Daddy’s Ice Rink


Imagine my joy when I first saw the book Testing the Ice.  I could hardly wait to read it. Here’s a dad surrounded by a bunch of kids excitedly running to ice skate.  So many memories came flooding back as I read this amazing account of Jackie Robinson’s life.  In his tender caring for his children and their friends, I recalled my own dad wiping away many tears as we kids would fall while ice skating or get so cold our toes felt frozen.

Funny how all this reminiscing about ice has made me feel all warm inside.  Good memories do that.

I can’t wait to read Testing the Ice with my grandchildren and then share my own heritage moment. Perhaps you have a winter story that you can share. Maybe you made a snowman, went sledding, or built a snow fort.  Tell your story (write it down) – I guarantee you’ll be glad you went to the effort of moving from Heritage 2 Legacy (more information).

Daddy’s Ice Rink

When I was a little girl, freezing cold winter days meant only one thing – FUN!  Bundled up in pants, sweaters, jackets, scarves, mittens, and hats, we headed outdoors with one purpose.  Ice skating.  My dad was right out there with us in his winter cap that we all thought looked so silly.  Well, this is a story about that hat.  Hanging in our family room are two precious memories: my dad’s winter cap with fold-down ear flaps and my childhood ice skates.  Since our dad played hockey for the University of North Dakota, learning to ice skate came as natural to me and my sisters as walking.

Every winter your great-grandfather flooded our back yard and created a magnificent neighborhood ice rink.  It was glorious!  After a snowfall, he’d shovel the snow along the side to create a nice bank for us to slide into.  We would play fox and geese, race, practice figure eights,  and even master skating backwards.  But I never could skate as fast as my dad.  He skillfully turned and zipped around while the ear flaps on his cap just bounced.  He taught us and all the neighborhood kids how to skate.

How I wish he was here to teach you to skate . . .but you all can have fun wearing his cap!

Love, Button



Testing the Ice

Author:  Sharon Robinson
Illustrator:  Kadir Nelson

6a00d834518cc969e2012875bf8537970c-800wiJackie Robinson is known for breaking the color barrier in  Major League Baseball.   His daughter, Sharon, honors her father’s memory as she weaves a tender metaphor of his life.  She shares the dramatic story of the family’s first winter in Connecticut.  The lake the kids swam in during the summer was now freezing over and Sharon, her brothers, and the neighbor children were all excited about ice skating, but someone must test the ice depth for safety.

As we lined up along the lake’s edge, Dad eased onto the snow-covered ice. 

The ice crackled beneath his feet.  Before he placed one big foot in front of the other, he tapped the ice with his broomstick, testing it for weaknesses or cracks. Tap, tap, tap.

Only when Jackie is sure that he has tested for any danger, does he turn and announce to the children that it is safe for them to proceed.

On other occasions, the children question Jackie about his historic entry into Major League Baseball, about his trophies, numerous plaques, and awards.  Wide-eyed, they listen to the stories of the difficult early years for a black player breaking into the sport.   No one knew what would happen,  just as when he ventured out onto the ice. But he felt his way along an untried and unknown path – like a blind man tapping for clues.  Jackie Robinson – one of America’s finest heroes.

Mary Byrne Kline

1.  How is the title “Testing the Ice” a metaphor?
2.  Why didn’t Jackie ever go into the water?
3.  What Major League team did Jackie Robinson play for?





Poem: Stopping by Woods…

[Verbal Communications]
Don’t miss the audio at the end!

Children are quite capable of memorizing this poem by Robert Frost, but it is also a wonderful poem to simply read over and over again to a younger child.   Poetry is so important for language development because of the “music” of the words as well as the rhythm and rhyme of the word combinations used in the poem.   This poem is a prime example.    Read this poem often to a younger child and allow them to add the last rhyming word to select lines themselves. I encourage you to print out a copy of this poem and enjoy it together with your child(ren).

NOTE: We will be highlighting this poem in our “S is for SNOW” script coming soon.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer;
To stop without a farmhouse near.
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

by Robert Frost

This is a great Study Guide if you are interested in digging deeper into this poem.

The following is are readings of Robert Frost’s poem by 7-year-old Chasing Fireflies friends:


Our favorite illustrated version of this book?  The one illustrated by Susan Jeffers.
See past review HERE.
There’s even a link to the illustrator’s artist page where she will walk you through how to draw a horse!

Clap Your Paws

Author:  Kim Norman
Illustrator:  Liza Woodruff


Winter doldrums got you down?   Having dreary days of being stuck indoors?  Feeling snarly when you think of snow?

WELL – warm up your vocal cords and prepare yourself for a rollicking, hilarious good time!  By the end of the first page, you just might feel like “tumbling on the tundra” with the polar bears, seals, and moose!

If it’s snowy and you know it, clap your paws.
You can tumble on the tundra,  just because.
If it’s snowy and you know it,
roll a snowball up and throw it.
If it’s snowy and you know it…
… clap your paws!

You’ll also learn how to taste a flake, grab your skis, sculpt a friend, build a fort, give a roar, blow a kiss, share a meal, and soak your toes.   But after a long day filled with these amazing and exciting adventures,  our animal friends grow weary from their icy sports.   Hm-m-m,  I wonder what they will think of next.   I think it’s something we all like to do.

If it’s wintry and youre weary, read a book that’s warm and cheery. 

YES! I am sure doing some clapping over this book! No more winter doldrums around here!

Mary Byrne Kline

Pair with Ten on a Sled (2010) [Chasing Fireflies REVIEW], also by this talented author-illustrator team.”