Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers, Debut Picture Books

One of the positive aspects of writing Kidlit is the supportive community, and writer/illustrator :Donna Marie has been more than supportive; she’s volunteered countless hours to NJSCBWI. When the pandemic hit the U.S., :Donna wanted to find a way to help kids understand Covid-19 and why their routines were disrupted, and show how they could stay safe. She turned her idea into a reality by publishing  Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers, which are available in 6 different versions with 2 more inclusive versions on the way. In addition, on the website Pippinherohelpers.com, :Donna offers additional info and tools for kids and adults and free printable downloads to post anywhere from bathrooms to classrooms that illustrate hand hygiene, wearing/handling face coverings, and more.

What’s the story about? 

One morning in March 2020 a child wakes up and gets ready for school only to be told by Mom that he/she has to stay home—it’s a rule. The child doesn’t understand, is upset about no longer being able to play with friends and do many “normal” things like go to the playground, the movies, school or anything outside their home or family. The mother then tells the child about the pandemic—the deadly virus that’s “sneaky and quick.”

Accompanied by illustrations, she explains how easily the virus spreads, how it can make some people very sick, who the heroes are who help the people who need hospital care, along with the many essential workers we count on. The child learns that by doing “stay safe” things like staying physically distant, wearing masks and washing hands they become “Hero Helpers.”

Highlighted are many positives about staying home, and lots of “stay at home” activities, including a surprise “fun” idea Mom has the family do. The child is reassured that, until the doctors say it is “safe” again, they will visit friends and family virtually, continue to be grateful for the good things, and how they will stay strong till this pandemic passes.                          Kathy Temean on Writing and Illustrating 

In :Donna Marie’s words: 

When this pandemic hit the U.S., I saw the plethora of wonderful stuff being offered by the KidLit community, librarians and teachers to families with children to help them get through the whole stay-at-home situation and was blown away by it. My natural inclination was wanting to contribute and what came to mind was a book I wrote back when my son was in maybe 3rd grade, so 1993ish. It was called The Rainy Day and in it were ideas of what to do on a rainy day. I figured maybe I could list them and post it in a blog post, but quickly poo-pooed that since it really wouldn’t offer anything more than what was already out there, so why waste my time? But one thought led to another, I ended up writing an almost totally new story, and when I realized I had the power to execute these books digitally to make diverse and inclusive versions, there was no stopping me!

Where can people find Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers?

Check out  Pippinherohelpers.com to order ebooks on Kindle and Apple Books. Paperback versions may be ordered on Amazon.

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Author/Illustrator Bio:

:Donna is a proud and blessed mother and grandmother, and as a woman of love, hope and faith, she has loved stories since the first time she held ARE YOU MY MOTHER, THE CAT IN THE HAT and MADELINE in her hands. Passionate about storytelling in all forms, the wonder of words and pictures in books has long inspired her to tell stories of her own. As a small voice amid the glorious chorus of book creators, her hope is to add some small measure of value and joy for her gracious readers. And all of this while doing her best not to consume more “goodies” than good books! 😀

Outdoor Inspiration, Chalk Art

My neighbors have added more inspiration (and beauty) to the neighborhood. I love to come across a surprise on the street–a quote, saying, or picture rendered in chalk. Check out the burgeoning “collection” of chalk art care of @millburnchalklove and other street artists. I’m building upon posts Chalk Walk and Road Quotes.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Blocks or Bricks Bookends

When an editor requested a book proposal for Back-to-School crafts for a range of ages, I submitted a 33-page proposal that included 75 ideas. The editor passed on the submission– “Sales is now saying they don’t need a back-to-school crafts book (which is not what they were saying when I was searching for a book months ago).”–but, do you know what that left me with? Cool ideas for kids or anyone organizing a desk, office, bookshelf or work area! (And a proposal that may be submitted elsewhere.)

Here’s one of the ideas:

DIY Bookends
Supplies:
  • blocks or bricks
  • paint, 2 colors (I used leftover samples of wall paint for the main color and a small bottle of silver for the contrasting color.)
  • paint brush
  • blue tape or masking tape
  • cardstock
  • ruler, pencil, scissors
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
Steps:
  1. Set up work area.
  2. Paint blocks or bricks. Let dry. Apply second coat. Let dry.
  3. Once paint has dried, apply tape to create a design.
  4. Paint taped section in contrasting color. Let dry
  5. Measure bottom of blocks or bricks. Using that measurement, cut pieces out of cardstock. (If the bottoms are smooth, this step might not be necessary. My bricks had rough bottoms. Lining them with cardstock means they won’t scratch the shelves.
  6. Glue cardstock to bottom of blocks or bricks.

Tips:

–Imperfect bricks/blocks might be more visually interesting than perfect ones. If there are any sharp edges on wooden blocks, sand first.

–I made three sets of bookends, using different paints for each set, so I marked the paint name on the cardstock in case I need to touch them up.

–Consider the bookends’ weight when determining how many books they will support. For example, lightweight blocks might only support slim books.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Father’s Day Gift, Map Paper Weight

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I was searching for a quick, easy and useful DIY Father’s Day gift idea and came across “Paperweight Pebbles” from Steller.co. Thanks to Steller.co for the photos, instructions, and wish-we-could-travel-right-now gift. The site says, “Be prepared to get very messy, sticky hands… You have to smooth the map over the pebble when it’s covered in glue,” so fair warning, hon.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful dads out there!

Here’s the How-To:
Supplies:
  • maps
  • rocks (squarer rocks recommended)
  • scissors
  • glue (Elmer’s, white glue, Mod Podge)
Steps:
  1. Cut out section of map, estimating how much is needed to cover rock.
  2. Cover rock with glue.
  3. Wrap rock with map, pressing map into crevices and smoothing seams.
  4. Trim excess map.
  5. Glue any seams that are sticking up.
  6. Let dry.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Decoupage Pet Picture Frame

When I worked at Magic Windows, a high-end children’s boutique in Manhattan, the store’s owner added a tween section. She was game enough to sell my tie-dyed tee-shirts and decoupaged picture frames. First I painted them, then I added  inspirational words and gems and–guess what–they sold!

Fast forward to an After School Enrichment K-2 class that focused on pets. The kids loved making their own pet picture frames with magazines cut outs. Mod Podge is my go-to decoupage medium because it’s all you need to glue, seal and finish this project that’s, seriously, fun for any age kid!

Happy creating, hon!

Supplies:

  • wooden picture frame with flat surface
  • magazine cut-outs, photos, hand-drawn pictures
  • gems or beads, optional
  • Mod Podge
  • foam paint brush (preferred) or paint brush
  • cup off water for cleaning brushes, paper towel or rag for blotting

Instructions:

  1. Glue cut-outs, pics, etc to frame.
  2. Glue gems or beads.
  3. Brush Mod Podge over entire frame surface. Let dry about 15 minutes.
  4. Brush on three to four more layers, letting each layer dry about 15 minutes before reapplying.

Sources:  local craft stores such as A Paper Hat Art + Design Supply, national craft store chains such as such as Michael’s.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Tug-of-War Dog Toy

Lucy loves playing tug-of war.

Therapy Dog

In normal times, I pet and scratch Lucy for my own comfort as well as hers. These aren’t normal times. Everyone in our full house gives Lucy extra hugs and kisses since she’s our very own in-house therapy dog. She has a heart of gold (unless you’re a groundhog), a sweet nature (unless you’re the mailman), and is well trained  (unless you’re eating something she wants).

I was teaching After School Enrichment classes when we adopted Lucy, a Border Collie/Chocolate Lab mixed breed, so I was inspired to teach a Dog Craft Class. One of our projects was this  Tug-of-War Dog Toy. Lucy loved it!

There are two ways to get a similar Tug-of-War Dog Toy. I suspect the second way is a bit sturdier since the ends are braided together.

Version 1 (project for K-2 ASE students)

Supplies:

  • fleece, 3 strips (approximately 4-5 inches by 36 inches) in 3 colors if desired
  • masking tape

Instructions:

  1. Knot 3 strips of fleece together.
  2. Tape to a surface for resistance.
  3. Braid fleece. Knot other end.
  4. Fold braided rope in half. Feed one end of braid in and out of other side, starting in middle of folded rope until two knotted ends meet.
  5. Re-knot ends together and take out separate knots.
Version 2 (Steps and Photos Source-Raising Your Pets Naturally, craft by Tonya Wilhelm)

Supplies:

  • fleece, 3 strips (approximately 4-5 inches by 36 inches) in 3 colors if desired
  • masking tape

Instructions:

  1. Tape three strips of fleece to a surface for resistance but do not knot the end.
  2. “Start your braid from the CENTER of your fabric and braid about 5″ to each side of the center.”
  3. “After you get the center braided (the handle), bring the ends together (3 from one side, 3 from the other) and combine them in pairs so you have 3 doubled parts to continue your braid. Braid the parts together (remember to make each braid taut).”
  4. Knot the end.

Easy DIY Kids Activities: Paper Plate Crafts

Source: I Heart Craft Things

When I was an assistant pre-school teacher for the Transitional Two’s at HGEEC, the kids made lots of paper plate creations. I Heart Craft Things’ “Paper Plate Fluttering Butterfly Craft,” pictured above, would have gone great with the two, three and four year-old’s butterfly units.  Butterfly habitats were ordered, and the children watched caterpillars eat, form chrysalises, and transform into butterflies. Then they set them free.

Best kid quote: Upon seeing a butterfly open and close its wings, a two-year old girl said, “The butterfly is clapping!” How cute is that?!

Want 8 more imaginative paper plate crafts for kids?

Quill.com’s  Tiffany Jersey said,

If you’ve only used paper plates to simplify the clean-up process after a barbecue, prepare to discover a whole new world. Because they’re plentiful and inexpensive, paper plates make for a fantastic children’s craft supply. When it comes to paper plate crafts, the themes available are nearly endless, from animals and masks to flowers and holiday décor. We’ve rounded up eight creative paper plate craft ideas for kids (although you might find that the whole family wants to get in on the fun).

Note: In addition to scissors and paint or markers, many of the crafts require a few additional supplies. Always supervise little ones as needed.

Click here to find out how to create a paper plate Jellyfish, Fox, Puppy, Hedgehog, Pumpkin, Christmas Trees, Wings and Shaker. 

Happy creating, hon!

Chalk Walk!

Do extraordinary things with ordinary love.

In a recent post,  Road Quotes, I shared pics of the beautiful chalk art popping up on my street. Care of the Instagram account @millburnchalklove and some other artistic neighbors, there’s more outdoor art to add to the collection. It truly lifts my “quarantine family’s” spirits to see creativity emerge from the asphalt.

“Quarantine Family” (Taken on a winter-cold day in May!):  Eli, Hannah, Darcy, me, Hubby and Teddy.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Silk Flower Arrangement

Not Just For Kids!

Looking for an easy, DIY Mother’s Day gift? I made this silk flower arrangement for my mom when I wanted to give her something pretty that required no care. I featured a photo of it on my blog before, but How-To instructions were posted in my guest post on middle grade author Darlene Beck-Jacobson’s blog Gold From The Dust: Bringing Stories to Life. If you’re like me, you have Styrofoam-from-packages lying around the house (because why throw away something that might come in handy in a craft project?) If not, supplies can be found at local art shops such as A Paper Hat Art + Design Supply (curb side pick up) and crafts stores such as Michael’s and A.C.Moore. 

Happy creating, hon!

Supplies:
  • silk flowers
  • vessel
  • glue gun and glue sticks
  • Styrofoam blocks or pieces
  • moss
  • marker, serrated knife, wire cutter, scissor
Steps:
  1. Figure out how many pieces of Styrofoam will fit in and fill up vessel. With marker, mark where to cut Styrofoam and, using serrated knife, cut foam into correct number of pieces.
  2. Prepare flowers part 1. Determine how long stems need to be to sit inside foam and also stand above rim of vessel. Tip—hold flowers in a bunch, approximating the way they are to be arranged. This helps determine which stems are to be cut shorter and which longer. Trim stems with wire cutter.
  3. Prepare flowers, part 2. With scissors, cut off excess leaves, especially those that would sit inside foam. Too many leaves get in the way. Too few leaves may look bare. Tip–Save cut leaves to possibly glue to moss.
  4. Hot glue bottom of cut Styrofoam and secure inside vessel.
  5. Hot glue flowers stems, then stick stems into Styrofoam, carefully arranging flowers. Add extra glue to spot where foam and stems meet.
  6. Spread moss around top of Styrofoam. Lift up sections, then glue them down.
  7. Fill in bare spots of Styrofoam with more moss and cut leaves.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Multi Media Owls

Whoo Loved This Project?

All the kids enjoyed this project, which started with an almost blank canvas. Almost because each K-2 student received a canvas sporting the outline of an owl. How they painted and decorated their owls was up to them . Guess where I taught this After School Enrichment class? In the art room! The classroom had a creative vibe (no surprise), deep sinks for washing up, and light streaming in through the windows.

Happy creating, hon!

Supplies:
  • canvas (9 x 12 or whatever size desired)
  • pencil
  • water-based paint and paint brushes
  • objects for decorating–buttons, feathers, silk leaves, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, foil paper, wrapping paper, etc.
  • white glue
  • paper plate, paper bowl, or palette or paints
  • cup or bowl w/water (for rinsing brushes)
  • paper towels or rags (for blotting paintbrush)
  • newspaper (for protecting art area)
Steps:
  1. Find an image of an owl, or whichever animal desired.
  2. Using the pencil, copy the outline and a few details of the owl onto the canvas.
  3. Set up work area, including paper plate, bowl, or palette for paints, cup or bowl with clean water, and paper towel or rags for blotting the paint brush.
  4. Choose paint colors.
  5. Paint owl. Let dry.
  6. Once paint is dry, glue decorative objects to canvas. Let dry.
Source: 

Materials can be found in the house and/or purchased at local art stores (A Paper Hat in Maplewood) or craft stores (Michael’s). During quarantine, many local stores are filling orders over the phone and offering curbside pick up.