Posted tagged ‘Imagination’

Spending Time Together

March 26, 2020

In this time of uncertainty with the coronavirus on everyone’s mind, life has become more stressful than ever. Many parents are now working from home. With child care centers and schools closed, your children may be causing interruptions and demanding your attention as you try to work. It’s not an easy time for anyone. When possible, take a break from your work and spend some quality time with your kids. They, too, are trying to cope with a new way of family life.

Here are a few ideas that might help entertain your children. As an added plus of spending time together, these activities also complement the STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum in schools. You may find that these special moments spent with your family can be fun for everyone.

Craft Day – Choose a simple craft and create.

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Organize and Categorize Day – Organize toys and books. Set aside those that your children no longer want and donate them.

Theater Day – Have the family act out one of their favorite books or make up a play and perform it.

Game Board Day/Card Game Day – Have fun learning a new card game or playing a board game.

Puzzle Day – Grab a puzzle piece and see where it fits.

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Game Show Day – Ask questions dealing with math, books, nature, etc. Correct answers gain points. With the points collected, all participants can choose a little prize – a special snack, a sticker, a small toy you may have saved for an anytime prize, etc.

Family Movie/Popcorn Day – Vote on a movie and enjoy it with the family with a side of popcorn.

Cookie Baking Day – Choose a family favorite recipe and measure, mix, and bake.

Quiet Reading Day – Find a quiet place to read your favorite books.

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Hide and Seek Day – Take turns hiding an object and have others find it with hot/cold prompts.

Zoo Day – Gather stuffed animals and set up a zany zoo.

Dress-up Day – Dress up in old clothes you may have around the house and let your imagination go wild.

Build a Tent Day – Use Sheets and blankets to create a secret place.

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Sidewalk Chalk Day – Draw a town in your driveway with roads, flowers, houses.

Band Day – Use objects around the house to create instruments. Don’t forget your voice is an instrument, too. Sing it out!

Build a House Day – Do you have old boxes? Try making a mini house with your mini family members.

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Old MacDonald Farm Day – With a moo, moo here and a moo, moo there… Keep on singing, adding as many farm animals as you can. Draw your favorite farm animals and house them in an imaginary barn.

Take a Quiet Walk Day – Make sure to keep your distance from other walkers.

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This is an extraordinarily stressful time. We are strong. We will get through this. When we do, we may realize that this was the best of the worst of times — a time when families came together.

Stay safe!

 

 

 

 

Sea Glass Summer

December 12, 2019

If you’re like many of us who have been inundated with snow, sleet, wind, and rain, this may be the book that will lift your winter spirits.

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Sea Glass Summer written by Michelle Houts and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline tells a story of how a young boy called Thomas spends the summer at his grandmother’s island cottage. She gifts Thomas with a magnifying glass that was his grandfather’s. Each day, Thomas and his grandmother search the beach for treasures left behind by the sea. His grandmother finds a piece of sea glass which she hands to Thomas, saying “…after being broken, tossed in the saltwater and sand, the pieces turn smooth and cloudy.” She adds, “…your grandfather used to say that each piece of sea glass has a story all its own.” That night, with his sea glass nearby, Thomas dreams of a ship from long ago as seen in Ibatoullines’ realistic illustrations. As the ship is christened with a bottle of champagne, pieces of the bottle fall into the ocean. Sea glass days and sea glass night dreams make up Thomas’ summer. At the end of the summer as Thomas and his grandmother are ferrying off the island, Thomas drops his grandfather’s magnifying glass and pieces fall into the sea. The story fast forwards to many years later when a young girl who is visiting a family island cottage shows her Papaw Tom a piece of sea glass she found. He carefully examines it and says, “…each piece of sea glass has a story of its own.” That night with her sea glass nearby, she dreams of a boy named Thomas.

I’m fascinated by this story because our family loves hunting for sea glass on the beaches of New England. Bagram Ibatoulline’s realistic illustrations are beautifully rendered, and Michelle Houts’ story inspires imaginative thinking. The author and illustrator weave a story of family, history, and the art of sea glass. Make sure to check this out!

Nothing Wee about Me!

December 5, 2019

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Nothing Wee About Me! is written by Kim Chaffee (author of Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon) and illustrated by Laura Bobbiesi. In this imaginative tale, a wee girl named Liesel uses Grandma Rose’s soup ladle to wish for magical adventures. With her trusty ladle, Liesel confronts a pirate, a fire-breathing dragon, rescues a prince, and uses her ingenuity to save a town from an erupting volcano. She does all this just in time to return Grandma Rose’s ladle and enjoy a bowl of Grandma’s Sunday soup. Liesel proves there is nothing WEE about her in this romp through the world of imagination! Readers will enjoy Liesel’s adventures and Laura Bobbiesi’s charming illustrations rendered in soft pastels. There is nothing wee about this book!

 

 

When a House Is No Longer a Home

October 11, 2018

As someone who has always been curious about interesting houses and the people who live in them, I found A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS to be fascinating.

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Julie Fogliano masterfully tells the story of two children who discover a house deep in the woods. A house that is abandoned. “A house that once was but now isn’t a home.” A house that is slowly falling apart and being taken over by the forest vegetation and animals. A house that invites the curious children inside. They respectfully explore the interior, taking note of objects left behind wondering and imagining what the people and animals were like who once inhabited the house. Who were they? What did they do? Where did they go? Where are they now?  So many questions! So many things to think about! As the children leave to return to their cozy and warm home, they wonder if the house is waiting for the owners to return … waiting to become a home again.

Julie Fogliano’s lyrical language and rhyme whisper to the reader to come and explore with the children. Her text combined with Lane Smith‘s whimsical and enchanting illustrations will encourage readers to examine every detail and enjoy their adventure.

This book sparks the imagination and begs to be read over and over.

 

 

 

 

Let There Be Light

January 25, 2018

When we moved to a new state and a new home in a new housing development, everything was … new. Meeting our neighbors helped us feel more comfortable in our surroundings, and as we cultivated new friends, smiles lit up our faces.

Sometimes you find neighbors don’t always agree with everything happening in a community, but when the developer of our neighborhood put a new “street light” at the entrance to our development, we all came together. The decision was unanimous. The light must go.

It’s wasn’t a street light. It was a  light pole that belonged in front of someone’s house to light up a driveway or walkway. If you blinked, you’d miss the tiny glow it cast. I kiddingly said, “Maybe the snowplow will take care of it for us.”

It did.

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As of now, the light post lies face down in a puddle of slush. It’s a sad ending to the tale of the little light that didn’t shine brightly enough. The homeowners are in the process of replacing the light with a genuine street light that has a luminosity that will guide all those who enter our community.

Speaking of light …

Here are two sparkling books that will throw light on the subject of light.

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The Way Home in the Night written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi, Kids Can Press, 2017

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Windows  is written by Julia Denos and illustrated by E.B. Goodale, Candlewick, 2017

Both of these books take place in the evening when lights illuminate the inside of neighborhood homes and businesses. Those looking in from the outside can catch a glimpse of what is happening on the inside. These slice of life images inspire curiosity, imagination, and a safe feeling of home and community. I especially love the lyrical language in The Way Home in the Night. The charming illustrations and text in both of these books make them a must read. And once you do,  I know you’ll agree with me.

Now, if you’re in the dark like we were this week because of a power outage, you might like this book.

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Blackout is written and illustrated by John Rocco, Disney-Hyperion, 2011

When the lights go out, what’s a family to do? With the electronics down and out, a family learns how to reconnect with one another. Appealing text and illustrations show how family time can turn into quality time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books + Imagination = A Great Adventure

January 11, 2018

One flashlight. Three kids. An adventure in the making.

Author, Matt Forrest Esenwine, and illustrator, Fred Koehler team up to create an imaginative adventure that begs the reader to keep turning the pages.

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Flashlight Night, written in rhyme, begins with three children sitting in a tree house filled with books. When the older boy turns on the flashlight, the night comes alive, and so do their imaginations. The children embark on a grand backyard adventure following the path of the light. Each page turn brings the children into a new adventure. A kitten becomes a tiger, the underneath of a deck reveals an Egyptian tomb, a pool becomes an ocean with a pirate and a ship, sailing through rough waters where a sea monster suddenly appears. A stuffed teddy becomes an enormous bear that helps save the three adventurers and lets them return safely to their tree house. Keep a close eye on Fred Koehler’s illustrations done in pencil and digitally colored. They cleverly reveal what classic books motivate the children’s adventure.

What light shines on your imagination?

A Gift of Imagination

December 7, 2017

If someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I’d say a green umbrella. Why?  Because it’s much more than an ordinary umbrella. It’s an object that tickles your imagination and takes you on extraordinary adventures.

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The Green Umbrella is written by Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni. On a rainy day, Elephant is taking a walk with his umbrella when he meets Hedgehog who insists Elephant has his boat and tells him of his boat adventures. When Elephant says Hedgehog is mistaken, Elephant offers to share his umbrella with Hedgehog. Along comes Cat who insists Elephant has his tent and tells of his tent adventures. Elephant says Cat is mistaken but offers to share his umbrella. The story continues as Elephant meets different animals who are convinced his umbrella is not really an umbrella but something else. In the end, despite their differences, they all become friends. Maral Sassouni’s illustrations are whimsical and rendered in soft pastels. The Green Umbrella is a delightful book of imagination, sharing, and friendship.

Get me that green umbrella!

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mistake

October 12, 2017

What if no one ever made a mistake? That would be the biggest mistake of all. Throughout history, mistakes have led to great strides in making our world a better place.

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A perfectly delightful picture book written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken is The Book of Mistakes. The endpapers begin with a splat of ink and end with a charming surprise. Luyken begins her story with spare text and seemingly simplistic sketches rendered in black ink and surrounded by white space. The reader learns the artist has made a mistake. She corrects it by coming up with a good idea, but then there are more mistakes followed by more good ideas. With each page turn, colors seep into the illustrations. In the middle of the book, there are five wordless spreads in which the artist’s illustrations become more intricate and more colorful. At the end, Corinna Luyken poses the question, “Do you see—” which makes readers pause to think. The final illustrations and text give the reader a closer look into the creative mind of the author/artist who demonstrates how inspiration can change a simple mistake into something amazing.

Make no mistake. Grab hold of this book now!

 

 

 

 

Get Ready to Turn these Pages

September 14, 2017

 

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If you’re looking for a book to get your toddler/preschooler moving, take a look at Lucy Cousins’ picture book, Hooray for Birds. This book is filled with bold, bright colors and invites the child to imagine he/she is a bird and do what the birds do. The fast–paced rhymes begin with a “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” in the morning and continue throughout the day until it’s time to say good night. Don’t be surprised if your little one insists you read the book again and again, and you’ll oblige because this book is fun for everyone!

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Bird, Balloon, Bear written and illustrated by Il Sung Na is quite the opposite of Hooray for Birds. This is a gentle story about finding the courage to make a new friend. The text is spare and the illustrations in the book are muted and soft with a fun double page spread. What makes this book special is it lends itself to cuddling together as you turn the pages to reveal how a friendship blossoms.

These two books are looking for a space in your library.

 

DU IZ TAK?

December 1, 2016

If you have very young children, you know they have a language of their own – uhda, madee, ticka …  They know what they’re saying, but it’s up to us to figure it out. And that brings me to a picture book that fascinates me. When I first heard about this book, I was convinced it was written in a foreign language. When I finally got my hands on it, I was in for a big surprise!

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Du Iz Tak? is written and illustrated by Carson Ellis. The text is sparse, using “invented” words. With that in mind, Carson Ellis has masterfully crafted a fanciful story filled with creativity and imagination. Two damselflies discover a shoot growing out of the ground. Other insects investigate the growth. After some interesting discussion and the help of Icky the bug, they build a tree house in the growing shoot. Drama comes into play with the addition of a huge spider, a hungry, bird, and a blossoming flower. While all of this is taking place, a caterpillar has made its cocoon. At night, a violin-playing insect sits above the cocoon and plays to the night sky. This oversized picture book is one that needs time to absorb. Ellis’ illustrations are filled with the beauty and wonder of nature and what can happen when imagination blossoms. This circular story has a very satisfying ending and lends itself to close examination and discussion.

Another picture book with invented words and fun to read is Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis. See my comments here.

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Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50

Navigating the second half of my life

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

VIVIAN KIRKFIELD - Writer for Children

Picture Books Help Kids Soar

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