Monster Cookies: Recipe

In my story THE LULLABY MONSTERS, cookies are something the monsters absolutely love. So what kind of cookies do you bake to please a monster? Monster Cookies of course!

Here’s my recipe for Monster Cookies that’s sure to please any little monster running around your home.

Recipe for Monster Cookies
*note: I have tested and tweaked this recipe and it is awesome!

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 – 3/4 cup candy coated chocolate pieces

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. Step 2

In a very large bowl, cream together the margarine, butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and rolled oats; stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in chocolate chips and candy-coated chocolate pieces. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Step 3

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. If you like chewy cookies, take them out before they look done.

Curious about the book? You can get it here!

Thanks for reading my blog! You are welcome here any time 🙂

Kid Lit Love: How Long is Forever

Happy Monday and welcome to Kid Lit Love where new release children’s books and book creators are featured weekly. Today we feature HOW LONG IS FOREVER by Kelly Carey, illustrated by Qing Zhuang, published by Charlesbridge. This book was just released April 7, 2020! The title is a question many of us can relate to around the world as we wait for our isolation period to come to an end.

HOW LONG IS FOREVER?

Synopsis: In How Long Is Forever?, Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa asks him to prove it and sends Mason searching the family farm to find the meaning of forever.  

Fans of Guess How Much I Love You will love figuring out how long forever is alongside Mason and Grandpa.

Kelly Carey

It was a pleasure to connect with Kelly through social media and she agreed to answer a few questions about her experiences as a writer.
  1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was obsessed with Dynasty and when she graduated from college she thought she was destined for chunky earrings, power suits, and the thrillingly creative field of …insurance. I ended up working with actuary tables, deductible formulas, and stop-loss policies. I learned about big business, marketing, and customer service, but I was miserable.

Enter motherhood and suddenly I was a happy stay-at-home mom rediscovering a joy in books and in picture books in particular. My own mother encouraged me to apply for a course at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Best decision I ever made! (Thanks Mom!)

I loved the feeling of crafting a story and creating characters, and I found that magical space where time stands still because you’re in the zone. Writing was my zone. My power suits were donated and I turned my attention to writing and finding the KidLit community through groups like SCBWI, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, Storystorm, ReFoReMo, and The Writers’ Loft.

2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book.

            The nugget that inspired How Long Is Forever? happened when I was a teenager. A song I loved came on the radio and I excitedly squealed, “Turn it up! This is the best song ever.” My friend’s Dad scoffed, “Really? This is the best song ever?”.

That exchange stuck and launched the interaction between Mason and his Grandpa in How Long Is Forever?. Mason is waiting for the first blueberry pie of the season and it’s taking forever. At least that’s what Mason thinks, until Grandpa sends Mason searching the farm to find the meaning of forever. I loved the idea that what can seem like the best song ever to a teenager or feel like forever to an eight year old can be very different for an older adult.

The idea for a story can come from childhood memories that linger in your brain. Those standout moments that hold a reserved space in your mind, are probably the moments that will resonate with a reader. Those are the archives I love to mine when looking for a book idea.

By the way, my friend’s father was right. Thomas Dolby’s, She Blinded Me With Science was NOT the best song ever! And Mason is going to find out that waiting for a blueberry pie to bake is not forever.

3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.

The best thing I ever did for my writing was to really immerse myself in the KidLit community. My advice would be to take a class. Check out the offerings at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and join The Society of Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Both offered me a wonderful way to get feedback on my work and to improve my craft. It was through SCBWI that I met my first critique partners and we started 24 Carrot Writing a blog for writers, that has been offering help and advice to fellow writers for over five years.

My advice to other writers, based on my journey, would be to get out into the writing community. Meet fellow writers, take classes and workshops, offer your own help and advice, listen to editors and agents, and become a part of the community. I think the community will reward you for your efforts – it did for me.

You can connect with Kelly here:

website:http://www.kcareywrites.com/   

twitter: https://twitter.com/KCareyWrites

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellycareywrites/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KCareyWrites

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Connecting Families With Nature Virtually

Although some teachers continue working in order to provide essential service for health care workers or education for students with special needs, many, like me, are at home and unable to be with their students. Because teaching is such a relationship focused profession, I am fairly certain that many teachers are missing their students and the role they play as educators.

Navigating how to keep up the relationships has been especially difficult for me, as I have been working casual, as more of a substitute, though I work with the same students quite regularly and still do miss them quite a bit.

Japanese Maple

One bright moment where I still felt like a teacher was when I shared a nature app called Seek by iNaturalist with a few families. I asked them if they would be willing to share any feedback they have if they happened to try out the app and how their children responded. It was such a pleasure to hear back that their children not only tried it out but took photos to every single living thing in their backyard using the app and had fun while doing it. It shows me the way forwards for families with young children is probably a three step process:

  • present an activity that is open-ended for the family to try
  • allow families a week to try it out
  • gather in a zoom meeting to share experiences with the activity

Do you teach young children? How have you been maintaining relationships with your students? It is challenging but there are ways to make it happen.

I hope you’ll share ways you have been able to keep relationships up with your students in the comments. Are you teaching virtually? Sending email assignments? What works well for you and what have you learned from trying new methods?

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Connecting Families With Nature

As you may know, I’m living in beautiful British Columbia and if you listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry, she reminds us daily about how going outdoors is so important for our mental health, particularly during this time while we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. It will be Earth Day on Wednesday so there’s no better time to connect with nature.

Nature is Open to You!

You’re Invited to the Challenge!

I’d like to challenge you and your family to connect with nature in some way. This blog is small, so I know the comments may be limited but I would LOVE if people would be willing to share examples of how you connect with nature. These posts will give you a prompt to go out and try. After you try it, I hope you will share your experiences.

For those who love technology but haven’t yet discovered nature, here is a bridge to get you there. Look for nature apps for your phone. This is a great way to take your love for technology outside and see what you can learn. You will be truly amazed!

Seek by iNaturalist is one such app. You will love the immediate results. As you photograph plants, birds, and flowers, the name appears. Sometimes the app only gives a more general idea and sometimes more specific identification but it is a cool way to get kids involved in looking more closely at plants, flowers and really everything in nature. You can identify wildlife too and there’s a way to earn badges if that appeals to your children. I know the former girl guide in me would have loved this though I must say that girl guide badges were MUCH more difficult to earn.

Seek by iNaturalist
A Few of My Observations
Celebrate Earth Day by searching for signs of spring!

Here are a couple I haven’t tried yet…

There’s also Outdoor Family Fun with Plum. This offers family activities to explore nature in your neighborhood. It is a PBS Kids project. Get new missions each day!

PBS Kids offers another app called Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors. There are more than 100 nature prompts offered. Adventures get saved in a journal and kids can go back and view past adventures. There are opportunities to draw, paint, take photos and record sounds.

Have you tried any of these apps? Share your experience in the comments!

Thank you for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Kid Lit Love: Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids

I am happy to continue the Kid Lit Love series featuring new release children’s books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book, recently released in February of this year, is Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids by Rowena Rae. It is published by Chicago Review Press.

What makes this post extra special for me is that Rowena Rae is part of our Vancouver Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators group and it is so thrilling to share her success… AND because I am a teacher of preschool who loves to take children outdoors, this book will be practical for me personally as I will be able to use the activities and biography of Rachel Carson as a teaching tool.

Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: Her Life and Ideas by Rowena Rae

Synopsis:

Rachel Carson was an American biologist, conservationist, science and nature writer, and catalyst of the modern environmental movement. She studied biology in college at a time when few women entered the sciences, and then worked as a biologist and information specialist for the U.S. government and wrote about the natural world for many publications. Carson is best remembered for her book Silent Spring, which exposed the widespread misuse of chemical pesticides in the United States and sparked both praise and fury.

Carson’s personal life and scientific career were rooted in the study of nature. Using examples from Carson’s life and works, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids  introduces readers to ecology concepts such as the components of ecosystems, adaptations by living things, energy cycles, food chains and food webs, and the balance of ecosystems. This lively biography includes a time line, resources, sidebars, and 21 hands-on activities that are sure to inspire the next generation of scientists, thinkers, leaders, agricultural producers, environmental activists, and world citizens. Kids will:

  • Collect a seed bank of local plant species
  • Chart bird migration through their region
  • Make birdseed cookies
  • Model bioaccumulation and biomagnification
  • Build a worm farm
  • And more!
Rowena Rae, author

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t start writing for children until I had my own children and read out loud to them. I loved the picture book format and began jotting down ideas. I also enrolled in local children’s writing classes and online classes, and I heard about Highlights Foundation, in Pennsylvania, which holds workshops for children’s authors and illustrators. In 2013, I took their nature writing and science writing workshops and, two years later, their middle grade nonfiction workshop. That’s when I realized that my writing voice was older than picture books. I became hooked on writing about science and nature for middle grade readers!

2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book.

In 2015, I met Amy O’Quinn (at Highlights). She was writing a book about Marie Curie for Chicago Review Press (Marie Curie for Kids), and when the book came out, I bought and read it. I loved learning about Curie’s personal and work life, and the book design and photographs were gorgeous. I told Amy how much I’d like to write a book for the same series, and she encouraged me to submit a proposal to the publisher. But who would I propose writing about?

I didn’t have to think for long. I had discovered Rachel Carson’s books when I was studying biology at university. Her descriptions of sea life and other organisms captivated me. Later, I went to Johns Hopkins University (where Carson had studied biology) to do an MA in science writing and rediscovered Carson’s books, this time appreciating her lyrical writing style. So when I was thinking about who to write a biography of, it seemed obvious: I should write about a woman who had been both a biologist and an author. The fact that Carson also has a fascinating life story kept me enthralled throughout the many months I spent researching and writing my book, Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids.

3. Please share a resource for children’s writers.

Everyone approaches things differently, but what’s worked for me has been to take classes and workshops (in-person, online, self-directed), to read books and other resources (mentor texts, books on craft, blogs, etc.), to connect with other children’s writers (both published and aspiring), and especially, to write as much and as often as I can.

Right now, during the rather strange time we’re living through with the COVID-19 pandemic, Highlights Foundation is offering a series of free craft webinars. (I know I keep mentioning Highlights in my responses. No, I’m not on their staff! Yes, I’m a huge fan of their workshops and the inspirational setting where they hold their in-person workshops in rural Pennsylvania.)

Contact Rowena:

Rowena is having a productive year with three more books soon to be released! Look out for these titles:

  • Meg and Greg: A Duck in a Sock (April 14; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, first in a series); 
  • Chemical World: Science in Our Daily Lives (May 12; nonfiction for ages 9-12); and 
  • Meg and Greg: Frank and the Skunk (August 18; fiction for struggling readers ages 6-9, second in the series).

Thank you for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Supporting Play/Learning at Home: Water Play

To help parents of young children who are stuck at home due to COVID-19, I am beginning a series of posts with ideas to support your children as they learn through play.

Water play is an activity that can keep children occupied for long periods of time. It can be calming for children who are working through powerful emotions and is appropriate for a wide age range.

Do you have a small baby bath tub or a similar sized plastic container? Fill it with one-two inches of water; it doesn’t seem like much but it is all you need! Lukewarm water is probably best.

Glitter bottles
Use sequins, oil, water and food coloring to make these. Glue the lids tightly.

Each time you put the water tub out, you can try something new to use with the water. Observe your children to see what they enjoy the most. Repeat the favourite items. If your child put things into his/her mouth, avoid smaller items. Consider asking your children for ideas.

Here are some of my favourites for water play:

  • -a drop of food colouring, sequins, and strainers
  • -a few drops of dishwashing liquid and whisks
  • -plastic sea creatures or animals
  • -rocks or pebbles and bowls
  • -measuring cups and spoons
  • -plastic containers of various sizes
  • -bath toys
  • -ice cubes or freeze coloured water in yogurt containers with plastic animals inside
  • -flexible tubing to pour water through with turkey basters and spoons or scoops
  • -plastic greenery or flowers
  • -plastic babies and wash cloths to give baths
  • -any plastic toys or dishes that need washing plus small tooth brushes for scrubbing
  • -for children who love to paint place the tub of water outdoors along with paintbrushes. Paint the shed/house/sidewalk/driveway. Bonus: easy clean up AND learn about evaporation.
Kitchen items are great for water play
A drop of dish washing liquid and a whisk provides tons of fun.

If you are feeling concerned or frustrated with water spilling, here’s a tip. Give your children sponges, show them how to soak up the water and wring it out to refill the tub/bin. If they are working on a clean surface, they can replace the water themselves as it spills with repeated wiping up and wringing out. They will learn not to waste the precious water you give them if you refuse to refill and put the responsibility on them to savour the water they’ve got. It also helps our planet to use moderation with all things and this is a good opportunity to talk about water conservation.

If you want to take this further, have a look at Tom’s Sand and Water Play website for ways to really kick it up a notch. Keep it simple or go all out but water play is wonderful for young children in so many ways.

Want to make more connections to learning? Ask some questions. If your child is age 4+ these would be appropriate. Give your children a chance to experiment and find their own answers. Help your child record their discoveries:

  • What do you already know about water?
  • What do you want to learn about water?
  • What have you learned about water so far?
  • What do you need to help you explore further?

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Sidney, B.C. Two Hundred Boxes!

About 5 years ago, when I first began working at Sidney Preschool, I introduced a new and special day to our program. I called it our Cardboard Box Extravaganza! We had our parents collect and bring in boxes and the children were give some simple materials to work with as well as an opportunity to use their creativity to go wherever their imaginations may take them with the collection of boxes. This was a huge hit! And each year proved to be a little different as new children and parents brought their own unique ideas to the event.

Small boxes can be great for creative minds as well.

And that is why it does my heart such good to see this event taking place in Sidney. Two Hundred Boxes is an event for the whole family and takes place February 16th from 10 am to 4 pm at the ArtSea Gallery in Tulista Park. I have no idea how this event came to be but what a wonderful opportunity for family and community engagement. Castles, towers, tunnels, neighbourhoods, forts, planes or trains could all be part of your experience as you work with the boxes. This event is totally free of charge. Kudos to the Community Arts Council for organizing!

And because I am a huge supporter of children’s literature, let me add a couple of great picture books that encourage creativity with cardboard boxes. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and What To Do With a Box by Jane Yolen. Do you know some other great books on the same subject? Have you and your children created something amazing and wonderful with a cardboard box? Share in the comments.

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog! You are welcome any time.

Fostering Creativity in Young Children

What is creativity? The ability to produce work that is both novel and useful.

Why is creativity important? Creativity will allow us to generate and execute innovative solutions. Creativity will influence how we approach a challenge.

How can we foster creativity? I want to share this awesome website with you. Harvard Graduate School of Education has Project Zero, an exploration of creativity. You can learn more by searching age categories or subject categories. There are book recommendations too. There are more resources and professional development too. If you value creativity and want to support that or learn more, check out all the Project Zero has to offer!

If you look under resources, for example, you can download family dinner conversation cards with age appropriate conversation starter ideas for you. And there is much, much more. How do you use your creativity? Are your children creative? Share in the comments! I’d love to see all your creative projects.