Archives for April 2014

Poem: A River & A Raft

I encourage you to not only share poems with your children, but to create poems together.  I sat down with a young child recently after sharing the book, The Raft, and (along with a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus), we came up with this  poetic creation…


A River & A Raft

The river meanders to and fro…
where it goes, we do not know.

On our raft, we sit and listen…
with this day, we are so smitten.

Into the raft’s wood, we leave our mark…
me and my best friend, Clark!


All you need is some inspiration from a good book like
The Raft, and some rhyming words….

Why not create your own family raft poem today?



A RAFT-tastic recipe

The boys and I are absolutely loving this month’s books.
This recipe is the perfect follow-up to reading,

The Raft
by Jim LaMarche.

Unknown-1Click HERE for book review.

Here is what you will need:

  • Pirouette cookies
  • Graham crackers
  • Chocolate chips
  • Edible ink markers
  • Cutting board
  • Knife


Start by cutting the Pirouette cookies down to fit the length of a 1/2 graham cracker and line 4 of them up next to each other to form our “logs”.  Eat all the extra ends while the kids aren’t watching.


Melt down your chocolate chips to make some delicious “glue”.


Spread on a layer of melted chocolate on to your graham cracker “platform”.


Flip over and press gently down, squishing the chocolate “glue” onto the “logs”.


Let dry for about 10 minutes or until the chocolate has completely set.  Grab your edible ink markers and get to drawing!


The boys and I thought about our most recent adventure along the bayou and they drew the animals that they saw.FFP_RaftSnack7

Noah did an awesome job of drawing a brown pelican and some flowers he saw along the way.


Levi drew a tank and a shark.  Can’t you tell?  🙂


Author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist
Fondant Flinger


The Raft

Author and Illustrator:  Jim LaMarche

Unknown-1 Ask any young boy just how he’d like to spend his summer and most likely his last response would be, “out in the country with his grandma who doesn’t even have a TV.” Well, that’s what happened to Nicky.   He is not impressed with Grandma’s house, full to the brim with books scattered everywhere, animal sketches, stuffed fish, fishing poles, tackle boxes, and even a half-finished carving of a bear.

After two days of futilely trying to catch fish for supper, Nicky was pretty discouraged.  And then he noticed it; “Though it was covered with leaves and branches, now I could tell that it was a raft.”  Nicky is fascinated by the array of animal drawings sketched on the raft and wonders who could have drawn them.  Instead of his days being filled with the boredom of trying to catch fish, the raft has now provided him with adventure on the river.   He races to complete his chores in order to explore.  Some days Grandma joins him and he learns the stories of her years on the river.  Sometimes they just float and watch for animals in the woods, sometimes “Grandma watched from an inner tube, I practiced my cannonballs.”  It isn’t long until Nicky is sketching raccoons, turtles, deer, and even a great blue heron that whooshed right down on his raft with a crayfish in its bill!  And guess where Nicky is sketching all those animals!

Mary Byrne Kline

1.  How would you explain how the first drawings got on the raft?

2.  Why do you think the doe trusted Nicky to help her fawn?

3.  How did the change happen in Nicky’s attitude over the summer?

When Lightning Comes In a Jar

Author & Illustrator:  Patricia Polacco


When I read the first two sentences in this book, I was hooked! “Today is my family reunion! I can hardly wait.”

 Every summer growing up, my family would spend part of our summers driving to our aunts and uncles and cousins for family reunions.  Oh! The crazy fun times we all had together.   There’s just something about listening to old stories and tasting good old recipes that have been handed down that makes for some pretty wonderful memories.

Tricia helps her Gramma and her Aunties carry the “gazillions” of jello salads and  meatloafs to the tables outdoors.  Soon after it is time for croquet, bag races, watermelon-seed-spitting contests, and a baseball game of dads and uncles against kids.   Tricia asks her gramma if she and the Aunties will be telling stories at night like they always do.  “Might,” said Gramma, looking up at the sky.  “And we might catch lightning in a jar.”   Throughout the rest of the day and evening, Tricia keeps looking for signs of lightning to appear.  Each of the Aunties share delightful stories of their lives growing up, but Tricia waits, wondering when her Gramma’s magic will come.  Finally when the last rays of sun have gone, Gramma gathers all the children around.  Aunt Bertha places a wicker laundry basket full of glass canning jars at Gramma’s feet. Quietly Gramma speaks:

“Shadows lengthen, the day near done,

birds fly low at setting sun.

Stars will rise from earth below, 

In these hands their light will glow.

Come up, lightning, come up, stars,

We’ll snatch you up in these here jars!”

Can you guess what Tricia and her cousins did then? Yes! They grabbed those jars and the dash was on to capture fireflies.  Tricia and her Gramma sat a long time on the porch swing that night enjoying the “lightning”…


1.  How would you explain the title of the story?

2.  How would you summarize this family’s relationship with one another?

3.  What was the purpose of Gramma and her sisters telling stories?

Mary Byrne Kline