Tag Archives | Lois Ehlert

Together from Afar

Indi­vid­u­al­ly, we are one drop. Togeth­er, we are an ocean.”

(Ryuno­suke Satoro)

Tis the sea­son to be…

It is hard to some­times under­stand how dif­fi­cult the hol­i­day sea­son will be this year. Although this is dif­fi­cult, tech­nol­o­gy has made it pos­si­ble for us all to con­nect and par­tic­i­pate in hol­i­day fun. For my arti­cle this month, I’ve list­ed activ­i­ties that you can pro­vide for fam­i­lies to do togeth­er dur­ing the hol­i­day breaks. Enjoy and thank you for all you do. 

Leaf Man illustration
Copy­right © Lois Ehlert, from Leaf Man, HMH, 2005

Around the Table Sto­ry­time: For this activ­i­ty, record a set of sto­ry­times for fam­i­lies to enjoy at the table togeth­er. Record a few sto­ries and pro­vide a few activ­i­ties around the sto­ries you read.  A few exam­ples of activ­i­ties include: ask­ing ques­tions about the sto­ry, include lyrics to a song or fin­ger play, or encour­ag­ing them to act out the story.

Vir­tu­al Trav­el­ing: For this activ­i­ty, encour­age fam­i­lies to go on a vir­tu­al field­trip. Some sug­ges­tions include:

Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al History

Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

Smith­son­ian Muse­um of Nat­ur­al History

Here is a great web­site list­ing a vari­ety of vir­tu­al tours.

Sto­ry Starters: For this activ­i­ty, write down a vari­ety of sto­ry starter sen­tences. Some exam­ples include: “Once upon a time…”, “On this day a cel­e­bra­tion of…”, “Deep in the woods…”, or “We start­ed off on the road and we were head­ing to…” You can post these on social media or put them in a curb­side deliv­ery bag.

Cha­rades on the Go: For this activ­i­ty, you will make a set of cha­rades cards and put them in a curb­side deliv­ery bag. Need some ideas for cha­rades cards?

Vir­tu­al Dance Par­ty: For this activ­i­ty, fam­i­lies will enjoy a vir­tu­al dance par­ty. The par­ty can be offered in per­son how­ev­er, if extend­ed fam­i­lies are unable to vis­it the par­ty can be offered vir­tu­al­ly. Here are ideas on how to make it interactive:

Search Pix­abay or Unsplash for free pho­tos and videos and use them as vir­tu­al back­grounds on Zoom.

Search on YouTube for free songs for kids. If you are using Zoom, make sure you click on share com­put­er sound. Here is the link describ­ing how to do this.

Encour­age fam­i­ly mem­bers to find some­thing in their house that can be used as an instrument.

Enjoy these fall sto­ry favorites:


Creating Collage

In the light of the moon a lit­tle egg lay on a leaf.”

Eric Car­le, The Very Hun­gry Caterpillar

Very Hungry CaterpillarRecent­ly, I was watch­ing a YouTube video of Eric Car­le dis­cussing his famous book, The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar. View the Youtube video by fol­low­ing this link.  It was fas­ci­nat­ing to learn about his tech­niques and the his­to­ry behind this clas­sic children’s book. Towards the end of the inter­view, Car­le explained that besides the sto­ry and the graph­ics, The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar is a book of hope.  As we move to the sea­son of Spring, the les­son of hope from this book helped to inspire these activities:

Activ­i­ty 1: An Inter­ac­tive Read­ing of The Very Hun­gry Caterpillar 

This sto­ry is per­fect for audi­ence inter­ac­tion.  Before sto­ry­time, fol­low these steps to trans­form this sto­ry­time to an inter­ac­tive format:

  1. First, either search for images of the food the cater­pil­lar eats or draw them.
  2. Sec­ond, cut a hole in the cen­ter of each food big enough to fit either a wood­en craft stick puppet.
  3. Third, search for an image of a cater­pil­lar or draw one and tape it to the wood­en craft stick.
  4. Forth, put the image cards in order of the foods the cater­pil­lar eats.

Begin the sto­ry­time by telling the chil­dren that today you will need help telling the sto­ry of The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar.  Inform them that depend­ing on the day of the week the amount of the food the cater­pil­lar eats grows so each of them will get a turn.  For each food item that the cater­pil­lar eats you will hold the image of the food up while the chil­dren puts the cater­pil­lar through the hole.

Activ­i­ty 2: Cater­pil­lar Collage 

Eric Car­le is famous for using the col­lage tech­nique for this sto­ry.  Col­lage is an excel­lent activ­i­ty for kids to work on fine motor skills.  For this activ­i­ty, chil­dren will use the col­lage tech­nique to add to the sto­ry.  For this activ­i­ty, you will need to have a selec­tion of items for kids to choose from. These items do not need to be the same size, col­or, or shape.  Exam­ples of items include cup­cake lin­ers, cot­ton balls, shiny stick­ers, tex­tured paper, and leaves.  Remem­ber, col­lage inspires chil­dren to be cre­ative and their designs will be unique to them. 


  1. On a table(es) pro­vide glue, crayons, mark­ers, and/or col­or pencils
  2. Put three bowls on the table with the items that you choose (see exam­ple list above)
  3. Pro­vide each child a sheet of con­struc­tion paper for them to glue items down.
  4. At the end of this activ­i­ty, encour­age chil­dren to share their design.

Web­sites on all things Eric Car­le and Hun­gry Caterpillar 

  1. Eric Car­le Museum
  2. The Offi­cial Eric Car­le Web Site
  3. Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar Activities
  4. Anoth­er great site on Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar Activities
  5. Eric Car­le Interview

Arti­cles on the Impor­tance of Col­lage for Learning

  1. Scholas­tic arti­cle on Col­lage Mapping
  2. Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion for Young Chil­dren (NAEYC) arti­cle on Art Expe­ri­ences
  3. Mate­ri­als Mat­ter in Children’s Cre­ative Learning

Pic­ture Books Fea­tur­ing Collage

Six books on collage


Gobble up a Good Time

It is amaz­ing how quick­ly depart­ment stores move all of the Hal­loween items out and bring out Christ­mas lights, wrap­ping paper, reli­gious items, dif­fer­ent sized San­ta Claus­es and orna­ments. Oh, and who can for­get about the start of Christ­mas music at the begin­ning of Novem­ber? I love Christ­mas, but for the longest time, I’ve been con­fused about why depart­ment stores do not ded­i­cate space for Thanks­giv­ing. Thanks­giv­ing is a hol­i­day that sym­bol­izes the impor­tance of gath­er­ing with oth­ers to give thanks. Before we begin to hang a tree or wrap presents, it is impor­tant to give thanks to our friends and fam­i­ly mem­bers. Spend­ing time togeth­er is a great way to give thanks to each other.

Why not include a few crafts and a sci­ence exper­i­ment as part of your cel­e­bra­tion? Read on! You’ll find a few tips on how you can involve the entire fam­i­ly in each craft project.

leafCraft 1: Giv­ing Light to Leaves 

The chang­ing of leaves is the sign that autumn has arrived. For this craft, you will first need a lunch bag. Go out­side and spend time walk­ing around look­ing at all of the fall­en leaves. Ask ques­tions like, “what do they feel like?”, “what col­ors do you see?”, or “are they smooth or rough?” Grab a few larg­er-sized leaves and put them in your lunch bag. Head on indoors. Gath­er the following:


  • The leaves you brought in
  • Glue ($2.28 for two, priced online)
  • Tis­sue Paper (Could be no cost if you have some left over from wrap­ping presents, $10.43, priced online)
  • Waxed Paper (Could be no cost if you have it in your kitchen, $2.94, priced online)
  • Crayons (Could be no cost if you have them at home, $5.04 for a pack of 12, priced online)
  • Scis­sors (Could be no cost if you have them at home, $4.50 per one, priced online)
  • Twine ($3.50 for one roll of twine, priced online)

Total esti­mat­ed cost: $28.69 if you need to buy every­thing new

tissue paperSteps

  1. On a sheet of paper, tape down a leaf and work with your child to trace the leaf’s out­er shape. Remem­ber, the shape does not need to be per­fect. Just like snowflakes, all leaves do not look the same.
  2. Help your child cut the leaf pat­tern out.
  3. Work with your child to tear dif­fer­ent col­ors of tis­sue paper and put them in a pile.
  4. Glue the leaf pat­tern on wax paper and help your child cut around the leaf to make a leaf shape.
  5. Put glue in the mid­dle of the leaf.
  6. Work with your child to glue the tis­sue paper pieces to the mid­dle of the leaf.
  7. Let it dry.
  8. Glue twine on the back of the leaf and find a win­dow to hang it from
  9. Wait for the sun­light and be amazed.


  1. Con­nect the leaf project by first read­ing the book, Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  2. Show them a book with the types of trees to help them learn how to iden­ti­fy the type of leaves they find out­side. I sug­gest Trees, Leaves, & Bark by Diane Burns.
  3. Dis­cuss: “when I look at my leaf this is what I see, what do you see?”
  4. Talk with your child about the col­ors that the sun­light is shin­ing through.
  5. Talk with the child about the shape of the leaf.

pumpkinCraft 2: The Tube Pumpkin

Jack-O-Lanterns are a sym­bol for Hal­loween, how­ev­er, pump­kins are also a sta­ple at a Thanks­giv­ing table. From pump­kin pie to pump­kin bars, pump­kins are an impor­tant ingre­di­ent for Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. Pump­kin-themed crafts are also a fun way to cel­e­brate the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day. This craft is called The Tube Pump­kin because all you need is a paper tow­el tube to make the pump­kin shape.


  1. Paper tow­el tube
  2. Orange and green paint (Could be no cost if you have them at home, cost, $2.32 for one, priced online)
  3. Plain white paper
  4. Paint Brush (Could be no cost if you have them at home, cost, $7.96 for a pk of 10, priced online
  5. Tape

Total esti­mat­ed cost: $10.28 if you need to buy every­thing new


  1. Help your child make a pump­kin shape using a paper tow­el tube. I found it best to bend one of the ends of the tube inward.
  2. This will act as a stamp.
  3. Pour some orange paint on a plate.
  4. Take the paper tow­el tube and dip it in orange paint.
  5. Place the paper tow­el tube on the paper to make your pump­kin shape.
  6. Help your child paint the pump­kin using a paint brush.
  • It is impor­tant to note that if your child decides to use a dif­fer­ent col­ored paint besides orange that is just fine. Allow­ing for cre­ativ­i­ty is important.

The RUnaway PumpkinCon­nec­tions

  1. Read the book, The Run­away Pump­kin by Kevin Lewis before you do the craft.
  2. Ask them what oth­er things are also orange (or what­ev­er col­or they used to cre­ate their pumpkin).
  3. If you have a pump­kin at home and it is cut open, have them smell it and describe what they smell.
  4. Con­sid­er roast­ing and eat­ing the pump­kin seeds. Talk about how seeds grow into plants.

Apple Volcano suppliesApple Vol­ca­noes,
a Fall Sci­ence Experiment 

Apples are also impor­tant to a Thanks­giv­ing menu. From apple pie to apple crisp, apples are a crunchy delight. This fall sci­ence exper­i­ment uses apples, not for bak­ing, but for science.


  1. Apples, any kind will do (Could be no cost if you have them at home, cost for 1 apple is $.076, price from Wal-Mart).
  2. Bak­ing soda (Could be no cost if you have it in your kitchen, cost for 1 store brand box, $0.98, price from Wal-Mart).
  3. Dish soap (Could be no cost if you have it at home, cost for small store brand dish soap, $3.75, price from Wal-Mart).
  4. Food col­or­ing (Could be no cost if you it in your kitchen, cost for 1 box of Wilton food col­or­ing, $3.19, price from Wal-Mart)
  5. Knife

Total esti­mat­ed cost: $8.68 or free if you have the items on hand


  1. Use a knife to cut a small hole in the top of the apple about half way down.
  2. Place the apple on a cook­ie sheet with a rim or in a cake pan.
  3. Have the kid­dos put a cou­ple spoon­fuls of bak­ing soda in the hole.
  4. Add a drop of dish soap to the bak­ing soda for a foami­er reaction.
  5. Add a drop of food coloring.
  6. Pour vine­gar into the hole of the apple and wait to be amazed!
  7. Search on YouTube for apple pie vol­cano to view the experiment.


  1. Pair this activ­i­ty with the sto­ry, The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. Read the sto­ry before the experiment.
  2. Ask your child what col­or apple they enjoy the most.
  3. Ask, “are apples chewy or crunchy?”
  4. Ask, “do apples grow in the ground or on a tree?”
  5. Ask, “why do you think the apple began to fizz?”

Cel­e­brate fall! Give thanks! Have fun!


Collecting your observations

Welcome to New Zealandby Vic­ki Palmquist

I nev­er kept a jour­nal. Why? It nev­er occurred to me. It wasn’t with­in my realm of famil­iar­i­ty. I start­ed writ­ing many sto­ries on note­book paper and stuffed them into fold­ers. But how sat­is­fy­ing to have a jour­nal, specif­i­cal­ly an obser­va­tion jour­nal to keep track of what you see, hear, and think.

As a child, I was a hunter-gath­er­er. Were you? Did you have a col­lec­tion of rocks? Leaves? Agates? Ani­mals? Per­haps you still do. Or per­haps you know a child who has these tendencies.

I think of Rhoda’s Rock Hunt by Mol­ly Beth Grif­fith and Jen­nifer A. Bell (Min­neso­ta His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety Press). Rho­da col­lect­ed so many rocks on her family’s camp­ing trip that she couldn’t walk — they weighed her down.

Adding to Rhoda’s sto­ry, I think of Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book and Leaf Man. Author and illus­tra­tor Lois Ehlert is renowned for her col­lec­tions, her “scraps,” and how she puts them to use. A con­sum­mate hunter-gatherer.

Then there’s a brand new, absolute­ly amaz­ing book about cre­at­ing a nature jour­nal, Wel­come to New Zealand by San­dra Mor­ris (Can­dlewick Press). This pic­ture book com­bines the record-keep­ing, visu­al art sat­is­fac­tion, and exam­ples of dif­fer­ent things to observe in nature that will keep a hunter-gath­er­er busy for years. I admire this book on so many dif­fer­ent levels.

Welcome to New Zealand

Very clev­er­ly designed as a jour­nal, this book shows exam­ples of dif­fer­ent types of art, ways to arrange things on pages, labels, and note-tak­ing. There’s advice on press­ing leaves, observ­ing clouds and phas­es of the moon, and mak­ing a land­scape study. Every turn of the page brings a new sur­prise and some­thing to try on your own. (And you can do this — none of these excus­es about not being an artist — you are!)

Mor­ris writes, “Cre­ate a lay­ered map of the birds on the shore­line as the tide changes, like my high-tide jour­nal page here. Work­ing from the top of the page down­wards, draw the dif­fer­ent flocks as they advance clos­er.” Much bet­ter than ANY video game (and I like play­ing video games).

Welcome to New Zealand

Exam­ples of cray­on, pen­cil, water­col­or, and char­coal draw­ing will inspire each read­er. Plen­ti­ful sam­ples of cre­ative hand-let­ter­ing encour­age the free­dom to make your jour­nal quite per­son­al. Mor­ris pro­vides ideas, but unless you’re sit­ting on a beach in New Zealand as you read this, your jour­nal will be all your own.

And that’ just it. If you’re not in New Zealand, read­ing this book will teach you a lot about the land­scape, the mam­mals, the trees, the insects, and the seasons.

This book is great for any young hunter-gath­er­er and observ­er but any old per­son will like it, too! It’s a treasure.

Oth­er Resources

Smith­son­ian Kids has a site devot­ed to collecting.

Kids Love Rocks Fun Club

Dr. Patri­cia Nan Ander­son, Advantage4Parents, writes “Why Kids Love to Col­lect Stuff.

Now that you know about this book (you’re wel­come), and you try out some of the sug­gest­ed activ­i­ties, send me a sam­ple in the com­ments. Most of all, enjoy the time you spend with nature and your journal.

The Scraps Book

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life

Some­times I want to walk right into the pages of a book, know every­thing the author knows, share their life­time of expe­ri­ences, and be able to emu­late their cre­ativ­i­ty. Scraps: Notes from a Col­or­ful Life makes me feel that way. I’ve even enjoyed the feel­ing and tex­ture of the paper because I want in! For you, your fam­i­ly mem­bers, and friends who like to col­lect, to cre­ate, to fid­dle with this and that as you make some­thing, this is the book to have.… more