Many months ago, I had this idea: I thought that it would be fun to write a nature guide of some kind. I wanted it to be for families, and to have lots of really practical and accessible information. But I also wanted it to be fun, and to have experiments that would bring the facts to life by letting kids get hands-on and maybe even a little bit messy. And, I thought that Dawn should probably be my proverbial partner in crime on the project, because she knows way more stuff than me and is also very good at keeping me from getting um, unfocused. She said yes, and before long that one project turned into about twelve, some of which took on lives entirely of their own. It turns out that we work really well together.
Some of those projects are still in the works, not yet ready to share. But today, we do have something to present to you all: our first e-book. The Weather Watcher's Handbook: A Family Guide to Weather Science is a family-friendly guide to the wild world of weather and the basic science that makes it all work. It is full of bright and beautiful photographs, fun facts, and activities and experiments that show the science in action. If you are raising kid scientists who are curious about the workings of the natural world, this is the book for you.
Our nature exchange package from Ginny and Co. arrived yesterday and I have to say, it is pretty spectacular. My girl was absolutely thrilled when she opened it up and started unwrapping the little tissue bundles to find fossilized coral and shark teeth of all varieties. Ginny and the kids send us some really fun and special things, and getting to read through all of the labels identifying the different specimens was very cool. Our own package to Ginny's family is en route, and hopefully will arrive in Virginia today or tomorrow. I hope that they will like it as much as we like ours!
The sign-ups are still open for the Mud Puddles to Meteors nature exchange, if you'd like to share some treasures of your own with another family (and receive some in turn, of course). You can check it out here.
Oh, and happy weekend! I am, as always, surprised to see it roll around again so quickly.
Yesterday afternoon, in the hours between toddler nap and dinner prep, we made a trip out to Drumlin Farm. A combination of working farm, animal rehabilitation center, and nature sanctuary, Drumlin Farm is just the kind of mixed bag of an outing that my people tend to enjoy. We picked carrots and flowers, ogled a very attractive fox, and Z. yelled joyfully at the resident bunny for about fifteen minutes without taking a break. There were sheep and pumpkins and weird bugs and the gift shop has a good price on my favorite series of field guides. An all around good time was had.
In other news, we are organizing a super fun family nature box exchange over at Mud Puddles to Meteors. If you would like to swap some of your local nature finds with another family, hop on over and check it out.
Good Monday, all! It was a busy weekend, and I have high hopes for toddler napping and couch knitting in the next little while here, but I did want to poke my head in to let you all know that Volume Fifteen of Alphabet Glue is officially available.
This newest installment is full of all kinds of good stuff related to the height of autumn and the coming of cooler weather and shorter days. You will find fun projects and printables on such themes as natural history, weather science, and bringing the outdoors in as the seasons shift.
Already know that you're all in? You can also download the new issue using the button below:
Good Monday morning, internet friends! I'm elbow deep in projects for the new issue of Alphabet Glue over here, while also attempting to manage things like remembering to send the order envelope for school pictures, finding the pilot for the toy airplane, and making sure that everyone is starting their week with clean socks. Well, maybe not everyone. I like you, but you are on your own.
I did want to mention this pretty great new e-book bundle sale that I am participating in this week, however. It is organized by Mindful Nurturing and is entirely play-oriented. The bundle contains 10 quality e-resources for kids ages 1 to 12, plus 3 bonus resources.
There's a little something for everyone: coloring pages, a yoga story book, mandala drawing initiation, treasure baskets and sensory bins, modeling play, and much more. And, of course there are issues of Alphabet Glue included. You'll find both Volumes Nine and Fourteen in the bundle- the two most recent early autumn themed issues.
You can read more about the resources here, and then get your bundle today for only $14.95, (over 80% off a retail value of $79). It's available only until October 3!
As it turns out, not so very much got done this week. Between Dan working truly insane hours at the hospital and both kids being sick, it just seemed wise to let a few things go and circle the proverbial wagons in an effort to stay sane instead. And, here is Friday. Hello. I guess that means we made it.
I did want to share a couple of things before heading into the weekend, though. The first is that I have a new post up on the Sparkle Stories blog. On one of the days that she was home from school this week, Mariam and I spent some time adapting the baking soda clay recipe from the 2013 Summer Science Special so that it could be used to make paintable charms. You can find the instructions here.
Also, to celebrate the fact that all things are going swimmingly over at the new blog, Dawn and I are hosting a fun giveaway. To get the details (and to enter) visit today's post.
Alright, then. Off to try to problem solve the fact that the dog ate one of the toddler's only serviceable shoes this morning while I was upstairs and not being adequately vigilant.
A couple of weekends back, we went with visiting family to wander around the Boston Public Garden. I had been there once before, when we were here for Dan's interview last winter. But that trip was primarily accidental, the result of having not followed a map to the science museum closely enough, and we didn't stay long. It was a windy day in January, and outside wasn't really the place to be.
This time around, we decided to really go all out and have the entire Make Way for Ducklings experience. Swan boat rides and all that. It was pretty fantastic, actually. The toddler doesn't know the book well yet, but the big kid does. She has been an avowed McCloskey fan from the beginning and was absolutely stunned by her good luck that day. Swan boats, friendly ducks; all of it. She kept saying "I can't believe we are finally and actually doing this!"
For more great duck photos and a printable activity sheet for duck identification, check out this post from the Mud Puddles blog last week.
As Dawn and I have been working away on the Mud Puddles to Meteors page, we've begun to realize that we have shared a lot of great stuff here and there on other blogs and pages over the years. Many of these are no longer active, and are likely to disappear into the ether of the interwebs sometime soon. With this in mind, I've decided to move a few of my reviews of favorite books that I've written other places onto this page. The following review is one that I wrote a few years back for a book that we just recently rediscovered and have been reading again lately. I was happy to be reminded of it, and I hope that you will be too!
My mother lives in North Western Washington State on the Puget Sound. Although we are originally from Washington (I was born and partially raised in Spokane), this is the first time that my mom has lived on the coastal side of the state. When she first moved there, she sent us a few "local" treasures to help Mariam understand a bit about where she was living. Among them was Salmon Stream, a beautifully illustrated book about the life cycle of the salmon, a fish widely associated with the Pacific Northwest.
My daughter has a great fondness for non-fiction books that give way more information that you might guess anyone would ever want. This book provides that, but the real informational bit comes as a sort of appendix at the end of the book, after a lyrical text that gives a flowing and easy to read overview of the life cycle of the salmon. A perfect combination for the mama that likes to read a well-written picture book and the daughter that likes to read the encyclopedia.
An additional benefit of this book is that it makes such a nice addition to the fall book basket. If memory serves, Pacific Salmon swim upstream in the fall, making this season a perfect time to learn about the life cycle of these fish and maybe even to plan a little field trip if you happen to live in the right area. As much as I love all the books about the changing of the leaves and animals nesting in preparation for winter, it's fun to provide a little balance by reading about what happens as the season changes in the non-woodland parts of our world, no?
I almost decided to skip out on writing about this particular book here, mostly because I feel like I have properly expressed our affection for The Mysterious Benedict Society books all summer long here, and maybe you all want to hear about something new and different. But then The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart turned out to be such a fantastic story that I talked myself out of being innovative and interesting. I'm just going to be honest instead. We like what we like around here and apparently what we really like is all things Benedict Society.
The decision to even pick up The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict was not an obvious one, despite our enjoyment of The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy. I somehow had a difficult time imagining that a book about Mr. Benedict himself would be as compelling and rich and just plain exciting as the books about his rag tag team of genius orphans and their unusual heroes' quests. But the book, which chronicles Mr. Benedict's own formative childhood experience living in an orphanage with a mysterious past, turned out to be so much better than I could have imagined. And that is something that I love in a good book: when the plot makes twists and takes turns that are totally outside the realm of what I might have expected. There is a certain joy in a book that contains a myriad of surprises, but this is especially true when those individual surprises add up to a story that is wholly satisfying.
For her part, the avid kid reader 'round these parts absolutely loved this book. She was also skeptical to begin with, in part because I think it seemed slightly odd to her to read about the childhood of a character who is so much like a parent to the kids who are the true stars of the other books. But it didn't take long for her to be totally invested in the story, and to be completely taken in by the cleverness, loyalty, and kindness of Nicholas Benedict the boy. Throughout Nicholas' adventure in solving the mystery of the orphanage, and in improving the lives of those who he lives there with, there are glimpses of the Mr. Benedict that he will become. If anything, reading about Mr. Benedict as a boy makes the Mr. Benedict of the trilogy come alive even more. By the time we finished this book, the fact that it was the final Benedict book out at the moment was very much on her mind.
"I wonder," she said, "if I could write to the author and tell him that he should make more of these books..."
Fine by me, kid.