Saturday, March 30, 2013

Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter


PETER RABBIT and Beatrix Potter!
I simply love the story of Peter and his cousin bunnies. Springtime is a time of renewal and new birth. It is a delightful season when flowers bloom and birds sing. And every springtime, I think about this wonderful story of a feisty little bunny.

I remember with great joy shopping at Harrods during my first visit to London. I found there a wonderful teacup and saucer with illustrations taken from Beatrix Potter's beloved Peter Rabbit.The  illustration represents springtime. The teacup and saucer were a gift for my mother. When I returned home, I realized that there were three other sets in the series - one for each of the seasons. I set out over the next few years to locate and purchase the other three sets for my mother. Now she keeps the full series in her breakfront in her dining room. Each time I happen to see them, I remember with fondness my love for this eternally favorite children's picture book!  
Beatrix Potter  ♥ "Lovely stuff"  she said, as she sipped from her teacup
Spring is one of my favorite times of year. I love getting my yard ready for summertime by planting my flowers and setting up the patio furniture. I love when the weather is just right to eat dinner outside, which we do almost every day! I love the feeling of mild fresh air after being cooped up in the house all winter. I love that my children are finally able to run around the yard and let out some built-up energy! My son, who is an avid animal lover, enjoys watching all the birds that fly by and hopes one will make our birdhouse his new home. These are just a few things that, to me, are synonymous with springtime.

I often think of the e.e. cummings' poem "the little horse is newlY" who "knows nothing and feels everything". To me, that is exactly what springtime is like...feeling everything almost for the first time because it has been so long since we last felt that freshness in the air. This is my beginning of the year, so much more than January 1. This is the time of year I am "starting over" and this is when I have the most motivation to do so!

Peter Rabbit is synonymous with springtime. This story always makes its way off the bookshelf at this time of year, just as we get our own gardens ready and just as some of the neighborhood rabbits begin to emerge from their dens. I think one of the main attractions to the story is that it seems to come to life in my own backyard! According to my son, all the bunnies we see ARE Peter Rabbit, and they ARE trying to get into our garden! Aside from this, the illustrations are of obvious note. The calming colors and flowing lines of the drawings add to its charm. 

So here are just a few, out of many, fun ideas to help you enjoy reading Peter Rabbit!
The titles link to the websites.


It should be noted that the official Peter Rabbit  website has a great deal of fun links.  There are character of the month and game features, as well as links to purchase various Peter Rabbit merchandise.


Nick Jr will be airing a new show based on the book.  They have posted several fun craft projects to coincide with the show.  This one is an easy craft and makes something that children would be able to play with for awhile.  I know my son really enjoys making his own "toys".  It gives him so much pride when he makes something on his own.  He even wanted to make one for his little sister!


Peter Rabbit Carrots
Marshmallows and Rice Krispies!  These are basically rice krispie treats in the form of a carrot, with some extra decorations.  I showed my son these and he was so excited to make them that we brought the finished results to his school party.  I like treats that are easy to transport and that don't make too much of a mess when the kids are munching away.

While the Peter Rabbit Carrots are more kid friendly, these are perfect for the adults!  This blog is wonderfully written and takes into account two of my favorite things...reading and eating!!! The author has taken a traditional tart recipe and has altered it using more accessible ingredients.  These tarts are, of course, based upon the bunnies going out to gather blackberries.  These would be fun for a Peter Rabbit themed first birthday party, or baby shower.

Life Lab
The tales and Peter Rabbit and springtime simply cultivate our desire to begin gardening.  The Life Lab website brings learning to life in the garden.  Visit the site to find some wonderful resources for educators and families.


Another wonderful website for educators and families is Kids Gardening.  Take some time to explore all of the resources.  You will find so many was to introduce Spring in your classroom and in your home!

"Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were - Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter."
~Beatrix Potter

Linking to:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The World According to Theodor Seuss Geisel


I believe that Dr. Seuss' books are an American Treasure.  Do I go too far?  I don't think so.  I really do not remember reading any of the Dr. Seuss books when I was little; however, all of them have become  "Just What I Need Books" throughout the years.  There is an uncanny wisdom in each of Dr. Seuss' books.  I often wonder if that wisdom was totally intentional or happenstance.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born March 2, 1904 in Springfield, MA. He graduated Dartmouth College in 1925.  In 1936 on the way to a vacation in Europe, listening to the rhythm of the ship's engines, he came up with And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which was then promptly rejected by the first 20, 27, or 28 ( it depends on which story he was telling) publishers he showed it to. Eventually in 1937 a friend published the book for him, and it went on to at least moderate success.  The rest is truly history!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

When I graduated from high school I received a copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go from a lovely aunt (and co-writer) and have kept it among my treasured books ever since.  It is one that I now read to
my son, especially as his preschool graduation comes closer, and one that I read to my graduating 8th graders each year.  It always amazed me that a Dr. Seuss book, which is usually filled with silly made-up words and creatures, could be so inspiring.  Every time I read the book, I find myself thinking of all the little goals I have made for  myself and which ones  I am going to start working to reach.  I hope my excitement for the book motivates my students whenever I read it to them as well.

I have to say that I have made it to some incredible places since I received the book way back when.  I have been backpacking through Europe and spent three weeks traveling through Italy with my husband.  We have roamed the east coast and Caribbean, too.  But nothing compares to the various "places" I have been while staying right here in New Jersey.  From graduation until now, I have become a teacher, a wife, and a mother, and yet every time I pick up this book, I think of all the exciting "mountains that are still waiting for me to be on my way!"  

In terms of ways to enjoy this book outside of reading it, there are so many activities that coincide.  Since most would use this book in a classroom to discuss students' goals and future plans, we highlighted a number of activities below that can be used as a way to enjoy the book at home.  We hope it proves to be just as inspiring to you as it does for us!

Rainbow Pinwheel Cookies by Souders Cookery
 Inspired by the illustrations throughout the book, these cookies are a great treat to make with your children.  Then enjoy the cookies while you are reading aloud Oh, The Places You'll Go.

Hot-air balloon craft, August 2010
Kids can create their own hot air balloons to take them al the places they would like to go!

Oh, The Places We've Been by Home.Kids.Life.
I love the idea of keeping track of family trips with a map and some pushpins.  This can easily be put together with some materials from a craft store, like a map, a frame, and some pushpins.  Be as creative as you want with the frame and the pushpins to make the map more personalized.  The blog provides step-by-step directions.

 Incentive Jar by obSEUSSed

As someone who would much rather spend money on DOING things with my family than on toys, I loved this idea!  Kids are rewarded for good behavior by filling up an "Oh, The Places You Can Go" Jar.  The site gives some nice ideas on how to use the incentive jar we well as explains how to make one with a mason jar.  Another simple craft that the kids can help make, which will hopefully get them even more excited about using them! 

DIY Dr. Seuss Decoupaged Globe 

Oh, The Places You'll Go Globe by the Brass Paperclip Project

What a cool thing to do with a globe!  This would make a great decoration in a bedroom or playroom.

 So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. 
And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. 
And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! 
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) 

Kid, you'll move mountains.