PPBF: Crow Boy and World Read Aloud Day

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources.  Parents and teachers can find the best of the best in picture books…a little synopsis, a thoughtful review, and an activity and/or resources to extend the learning experience.  This is a great way for parents and teachers to preview a book before they take it out of the library or spend money buying it.

My selection today is another classic picture book recommended in Show Me How!…this one from 1955…the author/illustrator, Taro Yashima, won the Caldecott Honor Book Award.  

World Read Aloud Day is coming up on March 7th and I thought that Crow Boy would be a perfect choice to get us all in a global awareness mood.

 

  

Crow Boy

Written and illustrated by Taro Yashima

Publishers: Viking Juvenile (original edition 1955), Picture Puffins (1976)

Ages: 4 – 8

Themes: Celebrating the uniqueness of each individual, bullying/teasing, mastering tasks and skills, positive attitude, goal-setting, fitting in.

Opening: “On the first day of our village school in Japan, there was a boy missing.  He was found hidden away in the dark space underneath the schoolhouse.”

Synopsis:  Many years ago, in a small village school in the countryside of Japan, a young boy attends school.  Chibi is always perceived as stupid and is treated as an outcast by the other students.  When Mr. Isobe, the new teacher, observes Chibi’s strengths and talents (the boy is a wonderful artist and is also the only person with perfect school attendance even though he has to walk seven miles to school each day), he encourages the boy to participate in the school pageant with an imitation of the voices of crows.  Does Chibi’s performance have any effect on how the children perceive him?  Remember the talent show in Oliver Button is a Sissy.

Why do I like this book

Wonderful illustrations give the reader the sense of the small rural area in Japan…I love books that give young children a window on the world.  The story addresses many important issues as well…bullying/teasing, teacher recognition and encouragement of a student’s gifts and talents, overcoming obstacles in order to achieve one’s goals…as relevant today as it was almost sixty years ago when it was first published.

Related Activities:

 

Black and White Painting

Although Crow Boy had a difficult time expressing himself verbally, he was able to do so more easily with his artwork.  Painting is a wonderful way to allow a young child to express his feelings and to encourage his creativity.

You will need: Paper (construction paper or grocery bag cut open), black and white non-toxic tempera paint, brushes (or Q-tips) and coverups to protect work surfaces and clothing.

1.      Cover the work surface and your clothing to protect from splatters.

2.      Pour a small amount of black and white paint into two separate containers.

3.      Let your child paint several pictures using different size brushes and/or Q-tips.

4.      When dry, hang up this amazing art. 

5.      Tip to parents and teachers: Art is one thing…crafting is another.  Art is pure expression.  Crafting is following certain rules or steps to produce a particular product.  This activity is art…the child is creating whatever he or she desires…if you ask, “What is this?” or you inquire, “Didn’t you forget the dog’s tail?”…you are passing judgement on your child’s creative voice…I beg you, please don’t!  You can engage with your child by asking, “Please tell me about your art.”  In praising, it is more empowering to say, “I’m so proud of how hard you worked making thick strokes and thin strokes.  Was it difficult?” instead of just saying, “That’s nice!”

 

Crayola official website with lots of arts and crafts activities and print-outs for kids.

Website for the Japanese American National Museum where you can purchase the documentary narrated by Mr. Yashimo, Golden Village.

Taro Yashimo papers in the de Grummond Collection

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

SAVE THE DATE:

WORLD READ ALOUD DAY…MARCH 7TH

Do you have anything special planned?

You can go to LitWorld’s website to get more information and/or register…there will be events online and in different locales around the world.

They are a global literacy organization that aims to help entire communities through books.  We all that that, I know!  According to their website: 

“LitWorld’s mission is to use the power of story to cultivate literacy skills in the world’s most vulnerable children through Education, Advocacy and Innovation. Lit World creates resilience building reading and writing experiences which connect and fortify communities.”

Festival of Trees Festive Family Fun Days: A Few Reflections

I spent this past Saturday and Sunday at the DoubleTree Hotel near the World Arena in Colorado Springs. 

Sponsored by the Ecumenical Social Ministries, the Festival of Trees Family Fun Days was a many-splendored event.

In the main ballroom dozens of vendors with beautiful tables filled with amazing items provided gift-giving purchase opportunities to the people strolling by.

Gaily decorated Christmas trees were displayed and offered for sale.

 

Ornaments on the Crayola Tree...a hit with every child!

 

Santa-land had volunteers doing awesome craft projects with the children…and kids had the opportunity to meet Santa, as well as the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Hundreds of door prizes had been donated by area businesses and the Ecumenical Social Ministries volunteers called out names every half hour…centerpieces, candles, hand-made quilts and gift certificates for free meals at local restaurants were among the wonderful prizes awarded to the lucky recipients.   When my name was called, I was thrilled!  My prize…the most beautiful handmade Christmas quilt.

On-going live entertainment added to the up-beat party-like atmosphere and we enjoyed bell choirs, drum groups, singers, dancers and more.  The entertainment alone was worth the $5 per person entry fee…children 12 years old and under got in for free!

I had a wonderful time at the Show-Me-How table…talking to parents and children about building self-esteem and literacy skills with picture books and how easy it is to spend a little quality time with your child…reading, crafting and cooking.  Parents who picked up my book were impressed with how many activities it provides.  They loved the easy-to-use format with the picture book summary and parenting tip on the left and the quick craft and child-friendly recipe on the right.

Speaking with hundreds of people in a two-day period can be somewhat exhausting, even when you are passionate about the subject.  I’d like to share some of my reflections and observations.

  • There are lots of parents out there who really care about their children.
  • Many parents are doing an awesome job of teaching their children important skills, such as saying “Thank you” when someone gives you something.  We were giving a free gift to every child who stopped by the table…a fancy new pencil and a bookmark.  I was impressed with the parent who told her child, “You need to look at the lady when you say thank you.” 
  • I fear we are moving away from a time when a child would be excited about receiving something new…no matter how small.  Most of the children were delighted to come over and pick the pencil of their choice…but a few shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads…perhaps if I had been offering an iPad they might have thought it was a worthwhile gift.
  • It doesn’t matter how beautiful or uplifting the atmosphere…some people will always bring their negative attitude to a situation.  I don’t know whether you will want to laugh or to cry when you read this.  I chatted a moment with a woman who stopped at the table to look at the book and after I told her that the book had quick and easy activities to help build self-esteem and literacy skills, she replied, “I’m already an excellent parent!”  To me, that is kind of sad…I know how to cook, but that doesn’t mean I will never look at another cookbook in my life or enjoy getting a new recipe from a friend.  And I’m always excited when someone gives me a new approach to teaching or a fresh tip on parenting.  Life is a journey of constant learning and we need to be open to acquiring knowledge, even on subjects we may have expertise.  Another woman looked at the book and when I said it’s for anyone involved in the care and education of young children, she replied, “I hate children…this is definitely not the book for me!”  I guess not. :}

If, however, you think this might be the book for you…or you know anyone who might enjoy having 100 picture book recommendations, each paired with a quick and easy craft project and a simple child-friendly healthful recipe, please pass along the information.  Show Me How! available on my website: $19.95 for a brand-new copy…and personally inscribed for the holidays if you wish!  After observing the children at the Festival of Trees event and those of friends and family, I can tell you that many children have too much STUFF already…they don’t need the latest toy or gadget.  What they do need is their parents’ time and attention!  Buy the book and give them the gift of your positive parental participation that will last forever.

Children and Art Activities: Some Observations

Once a month, our local Family Christian Store hosts the Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian program.  I read a picture book story and do a related craft project, chosen from those recommended in my book.  This is the same program that I provide to District 11 kindergartens and Pre-K’s during the school year.

Yesterday, the program’s topic was: How to Stay Healthy This School Year.  I read Stan and Jan Berenstain’s, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food.  In the story, Mama Bear realizes that the bear cubs and her husband are eating too many sweet and junky snacks.  She removes the junk food from the pantry and refrigerator and the entire family goes grocery shopping the next day where they purchase healthy foods: vegetables and fruits, whole grain breads and cereals and eggs, cheese and milk.  They go to their family doctor for a check-up and she tells them that if they want to stay in good health, in addition to eating healthy foods, they should exercise every day.  Taking the doctor’s advice, the bears begin a program of daily exercise.  At the end of the summer, they win a prize for being the only family to finish the entire Bear Country Three-Mile Run.

After the story was over, the children eagerly moved to the tables for the craft project.  Each child got a paper plate, 2 small black circles for eyes and 1 small black circle for a nose.  Although we all started out intending to make bear faces, two of the children decided to make dog faces and one child made his paper plate into a cat.  After gluing on the eyes and nose, each child used markers and crayons to add features and designs to the paper plate face.  For over an hour, the children happily worked on their projects…the only frowns I saw on these children were when parents came to say it was time to go.  Parents were able to take home an informational flyer, Five Simple Steps to Stay Healthy This School Year.

OBSERVATION #1:

If you give children art supplies and a project to work on, they will be engaged and productive and happy.

OBSERVATION #2:

If you allow children a certain amount of freedom when they are engaged in art activities, they will almost always surprise you with their creativity.

OBSERVATION #3:

Children often become very talkative when they are happily engaged in arts and crafts…this is a PERFECT time for parents to listen and interact with their children.

So, I have a few questions to ask if you are a parent or caretaker of a child age 2-7:

  • Would you like to put educational, fun-filled activities in your child’s day?
  • Do you need tips on school readiness for your child?
  • Are you time-short when it comes to planning activities for your child?
  • Do you wonder which books to choose to read to your child?
  • Would you like to have a simple plan to follow on rainy days…or any day?
  • Do you want your child to be engaged in positive learning on a daily basis?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions:

  • Purchase a copy of the award-winning Show Me How!.
  •  The low price (50% off) is only available on my website.
  • This is a perfect holiday gift for anyone who takes care of young children.
  • Schools and other organizations can receive additional discounts.

A book is a child’s window on the world…no rules, just read!

THE BOOK PINPOINTS 100 OF THE BEST PICTURE BOOK STORIES!

Children who love books step out from inside the covers and succeed in life!

THE BOOK PROVIDES 100 STORY SUMMARIES & TIPS ON HOW TO READ TO KIDS!

Art & children…peanut butter & jelly…combinations that create magic!

THE BOOK OFFERS 100 SIMPLE CRAFT PROJECTS & 100 EASY RECIPES!

We all need a cheering committee…a parent is a child’s most important fan!

THE BOOK GIVES 100 PARENTING TIPS ON BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM!

Want to be in your children’s memories tomorrow?  Be in their lives today!

THE BOOK SHOWS YOU HOW POSITIVE PARENTAL PARTICIPATION WORKS!

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by…with gift-giving holidays right around the corner, we are excited to provide Show Me How! at 50% off the cover price.  Parents, expectant parents, grandparents, preschool and nursery teachers, babysitters…this is a gift that will keep on giving long after the package is opened.  Please visit my website to purchase a copy for yourself or as a gift for someone special!   When you purchase a copy, you are helping others…a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book benefits three children’s organizations: http://www.JDRF.org, http://www.bessthebookbus.org and http://www.kidsareheroes.org.

Autumn is in the Air: Time to Turn on the Oven and Bake a Cake

 

I love the fall…cool crisp mornings and warm sunny afternoons.

Here in Colorado, the aspen leaves will be turning to gold, while back in New England where my daughter and her family live; the maples will be wearing flaming headdresses of scarlet, crimson and purple.

 

Many parents will be helping their children plan their Halloween costumes and decorate the house with pumpkins and sheaves of autumn wheat and Indian corn.  Years ago, our local library had an annual pumpkin-painting contest and all of my children looked forward to choosing the “perfect” pumpkin to decorate and enter…hoping to win the coveted first place prize ribbon.

 

As the weather cools down, many of us start getting out the muffin pans and cookie sheets in preparation for holiday baking.  I encourage parents to include their children in meal preparation…and holiday baking is an especially fun time to have your kids in the kitchen. If you are looking for simple child-friendly recipes, you’ll find dozens of them in my book, Show Me How!

Here’s a wonderful recipe for Carrot Cake that doesn’t appear in the book.  It’s special enough for festive occasions, but simple enough so that young children can help.

 

The best thing about this cake is that it is very nutritious (one pound of carrots in each cake) and easy on the digestive system.  I recommend it for anyone who suffers from IBS or GERD problems.

CARROT CAKE

You will need: 1½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, 1½ tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 egg beaten, ½ cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla, zest of 1 orange, 1 pound baby carrots grated, ¾ cup pineapple chunks with juice (about ½ cup), 2 bowls, 1 Bundt pan lightly greased, blender or food processor.

  1. Mix in large bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  2. Mix in another bowl: brown sugar, beaten egg, canola oil, vanilla, orange zest.
  3. Use a blender or food processor to grate the carrots and add the pineapple chunks and juice and blend until fairly smooth.
  4. Add the carrot/pineapple mixture to the brown sugar/egg mixture and stir well till blended.
  5. Add this to the flour mixture and stir gently but thoroughly..
  6. Pour/spoon into lightly greased Bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.  After 30 minutes or so, turn upside down on a serving plate and allow the cake to continue cooling.
  8. For storage, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to one week.

                                                                     For parents who are local to the Colorado Springs area

PLEASE SAVE THE DATE

STAYING HEALTHY

THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

Or email vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.

Five Simple Steps for a Healthier School Year


 Your child is going to school.  As a parent, what can you do to make it the healthiest year ever?

Perhaps your child is a preschooler and will be attending a daycare or nursery school.  Maybe your child is already in elementary school.  Here are five simple steps that may keep your child from getting sick.

  1. Wash hands often: everyone should have their own towel…perhaps a different color for each member of the family.  This helps colds from spreading like wild-fires!
  2. Dress appropriately: when it is cold, children should be dressed warmly, with hats or hoods on their heads…no ifs, ands or buts!
  3. Get enough sleep: young children need LOTS of sleep so set up bedtime routines and stick to them.  Our body renews and cells regenerate during sleep.  Did you know that children between the ages of 2 and 5 need 11-14 hours of sleep?  For more information about sleep and young children, you can go to: http://www.sleepforkids.org/html/sheet.html.
  4. Make every meal and snack count:  a good breakfast is a MUST and snacks can provide additional important nutrition, especially for picky eaters.  For more ideas on healthy meal planning for the whole family, you can visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/habits.html
  5. Keep a sick child home: I know it is difficult, especially when parents work…but your child will get better sooner and the teacher and the other children in the class will thank you.  With these tips, your children may stay healthy this school year and you won’t have to keep them home.

On September 24th, the Show-Me-How with Miss Vivian program will be at Family Christian Store, 7165 North Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO.  There will be one presentation from 12 to 12:45pm.  I’ll be reading Johnny Lion’s Bad Day to the parents and children and then we will all make Paper Plate Lions.  This program is appropriate for children from two to seven years old.  In addition, there will be a flyer for parents to take home about staying healthy this school year.  I hope we will have a good turn-out…please spread the word and tweet this and post to Facebook…maybe some of your followers are local to Colorado Springs.

SAVE THE DATE

STAYING HEALTHY

THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.

For more information: 719-237-3111 or vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com

Show-Me-How Story-time with Miss Vivian Travels to Chicago

Downtown from the lakefront, Chicago, IL, USA

Frank Sinatra sang songs about many of the cities that he loved…New York – San Francisco – Chicago.

After a fantastic long weekend in Chicago, I’ll have to echo some of his words (written by Sammy Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen):

Chicago is one town

That won’t let you down

It’s my kind of town.

I arrived on Friday morning and spent the day relaxing with my son and daughter-in-law at their home.  Visiting with them is like going to a spa…they LOVE to cook “healthy” and every morning they start the day with a bowl of fresh fruit…mangoes, papayas, bananas, apples, peaches…drizzled with a little honey.  For lunch each day, my son made a huge vegetable salad bowl for each of us…cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, mushrooms…all topped with some capers and a splash of aged blueberry balsamic   vinegar.

My book event, Starting School Jitters Be Gone, on Saturday at Lollie, a children’s boutique in Evanston, just 20 minutes north of downtown Chicago, was so much fun!  This shop is an amazing place…filled with many handmade and locally designed clothes and accessories, as well as other unique items for infants, toddlers and children.  The owner is knowledgeable, helpful and a really lovely lady…I know if I lived in the Chicago area, I’d stop in there for any new baby gifts I needed, as well as for birthday and Christmas presents for any little ones on my list.

Of course, Mother Nature had her own plans for 11am, the time the first presentation was to start.  The skies over the entire Chicago area darkened, and the heavens poured forth a torrential rainstorm, accompanied by huge claps of thunder and crackling flashes of lightening. 

Inside Lollie, however, everything was bright and cheery.  A group of young children listened attentively as I read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  As the story about Chester unfolded, the children heard how the little raccoon, anxious about his first day of kindergarten, learned a secret from his mother that helped him overcome his fear and go to school with eager anticipation. 

After the story reached its happy conclusion, I showed the children a sample of the craft project and explained how we would all be making “Kissing Handprints”…deciding who we loved and who loved us and then drawing in the features for each person (or pet or stuffed animal) on each finger.

Parents and children clustered around the craft table and we proceeded to draw an outline of each child’s hands.  The hum of happy children, busily engaged in a constructive activity with their parents, is definitely music to my ears.  “This finger is going to be my mommy” said one little girl.  “And those are my dogs” she added.

The storm had ended by the time the second presentation was over.  My son and daughter-in-law, who had brought me and had assisted during the program, helped me pack everything up.  I’m looking forward to my next trip to Chicago…Lollie’s owner has invited me to come back to do another program, whenever I’m in town.  Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is available at the shop for those of you who are in the Chicago area.

The next few days were filled with family visits, an afternoon at the beach – unbelievable to have a REAL sandy beach with what looks and smells like the ocean (it’s really Lake Michigan) right across the street from the downtown area of a major city – and an architectural river boat cruise.  It was difficult to leave…I’m already looking at my calendar to see when my next jaunt to Chicago will be.

My next post will be a review of a children’s book, A Reel Cool Summer, written by Martha Rodriguez.  We connected online and she loved my book and did a great review of it.  I brought her book on my trip and was able to share it with my great-niece and great-nephew…they absolutely loved it and were totally engaged in the story…so  in my next post, it will be my turn to tell everyone why they need to run out and get a copy of Ms. Rodriguez’ fun-filled book for children ages 6-9.

Photo credit: Thanks to JCrocker for the Chicago skyline pic.

Starting School Jitters Be Gone!

COLORADO SPRINGS PARENTS/GRANDPARENTS/TEACHERS OF PRESCHOOLERS

SAVE THE DATE

STARTING SCHOOL JITTERS BE GONE!

THE SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, August 6th

THERE WILL BE TWO IDENTICAL PRESENTATIONS

11:30am to 12noon and 12:30pm to 1pm

Family Christian Bookstore: 7560 N. Academy, Colorado Springs, CO

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: 5 simple steps to a smoother school year
  • Enter to win free preschool craft supplies

 

Local author, Vivian Kirkfield, is a former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her award-winning parenting book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, is a wonderful resource of story suggestions and educational fun-filled activities for preschoolers – a true shortcut for busy parents and teachers.

For more information: 237-3111 or vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com