CATCHING THOUGHTS, by Bonnie Clark and Summer Macon, is for everyone who has ever had that negative thought they can’t shake. The simple text and child-friendly illustrations help the reader take control of their thoughts by suggesting a shift in focus from the negative thought to the things that bring us joy. This method has helped my youngest get to sleep after a scary thought grabbed her before bed. It helped my older girls find the good in their very different summer. And it helped me feel less weighed down by life in 2020. We are making it a practice to find the joy, catch it, and hold on.
To win a copy of CATCHING THOUGHTS for your home or classroom comment below with your thoughts of joy and be sure to check out the craft below, inspired by this wonderful book.
Today’s craft is perfect for a bulletin board, at school or home, to give children a visual to go along with the thoughts of JOY or CALM or EXCITEMENT we are encouraging them to grab a hold of.
What you need:
Pen, pencil, marker, or crayon
A printed photo of the child reaching up
From colored construction paper, have the child cut a few balloon shapes. On each balloon ask the child to write or draw something that brings them feelings of joy, or calm, or excitement. We flipped through the pages of CATCHING THOUGHTS to remind ourselves of all of the different positive feelings we could choose from. Then, have the child pose for a picture reaching up and print on photo paper or card stock. If you are unable to print a photo, the child can draw a picture of themselves reaching up. I cut each photo so no background was visible, attached our balloons of joy to the picture with string and tape, and hung up on our wall a visual reminder of the thoughts we are holding onto.
The Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems is one of my favorites and always a crowd-pleaser in my house. I mean, I always do the voices. In HAPPY PIG DAY! Piggie is excited to celebrate Pig Day, but Gerald is sad because, as an elephant, he feels unable to celebrate with his best friend. Piggie teaches Gerald that Pig Day is not only for pigs, but for anyone who loves pigs too, and the party ensues.
Usually, I read a picture book and it inspires a project or activity, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. After reading HAPPY PIG DAY! my four year-old daughter was set on throwing a party. And right now, who doesn’t need a party? So we prepped and I snuck in some important preschool lessons like writing invitations and using scissors to cut confetti. She snipped all day long. Yay, fine motor practice! Last, but not least, we made a tasty, party treat. Check out this super easy no-churn ice cream recipe https://www.spendwithpennies.com/3-ingredient-vanilla-ice-cream-no-churn/ (We added cocoa powder and marshmallows, yum!). So grab your scissors and something yummy and celebrate.
TASTE YOUR WORDS by Bonnie Clark and Todd Bright is a fast favorite in my house. The brilliant illustrations help tell the story of Amera and her words. After saying unkind words, Amera’s taste buds are flooded with yuck. When she realizes what is going on, Amera knows just how to fill her mouth with yummy tastes instead.
My four-year-old cannot get enough of this book. She loves the pictures, “reads” along, and tells her fighting sisters to “taste your words” (the big kids love the book as well). This book is a delightful read packed with a powerful message.
Since we are in crisis school, I set out to create a project inspired by TASTE YOUR WORDS that uses materials easily sourced in the house.
What you need:
grocery store circular
Building fine motor skills, I had my daughter cut out pictures food from the grocery store circular. Then we sorted the food into things she thinks are yummy and those she thinks are yucky. She glued them down on the paper. After that we talked about yummy things to say and yucky things to say and put them in the corresponding column. Voila! She made a TASTE YOUR WORDS collage.
The Spring Fling Kidlit Contest is all about being inspired. The task, created be Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal, is to write a story in 150 words or less inspired by a spring GIF. I found my GIF on giphy.com, but saw it first in a Twitter post. Inspiration can come from anywhere. What inspires you this spring?
Scent-sational Spring (150 words)
I pick wildflowers for Mama while Daddy coaches Joey’s game. She will love their sweet scent better than Joey’s stinky shin guards. A scent-sational Mother’s Day surprise!
Sideline flowers are sparse, only weeds and dandelion puffs. Tiny umbrellas flutter away on the breeze. But nothing worthy of Mama’s bouquet. When Joey and his team suck on orange slices after the game, I edge closer to the woods.
I spy –
sunshiny yellow flowers, like Mama’s golden hair
teeny blossoms as blue as Joey’s jersey and Mama’s eyes
sweet smelling purple flowers playing peek-a-boo around a tree.
I smell summer, and smiles, and the perfume Mama dabs behind her ears.
“Stella!” Dad yells.
I wave my bouquet in the air and run to Dad and Joey, but stumble over something furry and black in the blanket of flowers.
With its bouncy rhyme and repetition, GO, GIRLS, GO! by Frances Gilbert and Allison Black (https://bookshop.org/books/go-girls-go/9781534424821), has quickly become one of my four-year-old’s favorite read alouds. She is so excited to be able to “read” the pages of GO, GIRLS, GO! and delights in seeing girls driving the many vehicles on each page.
What better activity to pair with GO, GIRLS, GO! then car driving art. The results are abstract and could totally be frame worthy.
What you need:
roll of paper to cover table
tub of soap and water
Make puddles of paint on your table covering and then go! Drive cars through the paint. You will make tracks, blend colors, and make the best kind of mess – the fun kind!
When your cars have completed their mess-making drive it is time for a car wash of course. We put our plastic tub of soap and water on a beach towel in the kitchen. Go ahead and get those cars sparkling clean. GO, GIRLS, GO!
Often I take inspiration from a story and develop or discover a craft to accompany it, but sometimes this works the other way around. I am participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm for the month of January. This is a challenge to create 30 story ideas in 31 days. https://taralazar.com/2019/12/28/storystorm-2020-registration/ I find that when I leave myself open to them, story ideas are everywhere. Today there was one lurking in my toddler Messy Play class.
We started with reading Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle, but any favorite moon book will do. I quite like these.
Then we made moon sand. In our dish washing tubs (reusable and only $1 a tub). The children combined 8 parts flour to 1 part baby oil and mixed with their hands. Then the playing commenced. Cups, scoops, playdough tools, and even barnyard animals went into the mix.
That is when lightning struck. A Trip to the Mooooon or maybe Cock-A-Doodle-Moon. I am not sure yet, but I am sure that cows on the moon is going into my Storystorm list. If nothing else, it made me chuckle today.
I am participating in Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. On the third day of Christmas we were challenged to list our successes from 2019 and share them publicly. It was wild to sit down and list them out. I did not secure an agent in 2019 or launch a new book, but what I am proud of what I did accomplish. I challenge you to do the same. Celebrate all your successes, big and small. They helped get you to where you are today.
In 2019 I…
sold a story to a children’s magazine and got to see my words in print!
was chosen as a runner up in the #pbchat mentorship program.
completed the 12×12 PB challenge with 16 new manuscripts written in 2019.
Storystormed like a boss for the first time.
was a winner in the #FallWritingFrenzy contest.
received an Honorable Mention in Vivian Kirkfield’s #50preciouswords contest
and an honorable mention in a pitch contest presented by Lydia Lukidis with Blue Whale Press.
was lucky (not really a success because I was chosen at random) to win multiple critiques by published authors and agents.
networked on Twitter, at local events, and at the NESCBWI conference, meeting so many amazing writers, agents, and editors.
attended two conferences and a ton of webinars to improve my knowledge of craft and the business.
took the helm as the leader of my in person critique group.
and connected with Twitter friends through #pbchat in two critique groups that support and challenge me.
Plus I kept three kids alive and fed (and nurtured) and worked a part-time job teaching littles.
The challenge is to write a holiday story in 250 words or less about a holiday treat. My entry is a whopping 74 words and was a treat to write.
Oh no! We forgot!
Tip-toe, go slow, watch out for the cat.
Sprinkle, stir, mix.
Scoop, dump, pour.
Tip-toe, go slow, do not make more mess.
Crack, sift, scrape.
Blend, fold, spoon.
Tip-toe, go slow, creep back into bed.
Close your eyes.
Go to sleep
Before he gets -
Crumble, mumble, crunch.
Mmmm, nummm, nummm
Tip-toe, cheeks glow, Santa likes our treat!
Dandy, by Ame Dykeman and Charles Santoso, was released earlier in 2019 and quickly became a family favorite. When the sweet daughter, aptly named Sweety, befriends a dandelion in her dad’s pristine lawn, he is faced with the choice to destroy the imperfect weed or destroy his daughter’s joy. The many attempts to take out the weed will have your little one laughing and the end will have you tearing up. This book truly is dandy!
To make your own Dandy project you will need:
green oil pastel (or crayon)
yellow tempera paint
To create a field of Dandy dandelions begin with some oil pastel green stems and grass. Now for the magic: have the children paint the whole page with blue water color, right over their oil pastel. The oil resists the water and allows the color to shine through – ta-da! (For over eager painters, sop up puddles with paper towel before the next step). Then dip the tines of the fork in the yellow paint and stamp the fork shape on the paper. Repeat turning the fork in all directions to create the texture of a dandelion.