Saturday, September 26, 2015

Monroe's Orchard 2015

Our family's favorite time of the year is fall. We love the cooler weather, Halloween, and especially going to pick apples and pumpkins at the farm. The farm we like to visit is Monroe's Orchard in Hiram, Ohio.


Last year, I was blessed to be invited to participate in the Apple Festivals at Monroe's. My children were as excited as I was because it allowed them to visit the pumpkin patch and apple orchard three weekends in a row!  This year, I am thankful that I was invited back. (Monroe's Orchard Apple Festivals -- Sept. 26, Oct. 3, and Oct. 10).

My youngest son started asking about the first Apple Festival about two weeks ago. We had a countdown going until today when we packed up all our gear to spend the day at Monroe's Orchard with other folks just like us that love fall and all its givings.

I am so lucky to have four helpful and well-behaved children. They helped me put up the tent, set the tables, and prepare for the day.
My oldest daughter was thoughtful enough to take this photo of me talking to a student that heard me speak at her school last year.
Also, she snapped this picture of my youngest son and I playing the "SPELL YOUR NAME" Game with a fan who told me she purchased a Three Ghost Friends book last year and picked up the TGF Halloween book this year! (THANK YOU!!)
Our craft table was busy!! Children loved making their own healthy beards based on BABY BEARDS!.
I made a new shirt for this year's festivals!
It was the perfect day. Not too hot and not too cool!
Another young child enjoying the "SPELL YOUR NAME" Game.
Our activity and story time area was one of many fun things for families. There was a tiny train to ride, fire trucks, a bounce house, apple and apple cider samples, hayrides, other yummy foods, face painting, and more. My family ended the day with picking pumpkins in the patch and buying apples and cider to take home. It was a great day. We can't wait for next weekend.

I would love to see you at Monroe's Orchard on October 3 and October 10th (1pm-5pm). I know your family will have a great time!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thank You Notes

I loved these "Thank You" notes from second graders at Craddock Elementary School. THANK YOU for the Thank yous. You made me smile today.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

National Book Festival

My family attended the National Book Festival in Washington DC on September 5, 2015. In many ways our family can not live without books; which is why we traveled six hours from Ohio for the fourth year in a row. At the festival, we enjoyed many entertaining presentations by authors and illustrators, had stacks of our books autographed, and met many other children's book enthusiasts. This was our fourth National Book Festival and we thought it was the best yet!
Poster by Peter de Sève - Image Source (Library of Congress)
This year's theme was "I CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT BOOKS" which is one of many famous quotes by Thomas Jefferson. 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Library of Congress acquiring Thomas Jefferson's personal collection of 6,000 books. In 1812, the British destroyed the first Library of Congress and in 1815 Thomas Jefferson sold his collection for just over $23,000 to help rebuild the Library. (Washington Post).

The festival started 10am but the doors at Walter E. Washington Convention Center opened at 9am.

Within the first 5 minutes of arriving we were interviewed by PBS. They asked my children to talk about what they were looking forward to seeing and doing at the festival.  They answered "Seeing Steve Light, and meeting authors!"
Next, I met Todd Bol, Creator, Executive Director and First Steward of Little Free Library. We have a Little Free Library in our front yard. It was an honor to meet him.
We saw an amazing presentation by Christian Robinson and Mac Barnett. We love their new book, Leo: A Ghost Story.
Steve Light entertained us by reading his book Have You Seen My Dragon?. My family has been fans of Steve Light for 5 years. It was exciting to finally meet him in person!
I carted around a ton of books. We were able to get about 2/3 of them autographed.  
My daughter was the circle in Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld's FriendShape presentation.
Caldecott Medalist, Dan Santat autographed our books! My children really enjoyed his hilarious presentation -- "I Like Chicken!"
My children were very excited Tom Angleberger, author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, autographed their books.
Audrey Wood was one of over a dozen authors and illustrators to sign our poster! She remembered when we celebrated her birthday on Happy Birthday Author.
The NatBookFest is perfect event for this family who CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT BOOKS! If your family loves books too, I hope you consider joining us next year!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Visit to Craddock Elementary School • Aurora, Ohio

This week I visited Craddock Elementary School in Aurora, Ohio where second grade students are preparing for a school year full of creative writing. We reviewed what they learned in first grade about "small moments" and how those "small moments" can be turned into BIG stories.


A "small moment" is a part of a bigger experience that can be stretched and described as a full story. It is common for students to be asked to write about their summer vacation. The idea of summer vacation is a BIG idea. A student may think to write about their summer trip to Washington DC. The trip to Washington DC is still a BIG idea. Students in Aurora City Schools are asked to go even "smaller". Maybe on that trip to Washington DC they rode the Metro for the first time or maybe they played catch in the grass under the Washington Monument. By getting "smaller" the student's writing can be better because they can focus on the fine details and write a vivid description of the experience instead a general overview of a bigger event.

I was asked to share how I use "small moments" in my own writing with the second graders. I opened with three stories about experiences I had that sparked story ideas that I wrote in my journals. One of stories was about a three-year-old boy I saw dressed in an astronaut costume when I stayed at a hotel in Washington DC. When I saw this boy I couldn't help but wonder, "Why is this boy wearing an astronaut suit? Is he a REAL astronaut? Is his rocket ship here at the hotel?"

I write my "small moments" in these journals.
After the three "small moment" stories, I shared my experience turning the "small moment" at my dinner table with my messy-faced son into my book BABY BEARDS!. I showed the students all the steps of making the book; writing in my journal, sketching, storyboards, painting, book design, and final book.

I had a great time at Craddock Elementary School! I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my writing experiences and I wish all the students much success this school year!

View more photos by viewing the second grade blog!