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Q is for Quilt

I love it when the weather turns cozy.

Cozy means quilts and hot cocoa.

But you don’t have to wait for winter to enjoy a quilt.

Quilts make a terrific summer fort.

Quilt making is wonderful community, no matter the season!

When I’m wishing for cozy, I think of Q, and my favorite quilt stories come to mind:

The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco
Stitchen’ and Pullin’ by Patricia C. McKissack
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson
Luka’s Quilt by Gerogia Guback

So read a book, quilt a Q, and embark on a literary tradition!


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Y is for Yarn

Want to know what it means to spin-a-yarn?

Read Extra Yarn by Mac Bennett, illustrated by Jon Klassen and you’ll soon see.

Winner of the Caldecott, this contemporary fairy tale is bound to become a classic. Annabelle reminds us that curiosity, determination, and generosity are three ways to thwart a villainous archduke! So, like Annabelle, grab a ball of yarn and imagine the possibilities.

PS Be sure to watch the story. It’s delightfully animated!



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S is for Sparkle

Sparkle! And while you are at it sparkle and spin. Add capital letters to that phrase and you've got one bling-of-a-book! 

Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words by Ann Rand and Paul Rand is a mid-century treasure that I hope will oscillate its way into the heart of 21st century readers. Here words sparkle their images and spin their sounds and leave readers happy about the art of words. What better way to remind little and big alike that some words add sparkle to language? 



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F is for Foil

Introducing F is for easy. F is for foil!

But it's so much more…

F is of course for fox, fish, frog. But it's also for feather and fur, a forest on fire, a flock of flamingos. F is a fantastic friend.

F is also for books: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel, Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni, and From Head to Toe by Eric Carle.


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Sugar Cube Construction

I have vivid and happy memories from my elementary school years of building my California mission out of sugar cubes. Being that my brother is five years older than me, I was lucky to always have a preview of what was to come for various school projects. Willie was (and is) a master builder, inventor, and maker of all things cool and mechanical and as a faithful little sister, I basically worshipped him, and everything he did and made. His creations were my inspiration and although I never quite matched him in precision and craftsmanship, I am grateful for what he showed me was possible.

Sugar cubes aren't quite as common at the supermarket anymore but if you come across them, snatch up a box or two for a "sweet" construction session. They provide a great exercise in self-control…and hold magical potential for architects of all ages with their sharp edges, sparkly whiteness, and grainy texture. After all the hard work, don't forget to reward your young builder with the thrill of crunching through one perfect cube of 100% pure sugary goodness!

– Tracey


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Handprint Valentines

I'm in charge of preparing the craft activity each week for my son's adorable little Wednesday morning preschool group. My first click is almost always The Crafty Crow, followed closely by Pinterest. I never come up empty-handed, in fact it usually comes down to having to eliminate ideas and decide on just one. So hard to do sometimes.

Truth be told, I'm a sucker for handprint crafts, especialy for this age group. (Although I have seen teenagers gleefully line up to create these fun snowman ornaments.) There is just something so cute and magical about using little hands to make art…it's a creative and whimsical way to record the growth stages of our precious wee ones. And who can resist those paint-laden, pudgy little fingers!

So here's a last minute Valentine's Day idea that requires very little in terms of supplies. They come together quickly and are perfect for mass production. You might even be able to get a few in the mail today!

A huge "heartfelt" thanks to Rosy-Posy for the original inspiration! We modified things a bit, using colored paper and outlining the heart with glitter! You can find the complete step-by-step post here, and click around her blog for many other great ideas and musings!

Happy Hearts Day!

– Tracey


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Thanksgiving Making

Fall is cozy….and has to be the best season for making! We had so much fun this year getting creative ideas from many of you around the wonderful-wide-web! It's a blessing to be able to find inspiration at your fingertips and we're really grateful for the sharing that happens from blog to blog. Here are some of the projects we made…enjoy, and Thanksgiving blessings to you!

Leaf2Fall Leaf Cutting Practice inspired by mmmCrafts

LightsLeaf Lanterns inspired by …imagine childhood

BoatHandprint Mayflower inspired by Fryman Four

BeadstoryThanksgiving Story Bracelets inspired by My Montessori Journey

Feather2Paper Leaf/Feather Garland inspired by Chasing Fireflies

Cones"Coneucopias" filled with gummy fish, caramel corn, candy-coated sunflower seeds, berry chews and Reeses Pieces inspired by Busy Bee

HandsTurkey Handprint Cards (in process)

CookiesPumkin Cookies

FeastOur "First Thanksgiving" Feast shared and ejoyed by our little ones. We served beef jerkey, baby carrots, fishie crackers, nuts, dried green beans, dried blueberries, grapes, apples and cranberry juice.

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Leaving Ticonderoga In the Dust

We use a whole-lotta-lead in our little cooperative school. This year I got wise, I go directly to Dixon for the goods! But sometimes, especially as young ones are honing their reading and writing skills, they need work that does not involve gripping a pencil. We call this type of work “Discovery” because it affords the opportunity for the primary student to make a choice, attend to the work involved in that choice, and ultimately, discover something in the process. 

We dedicate shelf space and time in each day to this type of work. Discovery provides an opportunity to focus on an independent activity without dividing the effort between two skills, the academic task at hand and the developing fine motor, which is a task and a half for many children.

Discovery activities are usually hand made, or assembled from treasures found at the dollar store or at yard sales. We also mix in prepared materials designed for the Montessori and Waldorf style classroom. The possibilities are truly only limited by your imagination. Once the work is complete, the student has the work checked then attends to the task of placing the materials back in its place on the shelf until next time.

Here are some ideas from our little group, and as time goes by we'll be sharing additional activities. Please contribute your own ideas too in the comments section…learning from eachother is a gift!


Sock Paring Basket

– medium size basket
– 8-10 pairs of colorful ankle socks (easier to fold together)

Mix up sock collection in basket. Child finds pairs and folds them together. Talk about what a pair is, count the pairs aloud together, talk about the colors and patterns, etc. When finished, child separates socks and places them back in basket.


Pom Pom Sorting

Pom poms are by definition fun and full of delight! Now something to do with that large bag from Michael's that was calling your name…

– small basket
– muffin tin
– pom poms in various sizes and colors
– small tongs

Child builds fine motor skills by using tongs to sort pom poms into muffin cups. They can play with sorting by either size or color. When finished, child places pom poms back in basket.


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Valentines & Vocabulary


Blake has been in a student in my writing workshop for 9 years. His hand goes up like clockwork each spring, "When can we have a spelling bee?"

My response in the past has been a nod and a smile, but this year something sparked.

Our group dedicated the month of February to words. Twenty students ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade are collecting words. At the end of the month each student will offer their ten favorite words from their very own lexicon, just enough for a culminating mini spelling bee. 

We are having a blast.

I'm so glad for Blake's persistence.

Then when Tracey stumbled upon this recipe for handmade conversation hearts, we had the perfect activity for a valentine and vocabulary celebration. After all, one of our favorite books, The Boy Who Loved Words, teaches us that words are a gift! And what better gift than a sweet one.

Let our pictures tell the story of how much fun we had!

A "heartfelt" thanks to the fabulous Crafty Crow blog for connecting us to this inspiring and super-fun Love Day craft!