Fireflies: February 2013         

Feb 27, 2013

Fireflies Crafts: HEART bird feeders

A Fireflies' Family Activity - Gather the materials and together create these adorable feeders for the birds in your backyards.  They are easy to make and mold into endless possible shapes.  Consider using Jello molds, cookie cutters, or no forms at all to create these bird feeders.  We used a heart shaped cookie cutter because we tried out this recipe before Valentine's Day to give as gifts.

The following makes 5 - 6 bird feeders depending on the thickness of each shape.

Materials Needed
  • 3 cups of bird seed
  • 1 packet of plain gelatin
  • 3 T corn syrup
  • 3/4 c of flour
  • 1/2 c water
  • Wax paper
  • Shape maker: cookie cutters, jello molds etc.
  • Cookie sheets
  • String
  • Pencil or straw for creating the "hanging hole"
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the water, flour, corn syrup, and gelatin.
Add the bird seed and mix until evenly coated.   (I wanted to buy the smallest amount of bird seed available which was parakeet bird seed.   I really loved it using it because of all the colors and shapes of seeds.)
Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper, fill your desired forms with the seed mixture - packing firmly.  If the seed is not pressed together firmly, it will fall apart.
Place a hole in the center of your shape using a straw or pencil.   Make sure the hole goes all the way through.  (Placing it closer to the middle allows for enough strength to hold the string.)  When your shapes are complete, allow to air dry for 24 - 48 hours - turning every once in awhile.

Run a string through your hole, hang your bird feeders, and enjoy!    
Hang where children can observe many fine feathered visitors
coming to dine on their creations.

A Fireflies' Gratitude & Service idea:
Why not make a heart shaped bird feeder for Grandma and deliver with an "I love you" note - even if it is after Valentine's Day?   Every day is a great day to say "I love you"!   

CLICK HERE for more creative and natural bird feeders ideas.

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Feb 25, 2013

My February "Moments"

As a mom, I spend a lot of time loving what my kids love; pushing them on a swing, putting together a puzzle, reading a favorite book over and over again, and playing a video game that I am surely going to lose. I look for ways to connect with them as individuals knowing each of them is unique. One loves quality time, one loves words of affirmation, one loves some good snuggle time. 

This morning I was aware that the roles were reversed. My third son Jacob asked if he could get me my coffee. He then brought it to me in the mug he had bought me for Christmas. As I drank it and thought about his thoughtful gesture, I realized he was loving me in the way he knew I’d appreciate it. An act of service and a hot cup of coffee . 

Acts of love bear sweet fruit. 

Enjoy your moments.
Lanise Santala


Feb 22, 2013

CLIP Book: Wherever You Are

Author & Illustrator:  Nancy Tillman

Telling our children that we love them is something that we as parents just do - over and over. The words, "I love you" simply pop out of our mouths often without much thought. It's not that we don't mean it, perhaps we just don't know how to express our love in a more creative way. Especially as our children grow and mature. 

How can we show our children that they do carry our love with them each and every day?  From the first heart-wrenching experience of letting go that a parent and child experience to a time when they're "all the way grown", the loving images in this tender book show your children that...

Wherever You Are - my love will find you.

Mary Byrne Kline

"And if someday you’re lonely,
or someday you’re sad,
or you strike out at baseball,
or think you’ve been bad...

just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That’s me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.

In the green of the grass... in the smell of
the sea... in the clouds floating by...
at the top of a tree... in the sound 
crickets make at the end of the day...

“You are loved. You are loved. You are
loved,” they all say.

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Feb 20, 2013

Let's Draw a Dog! ~ Masterpiece Response

Most children love animals and man's best friend is the perfect animal for little ones to practice creating for our February Fireflies theme: Hearts & Love!   

Here is another little dog also by Manet 

"Head of Dog - Bob."
"Head of Dog - Bob"
Artist:  Manet

Manet was a painter during the Impressionistic period in France.  His friend was Monet.  A lot of people get Monet and Manet confused.  Claude Monet was known the father of Impressionism that began with his painting "Impression, Sunrise."  

Manet painted during that time period and was inspired by the Impressionists, but his style wasn't complete Impressionistic.

Let's draw a simple dog - step by step!  
You will need a box of oil pastels, a piece of white paper and a willing heart!
Let's look at our little artists hard at work...

1.  First draw an eyes and nose with a purple/violet oil pastel...
2.  Then color it in with the same purple.  Next outline the eyes in black, making them a little pointy on the sides instead of all round.  Put a black pupil in the middle.  

3.  Next, make an orange-brown(otherwise known as burnt sienna) line to the left of the pupil if you like to give your dog brown eyes.
4.  Make a little blue "smudge" line to the right of the pupil. This little bit of blue will make the dog's eyes look like they are shining!
5.  Now we are going to put a little of that blue on the top part of that nose circle as well so his nose looks nice and wet and shiny too!  
6.  Next, add a white spot to the eye for highlight.  Then we'll a little white on the nose to lighten up the purple and define the nostrils by making a "C on the right side of the nose and a backwards "C" on the left side!  
Your eyes and nose are done! 
7.  Next, add a mouth.  It can be a straight line or an upside down "V" with a large "U" under it to make an open mouth! 
8.  Finally, add grey fur around the eyes and mouth.  Now we will keep adding fur with fun little line strokes in all kinds of warm colors (like gold, brown, orange-brown) till your dog's face is all fluffy!  Remember to add the fur strokes in the direction the fur grows!  

A bright background color of your choice will fill your page and set off your doggie.

Look at our little artists final products.  These students range in age from 4 to 6:

Even the littlest ones can enjoy this project and feel successful in their drawings!  

Here are some samples...

Have fun!
  Love and blessings,

Laura Bird Miller

Artist/Art Instructor

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Feb 18, 2013

February Masterpiece - Unconditional Love

Warm.  Welcoming.  Unconditional.

What leaps to mind when you think of warm, welcoming, unconditional love?

The love of Christ?        No doubt!
The love of parents?      Of course!
The love of our pets, namely, mans' best friend?        Naturally!
The Dog
Artist: Edouard Manet
Conversational Prompts
1.  Do you like dogs?
Let your child engage and make it personal.

2.  What kind of dog do you think this is? 
A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, most likely.  Please comment if you have any input.  This breed of spaniel was popular in the 16-19th century as a lapdog for ladies to generate heat for them. King Charles II could not travel anywhere without his spaniels, so he made a decree which supposedly is still in effect that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel would be allowed in public places.

3.  What do you like about Manet's painting and what do you dislike?
Expand the discussion involving colors and textures.

4.  Where are the areas of emphasis?  Where do your eyes go when you look at this painting?  
The dogs eyes, due to the black/white contrast.

For older children
5.  What do you know about Edouard Manet?
He was an Impressionist painter?  Can they recognize the style of the Impressionists?

On our next post, little ones will have fun learning how to draw
a cute little puppy with oil pastels or crayons.  

Until then, live, love, paint!
God bless,
Laura Bird Miller

What is another question you would ask your child while discussing "The Dog" by Edouard Manet?  Please share in a comment below to be eligible for a free give-away and help us add to our list of 
 Fireflies Conversational Prompts.

The MASTERS: Art Appreciation - Each month Laura Bird Miller introduces an art masterpiece to share with PK - 2nd grade children.  No worksheets, no tests - just exploration, discussion, awareness and fun.  We promise you, her love of God and art is infectious.  She assists in conversation by providing parents age appropriate questions and prompts to use when exploring the featured masterpiece.   Laura also provides a visual art project to go along with each Masterpiece chosen.   

Please visit Laura's website for more information.

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Feb 14, 2013

CLIP Review: Snowy Valentine

Author & Illustrator:  David Petersen
One snowy Valentine's Day
A heartfelt quest
The greatest gift of all...
Jasper Bunny is on a quest - he must find the perfect Valentine's Day gift for his love, Lilly. 

So he does what many of us would do; he decides to ask his friends for help. Even though his porcupine friends are quite handy at knitting scarves for Mother, he just becomes more tangled by the minute. And Miriam the frog may be excited over her box of chocolate-covered flies, but Jasper knows Lilly wouldn't think them much of a Valentine treat. Jasper continues through the snow and comes to Fox's house. Oh dear! He really ends up in hot water here!

Discouraged, poor Jasper trudges toward home - cold, wet, and ready to give up. His friend the Cardinal, from high up in a tree, calls down words of encouragement. 

Could Jasper's journey really have been a true gift of love?  

Mary Byrne Kline
"This necklace of winter berries will make a
wonderful Valentine's gift...."

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Feb 12, 2013

"My Heart is Like a Zoo" Craft

All you need is some colored paper, glue, scissors, and wriggly eyes!

What a fun activity for children - anytime!  This activity is based on last Friday's Fireflies Book Review, My Heart is Like a Zoo.   

First we went to the Dollar Store and found this set of six heart shapes - yep, for just a $1.    

We used the shapes to trace several different sized hearts on various colored sheets of card stock purchased from our local Michael's.    
I was excited to be able to cut out various shades of some colors - because I'd rather give children three shades of yellow to work with, instead of just "yellow".   But that's just me.  (and why I love the Pantone Colors book for children - see REVIEW here. 

After reading our CLIP pick book for February, My Heart is Like a Zoo, give your child the palette of heart shapes & colors, some wiggly eyes and let them create.    

Mount on a sheet of black or white card stock and display for all to see!    
A few more details and our creation will be complete.  Cute, isn't it?   

Encourage original animal creations, or allow children to replicate an animal from the book. It doesn't matter as long as you are having fun creating together!


Deni Corbett
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Feb 11, 2013

Valentine's Kebabs

Strawberry Marshmallow Kebabs

Yep, you guessed it...more stick food!

The ingredients list for this recipe is VERY short.  

What you will need:



Shish kebab sticks, scissors and a bit of water to keep those marshmallows from sticking to things.  If you are worried about the sharpness of the shish kebab sticks for those precious little chubby fingered children, just snip the tips of the sticks slightly so they aren't so incredibly pointy.  

Step One:  Rinse strawberries, remove stem, slightly hull each one and cut them in half.

Step 2:  Using scissors dampened with water, cut marshmallows in half.

Moisten the shish kebab stick with a bit of water, shake off the excess and, alternating the strawberries and marshmallows, slide your ingredients on the stick.  If you wanted to go a bit more decadent, you could half dip the strawberries and marshmallows in chocolate and use Valentine's themed sprinkles to decorate.

We tried to leave simple alone but then we thought of chocolate,
which can only improve food, right?

We took our marshmallows, cut them in half and dipped them
in warmed chocolate flavored coating.

The strawberries were done using the same method.  However, once we placed them on wax paper to set, we decided that they needed sprinkles.  We found some red sugar pearls, silver dragees and some white edible glitter and gave our treats some bling.  

 We skewered them all again once the chocolate had set up.

Now wouldn't you love to get one of these from your sweetheart?

 My sweet boy sure loved getting one from me!

This little one loved his as well, but didn't want to get his hands dirty. 

I can only imagine how perfect these valentine's treats would be for your child to give to their friends at their class parties.

Author: Rachel Skvaril
Fondant Flinger

To purchase cupcake toppers for your child's next class party, you can contact Rachel directly.   
Rachel (at) 
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