Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Back To School

waiting for the bus
As I look back at days gone by
It makes me realize time really does fly
One minute we're celebrating you coming to be
Next thing you know you're learning your ABC's

getting on the bus (dad followed it to school)
The first day of school was not hard for you
But I couldn't wait 'til the bell rang at 2
one day down - many more to go!
Each step you took brought you to today
And I'm very proud I  must say
Ashley's first BEST friend-Michael Grace
ready to go home!
It's not only the kids going back to school
Parents, hold dear those first day photos - because they are worth more than jewels!
Cherish each moment and each year of life
Forget all the times those kids gave you strife
The 2014 school year is about to start
Hold each and every moment in your heart
Happy Back To School 2014
can't wait to see all your photos!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I would like to invite y'all to the

Fort Worth Library - Author Roundup
Saturday, August 16, 2014
1:00pm - 5:00pm
500 W Third St
Fort Worth, TX 76102 
the schedule for the day is as follows:

Oh -- so they came home with you?
Now I get it!
Shadow (left) - Muffin (right)

1:00 Welcome
1:15 Panel Discussion – Hot topics for teens
2:00 Author Readings – Gallery OR Chappell Meeting Room
3:00 Panel Discussion – How to read with your child – Tandy Lecture Hall
1-5 – Meet the Authors/Book Signing (books available for purchase) – Gallery

I will be reading Went Out To Get a Donut - Came Home With a Muffin @ 2:00
Muffin reading What's In the Corner? to the
unsuspecting Big Gray Cat!

Books will be on sale for $4.00
 eBook gift cards will be $2.00

Hope to see you there!!!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Life of Bud Lessons

I was going through some of my past workshop / book event folders and found some GREAT work from past Kindergarten students capturing many lessons that I'd like to share with you. 

The Life of BUD

If you are unfamiliar with my book, it teaches children about the life cycles and seasons as we follow BUD (who is the bud of an oak tree) through his life. He sees many amazing things, has wonderful memories, but in the end, is afraid to let go ...

I have done hundreds of workshops using The Life of BUD and here are some great ideas to use children's literature for teaching colors, print awareness, sequencing, seasons, writing and illustrating.

This lesson teaches children the colors of Autumn and print awareness (Upper and Lowercase letters)
After reading BUD, the children folded their paper to have four boxes.
Learning targets:  location words left / right / top / bottom
Sequencing - Spring - Summer - Fall/Autumn - Winter
Also reinforces Seasons of the Year
Children then illustrate from memory what trees look like during those seasons
A great quick assessment to know if children understand location words & seasons
My favorite lesson is a culminating lesson.
Children write their own story about BUD.
They may use ideas from the original story.
I want the children to write a "REAL" story -- non-fiction
Children use phonetic spelling and their sequencing diagram to help spell words.
Learning targets - non-fiction texts, sequencing, sentence structure, publishing a book.

I love how the SUN is so much bigger in the Summer picture.
Summer and Fall also only show the branch from the tree ... not the entire tree as in Spring.
I enjoy seeing what children come up with for their illustrations!

Differentiation -- if a child is having difficulty with sentence writing you can have some pre-made story sentence starters -- In the Spring, Bud ... ; In the Summer, Bud
These sentence starters can help spark some ideas for success!
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments here.
If you've used The Life of BUD for your own lessons and would like to share pictures of children's work or lesson ideas, you can also email me at thelifeofbud@aol.com
I would love to see what others have done with this book!

I learned many years ago, that if I wait until the last minute for Christmas gifts, I panic, don't know what to buy, can't find what I want to buy and realize that there are people I forgot! That is when I started slowly shopping during the Summer to find the perfect items for people. I've put BUD on sale to help you start off your shopping ...

The Life of Bud on Sale thru August 1, 2014 -- $4.00 for paperback / $1.00 for an eBook gift card!!
email me for more information - thelifeofbud@aol.com

all eBook gift cards on sale for $1.00 (great stocking stuffers or back to school teacher gifts!)

Friday, July 18, 2014

My view ...

“Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” – Charles Kuralt 

I beg to differ ... From Fort Worth to Virginia Beach through my eyes ....  Shadow wasn't so sure about going "on vacation" ... he sat this way just glaring at me for about the first hour of the trip.


While Steven was getting gas in Louisiana, I spotted this interesting sign ... This gas station is very proud to be serving food made my Chef John Shurley. I truly am not sure if I would purchase gumbo or etouffee from a gas station, sort of reminds me of the Gas Station Sushi Commercial. They are awfully proud that they now have pimento cheese! I'm hungry--but I think I'll pass

So, our first night in Pearl, MS and what are the odds that Steven goes to the vending machine and gets this Coke ..
It was very evident when we entered Georgia ... Unlike driving in Texas where you can see for what seems like hundreds of miles ... in Georgia you get a great view of beautiful trees! Really gorgeous, because many of them were bursting with flowers! The tree on the left looked like either half a heart or a dragon head .... I still can't decide!
These peaches also could have saved our lives! When we stopped for gas I saw a Peach stand on the side of the road .... I started CRAVING Georgia peaches and was actually texting Ashley and my sister Sue about wanting to get Steven to stop (but if you've ever traveled with Steven, you know that stopping means we LOSE time!)  When he got back in the car, I said "can we stop at that peach stand?"
To my surprise he said "sure!"  When we got back on the highway we found out that there was a bad car accident that happened a few miles up the road-- I'm glad we stopped for those peaches!!!
When we were in SOUTH CAROLINA ... I see -- off in the distance, what appears to be a gigantic peach ... I wonder why is there a gigantic peach in SC shouldn't that be in GA?  I'm impressed that I got this picture from my phone, traveling at 70 mph, from the passenger seat and it was on the left side of the car!
Little did I know -- when I came home I googled the GIANT PEACH WATER TOWER of Gaffney, SC and for all you House of Cards fans .... it truly does exist!!!
On ward to North Carolina (Virginia is really FAR from Fort Worth, TX!)
We stopped to walk the dogs and were at a beautiful rest area in North Carolina. Steven sat down at this picnic table and I said ... "what's on your back?" He replied "how the heck would I know!"
Well ... while we were walking around the pine trees (I was picking up pine cones for my Kindergarten class!) this little guy must have fallen onto Steven ... it is a gorgeous caterpillar!
I found a stick and he climbed on and we placed him back into a tree ... if anyone knows what kind of caterpillar he is -- please let me know!
VIRGINIA ... Finally ... and yes -- if you wondered
Brunswick County, VA is the home of
Even though I've lived many places and traveled through many towns ... I had never seen a Cotton Gin ...I've seen cotton out in fields, but not a cotton gin--I can't say that anymore ... I would have loved to go inside!
The Suffolk Cotton Gin

Look at all that COTTON!

There were mounds of white stuff ALL over the parking lot ... COTTON
I did grab a handful and brought it home!
One of the under water tunnels leading to Virginia Beach, VA
I've actually never been in one of these underwater tunnels either!
But the best part of the highway was what we saw at the end ....
Even MUFFIN was in awe of seeing Ashley!
So ... even though we travel on big interstate highways ... there are some really cool things to see in this great land of ours!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Steven, Shadow, Ashley, Muffin & Forrest on the boardwalk
(Muffin checking to see if I am coming to the beach too!)
On June 28, we packed up the car and Muffin, Shadow, Steven, and I drove 1400 miles to Virginia Beach, VA to visit Ashley and Forrest. It was a great visit ... one of the fun things we did was to take the dogs to the beach ... our TEXAS born, rescued dogs got to dip their paws in the Atlantic Ocean!

They loved the beach -- Muffin had her puppy ears on the entire time and there was such JOY in their faces. We noticed Muffin putting her head INTO the wind and smiling! Shadow thought the SAND was something to EAT and roll around in! They had a FANTASTIC time!
Our tails made WEIRD shapes on the BEACH!
Kind of like divining rods point to the ocean!

Shadow "Is that the ocean? Bring it on!"
Muffin is getting a pep talk!

OKAY -- Muffin's  READY!!! You can tell by her EXCITED EARS!!!!!

NO WAY GUYS!!!!! That's scary!!!!

Okay -- it's not THAT bad!!!

Forrest is explaining that he's in the NAVY and the ocean
is SAFE!!!  lol!!!

YAY!!! Muffin got drenched by a WAVE!!!!!

Shadow was more interested in playing in the sand!

Muffin FOOT bombed our FAMILY FOOT picture!!!!
Me, Ashley, Steven, Muffin
and FORREST's Shadow
(Shadow is behind Muffin)
WEIRD picture - we gained one Shadow and lost a Shadow!
FYI ... we visited the Beach around 6pm ... the sand was NOT hot and the dogs had plenty of FRESH WATER to drink! We did not let them drink ocean water .... though we cannot be responsible for how much sand Shadow may have consumed rolling around!!!
We also asked permission to bring the dogs onto the beach ....
We had a GREAT time sharing our love of the BEACH with our PUPS!!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Back to my ROOTS

I truly enjoy every book event I attend -- Book Fairs, Craft Shows, and other Vendor Events ... but when I'm able to go to a school and read to the children ... I am truly in my element and absolutely have a wonderful time!

Kids trying to guess
What's In The Corner?
On Tuesday, July 8, I traveled to Little Elm, TX to visit my friend Robin Whitt's wonderful Montessori School -- Robin's Nest. She is a wonderful person and an awesome teacher! Her little fledglings are so well behaved and ask wonderful questions. I got to visit during Once Upon a Time week and the children were excited about reading and wanting to write their own stories! We had a great time singing BOTH Muffin books and they were able to tell me all about A Simpler Time, in which they had read the day before my visit!

I had some wonderful helpers to be parts of the story ... they loved pretending to be characters in the story! I left them with some blank flip story books and can't wait to see the stories they may have created throughout the week! Thank you Robin for allowing me to come visit!

My CAST of characters!!!!
What Is In The Corner?
To find out -- purchase the book What's In The Corner? A Muffin "Tail"
available at Amazon - What's In The Corner? 
Who ever thought I'd be "famous" at my Dentist's Office? Lake Country Dental, in Fort Worth, TX
now has copies of my books in their children's area ....
click on the link to learn more about Lake Country Dental and to see what they
had to say about me!
While on my vacation to Virginia Beach, VA to visit Ashley and Forrest, I received an email to be interviewed  by NWIndianaLife for a feature story in their A Northwest Indiana Life That Matters section. My friend from high school, Mike Bonaventura, had mentioned my name to them a while ago (which is super touching!!!) and they went ahead and interviewed me!
If you would like to read the story -- click on the following link
NW Indiana Life That Matters

This journey I am on as an author is truly ever changing.
I am truly blessed with the friendships I have made and
the children whose lives I have touched through story times and workshops ...
Thank you all for your support!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Escargot ... OH NO!

I didn't wake up today thinking ... "I should do a blog post about snails!" Nope -- this one just came knocking on the front door ... well -- almost. I walked out of the house on this dreary, rainy, chilly, Sunday morning to find hundreds ... well not hundreds -- but LOTS of snails hanging out on the cut log right by my front porch.

I went to grab the camera and told Steven and he said "cool -- something for your to GOOGLE and learn about today!" He knows me too well!!!!

You truly NEVER know what you are going to see when you step outside each day!

I love how the wood looks in these pictures -- it had been raining so the reflection from the water makes interesting patterns on the cut log!
They like to eat fungi and algae, so I'm sure there is some growing on the old logs.
I thought this one was super cool -- he was really on the move (for a snail) and I thought his antennae looked cute! 
He may also be "going to the bathroom" in this shot!  lol!
If you look to the right on the stick, where it looks like the stick is chomping down,
 there is a BABY snail!
Well HELLO there! He is like - stop taking pictures of me--you're blinding me!
These two could possibly be mating - which involves some sort of
dart stabbing and doesn't sound very romantic. They fertilize their own eggs, which they bury under old logs and stones.
These are younger snails because their shells are more translucent ...
Pretty neat little creatures hanging outside today!
If you want to learn more about snails, click on the link below and find out ALL about SNAILS!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Facing Your Fears!

Ever since Kindergarten, I knew I was not very good at Art Projects. I got a RED Star in cutting (for those of you who now grade in S, N, or U's ... that is a U). And in REAL grades ... it's probably a D!Every time I pick up a pair of scissors, I think of that RED Star!

Being a Kindergarten Teacher has helped me gain some confidence in coloring, cutting and Art Projects, but I still think of that RED Star when I show the kids how to do something! I'm pretty certain that my projects never come out better than the kids projects and that helps them feel more confident in their artistic abilities! And many times I learn something from them.

My cutting & coloring skills have gotten MUCH better -- but my drawing skills still need some work! You know you can't draw when you try VERY hard to draw a Horse on the board for "H" week and the kids come in from lunch recess and ask you why there is an Anteater on the board! TRUE STORY!

So ... I was a bit nervous this year when I knew that the Kindergarten classes at my new school do an author / illustrator study of Eric Carle each year and that the WHOLE class (teacher included) pick an illustration and re-create it for our culmination project. The other three classrooms started their pieces of art and I kept putting it off.

Well -- I didn't put off having the kids paint the tissue paper ... that was FUN! If you've never had 5 and 6 year olds paint tissue paper ... it is really something to try ... We did "cheat" a little and painted on some colored tissue. But, the children learned that you could not PRESS HARD on the paper or you would end up with LOTS of holes and be painting on the table! They even said it looked like a caterpillar had eaten their tissue!

 The children looked at the illustration and chose the colors of the paint they felt would best represent different parts of the picture. They collaborated and decided how much of each color to use and took turns putting on either strokes or dabs of color to make their tissue paper just right!

NOTE-when painting tissue, do it directly on the table do not put any paper under or it will stick to the paper - the paint and tissue dry in about 15 minutes and should lift directly off the table.

  Okay -- we painted our tissue paper! And ... the kids had a blast - they were really ready to start the BIG project! Now, I was really panicked because I had to sketch out the illustration. The other Kindergarten classes were about ready to frame theirs and ours was still in this VERY rough form - painted tissue! And our Insect Showecase was drawing nearer and nearer. Finally, one day after school I decided it was time to Face My Fear ... so I closed the door to my room, took the big poster board, a pencil, and a copy of The Very Lonely Firefly, sat on the floor and started to sketch. After about an hour ... I felt comfortable with what was on the posterboard, but what would the kids think?

The next morning I showed the children and they were ecstatic! They said that I persevered and DID IT! They also said that I drew pretty well and they could not wait to start adding the tissue paper and paint.

So we talked about the illustration some more and the children chose paints that they would use on the background. They also decided that everyone should get a few swipes of the colors and that they would all mix together if they all worked together! I LOVE Expeditionary Learning! So I picked sticks and the kids came up and swiped or blotted or did what they felt would help make the background look like a "nighttime" sky.

They also started to cut and place some of the brown tissue onto the abdomen to see how the colors would look together.
The next step was to cut the tissue paper and fill in the picture. The children did all of the cutting (except for the stars and the legs) ... they decided an adult should do those! (Little did they know I got that RED star in Kindergarten for cutting!!!!)
They added the eyes and mouth which made the Firefly come to life!
We took a gel pen and all signed our names - discreetly - around the lower part of the wings and abdomen.
 We framed it and hung it on the wall in the hallway for Everyone to see! We even hung it a week EARLY! Yay for us!!!!!
 Manara Academy 2013 - 2014
Mrs. Eckroat's Kindergarten Class
Eric Carle Project - A Very Lonely Firefly
It truly is amazing what can happen when you face your fears!