Monthly Archives: November 2017

Picture Book Month: Yellow T-Shirt

Picture Book Month: Yellow T-Shirt

Read: In My New Yellow Shirt by Eileen Spinelli

Aunt Betty gives her nephew a new yellow shirt for his birthday.

“That’s no fun,” his best friend, Sam, declares.

But the birthday boy loves it and imagines himself transformed into a variety of yellow shapes and forms:

A yellow duck

A yellow lion

A yellow cab

A yellow caterpillar

A yellow daffodil

A yellow tropical fish

A yellow tennis ball

A yellow trumpet

A yellow canary

A yellow butterfly

A golden treasure hidden in a dark, dark attic

A yellow banana

A yellow submarine

A yellow and black fire fly

And a “smile of moon.”


Do you play soccer? Do you collect fire flies? Do you belong to a secret boys’ or girls’ club? Decorate a T-Shirt with a favorite shape or symbol.



Fabric paint

Fabric brushes

Fabric markers

Water and container for water

Fabric glue

Iron-on transfers

Iron-on patches

Additional Reading:

Boase, Petra. T-Shirt Fun

Gould, Deborah. Aaron’s Shirt

Wells, Rosemary. Max’s Dragon Shirt

Wollman, Jessica. Andrew’s Bright Blue T-Shirt

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Dumpling Days


Lin, Grace. Dumpling Days.  New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012.

Pacy and her two sisters are headed to Taiwan to spend their summer vacation. They are not looking forward to spending a month in a country they’ve never visited before, don’t speak the language and don’t know the relatives they are going to live with.

And even though their mother has signed them up for art classes to encourage them to learn about their heritage, the visit doesn’t necessarily start off smoothly.  Pacy is artistic but painting bamboo for a week isn’t what she expected from a painting class. Plus, the girl sitting next to her in class isn’t nice to her at all.

Many Taiwanese don’t understand why Pacy doesn’t speak Chinese and show their displeasure. Pacy defends herself at least in her own mind. She’s an American and her parents never made her learn Chinese.  Pacy’s loving relatives introduce her and her sisters to the temples and neighborhoods of Taiwan, strange foods like chicken feet and quail eggs and the customs of Ghost month which go on during their month-long visit. At least, Pacy can eat her favorite dumplings every day.

By the time the month is up, though, Pacy realizes what her identity is: she is a Taiwanese-American even if she can’t speak Chinese and that her family loves her despite of that fact.


As a Greek-American, I easily understood Pacy’s struggle to identify as a dual American although I speak, read and write Greek. Having visited the countries of my ancestry, I also understood the clash of cultures that she experienced. I lived in my father’s village in Cyprus for seven months. There was no running water or modern plumbing of any kind, no electricity and little in the way modern transportation. There was a bus that went through the village in the morning and returned at night and one or two privately owned cars.  There were plenty of donkeys, though!

No one signed me up for painting classes but I did learn to pick fruit and olives during the harvest, make a fire and skin and gut freshly killed birds! (My aunt showed me how!)

So I empathized with the struggle to learn to even like the country of your heritage let alone identity with that heritage. There’s a lot of freedom that comes from eventually realizing and accepting what you are.


Pacy and her sisters’ ancestors are from Taiwan. To learn more about Taiwan and its culture check out the following links:


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Picture Book Month: Have a Too Cool Day!!

Picture Book Month: Have a Too Cool Day!!
Sunglasses - Too Cool!

Sunglasses – Too Cool!

Read Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly and James Dean.

“Pete the Cat did not feel happy. Pete had never, ever, ever, ever been grumpy before. Pete had the blue cat blues.”

Grumpy Toad usually was grumpy but on the day he met Pete the Cat, he was wearing cool, blue, magic sunglasses which made him look at everything in a new way.

When Pete the Cat tried them on, he saw the world in a whole new way, too.

Walking along with his new attitude, Pete the Cat ran into his friends, Squirrel, Turtle and Alligator and lent them his cool, blue, magic sunglasses. They saw the world in a whole new way just like Pete the Cat and Grumpy Toad!

Isn’t that cool?

Then Pete the Cat fell and cracked his cool, blue, magic sunglasses.

What would he do without them?

The Wise Old Owl told him the truth: Pete the Cat didn’t need his cool, blue, magic sunglasses to see the world in a new way. “Just remember to look for the good in every day,” the Wise Old Owl told him.

Pete the Cat looks all around him and exclaimed, “Too cool!”


Decorate a pair of sunglasses to brighten your day like Pete the Cat and his friends.



Strong glue like gorilla glue


Paint in squeeze tubes or bottles


Make your sunglasses the coolest ever – you don’t have to paint your glasses blue like Pete the Cat’s! You can paint them any color or design.

*Remember: if you paint the lenses, you won’t be able to see through them!

 Additional Reading:
Lizzie Logan Wears Purple Sunglasses by Eileen Spinelli


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Picture Book Month: Groovy Buttons!!

Picture Book Month: Groovy Buttons!!
Groovy Buttons

Groovy Buttons

Read: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin.

“Pete the Cat puts on his favorite shirt with four, big, colorful, round, groovy buttons.”

But one by one, the buttons pop off and roll away. He realizes that he doesn’t have any buttons on his favorite shirt:

4 – 1 = 3

3 – 1 = 2

2 – 1 =1

1 – 1 = 0

Pete the Cat’s button less shirt opens up and what does he see? His belly button!

What can you do with your buttons?


Use buttons to decorate…anything! Use your imagination!

List of things to decorate with buttons:

Journal cover



Picture frame


Book bag or any kind of bag



Lots of buttons

Needle and thread (if you know how to sew)


Alternative Project: Make your own buttons


Modeling clay in different colors


Make small balls and flatten them. Poke four holes in the center with the pencil. What will you do with your handmade buttons?


*copyright Art work by Marion Constantinides 2015

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Picture Book Month: It Stinks!

Picture Book Month: It Stinks!
Can you turn this into a stinky sneaker into something else?

Can you turn this into a stinky sneaker into something else? 


Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers by Megan McDonald.

In this book, Stink and his friend enter a contest to win the prize for the world’s smelliest sneaker. Stink meets someone

who actually works using his nose at the competition. He asks Stink to be one of the judges! It means that

Stink can’t enter the contest but he accepts. None of the judges knows whose sneakers are whose. It’s a surprise to all

the judges especially Stink about who has the World’s Super-Stinky sneakers.


Everyone has a pair of stinky sneakers (including adults)! Challenge your friends to a contest to see who has the

sneakers that stink the most! First, read how Stink and his friend made their sneakers the worst ever and try to come up

with ideas of your own that are better than theirs! Then using the materials you assembled, make your sneakers stink!


A pair of old sneakers

Substances that will make the sneakers stink (Use your imagination but NEVER use anything that is dangerous!)

A fence or wall to display the sneakers entered in your contest (ask an adult for permission to use the fence or wall)

One or three judges (an odd number is best so there are no ties in the voting)

A trophy or similar prize for the world’s worst stinky sneaker



Make fliers to announce the contest and hang them up all over the neighborhood.

Then, make your sneakers the ones that stink the most! Bring them to the place where you will hold the contest. Make

sure the judges write their choice of a winner on a piece of paper so that the judging is secret. When the contest is over,

display the sneakers for everyone in the neighborhood to see. If you use a chain link fence, tie the shoelaces on the

fence and let the sneakers dangle. If you use a wall, keep the pairs together by tying the shoelaces together.

Wheew! Displayed together the sneakers really do stink all over!

Additional reading:
Want to know what else you can do to a sneaker or shoe?

Read: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean.


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Let’s Celebrate! El Dia de los Muertos Banner

Let’s Celebrate! El Dia de los Muertos Banner
El Dia de Los Muetos Banner Design

El Dia de Los Muertos Banner Design


Felt in various colors

Puffy paint in bright and metallic colors



Glitter glue (optional)

Hole punch

Paper in various colors (optional)

Scraps of material (optional)

Decorative gems (optional)



White glue



  1. Select a piece of felt for the background of the banner. Place the banner  vertically or horizontally.
  2. Using different colors of the felt and using the letter stencils, trace and cut three-letter E; one A; two L; one D; one I; two O; two S; one T; one U; and one R.
  3. Arrange the letters on the felt background. Glue. Allow to dry.
  4. Some objects associated with the Day of the Dead are skeletons, marigolds and skulls. Draw and cut flowers, skulls and skeletons out of the remaining felt or use paper or another material. Glue and let dry.
  5. Add sequins, glitter, beads, etc. to the overall design or add starburst, the sun or other symbols right to the holiday. Let dry.
  6. Punch holes in the top corners of the felt. Pass a piece of string longer than the length of the banner through one hole, tie a knot and then pass it through the second hole. Glue a strip of cardboard that fits between the holes and glue it to the back of the banner at the top. Let dry and hang up. Celebrate El Dia de los Muertos!
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