Children's Poetry Feed

Poetry Friday: The Owl and the Brownies


An owl sat alone on the branch of a tree,
And he was as quiet as quiet could be.
It was night and his eyes were round like this
He looked all around; not a thing he did miss.
Some brownies crept up on the branch of the tree,
And they were as quiet as quiet could be
Said the wise old owl, "To-whoooooo, to-whooooo."
Up jumped the brownies and away they flew.
An owl sat alone on the branch of a tree.
And he was as quiet as quiet could be.

(I found this sweet poem by Maude Burnam here.)

And by the way, brownies are tiny magical creatures, sprung from Scottish legend and folklore. As I'm part Scottish - and a former Brownie myself - I've always had a soft spot for these helpful little sprites. ;)

And speaking of brownies ... have you ordered your cookies yet? It's time, it's time! Contact your local Girl Scout and get your order in before it's too late!

(P.S. Thin Mints are my favorites - how about you?)

Happy Friday! :)

Poetry Friday: Christina Rossetti

*Christmas Daybreak*


Before the paling of the stars,

Before the winter morn,

Before the earliest cock crow,

Jesus Christ was born:

Born in a stable,

Cradled in a manger,

In the world His hands had made,

Born a stranger …


Jesus on his mother’s breast

In the stable cold,

Spotless Lamb of God was He,

Shepherd of the fold.

Let us kneel with Mary Maid,

With Joseph bent and hoary,

With saint and angel, ox and ass,

To hail the King of Glory.

A few days ago we set up our Nativity Corner. Here's a quick tour:


On the tabletop are favorite nativity books:

*Not shown are the three books I picked up at the library yesterday: The Friendly Beasts by Tomie de Paola, A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith, and The Cobweb Curtain by Jenny Koralek (a Christmas Mosaic book).

Underneath the book display is where we keep the boys' nativity set:


A small basket holds all the soft dolls - shepherds, wise men and angel:


And inside the sturdy wooden manger we find the Holy Family:


We are looking forward to seeing the beautiful creche set up at church, but what has the boys really excited is Parish Breakfast this Sunday! Me too, but oh, sometimes it's hard to concentrate on Mass when the fragrance of maple syrup and sausages is thick in the air! ;)

On a side note, last night Bill and I caught the very last scene of The Nativity Story on HBO. The cinematography (not sure that's the right term) looks gorgeous, and I see the movie's rated PG. But I'm not sure it's suitable for children, so we'll try to catch it sometime this weekend and preview it ourselves. (If you saw it, what did you think?)

Well, I'm off now to start my day (in the up-off-the-couch sense of the word). So far it's just me and Earlybird, and the sky is still dark in the east. (He's not called Earlybird for nothing, lol.) We're breakfasting on cold pizza (him) and coffee (me) and while I do my morning blog-thing, he's watching a show all about Mars - whoops, make that Jupiter. I stand corrected. ;) (Oh, the boys loves his planets!) He's all talk about "moon rocks" and the "snow" glitter I mentioned casually between sips. Fridays at home usually mean crafts, but I'll need a good deal more coffee in me before I break out the glitter and glue!

I haven't yet tracked down who's hosting the Poetry Round-Up this week, but I'll update this post when I do. In the meantime ...

Happy Friday!

Poetry Friday: The Robin in December

When the leaves have fallenBirdstophat

And the days begin to shorten;

When the dark night draws its curtains

At tea-time on the sun;

When the summer flowers have gone

And we put our warm coats on ~

The Robin comes back to the garden …

Is he waiting to be drawn

To go on a Christmas card?

Is he bringing a touch of red

Now most of the roses are dead?

No: we guess why he comes

And put out seed for him and crumbs.

~ Stanley Cook

December begins tomorrow, and it's time for winter birdwatching! Are your feeders well-stocked? Are your field guides handy? :)


This winter we are planning to collect favorite bird poems and focus our picture study on birds in art. I have ordered a copy of this book, pictured at left, and requested this one from the library. I also thought our winter biography subject would be John James Audubon, The Boy Who Drew Birds.


Right now, we're reading a fun book called The Company of Crows: A Book of Poems. We happen to have a highly entertaining band of crows making daily visits to our front lawn, and their antics are thoroughly distracting and enjoyable! When we hear them coming, we abandon whatever it is we are doing just to watch for a while. They are wonderful to observe - have you ever really watched crows together? They are quite caring and social with each other. This all is very timely for us as we are reading Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allen Crowe for Book Group next week. (And in January we'll be reading The Trumpet of the Swan, another fitting title for our bird study! A magnificent pair lives in a nearby pond.)


Now, we haven't seen a robin just yet, though we most likely will just after Christmas, unless it's very snowy. Robins will figure into our February plans ~ when we begin The Secret Garden. (Have you seen the beautiful new annotated version? It's at the top of my Christmas list!) But if we do happen to spy that robin of December from the poem above, we'll throw out some raisins and apples along with a handful of crumbs, and hope he finds shelter somewhere closeby.


Thanks for visiting today, and, oh yes - the Round up is here! Happy Friday!

A Special Book ~ Lost and Found Again!


My mum and I were shopping in Barnes & Noble this weekend, and naturally I spent most of my time in the children's section. With Christmas just around the corner, it's a perfect excuse time to lavish myself my children (and other children I love) with new books. ;)

Well, as I walked about making mental notes for future holiday shopping (this was mainly a reconnaissance mission) I spied the above book sitting front and center on the bargain book shelf. I froze in my tracks and almost - no I think I did - squeal audibly: Oh my goodness, I remember that book!

It was indeed a larger version of a little, and much beloved, lift-the-flap book we bought for Bookworm when he was just a wee babe - about 12 years ago! (It might not surprise you that I had baskets of books for my first child long before he was born.)

Well that tiny tome has long since been lost and, if I recall, most of the flaps had been ... well, there's just no other way to say it ... ripped off. But oh how I loved it. We loved it together; it was such a special part of our winter reading. (You have to see the pages - exquisitely illustrated - to know what I mean). Even though our son was barely six months old, I remember that year I set up a small winter reading nook, and this book was right there, surrounded by lighted evergreens, peppermint candles and tiny woodland toys. Caught up in new parenthood I didn't realize how special that book was (nor how quickly time would fly), but years later I long to cherish that story (and those memories) again.

So finding this book yesterday - and in a larger, ahem, sturdier size - was such a happy surprise. And it cost all of $7.98! Bookworm will remember it and Crackerjack too - but Earlybird is just the right age for it to be his special book now. (Did I mention the little bunny finger puppet in the back?) This will be one of EB's birthday surprises next month. :)

Peekaboo's author, Mary Melcher, is one of my favorite illustrators. (Just fyi, since we're talking children's books here, the others would be Tasha Tudor, Susan Branch, Jan Brett, Marjolein Bastein, Sharon Lovejoy, Kay Chorao, Mary Engelbreit, Barbara Cooney and Elisa Kleven. I know there are more, but that's all I can think of right now.)

Ms. Melcher only made a few books that I'm aware of: The Best Thing about Valentines and the original Peekaboo Bunny (a garden themed story) as well as a book with which I'm unfamiliar, Mommy Who Does God Love? But you might recognize her artwork from her lovely greeting cards, which were my first foray into her adorable world of tiny animals and pretty landscapes.

Yes, her characters are cute (mostly bunnies and bears), but what I love most about those cards are the landscapes and how real they look - soft, shaded and natural. Februrary's sky is cloudy and gray with a touch of pink at the horizon. The trees are bare and a bit of snow is in the air. Her Halloween cards are all golden sunshine and peachy sunsets. These touches make such a difference - they capture the season.

When I was in high school, my best friend Sabina and I would collect MM cards and exchange them for every possible occasion you could imagine. At the time (late 80s) her cards were very easy to find, but then sadly, they went missing for a while. Well, I'm happy to say a few years ago I found them at of all places, Target! Do look for them if you have a chance. They are just so sweet and seasonal. Usually I buy one of each card first (for collecting) and then pick various cards to send out. ;)

And while I'm on the subject of children's books, and Barnes & Noble, if you happen to be there, you might spy a set of three large hardcover books of poetry, recently reissued by B&N:

We own all three, each one illustrated by the late Gyo Fujikawa. Oh the post I could write about her books! They are wonderful. Sweet, simple, innocent and adorable. I believe they were originally published in the 70s (a time I am most nostalgic for, as it was my childhood era). Do you remember these books? I'm not sure I actually owned them, but her illustrations were so familiar to me when I first found these books years ago. I treasure them, and am so happy they have decided to keep publishing them and at an afforable price ($8.95 apiece).

(For the record, I like the middle book listed the best. Lots of great poems to choose from, all of them spread out over Oh_what_a_busy_daypages brought to life with charming sketches. Perfect for perusing with your little ones - or medium ones or big ones, too!)

And if you can ever find Ms. Fujikawa's long out-of-print, Oh, What a Busy Day - ooh, grab it! This mght be my most favorite children's book ever. It captures the joys of an everyday homey kind of day when you're little.

OK, I've kept you here long enough! Now I must be off to get started on what promises to be a very busy week! There will be much cleaning and cooking (20 guests coming on Thursday!) and I hope many grateful moments - for so many things - but today for special books and the memories they plant in our hearts.

Poetry (and Flowers) Friday



As we watch the summer days depart

And the painted leaves in silence fall,

And the vines are dead upon the wall;

A dreamy sadness fills each heart,

Our garden seems a dreary place,

No brilliant flowers its borders grace,

Save in a sheltered nook apart,

Where gay beneath the autumn sun

Blooms our own Chrysanthemum.


Ah! She is not a “Summer Friend,”

She stays when all the rest have flown,

And left us flowerless and alone;

No singing birds, or blooms to lend

Their brightness to the autumn haze,

‘Tis she who cheers the dreary days;

‘Tis joy to know so sweet a friend;

No fairer flower blooms ‘neath the sun

Then autumn’s queen Chrysanthemum.

(Chrysanthemum by Hattie Knapp can be found in its entirety here.)

For any number of reasons, nature study can be harder to fit into the November schedule ~ we're too busy or it's too wet, cold and dark. All these challenges can stretch right on through the winter season as well. So, how about some indoor nature study for such times? One idea is to look at the birth month flowers of the year. Such a study would make a nice nature notebook all on its own, a project to work on when the inside is better than the out.

As you might have guessed then, November's flower is the chrysanthemum. Here's a look at the rest ...

  • December - paperwhite narcissus
    • a whole study on Christmas plants could be done as well
  • January - carnation or snowdrop
  • February - violet
  • March - daffodil
    • Easter plants, too
  • April - sweet pea
  • May - lilly of the valley
  • June - rose
  • July - larkspur or water lily
  • August - poppy
  • September  - aster
  • October - marigold

Can't you just see all the possibilities in that list? What a fun nature study this could be!

Now, chrysanthemums might still be blooming in sheltered parts of your garden, but old Jack Frost has seen to the last of the flora up here. I was pleasantly surprised to find beautiful dinnerplate mums at my supermarket this weekend, however. I eagerly grabbed a few because I thought they would make nice centerpieces for the Thanksgiving table. They look very pretty in tea cups or small jugs, just one gorgeous blossom to a vessel ...


(Important note ~ Chrysanthemums are toxic to felines, so if you have cats in your home, use caution. Ours - the flowers, not the cats - are kept on top of the refrigerator well out of reach. And on Thanksgiving, they - the cats, not the flowers - will be locked in my bedroom for the day.)

Now for my boys I'm going to keep this pretty simple. I'll just place the flowers in a vase on the table and let them draw what they see. Then we might label the parts of the flower. We'll also visit the withered remains of our garden mums and sketch what they look like, too.

I'll explain why these mums are called football mums (quite larger and showier than the garden variety) and we might learn about fight songs, which are traditional at this "homecoming" time of year. There are even varieties of mums named along these lines - homecoming, cheerleader, and quarterback (which I think looks a bit like the blossom in my banner above!). And it goes without saying we'll catch a football game or two over the weekend. ;)

With my youngest I'll read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henke, and we'll work on this coloring page. With my older boys I will read this beautiful German legend, which would make a perfect start to a Christmas Plants unit.

That's probably as far as we'll get, but here are some other ideas for studying chrysanthemums ...

  • look up the meaning and origin of the word (Greek for "golden flower")
  • for picture study: Monet's "Chrysanthemums"
  • research the many varieties of mums
  • copy the poem above
  • write a letter requesting a garden catalog for the spring
  • sip a cup of chrysanthemum tea, a popular herbal drink
  • make these cupcakes just for fun
  • prepare a small pot of mums for your Thanksgiving hostess
  • make clever paper mum corsages for your guests 
  • stop in at the local nursery and ask for mum-growing tips

For more flower notebook ideas, stop by again sometime soon. I'll be dreaming up some December ideas before long. :) Also, for the whole Poetry Friday Roundup, stop by Big A Little A later today.

And oh yes - Happy Weekend!

Poetry Friday: October's Bright Blue Weather


O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
        And flowers of June together,
    Ye cannot rival for one hour
        October's bright blue weather …

  O suns and skies and flowers of June,
        Count all your boasts together,
    Love loveth best of all the year
        October's bright blue weather.

The stanzas above represent the opening and closing of October's Bright Blue Weather, a lovely poem by Helen Hunt Jackson, one you can read in full here. It's perfect for this mid-autumn Friday, despite the rain lashing the windows ...

As I considered this verse bright dark and early this morning, I remembered a craft I had in mind to do with the boys sometime this fall: an autumn leaf suncatcher. It was the first thing we did this morning, even before math!

I set out just a few materials:


A few shades of blue tissue paper, double-sided tape and several clean Pringles can lids.

You might be wondering why I have a homekeeping book here. Well, it came in very handy ...


... it's been pressing tiny fall leaves for over a week! I collected these way back on our woodland adventure day, specifically with this craft in mind.

By the way, I got the idea for this craft from a charming little book called The Harvest Craft Book by Thomas Berger. Here it is open to the Transparencies page where a more complex (yet very beautiful) craft was described:


Our craft may be considerably more humble, but it required just the right amount of effort from the boys. Actually, I ended up doing most of the finish work as the bits of double-sided tape did prove a tad fussy. (Remember we did this craft early - I'd already had my coffee, but the boys were still waking up, lol!)

Quick directions: Cut a piece of tissue paper to fit inside the lid. Lay tiny leaves against the paper in a pattern you like; adhere them with a bit of double-sided tape. Stick slivers of d.s. tape along the inner edge of the lid and press down the paper with leaves facing down. Hole punch the top and tie a string through; hang where the sunlight will catch it:




Next time we do this craft we will choose brighter leaves - say vivid orange and fiery red - which will stand out more, I think.

There was a promise of blue skies 'round middmorning, but by lunchtime it was pouring again (thunder and all!).


It was time for a warm and hearty afternoon snack:


Grilled cheese sandwiches cut into oak leaf shapes, maple creme cookies, and mugs of mulled cider. It all hit the spot.


Let it rain all it wants today ... October's bright blue weather will return in all its glory tomorrow. :)

Our Nice Red Rosy Apples ...

Have a secret hid unseen ...


Do you know that sweet old poem? It's a lovely way to introduce the tiny star that hides within each and every apple. What a fun surprise for a child (or adult!) who has never seen it before! I myself was all grown up - a mama in fact - before I found the star hidden within.

Well, in case you haven't heard, today is Johnny Appleseed Day! We read a few books about him while waiting for Earlybird at OT this morning, and then, because it wasn't too hot yet, we headed up to the orchard to pick some apples. Only, as soon as we pulled down the lane I realized we had picked the wrong day - the roadway was lined with schoolbuses! So instead of venturing into the orchard, we quicky popped in the barn and purchased a bag of Macs and some cider; then we headed for home. EB was a bit disappointed not to see his ammals but I assured him we'd be back another day soon. I'd so much rather pick apples when the orchard is less busy, when the only background sounds are the autumn breeze, the bleating sheep and the squeals of my children ...

Back home, we tucked into our apples after lunch. We look for the stars every year now - and only on this special day. They still make us smile with surprise. :)

Oh! And I must remind you that tonight is the Full Harvest Moon! Look for its magnificent rising beginning just around sunset. (Perhaps it will be orange this year!)

We did some watercolor painting on the deck today in honor of tonight's moon (our favorite all year) and we made some fun things with our results. (I'll post pictures later tonight or maybe tomorrow.)

In the meantime let me leave you with another apple poem, one that is sure to become our new favorite Apple Day verse:

All the apples bright and red,

They’re hard as rocks, just like your head!

The stars inside, they shine so bright.

The apples glow from their light.

~ By Crackerjack, age 8

Science this Week: All Fired Up!


In the other gardens,

And all up the vale,

From the autumn bonfires,

See the smoke trail!

This is a busy week coming up for us, particularly science-wise. We'll begin our homeschool classes at the New England Aquarium and we'll have our first Nature Study Group meeting! But this afternoon we kicked off our study of chemistry with a bonfire, a first step in an exploration of the elements.

Last week we began reading our main science resource, It's Elementary: How Chemistry Rocks Our World. I am so pleased with this book - it is just the right blend of exciting presentation and solid information. We read about "Greek Geeks," and how Empedocles was the first great thinker to come up with the idea of everything being divided into four elements. He used a burning log as an example: the ash is earth, the liquid sap is water, smoke represents air and heat, the fire.

I thought it would be fun to burn a log in our chiminea and then record our observations of the process. This kind of project is decidedly a Daddy-kind of activity, so I waited for the weekend to begin. :)

What follows are the pictures we took of our process, which will end up in our science notebooks. (We are also toying with the idea of keeping a family science blog in addition to notebooks.)

I also read this encouraging passage in From Nature Stories to Natural Science: A Holistic Approach to Science for Families (a Waldorf-inspired science book):

"Fire is always the starting point for the Seventh Grade chemistry, and the place to start would be with a lovely big bonfire in your yard (assuming that is possible for you). Watch how it burns, how it smokes, the colors and qualities of the flame. These observations should be drawn and written up for the Good Book. The next morning examine the undisturbed bonfire site and and note the patterns of ash and charred wood. Record."

So this week we'll begin our notebooks, with drawings and narrations from our bonfire (pictures, too). I will also have the boys write down information we glean from It's Elementary! - dates, names and definitions. Any experiments we do will go in as well, recorded in both words and pictures.

So without further ado, here are pictures from our afternoon bonfire:


Daddy began with kindling and a few wooden blocks.


A harvestman residing inside the chiminea made a narrow escape!


The fire wasn't catching so we added newspaper, and opened the lid to let in air.


The view from above.


Now we were cookin'!


My fellas all gathered around the "bonfire."


After a while things were really blazing (see top picture) so we decided to wrap things up with a bit of help from the hose.


Inside, in our learning corner, I displayed our wooden nesting elements and opened our book to the page we are working on.

Here's that page close up:


The book is very colorful and child-friendly (mother-friendly, too!).

And, it just so happened this weekend we turned our fireplace back on. I'm going to have Bill talk with the boys about how this (gas) fire is different from the (wood) fire we burned outside today.

More notebook material. ;)


Sing a song of seasons,

Something bright in all!

Flowers in the summer,

Fires in the fall!

(Robert Louis Stevenson)

Poetry Friday: Summer Sun

Sunclipart1_2The August sun will climb high in the sky today, and the temperature will rise right along with  it - all the way to 95 degrees! New England might be known for its cold snowy winters, but our summers are no less dramatic!

Before I share our poem, I'd like to kick off a solar theme this week with a link to a video clip of my brother-in-law, a Nasa solar physicist, speaking with a Baltimore news program yesterday about the science of the sun. My boys enjoyed watching it, and thought their Uncle Alex did a great job! Earlybird kept asking for "the sun one" over and over again. :)

And now, in honor of the blazing heat I can feel building already, here for Poetry Friday is an old favorite by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Summer Sun

Great is the sun, and wide he goes

Through empty heaven without repose;

And in the blue and glowing days

More thick than rain he showers his rays.


Though close still the blinds we pull

To keep the shady parlour cool,

Yet he will find a chink or two

To slip his golden fingers through.


The dusty attic, spider-clad,

He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;

And through the broken edge of tiles

Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.


Meantime his golden face around

He bares to all the garden ground,

And sheds a warm and glittering look

Among the ivy’s inmost nook.


Above the hills, along the blue,

Round the bright air with footing true,

To please the child, to paint the rose,

The gardener of the World, he goes.

Miss Rumphius has the Round-up this week ...


Taken just now as the sun climbed the eastern sky ...

Poetry Friday: Song of the Nightshade Berry Fairy

I've chosen this particular poem today as we happen to have a great vine of nightshade growing along the back fence. I mentioned it in an earlier post, and showed you a picture of its green glossy fruit, but today I found the berries all changing over to their autumn colors. Quite early it would seem!


The boys were oohing and ahhing over the "juicy" looking berries, so I thought it a good time to listen to the words of Cicely Mary Barker's Nightshade Berry Fairy, and heed the warning within:

“You see my berries, how they gleam and glow,

Clear ruby-red, and green, and orange-yellow;

Do they not tempt you, fairies, dangling so?”

The fairies shake their heads and answer “No!

You are a crafty fellow!”


“What won’t you try them? There is naught to pay!

Why should you think my berries poisoned things?

You fairies may look scared and fly away –

The children will believe me when I say

My fruit is fruit for kings!”

But all good fairies cry in anxious haste,

“O children, do not taste!”


(Note from the author: You must believe the good fairies, though the berries look nice. This is the Woody Nightshade, which has purple and yellow flowers in the summer.)

In case you're curious about what the nightshade flowers look like, here's a picture from June:


You can find lots more nature poems in the Cicely Mary Barker series, but in the meantime, stop by Mentor Texts for the Poetry Friday Round Up, and, remember ...

Tread gently now, there may be a Flower Fairy underfoot ...

Poetry Friday: Dinosaurs!


I'm Glad I'm Living Now, Not Then!

When earth was yet a little child
Dinosaurs lived free and wild.

Some as big as spacious homes,
Some as small as tiny gnomes.
A few had wings to fly the skies
With giant beaks and searching eyes.
Harboring murder in their breasts
They stole the fledglings from their nests.
One giant breed lived deep within
Dark waters with its kindly kin.
Still others wandered mean and bold
And ate each other, I've been told.
I know what might or must have been-
I'm glad I'm living now, not then!

(Lillian M. Fisher)

I think the boys will get a kick out of this one; it goes along nicely with our current dinosaur study. It will make a nice copywork page for their notebooks, perhaps accompanied by a coloring page or sketch.

It's been a long time since we've studied the prehistoric age, so I'm still pulling things out of the book boxes downstairs. A few resources we've started with:


The picture of the crane fly fossil in Comstock's book is a virtual match to our specimen!

I brought up the dinosaur toys and as you can see above we have them set up with our book display (they migrate quite often and end up all over the house). We'll plan a trip to the Harvard Musuem of Natural History sometime this summer, but in the meantime I'm going to pick up a copy of Night in the Museum, a movie we saw (and reviewed) last New Year's and enjoyed very much. If you like Ben Stiller you'll find it quite funny. It's set in New York's Natural History Museum, and a T-Rex is a central character. ;)

So there's our poem for this week. For the whole Poetry Friday Round-up, stop in at HipWriterMama's today.

Happy Friday!

Poetry Friday: "Our Tree" by Marchette Chute


When spring comes round, our apple tree
Is very full of flowers,
And when a bird sits on a branch
The petals fall in showers.

When summer comes, our apple tree
Is very full of green,
And everywhere you look in it
There is a leafy screen.

When autumn comes, our apple tree
Is full of things to eat.
The apples hang from every branch
To tumble at our feet.

When winter comes, our apple tree
Is full of snow and ice
And rabbits come to visit it . . .
We think our tree is nice.

This is a perfect time to begin an apple tree study - one that might last the whole year 'round! Do you live near an apple orchard, one that would be convenient to visit a few, or perhaps several, times a year?

A few Septembers ago, my dear friend Lisa suggested we conduct an apple tree nature study with our children. One fine autumn day we brought our children to a local farm and parked ourselves beneath an apple tree. Not just any tree, mind you - the children spent a good deal of time deciding just which tree would be the one to befriend.

Once we selected our tree, we made ourselves comfortable on blankets spread out underneath, and began sketching. Our idea was to visit "our" tree several times throughout the growing season and observe it in all of its stages - fruited, barren and blossomed. I am sorry to report, we let that project get away from us, but this year I would like to renew it(what do you say, Lisa?). :) We'll start with the flowers of spring.

Possibly the trees are just past bloom time, depending on where you live. But that's all right - anywhere you start in the year is a start. Within a year's time your tree will have covered the entire cycle of life. But if you begin soon, your children will have many months to observe their special tree and by autumn, its fruit will taste all the sweeter.

I'll post more on this idea in the future, but I wanted to mention it along with this week's poem - which I think would serve as a lovely cover page to an apple tree journal.

"Our Tree is by Marchette Chute, whose poems I have come to know through a tiny and beloved gem ~ A Small Child's Book of Cozy Poems. It is illustrated by one of my favorites, Cyndy Szekeres (are you familiar with Pippa Mouse books at all?) Several of her poems are featured in this lovely little book, which I highly recommend for the little ones. It's not a board book, but a real hardcover - and slim as it is, it's just the right size for small hands. Its page are filled with mice and other woodland creatures in all kinds of homey arrangements. My particular favorite is a poem called "Politeness" about a squirrel. Maybe that will be my poem next week! :)

Have a grand day, everyone, and be sure to stop by Kelly's Big A little a for the Poetry Friday Round-Up!

Everyday Nature: Pussy Willows

I thought I might post a little nature activity every day (or so) leading up to The Early Spring Field Day. Just to keep spring nature fresh in my mind and yours. ;)

So for this weekend, I'd like to suggest that it's a perfect time to look around for pussy willows. For one, they are in bloom (or almost, depending on where you live), and for two, they are interwoven with Palm Sunday tradition!

When I was a little girl, there was a small brook running through my parents' backyard, by which a small pussy willow grew. I don't think it's there anymore (the brook has long since dried up), but every year at this time I think of that lovely tree. How I loved to play with those soft pretty catkins ...

"The species most beloved by children is the pussy willow, which is often a shrub, rarely reaching twenty feet in height ... These are favorite objects for a nature-study lesson, and yet how little have the teachers or pupils known about these flowers!" (Handbook of Nature Study)

So, to begin with, we must go on a bit of an adventure to find some pussy willows growing nearby. Bill is taking the boys on their Saturday woods-walk and he thinks he knows where he might find some.

"The best place to look for pussy willows is along the banks of a stream, near wet ditches, around the edges of a pond or marsh, or anywhere the ground stays wet." (From The Beginning Naturalist by Gale Lawrence)

Hopefully they'll find some, and if they do and they're not yet blooming, we'll set the branches in warm water and keep a close watch throughout Holy Week. If the branches are already in bloom, and I am so inspired (i.e. I find the time) I might make them into a simple spring wreath for our front door.

Either way, sketches can be made for the nature notebooks. :)

If you find pussy willows growing somewhere nearby, make a note in your calendar where and when, and then make plans to return through the seasons. The Handbook of Nature Study has wonderful lesson plans for studying willows all through the year.

(Now, I'll give you a little tip. I've seen branches of pussy willows for sale in my grocer's florist department. A walk in the countryside sounds lovely, but if all else fails, commercially grown pussy willow is a fine substitute.)

Here's a charming old poem for the children to learn (or perhaps to use as copywork in their nature notebooks):

"Pussy Willow wakened from her cozy winter nap.
For the frolicking spring breeze, on her door would tap.
" It is chilly weather, though the sun feels good;
I will wrap up warmly and wear my furry hood."
Mistress Pussy Willow opened wide her door;
Never had the sunshine seemed so bright before.
Never had the brooklet seemed so full of cheer;
"Good morning, Pussy Willow, Welcome to you, dear!"
Never guest was quainter, than when Pussy came to town,
In her hood of silver gray, and tiny coat of brown.
Happy little children cried with laugh and shout,
"Spring is coming, coming, Mistress Pussy Willow's out!"

(Kate L. Brown)

And a sweet book to request from the library, orPussy_willow - if you're weak like me - order from Amazon is: Pussy Willow

Now here I'm just planting a seed of an idea, but I know many of us are spending the next several days preparing for our family's Easter holiday. Might I mention that it would be a lucky child indeed who found the materials for a new nature notebook in their Easter basket next Sunday? A set of new colored pencils, and a spiral bound sketchbook ... perhaps even a small sized field guide or two?

However you spend your weekend, at home or afield, I hope you enjoy it and many blessings to you this Palm Sunday!

Poetry Friday: A Little Brown Bulb

A golden moment in every spring ... the first tiny flower to appear:


A little brown bulb went to sleep in the ground.

In his little brown nightie he slept very sound.

Old Winter he roared and he raged overhead,

But the little brown bulb did not move in his bed.

But when Spring came tiptoeing over the lea

With fingers to lips as soft as can be,

The little brown bulb just lifted his head,

Slipped off his nightie and jumped out of bed.

(A. Fairman, Spring: Poems, Songs and Stories)

*The Poetry Friday Round-up is at Chicken Spaghetti this week!

Poetry Friday: For the Kids

I'll bet you didn't know it was National Popcorn Day ...

No, neither did I, but now we do, and we have the perfect excuse to whip up a bowlful of that hot and buttery snack along with some sweet steaming cocoa. :)

So why not corral your clan and "pop" in an afternoon movie ~ a fun way to celebrate the end of the "work week."

Happy Friday!

A Popcorn Song

Sing a song of popcorn

When the snowstorms rage;

Fifty little round men

Put into a cage.

Shake them till they laugh and leap

Crowding to the top;

Watch them burst their little coats

Pop!! Pop!! Pop!!

~ Nancy Byrd Turner

Of course, it loses a bit in translation when you consider we only ever make microwave popcorn anymore. That's okay, it's still a mighty cute poem!

For the whole Poetry Friday Round-up, please stop by A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy later today.

ETA - the Round up is at Kelly's Big A little a ~ thanks to Susan, for the tip! :)

Blessings and Books: What We're Up To ...

Here's our bulletin board for this week:


Notice the letters at the top? :) I used those small flat wooden letters you find at the craft store (I'm a little addicted to them these days), painted them a pale blue and glittered them. Blessed. A nice word for the new year, don't you think? The frosty blue will be nice for the winter. I will change to a new word next season ...



  • "The Whole Duty of Children" by Robert Louis Stevenson (Crackerjack)
  • "The Kraken" by Lord Alfred Tennyson (Bookworm)
  • We'll also pore over this beautiful page of bird poems and illustrations, with particular focus paid to "The Chickadee" by Emerson.


History/Social Studies:


  • Twelfth Night (Bookworm)
  • King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (as above)
  • Little Women (This will be the family read-aloud once King Arthur is finished -  we may not start till next week.)

Science & Nature Study:




Sorry this is a bit dark - it's so hard to capture candlelight. The paper craft was an idea from The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions for Children's Faith Formation. The holy card is a beautiful gift from a beautiful friend - someone I cannot think of without feeling the mantle of Mary wrapped around me. :) The candles are just wrapped with some lace ribbon. (Side note - these would be a really pretty decoration for a First Communion. There was some less-feminine white ribbon I might use for CJ's party this May.) And if we have time, I aim to make cupcakes such as Alice's or Elizabeth's today or tomorrow. 

Art Study:


  • Listen to the Kids Classical Hour on Saturday morning.
  • "We Three Kings" (sing and play)

Poetry Friday: Robin Redbreast

The fireside for the Cricket,
The wheatstack for the Mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow, --
Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.

(Excerpted from Robin Redbreast by William Allingham)

Continuing with the winter birding theme, for this week's Poetry Friday, I chose a lovely poem by William Allingham. It think it will look nice in our nature notebook. The poem in its entirety references all of the seasons, but I chose this particular stanza for, though it feels much like spring in New England these days, winter really is here for a spell. The birds know it even if we don't!

At the end of this post I tucked in one more little poem about the robin, this one by Christina Rossetti (my favorite children's poet) from her Sing-Song collection. I noticed both poets speak of sharing a "crumb" with the robin, which is reminiscent of course of our winter birdfeeding.

If you can believe it, the image at the top is a scan of a gift box I bought at the grocery store! I love this image of the beloved British robin. (No, I've never set foot on British soil, but I just know in my bones I would love it there!) We'll begin reading The Secret Garden later this winter and so a closer look at the robin - both American and British - will be in store. I think it would be fun to look at how the robin has been featured throughout children's literature.

My friend Wendy, who lives but a mile from us, saw robins in her yard the other day, so we'll be keeping our eyes peeled. It's funny how we see robins now and again through the winter - they're not quite the spring harbinger they were once known to be.

For more winter birding ideas, please see my friend Jennifer's blog As Cozy as Spring. (I just have to try making that birding bag, Jenn!) And for the whole Poetry Friday Round-Up please stop by A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy later today.

Bread and milk for breakfast,
And woolen frocks to wear,
And a crumb for robin redbreast
On the cold days of the year
~ Christina Rossetti

A Child's Poem for November


"November smells of turkey, grapes, and pumpkin pie,

And leaf-smoke curling gently into the sky.

Some animals have burrowed into the earth

To sleep until the spring.

Is a cricket sharing your house for the winter?

Can you hear him sing?

Nature's garden is resting.

The trees are stark and bare.

Now you can see the lovely nests

You didn't know were there."

~ From "Merry Months of the Year" by Patricia Scarry, as found in Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever.