Because We Love Children

Drum On!

In the little farming community where I grew up, we managed to have a football team and a pep squad. But we were missing something.
A band. And DRUMS! So when I went off to college and attended college football games, I sat by the band. And the DRUMS!

I guess with a last name like Drummond, you might guess I like drums. And you would be right!

Kids and drums are a natural combination.  Give a kid a drum, some drum sticks, and see what happens. Go ahead and put some cotton in your ears first.  I won’t tell. 🙂

Seriously though, if you don’t have some drums around and you are a parent, a homeschool teacher, or even a classroom teacher, please consider letting your kids explore drums. Check garage sales, craigslist, and such. I’ve acquired  3 or 4 “real” drums that way.
In the meanwhile, oatmeal containers and coffee tubs work fine and are quieter. For drumsticks, try pencils or dowel rods.

As for drum books, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins,  is a must read. It starts with just one thumb, one monkey “drumming  on a drum”. Along the way, “Monkeys drum…and monkeys hum.” More monkey business ensues. Next, “hand in hand more monkeys come” until ” millions of fingers, millions of thumbs, millions of monkeys drumming on drums”. The monkey masses depart. The last page again shows one lone monkey, happily drumming with one thumb. The words also bring the commotion to a close, getting smaller and smaller as they thumb out one last “Dum ditty Dum ditty Dum dum”.

Al Perkins has the rhyme and rhythm thing down pat. Eric Gurney’s clearly illustrated, friendly monkeys invite you to read this story again and again.  Try adding a tune. Beat out the rhythm. Have fun!

You can revisit this book with older kids when they learn about onomatopoeia. (on-oh-mot-a-pea-uh). Say that three times fast. Tee-hee! Onomatopoeia is one of my favorite words.It refers to words that are like the sound they make. Some onomatopoeia words in Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb are: drumming, dum-ditty, hum, blow, whack, strum, and zum. And yes.  I did have to look up how to spell onomatopoeia. What a crazy, wonderful word!

One more book about drums that I highly recommend is by Graeme Base. This Australian author is multi-talented. He also illustrates his books…gorgeously. Graeme Base was on a book tour a few years back. He actually made it to my home town in Texas! We had the honor of meeting Mr. Base in person. He signed  books  for us. Wow!

In Jungle Drums, Ngiri Mdogo (means “little warthog” in Swahili) is being teased by the other warthogs because he is so small. And if that’s not bad enough, the “Other Animals” of the jungle hold a parade with prizes for the most beautiful. The warthogs don’t even waste their time entering. Life just isn’t fair!

Wise Old Warthog gives Ngiri a gift: magical bongo drums which will grant any wish. Hmmm….What do you think Ngiri wishes for? How do you think it works out? What if you could have anything you wanted, tomorrow morning, with just a beat of a drum and a wish?  Look in on the littlest warthog and see how it goes. And after you read the story, go back and search for Graeme Base’s cleverly hidden illustrations within the illustrations.

Also consider using drums in your teaching. When I homeschool, my kids and I bang out our spelling words and math facts on the drums. When we finish, we aren’t just smarter, we feel better. We have whacked away the day’s frustrations in a productive and non-violent way.

So go get a drum. And “dum-ditty, dum-ditty, dum, dum,”  DRUM!!!

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A Horse, of Course!

Imagine. You are cowboy. It’s your birthday. Your friends throw you a party. Sounds great so far, right? your freinds give you a saddle. The saddle bears a tag with 2 simple instructions:

1. Find a horse.
2. Enjoy the ride.

You have just two problems. You have no idea what a horse is. And you have no idea where to find one!

In Andy Rash’s rootin’ tootin’ picture book, Are You a Horse?, that’s just the scene. you get to follow
Roy the cowboy through deserts, jungles, and grasslands in search of the mysterious animal known as “horse”.

This book is a hilarious read-aloud. Put on your Texas drawl. (Or in my case, just amplify it 🙂
Try it. You and your audience will grin.

I have used this book with my third graders in science class. While this book is playful and surprising, it can also be useful for teaching. As Roy goes on his quest to find a horse, he learns to classify. He learns that a horse is a living thing. Then he discovers that a horse is an animal, not a plant.He finds out from a snake that a horse is an animal with legs. An owl instructs Roy that horses do not lay eggs. And so it goes until Roy’s persistence pays off.

The ending is a whinny! Have fun with this book!

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Watch That Attitude!

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer, artist, and politician 1749-1832

I remember first seeing this quote on a perpetual calendar for teachers that I kept in my preschool classroom. It stuck with me. How true is this quote! If you’re a parent, homeschool teacher, classroom teacher,or a person who lives and works around other people, take a moment to re-read the quote. Wow! I think I need to post this one on the fridge and look at it every day.

We all struggle with attitude from time to time. Too much to do, too little free time, etc. . But I expect the children in my classroom and my own kids at home to display a pleasant, cooperative attitude. What kind of an example am I setting?

I do fairly well displaying a good attitude in the classroom 2 days per week. But on my days at home homeschooling my own children, don’t I owe them just as pleasant a person as I present publicly? Ouch!

Here is a silly poem I came up with to help my kids and myself to banish the “ratty attitude”. It’s yours for the quoting. I hope it gives you a smile and a boost toward creating a cooperative and pleasant climate with your kids and students.

Beware the Ratty Attitude by Karona Drummond

BEWARE the ratty attitude…

It will haunt you
Day and Night!

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
If it had teeth
It would bite!

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
It is sure
To distort your face.

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
Ratty attitude
Is a disgrace.

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
If it had odor
It would STINK!!

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
A ratty mindset
Cannot think.

BEWARE the ratty attitude…
When you see it coming…

Put away that ratty attitude
And your work
Will soon be


Baa, Baa, Green Sheep

At least, the green sheep would say, “Baa, Baa”, if we could just find her. For bleating out loud, where is that elusive green sheep? That, my picture book loving friends, is the question.

If you’re looking for a good picture book, you’ve found one when you pick up Mem Fox’s playful story, Where is the Green Sheep?

What makes a good picture book? Brevity. Clarity. Playfulness. Succinctness.Where is the Green Sheep is less than 200 words total. And yet, Mem Fox worked for months to get those few words just right.

A good picture book is heavily dependent on the illustrations. Judy Horacek’s brightly colored, outlined in black illustrations are the perfect compliment to Mem Fox’s text.

This book makes a great read aloud to one child or a whole class. Picture books don’t have to be in rhyme, and rhyme can be hard to do well. But Mem Fox uses rhyme and rhythm that is music to read aloud. The kids get caught up in looking for the green sheep, and along the way get to meet such loveable characters as blue sheep, red sheep, bath sheep, bed sheep, thin sheep, wide sheep,
swing sheep, slide sheep, and many more. Your child(ren) will be learning colors, opposites, and visual skills. And they will be so caught up in the story, they won’t even realize they are learning!

Mem Fox and Judy Horacek collaborated on this book. It’s not often that the illustrator and the author get to work together. Usually it’s a separate process. I hope to see more from this team. And what is funny to me is, Mem says she doesn’t even like to write picture books! But she’s so “baagone” good at it. (I couldn’t resist 🙂

If you’re a children’s author, educator, or parent, I encourage to to visit Mem Fox’s website. It contains a wealth of information on Mem, her books, and the writing process. Mem even has a video of herself singing one of her books.
Drop by her website at http://www.memfox.net and browse. You’ll be glad you did!

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I admit it. I struggle with organization at home. This homeschool mom has created a beautiful and inviting learning area for her children. Way to go!

Mama Hear Me Roar

The phrase “our school room” is a bit of a misnomer because for Puppy, Lamb and Piglet (6yo, 4yo and 18mo) our school room is just about everywhere.

For seat work, however, we have a central work room – our dining. I debated between having a specific room dedicated to school (upstairs, to avoid our dining looking like a school room), but decided that keeping it downstairs near the kitchen would help me supervise all 3 kids better especially when I have to run to the kitchen periodically to take a pot off the stove or run outside to retrieve some laundry. Our upstairs also gets very hot and humid during the day, so being downstairs is so much more comfortable for everyone.

1. Seat work room

Our 6yo utilises the dining table to avoid the 18mo getting into her work. Next to the dining table we have these white…

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A Letter for The Teacher

As school fast approaches, parents, teachers, and kids enjoy the last long days of summer while preparing for the new school year. I will be teaching third graders 2 days per week. I decided this year to have each child fill out a letter to me in class to help me to get to know them a little better. Feel free to use this as is or tweak it to your needs.

You could use this letter form as a parent and send it with your child to school the first week. Or if you’re a teacher like me, you may want to number the blanks and have the kids give you suggestions which you can write on the board to help the children with spelling. I plan to read the letters, give the children credit for completing them, store them, and return them at the end of the year for the children to keep. Happy writing! Here’s the format:

Dear _________________________________________________(teacher’s name),

I am really _____________________________________________________(positive emotion adjective) to be in your class this school year.

I had a lot of fun this summer doing this:______________________________________.

My favorite subject at school is________________________________________________.

I also like_____________________________________________________________________.

I might need help with_________________________________________________________.

I am good at__________________________________________________________________.

I hope we learn about_________________________________________________________.

I also hope we get to__________________________________________________________.

Thank you for being my teacher. I will be respectful, work hard, learn, and be a good citizen of my class.


_________________________________________________________ Date:_____________________________________________

I drew this picture for you:

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Picture Books as Friends

I said goodbye to some sweet friends last week. Twelve of them were preschoolers. Do you have or have you ever had preschoolers in your life? They are the most fun, amazing, precious little people. They are excited about the whole wide world! If you have preschoolers in your life, consider yourself most blessed.

I taught  those preschoolers for a few short weeks this summer. Too soon, we had to say, “So long.” Summer session is over at our school. I’ll be going back to work with elementary aged children, who are also delightful to teach and to be around.

But the preschoolers weren’t the only ones I was sad to say goodbye to. I brought suitcase loads of picture books to school. Some of the books are permanent residents of my house. Some are guests from the library. I believe kids need to get their hands on good books…lots of them! If you have  children at home, I hope you have books, books, all around.

I don’t have room or money to give a home to every book I love. So many of the books pay a visit to our home for a few weeks. Both of  my own kids are past preschool. So picture books come to visit  less frequently than they used to. After summer school ended , I took the suitcase full of the week’s picture books from the library and said a fond goodbye…until the next time I get to teach those wondrous preschoolers.

But the time will come when I’ll teach the preschoolers once more. And out will come the picture books…like dear friends, we’ll take back up right where we left off, in the land of possibility.

Stay tuned in the days to come. Before picture books get moved too far back in my mind, I would like to share some of my favorite picture books, authors, and illustrators.

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Simple Sunny Summer Science



The summer sun continues to beat down, day after day. I dwell in my cave (my home) with the front shades closed and thank God for the inspired soul who invented the air conditioner!!      The summer blaze will burn on for at least another month…or two. So why not make some use out of it? It’s time to teach our kids a little about the power of the sun.

For starters: If you have young children and a sidewalk or some concrete outside, try this: Take paintbrushes of different sizes and some containers of water outside. Then let the painting begin! Let them paint the sidewalk, the fence, the trees, the house, and themselves. Then watch as the water marks evaporate quickly. You may also try bringing out shallow container of water large enough for your kids to step into (barefoot). The kids walk across the concrete, watching the footprints they made. How many can they make with just one trip into the water container? How long does it take for the water to evaporate? Try timing the evaporation time on different surfaces and in different locations. If you’re feeling really industrious, and have children old enough to read and write, make predictions on paper. Then write down you actual results. Take photos and make a poster. It’s simple sunny summer science!

How many of you have access to a clothesline or drying rack? Have the kids help you take freshly laundered clothes, hang them up and put them outside to dry. Again, you can make predictions on how long it will take for the clothes to become completely dry. Try drying some clothes on a drying rack inside while other clothes are drying outside. What is the difference in the drying time? We dry our clothes outside on drying racks most of the time during the hot summer. We put the clothes into the dryer when they are just still a little damp and fluff them. It helps out when the summer (ouch!) electricity bill rolls in.

Finally, how about a lesson in the sun’s ability to melt…chocolate! Get a glass baking dish. Pour some healthy, crunchy unsweetened or very lightly sweetened whole grain  cereal in the dish.  Add plenty of semi-sweet chocolate chips.Cover the dish with a transparent cover such as plastic wrap. Set the dish outside in direct sunlight. In a few minutes, the chocolate chips begin to melt. How long does it take? Take the dish back inside. How long does it take for the chocolate chips to harden again? What happened to the chocolate after it solidified (good vocabulary word)? After you have experimented and documented your results, it’s time to eat your experiment… with a tall glass of ice cold milk or on top of ice cream.

Mmmmmm…Maybe that ol’ summer sun ain’t so bad after all. 🙂


Charmed by a Gooney Bird

I was at one of my favorite hangouts-the public library.

What audio book could the kids and I listen to next? Then I saw it The Gooney Bird Collection by Lois Lowry.

I knew Lois Lowry for her thought provoking, deeply moving children’s novels, such as  The Giver and Number the Stars. Could she write humor too?

After the first chapter of Gooney Bird Greene, I know the answer was an enthusiastic YES!!

Lois Lowry is a genius. She uses unique, quirky, self-assured little girl named Gooney Bird Greene and Gooney’s second grade class  to introduce young readers to the elements of storytelling.

Spend some time with Gooney Bird, her understanding, literature-loving teacher, Mrs. Pidgeon, and the cast of endearing students at Watertower Elementary School. You’ll be glad you did.

You can find out more about Lois Lowry and her books at http://www.loislowry.com.

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