Fireflies: October 2012         

Oct 29, 2012

Fireflies Presents... "A is for Apple"

A is for Apple 

Welcome to Fireflies Presents…

·            I believe in play. 
·            I believe we, as parents, must be proactive when it comes to
           creating situations that inspire creatively and imagination. 
·            I believe in scheduling time to laugh & create memories together as a family.

It is my hope that the ideas we share will be the spark that motivates you to intentionally celebrate your family; your children.  These memories are designed to be created in your family room, around a puppet theater, with the smell of fresh popcorn wafting from the kitchen.

We have written the Fireflies Presents content for one or more children between the ages of 3 – 6. There is a lot of parent involvement and very little preparation or practice needed on the part of the child(ren).   We kept it simple…promise!

What is a Fireflies Presents Family Night?

Fireflies Presents celebrates the imagination and creativity of what it means to be a child and it begins with a theme and a ticket.

This month the theme is apples:  A is for Apple [the story of Johnny Appleseed].
1.     Select an evening for family and friends to gather and pass out tickets as a reminder.  

On the evening of Fireflies Presents…

2.     Children collect the tickets at the front door.  
Watch your child’s face light up as they realize they are a part of something very special; something that requires a real ticket!

3.     Every person attending is then given a program & popcorn cone that has been decorated based on the theme.   You may want to keep a large bowl filled with popcorn so that guests can refill as needed.

4.     Guests take their seats in chairs that are lined up in front of a doorway that holds the Fireflies Presents puppet theater.

5.     SHOWTIME!   Fireflies Presents "A is for Apple"

6.     Applause and Autographs!  Even if your child can only make a mark for their signature, ask for their signature.  Imagine how special that “mark” will be in 20 years.   That means you have to keep each Fireflies Presents program!

7.     Reception: Serve refreshments that corresponds with the theme of the evening.  Don't worry, we've even supplied the recipes.

All the information you need to pull off a Fireflies Presents evening will be included on our website.

This script is no longer available.  All scripts are posted for two weeks only.

Please feel free to create your own unique family event by using these ideas as merely suggestions.   

Thank you for joining us on this journey to create precious family memories and develop communication skills while experiencing the best in children’s literature.
Deepest Blessings,   
Deni Corbett


Oct 26, 2012

CLIP Review: The Scarecrow's Hat

Author & Illustrator:  Ken Brown

A favorite pasttime of my boys growing up was trading baseball cards...especially if one of them offered another the special deal of "two for one".  When friends were over the trading became high stakes drama for sure. There's just something about trading and getting a good deal that fills us with satisfaction.
Chicken is eyeing Scarecrow's Hat with interest - she needs a nest. But Scarecrow won't part with it unless he gets a walking stick to prop up his tired arms. Chicken knows just where to find one... BUT, Badger won't give it up without receiving a pretty ribbon in return. And so it goes.  Our Chicken has her work cut out for her, making trade after trade. Will she be able to satisfy everyone in order to receive her prize?  Will she herself have to make a sacrifice? 

The repetition in this story makes it a perfect read aloud and the big, beautiful pictures will captivate your listeners. The expressions on the animals faces are not only delightful, they are content. That's because Chicken's trading and swapping left everyone feeling satisfied - just like good trading should. 

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Oct 24, 2012

Apple Cake with Caramel Drizzle

A is for Apple 

This is my all time favorite apple cake recipe.  Its ridiculously easy and incredibly yummy.

Apple Cake with 

Caramel Drizzle

1 1/4 Cups Oil
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Cups Sugar
3 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 Cups Pecan Pieces
3 Cups Coarsely Chopped Granny Smith Apples (chunks should be about an inch)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a stand mixer, beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until incorporated.  Add flour, salt, and baking soda.  Stir just to combine.  Add chopped apples and pecan pieces.  Stir until apples and pecans are evenly distributed (this batter will be VERY thick).

Bake one hour in a well greased bundt pan.  Cool completely in pan and flip out onto a serving plate.

Caramel Glaze:
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 stick of Butter
1/4 Cup Whole Milk

Melt together over low heat and until it boils (no longer).  Stir consistently while heating.  Punch holes all over cake surface (I use an chopstick for this) and pour caramel glaze over the cake.

Rachel Skavril
Fondant Flinger


Oct 22, 2012

Visual Art - Autumn Bunting

One of my favorite activities while growing up was pressing fall leaves between pieces of wax paper.   I grew up in Pennsylvania and knew which trees in my backyard produced the most vivid colors.  Patiently I would wait for God's handiwork to be on display each fall and then, selecting the best leaves before they fell to the ground, we would press them between pieces of wax paper.   The process was what I actually remember - not what we did with them afterwards, but I love this idea from The Artful Parent:

Try this easy craft activity created by The Artful Parent in celebration of fall and our CLIP book, Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  (See review below.)

Materials needed for this activity are:

  • Autumn leaves 
  • Wax paper
  • Iron
  • Newsprint or other paper
  • 1/2 inch ribbon
  • Hot glue gun
  • Metallic Sharpies (optional)

This is an easy activity to share with your children while creating a lovely fall decoration for your home.
Please visit the Artful Parent website for the full tutorial.


Oct 19, 2012

CLIP Review: Leaf Man

Author & Illlustrator:  Lois Ehlert

The moment my eyes fell upon this book I was transported back in time.  Instantly I wanted some waxed paper and an iron. As kids, my sisters and I loved finding the most colorful, brilliant leaves in our yard, then would  rush to iron them between wax paper and hang them in our bedroom windows to enjoy for weeks. If by chance we found "the best leaf" on our way to school, it was pressed tightly between the pages of a textbook until we could get home. Leaves have always been things of beauty, reasons to stop and gaze in wonder at another of God's gifts in autumn.

Lois Ehlert has gone a step further in providing us with a magnificent book about autumn leaves.  She has ever so subtlety hidden within her fallen piles of leaves, such characters as the Leaf Man, a turkey, a spotted cow and even a flock of birds! Your child(ren) will also enjoy the unusually shaped pages as they hunt for what's hiding as you read. 

All the leaves used in the book are labeled on the cover pages. You may find some of them in your own yards, and who knows, "Maybe you'll find a Leaf Man waiting to go home with you."

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Oct 17, 2012

"Moments" with Lani

Mariah Santala
5 years old

there are good things to come.

I have by my sink a beautiful hand painted version of Proverbs 31, “The wife of noble character”, that a friend of mine gifted me years ago.  Currently my favorite verse is verse 25 which says “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the days to come.”  She is a woman who has joy and hope and she can smile at the days to come.

It’s important as a mom that I teach my kids to hope and develop in our family culture a joyful anticipation of good things to come. In order to do this, though, I first have to believe good things are coming.   During seasons of sorrow and hardship it can be difficult, but that is when my family and I need hope and joy the most. As I reflect and rest in the nature of God, in His goodness and His love, I am able to smile at the days to come even during trying times.  In doing so I believe my children grow in their faith and their hope for what tomorrow will bring.

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. 
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Lanise Santala


Oct 15, 2012

Sandwiches and Cider - an Autumn Ode to Apples

The Autumn season is without a doubt my favorite time of year.    Call me crazy, but there is something incredibly sentimental about a pile of leaves, a bushel of apples or a bale of hay. Seriously, I cannot resist the urge (even at a random Home Depot) to rush over, and breathe in that earthy aroma that is a bale of hay.  The chill in the air, the sunset colors in the trees, and the scent of cinnamon all bring back childhood memories of hayrides, bonfires, and baking pies with my Mom.  Almost every memory I have involving this time of year includes food in some form.  For my family, food is always part of the celebration.

Some of my most cherished childhood memories with my Mom involve baking and in fact, the time that my Mom invested in showing me how to cook and bake instilled a passion that I continue to have today.  Its a passion that I desire my boys to inherit and memories  that I hope they will cherish when they are grown.

This month's emphasis on scarecrows, leaves and apples brought dozens of ideas to mind for this posting.  However, I wanted, more than, anything for the focus to remain on time spent with your children without having to do much prep work.  The boys and I came up with a few "recipes" that we hope that you will enjoy!

Apple Sandwiches

Apple Sandwich with coconut, walnuts and raisins.

This recipe requires no cooking whatsoever and is so simple that even a 21-month old can do it.  In fact, my special assistant will show you his technique for making this easy snack.

What you'll need:
  • 1 Apple sliced horizontally and cored (I used a small round cookie cutter to remove the core after slicing)
  • Peanut butter or Nutella
  • Dried fruit and nuts (We went with raisins, walnuts and coconut)

First, using an extremely dull knife, you spread the peanut butter on to the apple slice.

*Chef's tip: "Make sure to get lots of peanut butter on your fingers so you can rub them through your hair. Mommies love this!"

Next, sprinkle on your choice of toppings.

*Chef's tip:  "One for the apple, one for the chef.  You don't want to get hungry while making a snack.  Oh and don't forget to drop a few on the floor for Mommy to step on and get stuck between her toes."

Once you are done, put a slice of apple with peanut butter on the top and voila, an apple sandwich fit for an adorable toddler or a precocious five-year old.

My littlest one's final product

His older brother's version


Apple Cider 

Fancy recipes are great but what kids like most is feeling like they completed a project on their own.  This is our backyard version of apple cider that the boys "made".

Pretty, isn't it?
What you'll need:
  • 2 Quarts Apple Cider (store-bought) 
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Thinly sliced peel from an orange (or in our case, from a few tangerines that we happened to be snacking on)
  • A Few Whole cloves
  • A Few Allspice Berries
You could keep the cider warmed but hey, its Louisiana and almost 90 degrees out so we opted for a chilled version.  All I had the boys do was literally dump the ingredients into a pot on the stove.  After simmering for about 10 minutes, pour it over ice.

We threw in freshly sliced apples, orange rind and cinnamon sticks before placing it in the dispenser out back on the porch.  The boys loved being able to help themselves.


To encourage even more family interaction while enjoying cooking with the Johnny Appleseed theme, we played a rousing game of Pin the Pot on Johnny Appleseed while sipping our cider.

Praying that this time of year is incredibly special for you and your little ones!

Rachel Skvaril


Oct 12, 2012

CLIP Review: How to Make an Apple Pie

Author: Marjorie Priceman

I'll never forget my shock as a young child visiting a farm for the first time and seeing a cow being milked. I had always thought that milk simply "came" from the grocery store, but from a cow - never! My questions while learning to bake with my mother were now endless: "Where do eggs come from? cinnamon? vanilla? brown sugar? crisco?"  Simply being told that these items came from the store no longer satisfied me; I wanted to find out where all ingredients came from.  Baking from scratch meant someone had gone to an awful lot of work so that I could bake chocolate chip cookies or an apple pie.

The energetic little baker in our story finds that her market is closed and sets out on a whirlwind trip to gather the ingredients necessary to bake an apple pie. Readers of all ages will enjoy the colorful illustrations and easy narrative as she searches worldwide for what she seeks: cinnamon in Sri Lanka from the bark of the kurundu tree, the finest wheat for flour from the countryside in Italy and sugar from Jamaica.  I was delighted to see that she, too, milked a cow for the freshest of milk to churn into butter!  

You'll be given a recipe for pie crust and apple pie at the end of the story. I suggest you simply go to the grocery store, unless you really want to make a whirlwind trip around the world for your ingredients!

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Oct 10, 2012

Poem: The Little Red Apple

A Little Red Apple

A little red apple
Hung high in a tree.

I looked up at it,
And it looked down at me.

"Come down, please," I called.

And what do you suppose?

That little red apple,
Dropped right on my nose!

Print out, post on the refrigerator door, memorize and recite together!

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Oct 5, 2012

CLIP Reviw: Johnny Appleseed

Author & Illustrator:  Will Moses

Remember all those tales you've heard about Johnny Appleseed? How he slept on a blanket of leaves or in a hollowed out tree? That he wore an old pot on his head and talked to animals, even wolves?

Well, the real-life Johnny actually did all those things and much more! He was born John Chapman in a little Massachusetts village in 1774, on the brink of the American Revolution. As a young man, Johnny was set on going where the wild lands were: west to the frontier.  But he knew he needed something to trade. Johnny figured apple trees were just what the frontier needed, and he'd supply them. "His apple trees and orchards served as living beacons for settlers to follow on their migration".  

It wasn't long before tales about this odd, kindly man who lived alone in the woods and talked with animals, ate from beehives and grew apple trees were popping up all over the west.  Johnny was an avid reader and was known for telling Bible stories to those with whom he shared a meal.

Johnny Appleseed truly was a remarkable man, credited with planting tens of thousands of apple trees. Apples are good for just about anything, aren't they? You can cook them, preserve  them, make dried apples, apple butter, applesauce, apple pie, apple cider, apple brandy, apple vinegar, apple bread and BEST of all, apples just taste delicious!
Thank you, Johnny Appleseed!

CLICK HERE for more information about Johnny Appleseed
and a crossword puzzle for older children.

Does the illustrator's name sound familiar? Will Moses began painting at the age of 4 with his grandfather, who learned to paint from his mother, Anna Mary Robertson, better known as Grandma Moses. Will has received worldwide recognition for his individual folk style, which is beautifully displayed in this book.

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Oct 3, 2012

My Favorite App: Dear Zoo

Sweet and true to the simplicity of this classic book, Dear Zoo is a keeper if you are looking for a special iPad book app for young children.  Below is a review from Kirkus along with a video showing children interacting with Dear Zoo, the app.

If you write to the zoo to send you a pet, you never know what you’ll get. 
Based on Campbell’s 1982 lift-the-flap nursery favorite, this imagines what happens when you send the zoo a letter, asking for a pet. Page after page introduces a new pet that, once revealed, proves not to be quite right for a variety of reasons... until the perfect one arrives. The animation, while simple, is well suited to the story, and the interactivity level is just right. 
Toddlers will especially love tapping the crates to reveal the animals one by one. Swipe the elephant, and it grows bigger on the page, trumpeting. The grumpy camel’s eye follows readers' fingers as they move about, the snake slithers across the screen with a finger swipe and the monkey actually "grabs" onto readers' fingers. Best of all, the story makes its way into the digital world with great intention, serving worn-out parents well. There is simply no guesswork. The "About This App" option on the title page provides detailed navigation tips for getting the most out of the story, and goes even further to indicate all the interactive elements for each animal. There is a matching game available from the title page as well, which aids in word/story retention. The illustrations, while a bit one-dimensional, mirror the book.
Overall, this app is a keeper, an animal classic that improves in the digital age. 


Oct 1, 2012

October Reflections - Fall Beauty!

Growing up, my sisters and I were always singing songs about something. One of our favorites was what we called, "The Johnny Appleseed Song", and part of it went like this:
                       Oh, the Lord is good to me
                       And so I thank the Lord,
                       For giving me, the things I need:
                       The sun and rain and the apple seed,
                       The Lord is good to me.

This month I'll be reviewing an entertaining book about Johnny. You won't want to miss reading about his unusual and incredible life.

But, back to that song we used to sing. I'm filled with nostalgia as I reflect on giving thanks for such things as "the sun and rain and the apple seed." Look around you and gaze at what this month has blessed us with: the brilliance of autumn leaves in an array of colors we can hardly begin to appreciate, the sound of biting into a perfectly ripe, crisp apple, seeing fields of oddly shaped orange pumpkins just waiting for our imaginative carvings, admiring lovely golden-rods shimmering in the afternoon sun,  laughing at decorative scarecrows blinking at us with crooked smiles and floppy hats, pausing for just a moment in the coolness of a foggy, quiet morning.  To enjoy any of these gifts of nature costs no  more than your time. Slowing down from the hectic pace of our lives long enough to look - really look - and see the beauty of what autumn brings is well worth it. Take a moonlight walk, go sit out on that lawn chair, hold hands with your child and collect some colorful fall leaves. Time won't stand still.

If I close my eyes I can still see my grandmother, standing beside her artwork the evening she entered several of her oil paintings in a gallery show. I was only in first or second grade, but I'll never forget the look of pride on her face. This was over 50 years ago; she was the only woman showing work.  She took my hand, walked me around the gallery, and told me how good the Lord was and that I could find beauty everywhere I looked.  But it was her painting, her golden-rod, that was my favorite. It now hangs prominently in our home and is a reminder to find beauty in the simple things that may be so easily overlooked.
"Golden-rod" oil painting by my grandmother,
Maude Rhodes ByrneThe golden-rod is yellow;

The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.
By all these lovely tokens
September (and October) days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson

This month our book reviews will be such a delightful variety of October topics!  What could be better than delicious apples and colorful leaves and fascinating scarecrows?

Mary Byrne Kline

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