We became creative, inventive, technologically gifted, resourceful-all in the effort to live life and connect with fellow humans. Plans were ditched or tossed aside, trips canceled, 35th anniversary trips to magical locations did not occur. Birthday parties became drive-by’s. Travel screeched to a standstill as nature locations filled to overflowing with folks desperate to get outside. To get OUT. Childcare and transfer between shared-custody parents became fraught with contact points and who was sick and who was with whom when they got sick. Schooling reached new heights of teamwork between parents, teachers, and Nana’s. Vocabulary increased to include 2020-specific words like virtual learning, hybrid learning, Google Classroom, Zoom, Loom, Chrome Book, internet capabilities, mute yourself. DIY projects blossomed and not once was Lowe’s closed. I suspect they, and other home improvement stores, had a banner year of profits due to the frenzy of home projects. That, along with shortages of flour, yeast, sugar, and toilet paper gave insight to what most of us were doing. Staying home, fixing up, and baking.
The traditions were the hardest to “fix.” Outdoor gatherings, socially distant of course, and much fuss over wearing masks (cute, cotton, and washable) has become so normal, I fear for our social skills and facial expressions once the pandemic settles down.
And then Christmas. How to do gingerbread houses? Carefully. In a huge area. With only healthy grands.
And Christmas gifts? Christmas pillowcases became my idea of the year. Totally reusable gift bags, tied with jump ropes. Open your gifts, put your gift bag, er, pillowcase, on your pillow for a good, snowy night’s sleep. Why didn’t I think of this before? Sure, sewing them on Christmas Eve Day is not advisable, but it did allow me to work my way through several Hallmark Christmas Movies as I cut, pinned, sewed, and ironed. And I’ve already purchased my fabric for next year to avoid the same rush. (We might check back on that one, because having purchased fabric is not the same as having sewn the pillowcases. . ..)
Gingerbread cookies were baked yesterday. December 30. They taste just as good, no matter the date, especially plain, with coffee.
Are things looking up for 2021? I certainly hope so. But even if the recovery is slow, I know we can do it. We’ve had all of 2020 to figure out how to make things work. Like in the days of the Depression, our ancestors made do, made it work, or made do without it. We are ready.
May the Lord go before us, bless us, and keep us as we journey into the new year! See you next year!
Coming soon! Happy Book Birthday to Elephant Ears, written by Fanya Randall, illustrated by Alejandro Echavez! Thank you, Mascot Books http://mascotbooks.com for sending me a copy to review.
Going to school is fraught with all sorts of anxiety and social issues (especially in 2020). A significant part of going to school is learning to navigate in groups of people = social skills. Academics feature in as well. But this book is about bullying, a huge issue nearly any place we go, whether in-person or online.
Max was super excited to begin kindergarten. Mom dropped him off at school, and he was ready to go, new backpack, clothes, and all. What Max was not prepared for was meeting the class bully, who called out attention to Max’s larger than normal ears. Billy continued bullying Max and shouting out, “Max has elephant ears.”
The situation escalates, but I don’t want to ruin the ending, which is perfectly satisfying. Many examples of appropriate behavior are portrayed through other characters. In the end, what we hope would happen in all bullying situations happens. While we cannot expect perfect endings all the time, this book is just right for laying groundwork on how to deal with bullies.
I really enjoyed reading Elephant Ears and came away with good ideas of how to encourage young readers how to avoid becoming a bully, how to help a bully, and how to help someone is being bullied.
What I Liked About This Book:
~ the topic of bullying is relevant and very important
~ the age of the characters is when bullying sometimes begins-kindergarten
~ characters were in place to reflect someone being bullied, a friend who struggled with how to help, and the bully
~ sound examples and story of a bullying incident
~ great story
~ perfect illustrations to go with the story
Max is starting kindergarten and is excited for his first day of school. On the playground, a bully starts to tease Max about his ears making him feel sad. Will Max get enough courage to speak up for himself to the bully, and will his classmates help him?
This book teaches children about bullying and the importance of how to properly handle a bully situation. Through early education our hope is that it will change the narrative where bullying statistics will decrease and children will learn to be more empathetic and inclusive to all.
Thank you, Andrea Williams, for writing this book. Thank you, Mascot Books, for sending a review copy of Goodbye Kindergarten.
What a year we are having! As some people say, the 4th year of April . . .Be sure to read to the bottom of the post for some ideas on ways to add closure to this school year.
Just in time for helping unsettled and disappointed young readers, Andrea Williams has her Goodbye Kindergarten book arriving on the book scene.
Andrea Williams decided to write a book for her kindergartners with the goals of saying goodbye, reminding the students of all the great things they did during the year, and giving students an opportunity to say goodbye and transition to the next grade.
Instead of being full of tears, Goodbye Kindergarten is uplifting as it reminds readers of what they learned, the friends they made, and the fun they had. Most of all, students are reminded that teachers are proud of them and they will never forget their students.
With this odd year of school, most schools have already closed for the remainder of the school year. Students are learning at home. This could be a fun time for young students, or a time of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. At least in our district, our students did not even get a chance to say goodbye to their teachers, classmates, and classrooms. On a Friday, they learned school was closing. By the end of the weekend, they couldn’t even return except to pick up a packet, personal items, and a Chrome book. Shortly after, it was announced that school (as they used to know it) was over for the year.
Saying goodbye is an important step in adjusting to change. Goodbye Kindergarten will help kindergarten students (and preschool students, as they do some of the same activities) remember the good times and talk about what comes next. Goodbye Kindergarten will remind readers that even though classrooms are virtual, their teachers and friends remember them.
What I Like About This Book:
~ the sharing of normal kindergarten activities
~ the remembering of all the things kindergartners do throughout the year
~ the joy and sense of accomplishment by both students and teacher
~ the opportunity to acknowledge the upcoming changes and the ending of kindergarten
~ the simple text, reminiscent of Goodnight Moon
~ the colorful illustrations
Kindergarten has been full of fun and learning, but the school year is almost done. Its time to say goodbye to your teacher and friends. No need to be sad! Celebrate the special people, places, and things in your classroom, and all the knowledge you’ll take with you into first grade!
Some Ways to Add Closure to the School Year:
~ complete school work given by teachers; this will help your student feel the sense of accomplishment
~ celebrate the last day of school with a special breakfast, last day of school pictures, a walk down memory lane of favorite school memories (both at school and at home)
~ draw pictures of favorite school memories, or as you finish the school year, help your child journal about things he or she remembers (they draw, you help them write, or take dictation)
~ print photos you’ve taken during the school year (parties, field trips, classroom visits); let your child add them to a small photo album; label pictures with names and locations
~ ask the teacher to plan a virtual meet and greet (Zoom is quite popular for this); the last day of school would be a perfect time, though multiple visits would be great as well
~ call your child’s teacher and let your child visit
~ video your child doing something new and share the video with your child’s teacher; my daughter-in-law did a live video of my grandson riding a bike (without training wheels!), which was something new he learned. This was quite exciting for him! Having the teacher celebrate was a treat.
~ contact the parents of your child’s friends; arrange for them to have a virtual play date by using a computer app; they could work puzzles at the same time, draw a picture at the same time, share a favorite book, or eat a snack together (yet apart!)
~ revisit first day of school pictures; encourage your student to remember how he or she felt on that day; compare how he or she feels now
~ use technology to your advantage. If your child’s classroom used an app for keeping in touch (our preschoolers used Bloomz), reach out and contact families. I shared a picture of my two preschoolers (grands) on this app. Soon enough, most parents had shared pictures of the rest of the classmates. I shared these with my grands.
~ birthdays? Our granddaughter will turn 4 next week. Her mother has arranged a drive-by and wave birthday party.
Do you have any other great ideas? I’m sure we’d all love new ideas. Share them in the comments. Thanks!
I remember living in Cle Elum the same year I attended kindergarten, 1966-67.
Kindergarten. This monumental first year of school was so much different in the 60s than in the here and now. In fact, many students didn’t even attend kinder, but started school when they were old enough for first grade.
Kindergarten in Cle Elum? Mandatory dresses for girls, must be able to tie shoe laces, and had to be 5 before school started. I must have been fine for tying my laces, since I remember wearing saddle ox shoes. Which (I just googled) was the common name for saddle oxford shoes quite popular at the time. I always thought they were called saddle LOCKS. Haha. Celebrating my birthday in November placed me among the oldest in my class.
I loved kindergarten. We had art, easel painting, music, recess, lunch, NAP time, stories, play time, and so many other fun activities. I remember my mother telling me that my teacher put me at a table full of noisy boys, hoping that I would calm them down. What she probably meant was that I was bossy and would tell them to be quiet. I’m sure I did. Tell them to be quiet. My oldest kid personality came out shining.
If you are familiar with Cle Elum, you know that it is a small town near Snoqualmie Pass in Washington state. We had winter. The type of winter where snow fell, temps were frigid, and everyone knew winter had arrived. We used to live in a two story home. I distinctly remember the year when so much snow fell, we had snow mountains piled high around our house. It became a game to jump out a second story window, land in the snow, follow the tunnel back to the door, run up the steps, and jump out again. Never fear, adults were involved in this seasonal sport. Honestly. I am not making this stuff up.
Also. The “girls must wear dresses” rule. My mom finally got so tired of me standing at the bus stop shivering and freezing that she sent me to school wearing, hold on tight now, pants! She was really stepping out and being rebellious. But she also wasn’t about to let her little girl get frostbite while wearing a cute dress with tights.
I’m pretty sure the above picture was taken in our backyard in Cle Elum. That is me on the left and my brother on the right. We loved playing on that swing set. Our family did so many fun activities when we lived in the mountains. We camped, explored, visited family and friends, climbed mountains, and spent time beside rivers. The northwest became our big backyard.
I remember another funny story about our time in Cle Elum. Mom could hear my brother and I giggling and the toilet flushing repeatedly. She quickly ran into the bathroom and we were entertaining a guest raccoon. Apparently we had let it in, or it had invited itself in. I have no idea how we discovered its love of running water, but the flushing toilet was a perfect play area. My poor mother!
Learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels also happened during my Cle Elum and kindergarten years. I was so proud! Good thing there wasn’t a car parked in front of me when my dad was taking this picture!
What do you remember about kindergarten? Were you a paste taster? I still remember the smell and the urge to sample, though I don’t remember eating any. Share a favorite kinder memory. Let’s compare notes.
Much thanks to Kirsti Call, Writers’ Rumpus, and Walden Pond Press (Deborah Kovacs) for gifting me with a copy of The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu!
Blurb from Amazon:
Anne Ursu, author of the National Book Award nominee The Real Boy, returns with a story of the power of fantasy, the limits of love, and the struggles inherent in growing up.
When you’re an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark.
Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark has been inventive, dreamy, and brilliant—and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.
When fifth grade arrives, however, it’s decided that Iris and Lark should be split into different classrooms, and something breaks in them both.
Iris is no longer so confident; Lark retreats into herself as she deals with challenges at school. And at the same time, something strange is happening in the city around them, things both great and small going missing without a trace.
As Iris begins to understand that anything can be lost in the blink of an eye, she decides it’s up to her to find a way to keep her sister safe.
My thoughts about The Lost Girl:
I loved this story! Iris and Lark, what great names and characters. I adored how each twin was her own unique self while at the same time totally connected (with secret twin language) to her sister. I love how they completed each other…
Until it was time for them to truly become themselves. Which happened unexpectedly at the beginning of the fifth grade school year when parents and principal decided to split Iris and Lark into different classrooms. Without telling them before they got ‘the letter.’
The Lost Girl has such wonderful writing. I was totally engaged in the thought processes of each girl, though most of the story is told through the eyes of Iris. Essentially, this story is a tale of learning to stand confidently in ones’ own shoes and deal with life-hobbies, school, friendships, challenges.
I loved the magical threads woven through the story and the mysterious disappearances of favored items. An eerie character, different after school pursuits, sneaky crows, and new friendships captured my imagination and focused my attention on the twin story.
If you are a twin, you definitely should read The Lost Girl. If you are not a twin, never fear. Now you can read and feel what it’s like to be a twin. Great read!
3 grands arrived at 7:30. 1 grand forgot her shoes for P.E., so we had to make a quick return trip to apartment to get shoes and socks. But before that…
Grand 4 (surprise mama!) was not ready to leave home yet, due to unexpected need for early departure. But quick she was. Footie jammies, breakfast bar in a baggie, jacket, plastic princess jelly shoes, baby and kitty, and curly golden locks adorned the youngest.
After car seat number 2 was buckled in, the 2 youngest clambered in and were secured in place. The 2 oldest took their places, smushed with backpacks and jackets.
To the apartment. Retrieve socks, shoes, and reheat cup of tea.
To school. After all of this, 15 minutes early! So the Nana bus went on a road trip. Cook Road is very scenic.
To school, still 5 minutes to spare. Nana and the 4 visited then dashed through the drop off line, sending the eldest off to school.
Then the 2 youngest plus Nana made a quick trip at the store to purchase yogurt for grands, yogurt for Nana, nuts for Papa, cans for kitty, and spinach because it has sounded good.
Never mind slippery plastic princess shoes, colorful footie jammies, and two helpers chattering away nonstop. Food on faces? Please ignore. Hair undone? Curly locks is too cute to bother, all those ringlets. Harried adult guiding two littles? You never know what HAS been going on (hence jammies and slippy shoes) before shopping trip.
Despite the crazies, a grand time was had by all, the list was checked off, and the Nana bus made it home with time to spare before loading up to go back to school to pick up the 2 oldest grands and race home to meet number 5 who waited in driveway with auntie. Alas, Nana bus only seats 4 grands.
Early release week=adventures! Nice weather and all afternoon outside playing and using imaginations? Wonderful.
So whenever you visit a store and see an elderly woman (OK, not that elderly yet, but older than a teen) with messy bun, mismatched clothing, jammie-clad kiddos, and a crazed look in her eyes, don’t judge the book by the cover. One never knows the events leading up to a shopping trip.
And the grands? Perfectly adorable and helpful the entire way.
When I discover a blog post that I know will be very helpful, now or in the future, and need to keep the information, I often repost it to my blog. I’m not always good recalling which blog posted the article I want to revisit, especially when I only remember the gist. But when I repost to my blog and tag it for my categories, I can refer back to it as needed.
Plus, unlike a printout of the post, the live post gives me access to the live links. Instant gratification!
Thanks so much, Writers Rumpus!
Does you have any tips for organizing online resources?
What’s a girl to do when she is suddenly placed in a class WITH the hard-nosed teacher and WITHOUT her best friend and co-chef? The project they have been planning for years is swept off the table and the friends are paired with new partners.
Ana is devastated to learn she must partner with Dasher, a new kid from Alaska. All the new girl talks about is sled dogs. Worse, she has no culinary skills! Even worse, best friend Lily is paired with Via, another non-cook but super cool girl.
AND only Lily knows the truth about Ana. OCD dogs her every waking minute, leading Ana to obsess over germs and wash her hands to the point of cracked, chapped skin.
There are so many great things about Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners! I loved the characters and the middle school angst. The finer details of friendship, making new friends, OCD, school, projects, hobbies, teamwork, trying something new – all of these important issues play together in this engaging chapter book.
I learned new information about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and treatment for this disorder. I also learned many new things about racing sled dogs and creating unique recipes. Readers will find at least one thing to identify with through the characters in Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners. Readers looking for books about dogs, friends, cooking and creating, going to school, or OCD will love this book.
Two thumbs up for Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners by Natalie Rompella.
P.S. ACTUAL recipes are shared in this book, creations by the main characters.
I won a copy of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners after reading an interview with Natalie Rompella and commenting about her new book at groggorg.blogspot.com. You can read the interview here.
He was so new that he didn’t realize children would soon come pouring through his doors. Gasp! Janitor was his confidant and friend and tried to tell him things would be great.
But School was anxious.
And the children came to school. Some were bored (that hurt School’s feelings), some cried and were afraid to stay at school (School was that bad?), and School even had an accidental fire drill the first day!
Would School enjoy being School?
I LOVED this story! Who would have thought about first-day-of-school-new-building story from the viewpoint of the school!
Funny, imaginative, and realistic. School’s First Day of School will lighten the hearts of all readers.
Draw a Picture of Your School
Materials: paper, pencils, markers, crayons
1. Use the pencil to outline your school. Maybe you go to a huge elementary school, a small private school, or homeschool. Whichever type of school you attend, draw a picture of it.
2. Decorate your school. Maybe you could name your school, or print the name it already has on the top of the building.
3. Share your picture.
How do you think School felt before the first day? How did the boys and girls feel about going back to school? How do YOU feel about going to school?
I love school! Now that I am a writer and I work from home, I don’t get to enjoy the first day of school as a teacher. I miss school! But I hope to visit again soon and read books with my favorite people – the students.