May 29 – Learn about Composting Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-compost-stew

About the Holiday

Composting is a wonderful way to use organic waste to help the environment. Whether you keep a small composting container in your kitchen, set aside a pile in the corner of your yard, or invest in a compost tumbler, letting non-meat or dairy kitchen scraps, outdoor vegetation cuttings, and even hair or dryer lint decompose into nourishing soil additives will make your garden grow bigger and better!

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth

Written by Mary McKenna Siddals | Illustrated by Ashley Wolff

 

“Environmental chefs, / here’s a recipe for you / to fix from scratch / to mix a batch / of Compost Stew.” This clever alphabet book reveals the ABCs of gathering the perfect ingredients for a compost pile, which creates a nutritious meal for gardens, flower beds, and the environment:

“Apple cores / Bananas, bruised / Coffee grounds with filters, used / Dirt clods, crumbled / Eggshells, crushed / Fruit pulp left behind, all mushed / Grass clippings / Hair snippings / and an Insect or two / Just add to the pot / and let it all rot / into Compost Stew.”

The catchy rhymes and easy-to-follow directions will make kids excited about saving left-overs, raking up fallen leaves, and shredding paper to add to the pile. Readers may also be surprised by some of the other items that will decompose to make rich soil, such as seaweed, laundry lint, and teabags. Three simple steps for cooking up compost stew follow the alphabet, and create a refrain that kids will love to repeat.

Mary McKenna Siddals brings the science of composting and recycling to kids in a fun, interactive way. Children may even like to think of their own ingredients for each letter of the alphabet. The author’s note at the end of the book reveals substitute ingredients as well as items that are not appropriate or safe for composting.

Ashley Wolff’s brilliant, textured collage artwork depicts four multicultural kids (along with their helpful Dalmatian and goose) gathering the ingredients for their compost bag wherever they are—in the yard, in the kitchen, at the hair salon, at the beach, and more.

Kids interested in gardening and environmental issues will love to have Compost Stew on their bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 8

Dragonfly Books, Random House, 2014 | ISBN 978-0385755382

Learn about Composting Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-composting-word-search

Creative Composting Word Search

 

Composting takes individual ingredients and combines them to create nourishing soil. Can you find the words that relate to this environmental science in this printable Creative Composting Word Search? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

May 14 – International Astronomy Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-star-stuff

About the Holiday

Instituted by Doug Berger in 1973, International Astronomy Day is held twice a year—in spring and fall—to raise awareness of the benefits and wonder of studying the stars. Museums, observatories, universities and astronomy clubs around the world provide public access to astronomical instruments and hold special programs about this interesting and ancient science. To celebrate, attend an International Astronomy Day event, take time tonight to gaze at the sky and pick out the constellations you recognize, or read about the stars and their importance to history and the future.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

By Stephanie Roth Sisson

 

A boy named Carl Sagan may have lived in a small apartment in Brooklyn, New York, but he was part of so much more—a large city on the third planet from the sun in a “neighborhood of stars” which are part of the Milky Way galaxy. Growing up, Carl marveled at the connections. He had an innate curiosity and was astonished by everything he saw; his imagination was out of this world!

When he attended the 1939 World’s Fair as a young child, he experienced things he had never seen before; he saw a robot, new inventions, and a time capsule filled with messages for the future. At night he looked up at the stars and wondered; he thought they looked like lightbulbs on long black wires. He went to the library to read about the stars.At first the librarian thought he meant movie stars, but soon he got the book he wanted. Reading it made his heart beat fast.

Carl imagined what kinds of creatures and sights he might discover if he were able to travel through space. He tried standing with his arms outstretched and wishing he was on Mars like his favorite science fiction character, John Carter, but nothing happened. He decided he would have to make his “life in space” a reality himself so he went to college and became an astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, and so much more.

Dr. Carl Sagan then worked with other scientists to develop the exploratory crafts Mariner 2, Mariner 9, and Pioneer 10 that have gone into space to investigate Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. When they sent back pictures, Carl analyzed them and learned more about our solar system

Carl wanted everyone to know and understand Space. He created a television program that explained in easy terms what the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies are made of, how they came to be, and how we are connected to them. The Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff, Carl told his audience. The show – Cosmos: A Personal Voyage – was a hit, watched by millions of people.

Scientists have long wanted to know if life exists on other planets, and as time went on they had the technology to explore the possibilities. Carl worked with other engineers to create Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 to tour the outer solar system and beyond. Remembering that time capsule he saw so long ago at the World’s Fair, Carl had a marvelous idea! He recorded messages and sounds from Earth and made a Golden Record that was carried on each Voyager mission.

Carl Sagan, that boy made of star stuff who grew up to be so many things—astrophysicist, explorer, educator, philosopher, writer, and more—changed the world through the power of his imagination.

Stephanie Roth Sisson’s biography of Carl Sagan wonderfully honors the dreamer and scientist whose imagination went into Space and brought it down to Earth for others to understand and enjoy. The story begins in Sagan’s neighborhood and home, where illustrations depict the curiosity that fueled his passion. Just as the mysteries of Space quickly captured his attention, the pages fill with the night sky and its twinkling lights and celestial bodies. A most ingenious page takes advantage of a two-page vertical spread that transforms Carl’s bedroom window into a space capsule that blasts him into the cosmos as he ponders the stuff of stars.

His work as an adult collaborating with scientists and engineers to develop deep space exploration craft is clearly drawn with pages containing multiple panels of his job and accomplishments up close and from the distance of outer space. A particularly arresting three-page fold-out spread reveals the moment Carl discovered his love of the stars and Earth’s sun (holding a flashlight behind the depiction of the fiery sun would be a show-stopper, especially during a night-time read).

Kids familiar with today’s space travel and the awe-inspiring images sent back to Earth will love this book. To quote Carl Sagan, Star Stuff will definitely elicit a “Wowie!” from readers.

Ages 4 – 8

Roaring Brook Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-1596439603

International Astronomy Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-glow-stars

Make a Room Observatory

 

If you like gazing at the stars before going to sleep, why not bring them inside? With adhesive glow-in-the-dark stars, available at craft and toy stores, you can create a night sky full of celestial bodies that stay lit long after you’ve said goodnight. You can add planets, rocket ships—even your favorite constellation! This can be a nice alternative to a night light or transition children from a full night light to a gentle, comforting glow in their room.

Picture Book Review

May 13 – Fintastic Friday: Giving Sharks, Skates, and Rays a Voice

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-discovering-sharks

About the Holiday

Fintastic Friday was established by Whale Times to bring awareness to and promote advocacy about conservation efforts to save some of the ocean’s most magnificent creatures. Whale Times, Inc. was created in 1995 to provide kids with easy access to marine science information. Their mission is to create a connections between the ocean, ocean research, researchers, and students through formal and informal educational programs. Respected by educators, marine scientists, and other scientific organizations, Whale Times inspires students to consider careers in marine science and work toward solutions for protecting our ocean environments. Whale Times invites kids all over the world to get involved to save sharks through three activities:

  • Zone It! Help make the entire ocean a shark conservation zone by making others aware of the dangers to shark populations and printing out the special poster found at whaletimes.org.
  • Thank Them in a Big Way! Through letters or personal conversations, thank the scientists and conservationists working to protect sharks
  • Sharks in the Park Rally! Consider holding a shark rally or party to make others aware of shark and ocean related conservation issues

Discovering Sharks

Written by Donna Parham | Illustrated by Julius T Csotonyi

 

When you pick up Discovering Sharks, you’ll immediately know you’re reading a unique book. The cover, with the texture and heft of shark skin, features a great white, teeth bared, eye glinting, bearing down on you, the reader! But don’t be afraid—open this book to pages filled with incredible illustrations and information on one of the most fascinating species to swim the seas. Here are just a few:

Carcharocles Megalodon: living during the Miocene and Pliocene Periods, this mammoth shark grew to 50 feet in length and had serrated teeth, some of which were 7 inches tall! These sharks dwarfed the whales, sea turtles, other sea creatures that made up its meals. Even land animals that were unfortunate enough to swim into it’s path were gobbled up.

Cladoselache: This smaller shark grew to a length of 4 to 6 feet and lived during the Devonian Period. It’s a good thing dentists weren’t around back then because this shark would have been their worst nightmare! With a mouth at the tip of its snout and ragged, jagged teeth, this shark was great at grabbing food, but not so good at chewing it.

Whorl-Tooth Shark: With a tooth shaped like the blade of a circular saw growing vertically from the shark’s lower jaw, the Whorl-tooth is perhaps one of the oddest sea creatures to ever live. No amount of orthodontia could ever fix those teeth!

A section on Fearsome Sharks comes next. While you may think that all sharks look scary, very few actually pose danger to people. If you see any of these, however, you better get out of the way!

Tiger Shark: Sporting dark vertical stripes along its back and sides, this 20-foot long monster doesn’t talk trash—he eats it! Scarfing up ocean waste such as “plastic bags, barrels, cans, and pieces of coal,” they are not adverse to snacking on “chickens, pigs, donkeys, and monkeys that fall off boats or go for a swim.” It actually seems there is nothing these sharks won’t eat!

The Great Hammerhead: With its distinctive hammer-shaped snout, this shark hunts prey in a most unusual fashion. Along its wide head are tiny sensors that pick up the small electrical pulses emitted by every kind of creature—even you! Once the shark senses the electrical field, it’s probably too late!

Blacktip Shark: If this whole shark gig doesn’t work out, this unusual giant may find a place in a ballet troupe. While feeding, this quick swimmer “sometimes…leaps free of the water and spins in the air—once, twice, or three times—before falling back into the sea.” Quite a performance!

A chapter on Endangered Sharks are up next. Nearly one-third of shark species are considered endangered or threatened due to environmental and human causes. Sharks are captured for food, for their tough skin, and for the oils and vitamins in their liver. In some places shark fin soup is a delicacy, served for special occasions. Huge trawlers also catch sharks in their fishing nets and on lines. This “bycatching” is a major reason behind the decline of shark populations. Here are two of the species on that list:

Daggernose Shark: With its flat, razor-sharp nose this sleek, 5-foot-long beauty cuts through the shallow waters off the Northern South African coast. It is currently on the Critically Endangered list, which means it will likely become extinct in your lifetime.

Whitespotted Izak: Tiny by the standards of fiercer sharks, this Izak is only 12 inches long. Its name comes from the white spots on its body whose only purpose seem to be breaking up its brown spots. Now on the Endangered list, this striking species has nearly vanished.

Deepwater Sharks may be some of the most unusual sharks of all. Sporting eye-popping adaptations to their forbidding environments, these sharks are like nothing you’ve ever seen before! Here are a couple:

Bahamas Sawshark: Carrying its own double-edged saw in front of it, this shark found in the waters near Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas strikes with stunning force.

Viper Dogfish: You might wonder where this shark’s fins went! The stubby body on this shark makes it look more like a torpedo than a shark. Only recently discovered in 1990, the Dogfish swims the depths off the coasts of Japan and Hawaii

The last section is reserved for “Superlatives”—sharks that demonstrate unique qualities: most warm-blooded, biggest, most likely to get stepped on, most unusual feeding method, most mysterious, and more.

This is just a small sampling of the absorbing facts and species found in Discovering Sharks. Donna Parham offers statistics, scientific data, and trivia about each shark in a conversational, riveting way that will keep kids glued to this book and wanting to return again and again.

The incredible work of natural history illustrator Julius T Csotonyi will take your breath away anew with each page. The vivid colors and textures of the sharks reefs, sea plants, and other fish are so intricately mastered that you will feel as if you’re snorkeling in the depths as well. Lit with the sun, the clear ocean waters show off the beautiful markings of each species, and the murky sea bottom holds unfathomable mystery.

Shark lovers, dinosaur aficionados, monster mavens, and more creature enthusiasts will want Discovering Sharks in their library.

Ages 5 and up

Cider Mill Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1604336047

Gardening for Wildlife Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-find-differences-puzzle

Guess the Garden Differences

 

No two gardens are exactly alike. Can you find the differences in the two pictures of kids having fun in their gardens? Print out the Guess the Garden Differences puzzle and have fun!

May 10 – Mother Ocean Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-at-the-sea-floor-cafe

About the Holiday

The brain child of the South Florida Kayak Fishing Club and enacted in 2013, Mother Ocean Day promotes awareness of the beauty and wonder of the world’s oceans. Teeming with rare and surprising creatures and plants, the ocean remains one of Earth’s most amazing mysteries. Today, take time to enjoy all the ocean has to offer—go to the beach and walk, snorkel, swim, or fish—or if you’re more of a landlubber read a book about our Mother Ocean.

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems

Written by Leslie Bulion | Illustrated by Leslie Evans

 

With a jaunty exhortation to “Dive In!” Leslie Bulion invites readers to “…visit a habitat shallow and deep. / and boiling hot, where acids seep, / and frigid and pressured and mountainy-steep, / Come explore the sea! Seventeen species of “odd critters, enormous and tiny…hunters and foragers, hiders and peekers” are described in clever, informative verse.

The Coconut Octopus is a wily creature: “This octopus walks backwards on two arms, / And wraps the other six around its top. / It ambles free of predatory harms, / And thus avoids becoming shark-chewed slop.” The symbiotic relationship between the Leopard Sea Cucumber and the Emperor Shrimp is told in alternating lines of blue and red.

“I inch along.”

“We hitch a ride. / We tour the seafloor country side.”

“I’m ship,”

We’re crew. / We swab the decks / By eating scummy algae specks.”

I’m camouflaged / in leopard spots.

While not the swiftest / Of the yachts, / A top-notch spot to meet a mate.”

When threatened I eviscerate.

To spew my guts / Is quite a chore, / And it takes weeks / To grow some more. / But I keep predators away.

We live to crew / Another day.

The unexplained habit of the convict fish, which “eats” its young every night just to spit them out again, is described in “Fish Food,” and readers can dig their teeth into another meal-related relationship between the reef shark and the cleaner wrasse in “Healthy Eating.” In “Dental Health” readers learn that narwhal’s tusks are much more than defense mechanisms. Instead, each tooth “contains ten million nerves to sense / environmental evidence.” And what’s more—“…when we see them crossing spars / and jousting underneath the stars, / one’s tusk above and one’s beneath, / it’s not a fight; their brushing teeth.”

“Crabby Camouflage” has never been so elaborate or decorative as that concocted by the jeweled anemone crab, and “Dolphin Fashion” reveals an ingenious way to protect a tender snout: “A bottlenose counseled her daughter: / Put this sponge on your beak underwater. / You can scare out more fish, / Poke sharp stones as you wish, / And your skin’ll stay smooth like it oughter.”

Snapping shrimp, epaulette sharks, the violet snail, sea spiders, krill, the broody squid, sipohonophores, erenna, larvaceans, osedax, and the remotely operated vehicles that give us a view of the ocean floor are also celebrated in this fun poetry collection.

Each poem is followed by scientific information about the subject of the verse.

Leslie Bulion piques readers’ interest in these fascinating ocean creatures with her smart, witty rhymes that reveal little-known facts.

Leslie Evans, with her printmaker’s eye, illustrates the deep blue pages with stylized depictions of the fish and animals that populate the sea, allowing readers to visualize the quirks and adaptations written about.

Ages 6 and up

Peachtree Publishers, 2011 | ISBN 978-1561455652

Gardening for Wildlife Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-flower-vase

Spoon Flowers

The rounded scoop and long “stem” of plastic ice-cream spoons make a perfect base for pretty wildflowers. You can use the printable petal template or make petals of your own design to fill your vase with color

Supplies

  • Printable Petal Template
  • 3 – 4 plastic ice-cream spoons, these are available in different colors at party supply stores or you can paint them the color you’d like
  • Multi-purpose paint in colors of your choice, if you are painting the spoons
  • Heavy craft paper in your favorite flower colors
  • Green ribbon
  • Ribbon, hairbands, weaving loom bands, or colored wire
  • Glue gun or strong glue
  • Paintbrush 
  • Scissors
  • Beans, sand, pebbles, or glass or plastic beads to fill the vase

Directions

  1. Print or trace the petals onto colored paper. The number of petals you need for each flower will depend on the size of the spoon
  2. Cut out the petals
  3. With the glue gun or strong glue, attach the petals to the spoon, gluing the end of the petals around the inside edge of the spoon, Let dry
  4. Wrap the handle of the spoon with the green ribbon and glue in place
  5. Fill the vase ¾ full with beans, sand, pebbles, or beads
  6. Decorate the rim of the bottle with the ribbon, bands, or wire
  7. Push the flower stems into the vase and arrange

May 6 – International Space Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-otter-in-space

About the Holiday

Each year International Space Day is observed on the first Friday in May to commemorate the extraordinary achievements, benefits, and opportunities of space exploration. The goal of International Space Day is to promote math, science, technology and engineering education to inspire students to pursue a career in science and especially a career in space-related fields.

Otter in Space

By Sam Garton

 

On Sunday Otter goes to the museum with Otter Keeper and Teddy to see the Space Exhibition. They see a Triceratops skeleton and meet a stuffed bear that must be Teddy’s cousin. On the walls are old paintings made before the invention of crayons, and ancient, interesting things are everywhere.

Otter likes all these exhibits, but her favorite is the room dedicated to outer space—there are buttons to push just like a real astronaut, videos to watch, and a rock that came all the way from the moon. At last Otter gets to go to the gift shop. She loads up her arms with toys, but Otter Keeper says, “One thing only.” The spaceship travels home with them, but Otter and Teddy really want a moon rock too.

The next day while Otter Keeper is at work, Otter and Teddy play with their new spaceship, but it’s just not as fun without a moon rock. Teddy suggests going back to the museum, but no one can drive them. Otter thinks and thinks and suddenly has “the best idea ever!” She and Teddy will blast to the moon and retrieve a moon rock.

Otter makes a very important list of very important things to do. After lunch she builds two space suits and starts training. Although Teddy has some trouble keeping his space suit on and with problem solving, his performance in anti-gravity training is impressive so they move on to constructing the spaceship. With ingenuity and a bunch of household items, Otter builds a rocket and takes it to the Launchpad.

With Giraffe at “mishun control” lift-off is easy, but the moon landing is a little bumpy. Otter’s suit gets torn, but she perseveres and discovers the perfect moon rock nearby. It’s huge! With a little trouble Otter and Teddy transport it back to Earth, where it makes a perfect companion, playing board games and pirates—until Otter Keeper comes home and says it has to go back where it belongs.

The discussion is carried over to dinnertime, and Otter Keeper relents when he sees how serious Otter is in her space suit. If Otter cleans the moon rock she can keep it, says Otter Keeper. But one more restriction has been added to the Otter DO NOT list: dig up moon rocks! That’s okay, though. There are other things to dig up on the moon—like a dinosaur!

Sam Garton’s Otter in Space is a cute, spot-on portrayal of the fantastic ideas kids get when exposed to new concepts or places. Told from Otter’s point of view, the text hits on the serious-yet-humorous observations of kids: the gift shop as the favorite museum “exhibit,” a lingering regret for the toy left behind, and “the best ideas ever!” to correct situations.

Garton’s colorful illustrations of wily Otter and her faithful Teddy as they visit the museum, plan their space trip with the help of Giraffe and other toys, and blast off wearing a cereal box space suit are endearing. Kids will giggle at Teddy’s anti-gravity training in the washing machine. They and their parents will also appreciate Otter’s crafty discovery of the moon rock in the garden and recognize with a laugh his adoption of it as a member of the family.

Otter in Space is a book kids will want to explore again and again!

Ages 4 – 8

Balzar + Bray, Harper Collins, 2015 | ISBN 978-0062247766

International Space Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rocket

Create a Soft Book, Page 6—Rocket

 

Blast off with fun on Page 6 of your soft book with this shiny rocket on its way to an undiscovered planet! See previous posts from May 1 through 5 for each page of the book.

Supplies

  • Printable Rocket Template
  • Adhesive felt or foam letters
  • Tin foil
  • Felt, fleece, or foam in various colors of your choice (I used aqua, white, yellow, and purple)
  • Scissors
  • Strong glue or fabric glue

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rocket-and-parrot

Directions

  1. Cut out the rocket and feet from tin foil
  2. Cut out the nose cone and body stripe from felt, fleece or foam
  3. Cut out the round window from white felt, fleece, or foam
  4. Cut out the planet from your choice color of felt, fleece, or foam
  5. Cut out planet’s ring from your choice color of felt, fleece, or foam
  6. Glue rocket and feet to page
  7. Fit ring around planet and glue to page
  8. Attach adhesive letters to page, making sure they are stuck firmly. If they aren’t use fabric glue

I hope you enjoy your book!

Picture book review

April 18 – It’s National Inventor’s Month

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires picture book review

About the Holiday

Perhaps April was chosen as Inventor’s Month because the blossoms of early spring echo the flourish of ideas that come from fertile minds. This month honors all the men and women throughout history who dared to think differently and changed the world. Today, that proud tradition continues in the excitement of school labs and classrooms, through online courses and computer technology, and in private homes where people of all ages are pondering and creating the next big thing. If you have a knack for innovation or invention, take time to sit down and work on your ideas today.

The Most Magnificent Thing

By Ashley Spires

 

A little pony-tailed girl and her puppy do everything together. They race, eat, explore, and relax. When she makes things, her best friend unmakes them. One day the girl has a brilliant idea—she is going to make “the most MAGNIFICENT thing!” In her mind it’s going to be “easy-peasy.” She knows exactly how it will look and how it will work.

With her faithful assistant following at her heels, the girl gathers materials and goes to work on the sidewalk outside her home. The girl “tinkers and hammers and measures” while her assistant “pounces and growls and chews.” When the little invention is finished, they stand back to examine it. Hmmm…it doesn’t look quite right. It doesn’t feel quite right either. In fact it is all wrong! The girl tries again.

She “smooths and wrenches and fiddles” while her assistant “circles and tugs and wags.” It still turns out wrong. Determined to make her vision reality, she gives it another go…and another…and another. She makes her invention different shapes, gives it various textures, measures out assorted sizes. One attempt even smells like stinky cheese! But none of these creations are MAGNIFICENT.

People stop by and offer encouraging—even admiring—remarks, but the little girl just gets mad. Can’t they see how wrong her invention is? In her anger the little girl works at a fevered pitch, shoving parts together, her brain fogged by “all the not-right things.” In her haste she hurts her finger. This is the last straw. She explodes and declares that she QUITS!

The ever-watchful assistant suggests a bit of fresh air. The girl takes her puppy for a walk and at first her feelings of defeat stay with her. Little by little, though, she pays attention to the world around her and her mind clears. Coming home, she encounters all the wrong things she has made lined up on the sidewalk. Her disappointment threatens to return, but then she notices something surprising—there are parts of each iteration that she likes!

After studying each earlier attempt, she knows just what to do! Slowly and carefully she once more begins to tinker. At the end of the day she and her assistant stand back to look. The machine may lean a bit, and be a little heavy, and it may need a coat of paint…but as the girl and her puppy climb aboard, they both agree that “it really is THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING!”

You are never too young or too old for Ashley Spires’ inspiring and inspired story. The journey from idea to realization—so often fraught with disaster (or apparent disaster)—is depicted here honestly and with humor as the on-going process it is. Step-by-step the little girl thinks, gathers materials, tinkers, discovers, tinkers some more, and triumphs. It is this last step that is so “magnificently” presented—it’s only by not giving up that success can be achieved.

Spires’ tale is a delight of language—the girl “smooths, wrenches, fiddles, twists, tweaks, and fastens, pummels, jams, and smashes.” Likewise, her illustrations wonderfully depict the changing emotions of this thoughtful, steely-eyed, shocked, and ultimately thrilled young inventor. Her faithful puppy is a charming companion and foil, and kids will love examining the early inventions that lead up to the final product.

The Most Magnificent Thing is a fabulous book to keep on any child’s or adult’s bookshelf for those times when inspiration hits but achievement seems elusive.

Ages 3 – 7 and up (creative types of all ages will enjoy this book)

Kids Can Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-155453704

National Inventor’s Month Activity

CPB - Inventor's Tool Kit II (2)

Inventor’s Tool Kit

 

Every idea begins as a jumble of seemingly unrelated parts. Gathering whatever types of material inspires you and keeping it in a box ready to go when inspiration hits is a great way to support innovation and spark experimentation.

Supplies

  • Small parts organizer with drawers or compartments, available at hardware stores and craft stores
  • A variety of parts or craft materials that can be combined, built with, or built on
  • Some hardware ideas—pulleys, wheels, small to medium pieces of wood, wire, nuts, bolts, screws, hooks, knobs, hinges, recyclable materials
  • Some craft ideas—clay, beads, wooden pieces, sticks, paints, pipe cleaners, string, spools, buttons, glitter, scraps of material, recyclable materials

Directions

  1. Fill the organizer with the materials of your choice
  2. Let your imagination go to work! Build something cool, crazy, silly, useful—Amazing!

April 10 – National Sibling Day

sisters & brothers by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page picture book review

About the Holiday

Brothers and sisters, huh? Sometimes you can’t live with them—but you’d never really want to live without them! Sure the bad part is that they know all your secrets and your quirks and you vie for that last cookie, but the good part is that they know all your secrets and your quirks and you didn’t really want that last cookie anyway.

Today do something fun with your sibling or siblings or tell them you love them—or both!

Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World

By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

 

You know that most animals are born in a litter or with one or two other siblings, but do you really consider that they are brothers and sisters just like human siblings? You might wonder if they have the same kind of relationship with each other that people do. How do they get along? How do they communicate? Do they stay together or go their separate ways? Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World reveals the answers to these questions and more about 21 animals from around the world.

Would you like to be a clone of your brother or sister? Maybe not so much. If you were a nine-banded armadillo, though, you’d have no choice. These armadillos are always born four at a time—all females or all males—and are identical in every way! They stay with their mother until they are four months old and then set off on their own adventures.

If there are a lot of women and girls in your family, you may feel as if you’ve been born into a community of whiptail lizards. In the world of whiptails, there are no males! While their unusual reproduction method may avoid some battles, the identical traits of these creatures leaves them vulnerable to disease or changes in their environment.

Are you the youngest in your family? If you were a naked mole rat, you’d have to lie on the floor of your narrow tunnel and let your older siblings walk over you to pass. Mole rats aren’t the only ones who have worked out a hierarchical system. Brother bears fight fierce battles until the weaker one leaves to find his own territory, and black widow spiders even eat their weaker brothers and sisters!

Many animal siblings get along, however, and even help each other grow strong and develop important traits. Two of the fastest animals on earth—cheetahs and peregrine falcons—practice hunting techniques on each other, acquiring speed and accuracy along the way. There are even wildlife families that include adopted members, such as the cichlid fish and myna birds.

These are just a few of the intriguing animals readers will discover in this unique look at the world’s wild kingdom. Each animal is beautifully rendered through large cut or torn paper collages that enhance the short text, perfect for a child’s attention span. The final pages offer more information on each creature, and a list for further reading is also included.

Ages 4 – 8

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008 | ISBN 978-0547727387

National Sibling Day Activity

CPB - Heart Jar

I Heart You! Jar

 

Sometimes it’s hard to say “I love you” (or even “I like you”) to siblings. But sisters and brothers like to know they’re important to each other. Here’s a gift you can make to give them that will tell them what is in your heart.

Supplies

  • A clear jar with a lid—you can use a recyclable jar or buy a mason jar or other decorative jar at a craft store
  • Red felt
  • Scissors

Directions

1. Cut red hearts from the felt

2. Add hearts to the jar—you can add as many as you like and continue to fill the jar after you’ve given it to your sibling. Here are some ideas:

  • Add one heart for each year you have known your sibling
  • Add one heart for each thing you love about your sibling (write those traits on the hearts)
  • Give a new heart whenever your sibling does something nice for you

3. Give your I Heart You! jar to your sister(s) and/or brother(s)