The Blog For Kids

This blog is for kids!
The posts you find here will be mostly for children ages 5 to 10, with some stuff for younger or older kids.
Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Also Known As Harper (book review)

Harper is good at writing poetry.
She is also good at noticing things about people.
If you read this book you will know a lot more about people, and maybe more about poetry, too. The poetry is important to Harper, but it's the people in this story that matters most.
While this story is sad, it will make you glad for having the people you love in your life. You might even feel like writing poetry. I hope you do both.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cali Girl

This is my cat, Cali, which is short for 'calico', which is a kind of cat. I adopted Cali from a shelter when she was eight years old. I discovered that when a camera is pointing at her she does this trick. We have no idea how she learned it or why she does it. Since she does it all the time, and it's very cute, I will post a new video next month.

Have you ever seen a cat do this?
Does your pet do an interesting trick?

I love my Cali Girl!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Meet Maddie

This is Maddie.
She has a bow in her hair.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

quick quote

Do you know which book this quote is from?

"Olive was surprised it was so easy to fly."

This is an easy one!
Click on the words 'quick quote' above to see the answer.

Monday, December 7, 2009

White Socks (fiction)

White Socks

The car ran out of gas again today. That’s why we’re staying in this shelter tonight. It’s just for one night, though. Mom said my Uncle George in Ohio will send some money.

She must be reading my thoughts, because she says, again, “Uncle George will send money.” She says it like saying it will make it true.
Then she says, “Go wash up for bed, Ben, but don’t talk to anyone in the men’s room…and be quick.”

She worries about me too much. I’m ten, and I know how to take care of myself. We’ve had this problem with restrooms for a few years. When I was little, she took me into the women’s room, but of course that won’t work now. Technically, my dad took me into the men’s room, mom told me, when I was potty training. But I don’t remember that. Or, him.

I take my toothbrush and soap to the men’s room. There’s an old man with a scruffy face staring into the mirror, rubbing his whiskers like he’s thinking hard about something. He looks kind of sketchy, so I stand sort of near a guy that looks like dad material.

“Here, son,” he says, “have some toothpaste.” He explains that a donation of travel-size toothpastes came in today. I accept the toothpaste and check under the cap for a seal. I brush quickly while the guy lectures me on the best way to brush. I leave before he tries to adopt me.

Back at our room, Mom is talking to a lady about whether we left our car in a safe place. That seems like a pointless conversation. Like we had a choice where to leave the car. I crawl under the itchy green blanket on my cot and hope this place isn’t too noisy. Someone in the next room coughs a lot. I’m glad there aren’t any crying babies. I can hear sirens in the distance, and the wind rattling the window. What I really want to hear is sleigh bells. Because tonight is Christmas Eve.

I know I probably won’t get any presents. We’ve had tough times for a while. Well, really since my dad died of cancer when I was three. It has only been extra bad since mom lost her job and couldn’t pay the rent. There’s always hope, though. Santa has a hard time finding kids in shelters, but I’ve been especially good, for Mom. So, I go to sleep as quickly as I can.

I dream about my cat, Socks. It’s a lame name, but honestly, he does look like he’s wearing socks. He’s all black except for his white feet. Santa brought Socks when I was five. He’s my best friend, and I dream about him every night. Tonight in my dream he’s chasing after a string I pull along the kitchen floor. He pounces on it with those sock feet then I pick him up and snuggle him. He tucks his head under my chin and purrs. He is nothing but softness and warmness. Suddenly he is crying. He is trapped in the neighbor’s window searching for me and calling for me to come get him.

I cry out and wake myself up. I look over to the next cot to see if I have woken my mom. Luckily, she is still sleeping. If she had woken, she would have said, for the hundredth time, “Ten-year-olds shouldn’t be homeless. You’re too young to know so much about heartbreak.” It takes a long time to get back to sleep.

Mornings come early in shelters. The last one sent everyone out at 6:00 am. Mom is shaking me, so I think we’re heading out, probably to see if our car is still there, and maybe to get some money from Uncle George, whoever that is.
“Ben,” she says, “Santa came! He’s here, in the lobby! Let’s go see, maybe he brought something.” She says that last part carefully. I know by now she means Santa might not know we’re here. Since, we got here late last night.

I put on my shoes and we go down to the lobby. Everyone has some sort of new item that stands out against all the old, used, and dirty. A little girl, about 6, has a little plastic doll and an even littler boy has a truck. The guy who gave me toothpaste has a striped hat and gloves.

Santa turns around and looks at me with a surprised face. I know right away he’s just a Santa’s helper. His beard is fake and his buttons are done up wrong. The fake Santa goes to his beat-up Toyota out front and comes back with a package.
He pats me on the shoulder a little too hard, hands me the package and says, “Sorry, Dude. Merry Christmas.”

Inside the package is a 3-pack of boys’ white socks, size medium. The toothpaste guy says, “Man, that stinks. No kid wants socks for Christmas! I’ll take ‘em if you don’t want ‘em.”
The lady Mom was talking to last night starts a loud argument with him. I give a pair to the little boy with the truck, since he isn’t wearing any and his sneakers are holey. Mom is crying, and I tell her, “Mom, it’s okay, I like the socks, really.”

I want the lady to stop arguing with toothpaste guy, so I give him a pair, although I doubt they’d fit. Then she starts arguing with me to take them back. I tell her, “No, it’s perfect, see? I still have a pair for me.”

I sit down on the floor to prove it. I pull off my shoes and old socks. The bare tile is cold. Everyone is watching me like they’ve never seen someone get socks for Christmas.

The new socks feel like heaven. They’re soft and cushy. The whiteness reminds me of laundry and something about home. I look at my white feet and all of a sudden I know something.

I’ve heard the saying about knowing something is going to happen, knowing it in your heart. But, I think I know it in my feet, too. I know it is true with all of me. Everyone is still looking at me. I look at Mom and say, “I think we’re going home.”

My throat is too choked up to say it out loud, but I think it. “I’ll be there soon, Socks. I’ll get you home soon.”

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finn Throws a Fit! (book review)

Sometimes you're just in a bad mood. No one knows why Finn has a huge, wild tantrum. He just does. The author and illustrator do a really good job of showing Finn's feelings in this book. Readers of this book will be happy to know that bad moods go away, like sunny days after a storm. Yes, Finn does throw a fit, and it's doosie, but he gets over it, and that will make you feel better.
written by David Elliot, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I wonder...

I wonder...
I wonder if adding antifreeze to the glass-making process would stop my car's windshield from frosting over.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Why is BIG shorter than LITTLE
and LITTLE longer than BIG?

Why do we say "let's put ON a show"
but "don't show OFF"?

Why are moths attracted to lights if they
are night creatures?

Why is w called "double-u"
when it really is a "double-v"?

I don't know, beats me, good question, good night!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Boredom Buster Box (project)

Game #2

* You can play this game by yourself or with others.
* Open your Boredom Buster Box and take out one item.
* Either choose an item you like, or choose one without looking.
* Decide if players will be timed or not.
* Now name 10 things in the room that begin with the same letter as the item you chose.

I chose a wheel:
1. window 2. wrench
3. wall 4. Windex
5. welcome mat 6. watermelon
7. wheat bread 8. wires
9. wood 10.white (fridge)
Can you guess what room I am in?
OK, number 10 gave it away!

Come back again for more games!
See the September 13, 2009 post for directions for making a Boredom Buster Box and game #1.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Build-Your-Brain: Word of the Week


pronounced: "GLOB-yah-ler" or "GLOBE-yah-ler"

shaped like a round ball, a sphere, or the globe
something made of sphere shapes
something that is found worldwide.

Charlie Brown has a very globular head. If you draw continents on his head, you could use it as a globe.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Meet Maddie

This is Maddie.
She has 3 teeth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wall of Wisdom

"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words can never hurt me."

Well, actually, words can hurt a lot. Sure, maybe words can't break a bone, but words are powerful things.

Brett Westcott and Cameron Brown realized they could make the world a better place with the power of words. They do it for free, too.

Brett and Cameron stand on a sidewalk at Purdue University for two hours every Wednesday. They give out compliments to people walking by. The nice things they say to people make the people feel noticed and happy. So many people enjoyed the compliments, that they started calling Brett and Cameron "The Compliment Guys".

A hero is someone who uses power for good. Now, more people at their school want to be kind, too. Paul Shepard, who works at their school, says Brett and Cameron make him want to be a better person. The Compliment Guys sound like 'heros' to me.

Maybe they can teach all of us the power of kind words.
Maybe kids will soon be saying:

"Doctors and nurses may heal my bones,
but words can save my soul."

Okay, it doesn't rhyme, but you get the idea!

Comment with the kind words you said to someone today!

Hometown Heros, The Compliment Guys, by Maria W. Aldrich
Purdue News Service photo/ Andrew Hancock

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Boredom Buster Box (project)

* a small box
(A little metal box like the ones that mints are sold in works well.)
* lots of little items that will fit into the box
(The box in this picture has twenty things in it!)
* paper and pencils

* the first player chooses items from the box and lays them out for everyone to see.
(choose fewer items for younger children, more for older children or for more players.)
* everyone except player one closes their eyes while player one removes an item.
* player two tries to tell what the missing item is
* player one congratulates player two and returns the item
* player two now removes an item while player one closes thier eyes.

* player one does not return the item after player two names it
* player three (or more) closes their eyes while player two removes an item
* player three now names items 1 and 2 that are missing
* continue this pattern for as many players in the game

* player one lays out 10 items and gives everyone a few minutes to look them over
* everyone except player one closes their eyes while player one removes five items
* everyone except player one writes the names of the five missing items onto a piece of paper
* the player with the most correct 'wins' the chance to choose items for the next round

Print these directions and put them in your box.
This is a great game to play at a restaurant or anywhere else that you have to wait. Check back for more ways to use your Boredom Buster Box.

Autumn Acrostic (poetry)

An acrostic is a poem that usually begins each line with a letter so that the beginning letters spell a word going down.
You don't have to worry about rhyming, just have fun!
How would you write an accrostic with the words AUTUMN DAYS?

Apples, red and sweet,
Up in the
Trees and crunching leaves
My feet, fall is
Nature's lullaby.

Drowsy bees
And honking geese, autumn
Your song will too
Soon be done.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stone Face at Harvard Mine (personal narrative)

It was a good thing I bought new mud boots. It had been raining for several weeks, so I knew I would need them on our hike up to the Harvard Mine. Harvard Mine is at the top of a mountain in Maine. My two sons, Nathan and Sam, and my mother and I like to go rockhounding there at least once a year. It is a beautiful hike and we love looking for gems. We would also stop at Perham's, a jewelry store and museum near the mines. The Perham family owns the mines and lets people rock hunt there for free. They were always friendly when we visited, and would help us identify our finds.

This time was a special trip, as it was also the day Perham's was closing forever. Perham's had been in business for ninety years and was famous around here. Many people were sad to see them close their shop, and came to visit the mines for what might be the last time. The trail to Harvard Mine was busy that day, but not everyone prepared for the hike as well as we had.

Some parts of the trail were more like a stream. Sections of the trail were a foot deep with mud. Other parts were dry, but mud boots were definately needed. Many people we saw were wearing only flip flops or rubber clogs. "Are they crazy?" we would say after we passed them, watching them pull their feet out of the mud. We had been up to the mines many times before. We knew what to expect.

We had to stop and rest often, because my mother was getting tired easily. It was a steep trail in places, and we were carrying hammers and chisels in our backpacks along with water and a snack. We also needed to stop so Nathan and Sam could fix their socks. Their socks kept slouching down off their feet and bunching up in the toes of their boots.

As my mother rested and my boys fixed their socks, I looked around at the woods and the piles of boulders spilling down the hillside. Suddendly something caught my eye. I climbed over huge rocks to get a closer look and pulled myself up the hill by grabbing onto small trees. It was just a bunch of rocks, but they looked like a face!

I called Nathan and Sam to come see. They scrambled up and were as amazed as I
was. We took pictures and pretended to talk to him. "See my new boots?" "Are you enjoying all the visitors today?" "We might never come here again."

The rest of the hike was just as wet and tiring. We stopped to take more pictures and to examine and collect rock specimens. At the top of the mountain we enjoyed the company of the other rockhounders and had our snack. We cracked rocks in half with the chisels and "ooohhhed" and "aahhed". I even found a baby snake that we admired for a while. As usual, our backpacks were heavier on the way down, but we were happy with our selections.

When we came to the spot with the rock face again, we took one last look. To think that all these years that we have been coming here, that face was sitting there in the woods all along, watching. We didn't think anyone else had ever noticed it, since it was pretty well blocked by trees. How sad to think that we found it on what might be the last day to hike here, if the Perhams sell the property.

Back at the van, I pulled off my muddy boots and wondered if others would think the rock looks like a face. I tossed all our boots in the back of the van and thought perhaps we saw the face because we needed to. It seems that sometimes we find things at just the right time.

If the mines remain open to visitors, we will now have a new addition to our traditional hike. If not, then we got to say goodbye in a very interesting and unique way. And maybe, just maybe, the mountain was saying goodbye to us. Or maybe he was giving us the boot.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Starfish (non-fiction)

Starfish are an ocean animal. They are not a fish. The correct name for starfish is sea stars.
Sea stars live on the ocean floor near the shore and can be found in all oceans of the world.
There are about 2,000 kinds of sea stars, and many of them have 5 arms. Some kinds have more than five arms.
Sea stars have spiny skin to protect themselves. They can also lose an arm to keep a predator from eating their entire body.
They have tube feet all over their underside which they use to walk and to pry open shells. Sea stars eat the meat from inside shell animals.
To read more about sea stars, visit the sites below.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Me With You (book review)

This short rhyming story is about a young girl and her grandpa and the things they like to do together. It is a very sweet story that makes you want to call your grandpa! The colorful pictures are beautiful and perfectly match the gentleness of the story.

Story by Kristy Dempsey and art (pictured here) by Christopher Denise

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wall of Wisdom

Today is Wednesday so I will tell you about one of my favorite clippings on our family wall of wisdom. It shows a Harley Davidson motorcycle with a biker dude sitting on it. He is 59 years old and has a beard and long hair. He's wearing jeans, sunglasses and a Harley Davidson t-shirt and skull cap. He is also holding a quilt he made. Yes, that's right, a quilt. I tore this story out of my quilting magazine because I like the way this biker dude, nicknamed Biker-Dude, is also an artist.
His real name is Butch Myers and he learned quilting to help him quit smoking. This is different picture of Biker-Dude.

There are many things I like about Biker-Dude's story. Not only did he learn how to quilt, but he also designs his own. He didn't give up on his goal. He was in really poor health and found a way to get better. His story shows that you are never too old to learn something new. You might find yourself learning something totally different than what you thought. He had the courage to do something that others might make fun of him for. It is even cool that quilt has almost the same letters as quit.
What I like best, the biggest reason Biker-Dude is on our wall of wisdom, is that it shows you can't judge a book by its cover. Would you see a rough-looking Harley rider and guess that he designs quilts? You don't know a person just by looking at them.

go to to read about Butch.
go to to see his designs (click on the Biker-Dude link)
photo from

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Build-Your-Brain: Word of the Week


pronounced: "kuh-KOF-uh-nee"

loud, unpleasant, confusing sounds

The cacophony in the crowded lunchroom at school gave me a headache. I was glad when Mr. Jones asked everyone to quiet down.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meet Maddie

This is Maddie.
She is one (and a half).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Picking Yellow (fiction)

Dad parked the van in the Home Depot parking lot and we all climbed out and dashed through the rain to get inside before we got soaked.
I lifted Annie and Charlie, my four-year-old twin sister and brother, into the double seat section of the big orange racing car cart. My seven-year-old brother, Ethan, climbed into the merchandise section.
“Stay on your bottom,” I reminded him.
He answered back, “You’re not the boss of me, Hannah Banana!” I ignored that.
“Orange!” said Annie, “Let’s paint your room orange!”
“Ugh, no!” said Dad and I. We laughed. She sure likes those carts.
“Hannah, you can go look at the paint. We’ll be in the garden area,” said Dad.
I was glad to go look at paint alone. It had been raining for five days straight and I was really tired of my siblings. I was also glad mom stayed home while we went out. She was tired from being sick so much.
I always liked looking at the little colored cards, all neatly arranged, that showed the paint color choices. So many choices.
I studied the cards for a while. I could never decide. Dad said whatever I picked, I would have to like it for the next six years, until I left for college. I finally took a card with ‘clear sky blue’ and a card with ‘fresh cut grass’ then went to find my family.
It wasn’t hard to find them. I could hear Annie and Charlie chanting, “Yell-ow, yell-ow, yell-ow!” from three isles away.
Dad was putting yellow potted lilies into the cart and the twins cheered. “Ethan,” he said, “You need to get out of the cart now. What color flowers do you want to get mom?”
“I want yellow, too,” he mumbled, climbing out of the cart.
Annie called him a copy cat, but Dad put some yellow marigolds into the cart. I knew I wanted to get mom some miniature roses. Since it looked like the thing to do, I picked yellow.
On the way to the checkout lanes I showed everyone my paint color cards. Dad said green walls would probably not be a good idea, since my carpet is green. “Clear sky blue sure sounds good, though!” he said.
“Does color have a sound?” asked Charlie.
“No, stupid!” said Ethan.
We all just looked at him. He stared at the flowers, scowling like it was our fault he was grumpy.
Suddenly Ethan’s eyes widened. He picked a rose right off one of the plants. “Oh!” he said.
I was about to scold him, but Dad said, “What is it, Ethan?”
“Hannah should paint her walls blue, and paint yellow flowers all around, like a garden. Then it will be like her carpet is grass, and we could go look at her room when we get tired of too much rain, and in the winter we can remember mom’s birthday garden.”
Annie and Charlie chanted “gar-den, gar-den, gar-den!”
I liked his idea so much I gave him a big bear hug. He smiled.
We bought enough blue to paint my ceiling blue too, a small can of green for the stems, and a can of sunshine yellow for the flowers.
The rain had stopped. As we walked to the van, the sun began to poke through the clouds. My heart felt warm and happy and I knew we made the right choice.

by Dawn Bonnevie copyright 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wall of Wisdom

The Wall of Wisdom is in my laundry room.
When someone finds a saying or story that is wise, we hang it up there for everyone to read.

Come back next Wednesday to read something from our family wall of wisdom!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Build-Your-Brain: Word of the Week


pronounced: "al-GOLL-uh-jee"

Do you know that green slimy stuff on rocks at the beach or on the sides of a dirty fish tank? It's a plant called algae.
Learning about algae is called algology.

Jim said, "Hey, this rock has more algae than that rock."
Sara said, "Boy, Jim, you sure are good at algology."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meet Maddie

This is Maddie.
She likes cats.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Go Play!

Maybe you can't have a snowball fight in summer, but if you use your pretending skills, you could try. You don't need mittens, either! Well, you could wear mittens if you want, to make the pretending more real. If it is just way too hot to play outside today where you are, or if it has been raining for days, here is a fun, easy, cheap game.
Get a stack of newspapers and give each person an equal share. Each person also needs a large shopping bag that can stand open.
Crumple each sheet of newspaper into a tight ball and fill your bag with paper 'snowballs'.
When everyone is ready....snowball fight!

What else can you do with your snowballs?
Bury each other!
Here is another idea:
Pile them on a towel, have each person hold a corner, and on the count of three throw the snowballs up into the air.
When you are done playing, make the cleanup a game too. First person to fill their bag is champion.
If you used paper shopping bags, you can roll the top down and make a paper snowman!
Decorate you 'paperman' and enjoy his company as long as you'd like, he won't melt!
Happy playing!
(Remember to put all your snow into the recycling when you are done.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Perfectly Arugula (book review)

Arugula is a hedgehog who likes everything to be perfect. But she finds out perfect isn't always much fun. Find out how Arugula learns her lesson!
This is a fun book to read, with lots of speech bubbles. Look for it at your bookstore or library.

Story and artwork (pictured here)by Sarah Diller

Mother Goose Character Riddle (poetry)

Now it's time to go to sleep,
Tomorrow I will find my sheep.

If home if where they want to be,
I guess they will come back to me.

Which Mother Goose character is this?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kids Can Do It Update

Happy Thursday!
Time for a Kids Can Do It update:

**Sam (age 7) can swim in the deep end of the pool without help or a float/ lifejacket**

Way to go Sam! Let's hear a cheer for Sam!

Would you like to be on a Kids Can Do It update?
Send an email to telling about what you can do.
Remember to get your parents okay first and use your first name and age only.
(no last name, address, phone numbers, etc.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wall of Wisdom

Come back next Wednesday to find out more about the Wall of Wisdom!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Build-your-Brain: Word of the Week


pronounced: "far-SIR"

A person who is funny, likes to tell jokes, or writes funny stories. Sometimes called 'a class clown'.

Mr. Wilson said that Jack could be a farceur during recess, but not in the middle of math class.

A comedian needs to be a good farceur (writer of jokes).

Are you a farceur?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Green Day (fiction)

Bryant slid open the hallway closet door and peered inside. His sister had told him to get the green bags for Mom.
"I don't see any green bags, Mom!" he hollered to her in the kitchen.
"I need the shopping bags, Honey," she hollered back, "but they aren't green."
"Becka said they're green," he mumbled to himself. He found the blue canvas bags with the white rope handles. They reminded him of the sails on Grampa's boat, except the bags said GO GREEN on the side.
On the way to the grocery store Bryant felt like he was on Grampa's boat. A sudden thunderstorm made the ride rough as Mom drove around deep puddles. Trucks splashed waves onto the windows.
"Mom," Becka said, "Bryant looks a little seasick."
"You do look a little green, Honey," she said. "We'll be there soon."
At the grocery store, Bryant went straight to the restrooms and checked his face in the mirror.
"Mom, my face isn't green at all," he said when he came out of the restroom.
"I'm glad," said Mom, "but saying you looked green meant you looked sick."
He thought for a minute then asked, "Then why do the shopping bags say GO GREEN on them?"
Mom laughed and said, "That kind of green means something that is good for Earth. The bags help us make less trash."
"Oh," said Bryant. "Hey, look! I see my favorite kind of green. Pistachio ice cream!"
Mom smiled and put a carton of ice cream in the cart. "Grampa likes that kind,
too, and he's coming over later."
In the checkout line, Mom said to Becka, "I forgot some greens, can you go grab some please?"
"But, Mom," said Bryant, "we got brocolli, peas, and pistachio ice cream. Isn't that enough greens?"
"Wow!" said Mom, "We are having a green day, aren't we? Greens means leafy vegetables, like lettuce."
"When Grampa comes, I'm going to tell him about the green day, and share my ice cream with him," he said.
"Good idea," said Mom as she opened her purse. "Here, you can give the cashier some greenbacks!" and handed him several twenty dollar bills.
"Gee," said Bryant, "Green sure is a busy color!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rain Haiku (poetry)

A haiku is a 3-line poem that has 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the next, and 5 in the last. It usually does not rhyme. Haiku traditionally tells something about nature, but modern haiku doesn’t have to.
I’ll bet you can tell what the weather has been like where I live!

Rain, rain for two weeks
come again some other day
but not tomorrow
Rain dripped all the day
And the day before, before
Please, we ask, no more

The beach is lonely
Can we go swimming in rain?
Yes, just don’t get wet
Rain takes many forms
Drizzle, pouring, cats-and-dogs
Sometimes just too much
Puddles for jumping
Wetness where we try to walk
Wet feet, not so fun

Clouds pour down their rain
We begin to feel like ducks
Quacking and splashing

I always thought it would be really convenient if it only rained at night.
My grandfather had a favorite joke that we could go swimming as long as we didn’t get wet, although he never was referring to rain!
Cats-and-dogs is an idiom that means heavy rain.

Now, it's your turn! Haiku is easy. Don't worry about being 'right', just have fun!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Paper Hog (personal essay)

Paper is a hot commodity in my house. Some families complain about the phone hog, or the bathroom hog. My younger son is the paper hog. He draws on it, cuts it, glues it, or otherwise uses it all up. As a teacher and writer, I like paper too. After all, books are made of paper.
Of course, my younger son and I aren’t the only paper users in the house. My older son needs paper for homework and other urgent reasons, such as writing down game codes and friends’ phone numbers. My husband is the list-maker. You name it, he has made a list for it. My husband, actually, is the paper hoarder. He buys packages of notepads and hides them. I kid you not.
Everyone in the family knows where to find the good paper. It’s in the computer printer. The older son, however, is happy with the backs of old mail taken from the recycling box. He would probably even use old paper for his homework if he had a choice on that. My husband, like I said, has his own paper. That leaves me and the paper hog.
His need for paper must be genetic. I clearly remember my grandmother telling me, yet again, I could only have one piece of paper per visit. She worked for a paper mill and had whole reams of 12-by-18 white glossy paper in the bottom of the china cabinet in the dining room. She was a generous woman, and had plenty of paper. The one page limit was set because I was, you guessed it, a paper hog.
How could I deny my son the joy and endless possibilities of a new piece of paper? I can’t. I am proud that he is inspired by a blank page, and as a parent I must encourage him. Hiding a paper stash, as my husband does, doesn’t work. I’m ready to give in before he even asks. I can only blame myself when I go on a frantic search for paper at 11 pm the night before a due date.
Maybe in some families the members bargain over the remote control or last can of soda. Between my younger son and I, it’s the last piece of paper in the printer tray. So, to editors at the book publishers I would say this: handle with care. That paper my story is printed on may hold more value than you think. Sure, writers pour their heart and soul into their work and the end result comes at the price of sweat and tears, but have you haggled with a preschooler lately?
Not that it has ever happened, but if I am extra tired, or distracted, the next story I send to a publisher might have a bonus story on the back. My favorite? A house drawn with crayon and “MOMDADSAMNATE” written in the sky by a four-year old writer-in-training. Now, that’s a great story.
Did I mention he likes envelopes, too?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rockhounding Around (non-fiction, geology)

Have you ever heard of a hound dog? A hound is a dog that is good at sniffing for things. A rock hound is a person who hunts for rocks, but they don't sniff to find them! Have you ever found a rock that you decided was interesting? If you have, then you might be a rock hound too.
Anyone can be a rock hound. All you need to do is like rocks, and like looking for rocks. A rock hound needs a place to explore. You can look in your own backyard or neighborhood. Most of the time it is okay to collect rocks at a beach or park. Just remember to ask first, especially before looking on someone else’s property.
If you belong to a whole family of rock hounds, you could go to more places to look for rocks together. There are even places to go rock hunting where you can find unusual gems and minerals. Search the internet for rock hunting places in your state. You could also buy rocks at rock and minerals shows. Buying rocks skips the hunting part, though, which some rock hounds would say leaves out the most fun.
You don’t need any fancy gear to be a rock hound, but if you are going to dig you might want some useful things. A shovel, work gloves, and a bucket for you rocks would come in handy. If you want to break apart rocks with a rock hammer, then you will need safety glasses. A book about rocks and minerals will be helpful if you want to know what you’ve found. Remember to dress for the weather and use sun block.
Rock hounds are proud of their collections. You could put your rocks in a shoebox, on a shelf, or in clear plastic containers. Many rock hounds like to label their rocks by what kind they are, the date they were found, and where they were found. You will probably have a favorite kind of rock and could group certain kinds of rocks together. How you want to show off your collection is up to you.
If you want to tell people you are a rock hound, be ready to explain that you like looking for rocks. Be sure to tell them you can’t sniff for rocks like a hound dog though!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Maddie Too (baby story)

Mommy cooks dinner,
Meg sets the table…
and Maddie, too.

Mommy washes the dishes,
Meg dries them…
and Maddie, too.

Mommy paints up high,
Meg paints down low…
and Maddie, too.

Mommy plants flowers,
Meg pulls weeds…
and Maddie, too.

Mommy knits,
Meg learns…
and Maddie, too.

Mommy reads,
Meg writes…
and Maddie, too.

Mommy kisses,
Meg hugs…
and Maddie, too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Make a Good Luck/ Wishing Kit (project)

Making a wish on a birthday candle is a fun tradition. There are lots of other wishing tricks. Have you ever made a wish on a star, or when blowing dandelion seeds fluff? Other wishing traditions use things that you hold, such as a penny or a wishbone, to make the wish on.
There are many traditional good luck symbols as well. Some examples of good luck symbols are horseshoes, ladybugs, four-leaf clovers, pigs, goldfish, elephants, and acorns. The penny and star are used for both wishing and for good luck.

Here is a simple and fun project to celebrate wishing and good luck:
* Use a box of any kind. The size, and type of box, doesn’t matter. You could write on the box and decorate it if you want.
*Research wishing and good luck for more ideas of things to collect. Ask friends and family members about their favorite wishing and good luck traditions. There are even websites to search.
*Find items to represent as many wishing and good luck ideas as you’d like. You could find things such as little toy plastic pigs, ladybug necklaces, and four-leaf clover pins just about anywhere, but a good place to look is at discount stores and yard sales. The items do not need to be the real thing, either. For example, scrapbooking and craft stores have huge selections of stickers that might have the symbols you’d like to collect. You could simply print pictures from a website, or just draw them yourself.
*Put all your good luck and wishing symbols in your box.
*Since it is a collection (like rocks or shells), you could write the history and/ or directions for each symbol to put with the items.
*When you feel like you need a little extra luck, or need to make a wish, get out your collection! You could write your wish on a slip of paper and put it in the box to soak up all the good luck!

Of course, whether or not you believe your kit will really work is up to you. Either way, it is an easy, fun, and interesting collection to work on.
Good luck and best wishes!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finding Purple (fiction)

“This apple is red. And juicy and sweet,” my friend Sara said.
“My banana is yellow, and mushy, and peels,” I answered.
“Keep going,” said my mom.
We were in the back seat of the car riding back from the beach.
Mom gave us the snacks because we were tired of the long drive.
“Keep going where?” I asked.
“Sara said three things about her apple, and she started with a color, then you did the same thing. Keep going! See how many things and colors you can say”
I looked out the window.
“The grass is green. And it’s growing and tickly,” I said. “Your turn, Sara!”
“The sky is blue and high, and empty,” she said.
Then I did brown for the telephone poles and she did yellow for the sun.
I did black for the road and she did white for a house.
Pretty soon we had named every color we could find except purple. It was my turn.
Sara asked my mom, “Are we almost home yet?”
I kept looking for purple.
Sara asked my mom if we there yet again.
Mom said, “Let’s all look for purple together. Are any of the beach toys purple?”
“No,” I said.
“How about the towels?”
“No,” Sara and I both said together, “Jinx!” we laughed.
We looked at signs, other cars and trucks, and even gardens. No purple.
We were so busy looking for purple that we didn’t even notice we were on my street.
When we pulled into the driveway, my mom said, “After you help unpack the car you can go look for purple in the house.” Sara and I groaned.
We all climbed out of the car and Mom started laughing.
“What’s funny?” I asked.
“Look,” she said, pointing to her purple flip-flops. “Purple helped us get home!”
“What do you mean?” Sara asked.
“Well,” explained Mom, “I told you to keep going. Your color game helped us handle the long drive, and my purple flip flops were on the gas pedal.”
She went into the house, laughing at her own joke.
“I don’t get it,” said Sara.
“It is funny that we looked so long for purple and it was right there the whole time,” I said, “But not ‘ha-ha’ funny.”
“Yeah, grown-ups,” Sara said rolling her eyes.
We brought the stuff in the house and Sara asked my mom, “Is it dinner yet?”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goodbye Barney (personal narrative, cats)

Barney was a skinny, tiny kitten. He was a soft tan color with lighter tan stripes. He was also a wild, naughty thing. Even as a teeny six-week-old kitten, people would take one look at his eyes and say, “Oh, he’s going to be trouble!”
And trouble he was. We only had Barney for one year, and in that one year he managed to destroy the wallpaper, shred seven or eight stuffed animals, leave tears down the window screens, and break all the Christmas ornaments. I didn’t want to let him be an outside cat; we lived too close to the road. But Barney had more energy than our little apartment could hold. So we let him outside where he could run and climb and be his wild self.
For all the trouble he was, he made up for it in love. He was a friendly, sociable cat, with people and other cats as well. Our landlords owned a house up front, by the road. Behind their house was a small yard with lots of huge old pine trees. Then our apartment was at the back end of the yard. Another family lived in an apartment in back of us. Everyone knew Barney, even the other cats.
The people laughed at Barney’s wild antics, but the cats did not find him amusing. The people living behind us had three cats that avoided Barney’s ploys for attention. Our landlords had two cats, Puddles and Duffy. Puddles would have nothing to do with Barney. Duffy was a big, old, cranky orange tom-cat. He was eighteen years old, preferred to be left alone, and was set in his ways. Duffy was the boss, and the other cats knew it.
Of all the cats to accept Barney, it was Duffy.
It was something to watch those two together. Old man Duffy would rest in the pine needles in the sunshine, with skinny, little crazy Barney pouncing on his tail. Not once did Duffy swat at Barney. In fact, the more Barney pounced on his tail, the more Duffy seemed to swing his tail around. Our landlords chuckled. “Barney follows Duffy everywhere!” they’d say. Barney was like the over-active young child, and Duffy was the tolerant, patient grampa.
One weekend in the summer that Barney turned one, my husband and I went camping. Our landlords took care of Barney while we were away. I enjoyed the trip, but was looking forward to seeing my Barney. On the way home I had an uneasy feeling.
When we pulled into the driveway our landlords were waiting in the driveway. I knew something was wrong. I started to go up our stairs to go into the apartment and turned around to look at my husband. The landlords were speaking to him. He walked toward me and I knew. Barney had been killed in the road.
I cried and cried. Everyone was kind, but I wanted to be alone. I went behind the back apartment where there was a picnic table and sat on the top and buried my head in my crossed arms on my knees. Suddenly I felt something soft rub up against me. It was Duffy. “Oh, Duffy,” I said, “You lost a friend, too.” He sat with me for only a minute, then walked away.
My landlords later told me an interesting thing about Duffy. They said he was afraid of the apartment buildings. They said there was a certain point in the yard between their house and our building that he would not cross. They said Duffy must have loved Barney, because in eighteen years they had only seen Duffy go anywhere near the apartments once. And that one time was the day he helped me say goodbye to Barney.
We moved soon after, but not too far away. Every time I drove by, I would look for Duffy, sitting on his porch, all alone. I would whisper as I passed, “Thank you Duffy.”
Duffy has long since passed away, at the old cat-age of twenty two. I can’t think of Barney, or look at a picture of him, without also thinking of his friend. Some animals leave a special mark on your heart, no matter how short of a time you knew them. Goodbye doesn’t mean forgotten.

copyright 2009 Dawn Bonnevie

Monday, May 4, 2009

Otto Grows Down (Book Review)

Do you have a younger brother or sister? Sometimes it can be hard to share your parents' attention with a younger sibling. This story is about a boy who wishes he didn't have a little sister. Have you ever made a wish like that? Otto finds out what might happen if that wish came true. Even though it sounds like serious stuff, this is a very funny book! I hope that you agree with what Otto decides in the end. You will have to read it to find out!
To find out more about this story and its author go to

Story by Michael Sussman, art (pictured here) by Scott Magoon

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mother Goose Character Riddle (poetry)

Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin?
In my pie! In my pie!
I was good for Christmas,
I got lots of presents.
Who am I? Who am I?

Can you guess the Mother Goose character who is singing this riddle?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sneezin' Season (poetry, allergies)

One, Two,
ah.. ah.. AH.. AH.. CHOOO!

Three, four,
Why is my nose so sore?

Five, six,
Then suddenly, it clicks.

Seven, eight,
It's pollen; that's just great!

Nine, ten,
My allergies, again!