Fireflies: March 2013         

Mar 29, 2013

CLIP Review: Roxaboxen

Author: Alice McLerran
Illustrator: Barbara Cooney

There's just something about a kid making a fort that stimulates their imagination to a higher level. Forts can come in any number of shapes and sizes.  As kids we had forts under our beds, in boxes, under sheets spread over the dining room table, and in trees. I would guess our most elaborate forts were those we created when asked to rake leaves in the Fall. Rather than make piles, we would rake our leaves into rows of walls and rooms with doors and passageways. We'd eat and play in these forts for days at a time.

Reading the story of ROXABOXEN brought back all the memories of our forts in the leaf piles.  For you see, the children in this story really did create a magical world known as Roxaboxen on a hill on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Eighth Street in Yuma, Arizona. And on this hillside the town of Roxaboxen grew - with its town hall, ice cream parlors (yes, there were two!), a jail with a floor of cactus and of course a mayor for keeping order.  There were also many "treasures" to be found among the homes in town, as only children with great imaginations can find.

There across the road it looked like any rocky hill -
but it was a special place.
Marian called it Roxaboxen.
A town of Roxaboxen began to grow, traced in lines of stone, 
Old wooden boxes could be shelves or tables or anything you wanted.

You may want to get an old sheet, spread it over a table for a fort, and begin reading this wonderful book right now! 
Mary Byrne Kline

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Mar 27, 2013

Create a "Tell me a story" Box

Just what is a Fireflies' "Tell me a story" Box?

Today's young children are living in a media-flooded environment.  For critical and creative thinking skills to develop, parents must provide opportunities for their children to process new ideas and connect the dots of language development.  That is why it is so important to read aloud to young children and engage them in language-rich communication experiences.

The Fireflies' "Tell Me a Story" Box provides opportunities for unique family experiences that encourage language-rich communication adventures!  It's a win-win...

Steps to creating a family "Tell Me a Story" Box:
  1. Choose a box.
    I love wooden boxes and found this gem at one of the many antique shops I have visited over the years.  As I walked through the house looking for the perfect storybox, I decided that the one, that once held teabags, would be a perfect Fireflies' "Tell Me a Story" Box.

Select items. (imagination story prompts)
Each month we will suggest items to place in your box - items that will be used to "Tell Me a Story"!  Because the target audience for the Fireflies' Blog is young children [ages 3 - 8], I suggest you place only 3 - 5 items in the box.  Even though we will give suggestions based on a Fireflies' theme, please feel free to use your storytelling box anyway you want to with your family.  
I chose the following items for my storybox:
-piece of blue cloth
-small box (because of our theme this month)
-bottle lid

The idea is to choose items that children will identify immediately, but can become something else, or have another imaginative use.

Once items are selected and placed in the special storybox, set the tone for engaging in this language experience.   "Oh Davis, I can't wait to show you our new special box. It's called a secret (surprise) storybox!  Oh I hope before bedtime we can..."  You get the idea - create anticipation.

Show your child the "Tell Me a Story" Box and open it to reveal its contents.  I revealed each one individually and ceremonially...

Hold up the blue cloth
Q.  What is this?
A.  All of the answers will very greatly depending on the age of your child.
Something blue, blue fabric, a piece of blue material, etc.

Q.  Yes, that is exactly what this is...but when we get it from the storybox, it can become anything we want it to be.   If we use our imagination, what else could this be?
A.  The goal is for your child to get use to suspending what they know to be the "right" answer and begin thinking creatively.
The sky, water, a glass of water, spilled paint, a rug or blanket.... (Oh the possibilities!)

For this first introduction to storytelling, simply go through each item in the box asking first what the item is, and then following up with what it could be.

Finally, using great enthusiasm and excitement, explain to your child that whenever they see the storybox [on the kitchen table, or coffee table, or in the child's room], that means that they will create their very own stories using the special items they find in the storybox.   
Keep the first session short by introducing your child to your family's storybox & creating anticipation for the first family storytelling adventure.

Oh, and once you begin telling stories as a family, keep a recording device close by.  You are going to want to capture these family legacy moments on video...I promise!

During our next "Tell Me a Story" Box post I will share why I am so passionate about storytelling and the growth that comes from engaging in this activity as a family.   We will also provide ideas for story starters to place in your storybox.

HOMEWORK:  Go find a wonderful storybox for your family storytelling adventures and meet me back here next month!   

What items did you select for your storybox?  Send us a picture of your storybox!
Deni Corbett

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Mar 25, 2013

This is NOT a box

A Fireflies reader sent this image to us and we love it!   We hope that you have enjoyed this month's theme - A Box!   One more activity to introduce on Wednesday, one more Fireflies CLIP book to share on Friday and then we begin our April adventure and introduce two new Fireflies' contributors.  April is also when we will launch our first podcast series, Catching Fireflies.   Can't wait for APRIL!

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Mar 22, 2013

CLIP Review: Henry's Freedom Box

Author: Ellen Levine
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

All children have dreams and wishes. Every year we place the appropriate number of brightly lit candles on beautifully iced cakes and say, "Make a wish!"  But things were different for Henry...

Henry Brown wasn't sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren't allowed to know their birthdays.

But Henry still had dreams. He dreamed of a world where his life belonged to him.  Throughout Henry's life, he experienced much joy and sorrow, but never lost sight of his dream. One morning he saw a little bird flying free in the open sky and an idea came to him. He realized what he must do in order to gain his freedom.  Henry found a large wooden box and said to his friends, "I will mail myself to place where there are no slaves!"

The adventure began! How would Henry make it stuffed in a box?  He was tossed on a railway car, then a steamboat, then another railway car - to travel all the way to Philadelphia with only a few biscuits and a small container of water.  Perhaps he will end up with a birthday "date" after all - hmm, it's almost here!

"Henry, do you see those leaves blowing in the wind?
They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families."

Henry "Box" Brown was one of the Underground Railroad's most famous runaway slaves.

Want more information about the true story that inspired this book?
CLICK HERE to view an intriguing interview with author, Ellen Levine.

Mary Byrne Kline


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Mar 20, 2013

Family Cardboard Creations

Working with Cardboard Tutorial
Link:  ikatbag

Begin with the tutorial above from I Kat Bag that covers everything you ever wanted to know about working with cardboard - all types of cardboard.  Before reading this post, I honestly had never thought about all of the different options in cardboard.    After watching this tutorial, you will be inspired by the following posts to make some wonderfully innovative creations - all from a box.  And don't miss the must-have cardboard tool kit at the end of this post.   

Idea Blog #1

Get Crafty with Boxes
Link: Red Ted Art Blog

Inspiration Blog #2
7 Tips for Working With Cardboard

Check out this great tool kit for working with cardboard!
MakeDo Kit's Product Description:
So long, empty cereal boxes, plastic bottles and old CDs piling up in the trash. Hello, magical playhouse, flying car and anything else your creative mind can imagine. With Makedo FreePlay Kit for One, you can recycle common household items into limitless creations using the kit’s fasteners, connectors and plastic safe-saw. The parts are all reusable so when you’re done with one creation, just pull it apart and make another one. Whatever you decide to make, you’ll exercise creativity and coordination skills while turning trash into treasure and learning about sustainability."
Purchase by clicking on the image below:

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Mar 18, 2013

An Out-of-the-Box Masterpiece and Response

Most artists think out of the box; Louise Nevelson, our featured artist, thinks out of the box within the box!    This intriguing maze of "boxes" is filled with layers of textures and forms that make you want to take a closer look!  Wouldn't it be fun to be a little mouse and climb around inside and check out all the nooks and crannies in this piece?  It is called "Dawn's Wedding Chapel II."   

Discussion Questions:
  • What is a wedding chapel?
    (It's a place where you get married.)
  • Looking at the name of this art piece, "Dawn's Wedding Chapel II," why do you think she chose one color, and, in particular, this color? 
    (The color is white/off-white which is the color most brides wear.  It is
    one color to show unity, like the unity in marriage where the two become one.)
  • When you look at how the "boxes" are balanced, does it feel good to you, like the you are confident the boxes are going to stay "put" and not topple over?  
    (Yes!  It has a feel of
    formality in its balance. Weddings are often very formal.)
  • Do you think if you divided this sculpture down the middle each side would be equal? (No, not exactly equal like a mirror image, but it IS equal around the outside shape.)

A Fireflies' Visual Response to
Nevelson's Dawn's Wedding Chapel II
Want make your own Louise Nevelson inspired sculpture?  Let's give it a try!

Here is what you will need:
  • One (1) recycle bin full of "stuff"  -- including Two (2) egg cartons!
  • Some adhesive to glue the egg cartons and "stuff" together
  • Spray Paint - white, off-white, silver, grey, whatever you have on hand -- you just need a single color
  • "Woodsies" popsicle sticks and various shapes
  • Tooth picks
  • Scissors
  I LOVE glue dots for this project! Please, please please let your kids use them! 
Kids love that they can glue, like hot glue but cold, all by themselves!

It took me a while to gather all the "stuff" and figure out how to put it all together. 
Then, I cut...
With the help of a little curious furry friend...  
Next it's time to glue dot or tape it all together ...
See how the base is the top of an 18-ct egg crate?  The rest is just parts of a regular styrofoam egg crate and a take-out tray,  all from the trash!  Gotta love to recycle!
 Checking it out with the computer image:
Once you get the pieces cut, let children tape the sections where they want after looking at the picture of Louise Nevelson's "Dawn's Wedding Chapel II" and see what they come up with.  It doesn't have to be perfect; they may come up with something entirely different!
Have children peel the glue dots from the sheet and stick on the end of popsicle stick, "woodsies," toothpicks and other recycled "stuff" to finish their sculpture.
You can even cut the popsicle sticks.
Snipping and glue-dotting, put recycled "stuff" and woodsies in layers in the boxes until you're happy with the outcome.  Time to spray paint!

Here's the sample finished project:
Isn't this cool? Can you see the bird on the left, sitting on top of the toilet paper roll?
Just had to put my own "signature" in there just for fun.  I cut him out of a box that was in the trash. What will you add to make it "yours?"
"I always wanted to show the world that art is everywhere,
except it has to pass through a creative mind.”—Louise Nevelson

Have fun learning about Louise Nevelson, enjoy recycling, and letting your little ones glue-dot "stuff" everywhere till the cows come home!  You will teach them to think out of the box within the box!

Who is Louise Nevelson?   
Our artist was born on September 23, 1899, in Pereyaslav near Kiev, Russia.  When she was 6 years old, her family moved to the United States where her dad established a lumber business, building and selling houses.  She studied voice, drama, and art in college.  She worked as an extra in films in Berlin and Vienna.  She traveled in Europe and eventually became an assistant to Diego Rivera, helping with his famous mural for The New Workers’ School, New York.  She studied sculpture as well and much of her work is done in wood like the one above.  Being that her father worked with wood, isn't it interesting that her sculptures were often in wood?

For older students, see my post at:
Love and blessings,

Laura Bird Miller, Artist/Art Instructor

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Mar 15, 2013

CLIP Review: Boxes for Katje

Author:  Candace Fleming
Illustrator:  Stacey Dressen-McQueen

This is a true story about boxes.

It's a story of two little girls who were kind and believed that miracles happen. But what made the miracles so special is that they weren't special at all! They simply took the form of a tube of toothpaste, a pair of socks or a box of powdered milk.  For you see, after World War II much of Europe was left cold, hungry and hopeless.

Katje's town in Holland was no exception.  Then one day Postman Kleinhoonte pedaled his bicycle down Katje's cobbled street and brought her the first  of many "miracle" boxes from Rosie, a girl in Indiana.  Once Rosie and her town received Katje's note of thanks, the boxes she  sent increased in size and content.  Soon coats, cans of meat and bags of sugar began to arrive - much to the delight of Katje and her entire town! 

How could Katje's family and town ever repay Rosie?  You'll be filled with a sense of wonder and delight when Rosie and her family sample the seeds of friendship that grow from Katje's box.

"Dear friend Rosie, I shared the sugar with our neighbors.
They have 5 children who are skin and bone.
Your gift has surely helped us.  Your friend, Katje"

"Dear Rosie, Your box caused much excitement in Olst.
People stopped worrying about the holes in their shoes and their threadbare coats.
You see? Your friendship has not only filled our stomachs,
it has lifted our spirits as well. Love, Katje"

As you read this incredible book with your children, may we be reminded that at any age it truly is "more blessed to give than to receive."
Mary Byrne Kline

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Mar 13, 2013

A Family Drive-In Movie Night

Jack Larmore

After seeing Nate & Anita Larmore's FB post about their Drive-in Movie night, I asked Anita to share the details along with her pictures.   I know her post will spark your imagination and inspire you to create your own drive-in movie night for your family, playgroup, school group, or church's children's ministry.   Welcome our guest blogger, Anita Larmore & read on - you are in for a treat!!!  
Deni Corbett

Create your very own Drive-in Movie   
Any 21st century mom living in America today has boxes.  It is the day we live in… wireless internet, free shipping, and ‘no kids anywhere’ kind of shopping!

Our project today involves boxes.  Big ones!  CHILD-SIZED ONES, as a matter of fact!  If you are like me, boxes abound.  I can’t wait for recycle day just to get rid of them!  Here in CA, they’re in the garage and for all you lucky folks with basements and attics, you have them there!  And if you can’t find one big enough, there’s always your local grocery store. 
It is time to hold a drive-in movie night for your kiddos.  One they won’t soon forget.  Send out invitations. The sky is the limit on what you can create.  And soon your living room or your church or even your deck on a warm summer night, will be full of cars, giggling children and popcorn galore.  

Once you have found a box large enough for your child to sit comfortably, here is how you assemble it so that your child can see out of the top.
  1. Cut off three of your box’s lid flaps, leaving the fourth flap to become the windshield of the car.
  2. Use the flaps that you cut off to shape two triangular pieces that will secure the sides of your windshield into the position you like best.
  3. Use duct tape to secure the box into shape (duct tape is also easier to paint over than standard packing tape).
  4. Prepare a well-ventilated outdoor area to spray paint your box.  Apply several even coats until the car looks right to you.  If you run out of time like we did one year, construction paper will work in a pinch!
    Once the painting is done, here are some ideas for those extras that will make your car pop!

  5. Wheels
    :  You can attach wheels made from paper plates or cut out four large circles from construction paper.  Draw rim details onto your wheels or glue a colored printout of wheel rims from the internet.
Windshield:  Glue a windshield cut from construction paper to the front of the angled flap on top of your car.
:  Draw lights or glue colored printouts of headlights and taillights to the front and back of your car.  You can even have working headlights by cutting out the center of your headlights and inserting flashlights that can be turned on at your event. 

Katie Larmore
Hood emblem:  Draw a hood ornament or glue a colored printout to the front of your car.

License plates
:  Draw a license plate or glue a colored printout to the front/back of your car.

Decals and décor
:  Your child will have fun with stickers, markers, and decals to further decorate the exterior of the car. Many details can be drawn with thick-point permanent marker or printed from photos found on the internet for more realistic detail Dads will care more about the realism than you probably will.  When my husband was involved in the finishing part of this project, it was all about replicating his favorite car.  Googling key words like “wheel rim” or “hood emblems,” he meticulously created his dream car (since he’ll never own it).  Perhaps the purple was not his top choice, but it was for his little girl. 

Steering wheel
:  Using a pencil skewered through a paper plate decorated for the part, you can add a steering wheel. 

: Cut out and decorate pieces or print out color decals for dash instruments such as Speedometer, Tachometer, Radio, etc.

Mandy Larmore
When you are done, all that’s left is throwing in a pillow or a stool, dimming those lights, popping in that movie, filling up those popcorn bowls, and you have added yet another “Once upon a time” memory in your child’s life.  

Anita Larmore
Fireflies Guest Blogger

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Mar 11, 2013

Box Lunch


The boys and I absolutely loved this book:

"CHRISTINA KATERINA & THE BOX" by Patricia Lee Gauch

We loved it so much that we decided to make not just a snack but an entire day out of playing in our own cardboard box.  After all, if Christina Katerina and her sometimes-friend Fats Watson could have that much fun with their box, we wanted to too!

We found the perfect box.  I added a few embellishments to mimic the one from the story.

We placed it on the porch and released the boys on it.  

In no time at all, it became a pirate ship on the high seas and a Sheriff's horse for his wild west chase.

It was the perfect place to relax, prop your feet up and read a book (you can guess which one was THE book of choice).

And when they got hungry, like all Sheriffs and Pirates do, we munched on this display:

A cardboard castle under the apple tree.  

This particular pirate decided that EVERYTHING would be more fun while in the box, so he chose to dine in that cardboard establishment.  You can tell that it must have been a fine dining restaurant since his manners and etiquette were so incredibly refined.

After lunch, the box quickly became a tunnel, and then a teepee:

And slowly but surely, a certain little toddler laid on top of the teepee and, just like in the case of Christina Katerina and Fats, we ended up with a lovely cardboard floor on the yard.  Unlike the story, this Mama could not wait for the box to slowly disintegrate on the yard.  After the Pirate and Sheriff were snug in their beds, the box somehow disappeared!  Wow!  What an incredibly amazing box!  

To make your own, Christina Katerina lunch themed scene, you will need the following:

  • Sliced cucumbers for the tree leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes for the apples
  • Pretzels for the tree trunk
  • a cheese sandwich.  Cut off edges to make a square and remove small area for "door".  We used edible marker to make the castle top but you could also just cut the top to resemble that of a castle.
  • For the grass, cut a long cucumber section, slice it in quarters and slice off the point so that the section lies flat.  Cut some "fringe" into the top of the piece. 
Just place all the picture "parts" in various bowls and your little ones can assemble all the pieces to make their own scene. 

This snack and all box adventures are proudly pirate approved.

Comment below for a change to win the Fireflies book of the month:  Christina Katerina

Author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist, Fondant Flinger

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