Fireflies: December 2012         

Dec 30, 2012

Laura Bird Miller's FROSTY.
One of her "S is for SNOW" Fireflies Presents' Puppets!
Wednesday we launch our January Fireflies' theme:  SNOW!  Above is Frosty - one of our puppets for the "S is for Snow" Fireflies Presents script.   We've chosen some wonderful children's books and created activities to go along with them including recipes and crafts along with print, verbal and visual communication projects.

Fireflies started while I was awaiting the birth of my grandson, Ryder.  Both will soon be one year old!  Once again we sincerely thank you for being a part of Fireflies this past year.  

Remember that you can access our blogs through Pinterest, Twitter, and our FB page as well as having the posts come directly to your email box or RSS feed.   Fireflies' posts are also great to read on Flipboard (my favorite place to read them)!

Whatever you use to read and communicate with us - thank you for responding, "liking", and sharing the message of Fireflies.

May God richly bless our families as we create memories together in the coming year,
Deni Corbett

PS Don't forget to visit our Fireflies Presents and Just One Touch sites.


Dec 24, 2012

C is for Christmas Puppets
It's Christmas Eve!  The presents are wrapped and I'm printing out the puppets for our Christmas Fireflies Presents Show.  We hope you have had a chance to print out all of the materials available for your own family production.  Don't forget to share your show photos with us.   "C is for Christmas" materials will be available through December 24th.  

We want to take this opportunity to thank each you for reading and sharing Fireflies with your friends this year.  You have been an encouragement to us with your comments on Facebook and  Please continue to "like", "share", and tell others about

We will be back next month with more children's books (the best of the best) along with Fireflies' kid friendly recipes, crafts, poems and much more.   Our Fireflies Presents script for January is: "S is for Snow" and will be available for download January 5th.

It is our sincere desire that you know fully,
the love that was born on Christmas Day.

His name is Jesus!

From the Fireflies Team,
Merry Christmas!

Mary, Julie, Laura, Deni, Lani, Rachel, & Lisa


Dec 21, 2012

CLIP Reveiw: Night Tree

Author:  Eve Bunting
Illustrator:  Ted Rand
In my autographed copy of Night Tree Eve Bunting wrote, "The woods are filled with wondrous secrets!"

Indeed, you may find yourself almost whispering as you read and turn the pages of this starry, moonlit story. As the young boy and his family make their way deep into the woods, carrying their special box and big red lantern, you'll witness the wondrous secrets they see along the path. When, at last they arrive at "their Night Tree", the box is opened and a special and heartwarming tradition begins to unfold.  After the tree is properly adorned, the children choose carols to sing.

Later that night, as the young boy lies in bed gazing up at the moon, he  thinks of what might be happening deep in the forest.  He knows that his family has brought Christmas in an unusual way to the forest animals, and wonders if they might be singing their own songs around the Night Tree.

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Dec 19, 2012

Christmas Masterpiece

"Adoration of the Shepherds," Gerrit van Honthorst 1622
We must not despise humble beginnings.  
A lowly stable.  A babe in a manger.  A risen King.  The Savior of the world.  

Even if we can only draw a stick man, we honor what we have been given.  That which we bless, increases.  That which we curse withers and dies!  Sharing the joy found in this beautiful rendition of the Adoration of the Shepherds, please note the facial expressions in the painting.  Linger on them awhile.  Let them draw you into the scene as if you were there.  

Don't you just love how Joseph is fondly clutching the cow's horn as if the animal were part of the family?  How would you describe Joseph and Mary's expressions? 

Loving and kind.

Where is the light reflecting the brightest, after baby Jesus?  

It appears that Mary's face is lit the most and Joseph's,
standing to Mary's right, is lit up second-most.

Can you feel the chill in the air, yet feel the warmth of the light illuminating baby Jesus?  

How would you describe the youngest shepherd's expression? 

The other shepherd's expressions?  
Awestruck, amazed, loving.

This Dutch Baroque artist, Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656), used the technique of chiaroscuro (pronounced key - ar- uh - SKEW- row), developed by the artist Italian Caravaggio.  Chiaroscuro is simply using the dramatic effect of light and darks to create form and space.  These bold contrasts can be seen because in this case van Honthorst used a single candle in an evening setting.  This is very typical of the Baroque period of the 1600s in art.  Van Honthorst also shares the use of expressive faces like Carivaggio which, with the bold contrast of lights and darks, makes this nativity scene quite dramatic.  Whenever you see a single candle lighting a night scene, you can probably guess the it was painted in the 1600s during the Baroque period!

This is a beautiful effect, especially as we ponder the Light which was born into a dark world.  Enjoy this masterpiece and share with your children.  May they be drawn into the scene as if they were there.  May we all realize how beautiful, how glorious is the Light, born in a manger, our Redeemer, the Savior of the world.

May you be exceedingly, abundantly blessed this Christmas season...


Laura Bird Miller
Artist/Art Instructor

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Dec 17, 2012

December Moments...

The gift of joy filled memories.

The most important gift to give your kids this Christmas can’t be bought in a store or found online. The gift isn’t dependent on your income or getting the deal of the day.  More than anything under the tree or what is in their stockings they will remember how they felt during this season.  

Children will remember the smile on your face, the words from your mouth, the sense of belonging to a great love and the feelings of well being that hang in the air. They will remember the sounds of laughter, the feeling of a big hug and the sight of their family together.  Their senses will register a contentedness of spirit that this world can not fulfill.  It is the eternal nature of love.  

Joy filled memories are the most treasured gifts we can give our children this season.  

“Joy is the serious business of Heaven”  C.S. Lewis

Lanise Santala


Dec 14, 2012

CLIP Review: Christmas Cookies

Author:  Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator:  Jane Dyer

I LOVE SPRINKLES! I confess, I'm a "Sprinkle-a-holic"! So when I saw this book, I just knew I had to have it. After all, aren't Christmas cookies known for their frosting and sprinkles?!  With great anticipation I bought the book, opened up to the first page and read, of all things...

I've been thinking all day about making the cookies,
I'm so excited.  I can't wait.

Not only had I found a cookie book to treasure, but now I understood the subtitle - "Bite-Size Holiday Lessons".  This delightful book combines gorgeous watercolor illustrations with the most incredible way of teaching children to understand word meanings through the baking of cookies.  Unpack your cookie cutters, rolling pin, aprons and have some fun! After all, it's Christmas and time to be "CHARITABLE - setting a big batch aside to give to people who maybe don't have any cookies at all."

If you need a Christmas sugar cookie recipe, there is one given at the end of the book.
Note: The last line reads - Sprinkle with colored sugar!

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Dec 12, 2012

Humphrey's Blanket Ornament - Mini Monets Create!

Mini Monets Paint Humphrey's Blanket Sculptures

After reading the absolutely adorable book Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer, the Mini Monets [my First Fridays' Art Workshop students] created Humphrey's most prized possession...  his blanket! And this is not just any ordinary blanket - this is a blanket fit for a King!   As we read about this heart-warming camel with his silly grin and his schemes to obtain a new carpet blanket, the students discussed how they would feel, meeting baby Jesus for the first time.  

 Would they want to give him their most prized possession? What would that be?
Did they have a blanket that brings them comfort and if so, what does it look like? 
What would they feel if they were Humphrey?.
What gift could he/they possibly give to the ONE who truly is:

Most Beauteous
And Exalted King of All.."

Inspired by Humphrey's gift to baby Jesus and using my favorite cornstarch-based homemade clay recipe (see below,) the students, ages 5-9, first sculpted a "blanket".  

The reason I like the cornstarch over the salt dough recipes is because it dries hard, smooth, and white.  That doesn't mean it won't crack or have a problem with breaking.  You still have to be careful with the finished product.  With care, however, it should last for years.

We baked the "blankets" in the oven at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Usually we would air dry overnight, but since this was only a one-day workshop, we needed to get it done within a few hours!  The cornstarch clay baked up nicely and after 10 minutes of cooling we proceeded to paint the dried clay.  

Look at the sampling of Humphrey's blankets!
Molding and shaping simple shapes like the "blanket" and then painting them, was easy to do and so much fun.    From the child who worked diligently to add fringes and details to their blankets, to the one who just plopped an overly-kneaded shape on the baking tray, this activity was enjoyed by all!  Notice one of the students in the larger photo even added baby Jesus laying on the blanket she created.  

Our students shared laughs, love and empathy with Humphrey while making a connection to the birth of Christ and the first Christmas through this loveable camel and delightful story of Humphrey's First Christmas  by Carol Heyer.

Corn Starch Clay Recipe

Materials needed:
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1 1/4 cups water

  1. Combine ingredients in large sauce pan and stir until dough is lumpy and thick and can barely be stirred.
  2. Dump onto parchment paper or flat surface to cool for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Knead until smooth once dough has cooled.  Keep in a ziplock bag until ready to use.
  4. Paint with watercolors, temperas, or acrylics and seal.  I have used all of these medium with this clay with good results.  I use Americana brand Triple Thick brilliant brush-on gloss glaze to seal the clay for a near kiln-fired shiny glaze appearance.
  5. Hot glue a jump ring to the back and attach a hook or a pretty ribbon to hang Humphrey's Blanket from your tree.
For busy folks who do not wish to take the time to make this clay, Crayola Model Magic will work, but it is more expensive.  Fimo and Sculpy brands are also great and have more weight to them, but not practical cost-wise for large groups. I have quadrupled this batch for 60 students in the past, so one batch would be plenty to make 15 blanket ornaments or serve up to 15 students very nicely.   

Please EMAIL us pictures of your "Humphrey's Blanket"!   Also, consider presenting blanket ornaments to those who attend your Fireflies Presents "C is for Christmas"!  CLICK HERE for more information.

Have a blessed Christmas, and may you enjoy the time spent creating and connecting with your children! 


Laura Bird Miller
Artist/Art Instructor

Mini Monets Monthly Art Workshops
Location: Longwood, FL


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Dec 10, 2012

Christmas No-Bake Dessert Table

Christmas Dessert Table

This post is for all of you who keep telling me you don't know how to bake.  So here it is!  Your chance for you and your kids to put together an amazing Christmas display with absolutely ZERO baking skills necessary.  If you can work a microwave, then you do indeed have the necessary skills to recreate this little dessert display.  

Dessert tables are increasingly popular right now and they can seem a bit overwhelming to create and I can understand how you would just rather stop at the grocery store and pick up a pack of cookies.  While this will entail slightly more work than prying open that plastic container, these food projects will provide you an your little ones lasting memories and something that they (and YOU) can be proud of.  
So lets start!


If you've ever been to a fair of any sort, then you KNOW that any snack on a stick just automatically tastes better.  Kids are drawn to them and parents love them since they dramatically decrease the mess for those sweet, pudgy little hands. The sticks for this project are just regular shish kabob sticks that you find pretty much anywhere.  

Here are the other ingredients you will need:

  • Marshmallows (if you can find the jumbo marshmallows, those would be ideal for this project)
  • White chocolate flavored candy coating (Ghiradelli's is sooo yummy)
  • Orange jelly beans (or DOTS)
  • Fruit roll-up
  • A bit of cornstarch
  • An edible marker (or mini chocolate chips)
  • Scissors 
  • And those kebab sticks. 
And now you're set!    

The first step is to cut your marshmallows in half.  A tip I got from The Marshmallow Studio is to always dip your scissors in water and shake off the excess drips before you cut your marshmallows to prevent any sticking.

Take your kebab stick and dip that into water as well and slide on three marshmallows (the stick should go inside about half way through the top marshmallow).

Take your jelly bean (or DOT) and cut a small triangle piece for the snowman's nose.  If it doesn't quite look pointy enough just shape it gently with your fingertips.

Melt the white candy according to the directions on the package.  Generally, its 1 minute at full power, stir and continue melting at 30-second intervals at half power until smooth.  Using the end of a kebab stick, add a dot of white chocolate for the nose to stick to.  If you are using mini chocolate chips instead of an edible marker, you'll want to add white chocolate drops for his eyes, nose and mouth. If you have an edible marker, simply add dots for his eyes and mouth.  Using a little more melted candy, add chocolate chips for the snowman's buttons.

Take a piece of fruit roll up and cut a strip approximately 3" long.  I cut a tiny bit of fringe on each end of his scarf but that's optional. Wrap it around the neck between the two marshmallows.  If you have any issues with the marshmallows keeping in place, secure them with a bit of candy coating between the marshmallows.

And there you go!  Feel free to make as many as you want.  We stopped at two; one for each little boy.

This one little guy was incredibly impressed with this project.

Make that two little guys completely enamored by skewered marshmallows.


Since we had melted the white candy coating and had extra, we decided to make this one little chocolate covered Oreo snowman.  I didn't want to waste that Tablespoon of white chocolate so instead I used more wax paper, cookies, and a jelly bean.  Somehow I'm still proud of the fact that I didn't waste that small amount of white melted candy!  

Here are your ingredients for this piece:

  • White candy coating
  • Oreo Cookies
  • Orange jelly beans
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Lollipop sticks
Cover the Oreo with the white candy coating.  I'm sure that there's a tool for this but I found that having your 2-year old accidentally dropping it in the candy and me fishing it out with a fondu fork worked just brilliantly.

Quick!  Before it dries, add his little chocolate chip eyes and mouth and give him his nose (we had previously stolen all the orange jelly beans off the gingerbread house for these projects but of course I couldn't find the little dish that had them all in it.  I resorted to using a spiced gumdrop).

Next dip the end of a lollipop stick into the candy and gently insert the stick.  Oh and there's that little bowl of orange jelly beans...right below the bag of lollipops.  *sigh* Oh well!  At least it can be in the photo below!  


I absolutely love these trees.  I first saw them on a blog from Half Baked last year and couldn't wait to try my own out.

Ingredients list:

  • Green candy coating
  • Sugar cones
  • Christmas colored sprinkles, sugar pearls, silver dragees, whatever you want!
Again, melt down the green candy coating according to their instructions until its all nice, smooth and shiny.  If it doesn't seem quite fluid enough, you can add some paramount crystals or even a bit of shortening to get the right consistency.

Next, coat each cone with the green candy and set upright on wax paper.

Again, to avoid any form of disputes between the boys, we did two trees.

Decorate!  Had the boys not both been in time out at the time this project was being completed, they would have created some masterpieces to be sure.  Unfortunately, this Momma likes to be consistent with her discipline so they both watched me decorate the trees until their behavior improved.  We'll have to try this again later with them and share a follow up photo of their artwork.


Yes, you guessed it...I had leftover green candy coating and not wanting to waste it, I decided on this element for the dessert table.  I use this idea quite a bit for dessert tables since its a great filler and can be done in any color.  

Pop a batch of popcorn.  I used my air popper but I'm sure that the microwave kind would work just as well.  Spread the popcorn out in a single layer on wax paper.

Using a spatula, transfer your candy coating into a Ziplock bag and trim a small hole in the corner (Voila!  Your very own handmade piping bag!).

Drizzle candy coating all over the popcorn.  Stir to evenly coat.

Spread it out again and add a second drizzling of candy.  Stir well but try not to smoosh or break the popcorn pieces.  

Spread it out again into a single layer do another of drizzling of candy coating but this time don't stir.  Add sprinkles to your heart's content. 

Let dry.


For whatever reason, I STILL had green candy coating!  So back to the pantry again to hunt down some other dessert table materials.  I found these guys.

Dip the ends of the marshmallows into the green candy coating and let them dry (green side up) on some parchment.  As they are setting up, sprinkle some sugar pearls for "ornaments".  Place them into a tree shape and add a little pretzel stump.

And there you have it!   Your very own Christmas dessert table!

These are perfect for your "C is for Christmas" after show party!
I just can't wait to see your photos of these food projects!  Please post them to the Fireflies Facebook page so we can all enjoy them.

Praying that you and your family have an incredibly Merry Christmas while celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! 

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Dec 7, 2012

CLIP Review: Humphrey's First Christmas

Author & Illustrator:  Carol Heyer

Carrying one of the three wise men who are bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus, one would think that Humphrey would be full of joy.  Instead, this regal beast of kings is grumpy, grumbling and disgruntled!  Why, he's even complaining about his name, thinking -

Most Beauteous
and Exalted King of All
should be my name...

And to make matters worse, Humphrey has lost his dearest possession.  Humphrey's antics to retrieve his treasure may bring smiles to the reader, but as he kneels before the manger, this disgruntled camel himself begins to smile.  What gift could he possibly give to the ONE who truly is

                                      Most Beauteous
                                   and Exalted King of All...

This beautifully written story, along with its gorgeous, yet whimsical artwork will clearly lead readers to an understanding of the first Christmas. 

Mary Byrne Kline

Put on a show in your living room based on Humphrey's First Christmas.
Everything you will need is HERE!

Meet the author and illustrator, Carol Heyer

Purchase this book by clicking below:

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Dec 5, 2012

Poem: My Gift by Christina Rossetti

[Verbal Communications]
Consider having older children memorize this poem.  If you have younger children then simply print out this poem, post it on the refrigerator and recite it whenever you see it.  Your child will pick up on the rhyme and rhythm of the words.

Adoration of the Magi by Florentine painter Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337).
Star of Bethlehem is shown as a comet above the child.
Giotto witnessed an appearance of 
Halley's Comet in 1301.

My Gift
by Christina Rossetti

What can I give Him
Poor as I am;
If I were a shepherd,
I would give Him a lamb,     

If I were a wise man,
I would do my part.
But what can I give Him?
I will give my heart.            

This poem is featured in this month's Fireflies Presents'  "C is for Christmas".

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Dec 3, 2012

C is for Christmas

Welcome to Fireflies Presents…

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 – 8. 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!  We have provided everything you need including the puppets (no cutting or coloring).

Some of our puppets

Just print each puppet out on card stock, fold, glue to a dowel and put on a show!

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 Christmas:  "C is for Christmas".
1.     Select an evening for family and friends to gather and pass out tickets as a reminder.  Make your popcorn cones!  (template provided)

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.  The stars of the show sometimes need a popcorn break before the show...

4.     Guests take their seats in chairs that are lined up in front of a doorway or opening that holds the Fireflies Presents puppet theater.  (If you haven't purchased one of our puppet theaters, simply create your own "stage" by placing a long table cloth over a small table.)

5.     SHOWTIME!   Fireflies Presents…  "C is for Christmas"

Welcome to our show!!

4 year old Davis reciting his Bible verse.

Take a bow!
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 correspond with the theme of the evening.  Don't worry, we've even supplied the recipes.  

All the information you need to enjoy a Fireflies Presents evening during Christmas is included on our website.  Click here:

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

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