Halloweensie Contest – What’s Under Your Cape

Today I have two very important things to share with you…a fabulous parent-teacher resource AND my Halloweensie Contest entry. (What is Halloweensie you ask? Please scroll to the second part of this post to find out.)

As a parent and educator, I’m always looking for ways to help kids develop a sense of self-worth. Honestly, this is one of the most critical tasks we have. Kids who respect themselves will also respect others. And when every child respects others, bullying in the schoolyards and playgrounds will disappear.

So when I found out that a friend of mine, author and long-time educator Barbara Gruener, had written a book called, “What’s Under Your Cape: Superheroes of the Character Kind” – I knew I had to tell everyone about it.

www.viviankirkfield.com

Right away in the introduction, I found a golden nugget – “Children aren’t born with good character – it develops over time. But they are hard-wired to learn, and their capacity for character is unlimited.”

Wait a minute…you mean we have to TEACH our kids things like respect and empathy and perseverance and unconditional love? You bet your sweet patootie we do. I’ll let you in on a little secret. As a new parent, even though I had been a kindergarten teacher for many years, I don’t think i truly understood that. I knew I needed to be a good role model and set rules and be consistent. But I didn’t realize that we need to teach this stuff…I kind of thought it would come naturally.

Fortunately, I guess I learned pretty quickly – but I sure wish that Barbara’s book had been around then – it would have given me concrete examples of projects to do and tools to use.

Parents have first crack at helping children build character, as well as teachers, daycare providers and other childcare facilitators. According to Barbara, “We must teach the values that we want woven into the DNA of our students’ lives through direct instruction, indirect modeling and daily reinforcement.” And this holds true for parents as well.

And what are those values? Barbara makes it easy to remember – as her book title implies, this is all about the SUPERHEROES our children can become – and her chapters (and the values) follow the letters that make up that word. A few of them are: Service, Unconditional Love, Perseverance, Empathy and Respect.

But when can educators, busy with curriculum requirements, and parents, busy with all of their responsibilities, do this? Barbara suggests that you ‘seize teachable moments throughout the day to infuse character development opportunities into your daily content.”

The book is filled with practical strategies for successfully helping children develop their superhero powers of character, using song and dance and laughter, role playing and journaling and art, school and community and global projects. Here’s an example: a student mentioned that she had taken up knitting and was really enjoying it. This blossomed into a knit-for-service project that the entire school became involved with. To date, the children have knitted and donated over 2000 caps for newborns in need. This project gained the notice of Save the Children who asked Barbara’s group to join the Caps for the Capital campaign. One of the students personally delivered some of the caps to the White House. When children become involved in activities that enable them to reach out and help others, their own characters grow by leaps and bounds!

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to help children build character. What’s under YOUR superhero’s cape?

To find out more about Barbara and her book, please visit her incredible blog, The Corner on Character.

And now, for another treat…it’s time for HALLOWEENSIE!!!!!

 www.viviankirkfield.com

Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill, there will be many superheroes revealed over the next few days…writing superheroes, that is.

Every year, Susanna hosts several holiday writing contests. Halloweensie starts TODAY!

The rules are as follows: Write a children’s story of 100 words or less, include the words ‘broomstick’, ‘pumpkin’ and ‘creak’, post the story on your blog between Monday, October 27th and Friday, October 31st and then link it up OR copy and paste it into Susanna’s Monday, October 27th post. After the contest closes, Susanna and her judges will read all the stories and choose some as finalists. And then the VOTING starts and everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite.

There are PRIZES GALORE and it is great fun to hop around to the other blogs to read these fantastic stories.

I’ve participated for a couple of years…here is my entry for this year. I hope you enjoy it!

 

A NIGHT OF FRIENDSHIP FOR MISS WITCH – Word Count: 98

Miss Witch had many things.

Caldron

Magic wand

Big black hat

But no one to play with.

She stirred her pot.

Itsity-Bitsity-Boo

POOF! A furry spider appeared and scurried off.

She waved her wand.

Loxsity-Boxsity-Boo

PLUNK! A coffin materialized. The cover creaked open.

A bony skeleton jumped out and rattled down the road.

She stuck her hand into her hat –

Sweepity-Beepity-Boo

and pulled out a…

broomstick.

Miss Witch zipped over Persnickety’s Pumpkin Patch.

She zoomed through Wildebeest Woods.

She zig-zagged over Cinnabar City.

Down below, she spied little witches and princesses and superheroes Trick-or-Treating.

Here I come, friends!

The End

www.viviankirkfield.com

 

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED MY LITTLE STORY – DON’T FORGET TO VISIT SUSANNA’S BLOG AND READ ALL OF THE WONDERFUL HALLOWEENSIE ENTRIES: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-4th-annual-halloweensie-writing.html

DID YOU KNOW THAT PIBOIDMO STARTED…YESTERDAY? IT’S TRUE THAT THE OFFICIAL START DATE IS NOVEMBER 1ST…BUT THERE IS A WHOLE WEEK OF PRE-PIBO POSTS – I KNOW MY WRITERLY FRIENDS DON’T WANT TO MISS ANY. IF YOU ARE ASKING – WHAT IS PIBOIDMO – PLEASE GO TO TARA LAZAR’S BLOG AND GET ALL THE DETAILS. 30+ DAYS OF INCREDIBLY INSPIRING POSTS AND AWESOME PRIZES – ALL FOR FREE! http://taralazar.com/2014/10/25/piboidmo-2014-registration-sign-up-here/

PPBF – No! by Tracey Corderoy

Today is Friday! And that means it’s time for a picture book review.

If you live or work with young children, there is a word that you probably hear very often. That word is…NO.

no

NO!

Written by Tracey Corderoy

Illustrated by Tim Warnes

Publisher: Little Tiger Press (2013)

Ages: 2-7

Themes:

Stubborness, self-control, socialization

 

Opening Lines:

“Otto was adorable. Everybody said so. Then Otto learned a brand-new word.”

Synopsis:

From Booklist:

A new favorite word and a feeling of being in control lead a young rhino into several unsatisfying situations. Otto has expanded his vocabulary and learns to say “no” emphatically. He tries his new word out at home and at school. Though Otto lives in a loving household and attends a pleasant preschool, his parents and his teacher, a pink flamingo, are shocked by the toddler’s sudden negative attitude and stubbornness. Feeling powerful soon leads to Otto being excluded from many potentially enjoyable situations because he uses his new word indiscriminately. After a less than satisfying day at school, and with a hug and sympathy from his father, the youngster understands it is better to use that word sparingly.”

 

Why I like this book:

  • Simple read-aloud
  • Brightly colored illustrations with lots of action
  • EVERY child and parent will be able to relate to this story

 

How a parent can use this book:

  • Great read-aloud
  • Talk about how ‘no’ is an important that should be used at certain times – when should we say no – when should we say yes
  • Role-play with your child using the situations in the book – let your child think of other situations

 

Related Activity:

viviankirkfield.com

Make a Rhino Face Mask

You will need: Construction paper, paper plate, scissors, markers, glue.

  1. You can go to http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/rhinoscraftsideasactivitieskids.html and print out the template of the rhino mask.
  2. Or you can use a paper plate and cut out the eyes, nostrils, ears and horn from construction paper and glue them on the plate.
  3. If you want it to be a mask, you can cut out the center of the eyes.

If you are looking for more great picture book suggestions, hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find a bunch more hand-picked picture book reviews with activities for you and your child. If you are a mom, teacher or librarian, please check out Susanna’s amazing Perfect Picture Book page with over 1000 categorized picture book reviews and activities.

I hope you will be back on MONDAY for a SPECIAL HALLOWEEN POST!

I’ll be sharing my entry for Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie Contest (yes, there is still time for you to write a children’s story of 100 words or less) and I’ll also be posting a book review of Barbara Gruener’s What’s Under Your Cape, a marvelous resource for parents and teachers!

Sandra Beckwith – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

SANDRA BECKWITH

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Let’s time travel back about four years…my self-published parenting book was due to come out in September of 2010…I had no blog, no website, thought tweeting was the sound a bird made, had never been on Facebook and didn’t know the first thing about how to market or promote my book or myself. YIKES!

Then I found out about Sandra Beckwith and her Build Book Buzz online class. I signed up and learned more in those 6 weeks than I could ever have thought was possible. But more importantly, I discovered that some people are just angels in disguise. Sandy was kind and patient and knowledgeable and delivered on her promises…always. The class was filled with personal interaction and hands-on assignments. And I know I will always have a friend who supports and encourages me.

Sandy’s written quite a few books and she knows the business from publishing to press release, from using social media to creating a media kit.

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Welcome, Sandy! I really appreciate your being here. I’m so happy you agreed to participate. You bring a very important perspective to the Will Write for Cookies interview.

Me: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

SANDY:

My first favorite author was Carolyn Keene because she wrote the Nancy Drew series. My friends and I used to swap books on the school bus or in class so we all had access to as many of those wonderful mysteries as possible. Not long after that, I fell in love with Louisa May Alcott’s books. After I read Little Women, I wanted to write her a letter telling her how much I enjoyed that book. I was so sad when my mother told me that she died almost a hundred years ago!

Me: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing?

SANDY:

It took me a while to discover that a good editor can both improve your writing and teach you how to do it better the next time. I still pay attention to edits now, a long time after I became a professional writer. Continue reading

Beautiful Rainbow World – National Diversity Awareness Month

Today is Friday. TGIF for people who work during the week. And PPBF for those who love picture books. And National Diversity Awareness Month for EVERYONE!

The special book I’m featuring today is one that belongs on every diversity children’s book list. Through my parenting blog, I connected with the talented lady who wrote the song that the book is based on, Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou. She travels all over the world, sharing beautiful music with children. Daria graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the importance of music in the lives of children.

daria and shekere

Hello Daria! Thank you so much for stopping by. I know music is such an important part of your life.

Do you play an instrument?

 

Yes! I’ve been playing guitar and dulcimer since I was a little girl. When I was young I was part of the Bucks County Folk Music Society and the older folks there were really kind to young learners. That was where I learned a lot about folk music from lots of different cultures and began playing the dulcimer.


When did you realize that music was the path you wanted to follow?

I was a young child in the 60’s and loved protest music because it gave a voice to many issues I felt strongly about, such as working for peace and caring for the Earth. I discovered that writing a song was a way to be heard, to speak out and yet it was a positive, non-confrontational way to change hearts and minds. That was when I knew I wanted to make music as my life’s path!
Why do you use music with kids?

 

Although music in most modern cultures is mainly about entertainment, it is so much more in other cultures. I love using music as a way to listen, a way to teach and a way to encourage kids to understand the power of cooperation. When children are playing together – for instance on a pow-wow drum- they can hear and even feel how something special happens when everyone works together toward a goal! It’s a great life lesson!
How can parents and teachers encourage a love of music in children?

That’s simple! First of all they can relax and enjoy music with them. Share what they know and love with their kids. They can sing simple songs to them and if they feel shy about that, they can still tap or clap along as their child sings a song they love. They can share music from their culture of origin. Plus they can visit a library and discover new cd’s with their child or ask their librarian about “kid-friendly” concerts or music programs that are available in their community.


Is music a universal language?

 

Yes! Music IS a universal language. People may disagree over politics, geography and other important concerns but once we begin singing, dancing, cooking, eating or celebrating together, then the differences disappear. Music can touch hearts where mere words cannot – and that is a beautiful thing!

If you have never visited Daria’s website, please do go there…it is one of the BEST multicultural sites around…you will be in for a treat: http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php.

AND GUESS WHAT? WHEN YOU GET THERE YOU CAN ENTER A RAFFLECOPTER TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF THIS PRECIOUS BOOK!

beautiful world

BEAUTIFUL RAINBOW WORLD

Book created by Suzee Ramirez and Lynne Raspet

Original lyrics by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou

Publisher: Two Poppies (an imprint of Multicultural Kids, Inc. 2014)

Ages: 0-100

Themes: Diversity, children

 

Opening Lines:

“Today I woke up to see…a beautiful rainbow world.

Won’t you dream along with me…a beautiful rainbow world.”

Synopsis:

This is a photographic journey around the globe that shows us the beauty of children everywhere.
Why I like this book:

  • Simple read-aloud or sing along text
  • Incredible collection of photographs of children around the world

 

How a parent can use this book: Continue reading

International Day of the Girl Child: Empower Girls. End Violence.

My oldest blogging buddy, Elizabeth, over at Mirth and Motivation, has written a post recognizing a very special day: International Day of the Girl Child.

As parents, we know how important it is to uplift our daughters and help them recognize their own power, strengths and talents.

As writers, we try to infuse our girl characters with strength, humor, intelligence and assertiveness.

 

I know you will enjoy Elizabeth’s post. She has one of the finest multicultural sites in the world.

 

International Day of the Girl Child: Empower Girls. End Violence..

#PPBF: G.G. Rock Climbs

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I am doing a review of a chapter book for ages 6-10. I know that many parents are moving towards chapter books as their children begin reading on their own. And, although I believe that picture books are wonderful for elementary grades even when kids are reading themselves (for so many reasons), I also know that great chapter books continue the engagement of young readers with the world of books. My favorites were Little Women, Black Beauty and ALL of the Nancy Drew series. And, if G.G. Rock Climbs by Marty Mokler Banks had been around then, I know I would not have been able to put it down.

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G.G. ROCK CLIMBS

Written by Marty Mokler Banks

Photo Illustrations by Alisa Mokler Harper

Publisher: Switch Monkey Press (2014)

Ages: 6-10 (But I was totally engaged!)

Themes:

Friendship, self-esteem/self-confidence, overcoming challenges, rock climbing

Opening Lines:

“Does your mom let you have cake? With thick creamy frosting. And little flowers on top?

Well. My mom does not!

Oh, all right. Maybe on special occasions. But it seems like never. Mom says sugar is Not Good for a Healthy Body.

Boring!

So when I first opened Stinky Sarah’s birthday party invitation, I immediately thought: CAKE! I get CAKE!”

 

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Eight-year-old G.G. climbs all over stuff—from the couch in her apartment to the boulders at the park. So when she’s invited to Stinky Sarah’s birthday party at Rock Star climbing gym, G.G.’s up the wall in no time. G.G. likes it so much, she and her friend, Isaac, take a rock climbing class. When they head outside, things are suddenly more difficult. Can G.G. brave those steep rock faces up Zoo Canyon?

Why I like this book:

  • Well-written, exciting page-turner that will keep kids engaged from the first page to the last
  • Love the photo-illustrations – placed at just the right points in the story – really connects you to the story and the characters
  • Great message about friendship, facing and overcoming fears, the importance of challenging ourselves

How a parent can use this book:

  • Read it with your child – great opportunity to talk about things your child would like to do but maybe is afraid to try
  • Talk about how Isaac and G.G. supported and encouraged each other

 

The book is available on Amazon.

If you’d like to connect with Marty Banks (she the co-coordinator of southern Colorado SCBWI) or learn more about her other books, please visit her website: http://www.martymoklerbanks.com/

Or her blog where she reviews all things chapter book: Chapter Book Chat

Related Activity:

Why not visit a local gym or play center that has a rock climbing wall for kids?

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Photo courtesy: http://www.ssww.com

For AMAZING crafts and activities using rocks, stones and pebbles, please visit: http://www.kidactivities.net/post/ideas-with-stones-and-rocks-for-kids.aspx

If you are looking for more wonderful book reviews, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. If you are a mom, teacher or librarian, please check out Susanna’s amazing Perfect Picture Book page with over 1000 categorized picture book reviews and activities.

And, because today is my grandson’s sixth birthday, here’s a yummy birthday cake – please help yourselves to a BIG slice!

5th bday

#PPBF – John, Paul, George and Ben

 

Is it Friday already? I can’t believe it! Time is truly moving at warp-factor (any Star Trek fans out there?) speed.

 

star trek

Photo courtesy: http://www.courrierinternational.com

 

Well, since today is Friday, I’ve picked out a special picture book to review. I know how overwhelming it can be to walk into the library and have to choose from the thousands that are available. So after you are finished here, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find a bunch more hand-picked picture book reviews with activities for you and your child. If you are a mom, teacher or librarian, please check out Susanna’s amazing Perfect Picture Book page with over 1000 categorized picture book reviews and activities.

perfect-pic-book-badge-e1325891994293

It’s definitely hard to find time to spend with your kids. Especially if you work outside the home. I watch my daughter’s struggle with this. She leaves early in the morning, as soon as her son’s school bus picks him up. And then her day is filled with work-related responsibilities. By 5:30pm, she is zooming to pick Jeremy up at his after school daycare. There is barely enough time to grab dinner, take a bath and brush teeth before it is time for him to go to sleep.

But, whether you work outside the home or at home or even if your ‘only’ job is being a homemaker and parent (please notice the quotes around the word only – being a homemaker and a parent is a full-time job…those who have other jobs must become masters of juggling), I’d like to offer a great parenting tip – if you only have 5 minutes, that is enough time to read a picture book. You will be building a bond with your child and helping increase his/her literacy skills, especially if you take a few minutes to talk with your child about the story after you read it. And here’s a great one to start with!

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JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN

Written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (2006)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: American history, being true to yourself

 

Opening Lines:

John was a bold lad. At the start of every school year the students were asked to write their names on the chalkboard and every year it was the same story. “John,” his teacher would say, “you have lovely penmanship. Hoh, your confidence is refreshing. But, Joh, c’mon…we don’t need to read it from space!”

 

Synopsis:

A funny, punny look at five of our Founding Fathers: John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Why I like this book:

  • This book is hilarious! Especially for parents! But kids will enjoy the humor as well
  • The text and illustrations remind me of an old newspaper or almanac – with a stencil/woodblock feel
  • The content will get kids thinking about history in a whole new way

How a parent can use this book:

  • Great read-aloud
  • The text is very sparse and large – kids who are just learning to read will enjoy picking out the words they recognize
  • Talk about the traits of each of the boys – bold, independent, honest, clever, noisy – how did those traits help the boys when they grew older? How would you like to be remembered?

 

Related Activity:

STENCILING WITH KIDS

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Stenciling is lots of fun. You can buy stencil sets in your local department stores (they have shape stencils and letter and alphabet stencils or you can make them yourself from construction paper or by finding household items of the shapes you want. Cookie cutters make awesome stencils! And so do leaves – why not grab some of those beautiful autumn ones that are starting to cover the ground?

You will need: Stencils, construction paper, markers or crayons.

  1. Pick the stencils you want to use and place them on the paper.
  2. Use markers or crayons to draw the outlines and then fill in.
  3. Makes great wrapping paper for gifts.

Here’s a link for more stencil crafts: http://www.all-about-stencils.com/crafts-for-kids.html

Thank you so much for stopping by – your time is very valuable and I appreciate that you are spending some of it with me.