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 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.

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

Stay safe, stay well,


adjusting, creativity, learning, pandemic, re-mote learning, re-mote teaching, remote-learning, teaching, working together

Remote-“Busy” Work ??

I’m a teacher, but I have a complaint about some of the work given to students during this period of remote learning. Disclaimer-I’m speaking from the position as a mother when I state this point and the student, in particular, is my son. Anyone else out there feeling the same? Are you feeling the duality of roles, teacher vs. parent, more so than ever?

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As a teacher, I understand that the universal “we” as teachers want our students to not lose ground during this time. And as a special education teacher this involves working to the goals set up in each of our student’s IEP which we are required to follow by law. And I have to say that when remote learning works, it works well and when it doesn’t . . .

So it seems to me that work should only be assigned if it seeks to help the student learn the specific topic contained within said subject. Do I hear a “Ye-ah!” I thought so.

Now, I work with pre-school students, and that adds a variable of difficulty due to their maturity level, which compounded with the fact that my students are visually impaired further increases the difficulties in tele-teaching. My focus is specific to their goals, it has to be. It’s hard enough to keep their attention during a 30 minute session. In my case, “busy” work would not fly.

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That being said, last week my son, a high school senior, was given a project that looked like smelled like, sounded like and was “busy” work. And as a senior in HS, not usually a period of time when many students want to work hard, the task he was assigned was that much more onerous to him and by relation to my husband and I. Graduation is so close . . . and sometimes feels so far.

But in this time of quaran-teaming my husband and I got down to it and worked with our son to creatively tackle his assignment. It wound up becoming a good time. It was creative, collaborative, and in fact even fun. I still think my son’s project was “busy” work, but it allowed us to work together for success in a way that, at his age, my son hasn’t needed in a while. And working together toward what was now our mutual goal, we each gained so much. So in a way, although I nor my husband would ever tell his teacher this, as we don’t want more projects like it, we’re appreciative of the opportunity the “busy” work afforded us.

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The only way to get through this time is by working together.