Alphabet Forest 2020

Author, illus­tra­tor, and edu­ca­tor Debra Frasi­er intro­duces the Alpha­bet For­est 2020, in which your favorite authors, illus­tra­tors, and vol­un­teers share videos, activ­i­ties, and ideas for a lit­er­a­cy expe­ri­ence at home or in a class­room. Play the vocab­u­lary game! Get your paper, glue, and favorite crayons or mark­ers ready!

Debra Frasi­er demon­strates how to make a Game Card so we can col­lect our words, just as hun­dreds of peo­ple do each year at the Min­neso­ta State Fair. We could­n’t hold the Fair in 2020, so we decid­ed to have a Fair at home. (If you’d rather, here’s a print­able ver­sion of the Game Card.)

Alphabet Forest Game Card

Author Cather­ineThimmesh (Girls Think of Every­thing, Camp Pan­da) shares a State Fair mem­o­ry. Be sure to include her favorite words on your Game Card.

Alpha­bet For­est vol­un­teer Sarah Nel­son shares her favorite word. Write it on your Game Card!

Debra Frasi­er demon­strates how to make our first build­ing for our Alpha­bet For­est at Home, the Tick­et Booth. Have fun!

Excep­tion­al Alpha­bet For­est vol­un­teer Julie Pomeroy shares her favorite word. Anoth­er good word for your game card!

Author Karen Latchana Ken­ney was inspired to write a haiku about the Min­neso­ta State Fair. Will she inspire you?

Enthu­si­as­tic vol­un­teer Heather Quale shares, and demon­strates, her favorite word. She even chal­lenges us to say the word a cer­tain way. Remem­ber to write the word on your game card!

We’re delight­ed that Tran Thi Minh Phuoc shares what her shoes would say after a vis­it to the State Fair, along with adven­tur­ous State Fair foods!

Miss­ing Fair food? Try mak­ing this sweet and salty whole-grain snack. It will be ready to eat in about ten min­utes. (Adapt­ed from
Ket­tle Corn
3 – 4 table­spoons canola oil
23 cup pop­corn kernels
¼ cup white sugar
Salt to taste
Pour canola oil into a thick-bot­tomed Dutch oven and add two or three ker­nels of pop­corn. Cov­er and heat over medi­um high heat. Once a ker­nel pops, add remain­ing pop­corn ker­nels and sug­ar. Cov­er and swirl the Dutch oven around to dis­trib­ute the sug­ar and ker­nels even­ly. Reduce the heat to medi­um or slight­ly low­er so as not to burn the sug­ar. Shake con­tin­u­al­ly — or at least every 30 sec­onds — until pop­ping slows to two to three pops every few sec­onds. Remove from heat and imme­di­ate­ly pour the pop­corn into a large bowl. Salt to taste, stir­ring well. Enjoy.
What fair food will you miss this year?

Blue Rib­bon author Melanie Heuis­er Hill shows us a GAME to play, on our own or with part­ners, using the alpha­bet and our favorite words from the State Fair. What are your favorite words?

Join Debra Frasi­er as she shares card­board tips and places to fea­ture your Alpha­bet For­est in your own home. Your think­ing cap will be smokin’!

The Min­neso­ta State Fair brings you At-Home Fair Fun on their web­site: down­load­ables, poet­ry writ­ing, our Blue Rib­bon authors’ book lists, and a Min­neso­ta Agri­cul­ture Cross­word Puz­zle devel­oped by our very own Ani­ta Dualeh. Thanks, Anita! 

Blue Rib­bon author Sarah War­ren hon­ors the Moo Booth with a check­list for drink­ing all the choco­late milk you pos­si­bly can. Join in the fun and drink up!

Blue Rib­bon authors Pat Bauer and David Geis­ter are cre­at­ing their own State Fair in their back­yard! One essen­tial ingre­di­ent? Crop art!! We hon­or our state’s fine agri­cul­tur­al con­tri­bu­tions with crop art. Join Pat and Dave with a draw­ing, beans, and glue.

Blue Rib­bon author and poet Yvonne Pear­son inspires us to write poet­ry about State Fair food. An Ode to _________? You can do that!!

Lisa Bullard, one of the Alpha­bet Forest’s Blue Rib­bon authors, shares won­der­ful new words she found in the Dic­tio­nary … and you can, too. Include them in a sto­ry or poem and on your Game Card. Enjoy these new words!

The Alpha­bet For­est at Home wel­comes Blue Rib­bon author Nan­cy Bo Flood, who shows us how to make a Fer­ris wheel and a dia­mond poem for our vir­tu­al Fair, with the help of her grandchildren.

Blue Rib­bon author David LaRochelle and his cowleague Cow dis­cuss Cow’s favorite State Fair words. Can you pre­dict what they might be?

Debra Frasi­er demon­strates how to make your favorite State Fair food booths for your Alpha­bet For­est at Home.

“F” is for fun­nel cakes. Go ahead and write that on your game card and then make your way to your kitchen to whip up this ubiq­ui­tous fair treat. You could also add “ubiq­ui­tous” to your game card if you need a “U” – ubiq­ui­tous means “com­mon” or “found everywhere.”
Fun­nel Cakes
1 cup flour
2 table­spoons sugar
1 tea­spoon bak­ing powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
¼ tea­spoon vanil­la extract
oil for frying
a bit of confectioner’s sug­ar and/or jam for serving
Mix flour, sug­ar, and bak­ing pow­der in a medi­um bowl. In a small bowl or two-cup mea­sur­ing cup, whisk togeth­er egg, milk, and vanil­la. Stir the milk mix­ture into the dry ingre­di­ents just until smooth. Heat about 2 inch­es of oil in a cast iron skil­let over medi­um heat. When oil is 375 degrees, pour about a third cup of the bat­ter into the pan in a thin stream, start­ing in the cen­ter and swirling out­ward. Fry until gold­en, about one minute. Turn the fun­nel cake over and fry until gold­en on the oth­er side. Care­ful­ly remove from the pan and place on a serv­ing plate. Sprin­kle with pow­dered sug­ar or spread with your favorite jam. Serve imme­di­ate­ly. Makes about five or six medi­um fun­nel cakes.

Blue Rib­bon illus­tra­tor Jonathan Thun­der (Bow­wow Pow­wow and Gid­jie and the Wolves) shows us how to cre­ate the State Fair’s But­ter­fly House at home! What’s his favorite part?

Many of you will rec­og­nize author Eliz­a­beth Verdick, who writes the Small Walt books about every­body’s favorite snow­plow. Today she takes us to her favorite place at the State Fair. Need a hint? Oink!

Alpha­bet For­est vol­un­teer Lola Dee is also a health­care work­er. She has a very impor­tant favorite word to share with us. Def­i­nite­ly a word for our game cards. Thank you, Lola, for the work you are doing.

Blue Rib­bon author Lisa M. Bolt-Simons demon­strates how to spell some of her favorite State Fair words and how to cre­ate an acros­tic poem. She worked at the State Fair as a famous char­ac­ter. Can you guess who?

Join Blue Rib­bon author Aimée Bis­sonette as she shows us how she comes up with wacky sto­ry ideas so you can, too!

When we put out the call for videos, we rec­og­nized that mak­ing a video isn’t pos­si­ble for every­one. We were DELIGHTED to receive trea­sured vol­un­teer Deena Strohman’s favorite word in the mail. Be sure to write this word on your Game Card. Deena has been a part of the Alpha­bet For­est for many years so we’re hap­py she can join us in this year of the Alpha­bet For­est at Home. (Enjoy Deena’s poem from last year, too.)

Deena Strohmann

Blue Rib­bon authors Lee Ann Land­strom and Karen Shragg are nat­u­ral­ists as well so they look at the State Fair through an inter­est­ing per­spec­tive … what’s yucky? You’ll gain some new words for your game card, too.

Blue Rib­bon author Mar­gi Preus shows us how to make a real­ly big pig at home … with a unique (but rhyming) fea­ture. Can you pre­dict what that will be? Enjoy this and have fun try­ing it at your home!

Are you miss­ing the ani­mal barns at the State Fair? Well, you can tour a barn with live ani­mals … it’s Mary Casano­va’s barn … and sing along with her dog, Nellie.

That gal with the cre­ative ideas, Debra Frasi­er, demon­strates build­ing the Giant Slide and the Swings at the Fair, using card­board and glue and paper and mark­ers. And there are two new words for your Game Card!!

Waf­fle Fry Nachos
Here’s a fun and easy twist on nachos that offers some more ideas for your game card as well as for your next fair-inspired snack. Feel free to use this recipe as a gen­er­al guide but add any oth­er favorite nacho top­pings (shred­ded chick­en, taco meat, sliced jalapeños, black beans, cilantro, etc.) to suit your family’s preferences.
12 ounces of frozen waf­fle fries
1½ cups shred­ded Col­by jack cheese
½ cup chopped black olives
2 Roma toma­toes, diced
3 green onions or a hand­ful of chives, chopped
23 cup salsa
Sour cream (option­al)
Bake waf­fle fries accord­ing to pack­age instruc­tions. When ful­ly cooked, turn off the oven, sprin­kle with shred­ded cheese and put the pan back in the oven until the cheese is melt­ed. Sprin­kle the cheesy waf­fle fries with remain­ing nacho top­pings. Serve imme­di­ate­ly, gar­nish­ing each serv­ing with sour cream if desired.
Waffle Fry Nachos

Ani­ta Dualeh cre­at­ed this Fab­u­lous Fair Alpha­bet Cross­word just for you. Down­load the PDF and enjoy the challenge.

Blue Rib­bon author John Coy shares a series of adjec­tives, descrip­tive words, that describe the State Fair. Can you think of ways to apply these words to your favorite parts of the State Fair?

Miss­ing your hol­i­day card fam­i­ly pho­to at the Alpha­bet For­est? Col­or your own set of let­ters with these black and white down­loads. (Look here for Fab­u­lous Fair Ban­ner Let­ters) Attach col­ored let­ters to card­board (or lam­i­nate). Slice a large pool noo­dle with a mat­te knife just to the core cir­cle. Slip let­ters into the slice and, ta-dah! You have your own Pho­to Booth!

alphabet forest

Did some­one say “acros­tic”? As in, you have many puz­zles but I’d real­ly like an “acros­tic”? Thanks to Ani­ta Dualeh, edu­ca­tor, for cre­at­ing this puz­zle to share with every­one in the Alpha­bet For­est. Down­load it here

Tah-dah!!! At last our Card­board State-Fair-at-Home is ready for YOU to vis­it! Watch this scis­sors-paper-glue-State Fair Sto­ry unfold, as told by Debra Frasi­er—and we get a night-time tour, too. Do you love the State Fair at night? Have you been mak­ing your own State Fair at home?

Blue Rib­bon authors Alan Page and Kamie Page share a very impor­tant word for agri­cul­ture and good health … buzzzzz.

Blue Rib­bon author Nan­cy Loewen chal­lenges us with one of the coolest words “ono­matopoeia” and all the fun things we can do with the words that fall with­in this cat­e­go­ry. You’ll want to buzzzz about this one!

Alpha­bet For­est vol­un­teer Vic­ki Palmquist shares her favorite word, “razzmatazz,” which sat­is­fies TWO of the let­ters on your game card, “r” and “z”.

Blue Rib­bon author and illus­tra­tor Mike Wohnout­ka shows us how to make a chick­en out of paper, glue, and crayons or mark­ers. Bawk-bawk-bawk!

Here is a find-the-word puz­zle and a crop art chal­lenge, hon­or­ing the Hor­ti­cul­ture Build­ing at the Min­neso­ta State Fair. Great idea seeds! Thank you, Ani­ta Dualeh, for con­tribut­ing these.

Alpha­bet For­est founder Debra Frasi­er shows us how to make a blue rib­bon for this his­toric 2020 Vir­tu­al Alpha­bet For­est, our prize for com­plet­ing the Alpha­bet For­est Game Card. And there’s a bonus: a Y‑word for our cards.

Blue Rib­bon author Tra­cy Nel­son Mau­r­er shares her favorite mem­o­ries of the Fair … so many new ideas and things to learn about!

A big salute to edu­ca­tor Ani­ta Dualeh for pulling togeth­er these links to agri­cul­tur­al edu­ca­tion resources, round­ing out the Alpha­bet For­est mate­ri­als for home and class­room. Teach­ing Ag in the Class­room is essen­tial! Down­load the list here.

Author Cather­ine Urdahl chal­lenges us to write a State Fair mys­tery, with lots of good ideas about get­ting start­ed and get­ting finished.

Ani­ta Dualeh cre­at­ed these Sil­ly Fill-ins for you to down­load and select words and phras­es to fill in the blanks. When you’re done, you’ll have writ­ten your own sto­ry about the State Fair! 

State Fair Silly Fill-Ins

Round­ing out our authors’ con­tri­bu­tions to the Alpha­bet For­est, author and poet Jill Kalz shares her State Fair mem­o­ries about yard­sticks, mini-donuts and milk, and all the free­bies we col­lect at the Fair. Sweet mem­o­ries indeed! Plus three more words for your game card: Q, U, and D words.

Good night, Alpha­bet For­est! Good night, Alpha­bet For­est vis­i­tors! Good night, Min­neso­ta State Fair! See you next year.

Good Night State Fair

Alpha­bet For­est Founder Debra Frasi­er offers her thank you to each of the authors and illus­tra­tors who vol­un­teered their time to share their mem­o­ries, words, and projects with each of us who are cre­at­ing our Alpha­bet For­est at Home. Don’t miss this touch­ing trib­ute about com­mu­ni­cat­ing and work­ing together.

A spe­cial thanks to Ani­ta Dualeh (edu­ca­tor, long-time on-the-ground staff mem­ber, and project man­ag­er at the Alpha­bet For­est) for vol­un­teer­ing to orga­nize the recipes and cre­ate the print­ed games and print­a­bles for homes and classrooms.

Anita Dualeh

A spe­cial thanks to these vol­un­teers who respond­ed to our short-notice call for word-videos and pic­tures! In 2021, Come join the 400+ team of word lovers who vol­un­teer to make the Alpha­bet For­est a one-on-one spe­cial expe­ri­ence for all our vis­i­tors! We need you! Long live the alpha­bet! Thank you, Lola Dee, Sarah Nel­son, Vic­ki Palmquist, Julie Pomeroy, Heather Quale, and Deena Strohmann.

Thank you volunteers

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