drawings, and I was delighted to see them follow along. They were excited to see what they were able to create. So I decided to include this in my school visits, and it was a hit. The kids enjoyed the opportunity to create art together.

Creating art between three to seven is fun for children, but it can also be problematic if they lack confidence in their abilities. Breaking down these drawings into their simplest forms makes them easier to understand. And then, step-by-step, as we fit the shapes together to build a finished piece of art, we are also building the child’s confidence.

After developing this idea, I knew I wanted to reach more children, but I didn’t know how to take my lessons and make them available to the public. Then, an old colleague from my days at CNN approached me with an idea. Her company, Identity Digital, could help me figure it all out, and that’s when the Draw with Mr. Mike show became a reality.

We started recording episodes and posting them to Vimeo, YouTube, and on my website.

Each episode demonstrates the same principle of using basic lines and shapes to create a complex character, object, or scene. Now I’m focusing on creating more episodes to reach a wider audience, improving my production every week, and doing my best to make fun and educational drawing lessons for kids.

drawing
Here is the blurb from my website:

Do you know a child who loves to draw? Or maybe a child who needs a confidence boost when it comes to making art? If so, then DRAW WITH MR. MIKE may be a great fit. In these short, easy-to-understand videos, young artists will learn how to take basic shapes and lines, and turn them into a rocket ship, a castle, a butterfly, and other kid-friendly images. The lessons are geared toward 3-7 years old—but, of course, they are open for artists of any age to join in.

So grab some favorite drawing materials, and join me in this exciting art journey. Let’s see how these shapes and lines fit together!

mike photo

Links: YouTube.com/DrawWithMrMike

DrawWithMrMike.com

Mike is the author/illustrator of BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES, Beach Toys vs. School Supplies and TWINS.

Follow him on Twitter @ciccotello

Book Review: WHOOO KNEW? THE TRUTH ABOUT OWLS, by Annette Whipple + AN EASY OWL CRAFT

Today it is a pleasure to introduce a new non-fiction picture book by Annette Whipple about owls. At the end there will be instructions for making a simple owl craft just in time for fall decorations.

Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls by Annette Whipple is a picture book in question-and-answer format. It answers kids’ most important questions about owls. Each page spread focuses on one question and answer. Do owls puke? Do owls sleep all day? How do owls hunt? In addition to the main text and lots of stunning photographs, each page spread includes an illustrated owl whooo shares a bit more about owl life—often with a bit of sass.

 


This is the first book in The Truth About series. Books featuring dogs and spiders will be out in the spring.

  Reycraft Books is the publisher.

  The actual hardcover book includes a poster featuring owl superpowers! It measures 31.5 x 18.5.

  It releases on September 30, but pre-orders are really important, so don’t feel you have to wait until then to share.

A book trailer is at https://youtu.be/xUFiKmceDg0.


You can learn more about Annette and her books at:  https://www.annettewhipple.com.

    Facebook Annette Whipple Books  Twitter @AnnetteWhipple
Instagram
@AnnetteWhippleBooks

Here’s my review of this unique book:”WHOOO KNEW? THE TRUTH ABOUT OWLS, by Annette Whipple is an informative and entertaining guide to the world of owls. Written in a Q & A format, facts about owls and their habits are thoughtfully described in simple but illuminating detail. Wonderful photos of various owls enhance the content, making this a perfect addition to a classroom science curriculum. A five star winner.”

And now for the owl craft:

To make this you will need

  • a clean brown paper bag, brown construction paper, or brown card stock
  • yellow and orange scraps of card stock or construction paper.
  • black Sharpie marker
  • glue
  • scissors

An 8×11″ piece of paper was used to make this owl.  Fold the paper into a square bringing one edge against the other so the edges are even forming a triangle as shown in this diagram below.

Cut away the extra paper that isn’t part of the triangle.

 

 

 

Open the triangle and fold a smaller triangle to make a nose as shown in the  diagram below. Cut away the top portion of the wing sections as shown.

Cut out TWO yellow circles using the bottle cap from a milk carton or the rim of a small glass. Glue them in the spots as shown.

Using a BLACK marker, draw the pupils of the eyes, and makes lines on the wings and tail feathers as shown.

Cut a small triangle from ORANGE or YELLOW paper and glue it to the front of the triangle that makes up the nose.

Use the scissors to cut along the black lines on the wings and tail feathers. Your owl is complete!

WHOO KNEW making owls could be so much fun?

Making Sense of Change In Complicated Times by Marilyn Ostermiller

In a flash, everything changed. Our cars became doctors’ examining rooms and graduation processions. Virtual became the norm for every interaction from business conferences to birthday parties, after the Covid-19 virus invaded the planet.

            Hidden away from family, colleagues and friends, we’ve been forced to rethink how we interact with our world. Count on the five senses to handle the heavy lifting. Each sense signals the brain to help us perceive and understand the world around us.

            For those who see this as an opportunity to rethink the basics, here are some simple pleasures that involve each of the senses.

Taste: Savor the sweet life. Select at least three varieties of fresh fruit at the farmer’s market. Clean and prep. Dish up at least a cup of plain Greek yogurt, stir in honey to taste. Layer the fruit with the sweetened yogurt in a glass dish and feast on fruit compote. 

compote

Hearing: Listen up. If it’s music that soothes, turn up the volume on your favorite play list. If nature calls, take a walk in the woods, alongside a rustling brook. (Here’s an audio of a stream)

 https://dl-mail.aolmail.com/ws/download/mailboxes/@.id==VjN-D0_4JSzZJ_XtQFmq4CbJWC1BsEPqBZT1GZMO9ahPwvWwDatd8Lptv3N76nHhJPeM5WpbS6gDksqeBa5UqpKFdQ/messages/@.id==AIaCl2lrVxVVXxmNdQEFuIKFyI4/content/parts/@.id==1/raw?appid=aolwebmail&ymreqid=f68b1e5d-5bce-bdbe-3024-2e000c015800&token=zitEzqOML3j84e6ealFTT5U7-km5qEQF52lp7AcCuBbpUwx47ixU77PfMwZQ85UIQCYij3H7B6NO3kqNq-ZtvrANq13wum2_c3vqceEk94zlaltLqAOSyp4FrlSqkoV1

Sight: Get comfy in a cozy nook and reread a favorite book or dig into your “to read” pile. After you’ve read the last page, loan it to a friend, write an online review, spread the word.

Touch: Reach out and touch someone whom you don’t need to be socially distant from. If you’re a solitary person, find a pet to play with. Stroke the velvety blooms of roses, peonies or lilies.

touching bird

Smell: Consider aroma therapy, the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils in massage or baths. Splash a couple of drops of lavender oil in your bath. Apply a drop of vanilla extract on a finger and touch it to a cool light bulb. When the light is lit, the fragrance emerges.

Resources:

Among the many available resources for ideas and explanations of how to tap into the five senses, these are a few that are available online:

The Heart of Aromatherapy: An Easy-to-Use Guide for Essential Oils, by Andrea Butje. From cardamom to yuzu, this book explores each oil’s aroma, uses and safety tips.

A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman, explores the five senses and how we have historically and culturally used them.

A Natural History of the Senses

The Five Senses, by Tinaz Denizmen, is an interactive poem to teach children about each of their five senses, suitable for two to six year olds.

Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a professional journalist, who enjoys writing about food and children’s literature.

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.

 

 

DIY Fidget Spinners

Everywhere I look these days, people are talking about FIDGET SPINNERS.  These gadgets were designed for use with children with autism as a way to help them with sensory issues.  They come in all shapes, sizes and designs and some are even battery powered.

You can make some simple spinners with materials you probably already have at home.  Here is a link from the Red Ted craft site that give you a step by step video.

http://www.redtedart.com/printable-diy-fidget-spinner-instructions/

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.

Facebook – PatriciaKeelerBooks
Instagram – @patriciakeeler
Twitter       – @patriciakeelerbooks

 

Connie Colon Presents: School Rules!

Connie T. Colón is a Children’s Author in the Apollo Beach, Florida area. On April 3, 2017, Connie will release Principal Kidd through Foundations Books, LLC, a traditional publishing company. School Rules! is Connie’s first children’s book and Book 1 in the Principal Kidd series for children ages 7-11.

Connie T. Colón is a graduate of Syracuse University and former advertising executive, Connie has a degree in art but now also paints with her words.

“When I read about Michael Sessions, who had become mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan at 18, while still in high  school — I thought that concept would be fun for a kids story. (And yes, I used to be a fan of the show Doogie Howser MD!) This concept began as a proposal for a kids animated TV series, complete with a pilot episode written — but I was advised to start with a book series.”

Connie had the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with award winning author, Jerry Spinelli at the Highlights Workshop in Chautauqua. An active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Connie had served as a Committee Member for the NJ Chapter. She has sold over 60 articles and over 100 photos to publications including Highlights, Fun For Kidz, AppleSeeds, and Faces. Her ongoing feature “Dear Tommy” had run in Faces magazine for over seven years. Connie occasionally teaches magazine writing workshops at SCBWI events and loves to visit schools. She is working on several manuscripts for humorous chapter book series based on her television animation concepts.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014953950396

https://twitter.com/ConnieTColon

https://www.instagram.com/connietcolon/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/connie-travisano-colon-17120a47

http://www.conniecolon.com

http://www.FoundationsBooks.net

SCHOOL RULES! (Book #1)  A children’s book for ages 7-11

Eleven-year-old whiz, Oliver Kidd, had no trouble using his genius IQ to skip grades and zoom through the accelerated college program. But after landing a job as the world’s first kid principal back at his old elementary school, Oliver faces sabotage from the jealous vice principal, Mr. Dagger, along with challenges of a kid in charge of the teachers, parents, and students. Good thing his trusty sidekick and school mascot, Chelsea the chicken, is on his side. Principal Kidd scores points with the students with his new rules, until the town health inspector shows up and threatens to shut the doors on Eggshell Elementary. Join in on the giggles and mayhem as Oliver Kidd and his friends since kindergarten try to save Eggshell Elementary. (Just watch your step, you may encounter chicken poop!)

Here is the link for the book trailer :

https://youtu.be/DJnpnJ6DtPU

 

Colleen Kosinski and Sunflowers.

Today’s post features one of my writer/illustrator friends Colleen Kosinski, who talk about her debut picture book LILLA’S SUNFLOWERS (Sky Pony Press)

I’ve been writing for many years. The journey began with picture books, then screenplays; moved on to young adult stories followed by middle grade manuscripts and returned home to picture books.
Before dipping my feet into the writing pool, I worked as a freelance fine artist.  That suited me well because it allowed me to stay home to raise my three children. As they grew older I became available to take on more challenges.  So I set down my paintbrush and picked up a pen. (Actually a computer keyboard but a pen sounds so much better. I imagine it as an ink pen complete with a feather with me dipping into an inkwell, scrawling my words by candlelight). After many years of solely writing, I combined my two passions to create picture books.      01_Lilla's Sunflowers_cover2_625h

Lilla’s Sunflowers originated like my career, through a journey of discovery. I first drew the illustration of Lilla you see on the front cover. I stared at her and realized she wanted a story. But what was her story? Why was she standing in a field of sunflowers? Was she sad when the sunflowers died? I started thinking about the seasons and how they applied to our lives. My first draft involved death. If you knew that my manuscripts for older children deal with death, reincarnation, and astral travel you’d understand why I went there first. Later in the process I thought the topic might be a tad morbid for a picture book so I had to keep thinking and sketching drawings for inspiration.

I’m not sure what particular moment it happened, but seeing videos of children and dogs being reunited with military men and women returning from service over seas, a light bulb went off in my head. The separation of a parent from child during a tour of duty is always difficult for all involved and is mirrored by the changing seasons with the anticipated return home similar to the blooming of plants in the spring and summer. It’s on this backdrop that Lilla’s strategy to stay connected with her father has wonderful unintended consequences.

Lilla’s Sunflowers shows how one small act of love and kindness can spread to people and places you’d never imagine.

http://lillas-sunflowers.colleenrowankosinski.com/trailer/

My agent submitted the book to publishers and within six months we had a contract with Sky Pony Press. I worked very hard to meet all my deadlines and now, a little over a year since signing the contract, my book is real. I can actually hold it in my arms! My first book baby. Now I’m anxious to give it some siblings!                SUNFLOWER_AUTHOR_PIC_500_WIDE

To find out more about my work you can visit me at http://www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com

Spread the sunshine!

More Free Apps: Part 2

On Monday I featured some new iPhone Apps for kids.  Today I have three free ones to download onto you Android device.

1. HAY DAY: A building game in a happy country town filled with positive, colorful things and lots of fun for young kids.

2. KIDS DOODLE – COLOR AND DRAW: Your kids will love this drawing app thanks to its colorful options and ability to play back their drawings in a video montage.

3. BUBBLE POPPING FOR BABIES: A very simple game for your baby or toddler. Various forms of ocean life trapped in bubbles are released when baby touches them.  Great for building eye-hand co-ordination.

What are your kids’ favorite Apps?