Fireflies: February 2012         

Feb 29, 2012

March Reflections: Facing Fears

A local plant nursery has a butterfly garden. Thinking our 3 year old grandson would delight in this experience, I talked to him about it and away we went. Judah's delight lasted about four seconds, until several butterflies flitted within inches of his head. This normally "look out world!" child became rigid, clung to me and began crying to go home. Just as the words, "There's nothing to be afraid of" came to mind, I stopped myself.  All of a sudden I was the child, facing a spider with a fly swatter, hearing my dad say those words. I knelt down. "Judah, let's find just one little butterfly all by itself, ok?" I stayed crouched down at his level and we crept around until he saw one small "barfly" barely moving on a leaf. For several minutes we watched just that one tiny creature. I asked him to tell me how he would explain to his mommy what it looked like when he got home. He relaxed and talked until it darted off.  With trepidation, Judah still clinging to my hand, he took a small step and spotted another "barfly". Though still not completely confident, his moment of terror had passed. In celebration, we bought a "barfly" cookie cutter at the gift shop before heading home.

This month I want to talk about fear. Growing up with two sisters, I was the "girly-girl" - afraid of spiders, the dark, big dogs, worms, monsters, thunder, camping... The words, "There's nothing to be afraid of", and "That little thing is more afraid of you than you are of it", still ring in my memory. So when God (who must have a sense of humor!) gave me and my husband 4 sons, I learned to mask my fears with a brave face - except for spiders! But I found out even little boys have fears, and those fears are very real. Instead of uttering in exasperation, "There's nothing to be afraid of", let's help our children understand how to face their fears. By providing them with coping skills, they can attempt to conquer difficulties throughout their lives. In Steven Kellogg's book, The Island of the Skog, a band of mice face an unknown fear, which gets out of control.  They had to learn to talk to each other, to trust each other. Sounds pretty simple, but I think that sometimes the simplest solution is often the best.
Mary Byrne Kline

Talking with those we love and trust about our fears often brings healing, relief and peace. In the next few weeks, you'll be reading book reviews about three of my childhood fears; a monster, the dark and thunder. You may be surprised at how to overcome them - all you need (besides our books), are a kite, an umbrella and a cake! Happy reading! And don't forget to enjoy the beautiful "barflys" along the way...

[Additional Fireflies March themes - Kites & the Wind]


Feb 27, 2012

Mr. Morris Lessmore wins an Oscar! [Short Film - animated]

And the award goes to...

I was so excited to watch our recommendation for favorite book app - The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore - win an Oscar for Short Film (Animation) last night.   Congratulations to its creators, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg.

Click on this Oscar link overview to view pictures showing the making of this wonderful animation and a short Q & A with its creators.  
Deni Corbett


Feb 24, 2012

CLIP Review: Mr. President Goes to School

by Rick Walton

Ever had "one of those days" with your children? Shouting, snarling, sticks and stones?...
Why don't you curl up together (without touching one another, of course!) and read why "Mr. President was having a crummy day." 

What does he do when his problems pile up and he wishes the world were a little simpler? You'll be delighted at the illustrator's use of disguise for the president. As he sits crisscross applesauce in Mrs. Appletree's class, he's reminded of simpler days where "polite people raise their hands", and "friends can always work things out."  Is it really possible that the hokey pokey can help the prime ministers of Bulrovia and Snortburg come to an understanding?  Sometimes all it takes to solve big problems is a little bit of fun, a bit of creativity, and, of course, some milk and cookies!  

Mary Kline   

Something to think about...
Should we pray for people who upset us; who hurt our feelings? 
What does Jesus say about loving and forgiving others?

Watch a YouTube movie trailer for the book,
Mr. President Goes to School

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Feb 22, 2012

Fireflies Music: "I'm Sorry" by Jenna Paulette

Remember our CLIP book, Tumford the Terrible?   Here's a song about saying those two tough words, "I'm sorry"...

Feel free to add additional verses, for example "Daddy's are sorry too sometimes..." or "Sisters are sorry too sometimes..." 



I'm Sorry

I’m sorry, please forgive me,
Words that are hard to say
I’m sorry, please forgive me,
Words that are hard to say.
But mommies are sorry too, sometimes.
And those little words make things alright.
Say I’m sorry, forgive me,
Words that are hard to say.
I’m sorry...

words and music by Jenna Paulette


Feb 20, 2012

Recipe: Indian Hoecakes

  Celebrate Presidents' Day by making George Washington's favorite breakfast.                  

George Washington's Indian Hoecakes
1 package of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
2 Tbsp. shortening, melted
3/4 cup milk

Preheat griddle (we don't recommend a hoe!). Grease lightly. Blend ingredients. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Cook on hot griddle, turning when bubbles appear and edges appear to dry.  Add syrup before eating.
Mary Kline   

Making Hoecakes with "Button". [aka Mary Byrne Kline]
Rachel Faith, Evyn and Tyler Kline
From Mount Vernon's Website:
General Washington's typical breakfast has been described by members of his immediate family and several guests. His step-granddaughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, who was raised at Mount Vernon, wrote "He rose before sunrise, always wrote or read until 7 in summer or half past seven in winter. His breakfast was then ready – he ate three small mush cakes (Indian meal) swimming in butter and honey, and drank three cups of tea without cream."  She described the recipe in a letter as: "The bread business is as follows if you wish to make 2 1/2 quarts of flour up-take at night one quart of flour, five table spoonfuls of yeast & as much lukewarm water as will make it the consistency of pancake batter, mix it in a large stone pot & set it near a warm hearth (or a moderate fire) make it at candlelight & let it remain until the next morning then add the remaining quart & a half by degrees with a spoon when well mixed let it stand 15 or 20 minutes & then bake it – of this dough in the morning, beat up a white & half of the yolk of an egg – add as much lukewarm water as will make it like pancake batter, drop a spoonful at a time on a hoe or griddle (as we say in the south). When done on one side turn the other – the griddle must be rubbed in the first instance with a piece of beef suet or the fat of cold corned beef ..."

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Feb 17, 2012

CLIP Review: Abe Lincoln's Hat

by Martha Brenner

Abe Lincoln was a smart lawyer. People came to him with all kinds of problems. But he had a big problem himself.  He was not a good paper-keeper and forgot where he put important papers. Then Abe had an idea - his tall hat! Does that sound strange and hard to believe? Well, that is only one of the many interesting and true stories you'll read about this great president.
Mary Kline

CLIP Questions:
Why do you think people trusted Abe Lincoln to be their lawyer?
Draw the outline of a tall hat like Abe Lincoln's. Draw things that
are special to you that 
you would keep in your hat.

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CLIP Review: George Washington's Breakfast

by Jean Fritz

George W. Allen was proud of two things. His name and his birthday. Sharing both the president's name and birthday made him feel almost related.  It also made him curious to learn everything about this great man. Most of his information came easily; Washington's ten hunting dogs and their names, the size of his shoes (13!), how he'd ruined his teeth by cracking walnuts in his mouth.  But all this information wasn't enough for George W. Allen. 

One question burned in his mind - what did George Washington eat for breakfast? His grandmother agrees to cook it for him if he is successful in his search.  George rallies his family in pursuit of an answer, which involves a trip to Mt. Vernon and a walk through the first President's kitchen.  Let's just say that in honor of Presidents' Day, you need to get your apron ready! Your family will truly enjoy George Washington's Breakfast!
*Recipe coming soon.  Keep reading Fireflies!
Mary Kline

CLIP Questions:
1. What is the name of our President?
2. What is the job of the President?
3. We learned that George was determined. Why is determination a good thing?

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CLIP Review: Just Like Abraham Lincoln

by Bernard Waber

"Mr. Potts lives next door. And he looks just like...Abraham Lincoln!  He even has a stovepipe hat and a frock coat!"  The young boy in our story learns about Lincoln's boyhood, love of books, family hardships, and years as a lawyer through his neighbor, Mr. Potts.  Young readers  also are introduced to the Gettysburg address in a unique and impressive way.  Readers of all ages will be chuckling as a new neighbor moves in next door when Mr. Potts leaves.   "I wonder what HE'S like!"
Mary Kline

CLIP Questions:
1. Abraham Lincoln once said, "The things I want to know are in books." Tell about
    something you have learned from reading a book.
2. In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln said that all men are created equal.
    What do you think 
that means?
3. Do you remember what these words mean?
    If not, you can look them up.

         buckskin breeches
         frock coat

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Feb 15, 2012

Favorite Apps: Nighty Night!

Last month I shared my favorite interactive book app, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  Nighty Night! is equally delightful.   It is a dear app to experience with your toddler/preschooler at bedtime.

The narrator begins with, "Night falls. The moon is high. All the people are ready to sleep as they turn off the lights. But wait! Look at the farmhouse. There are still some lights on. The animals are sleepy, too. Do you want to turn off the lights?" A peaceful farm appears, where you can tap on any one of seven lit areas on the page. The next scene shows an animal still awake (with a light switch nearby). 

Children love touching the farm animals and activating their unique animations before finding and turning off the light switch.  Once the light is turned off, each of the seven animals closes their eyes, snuggles and dozes off to sleep.  (The lights cannot be turned back on and as a result, the story keeps moving towards bedtime - not playtime.)  There is no text, so you cannot "read" the book together.  You do have the option to turn off the narration, and children can make up a story using the animals as the main characters.

I'm a fan of Nighty, Night.  I love the paper-cutout illustrations.  I love the joy on my little one's face when he turns off the light "all by mine-self"! (What young child doesn't love to do something all by himself, like turning off lights?)  I love Nighty Night! because of the simplicity of the story.  Did I mention that I love this delightful bedtime experience?   
Deni Corbett

Nighty Night! is available at the iTunes Store
iPhone - .99     iPad - $1.99


Feb 14, 2012

Somebody Loves you, Mr. Hatch

Author - Eileen Spinelli        Illustrator - Paul Yalowitz

I thought I would share a book I just discovered today.   Not sure how I missed this book with its tender and timeless message - everyone needs to be loved.   An excellent book for four to eight year olds, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, tells the story of a lonely man who is told he is loved.  What happens next is a testimony to the power of being loved and sharing love.  This is a dear book with a powerful message and even though it is themed for Valentine's Day, it is a book to be shared year round.   Spinelli's book is a great motivational prompt to use which your children; to encourage them to think of ways to show love and appreciation.  The illustrations by Paul Yalowitz are "...first drawn with ebony pencil on bristol plate paper and then colored over with Derwent color pencils" according to the publisher.

Don't miss experiencing this book with your children.   Its message makes it a great choice for your home library.


Feb 13, 2012

Cultural Binge - ART: LOVE

Artist:  Robert Indiana

LOVE by Robert Indiana
For Cultural Binge [Art Appreciation] we are providing a variety of works of art to share with your child.  Depending on the age of your child you might simply look at the art work and experience it together by asking questions.  LOVE is very different from last month's poem depicting Pilgrims walking to church.   For the very young child, you might simply ask what colors were used and/or what letters are in the painting.  For older children, you might discuss the flow of the color, the color choice or why the "O" is tilted.   We have provided limited background information about the artist for you to use as you see fit. 

Background on the artist
Born Robert Clark in Indiana, Robert Indiana took his native state's name after moving to New York in 1954, a gesture that presaged his Pop-inspired fascination with Americana, signage, and the power of ordinary words. 

Robert Indiana’s experiment with LOVE started in 1958, when he began playing with poetry, placing the letters “LO” above “VE.” He translated the idea into paintings, and in 1965, the Museum of Modern Art commissioned him to do a version of LOVE for a Christmas card. His simple composition of vibrant red letters against a green and blue background became one of the museum’s most popular items. Following up on the card’s success, Indiana exhibited a suite of paintings, drawings, and small sculptures in what he called the “LOVE show” in New York in 1966.

This postal stamp made more than $25 million for the US Postal Service.

More background information - please read:


Feb 10, 2012

CLIP Review: Roses are Red - Your Feet Really Stink

by Diane deGroat

The title alone will have your child begging to read this book!
Though written humorously, the reader is given a sympathetic look into what all children face at some time -  the inevitable hurt of being teased.  Gilbert's revenge on  Lewis and Margaret ( Lewis had tweaked his nose and Margaret made fun of his glasses), came in the form of anonymous guessed it. They weren't nice! Those much-needed, but two tough words, "I'm sorry", change things around during recess. Gilbert scrambles to rewrite poems for Lewis and Margaret before the class party. A simple, sweet story for anyone needing a second chance. (And who doesn't?)
Mary Kline

CLIP Questions
1. Have you ever played a trick on someone? How did it make them feel? How did it make
    you feel?
2. Do you think God gives us second chances? Why?
3. Name a character in the Bible that was given a second chance. Was he/she sorry for
    his/her mistakes?
4. Write a valentine poem to someone you love and decorate it.


CLIP Review: Love Your Neighbor

by Arthur Dobrin

I believe that Jesus spoke in parables because He knew that adults as well as children loved stories. In just a verse He could have said, "Be kind to strangers," but aren't you glad we were told the incredible value-laden story of The Good Samaritan? 

The lessons learned in this book are also of value:
  "Some blame others for their own errors."
  "Sometimes being stubborn can cause unhappiness."
  "Some things must be shared in order to be enjoyed."

As Boris and Natasha the ostriches or Basil and Brunhilda the giraffes learn these life lessons, your children will, without feelings of condemnation, understand the value of good choices. This is an excellent read-aloud which provides a question for discussion at the end of each story.  
Mary Kline

Note:  Check on Amazon to find this book from resellers if you are interested in having a copy in your home library.   We did find it at our local library as well.  

CLIP Questions:
1. Do our actions affect other people?  How?
2. Which of the stories reminded you of a choice you have made? 
3. Think of an animal (or two), give them names, and make up a story with a particular moral (lesson). Tell the story to your family and see if they can guess what lesson your animals learned.


Feb 8, 2012

"Be Mine"

[Print Communications]

Materials needed:  
    card stock
    colored paper for mat

    candy hearts 
    white crafting glue
    writing tool

Let's begin with "publishing" this print activity.  We have chosen to mat the finished project with a pink heart mat.   Either cut out a mat (see our final picture) or have your child write in the middle of the heart and paint/color the outside to create a mat-like finish. 
Let your child choose two or three hearts to incorporate into a sentence.  [I created my own words by taking over-sized candy hearts and writing my own words on the back of them.] When he/she gets to the place where the word on the candy heart goes, have them glue the heart on the paper in place of the written word.  

This can also be turned into a great verbal comm activity to experience with your child.  Place a bowl full of candy hearts on the table.  After dinner, ask each family member to draw three hearts and try to incorporate them into a (silly?) sentence.  [Again, I add my own words to the back of several hearts to lesson the frustration of creating a sentence.]  

Don't miss simple opportunities that allow your child to practice crafting an original message. 


Please share finished "published" works with us!  We would love to post them on our gallery wall.


Feb 7, 2012

The Art of Saying "I'm Sorry"

Teaching Kids the Five Steps to Giving a Sincere Apology

1. Think about what you did wrong.
Get specific. Did you say something that hurt your friend’s feelings? Did you say something behind her back? What exactly are you sorry for?
2. Find the best time and place to apologize.
If you really, really can’t face your friend, you could write a letter to begin the apology process. Find a time when you won’t be interrupted and you can focus on telling the person your concerns.
3. Say what you’re sorry for.
Be brief, sincere, and honest. Say exactly what you did that you’re sorry for “I…..[fill in what you did]…and I’m sorry.” You might want to briefly describe what happened. Your friend may see it differently, so it’s a good idea to share your view of the problem.
4. Tell how you are going to make things better.
So what are you going to do about your actions? Tell your friend!  Just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t necessarily fix things. Let your friend know what you plan to do t make things better.
5. Give your friendship time to heal.
Remember, you can’t make anybody do anything she doesn’t want to do. And that means you can’t make your friend accept your apology. All you can do it admit you’re wrong and try to make amends.
Practice, practice, practice these five steps at home so your child can use the skill in the real world.
Hint: Showing children a skill is always more powerful than telling them …so model asking for forgiveness.  Admit when you’re wrong and say, “I’m sorry!” to you kids.
Information from Dr. Michele Borba's Reality Check Blog.


Feb 6, 2012

The Poem "Apology" by Judith Viorst

[Verbal Communications]

It’s hard to say, “I’m sorry,”
Although I’m feeling sorry.
The “s” always sticks in my throat.

And, “I made a big mistake”
Would produce a bellyache
That might last till I was old enough to vote.

“Please forgive me” sounds real good.
And I’d say it if I could,
But, between the “forgive” and the “please”

I would have to go to bed
With a pounding in my head
And a very shaky feeling in my knees.

“I was wrong” seems oh so right.
But it gives me such a fright
That my “was” always turns into “ain’t”.

So I hope you’ll take this rhyme
As my way of saying “I’m
Really sorry.”  Now excuse me while I faint.
"Apology" might not be a classic poem worth memorizing (like January's "Stopping by Woods...") - but it is great poem to enjoy reading and rereading to/with your young child!  It's also a good choice for an older child to read with expression during "Family Showtime".  The pauses and inflection used when reading this poem are what make it work.  What's "Showtime"?    Keep following Fireflies...we'll explain.

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Feb 4, 2012

Moments: Significant & Free!

It happens at least once a day around our home.  We instruct our kids to apologize to each other, or to one of us, or we find ourselves apologizing to them.  At the heart of it is always the same thing...  Someone treated the other in a way that didn’t show honor and love.  

Years ago my husband and I were talking about what we wanted more than anything else to instill in our kids.  We summed it up to two things.

            They would know their significance and that they would be free.  

Lanise Santala and her daughter, Mariah
Mariah has three older brothers.
When we teach them that they are created in the imagine of God; full of purpose and love, to the extent that God laid down His life to make a way back to relationship with Him, we teach them that they have great worth. We teach them that all people are worthy of being treated with honor.  When we teach our kids to apologize when they’ve done wrong, and model that in our own lives, we provide them the path to true freedom.

Freedom in Christ

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Enjoy your "Moments",
Lanise Santala


Feb 3, 2012

CLIP Review: Tumford the Terrible

By Nancy Tillman

If I had a nickel for every time I told my kids, "Tell your brother (or sister) you're sorry!", I'd be a wealthy woman! But on those occasions, the apology often came out as a whiny "Sa-a-a-rry". Heartfelt it wasn't. And if I were totally honest, I'd have to admit that I've also had a hard time saying those words, even knowing how much they needed to be said. Which brings me to Tumford. He isn't really a terrible cat.

"But oh dear, and oh my, there was one small pity.  Tumford, it seems, was a most stubborn kitty.  In spite of the manners he often forgot, he would not say, "I'm sorry."
Oh no, he would not."

With each spill, crash and mishap, Tumford manages to hide, thus avoiding an apology. But when his enthusiasm causes a crash with the Village Fair Queen, Tumford gets a new thought that warms up his tummy and toes. His courage is sweetly rewarded. 

Tillman has exquisitely captured Tummy's feelings in her illustrations throughout this book. You'll almost forget you're looking at a cat as Tumford peers wide-eyed from his hiding places.    

There is indeed a wondrous effect that takes place when "I'm sorry" is spoken from the heart - love and trust deepen to a new level of understanding.  Just like Tumford, spills, crashes and mishaps will continue to happen, each of you, our precious children, you are loved...and that's what matters.
Mary Kline

CLIP Questions
1.  Retell or read a child's version of The Prodigal Son. What lesson did the son learn?
What lesson did Tumford learn? 
2.  Why did the father forgive his prodigal son? Why do you think God forgives us? 
3.  How did the son ask for forgiveness? Why is it important to ask for forgiveness?
4.  When someone asks us to forgive them, what should our response be?
5.  If someone says, "I'm sorry" but doesn't change their behavior...were they really sorry?

YouTube video of Tumford the Terrible


Feb 1, 2012

Two Tough Words

How strange - right behind the grouping of family pictures in the front room was a wadded pile of shiny candy kiss wrappers. I tossed them out without much thought. Later, while bending to pick something up, I noticed a similar silver slew of wrappers under the sofa.  Hm-m-m, what was going on? After finding a third metallic mess semi-hidden behind a lamp, I began to mentally put the pieces together. My festive bowl of candy kisses had been full before our grandkids had visited on Sunday. Now it held but two. I casually mentioned it to our daughter-in-law, who, after being mortified, had to agree with me that for being only 5 and 3, the boys had been quite ingenious in their hiding technique. 

That evening her confrontation was met with swift denials. "We didn't eat the candy!" " We didn't hide any wrappers!"  Kriss wisely knew that a forced apology wouldn't be worth much. Her patience was rewarded, for soon after tucking in the candy culprits, they came tiptoeing down the hall, pouring out their hearts. "Oh, Mama, we sneaked Button's (aka me-grandma) candy. I'm sorry!" "I'm sorry, too!" What sweet relief once they'd spoken those two tough words.  However, there was still one more apology to be made... 

Rather than my back door being opened with a bang and a shout of "Hi, Button, we're here!", two mute, wide-eyed, close to tears little boys came shuffling into my kitchen.  One look at them and I almost teared up! "How would you boys like to listen to a story?"  Their eyes lit up, we piled onto the sofa and Tumford the Terrible by Nancy Tillman opened up a time of healing and laughter.  Once my dear little ones heard how Tumford the cat overcame his difficulty in saying "I'm sorry", they understood how important those two tough words are - both to say and to hear.

February is the time for celebrating Presidents and love. This month we're excited about sharing some wonderful books on each of these themes. As I reflect on love, I can't help but think of how much deeper any relationship is once those involved have been able to say the all important words, "I'm sorry". Did you think I was going to say, "I love you"? Of course we want to hear that from our spouse and long for the day our children say it, but how  precious when we have situations in which those we love come to us and are able to sincerely say, "I'm sorry". Those are difficult words - none of us like to apologize. And yet when those words are spoken, perhaps that is when we feel the most loved. Trust is restored.  "And Tummy? Well, Tummy just sat back and purred at the wondrous effect of that one little word."
Mary Kline (aka "Button")

February Highlights
Don't miss upcoming posts as we share our favorite CLIP books along with all new print, verbal, and visual communications activities.  Original Fireflies music by Jenna Paulette, recipes, art appreciation posts, and opportunities to receive free books courtesy of SBACS will also be enjoyed by those following Fireflies in February.
Twitter:  @SOC_Fireflies
Facebook Page: Fireflies

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