Get Heart Healthy

Even though Valentine’s Day is over, it’s never a bad time to think of our hearts and keeping them healthy through exercise and activity.  Since February is AMERICAN HEART MONTH, what better way to celebrate your wonderful heart than with a HEALTHY CHALLENGE SCAVENGER HUNT.  There is no need to leave the house.  Follow the link below for a list of 40 things to scout out around the house.  You can break up into teams and see who is fastest at hunting down the items.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ActivitiesforKids/Get-Active-with-our-Healthy-Challenge-Scavenger-Hunt_UCM_312472_Article.jsp#.VsMp0kDws4B

Enjoy the challenge.  Your heart will love you for it!

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Winter Crafts For Kids.

While many of us may be itching for spring, there is still snow and winter weather to contend with.  There will also probably be a few more days stuck indoors.  If your kids are getting a bit stir crazy, why not try some fun-filled crafts to pass the time away from the usual video games.

At FUN CRAFTS KIDS, you can make EGG CUP PENGUINS, LEGO BIRD FEEDERS, Marshmallow Polar Bears, and much more using recycled items or things you are likely to have around the house.   There are 17 fun filled winter crafts on this site.

http://www.funcraftskids.com/winter-crafts-ideas/

So, make a cup of hot chocolate, or break out the FROZEN BANANA PENGUIN TREATS (Also on the Fun Crafts Site) from Monday’s post and have a craft day.  Spring will be here before you know it!

Looking for LOVE in all the Right Places: by Marilyn Ostermiller

LOVE is in the air.

And on the sidewalk.

And in the park, as Valentine’s Day approaches.

That’s LOVE as in Robert Indiana’s iconic sculpture. The image is the word LOVE in upper-case letters, arranged in a square with a tilted letter “O.” The face of LOVE’s letters are scarlet, set off with vivid shades of blue and green.     

Philadelphia LOVE Statue

Manhatten LOVE Statue

Indiana created the image in 1965 when he was commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art to design a Christmas card. The next year Indiana’s sculpture of his LOVE image was featured in a solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery in New York City. That marked a turning point in the pop artist’s career.

Since then, LOVE has been emblazoned on countless prints, paintings, banners, rings, tapestries, and stamps. In 1973, the U.S. Postal Service put LOVE on the first of its regular series of “love stamps.”

LOVE sculptures have been installed in New York and Philadelphia. Additionally, Indiana created similar sculptures in French and Hebrew. They are in accessible locations and are popular photo settings for the romantically-inclined.

Where to visit them:

— New York City: The corner of Sixth Avenue and 55th Street It is on the street, accessible 24/7.
— Philadelphia: JFK Plaza, 1599 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. It is unofficially known as Love Plaza. It was installed there diagonally across from City Hall.

Also in Philadelphia through this coming spring is the AMOR sculpture, which Indiana created in 1998. It is similar to the LOVE sculpture, even the “O” is tilted the same way. The Philadelphia Museum of Art borrowed it to honor Pope Francis when he visited the United States last year. The colorful, six-foot-high sculpture can be visited on the museum’s East Terrace, overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. That was the site of the public papal mass that culminated the World Meeting of Families 2015. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. Open Tuesday through Sunday. http://www.philamuseum.org

The AMOR sculpture is owned by The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden, which is on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW. It is on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from the Morgan Art Foundation.

Images of the art Indiana created throughout his career can be found online at http://www.robertindiana.com where Indiana had this to say about his LOVE image:

“I had no idea LOVE would catch on the way it did. Oddly enough, I wasn’t thinking at all about anticipating the Love generation and hippies. It was a spiritual concept. It isn’t a sculpture of love any longer. It’s become the very theme of love itself.” — Robert Indiana

Marilyn Ostermiller
This post was prepared by Marilyn Ostermiller, a long-time business journalist who has begun writing for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

A Snowflake in the Slush by Beth Ferry

Living in New Jersey, it is hard not to think about snow during winter.
Personally, I much prefer the singular idea of the snowflake as opposed to the general concept of snow.
Snow is not quite as endearing or beautiful as the single unique flake.    beth Ferry
And we have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike.
Which seems simply impossible, really, given the number of snowflakes that have fallen.
Which is how many, you ask?
Okay – get ready for some math!

According to the Eastern Snow Conference of 2006, the number of snowflakes that have fallen in the history of the earth is 3 x 10 to the 38th power, a truly staggering number.
Much like the number of grains of sand in the world (approx. 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power) or number of stars in the galaxy (approx. 1 x 10 to the 24th power)
Impossible to comprehend.
But there are 1 x 10 to the 19th power water molecules in a typical snow crystal, which allows for the almost infinite number of arrangements.
Okay enough math!

These immense numbers are truly beyond the comprehension of this English major, so back to the unique, single, solitary snowflake.
No matter how unique it is, once mixed with other snowflakes, it basically loses its distinctiveness and becomes, simply, snow.
Which is often how I feel about books on a shelf.
Picture books specifically.
The unique, wonderful book that stirs my heart or makes me laugh or makes me cry becomes just another book, one among thousands, once it is placed on a shelf.
So much like the snowflake.

How can the brilliance of the book shine through when it is shelved, not by degrees of brilliance, but simply alphabetically, by last name?
How many amazing, engaging books have been missed because they were packed tight together in the blizzard that is the bookshelf?
As writers, we need to think of this.
How does our unique snowflake of a book stand out among the flurry of friendship books that exist?
Among the shower of school-themed books?
Among the hail of holiday books?
And, more importantly, how does our manuscript stand out in the slush pile?

Anna Quindlen said “Every story has already been told.”
How true is this?
But she also said, “… that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has every had.”
And how true is that?
So write your friendship story.
Type up that trip-to-the-zoo tale.
Scratch down a sibling story.
Sure, they’ve all been done before, but not quite like we will do it.
Our style, experience, and voice will make a story that has been told before new and distinctive.
We are all snowflakes.
Beautiful, individual and unique.
And so are our stories.                             Land Shark_FC_3D-2

Disclaimer: all numbers are based on quick research and are meant for fun, not fact!

Beth Ferry is the author of Stick and Stone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. and Land Shark, 2015. Pirate’s Perfect Pet is setting sail in the Fall of 2016. Her latest picture book, Swashby and the Sea, will be released in 2017. Beth writes and lives by the beach in New Jersey with her family and two lazy land sharks. You can learn more at http://www.bethferry.com.

Exercise For the Brain.

When your kids get tired of running around in the snow, and you don’t want them glued to video games while indoors, try some BRAIN GAMES.  There are numerous studies that tout the benefits of exercising our brains with different kinds of games and riddles.  The NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES has put together a collection of riddles and brain teasers for all ages.   Below is a sampling:

http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/games/riddles/

PALINDROMES: A palindrome is a word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward.  Example:  POP, DID, CIVIC.   Or this sentence: NOW I WON.  Check out the Palindrome riddles on this site as well as an alphabetical listing of palindrome words.

Can you create a sentence using only Palindrome words?

NOT SO HARD RIDDLES:

Where do fish keep their money?     In a riverbank

TUFF STUFF RIDDLES:

A man has to get a fox, a chicken, and a sack of corn across a river. He has a rowboat, and it can only carry him and one other thing. If the fox and the chicken are left together, the fox will eat the chicken. If the chicken and the corn are left together, the chicken will eat the corn. How does the man do it?  (CHECK OUT THE SITE FOR THE ANSWER)

You can also print out and play the LEAP FROG BRAIN TEASER GAME.  A perfect activity for a snow day stuck indoors.

There are REBUS PUZZLES, PROVERB FUN, NUMBER PUZZLES AND MORE.

Have fun and give your brain some exercise.

Celebrate Tea Month With…Tea Party Books.

Monday’s post was all about preparing  tea and how to have a fun-filled tea party.  Today I am bringing you some picture and middle grade books whose theme’s are TEA PARTIES.

  1. TEA PARTY RULES by Ame Dyckman, Illustrated by K G Campbell, is a delightful tale of a bear who wants to come to a little girls tea party.  But, he has a hard time following all her rules.
  2. MISS SPIDER’S TEA PARTY by David Kirk.  The title tells it all in this unique “spin” on the tea party genre.
  3. FANCY NANCY TEA PARTIES by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.  Nancy at her word-licious best presenting the ins and outs of a tea party.
  4. THE BOSTON TEA PARTY by Russell Freedman, illustrated by Peter Malone.

5. A soon-to-be-released book by Marissa Moss (Abrams) is titled AMERICA’S TEA PARTIES. This non-fiction book for middle grades tells of not just the famous Boston Tea Party, but also three others that took place in Philadelphia, Charleston, and New York.         Here’s the link to pre-order a copy: http://www.abramsbooks.com/product/americas-tea-parties_9781419718748/

6. Finally, my own MG historical WHEELS OF CHANGE features a pivotal scene where the heroine Emily hosts her first tea party.  Two of the guests include her nemesis – Beatrice Peabody – and her insufferable, and opinionated mother.  Emily is doing fine serving tea to the guests until Mrs. Peabody voices her opinion regarding Henry – a beloved employee of Emily’s Papa.  This is the moment when Emily discovers an unconventional use for tea.

WoCCover01

Wheels of change is available at Amazon or bookstores nationwide.   ISBN: 978-1-939547-13-2

 

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE TEA PARTY BOOKS?

 

Celebrate Hot Tea Month: Tea Parties Take 1

If you’ve never attended a formal tea ceremony or party, you’re missing a real treat.  I had the pleasure of sampling teas, finger sandwiches, and sweet treats like biscuits (what the British call cookies), and scones with clotted cream several years ago at a high tea ceremony in Vancouver.  But you don’t have to travel anywhere to enjoy a delicious cup of tea. Even kids can enjoy one…there are so many herbal varieties, so we don’t need to worry about caffeine.

January happens to be HOT TEA MONTH.  Here’s a link on how to brew a “Proper cuppa tea”.   http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-proper-cup-of-tea/              100_0382

While you’re enjoying sipping tea,  why not make some OLD FASHIONED TEA CAKES to have with a your tea?  Here is a link to one recipe:

http://southernfood.about.com/od/buttercookies/r/bln331.htm

You can also check my  previous blog posts for sugar cookies, and gingerbread.  Both go perfectly with a cup of tea.

Enjoy a tea party of your own in style. Set out cloth napkins, your best china and dress up for the occasion.  Kids love to pretend and it’s a great opportunity to review table manners and wind down from a hectic day.  Everything is meant to stop during tea time.  Just enjoy a relaxing hour of warm drinks, sweet nibbles, and pleasant conversation.  For more ideas on how to set a table, themes, and what to serve:  http://www.tea-party-circle.com/tea-party-decorations.html

Here’s a link for some make-your-own PAPER TEA CUPS AND SAUCERS and some nifty tea party games you can play. http://www.redtedart.com/2014/05/06/paper-teacup-printable-tea-party-games/

Friday I’ll show you some picture books and middle grade stories that feature tea parties.  Stay tuned.