Fireflies: March 2012         

Mar 29, 2012

CLIP Review: View From the Air

Charles Lindbergh's Earth and Sky
Author: Reeve Lindbergh
Photographs by: Richard Brown

In this lovely book, Reeve Lindbergh poetically writes about one of the last flights her father made.  Just  two years before his death, Charles Lindbergh flew with a young nature photographer over the landscape of rural New England. The aerial photography shown in this book is nothing short of breathtaking. Reeve Lindbergh writes as if she is speaking from her father's perspective and feelings - sharing with the reader her father's lifetime love of earth and sky that is every pilot's view from the air.

          "This was the world I discovered.
           Each year, each season I'd fly,
           Watching the earth like a lover,
           This was my view from the sky."
Suggested age: 7 - 10 years
CLIP Questions:
1.  One line in the poem says, "Earth can still heal and recover, Given our time and our care." What do  you think this means? How might this healing take place?

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Mar 28, 2012

Music: Lifted by Jenna Paulette

Lifted is based on the book, The Book, The Kite & The Wind by Al Andrews


A little boy
learns to fly a kite
in the wind so high
and the sun so bright
He watched it soar
running aimlessly
wild and free

Lifted, he was lifted
holdin' on to
somethin' bigger than him
he was lifted, so lifted
knowin' it could change on a whim
he was lifted

that little boy
ran his kite
into branches
grippin' it tight
that greedy tree
couldn't let it go
but he knows, he knows


As he learned to listen to the wind
the one thing that wouldn't change
was it's big-ness or that it was always there
and it would always be... he was

Lifted, he was lifted
holdin' on to
somethin' bigger than him
he was lifted, so lifted
knowin' it wouldn't change on a whim
he was lifted

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Mar 26, 2012

Visual Comm: Straw Blowing Art

[Visual Communications]

Materials needed
  • watercolor paper
  • diluted tempura paint or food colors
  • straw
  • ribbon for kite's tail

Place a few drops of food coloring (or diluted tempra paint) on the paper.  Distribute the colors by blowing (creating wind) through a straw.  I've linked to a short YouTube video (see below) that demonstrates straw blowing.  They used colored ink in this demonstration.

We will be exploring color blending in May, but consider just placing yellow, red and blue drops on the page so that your young artist can experience the delight of creating secondary colors (orange - green - purple).

After the painting dries, cut it into a kite shape and add a ribbon tail.

Display options:
  • Display this visual com project along with your child's March print comm project.  
  • Print (or have your child write) the following verse on their kite as a reminder of the power of the One who created him/her.
    Mark 4:41 "Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
Take a picture of your child's final project and send to us for a chance to receive a copy of our CLIP choice and beautiful book by Al Andrews', The Boy, The Kite, and the Wind.
Send as an image attachment to us via email.  [Courtesy of SBACS]


Mar 23, 2012

CLIP Review: Bag in the Wind

Author: Ted Kooser
Illustrator: Barry Root

March is known for its windy days, which may cause what's left of the leaves to blow furiously about, or make us scurry swiftly to our cars to avoid having our hair blown everywhere.  March winds are known to bring squeals of glee in kids of all ages who delight in tackling the breezes at attempting to fly a kite. And yet, because of our carelessness, these same winds also scatter litter and trash we have carelessly discarded over our roads and countrysides. 

This is the story of one such gust of wind. It began one cold morning in early spring, when a bulldozer pushed a pile of garbage around a landfill and unearthed an empty plastic bag - just the color of the skin of a yellow onion. It had two holes for handles, and even though it was a perfectly good bag, someone had thrown it away. Throughout the day the bag somersaults across fields, slips through fences and tugs itself past tree branches. And then along comes Margaret, bundled up against the cold, her pockets full of crushed aluminum cans. Delighted at finding the bag hooked on a fence, she empties her pockets and continues picking up more cans. She's hoping to save enough for something special. Will she have enough after turning  in her cans?  However, the story of the little bag doesn't end when Margaret turns in her cans. It has quite a few more adventures. You might be surprised with all the twists and turns our little Bag in the Wind takes...and where it ends up!
                                                                                        Suggested Age: 6 - 9 years

CLIP Questions:
1.  What are some ways in which littering can harm animals?
2.  Plastic bags can be reused in your home. List some ways before you read the last
     pages of the book. Did you think of some that weren't listed?

Americans use 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year; which means each of us uses between 350 and 500 bags per year. Because landfills pile garbage very deep, it takes many years for these plastic bags to decompose. Also, many bags fly around and become a danger to animals who mistake them for food or become entangled in them. 
Here are some useful resources:

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Mar 21, 2012

Recipe: Tie-Dyed Kite Cookies

Why not bake some kite cookies to enjoy as you read this month's kite and wind themed CLIP books!
24 ServingsPrep: 30 min. Bake: 10 min.


  • 1 tube (16-1/2 ounces)
    refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pink, green and blue gel food coloring
  • 24 to 28 pieces pull-and-peel licorice (9-1/2 inches each)
  • 48 to 56 Life Savers candies
  • 1/2 cup vanilla frosting

  • Cut cookie dough in half width wise; let one half stand at room
  • temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften (save the other half for
  • another use).
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead enough flour into softened dough
  • until dough is stiff. Press into a 5-in. circle. Top with one dot of
  • each color food coloring; knead 5-10 times or until color just
  • begins to swirl.
  • Roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut out with a floured 3-in.
  • diamond-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking
  • sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-13 minutes or until edges are
  • lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to
  • wire racks.
  • Turn cookies bottom side up. For each cookie, lace one piece of
  • licorice through one Life Saver; loop the licorice through the Life
  • Saver again to hold the candy in place. Repeat with second Life 
  • Saver. Attach kite tails to the back of each cookie with frosting.
  • Let stand until set. Yield: about 2 dozen.

Recipe and image from

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Mar 19, 2012

PEN IN HAND: Kite - Creative Writing Prompts

[SOC Print Communications:  Creative Writing Prompts]
  1. If you could make your kite out of anything in the world, what would it be made of? Describe your kite.   "My kite would be in the shape of a...."
  2. If you could make your kite go anywhere, where would it go?
  3. Pretend you could fly your kite to a far away place...what message would you tie to the end of your kite?
  4. What kite would you make for your Mom, Dad, Sister and/or Brother?
  5. Have you ever flown a kite before? If so, describe the experience.
  6. Describe what a kite is and how to fly it, to someone who has never seen or flown a kite before.
  7. Use our Cultural Binge art appreciation print, Kite in Tree, as a short story prompt. Encourage your child to come up with a story based on the message(s) depicted in the artwork.  Depending on your goal(s) for this project, have your child dictate their story to you so they can focus on the story and not handwriting/spelling skills.  Be sure to credit the project accordingly.
       Author: Child     
       Editor:  Mom or Dad    Artist:   John Clymer
Kite in Tree
March 10, 1956
Artist: John Clymer


Mar 16, 2012

CLIP Review: The Boy, The Kite, & The Wind

Author: Al Andrews           
Illustrator: Jonathan Bouw 

Think back to your childhood - riding your bike, roller skating, ice skating, flying kites, jumping rope, playing tag, hopscotch...are you smiling? I am. Those were good times. And yet if I were honest, I'd have to admit that those times also gave me way more than my fair share of skinned knees, scraped elbows, bumps, bruises and tears. So why was I smiling? I believe that God has put into the heart and fabric of children a resiliency to expect and hope through disappointment. 

This is a story of tears and a story of hope, of something lost yet something found. To the young listener, perhaps only the story of a boy and a kite; but mostly, to the reader who is ready to dig deeper, it's about the wind that carries a message of its own.

Don't be fooled when the last page of the book says "The End"...turning the page may cause you to catch your breath.
                                             Suggested ages: 7 years and older

The author, Al Andrews, shared these thoughts with me. "I'd encourage parents to allow younger non-readers to look at the pictures and try to tell the story BEFORE  it is read. Then the parent could read the story, trying their hand at explaining words like 'memory', 'mystery' and 'greedy' ". He went on to share that the book does speak about the reality of sorrow in our lives, but that "there is a larger force at work in the world that can lift you up."

Click here to visit the book's website.  Find out how to order this book to enjoy with your family AND to make a difference.  What an exciting opportunity!

CLIP Questions:

1. What thoughts did you have when you saw the picture of the bird in its nest?

2.  Can gladness come from sadness? How?


Mar 14, 2012

Poem: Who Has Seen the Wind?

Today we are switching themes from facing fears to wind & kites.  
We hope you enjoy our book choices and CLIP activities.

[SOC Verbal Communications: Reciting a Poem]
by Christina Rossetti

     Who has seen the wind?
     Neither I nor you;
     But when the leaves hang trembling
     The wind is passing through.

     Who has seen the wind?
     Neither you nor I;
     But when the trees bow down their heads
     The wind is passing by.

This is a great poem to memorize with your child.  Every age group can successfully memorize Rossetti's poem.   Keep a copy close by in the kitchen, in the car etc. so you can read/recite it often to your child.   Have them fill in words when you pause until they can recite it with you.  Sometimes clapping the poem's meter (four beats per line) helps children capture the rhythm of the poem.  If you are taking a walk with your child, step in rhythm to the poem as you recite it.  Have fun and enjoy.  Share with us other ways to help children memorize poems and Bible verses - comment below.

Then let them "perform" their poem for family and friends.   If you have other families participating in Fireflies, set aside an evening for the children to perform and display all of their communication projects: print, verbal, and visual.

Send us an audio file (this is easy with a Smartphone) of your child (or your family) reciting Who Has Seen the Wind? for a chance at a lovely book of poetry, courtesy of SBACS.   Email your file to us!

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Mar 13, 2012

Recipe: Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake

  • Posted on
  • "This is the Thunder Cake recipe from Patricia Polacco's "Thunder Cake" picture book. It is a wonderful chocolate cake with a hint of fruit flavor from the secret ingredient! 
    It is perfect frosted  and topped with fresh sliced strawberries! (The strawberries and tomato match wonderfully and I promise that no one will know it is tomato, they will only ask what you did to make it so wonderful!)"              Dwynnie

  • 1 c shortening
    1 3/4 c sugar
    1 t. vanilla
    3 eggs - separated
        (blend yolks in. Beat whites until they are stiff, then fold in.)
    1 c cold water
    1/3 c tomato puree (you are reading this correctly!)
    2 1/2 c cake flour
    1/2 c cocoa powder
    1 1/2 t. baking soda
    1 t. salt
  • Ganache optional
    (from Sugar Plum - Click for full recipe)

    1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon corn syrup
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. 2
    Grease and flour two 8 1/2 inch cake pans.
  3. 3
    Cream together the shortening and sugar.
  4. 4
    Beat in the vanilla and egg yolks.
  5. 5
    Mix in the cold water and pureed tomatoes.
  6. 6
    Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold into egg/tomato mixture.
  7. 7
    Sift the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  8. 8
    Mix dry mixture into wet.
  9. 9
    Pour batter evenly into cake pans.
  10. 10
    Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
  11. 11
    Let cakes cool on wire racks before frosting with chocolate buttercream icing or ganache.

    To make the ganache, heat cream in s small saucepan over medium-low heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and whisk in chocolate until melted; whisk in butter, corn syrup and vanilla until combined. Pour and spread ganache over cooled cake layers.
  12. 12
    Optional: Top with fresh strawberries.

Read more:

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Mar 12, 2012

CLIP Review: Thunder Cake

Author and Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Growing up in a house with 3 porches, my sisters and I often chose to sit out a thunderstorm while under blankets on one of them. The front porch had a swing, the side porch was screened in and the  back porch often had something to eat that hadn't fit in the kitchen cupboards. So the usual pattern was to hit the back porch, load up, go to the side porch until the worst was over, and end up swinging on the front porch. It was a pretty good ritual unless lightning came and mom made us get in the house - fast!
 (I should quickly add that my bravery in facing thunderstorms was apparent only when the 3 of us stayed together. I certainly never had a "solo" storm party!)  Even now, reading the book Thunder Cake, I have an instant identification with the young child in the story.

"The air was hot, heavy and damp. A loud clap of thunder shook the house, rattled the windows and made me grab her (Grandma) close. 'Steady, child,' she cooed. 'Unless you let go of me, we won't be able to make a Thunder Cake today!'" As Grandma and the child rush around the farm gathering all the ingredients for their cake before the storm reaches them, a change slowly begins to take place in the child. She gets the eggs from old Nellie Peck Hen, the milk from old Kick Cow, the sugar and flour from the shed in Tangleweed Woods. The detailed illustrations of Grandma milking the cow, the child gazing lovingly and trustingly into her Grandma's face will make you feel the emotion in each page. How delicious do you think their Thunder Cake was - just as the rain began to pour down upon the roof? Well, you can try it for yourself as the directions for this yummy cake are given at the end of the story, and will be posted in Fireflies tomorrow. Now you only have to hope for a rainy day!  
[Don't miss the interview with Polacco - see below.]
Suggested age: 4 - 8 years
CLIP Questions:
  1. Grandma said, "We've got everything but the secret ingredient." What do you think the secret ingredient was?
  2. Why did Grandma have the child begin counting when she saw lightning and stop when she heard thunder?  Is this really true?
  3. How did Grandma prove to the child that she had been brave?

INTERVIEW with Patricia Polacco
Comments on Thunder Cake comes 9 min into video.
Wonderful interview about Polacco's family, background, reading struggles, etc.  It's worth watching.  (BTW, we are huge Polacco fans.)  Be sure to check out all of her books.  

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Mar 9, 2012

CLIP Review: Brave Martha

Author and Illustrator: Margot Apple

Martha and Sophie do everything together.  They take walks, play dress up, but most importantly, Sophie checks out all the creepy places before bedtime. When she comes out from under the bed Martha knows it is safe. Oh, did I mention that Sophie is a cat? Well, imagine Martha's concern when her family invites company who bring their dog and Sophie disappears. Martha is tucked into bed with Father saying, "Oh, be brave, Martha. There's nothing under the bed."  That's when she hears it. Scritcha, scritcha, scritch.  Armed with her umbrella and her Daniel Boone hat, Martha bravely searches for the source of the scritches, thumps, and thuds. Shadowed illustrations from under the covers, in the closet and finally snuggling with the source of the ruckus will delight the reader.
Suggested age: 4 - 7 years
CLIP Questions:
  1. Is Brave Martha a good title for this book? Why?
  2. What is something you can do to feel brave?
  3. Why had Sophie disappeared for awhile?
    Do you think she was afraid of something also?

(Thanks to Jim who suggested placing purchase links on Fireflies!)

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Mar 8, 2012

Norman Rockwell's "Young Boy on a High Dive Board"

[Cultural Binge: Art Appreciation]
Interesting fact
Both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg collect the artwork of Norman Rockwell.  This is Spielberg's favorite painting.  When asked why it was his favorite Rockwell painting, Spielberg said, "Well, let's put it this way: This is the Rockwell that, every time I'm ready to make a movie, every time I'm ready to commit to direct a movie, that's me - that's the feeling in my gut, before I say 'yes' to a picture. Because every movie is like looking off an extremely high diving board, every one."

George Lucas on Rockwell 
"Norman Rockwell was able to sum up the story in a way that made you not only want to read the entire story," said Lucas, "but actually understand who the people were, what their motives were, everything in one little frame."

Ahhh Norman Rockwell.  We love his work because of the message/story of America that jumps off of each canvas.  This is a great link that highlights the artwork of Norman Rockwell.  Choose any one of these prints to trigger conversations.  Encouraging the love of art in your child begins with asking questions and encouraging thoughtful responses.  Don't just tell your child what to see - teach them how to see.  We have begun the conversation with four questions.   Depending on the age of your child, use the following or come up with your own conversation starters.  Enjoy!

Visual Comm Discussion Questions:
1.  What is the artist trying to show us in this painting?
2.  What could the boy be looking at?
3.  Is there something that frightens you or makes you want to stop a plan you have?
4.  How does God teach us to respond to fear?
Julie Hagan

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Mar 7, 2012

FYI: Childhood Fears

Childhood Fears

Just as your children grow and change, so do their fears. Monsters under the bed, thunderstorms or loud noises probably no longer cause your child to need your reassuring words and hugs. Fourth and fifth graders' most common anxieties are being kidnapped, parents divorcing, someone dying, fires, burglars, school failure and being a social outcast.

Psychologists have discovered that distinguishing between fear and anxiety is often difficult in children. Fear is a response to a situation (a neighbor's dog), while anxiety is being worried about something that hasn't happened yet (a shot at the doctor's office). Once parents realize this difference, they can better help their child cope.
  • The first and most important thing is to believe your child's fear. Talking about and affirming the existence of her fear will help your child. But be careful not to overtalk the fear or express your own fears. If your child doesn't want to discuss it, encourage her to write a fictional story about another person with the same fears or draw a picture of what could happen.
  • Fears can often be removed or reasoned through to a logical conclusion after evaluating reality. Make a plan of action if a mean dog comes too close. Practice on dolls the day before a visit to the dentist. Memorize certain Bible verses that fit your child's fear (check out Psalm 27:1, Psalm 31:24 and John 14:27). The more independent your child feels, the smaller the fear can become.
  • Try to recognize your child's signs of anxiety in order to quickly help. Some children may become introverted. Others will misbehave, and still others will have sleeping problems, headaches or stomachaches.
  • Know the fine line between being a protective parent and being overprotective. Your child should feel safe but shouldn't be so insecure as to never want to be alone. Shielding unpleasant situations is part of a parent's responsibility, but children also must have the freedom to learn from their experiences and their mistakes.
If your child's anxiety repeatedly interrupts her daily life, consider consulting a counselor, pediatrician or pastor for advice on minimizing these heart-pounding fears.
Article link:  Focus on the Family


Mar 5, 2012

CLIP Review: The Kissing Hand

Author:  Audrey Penn
Illustrators:  Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
Chester is a young raccoon who would rather stay at home than go to school.  In the forward, Jean Kennedy Smith notes that the story is "for any child who confronts a difficult situation, and for the child within each of us who sometimes needs reassurance."  Mrs. Raccoon tells her boy that "I know a wonderful secret that will make your nights at school seem as warm and cozy as your days at home." She then kisses his palm, and Chester feels the kiss "rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart." Whenever he gets lonely, she advises, he is to press his hand to his cheek and "that very kiss will jump to your face and fill you with toasty warm thoughts." And indeed, this "secret" works for Chester, who in turn kisses his mother's palm so that she, too, will be reassured. 
Even though this is a delightful book to read to a child who is beginning school, I wanted to share it this month because of our CLIP theme for March, facing fears.  Every child experiences separation anxiety, and this is the perfect book to use when addressing these fears.    
3 - 8 years
Deni Corbett
The Kissing Hand activity
Trace and cut out your child's hand on a piece of construction paper.  Load on the lipstick and leave a kiss imprint in the middle of their traced hand.  Fold and place in their pocket whenever they are afraid to be away from you.    
Kissing Hand Cookies
Using a hand-shaped cookie cutter (about $1.00), make hand-shaped sugar cookies and place a chocolate candy kiss or heart shaped candy in the middle after taking the cookies out of the oven.
                                     "The kiss (or heart) is you, the hand is me,
                                                  I love you and our family."

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Mar 4, 2012

March Moments: Beware of Monsters

My husband and I sit on the couch winding down from the day and our second born calls out for me.  I go into the bedroom he and his older brother share.  He’s laying there in his bed, 4 years old, his eyes filled with anxiety.  “Mom, I can’t fall asleep, I’m afraid.”  What are you afraid of I ask.  “Monsters”, he says.   He had been struggling for several weeks with this fear, and although we didn’t let him watch shows with scary or inappropriate content, still his mind filled with scary images and thoughts as he lay in bed at night.   At the same time I talk to him I prayed and asked the Lord what to do.  Then it came to me -  I needed to put a sword in his hand.  I had him sit up and told him, “I’m going to teach you a bible verse tonight, and each time you feel afraid I want you to say this until you feel better”.  

2 Timothy 1:7...
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

As we practiced it together we made up hand motions to reinforce it in his mind.  I wrote the verse on a piece of paper and taped it above his bed.  

Now ten years later he has a very strong and secure way about him.  He recently drew this picture and it brought me right back to that time when he was such a little guy trying to deal with some very big feelings.  

Enjoy your "moments"!
Lanise Santala

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