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.

 

National “Go Fishing Day”…Take a Kid Fishing.

Tomorrow, June 18, is NATIONAL GO FISHING DAY.  Fishing has been around as long as man and women have.  It is a major industry that yields billions of dollars worldwide annually. It is also a great recreational activity for everyone, young and old. It’s a way to add food to the table and an opportunity to bond with family and friends.

The benefits of fishing are numerous. Did you know fishing actually boosts your immune system? When you do something you enjoy, your body responds by healing and strengthening itself. Being out in nature helps promote relaxation and is a way to practice calm and patience. It can lower blood pressure and can be done individually or with others. You can fish from the shore, from a boat or by standing in a stream.  However you decide to do it, why not teach a kid, your kid or a friend’s kid, to fish.

Check your local recreational areas for competitions and rules regarding proper fishing etiquette. Even during this Covid-19 pandemic, it’s okay to go fishing. 

kid fishing

When you go fishing, or teach a child to fish, you never know what you might catch.

Here’s a case in point, where eleven-year-old JACK takes his five-year-old sister KATY to fish for the first time from my newest MG novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston)   WoCCover01

FISH
Katy feels sorry for worms
and won’t fish with them.
I make balls of dough
from the crusts of our sandwiches to
bait her hook.

She breaks every rule about fishing.
Making loud noises, scaring the fish.
She can’t stand in one spot
more than a minute without
dancing
wiggling
spinning
tangling the fishing line,
asking so many questions
my ears are ready to
EXPLODE!!!

When are we going to catch a
FISH!!! she shouts for the
tenth time, dropping her pole to
chase a butterfly.
Fish don’t come around when it’s noisy,
so zzzzip your lips, I say.

She pretends to zip her lip,
humming the tune to
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Good grief.

FRED

After lunch I’m ready to leave.
No fish today, let’s go, I say.
Maybe the fish don’t like worms.
Maybe they’re veterinarians, Katy says.
She means vegetarians because
she hands me a grape and says
put it on the hook, Jack, please?

Can you sit without making a sound,
quiet as a stone?
She puts a finger to her lips, Shhhhh.
I hook the grape, toss the line,
hand the rod to Katy.

Before I settle onto the grass,
the line gives a tug.
Too heavy for me, I can’t do it, Jack.
I grab the rod and pull a fish out,
a fish with one eye.

It’s Fred, I tell her.
Katy strokes Fred’s tail with a pinkie.
A special fish, I say.
Like magic special?
Katy’s two eyes as wide as Fred’s one.
Don’t know, I say.
Katy frowns, so I say,
make a wish, quick before Fred goes back.

Pancakes for supper! she wishes,
kissing Fred on the tail.
Pancakes, I agree. As I slip
Fred into the water, he seems to
wink his eye before he swims away.

While you may not catch a fish that grants wishes, taking a child fishing will be something you’ll both remember for a long time. 

PB Author Nancy Churnin Returns to Talk About FOR SPACIOUS SKIES + a Give-away.

As promised, non=fiction PB author NANCY CHURNIN is back. Last week I featured her new book BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING. Today Nancy is here to discuss another new book titled FOR SPACIOUS SKIES (Albert Whitman and Company)  Here’s Nancy:

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How did you discover Katharine?

Curiosity! After researching Irving Berlin who wrote “God Bless America” for Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing (Creston),  I wanted to learn more about composers of America’s other great patriotic anthems. Most people know about Francis Scott Key and “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and there have been a lot of books about how that song came to be — but what about “America the Beautiful”? I was startled to see it had been written by a woman, Katharine Lee Bates, whom I knew very little about. I set out to find everything I could about her and the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. 

What was the most surprising thing that happened during your research for the story?

There were so many wonderful details — too many to include in the book! One favorite is how she was given dolls to encourage her to sew as other girls her age did. But she hated sewing so much, she would just plaster them with wet leaves. The other is how she popularized the idea of Mrs. Santa Claus with another poem she wrote. I tried so hard to shoehorn that in. At some point, I am going to have write a separate book about that!

What are 3 things readers should know about Katharine?

She stood up for herself. She wanted an education at a time when women weren’t expected to get an education, she studied hard and she got it. She was in the second graduating class at Wellesley and continued her education, returning to Wellesley as a professor and later chair of the English department

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She stood up for others. She took care of her mother and sister who lived with her. She help organize a settlement for women in need. She spoke up for those in need: she wrote a well-received novel about the poor, Rose and Thorn. She advocated for peace and was an early supporter of League of Nations, the precursor to what would later become the United Nations. She loved to teach and encourage her students and she mentored and championed other writers, including the young Robert Frost! She fought for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot. 

She loved nature and life, she was kind and had a great sense of humor. She gave “America the Beautiful” to America as a gift; she never charged a penny for its use. She loved writing stories for children, she would hand-write copies of “America the Beautiful” for fans that requested it and she enjoyed having her picture taken with her collie, Hamlet, and her parrot, Polonius.

This is the second book you’ve written about an American song writer (Irving Berlin). What drew you to the subject matter?

People have very different ideas about what patriotism is — what it means to love your country. In writing about Irving Berlin, it was important for me to show how grateful this immigrant was for finding a home in America, how much he and so many immigrants have given back to this country and also how being an immigrant was a gift in and of itself. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing shows how he took the melodies he brought with him and mixed it with the sounds of his new country to create a new sound that was irresistible and gave Americans hope and courage when they needed it most. Katharine Lee Bates’ family had deep roots in America, but as a woman, she had to stand up and fight for so many things — her right for an education, for independence, even to vote. She saw America as beautiful, yes, but with the caveat that we have a role to play in that beauty. She wrote that poem to help a nation divided by the Civil War to heal. When she writes “crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea,” she is asking us to remember we are all one American family and we need to help and support each other.

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What do you want readers to take away from the story?

I hope Katharine’s story and her poem will inspire children to see our country as one family and focus on all that we have in common. I hope it will get children thinking not only about the the spacious skies, the amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties that make our country beautiful, but what WE need to do to make our country beautiful — promote brotherhood and, as they add at Wellesley college, sisterhood! That’s why I’ve created a project to go with the book, FOR SPACIOUS LINES, where I’m asking kids to share what they are doing or what we can and should be doing to make our country more beautiful. You’ll find it on my website, along with a free teacher guide and resources at nancychurnin.com.

Here is Darlene’s review for this wonderful book:

FOR SPACIOUS SKIES by Nancy Churnin

Katharine Lee Bates was a pioneer, doing things women were told they couldn’t do. Speaking her mind, sharing her thoughts and ideas about inequality, injustice, oppression. After a train trip across the country in 1893, she was moved and inspired by the beauty and wonder the country had to offer. Beauty and wonder that was available to everyone. She wrote a poem expressing her feelings.

That poem became a national song of unity and pride. AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.

Thoughtfully told, and beautifully illustrated, this story is a perfect celebration of what unites us and makes a perfect addition to any classroom non-fiction history collection.

Nancy has agreed to give away one signed copy of her book. To enter, please leave a comment telling us your favorite patriotic song. I will enter each name into a hat. If you share this post on social media, let me know and you will have a second chance to win. One name will be drawn from those entered and announced next month on this blog.

 

thumbnail ANancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies on multiple state reading lists with a ninth due in 2021. Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick selected for the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The William Hoy Story, a Bank Street Book Awards selection, has been a Texas 2X2 pick and Armadillo Readers Choice selection, on Illinois’ Monarch Award master list, the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award and Connecticut’s Charter Oak Book Award list. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award, a Junior Library Guild selection, an Anne Izard Storytellers Choice Award and Silver Eureka honoree. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association, the Wisconsin Picture This list, the Brave Book list and was featured at the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival in Memphis and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. Nancy is a founding member of the Nonfiction Ninjas and the NF Chicks. She graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats. You can find Nancy Churnin on social media.

On her website: nancychurnin.com

On Facebook: Nancy Churnin Children’s Books

 

 

 

Nancy Churnin Presents: BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING + a give-away

Today it is my distinct pleasure to feature one of my favorite non-fiction picture book authors, NANCY CHURNIN, who is here to talk about her recently released book BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN: THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING. (Creston Books) Here is the interview:

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How did you discover the art of Laura Wheeler Waring?

I am always looking for heroes and heroines that have been overlooked, that kids — and often adults — don’t know enough about. I love fine art and I was thinking about how we mostly hear about male painters with just a handful of female painters, such as Mary Cassatt and Frida Kahlo, getting multiple books from different angles. Surely there were more female painters! I started researching paintings by female artists. I found a painting of Marian Anderson (reproduced in the book) and I stopped. Magnificent! I had to know more about the woman who painted her. It was hard to find information. Nobody had written a book about Laura Wheeler Waring. But the more I found out, the more I wanted to find out. Her parents, Amos Noe Freeman, a Presbyterian minister, and Christiana Williams Freeman, were activists in the African American community, standing up against slavery, helping in the Underground Railroad. Laura shared their passion for equality, but she spoke through her paintbrush. She wanted representation of African Americans on museum walls. But even more than that, she wanted people to see the beauty, the dignity, the accomplishments of people in her community. When she got the opportunity to paint Marian Anderson, that gave her the opportunity to break down walls with her brush the way Marian did with her voice. It’s a reminder that we can all break down walls using our own unique gifts.

The story is told in such a beautiful, poetic way. Was this how you envisioned telling the story from the beginning?

I was struck by her passion for showing the beauty of brown skin, but even beyond that how she would set her subjects in settings with brown walls, desks, clothing. Was she trying to make a point by showing the variations in this color? I became increasingly convinced she did. In a segregated world, where white people made generalizations about African Americans, the individuality of each shade of brown she used made a statement about each person’s individuality. I studied the color brown to try to figure out how she created all those variations of hue and it all began to make sense once I realized how many colors mix to make brown. Usually, when we think of something being colorful, we compare it to a rainbow. But it struck me that there was a rainbow in the color brown. That’s when I had the epiphany that brown is a rainbow, “with orange and blue, red and green tucked inside, playing hide and seek.” And I was off and running.

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What were the challenges in telling Laura Wheeler Waring’s story?

The biggest challenge was finding information about Laura Wheeler Waring. I went to curators at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Erin Beasley, Digital Image Rights and reproduction Specialist; Dr. Tuliza Fleming, Curator of AmericanArt at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Riche Sorensen, Rights & Reproduction Coordinator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, were a tremendous help. Erin Beasley put me in touch with Laura Wheeler Waring’s great-niece and heir, Madeline Murphy Rabb, who not only gave me permission to reproduced Waring’s paintings at the Smithsonian Institution, she answered questions about her life I couldn’t find answers to elsewhere. She also affirmed how proud her great-aunt was of her skills at blending colors, which went to the heart of my book. Still, even with all that support, I could never have pulled this off without the brilliance of illustrator Felicia Marshall, who channelled Waring’s style, seamlessly incorporating Waring painting her actual portraits in the spreads, with incredible detail and attention to shades of brown. I am so grateful to my editor Marissa Moss, who believed in this story from the start, guided me as only Marissa Moss can, and knew that Felicia Marshall was the artist who could do justice to Waring.

 

Your books seem to champion creative, and sometimes unsung heroes. Why are you particularly drawn to these kinds of people?

It all began with the journey of my first book, THE WILLIAM HOY STORY. I was a full-time staff writer with The Dallas Morning News when I got to know Steve Sandy, a Deaf man who shared his dream that more people would know the story of the great Deaf baseball player, William Hoy, who taught umpires signs so he could play the game he loved — signs we still use today — and that someday Hoy would be honored in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I wrote that book, with the help of Steve’s research, guidance and friendship with the Hoy family, with the goal of sharing Hoy’s story with kids. I created a project, Hoy for the Hall, that encouraged kids to write letters to the National Baseball Hall of Fame asking for Hoy to be inducted. They’ve sent thousands! Here’s the sweet surprise. I wrote that first book to make Steve’s dream come true, but I found that I was also making an old dream of mine come true — a longtime dream of creating books and sharing them with kids. It felt so good to share the story of this hero that the kids didn’t know about, to break down walls between the Deaf and the hearing, to inspire kids to persevere and find ways to make the world better. I immediately started to look for and think about other people whose stories hadn’t been told, who had persevered against great odds to make their dreams come true and whose dreams, realized, made the world a better place. My next book was MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN, the first picture book about Dashrath Manjhi, who spent 22 years chiseling a path through a 300-foot mountain so kids in his poor village could get to school on the other side. Those have been the kind of heroes I’ve looked for straight through to Laura Wheeler Waring and beyond. 

What would you like readers to remember about this story?

I would like them to remember that each and every one of us is beautiful, unique and a complex mix of many characteristics as surprising and wonderful as the varied pigments that make up our skin. I would like them to remember that representation is important and to make sure that you and your community can be seen and appreciated. I would like them to remember that when you have a dream to do something that’s never been done before, you may hit a lot of obstacles, you may hear that what hasn’t been done can’t be done, but if you persevere you will get there, maybe not in a day or a week or a month, but you will get there. I would like them to remember that that you don’t fail unless you give up. Every rejection, every setback is just another step on the journey to achieving your goal.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I hope folks will check out the free teacher guides, readers theater, resources and projects on my website, nancychurnin.com. The project for Beautiful Shades of Brown is PAINT YOUR WORLD. With the permission of parents and educators, kids are invited to sent photos of their artwork of themselves, their families and their communities with a short caption describing who they’re portraying. I will post those pictures on the PAINT YOUR WORLD page so we can celebrate how beautiful everyone is.

Nancy has agreed to give away one signed copy of her book to one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on this post. Winner will be drawn from all those entered. If you share the post on social media, let me know and I will give you a second chance to win.

Here is my review for this amazing book:

“This book is like a painting whose rich, bold, and lyrical text conveys the depth of feeling and care Laura put into each of her portraits. I love how Churnin conveyed the idea of a “rainbow of shades of brown” that Laura spent hours on, mixing blues, greens, reds, and yellows to get just the right and perfect shade. I love how Laura felt and heard the color whenever she began to paint. This is a stunning book that reminds us of the beautiful variety found in just one color, and how important it is for each of us to see ourselves reflected in the art we choose to celebrate.”

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Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies on multiple state reading lists with a ninth due in 2021. Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick selected for the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The William Hoy Story, a Bank Street Book Awards selection, has been a Texas 2X2 pick and Armadillo Readers Choice selection, on Illinois’ Monarch Award master list, the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award and Connecticut’s Charter Oak Book Award list. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award, a Junior Library Guild selection, an Anne Izard Storytellers Choice Award and Silver Eureka honoree. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association, the Wisconsin Picture This list, the Brave Book list and was featured at the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival in Memphis and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. Nancy is a founding member of the Nonfiction Ninjas and the NF Chicks. She graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats.

You can find Nancy Churnin on social media.

On her website: nancychurnin.com

On Facebook: Nancy Churnin Children’s Books

On Twitter: @nchurnin

On Instagram: @nchurnin

 

 

Nancy Viau Presents:Virtual Beach Activities Because TODAY IS (or Could Be) A BEACH DAY + Chance to Win A Copy!

Today it is my pleasure to feature a great new PB by fellow author friend NANCY VIAU: TODAY IS A BEACH DAY (Albert Whitman & Company, Illustrated by Charlie Adler). Here’s Nancy:

 

Sunny days are for the beach. Pretty pails. There’s one for each.

Who will spy the sea and cheer?

ZIP! ZOOM! STOP!

Hey, we’re here!

TODAY IS A BEACH DAY!

Wait…What? It’s NOT a beach day?

SIGH. Oh, right, the Coronavirus—the scary, horrible disease that is keeping everyone at home. We’ll have to make do with a virtual beach day!

Beach Day cover jpeg

First, read TODAY IS A BEACH DAY! by Nancy Viau, illustrated by Charlie Alder. The book can be ordered via your favorite independent bookseller, Amazon, or any number of places.   https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780807593967

You can also leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Tell us your favorite beach activity and I’ll enter your name in the random drawing. Share this post on social media for a second chance to win.

Next, use your imagination and dream of a warm and sunny beach as you try the following activities.

SCAVENGER HUNT

Get together with your family and race to find the items below. They do not have to be beach-themed. Perhaps it’s something in your garden, garage, bathroom, or closet. Be creative. Take SAND, for example. What could substitute for SAND?

READY, GO!

Sand

Sea

Beach Towel

Pail or Bucket

Shovel

Sunscreen

Umbrella

Beach Ball

Bathing Suit

Flip Flops or Sandals

Snap a photo of the winner and/or the items. Post it in the comments.

 

ACTIVITY 2: MAKERSPACE

Can you build a sandcastle without sand? Try using shoeboxes, toys, blocks, Legos, soup cans, cereal boxes, or books!

Snap a photo of your castle. Post it in the comments.

Beach3

ACTIVITY 3: OCEAN IN A BOTTLE

This science activity is explained in a Teacher Guide produced by Deb Gonzales. It’s FREE to download from Nancy Viau’s website, so give it a try!  https://www.nancyviau.com/teacher-guides/

See you on the beach!

 

Darlene’s Review for TODAY IS A BEACH DAY:

“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.”

Nancy Viau

 

Nancy Viau is the award-winning author of Today Is a Beach Day!, First Snow (2019 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Winner), City Street Beat, Storm Song, Look What I Can Do! and Pruett and Soo (forthcoming). Her middle-grade novels include Beauty and Bernice (2018 Foreword INDIES finalist), Just One Thing! (2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award Winner), Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head, and Something Is Bugging Samantha Hansen. A former teacher and kid-at-heart, she loves to visit schools to share her journey to publication and the writing process. Find her on Twitter or Instagram: @NancyViau1 or her website: www.NancyViau.com.

 

#BOOKWEEK2020atHOME: Make a Book To Keep or Share.

There are many ways to help your kids make simple books to record their poems, sketches, stories, and doodles. Here is a simple one that requires only a sheet of paper or card stock and a scissor.

1

Take a standard sheet of paper. Fold in half LENGTHWISE.   2

OPEN. Fold in half WIDTHWISE. Bring each side up to the MIDDLE so you now have EIGHT RECTANGULAR sections.    3

Holding the paper so the LONGEST PART of the rectangles are top to bottom, use scissors to cut a slit through the TWO MIDDLE SECTIONS as shown in the photo above.

FLIP the book upright so it stands as shown in the photo below, with the creased side facing UP and open edge facing DOWN.

4

Bring the open edges toward the middle:

6That’s It! You’ve made a small book to use for whatever you like. You can decorate the cover, and use them to send special messages, wishes, hopes, dreams, or whatever catches your fancy.

HINT: If you staple TWO BOOKS  – one inside the other – you will have more pages to use for your story.  HAPPY BOOK MAKING!

For more ideas of how to make simple books, visit: https://www.homeschooling-ideas.com/making-books-with-children.html

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Author Theanne Griffith Presents: Boom! Snap! Whiz! Zap! Getting Kids Excited About Science Through Reading.

Today it is my pleasure to feature fellow children’s book author THEANNE GRIFFITH who is here to talk about her exciting and kid-friendly series of science-themed books called THE MAGNIFICENT MAKERS. The first three books in the series are debuting this year.

The Magnificent Makers #1: How to Test a Friendship and The Magnificent Makers #2: Brain Trouble, May 19th, 2020.

makers 1

 

makers 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magnificent Makers #3: Riding Sound Waves, September 8th, 2020. 

MM#3 Cover 11320

What led you to the field of writing science-themed books?

I’ve always had two passions: science and storytelling. I’ve spent the majority of my life pursuing my passion for science. I graduated from Smith College in 2008 with a dual degree in Neuroscience and Spanish. I then went on to get my PhD in Neuroscience at Northwestern University. But it was in 2017, during my time working as a postdoctoral scientist at Columbia University that I decided to officially pursue my passion for storytelling as a children’s book author. I’ve always been an avid reader and loved writing. I’m also a staunch advocate for science education and increasing accessibility to science for young learners. Needless to say, it was a natural progression for me to finally combine my two passions by writing science-themed books for kids, like The Magnificent Makers.


Were you a science kid in school? 

 Definitely! Science has always intrigued me. And I always had a knack for it. I loved playing outside and investigating the world around me, whether it be watching tadpoles and crayfish swim in a creek or collecting bugs in jars. I was a naturally curious kid (and I’m still a naturally curious adult!) and science was a way for me to turn my curiosities into testable questions.

What three things do you want readers to know about the books?

The first thing I want readers to know about The Magnificent Makers is that they should get ready for out-of-these world adventures. Literally! Each book follows best friends Pablo and Violet as they make their way through an alternate reality makerspace called the Maker Maze. Every time they visit the maze, they complete a science challenge that is made up of three different levels. And the eccentric maze scientist, Dr. Crisp, guides them on their journey. It’s a lot of fun…but there’s a catch. They need to complete the challenge in one hundred twenty Maker Minutes. If they don’t, they won’t be able to come back for more fun science adventures. Needless to say, it’s always a race against time! Second, they should get ready to learn some cool science! Each book covers a different science topic and is filled with fun and entertaining facts. Finally, readers should know that the fun doesn’t stop when the book is over. Each book includes instructions for two “do it yourself” maker activities in the back matter!


What surprising thing/s did you discover in researching the topics/content?

The Magnificent Makers series is geared towards kids ages 7-10; therefore, given my background I didn’t really learn any new science facts. I’m quite familiar with the science topics covered in the first three books (food chains, the brain, and our senses). But I definitely learned a lot about writing science that is accessible for children. It is quite difficult to write about complex topics such that they are understandable (and exciting) for young, recently independent readers. I went through several drafts of the first book in the series before I finally found the right formula. Additionally, I learned that despite the fact that these are science-themed books, the story and characters must come first. Science isn’t what is moving the plot forward. Instead, the science serves as a backdrop for the adventure that the characters embark upon.

What’s next?

I hope to continue writing The Magnificent Makers series for years to come. Additionally, I have a Caribbean/STEM mashup draft of a picture book that I’m polishing, which should be ready soon. It’s also a dream of mine to write a novel. I have an idea for a contemporary middle grade story that incorporates science themes, as well as an exciting outline for a speculative fiction young adult novel that would involve a dash of neuroscience. The challenge is making time to write! My job as a full-time researcher and mother of a 3-year old and 1.5-year old doesn’t make it easy. Nevertheless, I’m very excited to see where my author journey takes me! 

Theanne Griffith 39

 THEANNE GRIFFITH is a neuroscientist and the author of the STEM-themed chapter book series, The Magnificent Makers. Since she was a little girl, she’s loved both storytelling and science. Her books blend these two passions, taking young readers on out of this world adventures they’ll never forget. Theanne received her BA in neuroscience and Spanish from Smith College, and earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Northwestern University. She currently works as a researcher at Rutgers University and resides in New Jersey with her partner, two beautiful daughters, and three cats. Theanne is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency.

You can buy these books at any of the following:

IndieBound Target Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million Hudson Booksellers

 

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

50 Ways to Celebrate the 50th Earth Day.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day held in 1970. Even though we are “sheltering in place” and most of us have to stay at home because of the Covid19 pandemic, there are many ways to celebrate and honor our collective home, planet earth. Here are 50.

1. The single most important thing you can do is PLANT A TREE. If the world’s people planted 3 billion trees in all the available open spaces (not taking away any farmland), we would eliminate global warming. Learn more about tree planting in your community at  http://www.arborday.org

2. Make your garden POLLINATOR FRIENDLY by planting native bushes and flowering plants to attract bees, butterflies and insects. Find the right blooms for your yard at: http://www.xerces.org

3. Find out how you can help endangered species in your community: http://www.fws.gov/endangered

4. If you see litter, pick it up.

5-9. Collect rainwater for landscaping, compost vegetable scraps, plant a vegetable garden, buy organic, stop using pesticides on your lawn.   lids

10-14. Buy in bulk to use less packaging, stop using single-use plastic bags (reusable and machine-washable ones are available online. (see photo below)  I use them every time I go to the store. You can store the vegetables in them as well. Pack lunches in reusable containers, recycle as often and as much as you can, stop using plastic wrap for food storage. Check out the reusable silicon lids in 6 sizes to fit over every bowl you own. (Photo)

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15. Find uses for old things.

16. Turn off lights when you leave a room.

17. Eat more veggies.

18. Get a library card.

19. Leave only footprints when you travel.

20-25. Wash clothes in cold water, don’t let the sink run when you brush teeth or wash dishes, turn off the dishwasher’s drying cycle and let them air dry, use concentrated soaps/cleaners that use less packaging,use unscented products, Use greener cleaners like baking soda and white vinegar.

26-30. Ride your bike, skip the elevator and take stairs, buy things that will last, try to fix things that break instead of tossing them, eat what’s in season.

31. Buy products made from recycled materials.

32. Use a push lawn mower.

33. Buy Fair Trade: http://www.fairtrade.org

34. Carpool

35-39. Unplug electronics when you aren’t using them, shut your computer down when you leave work, print on both sides of paper, reuse blank paper as scrap paper for notes, use shredded paper for packing instead of styrafoam peanuts.

40. When you finish baking, turn of oven and leave oven door open to heat the home.

41. Eat sustainably harvested fish to protect the ocean : http://www.oceansalive.org

42-45. Give your car a tune-up so it drives more efficiently, drive a hybrid, keep tires inflated to proper pressure for better fuel efficiency, driving under 60MPH saves gas.

46-47. Buy shade grown coffee, switch to reusable coffee filters.

48. Use rechargeable batteries.

49. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to eat local: visit  http://www.localharvest.com

50. Use cloth napkins and towels.

The earth is home for us all. Every little thing we do to honor our home counts.

Stay Safe and have a HAPPY EARTH DAY!