Inspiring Children to be the Best That They Can Be

For: Primary Educators, Parents, and Kids Inspiring Children To Love Learning And Be The Best They Can Be

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Squirrels - and more

Time to Explore

     Squirrels are everywhere!  Did you know there are more squirrels in the United States than any other mammal?  Most of us are familiar with the gray squirrel, but it is fun to see the variations of color in different parts of the United States.
     The black squirrels in Michigan and Northern Ohio stand out in my mind as being so unique that I have stopped in my tracks when spotting one.


     What a surprise the first time I saw a fox squirrel.  They live on the golf course where I live, and after doing some research, I discovered that they love pine trees - and particularly enjoy pine seeds, nuts, and flowers.  So I guess it is not so surprising to find them here since we live in 'Pine Forest' Country Club.  They are much larger than the gray squirrels. They have black facial masks and white markings on their nose, paws, and ear tips.

Book Reviews for Kids

      With the beginning of school year, I tried to find fun, easy books to help readers back into the learning 'groove'.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes   by Eric Litwin

      Pete doesn't let the little things bother him - he just keeps right on singing.   This book is a great book for a  beginning of the school read-aloud, but don’t miss the other wonderful books, I Love my New White ShBes, Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, The Wheels on the Bus, and coming in October, Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses. 
     These books are sure to appeal to the 4 – 7 age set.  They are rhythmic, interactive, and charming. The rhymes can easily be put to music – and kids can relate to everyday objects, like shoes, buttons, and sunglasses.
There is a new I Can Read format – Pete at the Beach, Pete’s Big Lunch, and Pete the Cat Play Ball, which I wasn’t able to preview.  If you go the website, there are videos, an ipod app, activities and more.  

Rabbit and Robot by Cece Bell

     This 'transitional' chapter book is perfect for getting kids out of their ruts and into the wonderful world of chapter books. 
 I smile at the unlikely friendship of a 'uptight, list-making' rabbit and a 'easy-going' robot, but the humor of working out their differences in a silly, enticing way will keep early readers returning.  (Picture a pizza with nuts, bolts, and screws) This book would also work as a prelude to that first sleep over.  Watch for other titles (They are sure to come.)

The Trouble with Chickens,  A J.J. Tully Mystery 
           by Doreen Cronin 

      What do search-and-rescue dogs do when they retire?  Well this one takes on the task of protecting a family of chickens.  It is a plea for help by mom chicken, Moosh, to find two of her missing chickens that begins the saga, but it is the clever clues, plot twists, and one liners that kept me reading.  As a dog lover, it is a natural to consider how dogs think – and how they communicate with other dogs, chickens – and in the second J.J. Tully Mystery, The Legend of Diamond Lil, a possum. Just add a dash of imagination. The hidden humor and clever twists in both stories should be well received by readers of approximately 2nd and 3rd grade level (interest 8 – 12)  I’ll be watching for more J.J. Tully mysteries.

Favorite stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

       What beginning reader wouldn’t like a horse for a friend?  Become acquainted with Cocoa – and her owner, Cowgirl Kate.  The books are easy to read with several  ‘pretend’ stories in each, always with a happy ending and a chuckle or two.  The books have 4 or 5 chapters with satisfying conclusions, making it possible to put down and pick back up without losing the jest of what is going on. 
     Beginning readers will delight in Cocoa’s childlike antics and Cowgirl Kate’s maternal reactions. There are six books currently with adventure around the bend with Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa. 

Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History  by Sue Stauffacher

     At 18, Tillie Anderson was recognized as the best woman cyclist in the world.  This is the story of how she came to America, became intrigued by bicycles, trained vigorously, redesigned a riding costume, and went on to realize her dream.  The words on each page accompany large pictures, making it friendly to read. 
     When Tillie Anderson came to America, all she had was a needle. So she got herself a job in a tailor shop and waited for a dream to find her. The book captures the bicyle craze of the late 1890s’ and tells of an early ‘female’ champion who was recognized by the womans' rights movement.

     For the reader ready for a little more challenging topic, Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass,  The Story Behind an American Friendship,  should fill the bill.   I am just beginning it and enjoying it thoroughly.  I would suggest 10 years and up. 
      It is a carefully researched account of two surprisingly parallel lives and how they intersected at a critical moment in U.S. history. 
     Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were both selftaught, both great readers and believers in the importance of literacy, both men born poor who by their own efforts reached positions of power and prominence--Lincoln as president of the United States and Douglass as the most famous and influential African American of his time. Though their meetings were few and brief, their exchange of ideas helped to end the Civil War, reunite the nation, and abolish slavery

In My Backyard

        If I am in my backyard, Jasmine is likely to be with me.  She is now 9 months old and enjoys the turtles, ducks, geese, and yes, squirrels, as much as I do.  I tried to think of the positive side of squirrels as I wrote poem (yes, they are cute, but destructive).  

 Squirrels - So Much a Part of Our Lives

I saw a grey squirrel out walking,

His bushy big tail was a-bobbing.
One step, a huge jump and a skip. 
He gave that big tail a neat flip.     

He collected pine nuts and red berries,
Burying all he could carry.
Digging holes here and there,
Hoping he would remember where.

He saw a leaf tree nest across the street.
If he took a fantastic high leap,
That nest could be his for keeps.
To capture it was a brave feat.

The ongoing traffic’s a hassle.
He zips through the hustle and bustle.
Two steps, three hops and a skip . . .
 He vaults up the tree - a successful end of his trip.
                                                                                   by Joan Bock

Until next time. . . . 

Be Creative!        Inspire Others!     Enjoy Life!