Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Project: BUTTERFLY SUN PRINTS, a Fun Activity for Kids

Sun prints in the shape of butterflies
In April, I did an author visit at Pilgrim School in Los Angeles as part of the school's Earth Week celebration. Science teacher Kathie Shorkey showed me a wonderful art project she had done with the first graders. Using found objects–ranging from sticks, to buttons, to pop-tabs from drink cans–the children formed the shape of a butterfly on sun print photo paper and then exposed the paper to the sun. The paper was then developed in water and the shape of the butterfly was revealed against a background of blue.
Kathie Shorkey, Science teacher, Pilgrim School, Los Angeles, CA
You can find sun print paper at many sites on the internet or at many science museums. Any object that you can find--natural or manufactured--can be used to make the shadows on the paper.
After arranging your objects on the paper, take your sun print outside and lay it in direct sunlight for 2-5 minutes.
The areas of the paper exposed to the sun will fade from blue to white. When you see most of the color disappear from the paper, your print has been fully exposed. If no direct sunlight is available, don’t worry–just expose your print a little longer and wait for the same fading effect. Under cloud cover, the process will take 5-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the clouds.
After your paper has been exposed, remove the objects and rinse your sun print paper in water. Watch the white turn into blue and the blue turn into white.To get the deepest blue that the paper can give, leave it in the water for a while: 1-5 minutes.
Lay your sun print flat on an absorbent surface and allow it to dry.You can use a paper towel or a piece of cardboard as a bed for your sun print while it dries. Putting it on something absorbent will help to avoid the formation of water spots by drawing the water away from the sun print paper.
A sun print is a kind of photograph called a cyanotype. They are easy and fun to make! Learn more about sun prints at .

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A SEA TURTLE'S JOURNEY in the May Issue of BLAST OFF (The School Magazine, Australia)

I was pleased to have my article A Sea Turtle's Journey published in the May issue of BLAST OFF, one of the school magazines published by the New South Wales Department of Education in Australia. This issue explores the theme of marvelous journeys and migrations of people and animals.
My article focuses on green sea turtles that live along the coasts of northern Australia. They migrate between their nesting beaches and their feeding grounds along the Australian coast and nearby islands.
Some turtles swim more than two thousand kilometers each way! (Green sea turtles can also be seen elsewhere in the Pacific, including on the beaches of Hawaii.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

PROJECT BOOK BAG: Building Personal Libraries at Kipp Raices Academy in CA

Project Book Bag at Kipp Raices Academy in Los Angeles, CA, gives books to kids for summer reading.
Every year just before summer break, Project Book Bag gives young students at Kipp Raices Academy, an elementary school in East Los Angeles, a bag full of grade appropriate books to bring home and call their own. Last Wednesday, I spent the morning helping volunteers distribute the bags of books to the children in their classrooms.
Books ready to be distributed. Green bags are for girls; purple for boys.
The children were SO excited to receive the books, finding many of their favorite series as well as new titles, both fiction and nonfiction. Seeing the smiles on their faces as they pulled the books out of the bags was a joy to watch.
This was the eighth year of this program. In past years I have donated books–both my own and from my collection. This was the second time I had been there in person to help distribute the books. This year each kindergarten student got one of my folding board books, either Who Has More? Who Has Fewer? or Who Is Bigger? Who Is Smaller? It was fun to see the children pull the books out of their cases and expand them out to their full width.
Some of the many Book Bag Project volunteers
A devoted group of volunteers collects the books (both used and new), cleans them if necessary, and sorts them by appropriate age levels. This year, like last year, a group of Boy Scouts helped clean the books and assemble the bags as a service project. Matt, who is earning his Eagle Scout badge, is one of them, and his father was there to meet the students help deliver the books.
The mission of Project Book Bag, a nonprofit, “is to make sure that all kids have books at home to keep them reading and help them find their interests. Research shows that children who do not have access to reading material over the summer experience "learning loss," causing them to fall behind their peers. The kids in the KIPP school(s) are already performing better than many other kids in their area and we want to insure that they keep their skills sharp when school is not in session.”
Students at Kipp Raices are encouraged to read and excel at every level. Each classroom has the name of a university, exposing children early to the goal of going to college. Among the classrooms I visited were UCLA, USC, Yale and Syracuse.
Many thanks to Nancy Casolaron and Sarina Simon for spearheading Project Book Bag and making it such a success.
You can learn more about Project Book Bag at their Facebook Page and at their website.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

LA CASA DELLE FARFALLE: Butterfly House in Palermo, Sicily

Since the publication of my book BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6, I have been much more aware of butterflies and how they can be observed in so many places. On my recent trip to Sicily, I was surprised and pleased to discover a butterfly "house" tucked away just off one of the main streets of the capital city of Palermo. (In Italian, a butterfly is a farfalle.)
We bought our tickets and went through the netted door. Inside the enclosed room, hundreds of tropical butterflies flew around in the warm moist air, resting on leaves and feeding on flowers. One kept landing on my husband's hat! A chart showed pictures of butterflies from America, Africa and Asia so that one could identify the butterflies that were flying around.
In one corner was a container of chrysalises suspended from a strip of foam. A few butterflies rested at the bottom as their wings dried. Soon more would emerge from their chrysalises. It was truly a butterfly heaven! Here are just a few of the many beautiful butterflies we saw.