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Results 1 - 25 of 488
1. Trace Balla’s Time to Shine

Up-and-comer author illustrator, Trace Balla, has quickly hit the scene with the recent success of ‘Rivertime‘, being both shortlisted in the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Awards, and winning this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize. Her work stems from a background in art therapy, animations and community involvement, with […]

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2. Look away now: The prophecies of Nostradamus

If you like your prophecies pin sharp then look away now. The 16th century celebrity seer Nostradamus excelled at the exact opposite, couching his predictions in terms so vague as to be largely meaningless. This has not, however, prevented his soothsayings attracting enormous and unending interest, and his book – Les Propheties – has rarely been out of print since it was first published 460 years ago. Uniquely, for a renaissance augur, the writings of Nostradamus are perhaps as popular today as they were four and a half centuries ago.

The post Look away now: The prophecies of Nostradamus appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Over on the Farm

Written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Cathy Morrison, published by Dawn Publishing
Ok, it's not a birthday image, (our inspirational word for June is Birthday) but it's the cover for a book I have coming out Spring 2016. Artwork for this book is complete and I'm working away on a second book that will be released the same date. I'll post more about this book and others on my Studio With A View Blog soon.

Thanks for taking a look!

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4. the last half day

Due to a curious solution to the problem of too many snow days, our school year ended at 12:30 on Monday.  We finished everything important on Friday, and I had hoped just a little that maybe no one would come on Monday--but they did, and we found lots of nice ways to fill that last few hours (including giving everyone one last chance to count to 100, an assessment I had forgotten to squeeze in--just as well they all came!).

And then they were gone.


Sometimes a meager harvest

The last half day--
walls stripped, treasure bags packed,
Jim Joe jumped one last time;
gifts given and received,
farewell hugs ceremoniously
hugged, fast and earnest,
because we'd run out of time again
one last time.

Now the room  is hollow, dead--
nothing living but the teacher and
a single valiant sugar snap vine,
three feet high and climbing
a string up the Weather Window.
On the one vine, at the top, hangs
a single beautifully formed,
pleasingly plump green pod.

Teacher steps out of her sandals
onto a low chair and up onto
the radiator, plucks the fat pod
full of peas she forgot to share
and eats it, all by herself--
one last sweet crunchy mouthful
swallowed alone in the classroom
on the last half day.

HM 2015
all rights reserved

***********************
Mary Lee herself is rounding up remotely at A Year of Reading today.  Go get yourself some farmyard fun and lots of poetry goodness from around the Kidlitosphere!


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5. Fowler’s Toad: He Chose Our Pond


The Aliens Inc, Chapter Book Series

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One night In May, I noticed a very loud sound from right outside our window. My husband, Dwight, has a fish pond right outside our kitchen door.

The fish pond is used by our outdoor cat for drinking water. Notice the toads in the lower left corner.
The fish pond is used by our outdoor cat for drinking water.



The sound was loud! So, on May 26, I whipped out my iphone and taped the noise.

You’ll hear the noise at 7 seconds into the tape, and 12 seconds, 18 seconds and 23 seconds. The sounds came from a small frog or toad. After comparing my recording to recordings of frogs/toads of Arkansas, I concluded we had a Fowler Toad, which is common in this area.

After reading more, I realized that this toad had chosen our pond as a breeding pond. He chose us! He chose our pond!

As a child, I remember we raised tadpoles once. I was excited about the chance to watch the process again, especially because my grandkids could watch this time.

The toad sang and sang for several nights. All night long, it seemed.

Then, on June 11, I took a morning walk and came back to find two Fowler toads in the pond. The girl showed up!

Fowler Toad with Egg String


Fowler Toads mate in what’s called amplexus, which means the eggs are externally fertilized. The smaller male is usually on the female’s back for the duration.

Another view of the couple.
Another view of the couple.



After the mating, the female is trying to find a way out of the slippery sides of the pond. I had to put a fish net on the edge for her to get out. The male hopped out easily.
After the mating, the female is trying to find a way out of the slippery sides of the pond. I had to put a fish net on the edge for her to get out. The male hopped out easily.


Tadpoles: Day 3

We watched the pond every day and on Day 3, we found tadpoles! Dozens and dozens. Scientists report that the Fowler Toads may lay 5000-25,000 eggs at a time. But the pond had several goldfish and I knew that many of the eggs would be eaten before they could hatch.

Now, there are dozens and dozens of tadpoles.

Dozens of tadpoles hatched. However, they are shy and don't like to be photographed.
Dozens of tadpoles hatched. However, they are shy and don’t like to be photographed.


Close-up of the tadpole.
Close-up of the tadpole.



The Flamingo's eye view of the pond and the toads.
The Flamingo’s eye view of the pond and the toads.



As a person who writes science and nature books for kids, I am always conscious of the possibilities. But this isn’t a book, and may never become one. The story is too common; it’s not ground-breaking science. It’s just fun. And that’s enough.

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6. #708 – National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 by Nat. Geo Society & Nat. Geo Kids Magazine

cover2
National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016
National Geographic Society & National Geographic Kids Magazine
National Geographic Society        5/12/2015
978-1-4263-1921-1
352 pages         Age 8—12
.

“This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating articles about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include a special section on animal friends; an updated “Fun and Games” chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; a new “Dino Myths Busted” feature; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special “15 Facts” feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more! And, this is the only kids’ almanac with mobile media features that allow kids to access National Geographic videos, photo galleries, and games.” [publisher]

Review
National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016—Wow, where do I start? Color blasts out from every page. The photography is as spectacular as National Geographic photography has always been—brilliant, intimately detailed, knock-you-off-your-feet fantabulous. Divided into ten sections, the Kids Almanac 2016 begins with a section on interesting things happening in 2016, and then it explores the usual topics of history, culture, science, geography, nature, and animals. The almanac also includes a section on green technology and its effect on Earth, and a section about exploration and survival. Most likely, a favorite for kids will be the section on games. Actually, the Kids Almanac 2016 contains a game throughout the entire 350 pages. In each chapter is a clue. Find all ten clues and you can open up digital extras.

dino mythsIn reading the Kids Almanac 2016, I think National Geographic has covered all the subjects kids will find interesting and all those they need to know about. Adults can get a lot out of this almanac as well. There is a tremendous amount of information in this relatively small book. I loved the animal topics, of which there are many. Kids interested in dinosaurs will find a prehistoric timeline, nine “Bet you didn’t know” facts, and myths. Each section ends with a quiz on that section’s subject. When you cannot get to a place, or want to know what is happening in different places around the world, the Kids Almanac 2016 is a tremendous aid. Kids can also dig a little deeper in subjects they love and learn about subjects they never thought about or thought were dull. There is not one tedious word or picture in the Kids Almanac 2016. Here are a few subjects I found to be amazing:

“Secrets of the Blue Holes”
Animal photography and how to get the shot.
“The Wonders of Nature: the Oceans”

Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“16 Cool Facts about Coral Reefs”
The jokes and comics in Fun and Games
Orangutan to the Rescue (Survival Story)”

What would a National Geographic book be without its gorgeous maps? The Kids Almanac 2016 has plenty of maps and flags. I think the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is a must read, if not a must have, for kids, especially middle graders who will learn a lot without realizing they are learning. The Kids Almanac 2016 is fun, exciting, and interesting. The pages are colorful, the photographs and images extremely detailed, and the subject matter is diverse.

volcanosThough kids are just now beginning to enjoy their summer school breaks, the Kids Almanac 2016 will keep them reading through the summer, which will help kids during their next school year, make them more informed about their world. Parents concerned about the books their kids read will have not one worry about this almanac. Every word, every subject, and every article is kid-friendly. The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is an interesting read that will keep kids hooked long past summer vacation.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2016. Text and images copyright © 2015 by National Geographic Society. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, National Geographic Society in partnership with National Geographic Kids Magazine, Washington DC.

Purchase National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 at AmazonBook DepositoryNational Geographic.

Kids! Join the National Geographic Kids Book Club HERE!
Teachers and Librarians can find additional information at: http://www.ngchildrensbooks.org
National Geographic Educational site is HERE.

Learn more about National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 HERE.
Check out the National Geographic Society website: http://www.nationalgeographic.com
Find other National Geographic books at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/books
Learn more about the National Geographic Kids Magazine at the website: http://www.kids.nationalgeographic.com

Kids Almanac 2015 
.
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 496

nat geo kids almanac 2016


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: and animals, culture, fun, games, geography, going green, history, liss instructive information, maps, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016, National Geographic Kids Magazine, National Geographic Society, nature, science

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7. Sexual deception in orchids

“In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love” (Alfred, Lord Tennyson), but he could have said the same for insects too. Male insects will be following the scent of females, looking for a partner, but not every female is what she seems to be. It might look like the orchid is getting some unwanted attention in the video below, but it’s actually the bee that’s the victim. The orchid has released complex scents to fool the bee into thinking it’s meeting a female.

The post Sexual deception in orchids appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Five ways nature can improve our health

How does nature benefit our health? Many of us intuitively know that we simply feel better after ‘stepping out for some fresh air.’ Now over 30 years of research has begun to reveal exactly what health benefits we get from nature. Here are five reasons why we need to make space and time for nature in our lives.

The post Five ways nature can improve our health appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Tortoise and Hare's Amazing Race

Yesterday I received ARCs (advanced reading copies) of my second book coming out this fall. It's Tortoise and Hare's Amazing Race by Marianne Berkes, a retired teacher and librarian, now a full time children's book author and presenter. This is our third picture book together and we are working away on our fourth to come out spring 2016.

Arbordale Publishing is the publisher and they specialize in fun stories that build on science, nature and math skills. Tortoise and Hare is a retelling of the classic story with a math twist. Fractions and distance measurements mark progress for Henry Hare and Tess Tortoise along the way. 

How far to the top? 1,760 yards or one mile!
No Henry, you really don't have time to play, but you never did listen to me...
5,280 feet is the same as one mile. I already knew that because Denver is the Mile Hi City.
Click on the images for a larger view. And as always, thanks for taking a look!

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10. For the love of trees

I used to climb trees when I was young (and I still, on occasion, do). As a boy in Iraq I had a favoured loquat tree, with branches that bore leathery, serrated leaves, shiny on the upper surface, and densely matted with fine hairs underneath. It seemed so big, though I now reflect it was probably rather small. I would haul myself up and over the lowest branch, making whatever use of the twists and folds of the trunk as provided purchase to my small feet.

The post For the love of trees appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. If You Love Honey, Nature's Connections

After turning in artwork for If You Love Honey, Nature's Connections I got a look at Patty Arnold's design and layout for the book. I'm posting a few spreads here to give you a sneak peek. This is my second book illustrated by Martha Sullivan and third book for Dawn Publishing. It comes out this fall. After doing a lot of research for the illustrations I'm now a true honey bee fanatic, not to mention a Martha Sullivan fan!


 And I wanted to say "Thanks!" to William Porter at the Denver Post for including me in his Mother's Day article. It's always great to give a shout out to our moms, especially our moms who spent a lot of time reading to us.




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12. Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol – 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

Today’s book recommendation has a multiplicity of diversity in it – the book is bilingual and has a non-gender specific protagonist. Title: Call Me Tree – Llámame árbol Written and illustrated by: Maya Christina Gonzalez Published by: Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee … Continue reading

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13. Hoot says the owl

Over On The Farm
Here's one more image representing WINGS. I wanted to post this before April turns to May. This is for an upcoming picture books written by Marianne Berkes and will be out Spring of 2016. It will be a counting book for very young kids. Can you count the owls? I have a few more images from this book on my Studio With A View Blog. Thanks for taking a look.

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14. Do You Like To Climb Trees ? Just Like Me Climbing a Tree: Exploring Tress Around the World

Just Like Me Climbing a Tree: Exploring Tress Around the World

In Just Like Me Climbing a Tree: Exploring Tress Around the World, award-winning author/illustrator Durga Yael Bernhard travels around the globe visiting 12 beautiful and favorite trees.

Exploration and inquiry are the keys to unlocking the secrets and treasures of the trees. Each page asks a question:

What if we swung from a tree branch as monkeys do ? What type of tree would we be swinging form?

What type of tree would we choose if we were a bat and needed to hang upside down?

Each question takes us to a new tree in a new land.

Just Like Me Climbing a Tree is perfect for ages 5 and above. It is beautifully illustrated with full color drawings, bringing this tree adventure to life. Each double page spread hosts the lyrical poetry of  tree, a question, and the classification of the tree and where it is found on our planet.

just like me1

In the back of the book there is an entire section called “About the Trees in this Book” which is devoted to describing and classifying each tree in great detail.

This hands on multicultural read is sure to delight you and your family time and again. Just Like Me Climbing a Tree brought to mind all of the trees we as a family have called “friend” throughout the years. In our garden we have a huge Rose Cypress tree that has seen many hours of play underneath its branches. If you ask my children, they will tell you that it is a magical tree where fairies live.

In the country of Lebanon where my in-laws live, there is a gigantic banyan tree. It is a favorite friend where we have picnic lunches and the kids climb for hours. This old and ancient tree is a place of pilgrimage for all of us. We can not set foot in Beirut more than 24 hours without going to see what’s happening with our friend known as “the tree.”

IMG_0234

IMG_0235

IMG_0236

 

Something To Do

How Old Is A Tree ?

Our beautiful old monkey tale pine tree had to be cut down a couple of weeks ago due to it being severely damaged by an ice storm. After cutting it down, we are left with the stump but it’s the stump which will tell us a lot about the life of this beautiful magnificent tree.

IMG_0097-2

Tree Rings

As a tree grows, it produces new layers of wood around the trunk, just under the bark. If a tree is cut down, the layers are visible in a cross-section. The layers appear as a set of concentric circles known as tree rings.

In general, one layer of wood grows each year. Each layer consists of two colors of wood: light-colored “earlywood” that grows in the spring and summer plus darker, denser “latewood” from the fall and winter.

IMG_0232

Tree rings—also known as annual growth rings—vary in size each year depending upon the environmental conditions that the tree experiences. For most locations, tree rings will be wider during years of abundant rainfall and narrower during times of drought.

By counting back from the year a living tree was cut, it is possible to determine how old the tree is. Find a tree stump and start counting the tree rings from the outside and move to the center of the tree trunk.

Climate Records

Some species of trees can live for thousands of years. Because the widths of a tree’s rings reflect yearly precipitation patterns, the rings can be analyzed to reconstruct a record of past climate conditions.

Fires

Tree rings also record the occurrence of forest fires. New layers of wood added around the exterior of tree trunks are vulnerable to damage by fire. If a fire damages a tree’s bark and exterior, but does not kill the tree, a new layer of wood can grow over the scarred layer the next year, preserving the scar as a record of the fire.

Spend some time outside near a tree stump and see what history it’s telling you. How old is it ? Was there years of excessive rainfall ? Was there years of drought ? Were there any forest fires ?

More Things To Do…….

Sing the Just Like Me Song

There’s a song to go along with this wonderful book. Not only will you be climbing trees but you’ll be singing while you do. Story Laurie aka Laurie McIntosh has written the Just Like Me Song. It’s really fun and wonderful. Have a look at the book as you sing along !!! 

The post Do You Like To Climb Trees ? Just Like Me Climbing a Tree: Exploring Tress Around the World appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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15. Earth Day 2015

In honor of our beautiful planet...



Northern Lights
by
STEVEN JAMES PETRUCCIO

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16. Reading for the Earth: Ultimate Earth Day Resource Roundup

Earth Day, April 22nd is right around the corner, and we at Lee & Low are some pretty big fans of this blue planet we live on. So, whether you choose to plant a tree or pledge to better uphold the 3 R’s -reduce, reuse, recycle- we are celebrating and promoting awareness the best way we know how- with books!

Here are 5 environmentally friendly collections to bring nature READING FOR 1 yellowindoors & encourage “thinking green”:

Save the Planet: Environmental Action Earth Day Collection: Be inspired to be an advocate for planet Earth through the true stories of threatened ecosystems, environmental recovery efforts and restorations plans, and heroic actions. Like the individuals and communities explored in these stories, children everywhere will realize the difference they can make in protecting our planet and preserving its natural resources.

Earth Day Poetry Collection: Through rhythm and verse, float down the cool river, reach as high as the tallest tree, and search for all of the vibrant colors of the rainbow in the natural world. This collection of poetry books are inspired by the joy and wonder of being outdoors and brings the sight and sounds of nature and all of its wildlife to life.

Seasonal Poems Earth Day Collection: Travel through winter, spring, summer, & fall through a series of bilingual seasonal poems by renowned poet and educator, Francisco Alarcón.  Learn about family, community, and caring for each other and the natural environment we live in.

Adventures Around the World Collection: Explore Africa while traversing Botswana’s lush grasslands and Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest, celebrate the deep-seeded respect for wildlife in India, Mongolia and on an island off the coast of Iceland, and journey to Australia to explore animals found nowhere else on Earth.

Vanishing Cultures Collection: The 7-book series introduces readers to the Yanomama of the Amazon Basin, Aborigines of Australia, Sami of the European Arctic, Inuit of the North American Arctic, Tibetans and Sherpas from the Himalaya, Mongolians of Asia, and Tuareg of the Sahara.

Lesson Plans & Ideas:

What fun is Earth Day if you don’t get your hands a little dirty? Bring some of the outdoors into your classroom-or vice versa- by engaging students in various hands-on and project-based Earth Day lessons and activities:

Earth Day Curriculum Resources, Grades K-5 from The National Earth Day BooksEducation Council. Features lesson plans, units, useful websites, games & activities, printables, and video.

Environmental Education Activities & Resources from The National Education Council. Features lesson plans, activities, projects, games, and professional development ideas.

Celebrate Earth Day! from ReadWriteThink. Features a classroom activity, 6 lesson plans for grades K-2, 6-8, and 7-9 & other Earth Day resources for kids.

Nature Works Everywhere from the Nature Conservancy. Features lessons, video, and tools to help students learn about and understand nature in various environments and ecosystems across the globe.

Check out the research-based read aloud and paired text lessons for The Mangrove Tree created by the staff at the award-winning, non-profit ReadWorks.org

Explore the educator activities for The Mangrove Tree and Buffalo Song, titles featured in RIF’s Multicultural Book Collections. To find other free activities that inspire young readers as well as learn more about Reading Is Fundamental, visit RIF.org

Activities, Projects, & Video:

Greening STEM Educator Toolkits from National Environmental Education Week. Features toolkits for activities based on water, climate, energy, and engineering a sustainable world through project-based service learning.

NOVA Earth System Science Collection from PBS LearningMedia. Standards-based video collection that explores important Earth processes and “ the intricate web of forces that sustain life on Earth.”

22 Interactive Lessons to Bring Earth Day to Life from Mind/Shift. Features informational videos, images, and other forms of multi-media highlighting research on biodegradation, climate change, waste, energy sources, and sustainable practices.

I Want to Be Recycled from Keep America Beautiful. Find out how different kinds of materials are recycled, transforming trash into new things. Students can play a super sorter game and start a recycling movement in their community.

Journey North: A Global Study of Wildlife Migration & Seasonal Change from Learner.org. Track various migratory species with classrooms across the world.

The Global Water Sampling Project from the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE). Students from all over the world collaborate to compare the water quality of various fresh water sources.

Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Learn how to begin a waste reduction program in your school or community with helpful guides and resource tool kits.

Wildlife Watch from the National Wildlife Federation. Learn about and monitor the wildlife where you live, helping track the health and behavior of wildlife and plant species across the nation.

What’s Your DOT (Do One Thing)? from the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE). Pledge your DOT (Do One Thing) to take action and inspire others to make a difference.

Plant a Poem, Plant a Flower from the blog Sturdy for Common Things. Since April celebrates both National Poetry Month & Earth Day, why not plant a little poetry in nature?

And finally… some Earth Day treats!

Earth Day Cookies from Tammilee Tips
Earth Day Cookies from Tammilee Tips at tammileetips.com

 

Earth Day Cookies

Earth Day Dirt Cup

Earth Day Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

veronicabio

Veronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

1 Comments on Reading for the Earth: Ultimate Earth Day Resource Roundup, last added: 4/20/2015
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17. Secret Garden Wednesday: Wildflowers

secret garden wednesday

Hello and welcome to our Secret Garden! Every Wednesday you can drop by here and find new and special happenings in the Secret Garden. There will be crafts, great food, fun and laughter. So please be sure to come by and see us in our Secret Garden created just for you.

We took a little adventure a couple of days ago and discovered a Secret Garden right in the middle of the forest. We were hiking in the Smoky Mountains, everyone around here knows that the wildflowers bloom over a few weeks and many of us get out to see the forest and mountain sides bloom out in color.

We took a side path and walked ourselves into an ancient moss covered forest. Surrounded completely by mountains we walked deep into the enclosed valley to discover the most enchanted vision I’ve ever seen in nature.

wildflowers 5

The forest floor was completely covered in blooming phlox, may apples and another little tiny white flower I don’t know the name of. Moss one inch thick covered fallen trees and branches as well as the trunks of living trees.

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We were all alone here in this ancient wood. The only sounds were that of a water fall off in the distance, the cacophony of birds and the buzzing of bees.

wildflowers 4

One of the most important things missing from these photos is the smell. I’ve never smelled anything as this blooming forest. It made us heady with delight. We spent over an hour in this forest soaking it all in. Soon other wildflower enthusiasts joined us and it was nice to meet people who shared in this moment of Secret Garden bliss.

wildflowers 3

I learned a big lesson on this hike, that a Secret Garden doesn’t have to be behind a wall locked away with a key but can be found in our daily wanderings.

This week I challenge you to find a secret garden near you. It might be behind a wall, it might be under a big tree, it might be in the forest near your home, or behind a log that’s drifted in from the ocean. Wherever it is, go and find it! Cherish those hidden moments in nature’s Secret Gardens!

wildflower 1

Have you missed the last few Secret Garden Wednesdays? These are too much fun not to read!

Want to enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden? A Year in the Secret Garden is over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room. Learn more, or grab your copy HERE.

A Year in the Secret garden

The post Secret Garden Wednesday: Wildflowers appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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18. The Winged Variety

Here's an assortment of winged creatures I've illustrated for some books...





Watercolor Illustrations by
Steven James Petruccio

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19. Mould breaking non-fiction: Nature’s Day

Natures_Day_CVR-360x359Spring has sprung in our neck of the woods and it’s putting a big smile on my face! The afternoons and weekends where we just want to be outside have begun, and we’ve a sumptuous book to inspire us to look with new season’s eyes at the growth and activity all around us in the garden, parks and streets nearby; Nature’s Day written by Kay Maguire, illustrated by Danielle Kroll.

This chocolate-box of a book takes 8 different outdoor locations and follows them from Spring through to Winter (in the Northern hemisphere), watching changes in nature as plants and wildlife go through their seasonal cycles. Like a spotter’s guide, pages are packed with incredibly pretty illustrations, with short text dotted all around introducing readers to different sights and sounds relating to the highlighted flora and fauna.

As the very first sentence of this charming book reminds us, nature is indeed everywhere – not just in remote countryside; the locations chosen tend to be those created by humans, such as the vegetable patch, the farm, the orchard and the street. These are settings which many children may have access to nearby (as opposed to looking at nature in wild landscapes relatively untouched by human activity), making this book accessible and meaningful to families even in urban settings.

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You can enjoy the book chronologically, comparing each location at the same time of year or you can dip in and out, enjoying each section as a stand-alone. The stylized handwriting font used in places may make it a little more of a challenge to new readers to enjoy on their own, but it adds to the “hand made” feeling this book has, from its cloth cover to its design reminiscent of a flower press, full of individually chosen treasures.

Natures-Day-4-1920x960

One of a new breed of children’s non-fiction books which are not only informative but also utterly gorgeous to look at, making them appeal to readers who might otherwise claim to be less interested in “fact books”, Nature’s Day breaks the mould and seduces its readers.

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Inspired by the book’s design and focus on the changing seasons I designed a card for my girls to make, using pressed flowers and a rotating wheel.

cardtemplate

Using the template above (you can download the two pieces here and here, ready to print onto A4), I cut out a window and side slot in a piece of folded A4 card. For each card I also cut out one wheel. The kids then glued pressed flowers onto the outside of the card (a collage with pictures of flowers/plants cut from magazines or catalogues would also work well).

flowers3

flowers2

Whilst the glue dried, the girls drew a picture for each season on the quarters of the wheel, and when that was completed, I used a split pin (paper fastener) to attach the wheel to the inside of the card, so that it could rotate round the whole year.

flowers4

I don’t often make product specific recommendations, but my girls are using these pencils which they’ve recently discovered and really, really love. They have coloured rubbers and a place to write your name on each pencil, as well as being really bright colours which easily leave good strong marks.

flowers1

I don’t know about you, but I think this card design could make a great mother’s/father’s day card – perhaps with some inscription like “I love you all year round” inside :-)

Whilst making our cards we listened to:

  • Springtime: It’s My Favorite by Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
  • Summer Song by Joe McDermott
  • Falling by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights
  • Another Good Year by Lori Henriques
  • Other activities which would go well with reading Nature’s Day include:

  • Collecting twigs to use in a “trees through the season” painting activity, as inspired by this idea from KCEdventures.
  • Using pinecones and wool to create your own wood through the seasons, using this idea from Project Kid.
  • Going on a nature treasure hunt, with sticky sandwich boards to collect your finds on, just as we did here.
  • What are you going to do today to get out into nature? :-) Which books will you be taking with you as you go outside and explore?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher

    4 Comments on Mould breaking non-fiction: Nature’s Day, last added: 3/10/2015
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    20. Books to encourage family adventures outdoors

    Ever wanted to be a little more adventurous with your family? To take on the role of intrepid outdoor explorers? To feel inspired to leave the cosy comforts and instantly gratifying screens indoors for the wind in your hair and the sun on your face?

    100 Family Adventures by Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella Meek and Wild Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granström might be just the books to encourage you -and crucially your children – to wrap up warm and head for the great outdoors.

    outdooradventurebooks

    Both books offer up a banquet of ideas for family activities and explorations outdoors ranging from building dens with branches and leaves to sleeping outdoors without a tent, from fishing for your supper to foraging for food from hedgerows, from flying kites to learning to kayak.

    The Meek Family have taken a year off from their regular jobs and schools to spend 12 months adventuring around the UK in a camper van (you can follow their journey on their blog). 100 Family Adventures is their first book and draws upon their experience of making a conscious effort to spend more time outdoors as a family. As well as 100 activities, there are jokes, tips and facts contributed by the entire family, including the children.

    In Wild Adventures, Mick Manning and Brita Granström also draw upon the outdoor play and activities they enjoy with their four children, and whilst there is some overlap in the projects suggested in the two books, the approach taken in each is quite different.

    Making and sleeping in a homemade shelter: 100 Family Adventures

    Making and sleeping in a homemade shelter: 100 Family Adventures

    Shelters: Wild Adventures

    Shelters: Wild Adventures

    100 Family Adventures is full of photos of the Meek family and their friends doing the activities suggested, whilst Wild Adventures is richly hand illustrated in pencil and watercolour, giving it a hand-made feel rather than something rather sleek and glossy. Whilst photos are “evidence” that the activities suggested can genuinely be done by children and families, Granström’s illustrations show a different truth; that the great outdoors can be enjoyed by any child, not just white able-bodied children.

    Sometimes when I read activity or craft books my reading is aspirational; it’s about daydreaming a life in different circumstances. Sometimes, however, I want something with the messiness that is more familiar from my family life. For me, 100 Family Adventures falls into the former category. The adventures they suggest are all amazing, but quite a lot of them require expensive equipment, relatively long distance travel and some serious planning (for example skiing, sailing, kayaking and even some of the camping adventures they suggest e.g. winter camping). Wild Adventures, on the other hand, is much more “domestic” in scale. Although the projects are designed for engaging with a wilder outdoors than that simply found in your back garden, they are not about extreme adventuring. Having said that, 100 Family Adventures is partly about going out of your comfort zone and extending yourself and your family and so it’s not surprising that some of the ideas require more money, time and preparation.

    Tracking and casting animal footprints: 100 Family Adventures

    Tracking and casting animal footprints: 100 Family Adventures

    Making plaster casts of animal tracks: Wild Adventures

    Making plaster casts of animal tracks: Wild Adventures

    Whilst Wild Adventures is perhaps the book I would choose for my own family, I really like the physical properties of 100 Family Adventures. It has been produced in a chunky format with a flexi-hardcover, making it easy to bung in a rucksack and take on adventures outdoors. Manning and Granström’s lovely book on the other hand is currently only available in hardback with a dust jacket, making it more suitable for reading indoors.

    Having listened with interest to what translator and editor Daniel Hahn had to say recently about the value of opinion alongside fact in a day an age of easily found information, I’ve been thinking a lot in the past few days about my reviews and the balance between fact and opinion. These two books, both from the same publisher, on essentially the same topic have reminded me that different styles of books suit different people and that I should remain aware of this when reviewing books. Something I read may be just the sort of thing my family will love, but I shouldn’t forget that other families may like different things. So whilst Wild Adventures is my book of choice today, do look out both and see which suits you and your family… and then let me know which of the two YOU prefer!

    Inspired by Wild Adventures we took to the seaside last month and made faces out of objects we found along the shoreline.

    beach1

    beach2

    beach5

    There really is nothing like having your own family adventure outdoors.

    beach3

    2 Comments on Books to encourage family adventures outdoors, last added: 3/24/2015
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    21. All things wild and wonderful….

    Something About a Bear

    By Jackie Morris

     

    Jackie Morris and bears; it seems from the jacket flap of this title, that they have wandered through her artistry for many years. Her overarching goal in her picture books appears to be giving young readers a renewed respect for all things wild and wonderful. And bears are both.

    Eight interesting bear types are her topic here. Be they the Asian Moon bear, the fierce and huge-clawed Sun bear, the jungle Spectacled bear, the rare, white Black Bear the Chinese Giant Panda or three others, Jackie’s gorgeous paintings brings each bruin to a beautiful intensity of interest.

    Each bear is unique in its habitat and habits and your young reader will enjoy poring or shall I say “pawing”, through this great picture book find.

    Any of her other titles including “I am Cat”, “The Snowy Leopard” or “Song of the Golden Hare” have given nature’s inhabitants a very distinctive plug for these wild things and where they abide.

    She has also written a book called “The Cat and the Fiddle – A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes” that I am anxious to have a look  at.

    If your child has an interest in nature or just loves bears, as most kids do, this is a not-to-be-missed read.

    She even includes conservation web sites at the conclusion of the book, along with additional information on the habits and habitats of each bear – plus their favorite chow. The Sloth Bear, for instance, nibbles on his snack; a tasty tidbit called termites! Yum! Kids will love the yuck factor here as the bear sucks them down through a gap in his front teeth. Cool!

    And I love her closer:

     

     

    “Of all the bears in the wide wild

    world, the very best bear of all

    is…your bear.”

     

     

    Still have mine!

     

     

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    22. New Kids Book Shows How Awesome Nature Can Be

    PIPSIE and Alfred solve the mysteries of nature, and show kids how to solve them, too.

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    23. Pipsie, Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar | Book Giveaway

    Enter to win a copy of Pipsie, Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar, written by Rick DeDonato and illustrated by Tracy Bishop. Giveaway begins March 30, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 29, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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    24. WINGS for April!

    If You Love Honey by Martha Sullivan, illustrated by Cathy Morrison
    April's theme word is WINGS, so here's some blue jays to welcome spring. This is a spread from If You Love Honey, by Martha Sullivan, published by Dawn Publications and illustrated by me, Cathy Morrison. It's the second book I've illustrated for Martha and I'm a huge fan of her writing. It seems like kids like her as well.

    This is set to come out September 2015. Thanks for taking a look!

    0 Comments on WINGS for April! as of 4/1/2015 2:15:00 PM
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    25. Cheep, cheep, baaaaaa


    Here's a couple of new images from an upcoming picture book for the littlest readers. It's a counting book about baby farm animals and I'll have more to report as I go along.You're sure to see some oinks, moos and squeaks soon.

    Otherwise I appreciate you taking a look and Happy Easter!

    0 Comments on Cheep, cheep, baaaaaa as of 4/2/2015 10:46:00 AM
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