FirefliesGLOW: Adventures of Sammy Squirrel

“We four siblings grew up with a large number of animal friends. They included an owl, a squirrel, a toad, a snake and half a dozen more. Maybe I should explain. Most were imaginary, given to us by a grandparent who loved flights of fantasy. We will introduce you to these companions in the next edition of FirefliesGLOW’s “Tell Me a Story.”

Gil Moegerle: Master Storyteller

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A bird on the plate is worth two in the fridge….

Birds are a huge source of entertainment in this household.  The boys and I recently added a large birdfeeder outside our dining room window so we could keep better tabs on the neighborhood bird drama.  We live on the water and have feathered friends of all kind; from small sparrows to geese.  We even have one “city pigeon” that comes in every afternoon for his regular fly-by snack.  Our freezer always maintains extra bread for duck feedings and we have even had to start purchasing our bird seed from Sam’s to keep up with the high demands of our beaked buddies.
To say that the boys were excited to do a bird themed snack would be an understatement.  I knew we were going to have to provide some pretty incredible meals for my two bird-loving boys.  Thankfully, there was no shortage of ideas out there.  Since, we couldn’t choose between a few of them, we planned a whole day of bird themed meals.

BIRD’S NEST BREAKFAST

I found the idea for this on Pinterest and its just incredibly easy for a fast but adorable birdie breakfast for your babies.
All you’ll need is:
  • Bread (toasted according to your little one’s preference)
  • Hard boiled egg (we made this really easy by buying them right from the store)
  • Teensy tiniest bit of a carrot
  • Edible marker (thought you could easily use a small piece of raisin for her little eyes)
Simply cut your toast into strips.  Levi likes his with a little butter so we buttered it first.  Arrange your bread pieces in a nest shape.
Cut a small triangle shape from the end of a carrot for the birds beak and position on the egg.  With your edible marker, add two eyes.  Levi decided our bird was a girl (or “grill” as he pronounces it) so we gave her pretty little eyelashes.
Nestle her into her little warm and “toast”-y nest and serve to your overly enthusiastic little one.

FOR SNACKTIME:

Another very easy idea for a quick snack.
What you’ll need:
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Grapes
  • Carrot
  • Edible Marker

I snapped the pretzel sticks into smaller “twigs” and just tossed them into a small bowl.  Dot little eyes on grapes and set them in their “nest”.  Cut small triangles from carrots and place on the birds and you’re done!

FOR DINNER:

And finally for dinner, spaghetti noodles with bird meatballs on a celery branch.
What you’ll need:
  • Center stalk of celery (with the leaves on the end to look branch-like)
  • Cooked spaghetti
  • Meatballs or like we used, mini-hamburgers
  • Mozarella Cheese
  • Carrot
  • Edible Marker

Place celery branch across plate, use a fork and twirl a large section of spaghetti into a nest shape.  Place noodle nest on its side.  Tuck in two meatballs or mini hamburgers into the nest.  For the eyes, I cut slices of a cheese stick and used a piping tip to make a smaller circle cut out.  You could most certainly use the entire slice though.  Add a black dot in the center of the cheese slice with an edible marker or you could use a caper, piece of black olive or a piece of raisin.  Whatever you happen to have laying around in the pantry.  Position the eyes on the meatball/ hamburger.  Cut a small triangle out of a carrot and place under eyes to form the beak.

The boys loved this idea so much that we had a version of it for dinner the next night as well.  The second night, I made a nest of rice and tucked their meat into it.  Just as easy and just as entertaining for the little ones in your life.
Contributing author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist

Fireflies GLOW: The Ugly Duckling

Our latest edition of Fireflies Glow is the tale of a fine feathered friend known as The Ugly Duckling, one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous stories. You’ll meet a little duck who was disliked and mistreated by all the barnyard animals until they discovered who he really was.

Subscribe to our storytelling podcasts and let your children enjoy on the way to the grocery store.   You have 23 minutes to listen to this delightful reading and have peace in the car.   Priceless!  (And yes, we remember those days….)

Enjoy listening to Gil Moegerle read

The Ugly Duckling.

See our previous post where we reviewed The Ugly Duckling.

Please note that the version read on Fireflies GLOW is the original which is in
public domain and not the version depicted above or Pinkney’s adaptation.

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Poem Share: Red Bird

The First Red Bird

by Evaleen Stein

I heard a song at daybreak,
So honey-sweet and clear,
The essence of all joyous things
Seemed mingling in its cheer.

The frosty world about me
I searched with eager gaze,
But all was slumber-bound and wrapped
In violet-tinted haze.

Then suddenly a sunbeam
Shot slanting o’er the hill,
And once again from out the sky
I heard that honied trill.

And there upon a poplar,
Poised at its topmost height,
I saw a little singer clad
In scarlet plumage bright.

The poplar branches quivered,
By dawn winds lightly blown,
And like a breeze-swept poppy-flower
The red-bird rocked and shone.

The blue sky, and his feathers
Flashed o’er by golden light,
Oh, all my heart with rapture thrilled,
It was so sweet a sight!

Another delightful interpretation of The First Red Bird by Sierra Valone.
“Thank you, Sierra, for reading this month’s poem for us!”

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.

ugly3

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.

pinkneys-duckling

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