Nov 26, 2009

A Kaleidoscope of Fall Color

“Listen to the leaves falling one by one…” This is the first line of a song Ethan and I love to sing together. We just love the Fall! The beautiful colors…the crisp, cool air…hiking in the mountains…crunching through the leaves… Here is an overview of our wonderful times this Fall...

There were so many beautiful Fall days.

A kaleidoscope of color:

The prettiest Fall scene:

Hiking…hiking…hiking! I love to hike! Ethan loves to hike! Ethan has been hiking since he began to walk!

Hiking in Vermont...isn't it beautiful?:

Love those little hiking feet:

Before the crazy retail season hit, we tried to hike at least once every weekend. We enjoyed some especially picturesque hikes in the mountains of Vermont.

Gorgeous views from Stratton Mountain:

View of Owl’s Head Mountain:

Isn't this little bridge lovely?:

We read the Woods Walk book to help us explore the Fall. Love this book! It contains lots of great facts about each season, highlights how to use your senses to experience nature…and provide lots of ideas on how to discover nature with your child. “Collect Fall leaves by shape…How to tell conifers apart..A list of leaves by color…Go on a woodland treasure hunt…so much fun stuff! And My Nature Book, a journal, provides a place to record your memories...a place to write about the good times you’ve had in nature that you will never forget.

Ethan found a caterpillar on one of our many hikes:

And a frog too:

Ethan loved learning about why leaves change colors. He walked around telling everyone “the leaves have lost their chlorophyll!” One day on the way to school, we decided to name the autumn leaf colors. It was a fun activity that we did over and over again and it kept both of us more aware of the beauty of our surroundings.






Lemon & Kiwi:


A fun and easy activity we did this Fall was to make a wreath out of colorful leaves. Minimal supplies are needed: paper plate, glue, leaves, and yarn. Cut a circle out of the center of the paper plate. Glue leaves to the paper plate. Attach yarn at the top so you can hang the wreath. Voila! A Fall Wreath! Nature's Art Box (another favorite book) provides directions for how to make a wreath out of vines or branches.

Out to collect the leaves:

Minimal supplies needed:

Ethan loved the gluing:

Completed masterpiece:

What a wonderful, colorful Fall!

And such a happy little guy:

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Nov 11, 2009

Speak for the Trees: The Lorax, an Earth-Friendly Story

Books…books…books…I LOVE books! I’m addicted to books! I love sitting and snuggling with Ethan while we read a good book. Opening a book is opening the world to a child.

I started reading to Ethan when he was just a few days old. The rhyme and rhythm of Dr. Suess was a favorite. And now Ethan loves books too. I love when he asks, “Mommy can we read at least 6 books tonight?”. Hmmmmm….YES, of course, 6 books it is!!! He loves to read the same book over and over and over again. He learns new things from books, expands his knowledge on things he likes, laughs at silly stories, deepens his understanding of the world…and most of all has lots of fun exploring his universe through books. It brings tears to my eyes that he has a “only read with Mommy” book – “I Love You As Much” by Laura Krauss Melmed. I read this book to him when he was a baby…and now he “reads” it back to me.

A few weeks ago, I went to Ethan’s school on a Friday morning to sit in on Morning Meeting. Morning Meeting occurs each morning before classes begin, when students and faculty meet and together experience poetry, music, and stories. That day, Ethan’s teacher was reading a story to the children, The Lorax by Dr. Suess. This book was written 38 years ago and its message couldn’t be more relevant today! For those of you who haven’t ever read it and those who perhaps haven’t read it in awhile…the Lorax is a story about the tree loving Lorax and the greedy Once-ler.

The narrator is the Once-ler, who happens upon a lovely place populated by the beautiful, ethereal Truffula Trees. He is bewitched by their beauty and realizes that these natural resources can be profitable so he chops them all down to mass-market Thneeds -- “it’s a shirt, it’s a sock, it’s a glove…a Thneed is something that everyone needs”. Thneeds begin selling at an amazing pace and soon the Once-ler is making so much money. Sadly, in his quest for riches he pollutes the land, the water, and the air -- causing all the other creatures to depart, but leaving behind the yellow Lorax who “speaks for the trees” and warns the Once-ler of his folly. After the very last truffula tree is chopped down, the Once-ler is left alone with a pile of rocks spelling one word ...''Unless''.

When Ethan came home from school that day he wanted to read the Lorax again. And again. And again. We read the Lorax all weekend --- no exaggeration, at least 6 times a day --- and as many as 10.

Ethan was enthralled by the story of the Lorax and had many questions:
Who is the Lorax?
Who is the Once-ler?
What is grickle-grass?
Why did the Once-ler cut down the trees?
Can a whole forest grow from just one seed?
Why? Why? Why?

We acted out the Lorax story with Ethan assigning roles. We talked about the Lorax and what it meant. We both enjoyed playing the part of the Lorax and declaring “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees because they have no tongues.” We were so very sad when the last truffula tree was cut down. And we talked about "unless someone like you tries to make a difference."

Acting out the story was fun…yet also made the essence of the story understandable to Ethan. I would throw an imaginary truffula seed to him and he would put it in his pocket…with a smile on his face…and we would talk about how he, Ethan, can make a difference. The best part was when Ethan put the imaginary truffula seed in his pocket and declared he would take it to school on Monday….to talk to his teacher about saving the trees.

I love finding a story that resonates with Ethan and helps him to understand a complex subject. A good book engages a child and makes an important lesson so more understandable than when mommy just says, “it’s important to take care of our environment…”etc., etc. And actually, we can learn together with our children…. stories like the Lorax remind us to be kind to the earth.

Reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 1 month old:

Uncle Joey reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 2 months old:

Audrey and her friends reading Dr. Suess with Ethan at 3 months old:

Ethan "reading" the Lorax at 4 years old:

Needless to say, we added “The Lorax” to Also, check out “The Tree”, a beautifully illustrated story about the joy a tree feels giving life, shade, sustenance, and comfort...and how, when development threatens this tranquility, the fir wonders, “Who will house the owl? And who will hold the river’s shore?” and the importance of people together working to save our trees.

Remember...speak for the trees.


Nov 7, 2009

There is Only One You

I want to share with you a book that I love called "Only One You" by Linda Kranz. This engaging story immediately captured Ethan's interest. From the first time we read the book together, he was hooked! "Only One You" is a beautiful and compelling story that has offered me the opportunity for wonderful exchanges with my son --- many poignant moments ---- and many chances for great learning discussions.

Here are a few of our conversations...

Conversation 1:
Ethan asks to read the book (as he does many nights) "Only One You". I ask "Ethan, why do you like this book, "Only One You"? Ethan responds "Because there's only one you mommy". I ask "There's only one you --- Ethan? or only one me --- mommy?" Ethan says "Because there's only one me, Ethan...and there's only one you, mommy...and there's only one daddy!" He says this with happiness in his voice and a great big smile on his face.

Conversation 2:
On the page where Adri is swimming in a different direction than his friends, Ethan says "Mommy, why is Adri swimming that way? why is he swimming away from his friends? He's going to get lost." I ask "Why do you think Adri's swimming in that direction Ethan?" Ethan says "He must be lost, he needs to turn around or he'll miss his friends." I say "Well Ethan sometimes it's OK to go in another direction from your friends. And sometimes it's important to go in a different direction from your friends. Ethan says "But why mommy?" I say, "Well Ethan, just because your friends are going one way or doing one thing, doesn't mean that you must go that way or do that thing. And it doesn't mean that the direction you're friends are going is the right direction to go! What is most important Ethan is to always do the right thing. And to go in the direction that you think you should go." And to be kind and good to the world and all the creatures in the world. Ethan says, "OK mommy."

The pages of "Only One You" and our conversation has now set the foundation for continued conversations about "choosing your path" and "doing the right thing" and "it's OK to be different". A beautiful story.

LOVE this book!