karonadrummond

Because We Love Children

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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Ordinary Blessings

Have you ever had days, weeks, maybe even months, when it seemed like everything was a blur? Maybe it was a good time. Maybe not so much.

As Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, let’s take some time in the midst of all the fun, preparations, and busyness
of the season to reflect on our everyday blessings. I enjoy this special time of year. But even more, I appreciate the “little”
blessings that I am granted on ordinary days.

Here is a poem I wrote to reflect those feelings. Enjoy!

Ordinary Blessings

Ordinary beauty
Of an ordinary day
Bubbles up inside me
In an effervescent way.

Ordinary sky
Ordinary sun
Ordinary oatmeal
Eaten on the run.

Ordinary conversation
Ordinary plans
Ordinary work
Done by ordinary hands.

Ordinary lunchtime
Eating bread and meat
Walking in the park
With ordinary feet.

Ordinary sunset
Seen from an ordinary car
Back to an ordinary house
With an ordinary yard.

Ordinary family
With smiles and hugs galore
Ordinary evening
Doing ordinary chores.

Thank you, Dear Lord
For this ordinary day
Filled with ordinary blessings
You so freely sent my way.

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Venus Flytrap Snap

Ahhh…what could be lovelier than a beastly meat eating plant? Actually a fly-eating plant. “Way cool!” say the kids.
I must agree. But as intimidating as the picture may seem, the Venus Flytrap is actually quite small. Perhaps you saw them in the stores last month. If you and your kids are studying botany, give the little Venus Flytrap a go.

If you go to mycarnivore.com, you’ll find a wealth of information on Venus Flytrap care, as well as care of other carnivorous plants. You can also order seeds and supplies.

Here’s a little poem I made up about the Venus Flytrap. If you want a tune for it, try the “Adams Family” tune. Happy fly snapping! 🙂

Venus Flytrap Snap
by Karona Drummond

I’m a Venus Flytrap
I am green and tiny
Bristly and spiny
A Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

If you are an insect
Come on in and inspect
My sweet, enticing smell
I betcha can’t tell
That I’m a Venus Flytrap
A Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

Come in if you dare
And touch two tiny hairs
You’ll be in my lair
“Cause I’m a Venus Flytrap!
(SNAP! SNAP!)

Please come on in
I need nitrogen
That’s my vitamin
I’m a Venus Flytrap!

“Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……”

SNAP! SNAP!!

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Helping the Learning Stay in Place

Recently, I had the honor of attending a workshop presented by Kathe Lee. Kathe Lee is a homeschool mom and educational consultant working with universities and families across the country to help students navigate the tricky path from high school to college to career success. If you live in or near the Dallas area and have the opportunity to hear Mrs. Lee speak, I highly recommend it. You can check out her website at KatheLee.com.

I attended the “Love to Learn”lecture. I scribbled notes like crazy. It was such good stuff. One thing that sticks with me the most is:

Kids don’t retain learning if they are frustrated or angry. They retain information when they are engaged in the learning process. Are we keeping our kids engaged? Not everything in life is a picnic. So how do we make learning engaging?

I’m not against workbooks. I use them myself. But if we’re just reading the material and doing the workbook (yawn),are we keeping our children engaged? Can we do better?

Getting your students involved in a hands-on way will help get them engaged, which will in turn lead to better learning retention. A couple of days ago we took a squishy ball like the one above during our spelling lesson. My daughter and I spelled out the words while throwing the ball back and forth. We did this in addition to writing the words and using the workbook. It put a smile on our faces, livened up our day, and helped those spelling words stay in place.

Have an engaging day!

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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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What Sibling Rivalry?

“I’ll get it.”

“No, you answered the phone last time. It’s my turn!”

“The dog needs to go out.”

“I’m busy. You let her out.”

“No, you!”

(together) “MOM…..!!”

Sound familiar? It was an every day situation at our house. It was about to drive me crazy!

Then a very nice lady at church, named Janice, gave me a parenting tool that changed my life. She told me that I could share it with you.It’s called “My Day/Your Day”. Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you have 2 kids. Kid 1 gets the odd numbered days of the month. Kid 2 gets the even numbered days. If you have more than 2 kids, divide up the month as evenly as possible so that everyone knows whose day it is. Mark it on the calendar if that helps.

The benefits to each child when it is his’her day: Kid of the Day gets to answer the door, answer the phone, first choice of which part of the bathroom to clean, gets to pick the bedtime story, etc. Make it fit your life.

The responsibilities of Kid of the Day: Let the dog out, take out the trash and recycling, relay the phone messages or write them down, etc. Again, adjust it to your household.

This has freed up quite a bit of brain space for me. I hope it does for you as well.

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Wholesome Mashed Potatoes

It’s been a packed week here. How about you? But we did make time for some comfort food. Mashed potatoes!

Here’s an easy way to make mashed potatoes better for you:

Cut and boil 5 lbs. potatoes. Call the kids. With them helping: Add a healthy buttery spread . Use Morton Lite Salt with 50% less sodium. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher.  Get out your blender.Put one 16 oz. container of fat free cottage cheese in the blender. Blend it on high until creamy. Stir all the creamed cottage cheese into the mashed potatoes. Get out your mixer. Let your kids take turns whipping those taters into a blissful fluff.

Enjoy! And don’t feel guilty. You have reduced the usual fat and sodium content of regular mashed potatoes. You have made them creamy without the cream Instead of fat, the cottage cheese added protein.

Blended cottage cheese also works great in dips for chips and veggies. Have fun experimenting!

This

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To Be…”Um” Free

Okay, we um all have words we like fall back on when we, uh, talk or read. For us, it is the pesky little “um”.

I’m not sure when “um” became a member of our household. But lately, it seems, that annoying  little “um” has become ubiquitous.
(I’ve always wanted to use the word ubiquitous. Maybe we’ll make it our homeschool word of the day. 🙂 )

I knew “um” was wearing out his welcome when he began to creep into my child’s reading. “Um” was in every other sentence.
And my child didn’t even know “he” was there.

What’s a mom to do? We’re pulling out the “um” buster duster!

When that unwanted “um” creeps into my dear child’s reading, we will gently dust it and send it on it’s way.

Soon, we will have “um-free” reading! 🙂 We need to celebrate. Out comes our laughter button: (These are available from Hallmark.)

When my dear child reads a paragraph and keeps that rascally “um” out, we celebrate with a push of the laughter button.
if we make it through the whole passage “um”-free, we can do the happy dance and maybe even go drum out a happy beat.

Are there unwanted “ums” (or other bad habits) in you child’s reading? I hope this  post might be a spring-board for you to show those
“ums” the door with a smile on your face. Maybe instead of a feather duster, you use the soft end of a funny pencil. Maybe instead of a laughter button, you use Staple’s “Easy” button. Or a bell, or harmonica… The idea is to have fun with it and get those unwanted words out of your child’s reading.

Here’s to an “um”-free day with plenty of smiles! 🙂

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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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