Covid-19, creativity, in person sessions, quarantine, re-mote learning, Storystorm, teaching

Uncertainty

January has been a difficult month. My school has quarantined multiple classes in both sites I visit, without sharing much information and without providing support to the therapists/teachers who continue to provide both remote and in-person sessions. According to my school admin., as long as you are have only been in a room or in contact with a student who was exposed to someone who tested positive for less than ten minutes you have nothing to worry about. As a teacher for pre-school students with delays, who are encouraged to wear their masks, but not required to, well let’s just say . . . I’m worried.

Worry compounded with a lack of compensation, yet increasing expectations has affected my personal writing time. I’m having difficulty attending to my personal creative efforts outside of the materials I create for my students. I can’t seem to lose my concerns by creating stories as I’m used to doing.

Thank goodness for Storystorm. For the first time ever, I have completed the challenge to come up with a picture book idea for each day of January. The guest bloggers on Tara Lazar’s blog Writing for Children While Raising Them had a good deal of positive take away thoughts that have helped me through the month.

I’m hoping February will be a better month both for clarity, and creativity. I hope it’s that way for you too.

Stay safe, stay well.

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:Donna Marie, children's books, essential workers, hand washing song, homebound, hygene, masks, pandemic, picture books, Pippendell Press, Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers!, pre-school classroom, prek activities, quarantine, re-mote learning

Hero Helpers

Months ago I entered a book giveaway contest on the site Writing and Illustrating https://kathytemean.wordpress.com. I was the happy winner chosen. The book was, Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! by :Donna Marie.

When I read the blurb about the book, I knew it would be perfect to help my students, who are pre-k age, make some sense of why masks are needed now, the importance of thorough hand washing, and give them a window onto the concept of social distancing.

Just this past Friday, Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! with Sam arrived in the mail. The author was kind enough to write a lovely inscription in the book acknowledging teachers as heroes too. I, as well as so many of my colleagues have found ourselves in difficult positions during these times. Although I can only speak for myself, I believe I’m not alone in appreciating the recognition.

There are eight diverse and inclusive versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! Each one depicts children following the guidelines of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. By following those three necessities the children see themselves as hero helpers to the essential workers getting us through this pandemic. Essential workers are depicted in illustrations along with their titles which is another plus as my students have recently studied the topic of community helpers.

Available for download at PIPPINHEROHELPERS.COM are charts, signs and coloring pages encouraging the necessary protocols through fun illustrations with simple straightforward language.

Thank you :Donna Marie for creating this book validating children’s concerns and allowing them to see characters they can relate to face the challenges they find themselves going through.

My lesson plans for today include reading Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! with Sam. I’m sure the story will get rave reviews.

Abigail Gray Swartz, Arwen Evans, Ashley Wheelock, books, children's books, Covid-10, House of Tomorrow, illustration, masks, picture book author, picture book illustrators, picture books, reviews, support an author

The Safe Return by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans, illustrated by Abigail Gray Swartz

There were two entrants to my Chilren’s Book Review Lottery. This week I’ll be sharing with you my thoughts on The Safe Return by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans, illustrated by Abigail Gray Swartz.

Through staccato text, The Safe Return brings readers along on a group bike ride in which they can feel the whoosh of the wind and the flap of handle bar streamers as feet kick, balance, roll, and peddle.

Sneakers pound the pavement like a chorus of drums; their rhythm broken by the drrring of a bicycle bell. The story feels and sounds like a typical bike ride with a group of friends, but like everything else today it’s far from what we used to, only a year ago, think of as typical.

The children practice bicycle safety by strapping on their bicycle helmets, safely stowing a much loved stuffed bunny in his own basket and riding with parental supervision. But then the safety measures we’ve had to accept and use on a daily basis since March of 2020 come into play.

The children all wear masks that cover their mouth and nose as does the bunny and throughout their ride they practice social distancing. When a bicycle mishap occurs social distancing is maintained and when the bunny is lost and emotions are high, it is still practiced and maintained. The Safe Return is a great book to read to children in order to demonstrate best practices in as natural a way as possible.

The illustrations of the book use both a warm and cool palette which matches the warmth of the friendly outing as well as the practical need for and safe use of Covid-19 safety protocols. The illustrator does a beautiful job of conveying emotion through the characters’ eyes and through their body language. As a teacher for the visually impaired blind, I often work with students to improve their scanning skills in order to locate hidden pictures within complex spreads and the illustrator has done that within the book too!

The active prose is blended with imagery. The phrase, kick, balance, roll sets the book’s journey in motion. The use of numbers within the book is great for practicing basic numerical and mathematical concepts with children and those numbers propel the forward motion of the story and the bicyclists. There’s also a basic physics lesson within the book, that kids and parents will relate to. The imagery which is sprinkled throughout the text conveys an awareness the riders have of the beauty, the community, the friendship, and love surrounding them, as well as the precautions they need to use to protect themselves and others. There is so much that readers will take away with them from reading this book even it’s title, The Safe Return holds a duality of meaning that I think its readers will enjoy.

black lives matter, children's books, children's writing, early chapter books, eifrig publishing, flattening the curve, hand washing song, homebound, hope, hygene, hygene, Jen Ball, Mark Isherwood, masks, pandemic, Penny Smith Eifrig, quarantine, Racisim, Racism, re-mote learning, re-mote teaching, remote-learning

“Zowie! What an uber-iffic idea!”

Cleopatra W. Darby, illustrated by Jennifer Ball, is at work at another big idea

The title is exactly what Cleo and I thought when, in an effort to reach out to kids dealing with our changed and changing times Eifrig Publishing Company owner, Penny Smith Eifrig, inspired by one of her authors, Mark Isherwood, reached out to her authors about creating free ebook stories that would speak to the conditions and issues that children are presently dealing with. I and Cleopatra W. DArby, who’s in two books published by Eifrig publishing https://www.eifrigpublishing.com/ and who is illustrated by Jennifer Ball, were excited to answered the call.

Cleopatra W. Darby is into being “green”. She’s the queen of recycling, reusing and renewing. She has big ideas which many times involve inventions. In her Re-Act-Shack she takes thing-a-ma-jigs, whoosey-what-sis, doodads and what-cha-ma-call-its and turns them into kooky resourceful inventions. https://www.eifrigpublishing.com/products/copy-of-cleos-big-ideas-onward-and-upward

In the free ebook Cleo’s Big Ideas: Flattening the Curve, Cleo finds herself having a hard time coming up with big ideas once the Corona virus hits. She has small ideas like making a mini-mask for her pet tortoise Winston and medium size ideas like converting her haul-and-go to deliver groceries for a homebound neighbor. But it’s not until her friends, Ji Won, Sara, and Albert get involved that she sees a way to pull together small ideas and with everyone’s help make a big difference.

This ebook is meant to be an avenue through which kids can see their feelings, fears, concerns validated. Its my hope that this story will open up discussions between children and their parents that will assist children in coping with, and understanding the difficult issues that currently surround them.

For your free copy please visit https://www.eifrigpublishing.com/products/cleos-big-ideas-flattening-the-curve

Stay safe, stay well,

Jan

hygene, pandemic, quarantine

School’s Out!

Whoo hoo! Yippee! Hooray! Summer’s just ahead which usually means sunshine, beaches, barbecues.

Is anyone else feeling like it doesn’t have the same draw this year? I don’t know about you but, although my state is opening up, I’m not feeling the desire to go to a beach or restaurant half capacity, with social distancing in place, etc. Uh-uh, no thanks, I’ll take a pass.

I’d rather not worry about beach facilities that might not be cleaned properly or wait staff who might not have had time to wipe down salt and pepper shakers or that maybe didn’t clean off a table top surface completely. Not to mention what could happen in the kitchen with the cook and bussing staff. Too many possibilities for oversights and mistakes. And then there’s the people who don’t follow the mandated guidelines. You know they’re out there. Uh-uh, no thanks. I’m going to try to enjoy summer closer to home.

Although I have to say with one college student home for the summer and one HS graduate home there’s already been days when claustrophobia is just about hovering in the air. You can just walk in a room and get the sense you’d better make like a tree and leaf. I’m afraid its going to be a long hot summer.

I hope it turns out better than I expect.