Tag Archives: books

Bald Eagle Handprints

1 Jul

It’s time to celebrate the 4th of July here in the Mind Games House, and what better way to celebrate any holiday than getting your hands all gloppy with tempera paint and smearing it onto construction paper?

Bald Eagle Handprint 1

Barely a day goes by that we don’t whip out the paint and paper, but it’s usually for free-flowing painting time.  Today we made a Craft with a particular desired end result… Bald Eagle Handprints!

This morning, we read four books about the 4th of July:

The Story of America’s Birthday by Patricia Pingry
Hats Off for the Fourth of July! by Harriet Ziefert
My Country, ‘Tis of Thee – a Scholastic paperback version
The Star Spangled Banner – a Random House pictureback version

GoGoGirl, who is 3 1/2, doesn’t remember much about the 4th of July from last year.  Explaining that it’s “America’s Birthday” (as our first book did) is a great start, since she’s all about celebrating birthdays!  Our second book, Hats Off, is a quick, rhythmical book about a holiday parade.  GoGoGirl loves to sing & listen to me sing, so singing My Country, ‘Tis of Thee and The Star-Spangled Banner a few times each really caught her interest.  KarateKid was very interested in the sidebar information in this copy of the Banner, which included information on Betsy Ross, Francis Scott Key, Presidents, The White House, The Statue of Liberty, and Bald Eagles.

KarateKid has long been captivated by raptors, and bald eagles in particular since our first day trip to see them in our area this spring.  We read two longer books together to learn more about eagles:

Bald Eagle by Gordon Morrison
Soaring with the Wind: The Bald Eagle by Gail Gibbons

We read through the first book two times: first, reading the simple story about the eagle family, from the words, “Today a baby bird will hatch…” on the first page, through the life cycle of the birds and ending with the same “Today a baby bird will hatch…” at the end.  Then we turned back to the beginning and read all the captivating small bits of information scattered throughout the pages.  KarateKid was fascinated by the page that showed parts of the skeleton (a bird’s wing bones lined up to a human’s arm bones, for example) and the various feathers and a diagram showing the basic physics of flight.  The extra information in this book was excellent!

Soaring with the Wind was good too – we’re long-time fans of Gail Gibbons here – and we enjoyed reading the two books back to back to see what was repeated in both books (facts about hatching, nestlings, learning to fly, the courtship dance) and which facts were slightly different (life span, weight, other numbers that scientists have to estimate).  These are both library books, but I’m tempted to buy a copy of the Morrison book for our own personal library.

After our reading, we turned on the TV to watch an episode of Life of Birds (by David Attenborough) on Netflix streaming.  Episode 4 was the fascinating “Meat-Eaters” episode that looked at the lives and hunting patterns of a variety of hawks, eagles, and other meat-eating birds.  Absolutely riveting!  The whole way through the program, KarateKid and I were exclaiming to each other and calling out excitedly when we saw things we’d read about in the books.

Back to the celebration that was more GoGoGirl’s speed!  We went out to the driveway to make some lovely, messy handprints.  Two brown hands, thumbs together and fingers spread out, became the eagle’s body.  For the head we painted the pinkie side of a closed fist white.  A yellow thumbprint made the beaks and a black pinkie tip dot was the eye.

Bald Eagle Handprint 2

It’s always fun to make handprint pictures, but today was particularly sweet.  GoGoGirl knew we were making eagles but didn’t seem to follow how they were coming together.  She gladly offered her hand for painting and squished it down on the paper, but it wasn’t until she added the pinkie-dot of black for the eye that her own eyes lit up and she called out, “It’s an EAGLE!  I made an EAGLE!”  What’s cuter than that?

If you want more art ideas that go along with great books, check out stART at A Mommy’s Adventures!

Book Tour: Iggy the Iguana

23 Feb

This week, KarateKid and I are part of a blog book tour for two kids’ novels by Melissa M. Williams: Iggy the Iguana and Summer League.

Iggy the Iguana is the first book in the Iggy Chapter Book Series for ages 7 to 11.  The story focuses on the major themes of acceptance, friendship, and diversity while Iggy starts a brand new school.  The transition from a private “all-lizard” school to a public “all-animal” school is eye opening, as Iggy soon accepts that just because other animals are different doesn’t mean they can’t be your friends.  By the end of Iggy’s 4th grade year, he realizes that changing schools was the best move he could have ever made!

Summer League is the second book in the Iggy the Iguana Chapter Book Series.  After an exciting school year, Iggy and his friends kick off their summer vacation with some fun in the sun and … baseball!  While playing on his All-Star little league team, Iggy faces a very difficult situation that could change his future in sports forever.  Iggy learns many valuable lessons during the summer, most importantly, it is not wise to keep secrets from adults and we can’t judge others on the outside.

Melissa M. Williams has been writing stories since the age of eight years old.  Many of her stories were inspired by real life experiences with childhood pets she owned while growing up in Houston, Texas.  It is extremely important for her to reach out to her young readers and show them the benefits of using their creativity at a young age. While pursuing a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling, Melissa started substitute teaching, which inspired the writing of a series relatable to elementary students while including lessons, values, and acceptance within the storyline.  Melissa spends most of the school year visiting students and encouraging them to think outside the box and write their own stories. Inspiring students to read and write is the main goal as she promotes literacy through her creative writing contests and activities within the Texas area.  Williams always reminds her audience that she gets her ideas from them.  “The young brain is a naturally creative brain, so we must learn to take advantage of that gift and continue to develop it into our later years.”  Melissa’s articles, radio interviews, and online author presentations can be found on Iggy’s Website at www.iggytheiguana.com


The picture above is a young Melissa holding the original Iggy the Iguana!  Since KarateKid has recently adopted two lizards as pets, he was very taken by the fact that the book’s author really had an Iggy (and a Liz, and most of the other characters).  I think kids love to be able to relate to people in that way, to know how their childhoods made them who they are.

KarateKid and I both read the books, and we discussed them together.  Here is what he wanted to contribute to the review:

They were awesome, as any good story should be!

It’s about a young boy lizard, Iggy, who falls in love with a girl lizard, Liz, at his school.  In the first book he sort of has a rival too.  He also meets a sort of slick, cool dude who’s a turtle, Snap Shell.  The first book is mostly about Iggy making new friends at his new school, and it’s very cool.

In the second book he hurts his arm but keeps it a secret from his family until it hurts him so much that he almost passes out from the pain in the middle of a baseball game.  That was one of the most exciting parts of the book, I think you’ll be worried about Iggy just like I was.

I can’t wait until the next book comes out.  I bet that when you guys, who are reading this blog, read these books, you’ll want the third book out too!

To me, as a mom, any book that makes him that excited and gives him that much enjoyment is well worth the read!  The stories and characters were engaging and face typical confusing social situations, and draw strength and wisdom from their families and friends to help them through.  I’m glad to add these books to KarateKid’s shelf.

I am also impressed that Melissa Williams and LongTale Publishing have created the Read3Zero campaign for literacy awareness, with the idea of encouraging adults to spend at least 30 minutes a day (3Zero) reading with the kids in their life.

To learn more about Iggy and Melissa Williams – visit www.iggytheiguana.com. Win the Iggy the Iguana Give Away! Including the Newly Released Items in Iggy Collection, Snap Shell the Turtle (Plush Doll), Iggy Collector’s Baseball Cards, and The Read3Zero T-Shirt … supporting the fight against illiteracy 30 minutes at a time. Be our most active visitor during the tour for a chance to win this Iggy Collection — the tour schedule is posted at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2010/01/iggy-iguana-and-melissa-m-williams-tour.html to make it easy for you to visit and comment.

This post is part of the Iggy the Iguana blog tour.  The books were provided to us for the purpose of this review, but we weren’t compensated in any other way.  The opinions above are our own!

George Washington’s Birthday

22 Feb

Happy Birthday, George Washington!

Painting by R. Peale

George and Abe brought the kids presents (play money and “Campaign in a Box” kits from the dollar section of the craft store) last week on President’s Day, but we didn’t do much more to celebrate then because we were spending the day off with friends.

Since KarateKid has been a long-time fan of George Washington, we decided to spend the morning today re-reading our collection of George Washington books as a way to celebrate.  Here’s what we enjoyed from our shelves this morning:

  • A Picture Book of George Washington by David Adler – a short and simple look at his life.
  • George Washington by Ingri & Edgar d’Aulaire – this is a much longer biography which ends at his election to president, but contains lush lithographs and the rich language that is the hallmark of the d’Aulaire books.
  • George Did It by Suzanne Trip Jurmain – pairs well with the d’Aulaire book, because this story focuses on George’s reluctance to accept the position of president (because he was nervous that he wouldn’t do a good job), and so picks up where the last book left off, focusing entirely on George becoming president.
  • George Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murhpy – this is KarateKid’s old favorite, the Step Into Reading book that started his interest.  It’s a fun level 3 story about George’s love for animals and how he found a lost dog and returned it to the General Howe, the leader of the British army, during a break in the battle in 1777.
  • In 1776 by Jean Marzollo – a very quick, rhyming picture book giving the bare bones of the American Revolution.
  • If You Grew Up with George Washington by Ruth Belov Gross – a detailed look at what life was like in the 1700′s, with line drawn illustrations by Jack Kent. The newer version of this book has full color illustrations by a different artist, but I’m partial to Jack Kent!
  • Let’s Play Soldier, George Washington by Peter and Connie Roop – this is one short and simple chapter book (about 60 pages at RL 3.5, according to the back cover) from a series called Before I Made History which talks about the childhoods of famous people, so most of the book talks about George’s childhood with only the final chapter breezing through his later years.

These are the other books that we have pulled out to enjoy later today or this week:

  • George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz (our copy has nice illustrations by Paul Galdone, another one of my favorites) – the story of a young boy in modern times who is named George Washington Allen and wants to learn all about George Washington.
  • George Washington’s Cows by David Small – a silly, rollicking picture book supposing that even George’s cows were special and brilliant, had their own room in his house, wore clothes, could read and count and dance.
  • George Washington (DK Biography) by Lenny Hort – quite in depth but with DK’s usual gorgeous photographs.
  • George Washington: The Man Who Would Not Be King by Stephen Krensky – a longer biography at about a 6th grade reading level.
  • George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas Allen – from National Geographic, this is a longer book about the Revolutionary War and George’s role in it. MechDaddy and KarateKid will be reading this one together and discussing it.

We also talked about the cherry tree myth (“I cannot tell a lie”) and how George’s biographer made up that story to make a point about George’s ethics and honesty (how ironic!), and that even though it didn’t actually happen, it’s a fun story.  We talked about the cherry blossoms in Washington DC and made a few of our own:

Cherry Tree Boy

The kids traced their hands and a bit of their arms and cut those out to make the tree trunks.  The trunks were glued to another piece of paper and then the kids dipped their fingers into white and pink paint and fingerpainted little dots to make the cherry blossoms.

Cherry Tree Girl

Later, KarateKid wrote up a little page that said, “Ten Things I Know About George Washington” including lines like “He crosst the Delwer in December 1776.”  It is so hard for KarateKid to let go of his need to spell everything correctly but just this once I asked him to do his best on his own instead of asking me how to spell all the words.  So much of the time he’d rather just not write at all than spell things wrong.  Of course spelling is an important skill, but I don’t want to the fact that his spelling level is so far behind his reading level to make him feel he can’t write.  He did pretty well overall, but “hippopotamus” truly stymied him!  (At least one set of George Washington’s teeth were made from hippopotamus tusks.)

All in all, it was a fun way to spend the morning.  Did you do anything special this year to celebrate President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday?