karonadrummond

Because We Love Children

Ahoy, Matey! Yee-Haw! Let’s Play Ball!

Greetings! I do hope all my fellow Americans had a wonderful Independence Day. God Bless America!

As summer heats up, so does that great American pastime, baseball. When you and the kids aren’t watching or playing baseball, how about opening up a delightfully imaginative book about the sport? Take a look at Pirates at the Plate. The story and illustrations are by Mark Summers. The actual words are written by Aaron Frisch.

This book caught my eye right away with it’s detailed scratchboard illustrations. The picture on the cover reminds me a bit of Norman Rockwell’s famous illustration: “Gossip”.

The Pirates “arrr” facing the cowboys in this rollicking story. But that’s not just their team  names. No sir. They are  pirates and cowboys! Some of them be fictional, like Hopalong Cassidy, Long John Silver, and Captain Hook. Some of them be real, such as Wild Bill Hickok. And don’t forget Calico Jack, the pirate who designed the Jolly Roger.

Pirates at the Plate is a fun read-aloud. My third graders kept trying to figure out just what was going on. The ending encourages our youngsters to get involved in good old-fashioned play where imagination is at bat.

Maybe you and your kids will be inspired to make some of your own scratch illustrations. You might learn more about the characters in the book. Perhaps you’ll head outside for your own game or two. Let your imagination soar!

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Delighted by Dandelions


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: twowheelsblog.com

The next time I fill out a Secret Sister questionnaire at church, I have a new answer for favorite flower:
“Dandelion!”

Oh, I know. Even my third graders objected when I mentioned my love for the little yellow flowers.
“Weeds!” they declared. “Our parents don’t like them.”

Yes, I suppose a lot of people would like to eliminate dandelions from their yard. But according to http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com, dandelions are a good source of pollen to bees and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals to humans. Quite a weed, aye?

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(That’s me in shadow, out on my walk.)
As I was walking on a late winter’s day in Texas, bare trees stared down. Brown grass stared up. But out from the
monotony popped bright circles of pure sunshine, alongside sky-reaching stems topped by snowy orbs made of tiny potential parachutes. Drawn into the game, I playfully kicked the white orbs and watched as the parachutes lifted onto the wind, on their way to start the game afresh.


photo courtesy of Creative Commons: lookatmyhappyrainbow.com

I figure maybe I’m in good company with my love of dandelions. Robert Fulghum, in his acclaimed book of essays, All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,(www.robertfulghum.com) remarks that if dandelions were endangered, plant nurseries would  charge $14.95 a plant and start dandelion societies.

Young children know the joy of dandelions. They pick them by the handfuls. They blow the magical tufts aloft,
wishes soaring.


Image courtesy of Creative Commons: seenobjects.org

Bring some dandelions inside. Drizzle some yellow paint on a few paper towels. Let your kids make dandelion prints.
When the prints dry, the kids can add faces and other details with crayons or markers.

Complete the dandelion fun with a good book or two.

Dandelions: stars in the grass shows the remarkable life of the dandelion plant with crisp, colorful illustrations.

Another picture book: The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony tells the story of a lone dandelion seed reluctant to face the world. It is a story of courage. The illustrations are gorgeous.

Tonight, when I pillow my head, I will pray to be a bit more like the dandelion: a bright spot in a weary world, persevering in the face of adversity, a source of nourishment to the sojourner. And when the time is right, please lift my hopes, dreams, and plans. Please send them soaring to the place they are meant to be.

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Close a Screen, Open the World, Part 2

I LOVE books. Books on screens are okay. And I am glad they are available. But for young children (and for me),no

reading experience is quite as satisfying as a good book. I love to feel the book in my hands and physically turn each page. I love the fact that I can take a book anywhere with no need of an electrical charger or outlet.

One book that caught my attention recently is called Press Here by Herve’ Tullet. Press Here is a perfect picture book: simple and engaging. When I put this book in my library corner at school, everyone wanted a turn.

Press Here starts with one yellow dot on a white background. Each page gives the reader a new instruction to
do to the dot(s). One yellow dot becomes two dots, then three, all in primary colors. By following the tapping instructions, the reader is able to “make” the dots multiply,shift from one side of the other, turn out the lights, and turn the lights back on. Finally, the reader is empowered to clap the dots bigger and bigger until at last, the reader is back to one yellow dot. Then the reader is invited to start over.

This book could be followed up by some creative activities. You could give your child(ren) red, yellow, and blue paint.
Have them make dot art, using a thumb or finger. If you have time, try asking the kids to make one picture, then write
instructions at the bottom of the picture, such as “Press Here”. The next picture shows what happens when the instructions are followed. The children use the book for ideas on what would happen.

Happy reading and painting!

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Close a Screen, Open the World -Part One

One of our family goals this year is to turn screens off more often. Television screens, computer screens, I-Touch screens, hand-held game screens. All these screens make me scream! Hee, hee. Here I am typing this blog, staring at my computer screen.

I love email, blogging, and typing my words on a forgiving computer instead of a typewriter that leads me to endless
torrents of correction fluid. I devour a good movie and let it nourish me for days. Screens are part of my life.
But we need a balanced diet of activity.

While I seek the screen/non-screen balance in my life, I search for the balance in my children’s lives as well. When we turn off the screens, we see the world, we hear the voices coming from real humans present with us. We can hear our own voice. Or maybe we can be still long enough to listen until we can hear our inner voice once again.

I came upon a book recently that fits into this screen-closing experience. I browsed through it as I sat in the serenity
of our local library. The book is called: Unbored by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen

Unbored is jam-packed with all kinds of ways for kids and families to get busy doing, creating, and learning.
I can’t recommend every activity in the book, but there is a lot of great stuff. It’s so full that it is hard to know where to begin. A few examples of the contents are: “Make a Kumihimo Braid”, “Circus Tricks”, Popsicle Stick Harmonica”, “Backyard Forts and Shelters”, and “Make a Secret Book Safe.” Unbored gives bunches of fun facts as well, broken up into easy to read bites.

My screen time is just about up. It’s time to pack up the kids and head to the bookstore. I hope you and yours enjoy your screen time. Then close the screen. Open up the world.

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Putter in the New Year

Happy New Year to all you young and young at heart! Make some plans. Live some life. Dance the dance!

That’s just what Mr. Putter does in his newest adventure, Mr. Putter and Tabby Dance the Dance. Mr. Putter’s adventurous next-door friend, Mrs. Teaberry, convinces Mr. Putter to try ball-room dancing. Mr. Putter thinks of all the things he has to lose, “like his dignity and his nap time”. He hasn’t even danced since 1947.

All objections aside, Mr. Putter dons his suit. Mrs. Teaberry grabs a (ball-room) gown and her good (hearted) dog, Zeke.
Mr. Putter’s gentle old cat, Tabby, tags along.

In the ballroom, Tabby loves the sparkles. Zeke jumps into the tango.And despite having two left feet, Mr. Putter cha-chas with his delighted date, Mrs. Teaberry.

So, as 2013 is upon us, whether we are young, old, or somewhere in the middle, let’s lose the hum and pick up the drum. Let’s dance to the beat of the little wonders called good company and a joyful heart.

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A Little Christmas Gem of a Book

I was searching for some good books to read to my third graders when we had a few extra minutes to fill. It is tricky because I teach at a homeschool enrichment program. We only meet twice per week. I needed something short and sweet. And fun.

Enter Mr. Putter. If you have children who are learning to read, you’ll want to get to know Mr. Putter. He is the creation of Cynnthia Rylant (author) http://www.cynthiarylant.com/
and Author Howard (illustrator). http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Arthur-Howard/1515471

Mr. Putter is the grandfatherly gentleman who lives with his dear old cat, Tabby. Mr. Putter adopted Tabby because Tabby is old like him. But just because they are old does NOT mean that Mr. Putter and Tabby don’t have fun. In fact, fun is what they do best. And who better to share the fun than Mr. Putter’s kind, grandmotherly friend: a.k.a. next-door neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry. Mrs. Teaberry and her good (hearted) dog, Zeke, are always up for a new adventure with Mr. Putter and Tabby.

As I was looking for fun Christmas books to read to my third graders, I remembered Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake. Mr. Putter loves Christmas! But he has a problem: What to get Mrs. Teaberry? “Mrs. Teaberry liked strange things…like coconuts made into monkey heads and salt shakers that walk across the table. And (bleh) fruitcake.”

Mr. Putter had never in his life made a cake. But he decided to do just that for Mrs. Teaberry’s Christmas present. He would make her a “light, airy cake that would not break a person’s toe” (like a fruitcake might). And as for the rest,
well, you’ll have to read the book.

Even though Cynthia Rylant’s books are shelved with the easy readers in the library, they are still entertaining as a -third grader…or a thirty-forty-something-something. 🙂

If you don’t have time to run out and get Mr. Putter Bakes the Cake before Christmas, you could still check your local library after Christmas and read it as you reflect on your holiday. Or go take a look at the other Mr. Putter books. The gentle humor and delightful illustrations will surely bring a smile to your child’s (and your) face.

Merry Christmas!

Karona Drummond

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Super Sibling Series

If you have little ones, be sure and share this super series of picture books by Rosemary Wells. Max and Ruby are siblings;
brother and sister rabbits to be specific.Rosemary Wells illustrates her books as in addition to writing them.
The artwork is colorful, playful, and appealing.

Bunny Cakes has been around for quite awhile, but it’s still one of my favorite Max and Ruby books. Ruby is the bossy big sister and Max is the sweet, impish little brother. It’s Grandma’s Birthday. Ruby sends Max running back and forth to the store umpteen times. But Max still manages to prepare an impressive worm cake. Grandma, being the loving soul that she is, finds equal delight in Ruby’s edible cake creation and Max’s inventive (though less edible) cake.

Read to Your Bunny is another of my favorite of Rosemary Wells books.  Rosemary gently instructs us that if we spend 20 minutes a day reading to our little ones, the payoff will be big.

In Rosemary Wells’ speech about Read to Your Bunny, she says, ” Reading to your little one is like putting gold coins in the bank. It will pay you back tenfold.”

You can find this speech and much more on Rsoemary Wells’  helpful website for teachers, parents, and kids. She offers coloring pages, Bunny Money to print (This relates to her book, Bunny Money), and videos in which she describes some of her books for older children and the writing process involved. Check it out at rosemarywells.com

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Sibling Harmony?

 

 

 

If you’re like me, and have more than one kid in the house, there will be ups and downs as they learn to live in harmony. Don’t they argue over the silliest things sometimes? Once, when I was driving, my kids had an argument over a sucker wrapper. Not the sucker. The wrapper. It was so ridiculous that I just had to write about it. So here it is:

Apple Sucker Wrapper Snatcher
by Karona Drummond

My silly sister took
My apple sucker wrapper
My apple sucker wrapper
My silly sister took.

If my silly sister took
My apple apple sucker wrapper
That makes my silly sister
An apple sucker wrapper crook!

My silly sister is
An apple sucker wrapper snatcher
An apple sucker wrapper snatcher
My silly sister is.

If my silly sister is
An apple sucker wrapper snatcher
I’ll just have to eat this sucker
And put an end to this.

Slurp…Slurp…Slurp…CRUNCH!!!
(Burp).

Have a great day. Look for the humor. 🙂 The time will come when the backseat will be silent. Then we’ll miss all that silliness.

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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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