Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Projects for Kids: A GARDEN IN YOUR KITCHEN, Fresh Vegetable Seeds

Fresh peas can be dried and planted to grow more pea plants.
Look around your kitchen. Some of the things we eat are seeds. Some of the things we eat have seeds in them. And some, such as pineapples and carrots, will sprout new leaves if placed in water. Now, at a time when many schools are closed, I will post a new simple gardening project each week that kids can do at home. Have fun watching things grow!

Fresh Vegetable Seeds
You can try growing the seeds of some fresh vegetables. The seeds inside fresh beans and peas, cucumbers, and squashes will grow if you dry them out first. These will grow best if planted outside.
Cucumber and pepper seeds are small. Remember to dry them out before planting them.
You can experiment with other seeds and plants around your house. It’s fun to discover how things grow–and you’ll end up with a beautiful garden in your kitchen!

Look for all the kitchen garden projects in these posts:
Dried Beans and Peas 3/25/20
Fresh Vegetable Seeds 4/1/20
Herbs and Spices  4/8/20
Birdseed  4/15/20
Avocados  2/22/20
Citrus Fruits  4/29/20
Carrots  5/6/20
Pineapple  5/13/20

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Projects for Kids: A GARDEN IN YOUR KITCHEN, Dried Beans and Peas

Sprouting a bean seed
Look around your kitchen. Some of the things we eat are seeds. Some of the things we eat have seeds in them. And some, such as pineapples and carrots, will sprout new leaves if placed in water. Now, at a time when many schools are closed, I will post a new simple gardening project each week that kids can do at home. Have fun watching things grow!

Dried Beans and Peas
There are many kinds of dried beans and peas--navy beans, lima beans, kidney beans and more. Usually, these are cooked and used in soups or hot dishes. But you can also plant them and watch them grow. Only dried beans will grow. Any bean that has been cooked will not grow.
You will need a glass jar or clear plastic cup. Line it with a piece of damp paper towel. Put beans between the towel and the glass. Fill the inside with potting soil.* Keep the dirt and towel moist and warm. In a few days you will see your beans begin to grow. The root will grow down, and the sprout will grow up. Soon leaves will develop from the sprouts. The roots grow longer each day. Measure them each day to see how fast they grow.
*You can omit the soil and still watch your bean sprout as long as you keep the towel moist.
If you plant your sprouted bean seed (paper towel included) in a pot of soil, it will grow into a leafy plant. After the bean sprout has used up the food in the seed, it uses nutrients in the soil to continue growing.
You can experiment with other seeds and plants around your house. It’s fun to discover how things grow–and you’ll end up with a beautiful garden in your kitchen!

Look for all the kitchen garden projects in these upcoming posts:
Fresh Vegetable Seeds 4/1/20
Herbs and Spices 4/8/20
Birdseed 4/15/20
Avocados 4/22/20
Citrus Fruits  4/29/20
Carrots  5/6/20
Pineapple  5/15/20

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


My friend Judith Stiehm, a professor at Florida International University in Miami, has written a memoir,  A Pilgrimage through the Churches of a Small American Town, an account of her stay in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for a year and a half in the late 1990s when she was doing academic research at the Army War College. During that time she went to services at all 30 churches in Carlisle. After each service Judith wrote a short essay about her experience. Those essays are this book.

My connection with the book is that I helped Judith publish the book on Amazon. (I have published one of my own books on Amazon and know how to use the program.) After many months working on the book on weekends when Judith was at home in Los Angeles, we finally got it uploaded and officially published. It is now available both as a paperback and as an e-book on Amazon. As I worked on the book and read the chapters, I was reminded of my numerous visits to Carlisle to visit my husband’s parents who lived in a retirement community just outside the town and going to church with them at Second Presbyterian (Chapter 24 in Judith’s book.)

This project made me appreciate all the work my publishers do to publish my books. For Judith’s book I was copy editor, designer, type setter, proof reader and tech expert. Along the way, I got a fascinating snapshot of life in the Carlisle community as seen through Judith’s eyes.

As Judith says in her introduction, the book is probably best read just a few chapters at a time. I think you will find it interesting.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

THANK YOU CARDS from Nevada Avenue School

Cards from 2nd Grade students at Nevada Avenue School
I love receiving cards and letters from students after I do an author visit at their school. These wonderful thank you cards came from the second graders in Room 5 at Nevada Avenue Elementary School in Canoga Park, California, after my recent visit. I love that each student chose something different to illustrate. Projects such as these help to reinforce the value of an author visit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

TIME ZONES OF THE WORLD: Paper Plate Project from The Geography Book

Did you turn your clocks forward one hour last Sunday?
As we change our clocks to Daylight Savings Time, it is a good time to look at the time zones of the world. You can also make your own "World Clock" to see what time it is in other parts of the world in relation to the time where you live.
How to Make a World Clock
You will need:
  • scissors
  • 2 paper plates
  • ruler
  • pen
  • brad
1. Cut the rim off one paper plate to make a flat circle.
2. Use the ruler and pen to divide the circle into 24 equal pie-shaped sections. Start by dividing the circle into quarters and divide these in half to make eighths. Then divide each of these into three smaller sections.
3. Write “London, Greenwich Mean Time” in one of the sections. Then, continuing clockwise find a city in each succeeding time zone and write the name in the following sections.
4. Place the circle with the city names on top of the other paper plate. Fasten them in the center with the brad.
5. On the rim of the plate, above the section that says “London,” write “12:00 Midnight.” Continue in a clockwise fashion writing 1:00 am, 2:00 am, 3:00 am, and so on, above each pie section, until you come back to “12:00 midnight.”
6. Look at the time on the rim above the time zone where you live. That is what the time is when it is 12:00 midnight in London. When you rotate the circle so that the time on the rim is your current time, the other pie sections will tell you what time it is in other cities in the world.

It takes 24 hours, or one day, for Earth to make one complete turn, or revolution, in space. As each hour passes, Earth rotates approximately 15 degrees of longitude. At the 1884 International Meridian Conference, it was agreed to divide the world into 24 time zones of 15 degrees each, measured from the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England. All other times around the world are based on the time set in Greenwich, called Greenwich Mean Time (or GMT.) The halfway point around the Earth, centered on the 180th meridian, is called the International Date Line. This is the point at which one day ends and a new day begins. The lines separating the time zones do not always follow the meridians exactly. Some of the divisions have been shifted to keep countries or communities in the same time zone. In some parts of the world, such as India and central Australia, the zones vary on the half hour so that noon occurs when the Sun is at the highest point in the sky.

You can find this project and many other fun activities for exploring, mapping and enjoying your world in THE GEOGRAPHY BOOK by Caroline Arnold.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


On Monday I spent a full and exciting day at Nevada Avenue School in Canoga Park, California, helping to launch a week celebrating reading. As I arrived, I found my parking place, marked by a beautiful sign made by my host, librarian extraordinaire, Najma Hussain, who did a terrific job preparing the students and organizing my day.
Welcome poster in the school hallway
At the start of the school day the students assembled on the playground and recited the pledge to reading in honor of Read Across America week. Then I was introduced and said a few words. After that my day began with three assemblies in the auditorium.
The room was decorated with wonderful artwork made by the students. Each class had focused on a theme inspired by one of my books. Most had chosen to learn about one of the habitats from my Day and Night series.
There were pictures of rain forest toucans and jaguars, bison on the prairie, forest animals peeking through the trees, lions in Africa, polar bears in the arctic and much more.
Butterflies made by ETK students
Several of the younger TK classes learned about butterflies, and one class, Room 10, had real caterpillars and butterflies in their classroom. During a break I made a special visit to see them. (The students told me that they wanted me to rename my book "Butterflies in Room 10"!)
With ETK teacher, Room 10
After the assemblies I spent the rest of the day visiting classrooms, where the students had the chance to ask questions and get a close-up look at my butterfly materials and my fossil mammoth tooth.
Najma Hussain, librarian at Nevada Avenue School
I thank Najma Hussain for making this a special day for me–for organizing the schedule, for providing a big selection of my books in the library, for arranging time for me to chat with teachers and Principal Tanya Nott, and for delicious snacks and lunch to keep me going through the day. My visit was made possible by funds raised from the school book fair, organized by Najma. Nevada Avenue School is lucky to have such a devoted and enthusiastic librarian!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

The garden at Esperanza School is part of the Schoolyard Habitat Program (supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Last week I returned to Esperanza School in Los Angeles (which I visit every year) to talk with the fourth graders in Mrs. Elizabeth Williams’ natural science class. They meet twice a week, both in the library, where I made my presentation, and in the school’s natural habitat garden. The students love to learn about animals and have been reading my books.
With teacher Elizabeth Williams in the school library
As I arrived at the school I was greeted by Principal Brad Rumble, who shared with me some of the many activities going on at the school. He is an enthusiastic bird watcher and passes on his love of birds to the students. In the hallway outside the main office is a bulletin board where students are recording their observations about red-tailed hawks, large birds that they often see soaring over the school playground.
Esperanza Elementary School is located at the edge of downtown Los Angeles
Several years ago Brad Rumble initiated the conversion of part of the school’s asphalt playground to a natural habitat garden area for plants native to southern California. I have visited the garden every year and seen the progress from scattered plants surrounded by dirt to a garden bursting with growth. As students visit the garden throughout the year they are learning to identify plants, insects and other wildlife, and observe the differences in growth during each season.
This was my first visit to the garden in spring. Bright blue lupins were blooming everywhere and hundreds of bees were buzzing around the blossoms collecting nectar and pollen. A few orange California poppies brightened one corner and numerous other spring flowers were also in bloom.
Thermometer and Rain Gauge
In one corner, a thermometer showed the temperature to be in the seventies, a warm day for February. Next to it, the rain gauge was empty. Although February is typically the rainiest month of the year, this year there has been almost no rain. A drip system and hose can be used to water the plants during dry periods.
I always enjoy my visits to Esperanza and seeing the evolution of the garden. This year I was delighted to see new garden areas that have been planted in the main courtyard of the school, with trees for shade and other native plants. With each new bit of natural space, the school is becoming a true oasis for wildlife in the heart of the city.