board books, Easter, kids' activities

BUNNY FINDS EASTER: Five IDEAS to Point Little Ones to JESUS at Easter

Last week Bunny (the sweet protagonist from Bunny Finds Easter) and I were invited to our first 2023 Easter Egg Hunt! On Palm Sunday, I’ll be reading Bunny’s story at this event that typically attracts several hundred people. Do you know what that means? It means it’s time to take out my Bunny-inspired Easter bonnet! It also means it’s time to share some ideas for how we as parents, teachers and the church can help our littlest ones understand what Easter is all about.

In Bunny Finds Easter (Zonderkidz, 2022), Bunny is on a quest to find out if Easter is all about chocolate eggs and jelly beans or if it might just be about a little bit more? As the story unfolds, Bunny encounters many of the fun traditions surrounding Easter but it’s not until she arrives and church and they sing an Easter song that she realizes JESUS is the reason we celebrate Easter. Indeed, amidst all the fun of jelly beans and Easter bunnies, it can be hard for little ones to understand that Easter is about Jesus. With that in mind, here are…

Five Fun Ideas to Point Little Ones to JESUS at Easter

Read some faith-filled Easter board books (and picture books too!) With simple text and engaging illustrations an Easter-themed board book that touches on the real meaning of Easter is a cozy, fun way to spark conversation with little ones that Easter is about Jesus and His great love for us – a love shown through the atoning grace of the cross, the joy of His resurrection, and the gift of new life we have in Him.  

Do some Easter baking. Little ones love baking and eating sweet treats. That’s why Bunny nibbles hot cross buns in Bunny Finds Easter.  According to tradition, hot cross buns were first baked by monks in the 12th century with a cross marked in the dough to commemorate Good Friday. They are relatively easy to make and a delicious reminder of Jesus and the cross. Resurrection rolls are another fun and meaningful baking option that can be used to point little ones to Jesus at Easter. You can find many recipes online for baking and enjoying either or both of these baked items with your little one.

Use jelly beans to point to Jesus.  As you and your little ones nibble Easter jelly beans, let them serve as a sweet reminder of Jesus’s love for them and the world. Before sampling each color, think about how it might remind us of Jesus.  For example, yellow can remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. Green can remind us of the new life we have in Him.  Purple, the color of royalty, can remind us that He is our loving King. Red can remind us that he died and rose again for us. And so on.

Include Jesus in the Easter basket.  Fill your children’s Easter baskets with colorful, engaging items that remind them of Jesus. Consider having a faith-based Easter board book serve as the centerpiece. Round it out with small items such as candies, stickers, and other little toys etc. that are in some way connected to Jesus and Easter.  Examples: a little lamb (we are His sheep), a glow-in-the-dark cross, chocolate hearts (because Jesus loves us), little chicks and bunnies (to represent new life in Christ) etc.

 

Sing some “Jesus loves you!” songs. Songs learned, even as young as toddler and preschool age, can have a lasting faith impact on the human soul. Just think of the songs you remember from your childhood and beyond.  Do any of them speak of Jesus? If so, they can be a special way to introduce Jesus to your little ones at Easter and throughout the year. Some Easter-y favorites that we love at our house (that are good for little ones too) include: He Lives, Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grace and more.

OTHER IDEAS for using Bunny Finds Easter specifically:

Have a Bunny Finds Easter Book Walk. This fun intergenerational activity has the feel of an Easter Egg Hunt – and can even include jelly beans and other goodies – but the “hunt” is walking along a trail (outside or inside) to discover progressive spreads of the story BUNNY FINDS EASTER mounted on boards culminating in a craft or activity table at the end of the walk. Get all the details plus the FREE downloadable instruction sheet here.

Get FREE downloadable BUNNY FINDS EASTER activity kit designed especially for littlest ones. The six-page kit includes:

  • Decorate the Easter Egg
  • Help Bunny Find Her Way to Church on Easter Morning
  • How Many Eggs Can You Find?
  • Draw More Easter Lilies for Bunny
  • Send an Easter Card to Someone You Love ( foldable printable card)

Interested in ordering Bunny Finds Easter? It’s available wherever books are sold. Happy Monday, all!

Note: If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my blog using the subscribe button in the footer or sidebar. I post once or twice weekly with book news, inspirational reflections, tips, interviews and more.

holidays, kids' activities

FIVE FUN WAYS TO CELEBRATE the FOURTH of JULY with your LITTLE ONES

Looking for some easy, last minute ideas to add a little extra something to your Fourth of July celebrations? Here’s are five of my picks, perfect for families with little ones. They make me wish either that my kids were younger or that they were older and I had grandkids! LOL. Enjoy!

1. Sing a patriotic song. Choose your favorite, or enjoy this new favorite of mine:  America to Me by YouTube sensation, Jack Hartmann. 

2. Make a patriotic craft. There are, of course, oodles to choose from, but here are three that are festive and easy to create from Courtney at The Chirping Moms: https://thechirpingmoms.com/easy-patriotic-crafts/

3. Have a patriotic snack. Heather over at Glitter on a Dime has the cutest ideas for edible delights for little ones. Here’s a decidedly red-white-and-blue one that makes a festive dessert or snack: https://www.glitteronadime.com/easy-and-delicious-patriotic-parfaits-twinkie-dessert-cups/

4. Read a patriotic story. Here’s a list to get you started: https://3boysandadog.com/books-about-fourth-of-july-for-kids/

5. Fold the American flag the patriotic way. Did you know there’s a proper way to handle our flag? My husband taught me and he taught our kids and ever since, putting up and taking down our flag has been a special family tradition. Here’s a quick tutorial, with two kids named Jack and Sam to get you up to speed.  Your kids will LOVE helping.  

Crafts, Extension Activity, Picture Books, Teaching Resources

10 Book-Themed Crafts and Activities for LITTLE EWE

TEACHERS! CAREGIVERS! LIBRARIANS! I’ve rounded up TEN activities created just for LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP (Beaming Books) — perfect for spring or summer, or any time of year. Enjoy!

ONE: Make your own fluffy Little Ewe (great for preschool storytime) and then play hide and seek.

TWO: Do a book-themed Read, Discuss, DO. (or two!)

THREE: After reading the story, play a book-themed listening game over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

FOUR: Follow up a Little Ewe story time with a cute paper-plate sheep craft at Glitter on a Dime.

FIVE: Have your kids draw pictures of their favorite scenes/characters and then share on your socials using the hashtag #littleewe.

SIX: After reading the story, spark meaningful conversation using this teacher-created list of lessons to cherish from Little Ewe

SEVEN: Make a knitted Little Ewe craft (for shepherds to knit, although it is easy enough for older little lambs as well.)

EIGHT: Follow up Little Ewe story time by making an adorable little lamb resting box (for the little lamb you knitted above or the toy lamb of your choice) and playing a game found over at Celebrate Picture Books.

NINE: Share with little ones how figs made it into the book, then have a figgy snack using this behind-the-scenes post for inspiration.

TEN: Download the Little Ewe activity kit over at Beaming Books (includes craft ideas, reading ideas, coloring pages and a maze!).

board books, Easter, Extension Activity

PARENTS! TEACHERS! KIDMIN! Download your FREE Activity Kit for BUNNY FINDS EASTER

Reading BUNNY FINDS EASTER is just the beginning.

Below you will find the link to the FREE downloadable BUNNY FINDS EASTER activity kit designed especially for littlest ones.

The six-page kit includes:

  • Decorate the Easter Egg
  • Help Bunny Find Her Way to Church on Easter Morning
  • How Many Eggs Can You Find?
  • Draw More Easter Lilies for Bunny
  • Send an Easter Card to Someone You Love ( foldable printable card)

Be sure also to check out the FREE printable resource for organizing your own BUNNY FINDS EASTER Book Walk!

Stay tuned for more activities here and on the Bunny Blog Hop in the coming weeks.

Extension Activity, Picture Books

PARENTS! TEACHERS! KIDMIN! Download Your FREE Activity Kit for LITTLE EWE!

Reading LITTLE EWE is just the beginning.

Here is the link to the FREE downloadable LITTLE EWE activity kit designed especially for you and your preschooler. The kit includes six pages of ideas for discussion, activities, crafts, coloring pages and a maze. It can be found by visiting the book’s page on the Beaming Books website. You’ll find it at the end of the book’s description. Here’s the link. Enjoy!

Extension Activity, Picture Books, review

Where is Little Ewe today? Celebrating PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY with Susanna Leonard Hill (PLUS A GAME!)

Today I’m delighted to have LITTLE EWE featured on Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Series. Head on over to get Susanna’s take on the book. And in the extra fun department, she asked me to share an activity to go along with the book. It’s a fun one! What could it be, you ask? You’ll have to pop over there to find out. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link:

Interested in purchasing copies in time for Easter? They are available at Barnes and NobleAmazon,  Christian Book or your favorite local bookstore.

Picture Books, Teaching Resources

LITTLE EWE: The Countdown is ON!!

It’s hard to believe that after all the waiting and preparation LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP will be out in the world in just over two months! With that in mind, there are three things I wanted to share with you today.

First, I wanted to let you know that I’ve seen the ARC (that’s advance reading copy) and Tommy Doyle’s illustrations are darling. Thank you, Tommy and thank you, Beaming Books, for pairing us together for this project.

Here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages:

Second, based on feedback from teachers and parents, I decided to create an activity guide to go with the book. I brainstormed and drafted ideas for what to include and sent them to the amazing team at Beaming Books. They worked their magic and I’m delighted to share that it’s now available as a free download on their website. It includes ideas for discussion, crafts, games, coloring pages and a maze! You can find that here:

https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/LittleEwe_ActivityKit_web.pdf

Third, I’m hoping you can help LITTLE EWE make a big splash when it releases by pre-ordering your copy today. Here’s the Beaming Books page for LITTLE EWE which includes links to several major vendors including indie bound. Thank you. =)

Blessings, all!

Extension Activity, Picture Books, Young Writers

LOVE IS KIND: Student Art and Kindness Reflections!

It’s always fun for an author to receive mail – especially the kind that includes student artwork and thoughtful writing inspired by one of their books. That’s exactly what happened this week!  Now, with permission, I’m delighted to share teacher and author Tina Cho’s students’ work along with her explanatory note about how she used LOVE IS KIND with her students in South Korea. Thank you, Tina!

“I read LOVE IS KIND last week for Fall, and we had also read nonfiction books about owls. So it was perfect! I had them draw Little Owl and write how they can be kind. Attached are papers. Below is what they said in case you can’t make it out.”
What a delightful way to integrate learning about owls with thinking about how to extend love and kindness to one another. Little Owl gives this project a thumbs up… and so do I!
Now, without further fuss, here are the art projects with captions beneath for clarity.  Enjoy!

img20181021_17202075
I can help my mom.

img20181021_17202057
I eat eggs, be kind at breakfast with Grandma.

img20181021_17202038
I can share my stuffed animal.

img20181021_17202067
I love my mom and dad. I play games (with them).

img20181021_17202067_0001
I help my mom clean the room.

img20181021_17202037
I can be kind to my dad (helping him work on their jeep

img20181021_17202057_0001
I hug my mom.

img20181021_17202047
I share with mom flower.

img20181021_17202048
I share an apple.

Early Ed, Life, Poetry

KINDERGARTEN POETRY MOMENT: How High Can a Cow Jump?

P1010023.JPGJust in time for National Poetry Month, I rediscovered this little treasure while paging through one of my old notebooks. It’s a perfect example, not only of seizing the moment, but of the power of poetry to spark not only conversation, but creativity!  ENJOY!

“How high can a cow jump?” my newly-minted five year old asks from the back of the car – all serious and deep in thought.

“Come again?” I ask.

“How high can a cow jump?” she repeats. “You know, COWS?” And she drags out the word C-O-W-S to make sure I really understand.

“They can’t,” I reply. “Cows can’t jump. They can moo and chew grass, and they sort of plunk along slowly, but they can’t jump.”

There’s a momentary quiet in the back and I can tell by my daughter’s squiggly brows that she’s perplexed. Finally, she says, in exasperation, “Then how did the cow jump over the moon?”

As we wait for the light to change, I consider the various ways I might answer this. “It’s just pretend,” I want to say, but this, I know, will be too abstract or her. She understands real versus make believe, in theory, but in practice she still gets scared during movies with cartoon characters. She also believes in fairies and Santa and so the distinction is still very fuzzy.

So instead, I say, “Come now, can a dish run? Can a spoon dance?”

My daughter giggles. “No!”

So I continue, “Can cats fiddle?”

“No!” she snorts between giggles.

“Do dogs laugh?” I ask.

By now, my daughter is hysterical. “Say more funny stuff!” she squeals.

So I do. “Do hamsters play flutes?” I ask. “Now your turn!”

My daughter explodes with laughter. Then she says, “No! Do fish dance ballet? Now your turn, Mommy.”

And so we continue, getting sillier and sillier with each passing car. As we head for home, it dawns on me that, as a poet and picture book author, this is exactly the kind of conversation I hope my writing will spark.  And I am reminded, once again, of the power of stories and poems, to spark – not only conversation – but creativity as well!

Happy National Poetry Month all!

Publishing, Teaching Resources, Writing, Young Writers

SUBMITTING STORIES and POEMS to MAGAZINES: Six Tips for Young Writers

Sea White

My eleven-year-old decided to write her own retelling of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.  First, she went to the library to find as many versions as she could of the famous tale. She read each one, noting what characteristics they shared and what details made each unique.

She titled her version “Sea White and the Seven Starfish”.  After several weeks of writing and revising, her story sparkled like sunshine on a salty sea. “Will you publish it on your blog?” she asked. “I could,” I answered, “but it might be more fun to see if you could get it published in a magazine.”  She loved the idea. But where to start?

With my daughter in mind, here now are SIX tips for young writers (and their parents) on how to submit original kid-written work to magazines.

Select a publication destination.  Only certain magazines accept work from children. For a comprehensive list, visit the NewPages Young Author’s Guide. Maintained by editor Denise Hill, a teacher who loves to encourage young writers, this great resource also includes a list of legitimate contests for kids. Each listing has a link to the publication’s website where you can find more information.

Read several issues before submitting anything. Once you have a short list of potential publications, be sure to take time to read several back issues. Not only is this a great chance for your kids to experience reading magazines, it will also give you and them a sense of the style and content of each.  Does one magazine favor poetry while another favors prose?  Are the illustrations also done by kids?  How many pieces by kids are included in each issue? These are just a few of the questions you and your child will want to think about.

Follow the publisher’s guidelines carefully.  Once you and your child have decided which magazine to submit to, revisit the publisher’s website and print out their submission guidelines.  Make sure your child follows their protocol exactly so that she/he makes a good impression and so that the piece is eligible for review. Pay special attention to word length and format. For example, does the piece need to be typed, or is neat handwriting okay?

Send ONLY your BEST work.  This should be obvious, but it warrants special mention because, as I’ve learned from visiting young writers in schools,  kids often mistakenly think that once they’ve written something, it’s finished.  But good writing requires revision, preferably multiple times, with a nice final round of polishing.  And it’s always a good idea to proofread every sentence with care one extra time before sending.

Be patient. This is hard for kids, but waiting is the name of the game in the publishing world. Most magazines give a time frame for when to expect a reply.  A nice way to help kids wait is to colorfully mark the possible response date on the family calendar. While they wait, encourage them to work new stories and projects!

Stay positive and remember rejection is part of the process. This is also hard for kids, but the reality is only a few of the multitude of manuscripts submitted will make it into print. Still, kids can remain positive because just taking the time to hone and craft a story and send it off – no matter the ultimate response – makes them a winner in my book!  And if nothing pans out, there’s always the possibility of publishing it as an email to family members, or as a special blog post on a family member’s blog. Sounds like a win/win to me!

Happy subbing, young writers!