Monday, October 12, 2015

Re-Post: Fancy Nancy Father Daughter Tea Party, Summer 2010

***Many moons ago, I had another blog titled "Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian". This was one of the most popular posts there, and since I have recently reminisced with two of the families pictures below about how much their kids have grown, I thought it would be fun to re-post it here!***

Fathers often get the shaft, holiday-wise. Mother's Day falls nicely at the end of the school year, when teachers and librarians are looking for nice fun crafts to keep the kiddos busy until school lets out. Father's Day? Beginning of June. No school, and librarians are often too thick in the middle of Summer Reading to add an extra event. We weren't too sure how this would go over ourselves, until we started getting sweetly formal voicemails like, "Janey will be attending the tea Saturday, escorted by her grandfather." Two little girls informed us that they were hoping their new dresses would be ready in time. We decided to buy more cookies...

We ended up with 24 daddies and daughters, just the right number for our room. We had a plethora (that's a fancy word for lots) of pink:

Our planned backdrop never arrived, but at the last minute we remembered the castle tucked away in the storeroom:

This young princess was escorted by her big brother.

We invited our guests to come in their fanciest attire, and they certainly did not disappoint.

The hats! The gloves!

And the Daddies! The one who just got in from Okinawa last night, but who made sure he got his girls to the tea party. The Grandpa who not only brought his granddaughter, but let her plaster stickers on his face. The Daddy who, when another Daddy couldn't make it at the last minute, added an extra princess to his family for the afternoon (a little girl he had never met! He is our hero for the week!)

All our Daddies were very special, and it was so much fun to watch them glueing sequins and stringing jewelry with their princesses. We made tiaras and picture frames together, and took pictures at the castle to go in the frames. Daddies and Grandpas wrote the stories of when they first met their princesses. More sweetness!

Some more pictures we just have to share:

Them're some good cupcakes!

Tooooooooooooo cute!

In short, we completely overdosed on cuteness today, and are already looking forward to doing this again next year. We would like to thank all our Daddies and Princesses for coming today, and wish them all the very best of Father's Days!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fire Prevention Week 2015

Usually I start off the Fire Prevention Week assembly at the school outside, taking pictures. This year I decided to wait inside, and take video. 

I really know how to mix things up, huh?

Ignore the child at :06 racing back from the bathroom.

Alarm goes off, and at :12, the kids discover the primary exit is blocked. They weren't expecting that, but they immediately knew to turn around and head the other way! Awesome job, guys!

:28 remembering to wave to Mommy on the way out (Christopher ignored me).

:56 everyone out - and the fire department is already here! Amazing response time!

Ignore the pink ribbon of death.

1:53 head count complete, we are missing one! Aaliyah must still be inside! Oh, no!!

2:17 Emmett vows, "We'll find her! We will!!"

Meanwhile, the flames rage on...

EMS and Fire personnel do their thing:

Tommy suits up with absolutely no one helping him, because we are busy video taping.

:30 Cody asks, "Does he realize he has that on upside down?"
:36 Yes, he does.
1:17 Alex has located the victim, and gives the others directions.
1:25 The exceptionally brave Cody announces, "If it's on fire, I'm not going in."

They found her!

:26 Aaliyah looks like she isn't entirely sure what "intubating" is, but she doesn't think she wants me doing it.
:48 Her classmates are literally jumping for joy.

She was whisked off to the ambulance, given oxygen, and pronounced fit to join the rest of the school in the auditorium.

Alex makes sure everyone knows what we look like when we come into a fire.

Tommy explains what each part of our gear does.

The intrepid EMS crew

Our safety officer, who always seems to be on the verge of shaking his head at us.

Showing off the latest in Wildland Fire fashion.

The students were all very attentive.

Shane...not so much.

And then we got to train some future firefighters!

P.S. She DOES have jackets that fit, but Daddy gave her this one. Three years ago.

Alex always gets the fun jobs.

I didn't get a shot of Christopher with the hose, because he knocked the whole house down!

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped, and to HRMP Elementary for letting us come and play with you!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Review: Gwendolyn Grace, by Katherine Hannigan

Gwendolyn Grace

Bad parenting confession time. When Christopher was younger, I told him not to stick toys or anything into electrical outlets, but I completely failed to tell him not to LICK them.

Oh, sure, go ahead and laugh - but YOU try explaining that to the nice lady on the nurse hotline. Come to think of it, I think she was laughing, too. The blisters did go away after a couple days.

Point being, SOME people's children are extremely literal and need very specific instructions on what not to do at times. Like, when Mommy asks you to be quiet so the baby can sleep. So hard when you're an adorable alligator with lots of exciting ideas! Fortunately, Mommy and Gwendolyn come up with the perfect solution.

Be prepared to snort a time or two while reading this, especially if you have a little Gwendolyn (or two or four) at home. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Review: Blown Away by Rob Biddulph

Blown Away

"Come on an unexpected journey with a fearless blue penguin and meet the friends he makes along the way."

Penguin is all set to try out his new kite, but he soon gets...blown away! Different friends try to help, and are instead carried along for the ride (laundry and all). The rollicking (yes, really, rollicking fits here) rhyme and understated expressions make this a plain old fun read-aloud, for groups or one-on-one. The happy ending has a surprise kids will be pleased to pick up on, and lends itself to a story extension. Little ones who can read will enjoy the humor found on the signs that are part of many illustrations. This is Biddulph's first book, but hopefully not his last.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Alike and Different series by Lisa Bullard, illustrated by Renee Kurilla

While social studies tends to get the short shrift these days, diversity is a topic that still comes up in the curriculum quite often. Cloverleaf (Lerner) has a new series out that seems just right for the elementary school classroom:

My Clothes, Your Clothes     My Family, Your Family
9781467760300               9781467760294

Whew! My head was almost spinning at how inclusive these tried to be - which, of course, is part of the point of the series. Different types of families (not just in that particular title), different races, religions, cultures, gender roles, even types of schools. Fortunately, Bullard (and Kurilla in her illustrations) manage to integrate them all without it appearing forced. Kids can spot a didactic book a mile away!

This series, outlining some of the ways we are the same and different, also includes title about food, homes, language, and religion. Judging from these two, every possibility is presented in a completely positive light. On the one hand, if you were a teacher wanting to start discussions about diversity in a class, you probably wouldn't want to even hint that there are right and wrong ways to have a family, so positive is good. On the other hand, you may very well have kids in your class from divorced parents who do NOT get along swimmingly, so they may have a hard time identifying with these characters. Just something to be aware of, however you use the books.

I liked Kurilla's illustrations a bit more than some of the other artists Cloverleaf has used - diverse, but not as cartoony. Each title includes an art project at the end, which would be suitable for a classroom or home. Since my review copies are paperback, we will be ordering the whole series in hardcover soon, because I predict they will circulate frequently!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: From Strawberry to Jam by Lisa Owings

From Strawberry to Jam

This title is part of the popular Start to Finish series from Lerner. There are at least 30 titles in the series right now, all around a second grade reading level. All have bright, glossy photographs paired with short paragraphs of text, explaining the basic steps in production for that particular item.

Basic is an operative word, here - these aren't something you could use to, say, make and can your own jam, or produce your own table salt from ocean water. I have made a can or two of jam in my time...

and saw a couple minor errors in photographs. The point of the series, however, is to give kids an overview of how some of the things they may buy in stores come to be, while working on reading skills - sequencing and vocabulary are strong in this series, and a smart teacher will jump on the chance to have kids write their own how-to books. 

As usual with Lerner, the binding is excellent, and the 'extras' - glossary, index, resources for additional information - are well done and appropriate for the level. Overall, I highly recommend the series for school or public libraries.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Review: Barnyard Kids - A Family Guide for Raising Animals, by Dina Rudick

Barnyard Kids: A Family Guide for Raising Animals

I feel really bad about this one. Not about the book itself, or even about my review of it. What I feel badly about is that it sat on my review pile for so long! I wanted to make sure I had enough time to really sit down and look at this one, and...well, when do we ever have enough time for anything, moms?

Most of the time, books are sent to e seemingly at random, but I specifically asked to see this title. Many of our friends here have farms of varying sizes, and there are several large ranches in the area. Two of my kids are in 4H, and members of our club have everything from pigs and cows to an extremely tame rat who steals my hoop earrings at meetings. Kids have been working family farms and dabbling in pet rabbits for centuries - so, you would think there would be a good variety of books about farm animals at their level.

Nope. Fiction, sure. Junior readers that tell you a baby sheep is called a lamb, and you should give it food and water, sure. Nonfiction geared towards upper elementary readers, with actual instructions and useful information? Not so much.

The Introduction and Foreword of Barnyard Kids caught my attention right away. In the Introduction, Rudick gives a basic overview of considerations you will need to make before deciding what type of animal, and how many, you might want to raise. Each of the chapters goes into more detail about what particular animals require, but it's nice to start the book with those questions in mind, hopefully prompting readers to keep an open mind rather than just skip to reading about the animal that strikes their fancy the most. I could immediately see this being of use to a family starting off in 4H or a Vo-Ag program, and unsure of how to get their feet wet.

In the Foreword, Ben Holmes, founder of The Farm School, outlines the history and goals of that program - which I had never heard of before! I will let readers click on the link to get more information about The Farm School, but what is pertinent here is that Rudick spent a year on what is called Maggie's Farm, and this book is written out of what she learned there. It is also worth noting that the Forword itself may add kindling to a new family's fire to get their kids involved with farming in some big or small way.

I paid most attention to the chapters on chickens, goats and rabbits, since those are animals I have raised myself (the book also includes pigs, sheep, cows and horses). I found the text to be just the level I've been looking for - about a 5th grade reading level, with actual meaty information you can use. In fact, I almost immediately found out something I didn't know - chickens can't swallow! Rudick explains why, clearly enough that a young reader could, say, explain it to a judge when she is showing her chickens at the county fair. 

Each chapter has four scetions: In "What Makes Them Tick",  Rudick discusses food and water needs, hygiene, instinct, and social needs of the animals (bullying chickens, a pig's love of routine, etc.).

In "What Makes Them sick", we have, quite obviously, signs and causes of illness, vaccination needs, basic medical supplies, etc. "Where Do They Live?" addresses housing - giving both general needs and some specific suggestions.

"What Can They Give" covers everything from meat or by-products you might think of (eggs, wool) to some you might not - the usefulness of pig poop, for example. 

Chapters also include a Q & A for topics that weren't covered in each section, such as different breeds of each animal, and whether it can be housed with other animals (goats and chickens together are a great idea, especially if you aren't keen on scooping up goat poop). Finally, a two-page spread details the daily/weekly/monthly chores associated with each animal, which may keep some of us from getting in over our heads. 

The photographs are wonderful, but occasionally misplaced - for example, opposite the Introduction, which talks about the benefits raising animals can bring, we have someone toting a crate of potatoes. What kind of chicken lays those, exactly? The diagrams and fast facts give good additional information, in keeping with the flow and age level of the text.

Overall, i was very pleased to be able to add this title to our collection, and hope to find more like it. This appears to be Rudick's only book so far - perhaps she will consider stand-alone books for each animal, maybe adding more details on different breeds, medical care, and showmanship? Just a thought!

If you have any sort of farming community in your area (or if those baby chicks at Tractor Supply are calling to you), I highly recommend purchasing a copy (published by Quarry Books).