Fireflies: May 2012         

May 31, 2012

Music: "P is for Promise"

Visit the Fireflies' Gallery to hear "P is for Promise".

                                 Composed by Jenna Paulette for Fireflies Blog
                            © RED RIVER RANCH ENTERTAINMENT

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May 30, 2012

Play Dough: Colors of the Rainbow!

CLICK HERE for a great post from the blog, Musings from a Stay at Home Mom.  You will find detailed pictures posted to go along with the playdough recipe - for those of you who are visual learners like me.

The recipe in the blog listed above is one that you have to cook.  Below you will find a recipe I have used, for uncooked play dough.  I have made both, and both are easy, I promise.   

I had great fun making playdough with my 3 year old and 2 year old grandsons creating playdough treasures together: letters and a fierce pirate ship!  (pics below)

Uncooked Play Dough
2 cups of plain flour
4 tablespoons of 'cream of tartar'
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
1 cup of salt
2 cups of boiling water
food coloring

Place everything in a large bowl and mix.   You might think it won't blend thoroughly at first, but keep mixing. Once it comes together, place on a flat surface and begin kneading until it has a smooth texture.

Along with food coloring, try adding kool-aid for colors.   Not only does it create wonderful colors; it smells great too.   Peppermint oil also has a great smell and causes the playdough to last even longer.

Adding color to our cooked playdough.
We added raspberry kool-aid to this batch! 
Rolling and cutting playdough kept him
happily occupied for over an hour!   
Raspberry kool-aid colored play dough with glitter!
We bought plastic A-Z cookie cutters, cut out
letters, and practiced "reading".
Getting ready to build our pirate ship!

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May 28, 2012

Recipes: Rainbow Cupcakes

Celebrate this month's Fireflies theme: colors & rainbows, by making these rainbow cupcakes with your child!  

If you have a Pinterest account, follow our monthly boards where we share all the posts from Fireflies!  Here's the LINK.
    3/4 cup self-rising flour
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla 
    3 tbs milk
    red, blue, green, and yellow food coloring

Start by pre-heating your oven to 395 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, use whisk to beat sugar into butter until creamy and fluffy. The mixture should be light in color.

Slowly stir in eggs and flour, making sure each is thouroughly stirred in. Mix in vanilla.

Stir in milk 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring thoroughly after each tablespoon is added.

Divide mixture evenly into each of the smaller bowls.

Add food coloring and mix well until evenly distributed.
Bowl 1- RED - 8 drops red
Bowl 2- ORANGE - 8 drops yellow, 4 drops red
Bowl 3- YELLOW - 8 drops yellow
Bowl 4- GREEN - 8 drops green
Bowl 5- BLUE - 8 drops blue
Bowl 6- PURPLE - 8 drops blue, 4 drops red

Line muffin pan with muffin cups. Starting with purple, spoon batter evenly into each of the muffin cups, spreadng slightly. Continue, layering, with blue, then green, then yellow, then orange, then red. 

Bake for 20 minutes at 395 degrees.
Makes 12 regular-sized cupcakes.
From Spark Recipes  by Maggiethespy

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May 25, 2012

CLIP Review: Planting a Rainbow

Author & Illustrator:  Lois Ehlert
Ages:  3 - 5 years

Young children will be enthralled with the bold, brilliant colors in this interesting book about how bulbs and seeds sprout and grow. Beginning readers can easily follow the large print on each  page. The simple illustrations show the stages of growth from taking root underground to fully blooming.

Flowers and plants every color of the rainbow are displayed on their correct rainbow color page.  The next time your child sees an actual rainbow, they'll be naming flowers that coincide with each color! This is a lovely book for young children learning about gardens and colors.
See examples of illustrated pages and video below.

Video of Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

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May 23, 2012

Music: I Can Sing a Rainbow

Theme: Rainbows
Here's a song you might remember from your childhood.

I Can Sing a Rainbow
written by Arthur Hamilton

Red and yellow and pink and green
Orange and purple and blue 
I can sing a rainbow 
Sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too

Listen with your eyes 
Listen with your eyes 
And sing everything you see 
You can sing a rainbow 
Sing a rainbow, sing along with me 

The sun is yellow, the grass is green 
Look how the sky is blue! 
We can sing a rainbow 
Sing a rainbow, surely you can too

Listen with your eyes
Listen with your eyes 
And sing everything you see 
You can sing a rainbow 
Sing a rainbow, sing along with me

CLICK HERE to listen to I Can Sing a Rainbow

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May 22, 2012

Best Apps: When I Grow Up...

Money Preschool: When I Grow Up by THUP Games is the second game in the Monkey Preschool series. The first, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (another favorite of mine) involves more thinking & learning.  This one is just plain fun!  

One of my non-scientific experiments for judging best preschool apps is:  What is the first app my grandchildren want to play on my phone or iPad when they are visiting?   When I Grow Up is a favorite!

Children choose a hat, a top, and bottoms for their monkey.   Depending on what they choose, the monkey dances and plays with items that go along with their chosen "occupation".    At 99 cents - this app is a winner and a must have if you are a parent or grandparent of a preschooler.

  • Play along with four different lovable animated monkeys.
  • interactive toys and backgrounds encourage exploration.
  • Inspires creativity with tons of combinations.
  • Hundreds of rich graphics, vibrant sounds and beautiful captivating special effects.
  • Loaded with giggle inducing animations and surprises.
  • Stickers! Kids get a sticker rewards to put up on their preschool wall.
  • Designed for preschoolers — no confusing menus or navigation.
  • Open-ended, unlimited play!


May 21, 2012

FYI - Cooking with Kids

If you have been following Fireflies, then you know we LOVE to cook with kids.  CLIP is all about creating extension experiences (ie family cooking nights) based on great children's literature.  

Cooking together can be a delicious learning experience for children and their parents. Kids can explore new foods, learn about nutrition, and develop math and reading skills as they measure and read directions. These simple guidelines are designed to help you make cooking safe and fun, and to entice your children into trying something new!
  1. Planning is part of the fun!

    Invite your child to help to plan a meal or pick a recipe, make a list of ingredients, find them in your kitchen, and/or shop for them. This way, children can learn how to organize and follow through, as well as think ahead. Give your kids a sense of control and accomplishment by letting them make choices whenever possible.
  2. Wash hands before you start cooking.

    This goes for grown-ups too!
  3. Create a safe place where kids can cook.

    Set up a work area at a lower height to make easier for preschoolers to reach things. Offer children a stool only if you know they can balance on it. Remove any sharp objects from their reach.
  4. No matter where kids work, always supervise them closely.

    Stay in the kitchen until the cooking is finished – or take the kids with you to another room.
  5. Set up clear rules about the stove.

    Explain to them about the stove in age-appropriate, simple terms; for example, “The stove is hot! It’s not OK to touch it. Mommy or Daddy will put the pan in the oven. You can watch.” Always keep pan and utensil handles turned towards the back of the stove.
  6. Give preschoolers their own safe utensils.

    Offer them wooden or plastic ones. If older children are able to use grown-up equipment, monitor them carefully. Avoid giving children graters, as fingers can easily get scraped.
  7. Reading and following directions are in the mix!

    Ask your child to read each instruction aloud as you prepare the food. Kids will get a sense of turn-taking and sequencing from following directions in order.
  8. Practice math as you measure and stir.

    Your child can count and help measure to build math skills. When cooking with more than one kid, ask each child to count “stirs” as he or she whips the batter.
  9. Siblings or groups of kids can take turns doing the same step – in their own unique way.

    You may want to let each child participate in each step of the recipe. This may take longer, but cooking with kids is as much about “process” as it is about product.
  10. It’s easier to enjoy cooking together if you’re not “starving.”

    Either pick a quick recipe that makes a healthy snack, or have veggies, fruit, and dip to snack on before you start.
  11. Be spontaneous!

    To avoid a trip to the store, make simple substitutions. Cornmeal can sometimes replace flour, use vegetable oil instead of melted butter, etc.
  12. Introduce new foods.

    Kids often will try unfamiliar foods, including vegetables and fruits, when they transform them into personal “creations” like a funny face pizza or a fruit kabob.
  13. Turn a sandwich into a special snack!

    Cutting sandwiches with cookie cutters makes them special. Decorating with vegetables and fruits will transform a simple sandwich into a sandwich face.
  14. Make set-up and clean-up part of the routine.

    Kids may love using a mop or dustpan as much as they love the cooking, but save cleaning until the cake is in the oven.
  15. Enjoy the experience!

    But don’t be surprised if the kids don’t clean their plates. Some kids will enjoy the cooking more than the eating. And so it goes….
    Each month we will be providing recipes in Fireflies, for you to experience with your children.  These recipes have ties back to our CLIP book choices for that month.   It is our hope that these recipes will inspire you to create family memories in your kitchen.
    Don't miss Fireflies' May recipes: Butterfly Snacks & Rainbow cupcakes next Monday!
    This information came from an online PBS article, Cooking with Kids

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May 18, 2012

CLIP Review: A Butterfly House

Author:  Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Greg Shed
Grades 1 - 3

My sisters and I were always rescuing stray cats, baby birds that had fallen from nests, even injured grasshoppers that couldn't hop. But we never quite knew what to do upon finding a caterpillar.  The young girl in this factually written story saves a caterpillar from a bluejay and, aided by her grandfather, builds a home for it to live in until it reaches maturity. Not only is the house they build unique and special, but the bond and relationship between the girl and her grandpa also grows in the story and becomes very special. Years later the girl (now old as Grandpa) reflects back on raising that butterfly as she watches her present day garden flooded with butterflies, smiling with understanding as to perhaps why they return each spring.

At the back of the book the author has written a detailed page on "How to Raise a Butterfly"
1. Finding a Larva
2. Preparing the Jar
3. Building a Butterfly House
4. Moving the Chrysalis to The Butterfly House
5. Feeding the Butterfly

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May 16, 2012

May Masterpiece Visual Response: Matisse Cutouts

     In 1887, Henri Matisse, known as the master of color, went to school to become a lawyer.  He passed the bar examination and started out as a law clerk, but was not happy.  In 1889 he became very ill with appendicitis and his mother brought him paints to play with while he recovered.  Remarkably, his true passion came to life and, well, the rest is history!  We have his legacy of color to enjoy today!
     "Boy with Butterfly Net" by Matisse was the subject of our last blog.  Today we are going to look at Matisse's latter works and dive into a project young children will love!

May visual response to Henri Matisse
"Mother Playing with Child," sample
by Laura Bird Miller
     The last 14 years of Matisse's life were, pretty much, confined to a wheel chair after he had been diagnosed with cancer in 1941.  This did not dampen his creative spirit however; it simply brought to life the most admired and influential works of his career known as "cutouts."

Vast in scale (though not always in size) his cutouts were rich in color and bold in shape.

La Gerbe (right), multicolored leaves that resemble a spray of flowers, was completed a few months before his death. The artist who almost reinvented color in painting had by now found freedom in this beautiful simplicity.
Jazz (left,) a limited-edition book containing prints of colorful paper cut collages (cover above,) was published in 1947 and along with his colorful cutouts were his written thoughts.  Matisse wrote to a friend in late 1947, "There are wonderful things in real jazz, the talent for improvisation, the liveliness, the being at one with the audience."

Materials list:
1.  An array of colored papers, including black.  (may be scraps and pieces)
2.  A sheet of white card stock for each child (serves as a base for the cutouts)
3.  Liquid glue, glue sticks, glue paste (whatever you prefer)
4.  Scissors  (for the very young or those getting frustrated with scissors, tear the paper)
5.  A jazz CD (optional)
6.  A copy of the book Jazz (optional)

Step 1
Put on some jazz music (optional.) Show the students what Matisse looked like (photo below.)  Students love getting personal with the artists; it makes them feel like they know them!  Show them the Jazz book (if you have it.)

Step 2
Show the student(s) the sample(s.)  Many students will want to copy your sample.  Others will want to do their own thing.  This seems to be the case every lesson!

Step 3
Demonstrate how simple it is to make paper shapes, either by cutting random pieces or tearing them, and placing them on the paper.  For the sample above I did both, cut and tear.  The trick is to help them understand why they are doing it.  Otherwise, you will have the speedy student who throws the scraps on the paper and says proudly "I'm done!" as if it is a race and he won.

Matisse generally cut the shapes out freehand, using a small pair of scissors and saving both the item cut out and remaining scraps of paper. With the help of his assistant he would arrange and rearrange the colored cutouts until he was completely satisfied that the results. It took two years to complete twenty collages.

Demonstrate the objectives, which are to have the student cover the whole page of white card stock in layers of colorful shapes.  The pieces they put on should be ripped or cut randomly, arranged and rearranged until the page is pleasing to the eye.  Show them how to arrange and rearrange and what it looks like to put Red next to Green, Purple next to Yellow,  and Blue next to Orange.  Remember our introduction to Color Complements?  "When Orange meets Blue it says, 'How do you do!  You look nice today!' and Blue says back, 'And so do you!'  Complements when placed next to each other, make the color POP!  (See "Boy with Butterfly Fireflies Blog post.)  

1st layer of the sample above
Step 4
When you are happy with the arrangement, glue the pieces on.  Begin with the first layer of larger pieces gluing them down (above,) then add little pieces of ripped or cut pieces and glue them down (see my sample at the top of page, "Mother Playing with Child.")  Display, sway to the jazz music with your student(s), and enjoy!

Thank you for reading our Matisse blog!  Please remember you may use any portion of this but please give credit back!  A great deal of time goes into preparing these lessons!  
CLICK HERE for the resource link I used for this project.  I created "Color Complements" introduction for my students to help them remember this important color foundation concept. 

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May 13, 2012

May Masterpiece: "Boy with Butterfly Net" by Matisse

 Henri Matisse, French Artist 1869-1954
"Boy with Butterfly Net" 
1907, 69 3/4 X 45 15/16 oil on canvas
20th Century "Fauvism"
Collection: Minneapolis Institute of Arts;
the Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund

Our master artist today is HENRI MATISSE.  Matisse is known for his bold use of color.  He is widely regarded as the greatest colorist of the 20th Century.  During the last 15 years of his life he began "painting with paper"or "drawing with scissors" and is known for his amazing and colorful collages.

In "Boy with Butterfly Net," Matisse created a sparse landscape composed of flat areas of green land and blue sky with a single figure.  In keeping with our color and butterflies theme for this month of May, this seemed like the perfect masterpiece for us to share!

I love Matisse's use of bold color and simple compositions. Just as we speak English and model it so our children can learn language, we show master paintings to introduce them to the foundations of art.  We don't speak slowly or use "baby talk" to encourage language development.  It seems, therefore, that we shouldn't use only cartoon art to engage our little ones if at all possible.  Keep master paintings of all genre hung in the home and/or classroom and rotate often.  Ask questions and encourage them to think about what they see in these masterpieces, even if you don't understand yourself!  Immerse them in fine art and watch their little minds absorb like sponges and grow... perhaps even faster than we do!

Here are some questions to ask your young student to lay the foundation for color regarding our masterpiece of the month "Boy with Butterfly Net" by Henri Matisse.  If you have one of those handy-dandy color wheels, hold it up and ask them to point to the colors they see in this painting.  Can they match the colors?

1.  What do you see in this painting? (A boy.)
2.  What is he holding?  (A butterfly net.)
3.  What colors do you see in this painting? (Let them show you on the color wheel!) 
4.  Are these colors across the color wheel from one another?  (Yes.)  This is called a "complement."  When two colors are across the wheel from one another, we call them complementary colors. This may seem 'over their heads,' but, trust me, you use words all the time that are over their heads and just don't realize it!  We don't have to get into detail, just state the facts.  It's the first "touch" or exposure to a new word and a new idea!

Here's a fun hand motion to show what a complement is: Have prepared a color wheel, an orange circle and a blue circle cut out of colored construction paper about the size of a baseball. Showing the students on the color wheel, point to orange and then blue, and say, "When orange meets blue, he says 'How do you do?  You look nice today.. and so do you!" Then hold up the orange circle in one hand and the blue in the other and then put them together as you repeat "When orange meets blue, he says 'How do you do!  You look great nice today (says orange circle).. and so do you (says blue circle!)"  Even though compliment and complement are homonyms, it's a fun way to get the concept across!

5.  What is the boy wearing?  (Shirt, shorts, sandals and a necktie.)  What color is the necktie?  (red.)  What else is red in the painting?  (The road, his hair.)

Stay tuned for the next post where we I will show you a
super cool Matisse project to do with your child!

For more information on the artist Matisse or to dig deeper into color for you or your older students, click HERE [Laura Bird Miller Website]

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May 11, 2012

CLIP Review: Fancy Nancy "Bonjour Butterfly"

Author:  Jane O'Connor
Illustrator:  Robin Preiss Glasser
Ages:  4-7

Nancy's best friend, Bree, is planning the BEST birthday party EVER! Nancy will be attending dressed as the most elegant azure butterfly. Or will she? When her mom informs her she won't be going due to a family anniversary celebration the same evening, Nancy's disappointment is, well... typical. How well (and with regret) I remember moping, scowling, sulking around the house when I was upset over a parental decision.  But just like Nancy's parents, my own patiently encouraged me to "try to enjoy myself" and sure enough - a delightful surprise was indeed awaiting! Soon Nancy is greeted by her grandparents and as she later dances the Cha-Cha with her Grandpa at his 50th anniversary, a lesson in overcoming disappointment is gained through seeing that perhaps family can also provide some rather fancy and fun-loving entertainment.

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May 10, 2012

PEN IN HAND: Create a Color Poem

Begin by reading aloud a poem from the book Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O'Neill and illustrated by John Walner.  It is a collection of 13 poems, each about a different color.  It was first published in 1961 and then updated in 1989 with lovely new illustrations.  Each poem is titled, What is (color word)?  The following an excerpt from one of the poems:

What is Red?
  Red is a sunset
  Blazy and bright.
  Red is feeling brave
  With all your might.
  Red is a sunburn
  Spot on your nose.
  Sometimes red
  Is a red, red rose.

When introducing your child to this activity, remember that you are teaching them descriptive words, otherwise known as adjectives.  Depending on your child's experience with parts of speech, you may need to make a list of nouns and adjectives that describe your child's color word prior to creating a color poem.

(color) _________  is (adj. & noun) _________ and (adj. & noun) _________.
(color) _________ tastes like (adj. & noun) _________.

(color) _________ feels like (adj. & noun) _________.
It is (adj. & noun) _________, (adj. & noun) _________, and (adj. & noun) _________.
(color) _________ is (adjective) _________.

BLUE is...

Blue is a beautiful sky and a birthstone ring. 
Blue tastes like cotton candy.
Blue feels like the wet ocean.
It is soft breezes, scented flowers,
and bright stones.
Blue is refreshing.


For a very young child, simply ask them to describe a color and display their sentence in the middle of a sheet of black construction paper.  They go through magazines to find examples of the color chosen and have your child glue torn pieces of the magazine pages around the descriptive sentence to create a color frame.

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May 9, 2012

CLIP Review: Pantone COLORS

My desire for our color theme this month is to give young children experiences that encourage them to identify and appreciate the many, many hues of God's creation.   

Before I share this month's print communications idea, I want to share my new favorite book on color.  I have already purchased five of these books to give away as baby shower and birthday gifts.  The first one went to my newest grandson, Ryder Joel!

Pantone: COLORS, published by Abrams/Appleseed Books - March 2012, introduces children to 9 basic colors and 20 shades of each.  It features an illustration of a familiar image for pre-schoolers, such as a train, for example, on one page and an array of Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors in the same range (in the case of the train, blues) on the other. The names they use to describe each color shade is familier to children: Pretzel Brown, Grasshopper Green, Taxi Cab Yellow, and Pumpkin Orange By experiencing each of the colors as an image, then as shades, children are introduced to the concept that one color name can mean many different things in a dynamic way that will thrill parents, educators, and designers.

According to Abrams/Appleseed Publishing Director, Cecily Kaiser, “Pantone: COLORS is fast becoming an in-house favorite. It’s so visceral, bright and bold, and you just want to hold it and own it.”   

I totally agree!!  I'm crazy about this book.  A must for every home library.
                                                                                                           Deni Corbett

Coming in the next post - Print Comm: Writing Color Poems!

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