Slightly Bird-Brained

How did you get my daddy to go to sleep when he was little?” asked my young granddaughter.  “Oh, dear one, let me tell you a story. . .”  And my mind wandered back many years, to The Trumpet of the Swan, and how Louis was determined to become a trumpeter.  Our boys loved the story, especially since their daddy played the trumpet.  They were almost sad when, after many days of reading, we finally completed the book.  Even today when they hear, “Day is done, gone the sun…,” they immediately think of Louis the Swan.  

Slightly Bird-Brained

Growing up in North Dakota and Iowa should have caused me to be a much heartier person. It didn’t.  Each winter I endured the blizzards and ice storms while counting the days until once again a crocus or daffodil would peak through and announce that color was returning to my world.  Oh, what joy when the first robin was spotted!  When at last the sweet chirping of birds could be heard, I knew that warmth was returning as well.

The Byrne childhood home

There was, however, an unfortunate downside to my fondness for the returning bird population.  My dear mother was concerned that should there not be sufficient seeds, worms, etc. available upon their immediate return, I should begin taking out all leftover bread after supper each evening. This should be torn up into teensy little bits and distributed around the yard, particularly under the trees. We had trees everywhere! At first I didn’t mind.  Then after about two days my teensy bits became “bits”, then “chunks”, and soon I just tore the pieces of bread in half, figuring those old birds could figure it out for themselves.

My next chore was to clean out the birdbath. This not only meant making sure that the water in it didn’t get a layer of ice so the birdies couldn’t bathe (heaven forbid we have dirty birdies!), but I was to keep the basin and water clean. Hauling water in my little bucket took a lot of time. If you’ve ever had a birdbath you know how gross cleaning one can be, if not, just don’t ask.

Earlier I mentioned something about not being hearty. That also involves a real distaste for any type of bug or creepy crawly. Therefore, my last spring bird job caused me a great deal of anxiety.  I was to  “till” a small area in our garden since the ground was still quite hard from being frozen all winter. This was to allow the birds to peck more easily for worms. You can’t imagine my delight at unearthing one while digging! Yet even though I may have done my chores slightly bird-brained, our yard always abounded with birds of every color and species. For this I am eternally grateful!

How thankful I am to now be living in a year-round warm climate.  I don’t tear up bread, don’t own a birdbath, and will never dig for worms! But I still love listening to sweet chirping, watching nests be built, and catching a glimpse of a cardinal with its mate on our back fence.

I think it’s time to dust off  The Trumpet of the Swan, and curl up on the couch with all of my dear grandchildren.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of daddies even wanted to take a turn at reading a chapter or two aloud.  And maybe when we finish the book, PopPop may surprise them with a little “Louis” song of his own!!

“All is well, safely rest. . . God is nigh.”

Love,

Button

Mary Byrne Kline

Mary Byrne Kline . aka Button

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join us as we create Heritage 2 Legacy memories
through the delight of a children’s book.

 

 

Feathers for Lunch

Author & Illustrator:  Lois Ehlert

This is a book that is never read once, for as soon as it is finished you will hear, “Read it again!”  PLEASE

We have a very hungry cat on the loose, determined to make lunch of some birds. He’s sneaking around the backyard and his adventure is an engaging and entertaining rhyme.

“His food in a can is tame and mild,
so he’s gone out for something wild.”

Will the cat be successful in his attempts at catching a bird?

“But cats can’t fly and they can’t soar,
and birds know what their wings are for.”

At first glance it may appear to simply be a short quick read, but look closely and you will find some hidden treasures.  Each bird is identified, along with the plant or shrub upon which it is resting. All birds illustrated in the story are portrayed life sized and true in their coloring.

At the end of the book the reader is given the factual treat of “The lunch that got away.” These four pages are filled with information on the twelve birds our poor cat couldn’t catch.

Here are some delightful learning (play?) opportunities that go along with Feathers for Lunch.  Enjoy!   PINTEREST (images and ideas)

Mary Byrne Kline

I HEART bird feeders

A Fireflies’ Family Activity – Gather the materials and together create these adorable feeders for the birds in your backyards.  They are easy to make and mold into endless possible shapes.  Consider using Jello molds, cookie cutters, or no forms at all to create these bird feeders.  Make them unique to you and yours!

The following makes 5 – 6 bird feeders depending on the thickness of each shape.

Materials Needed

  • 3 cups of bird seed
  • 1 packet of plain gelatin
  • 3 T corn syrup
  • 3/4 c of flour
  • 1/2 c water
  • Wax paper
  • Shape maker: cookie cutters, jello molds etc.
  • Cookie sheets
  • String
  • Pencil or straw for creating the “hanging hole”

Directions

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the water, flour, corn syrup, and gelatin.
Add the bird seed and mix until evenly coated.   (I wanted to buy the smallest amount of bird seed available which was parakeet bird seed.   I really loved it using it because of all the colors and shapes of seeds.)

Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper, fill your desired forms with the seed mixture – packing firmly.  If the seed is not pressed together firmly, it will fall apart.

Place a hole in the center of your shape using a straw or pencil.   Make sure the hole goes all the way through.  (Placing it closer to the middle allows for enough strength to hold the string.)  When your shapes are complete, allow to air dry for 24 – 48 hours – turning every once in awhile.

Run a string through your hole, hang your bird feeders, and enjoy!

Hang where children can observe many fine feathered visitors
coming to dine on their creations.

A Fireflies’ Gratitude & Service idea:
Why not make a heart shaped bird feeder for Grandma and deliver with an “I love you” note?  Every day is a great day to say “I love you”!

CLICK HERE for more creative and natural bird feeders ideas.

The Ugly Duckling

As you know by now, Jerry Pinkney is one of our favorite author-illustrators and we even consider him a friend.   It is therefore no surprise that we chose his adaptation of The Ugly Duckling as our pick for Birds & Feathers month.

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Have you ever walked into a room and felt as though you didn’t belong?  Ever have someone make a hurtful remark about your hair, your weight, or anything about your appearance?  And should this happen to one of our children,  our parental instinct would immediately be to protect, soothe, and encourage our young one.

Well,  no sooner does our little Ugly Duckling hatch to see the light of day, than the teasing  begins.  “Did you ever see anything quite as ugly as that great creature?” one of the ducks in the yard taunted as the family walked by.  “He is a disgrace to any brood,” another agreed. “I shall go and chase him out!” And he ran to the big duckling and bit his neck.

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Mother Duck attempts to comfort her unusually large duckling, assuring him that although he may not be as handsome as the others, he is tall and strong.  Words meant to comfort, but our little duckling droops his head.

In desperation, the Ugly Duckling runs away, and I’m sorry to say, his misadventures continue.  Throughout the fall and bitter winter he struggles to find shelter and enough to eat.  When at last the days become warmer he sees before him the most beautiful birds he has ever seen.  He watches them step into a stream, with feathers rustling, and float quietly upon the water as though they are part of it.

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Do you know what our duckling does next? He stretches out his wings, and lifts himself into the big, blue sky and flies down to the water to join those beautiful birds.  I think you know what he sees when he looks into the water.  Gone is the bird with the dull feathers and awkward, skinny neck.  Yes, he now sees before him the real him – a beautiful swan!

The swan knew that it was worth having undergone
all the suffering and loneliness that he had.
Otherwise, he would never have known
what it was to be really happy.

Mary Byrne Kline
CONTACT

A Nest is Noisy!

Our next theme is for the birds – literally!

Birds & Feathers

We begin with our focus book, A Nest is Noisy by one of our favorite author/illustrator teams when it comes to informational books.  Each page is brimming with pure visual delight which will prompt exactly the conversations you want your child to have about the amazing world God has created.  Climb into the world of birds and their nests and (learn) enjoy!

PS Do you have a story about a bird or nest from your childhood?  If so – then you are all set for your next H2L adventure!

From the Publisher
“Fans will rejoice at the first sight of A Nest Is Noisy,” promises School Library Journal, and they’re right. From the award-winning creators of An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, A Butterfly Is Patient, A Rock Is Lively, and A Beetle Is Shy comes this gorgeous and informative look at the fascinating world of nests, from those of tiny bee hummingbirds to those of orangutans high in the rainforest canopy. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, this carefully researched book introduces children to a captivating array of nest facts and will spark the imaginations of children whether in a classroom reading circle or on a parent’s lap.

Download this TeacherGuide , a gift from the author & illustrator, and file it away to use next year with one of their award-winning books.

 

Baseball Memories Collage

Memories are precious gifts from God.  Memories made with our children, even more endearing.  Engaging your little one’s skills with cutting and coloring, you can also save his/her hand print and their “signature” as well with this sweet memory-making project.

In my last post we looked at the watercolor masterpiece of my 16-year-old daughter, Amber, who loves baseball and balancing spoons on her nose.  Now you will meet my son in the photo above.  Seven years ago, he played baseball, and his toothless smile and tough-as-nails stance in the photo above still melt my heart.  Since we’re traveling down memory lane and talking about baseball, I decided it’s time for a fun collage that’s great for engaging students and building memories.

You will need for each child: a copy of the coloring page baseball mitt template (emailed FREE to you upon request), a SOLO cup to trace the proper circle size for the baseball, a plastic grocery bag to stuff the ball and glove if desired, scissors, stapler, markers, plain white paper, a sheet of colored paper, and a squirt of washable tempera on a paper plate.

First, have your child/student color the mitt in whatever colors they wish!  Next the student will cut out the mitt.  It is an easy shape for little ones to practice on.  (If you wish to stuff your mitt to make it dimensional, like a real mitt, cut out two at a time.)  Staple the two mitts together around the perimeter and leave an opening to stuff the mitt with a plastic grocery bag cut up into pieces and then staple shut.  Trace a SOLO cup on a piece of white paper and, again, cut out two at a time.  Again using the SOLO cup, trace half circles on each side of the ball in red marker to create the red stitching.  Now the student can write their “John Hancock” on the ball and staple around the perimeter so it can be stuffed if you wish.  Finally it’s time for the hand print!  If you have a photo, that, too, may be added to your collage.

My neighbor Naomi wanted to get in on the fun so she colored her mitt with pink and purple picked out purple paint.  She also added a fingerprint on the ball.  I’d say she’s officially made her mark on this project!

This is my neighbor Naomi who loves art!
Squishy-squashy fun!
Naomi’s masterpiece!

Now it’s time to mat, frame, or place into a shadow box your beautiful memory collage!  Enjoy and happy memories!

By Laura Bird Miller

It’s Spring – Play Ball!

Walt Disney once said, “It seems to me we have a lot of story yet to tell.” In response, we at FirefliesBlog offer a boisterous, “Amen.” That’s the idea behind our Heritage 2 Legacy feature – offering you ideas for capturing and preserving your family stories.

Check out our newest storytelling idea – It’s Spring, Play Ball!

It’s Spring – Play Ball

In the backyard of our Beaver Falls, PA, home my brothers and I played endless ball games with neighborhood friends named Suskevich and Conley. We had multiple field configurations havingone thing in common – they were all destructive to mom and dad’s landscaping. Astonishingly, I have no memories of our parents complaining.

There was the sideways field where home plate for whiffleball games was close to a young tree dad planted. An overly aggressive swing, the only kind we approved of, pruned the branches. Then there was our straight-on tennisball pitch only layout. Home plate was elevated on the patio by the back door. The backstop was a living room wall and a high hard one rocked the entire house. A hard low one endangered the lives of mom’s petunias. Finally, there was the straight-on football field on the other half of our double lot by the willow tree.

Gil Moegerle

For the rest of the story – listen below.
Remember to subscribe to Chasing Fireflies in iTunes.

Subscribe to Chasing Fireflies Podcasts on iTunes

More information about our Heritage 2 Legacy project.

FirefliesGLOW: Casey at the Bat

Our newest Fireflies Glow story is another classic as well as a two-fer.

It’s a perfect tale for springtime as baseball diamonds across the country open for the new season. And it is engrossing poetry. We invite you to enjoy Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer.

Gil Moegerle & Deni Moegerle Corbett

 

Subscribe to Fireflies GLOW on iTunes  PlayerFM

Here’s Gil’s VO information for those of you who have enjoyed our Fireflies podcasts and asked for more information concerning Fireflies’ master storyteller – Gil Moegerle

ABOUT GIL
I have had the pleasure of working for 45 years in various aspects of the communications field including radio/TV production, advertising agency services, marketing communications and corporate public relations. I currently devote part of my time to teaching, consulting and voice work. You may find more information and audio samples on my website.www.gmoegerle.wixsite.com/voicework

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

The boys and I have been doing a mini unit study on the letter “B” which of course, includes baseball!  For a craft we opted to do the one below.

B is for Baseball
&
Baseball Bat Craft

Things you’ll need:

  • White construction paper
  • Brown construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie or other permanent marker
  • Pencil
  • Red paint
  • Red crayon

On the brown piece of construction paper, draw the outlines of a baseball bat with a sharpie and on the white paper, draw out a circle.  The kids will cut these out in the first step.

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My 6-year old doesn’t really need much practice with his scissors these day but this part was a perfect way for my 3-year old to get some additional practice cutting.

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You can see that he was quite proud of his cut out bat and ball.

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On the white construction paper circle, use a pencil to create the lines on a baseball if your little one needs some extra help.

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Then, have them trace over the lines with a red crayon.

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Have your child dip his finger into the red paint and gently add the threads on the baseball lines.

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When they are all finished you should have a baseball with red fingerprint threading.

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After the baseball has had a chance to dry, glue it to the bottom of the bat forming a “b”.  For our little 3-year old, his “B is for Baseball” craft was just the perfect way to help him remember his letter of the week.

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Baseball Popcorn Balls

All that crafting will certainly work up an appetite so in keeping to the theme of baseball, the boys and I whipped up some popcorn balls.

We followed a recipe found on Allrecipes.com
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-ever-popcorn-balls/

Basically all you’ll need is:

  • light corn syrup
  • margarine
  • water

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  • Popcorn

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  • Powdered sugar
  • Marshmallows

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Have your master chef (with a lot of adult supervision) heat all the ingredients minus the popcorn till it comes to a boil on the stovetop.

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How cute is he??

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Coat popcorn with mixture until the mixture is evenly coating all of the popcorn kernels.

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Heavily grease your hands with shortening, shape into balls and set aside on some wax paper while they set up a bit.

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Grab some Twizzlers and add the baseball lines to the popcorn balls.

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And there you have it!  A snack just perfect for the little sluggers in your household.

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Author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist

www.fondantflinger.com

 

Casey at the Bat

Author:  Ernest Lawrence Thayer

9781929766000_p0_v1_s260x420What better way to wrap up our monthly theme on baseball than with the classic poem which symbolizes America’s favorite pastime – baseball.   And there is no better way to enjoy this tongue-in-cheek melodrama than to “ham it up” with a few of your favorite little baseball fans and perform a reader’s theater.  I can almost hear those excited little fans now…

Fan #1 – Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell.

Fan #2 – It rumbled in the mountaintops, it rattled in the dell.

Fan #3 – It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat – 

Fan #1 – For Casey,

Fan #2 – mighty Casey,

Fan #3 – was advancing to the bat.

Put on your baseball caps, switch parts around and put on a show for your friends and neighbors! Reading this poem together will bring enjoyment, laughter, and the realization that reading aloud can be a learning experience while providing a lot of fun! So, let’s get started.

It looked extremely  rocky for the Mudville nine that day…

Mary Byrne Kline
CONTACT