Fireflies: May 2013         

May 31, 2013

CLIP Review: Three Hens and a Peacock

Author: Lester L. Laminack
Illustrator:  Henry Cole
"How come we do all the hard work and he gets all the attention?"  Hm-m-m, sounds as though there is some jealousy brewing on the Tuckers' Farm.  It wasn't as though the peacock intended to start any trouble. He just spread his fancy tail feathers and began shrieking. How was he to know that folks from all over would stop to admire him, and while they were, they'd also buy fresh produce from Tuckers' Farm.

Meanwhile, the hens were sweating it out in the henhouse. Squawking and flapping their wings, they complain, "I suppose fancy feathers are more important than laying eggs."  At the suggestion of the old hound, the idea for the peacock and the hens to trade places for a day is decided upon. The illustrations of the hens all gussied up and the peacock attempting to lay an egg are delightful!

Will things ever get back to normal?

I believe the author said it best when he wrote about this story...
"Dedicated to the spirit of Mr. Rogers, who always said, 'I like you just the way you are.' "

Mary Byrne Kline

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May 29, 2013

Amanda Hampton: Developing a Heart of Gratitude

Meet Amanda Hampton, the newest member of the team.  

Her focus in the coming months will be to inspire parents to be intentional about developing a heart of gratitude in their children.  Listen as Amanda discusses with Fireflies' host, Gil Moegerle, her journey as she strives to encourage her five children to live a life of gratitude.   

We invite you to follow Amanda on as she creates and shares unique opportunities for children to say "thank you".

Check out Amanda's post HERE.

Amanda Layne Hampton

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Our Gratitude Wall: "eucharisteo"

A Blank Wall + "Eucharisteo"" = Encouraging Hearts of Gratitude in our Home

Walk with me back a couple of months. We had just remodeled our kitchen and I had a large blank wall in our breakfast area that needed decorating. One morning as I was reading Ann Voskamp's, One Thousand Gifts, I had a vision of painting it with chalkboard paint and writing at the top, "Today, I am grateful for...". I felt this incredible pull to teach my children how to live a grateful life. I could sense God showing me that this would not only be an amazing experience for our family, but would also be a witness to everyone who enters our home.

I called my husband and he immediately affirmed the idea. Next, I called our handyman who was able to quickly start the project. Not feeling confident in my ability to write the words the way I saw them in my mind, I thought of a neighbor friend who is an artist. She was able to come the day after we painted and create the wall heading, adding her special touch.
Tears filled my eyes as I looked at the finished project. It was even more beautiful than I had envisioned. My three year old was standing near me and I realized I needed to explain what we were looking at. He seemed to understand. So I asked him what he could say, "thank you, God" for and he said, "shoes and socks." My heart melted and I knew this was the beginning of helping my family turn our focus on living our days with gratefulness to God.            
Matthew says, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Would you join me in discovering ways to implement the practice of giving thanks into the lives of our children? Our children are like little sponges...soaking in our words, our tone, and our body language. You know, as well as I, that they are reflections of us. Let's help them be a reflection of Him as they begin to name what they are thankful for. I am looking forward to linking arms with you as together we inspire our children to express their gratitude to God! 

Lord let our hearts be filled with gratitude for You so that we may spill over into the hearts and lives of our children. 

We are so excited about our newest Fireflies' Team Member, Amanda Hampton.


May 27, 2013

Moments : Brave and Strong – Significant and Free

I love putting truth all over my house. Written on the mirror in my kid’s bathroom are the words, “Let your light shine before men.” In my hallway, above a collection of pictures I have the words, “Family is believing in one another.” In our home, we have “Family Rules,” scriptures and cute quotes scattered about. 

Some of you may remember back in February I posted about the two most important things my husband and I wanted to instill in our children; that they would know their significance, and, that they would be free. Ever since that post, I’ve thought I need to get those words above my kid’s bedroom doors (or somewhere we see them daily) so I remember to pray that over them and work towards that goal. 

Just a couple weeks ago, my four year old added two more words to that list. When she was faced with a situation she was worried about, instead of getting upset (she’s known around these parts for her dramatic ways), she started whispering to herself, "I'm brave and I'm strong, I'm brave and I'm strong," until whatever she was concerned about had passed. So when she stubbed her toe and broke her toenail past the quick, as I went to cut off the broken part I braced myself for a battle. To my amazement, instead of crying and not letting me near it, she let me take care of it, while reassuring herself she was "brave and strong." 

So today I am happy to share with you the finished sign that I'm putting up. To download a free 8 x 10 printable version of this sign CLICK HERE.

Psalm 56:3-4
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.
Lanise Santala


May 26, 2013

[podcast] "Tell Me a Story" Box: Birds of a Feather

Gil and Deni discuss the importance of providing oral language experiences for young children, and explain the Fireflies' "Tell Me a Story" Box.  

Listen as Deni and 5-year-old Davis share a "Tell Me a Story" legacy moment.  

Check out the
to see the TMAS prompts

The Chasing Fireflies Podcasts expand on thoughts and ideas expressed on The Fireflies Blog. [] In each episode, we will deepen the discussion of why we decided to create a blog to support young families and what beliefs inspired us to want to "create family legacy moments that encourage children to communicate with confidence and view the world with a sense of wonder."  

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May 24, 2013

CLIP Review: The Problem with Chickens

Author: Bruce McMillan
Illustrator:  Gunnella

When you've just gotten interested in a story and you come to a sentence that says, "That is when the problem started," - you know you're in for a treat!

The ladies in this Icelandic village bought the chickens to solve their problems.  They never imagined the chickens would forget they were chickens and begin acting like the ladies!

"When the ladies went to a birthday party, the chickens went too. When the ladies sang to the sheep, the chickens sang too." 

Things were completely out of control.  That is when the ladies came up with a clever idea.  They knew how to get the chickens acting like chickens again. Can you guess what they did?

Coming up with a clever solution to solve a problem is always a good idea, don't you agree?
Mary Byrne Klin

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May 23, 2013

"Tell Me a Story" Box: Birds of a Feather

Painted $1 birdhouse treasures from Michael's Craft Store 
Storytelling is one of the most important life skills we can teach our children.  For critical and creative thinking skills to develop, we must provide opportunities for our 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...such as storytelling.

The Fireflies' "Tell Me a Story" Box  
was created to help children become confident communicators.  You won't want to miss our next Chasing Fireflies Podcast when we discuss why oral language experiences are important and how you can use the Storytelling Box to encourage storytelling in your home.

Check out this post,
to learn more about Fireflies’storytelling.

"Birds of a Feather" Storytelling Prompts

Suggestions for this month’s Storytelling Box:
  • Small birdhouses or images of various birdhouses
    Michael's Craft Store has a variety of small wooden birdhouses for $1
  • Birds (images or miniature birds)
  • Small nest or materials needed to build a nest
    pine needles, straw, small pieces of fabric, etc.
  • Small twigs/branches to be used for trees
  • bottle caps for bird baths
  • seeds (leftover popcorn?) to feed the birds should they become hungry during the story
  • An object from one of the books enjoyed together (ie Hugo's Eiffel Tower!) 
Meet "Red Bird", "Sunflower", and "Colorful Bird"!
Check out Chasing Fireflies Podcasts to learn more.
It's time to bring your TMAS Box out of hiding and place it in a special place.   When your child sees it, they know that there are new surprises (storytelling prompts) in the storybox, and that it’s time for another storytelling adventure!   With great enthusiasm, open the box, slowly pulling out each of the bird-themed items (with awe in your voice).  The first few times, you may want to begin by modeling a story.  If you do, make it simple and short - you do NOT need to incorporate every item in the box in your story!

Encourage your child to tell a story and applaud the effort they put forth.  You may need to ask a few questions just to help the story along, but allow the story to be fully owned by the child.   Remember that the goal is to develop confidence and rich communication skills in your child.  You want them eagerly anticipating the next family storytelling adventure!  When you hear a gasp when they spy the TMAS Box, you know you've captured their imagination and created the beginnings of a wonderful family legacy tradition.

Chasing Fireflies Podcasts:  5 year old Davis rolled up the bird images as he told his story
and placed them in their homes.  Now why didn't I think of that?  

1.  Keep a recorder close by and record each TMAS experience.  You don’t want to miss a single family legacy storytelling gem. 

2.  After you have shared this month's Chasing Fireflies book selection, or your own favorite books about birds, engage your child in conversations about birds before asking them to create their own story.  Children must have a reference point; information on which to hang their ideas.

3.  Fill your family “Tell Me a Story” Box with items that reflect this month’s theme; Birds of a Feather. See the suggestions listed above.

4.  Be sure to make your storytelling time an event.   Your voice and body language should express excitement and anticipation.  Both should convey that something magical is about to happen!

5.  Keep storytelling time short.  I really think there can be too much of a good thing.  Keep your child engaged by letting them tell just a few stories and leave them wanting more.  Put the box away until next time and make sure your young storyteller knows you cannot wait to hear what they come up with next time!  For 5 year olds, aim for a 10 - 20 minute experience and add 5 minutes for every year.  The bottom line? You know your child better than anyone else.  You will be able to read when they are becoming disinterested or frustrated.  Try to finish before the storytelling experience becomes a negative one.

5.  Don't forget to listen to our the TMAS Box Chasing Fireflies Podcast where we discuss this topic and share a real TMAS Box exchange with a dear 5 year old storyteller!  Subscribe in iTunes.

Deni Corbett

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May 21, 2013

The Life Cycle of Pasta?

I want to share an idea from an amazing preschool teacher, Danielle Witherington from Lexington, KY.  I believe the best early childhood teachers come from an art background.  Why?  Because of the developmental growth and personal confidence that results from exposing young children to varied art experiences.  And that's one of the reasons I think Mrs. Witherington is such a wonderful teacher/encourager of young children... because of her art background.

That perspective of art as it relates to childhood development is why I have asked Laura Bird Miller to share art masterpieces with Fireflies' readers each month and Rachel to share simple art projects you can easily experience as a family.

OK, I know a butterfly is not a bird (even though they do have wings!) and does not actually fit into this month's theme.. but I wanted to post the project Mrs. Witherington's shared with her 4 & 5 year olds this week.

BTW - check out our May 2012 posts.  Theme: Butterflies!  My favorite butterfly book?  

A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston

Read Mary's REVIEW.

Shared by Danielle Witherington,
Lexington Latin School  -  Lexington, KY
Is this great or what?    Thanks so much for allowing us to share this idea with our readers, Mrs. Witherington!  I just love it.

Deni Corbett


May 20, 2013

3 Reasons This Month's Master Artist Makes Me Cuckoo

This month's master artist drives me cuckoo, like the "Mangrove Cuckoo" above, and I mean "cuckoo" in the nicest of ways.  His work makes my heart sing like a bird!  And his name?  Why, John James Audubon, of course!
Who is John James Audubon?  

Once upon a "real" time, in 1785, John James Audubon was born in Haiti.  His mom died before his first birthday.  His dad remarried and sent him to France to be raised by his step mother.  When he was 18 years old, he moved to his father's estate outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and lived there for a few years.  Soon, he met his beautiful wife in 1808 and they were married.  The happy couple then moved to the state of Kentucky where Audubon tried to sell things, but he also dabbled in portrait painting, gave art lessons, and did the work of a taxidermist, which means he practiced the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals for display.

Twelve years later, in 1820, he met American ornithologist (a person who studies birds) whose name was Alexander Wilson.  He gave Mr. Audubon confidence in his abilities to draw birds, so with a bird song in his heart, he decided to undertake a massive publishing project, life-size illustrations of the birds of America!  Do you know how many birds are in America?  

Audubon illustrated 1065 birds!  He and other nineteenth-century bird artists did not usually draw living birds. They sketched mounted bird skins. Audubon preferred to wire recently shot birds in life-like positions and to draw them right away. To make them look like they were flying, he hung birds upside down so that the wings opened!  Even though it says "Drawn from Nature" on the plates, it doesn't mean the birdies sat for hours posing for him.  He did observe them in their natural habitat however and then worked hard both in the field and in his studio to finish all of his drawings and paintings.

Why does Audubon make me cuckoo? 

Reason #1 - PERSEVERANCE.  He decided to draw every single bird in America. I gasp at the thought of painting every single bird known to mankind.  Audubon painted 1065 birds.  That's a whole lot of birds and a whole lot of paintings!  His perseverance under great odds makes my shake my head in amazement.    

Reason #2 - ATTENTION TO DETAIL.  The 435 engravings from his book, Birds of North America, including the one above made from his watercolor drawings, show birds life-size in natural habitats.  He would need keen observation skills to complete his task of accurately depicting these beautiful birds.  

Reason #3 -  FAITH.  It took a leap of faith to take on a project of this magnitude. "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:20 NIV.  John James Audubon believed he could, so he did!


1.  What kinds of character traits do you need to have to be an artist like John James Audubon?  (Perseverance, attention to detail, and faith!)
2.   How many birds did Mr. Audubon draw/paint?  (1065.  If you put his engravings from his book end to end they would span about a quarter of a mile!)
3.   Did the birds pose for him?  (No, they were "stuffed" and hung immediately so to recreate their natural habitat.

You may wish to google image search the Audubon engraving of your state bird from the internet to show your student.  Our state bird here in Florida is the Common Mockingbird (below.)  

Here are 3 facts about our Florida state bird, the Mockingbird you may share with your student along with the picture of the Mockingbird and the story of Mr. Audubon:
1.  They like to sing all day and even all night!  
2.  They are called Mockingbirds because they like to mimic the sounds of other birds, even frogs!  They learn new sounds all their lives.  
3.  Their songs are a series of phrases which are repeated 2 to 6 times before they shift to a new sound and they can go on for 20 seconds or more.   

This is a great way to make a connection with your little one to Audubon the artist, the science of birds, and a history lesson about the state they live in. You children probably have seen and/or heard these birds many times, and, now, every time they see their state bird their recollection will be refreshed as to this great artist, John James Audubon!

The funny thing is, in closing, I have been the target of many jokes in my lifetime because I was born with the last name of Bird.  "Bird Brain" is what I was endearingly called by my friends, especially when my slightly creative cuckoo-ness kicked in.  To my dad, however, I was always his little "Tweety."  When I married, it felt sad to leave my Bird identity behind, so as an artist, I decided to incorporate my identity with my new last name and thus Laura Bird Miller, Artist was born.  Lynda Bird Johnson was the reason for many of my nature paintings when I was a little girl.  If you want to find out the rest of the story and see my art go to   And if you want to "tweet" with me, connect via Twitter at laurabirdtweets.  Yes, I know.  What can I say?

Enjoy and God bless!  

Laura Bird Miller, Artist/Art Instructor


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