Monday, February 28, 2011

Living Beyond Age 37

Guest post by Alicia from Experiencing Our Homeschool.  

I am 37 years old.

In most families, other milestones like “sweet 16” and “over the hill 50” are important markers.  But in our family, the number 37 never leaves the forefront of our mind.

The median predicted age of survival for those with Cystic Fibrosis is 37.

My 5 year old daughter, Samantha’s median age life expectancy is the age I am right now.

My cousin died of Cystic Fibrosis at 2 months old. In the span of one generation, research has come so far that the life expectancy is now 37. As wonderful as that is, I know what 37 years feels like and I do not feel like I am at the end of my life. In many ways, it is just beginning.

When Samantha reaches age 37, I want her to feel the same way!

From now on, when you hear the number 37, I want you to remember Samantha who spends hours a day taking medicines and doing treatments so that she can extend her life little by little. You can help her and the 30,000 other Americans with this disease by giving to our Great Strides fundraiser!

In a little twist to our Great Strides fundraising and in honor of the age 37, I am asking that you donate $37. Obviously, we will accept any dollar amount, but as a reminder of this age and what it means to Samantha’s life, I am asking for a specific number this year!

This money will go towards finding new medicines and new treatments that improve each CFer’s daily life and extend this median life expectancy. Do you have $37? It will not be wasted!

To donate right now, click on the following link:


Grateful for anything you contribute,
Alicia (Dan, Timothy, and Samantha!)

Stephanie here... 

Alicia's story has given me a whole new perspective on turning 37 this year!  If you are a parent, over 37, attended Ouachita Baptist University (like Alicia and I did), are a military family like Alicia and Dan, or just feel moved to help fund research for Samantha, I hope you will contribute to their campaign.  Thanks!!!

Do you know someone with Cystic Fibrosis?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Xtreme Sledding :: Family Fun Friday

January 2011 came with its own theme - SNOW!  From the day after Christmas into February, Rhode Island experienced weekly snowfall.  Sometimes twice a week!

In the beginning we shoveled the driveway as a family, threw a few snowballs, and made a snowman.  But once snow has thawed and refrozen a few times it makes a pretty lethal snowball.

So what's a family to do when the backyard looks like this:

And the front yard looks like this:

And the driveway looks like this:

Well, you use those walls of snow for Xtreme sledding!!

And Momma just prays no one gets hurt!!!

What's the craziest thing you've done in the snow?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday, Ben!!

Happy birthday, Ben!!

Today you are 6 years old.  I can't believe you are getting so big!!

This year brought a lot of exciting things to your life:
  • you started kindergarten at home.  You have enjoyed studying birds, bats and insects in science.  Your love for animals continues to grow.
  • you learned to read!!  Reading still takes effort for you but it's getting easier as you practice each day.  You often go into the living room to work on phonics because you can't focus with Will talking in the kitchen.
  • you spend half of your classes at co-op with Will and the 6-9 year olds.  You usually like science, art, and p.e.  But drama and language arts/Bible are NEVER favorites.
  • you have become quite the class clown in our Flying Creatures science class.  I knew you would thrive in that class, which is why I volunteered to teach it.
  • you decided you don't care for peanut butter and honey sandwiches but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are still favorites.
  • you have become more adventurous in eating.  Home made chicken noodle soup, meatloaf, chicken pot pie are recent meals you've eaten.  It helps to have dessert afterward as a bribe.
  • you are a fantastic big brother!!  You love to carry Sam around and wrestle with him, although he doesn't always appreciate the attention.  You usually help Sam climb inside the indoor playground at Burger King.
  • Legos are now your favorite toy.  You still play with Thomas the Tank Engine and Lincoln Logs but not nearly as much as Legos.
  • You met your cousins Joshua, Daniel and Susanna for the first time this year.  We rented a huge cabin in Tennessee together.  You four big boys slept in one bed together.
  • You visited Washington, DC for the first time.  The pigeons impressed you more than anything else.
  • You draw very well and your handwriting is impressive for kindergarten.
  • You still share a room with Will and most days get along.  One of these days you are going to realize you are stronger than he is.
  • you learned to wink and curl your tongue.
I love you and am SO glad God placed you in our family!!  You always make me smile.


You might enjoy:
Benjamin turns THREE?! How did that happen?! (2008)
Happy Birthday Ben! (2010)

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Good Girls Style Guide by Shari Braendel

I am not a fashionista.  In fact, I'm rather fashion-challenged.  I always have been.  Way back in high school when the other girls in my class were teasing their bangs to stand 6 inches tall, my bangs barely lifted off my head.  (In retrospect that wasn't necessarily a bad thing!)

It wasn't that I didn't want to look fashionable; I just didn't know how.

After Makeover, January 2011
Occasionally, I would pick up a fashion magazine or watch What Not to Wear so I could learn a few tricks.  But it never worked.  Instead of educating me the magazines and television shows overwhelmed me.

So, as a 35 year old stay at home(schooling) mom of four, I decided I would never look stylish or put together.  I would try not to embarrass myself but comfortable, baggy clothes were my friends.

Then I lost 15 pounds last summer and had NO clothes that fit properly.  I wanted to go on a shopping spree and look amazing in all my new clothes.  So I purchased a copy of Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad:  a style guide for every woman by Shari Braendel (Zondervan, 2010) to help me with my shopping spree.

Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad taught me fashion basics; and that knowledge gave me confidence at the mall.

By reading "Good Girls" I learned:
  • my body type ("O"),
  • my color category (Warm),
  • my style personality (Classic Modern),
  • and so much more!!!
After Makeover, January 2011
I loved "The Book" so much I became a regular reader of Shari's blog!

Then when my mom visited in November I loaned her "The Book" to read while in Rhode Island (I refused to let her take it home to Arkansas!!).  My mom loved the book and we applied our new knowledge during a fun mother/daughter shopping trip. We've continued to encourage each other in the area of fashion and always refer to Good Girls as "The Book."

After all the fun we had with our makeovers, we volunteered to be featured on Shari's Monday Makeover.  We enjoyed answering her questions and hope that our stories encouraged other women to read Shari's book.

If you are a fashion newbie or just looking for help tweaking your look, I highly recommend Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad!!!

Do you feel confident with your style or do you get overwhelmed just thinking about shopping for clothes?

Disclaimer:  I received NOTHING for this review or for participating in Monday Makeover.  I believe the book is amazing and that everyone can benefit from reading it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Coping with Winter Blues

Faster than a vomiting 2 year old.
More powerful than an angry momma bear.
Able to leap tall piles of laundry in a single bound.

Look! Out in the kitchen!
It's a chef. It's a housekeeper. It's Super Mom!

That's how I felt in January as 2011 started with guns blazing.  Energetic and refreshed after a two week Christmas vacation, project ideas swirled around my mind.  Activities and opportunities overflowed my calendar's pages.

There was nothing I couldn't accomplish, or so I thought!

Blog five times a week?  Sure!
Home school preschool, kindergarten and 2nd grade?  No problem!
Contribute a blog article 2-3 times a month?  I'm your girl!
Provide hospitality to friends on a regular basis?  Of course!
Keep my house "company ready" at all times?  Easy peasy!
Teach a weekly co-op science class to 6-9 year olds?  Bring it on!

But now February draws to a close and instead of invincible I feel overwhelmed. 

Blog posts might publish three times a week.
School is reduced to absolute essentials. 
Blog contributions are dried up.
Dinner with friends is rescheduled.
Piles of chaos totter on my bedroom floor.
Substitute teachers are called in for co-op.

My sense of failure and lack of energy point to one diagnosis - winter blues.

How am I going to beat my winter blues?

First, I'm changing up our routine for a week.  Along with most of New England, I have declared next week February Vacation!  Relaxing with my children and focusing on fun instead of work is bound to lift my spirits.

Next, I'm planning 3 field trip activities for my family to enjoy.  Normally I avoid the February Vacation crowds but I'm making an exception this year.  We all need to get out of the house and see different faces, learn new facts and have a little fun.

Finally, I'm finishing a few projects.  I have several small nagging details to put in place in our updated bathroom and kitchen.  Completing these tasks will remove clutter from my bedroom and my mind.

Curing my winter blahs should be simple if I follow this prescription.  If not there's always plan B - a vacation to a tropical resort while shipping my kids off to the grandparents.  Hey!  I can dream, can't I?!

How are you beating the winter blues this year?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Proverbs 19:21 :: Siesta Scripture Memory Team

This year I am participating in the scripture memory challenge on Beth Moore's blog.  The rules are here.  The first verse post is here.

Here is my 4th verse:

"You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail."
- Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)      

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stephanie's Mommy Brain on Facebook!

Announcing.... (drum roll please)

Stephanie's Mommy Brain now has a Facebook page.

Come on over!  I'll be talking about my family, blogging, and upcoming projects.  See ya there!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

President's Day Children's Book Recommendation

What do Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have in common?

They both have birthdays in February, which we celebrate on President's Day.  In honor of both great men here are a few children's books worth reading.
A. Lincoln and Me by Louise Borden.  Illustrated by Ted Lewin.  Scholastic Press, 1999.

A. Lincoln and Me tells the story of a boy who shares a birthday with Abraham Lincoln.  (Side note: Ben shares his birthday with George Washington.) Lots of facts about Lincoln are described as the boy admires Lincoln.

You could say Lincoln is the boy's hero.  Giving children men and women who are worthy of admiration and imitation is a good thing. 

Abe's Fish: A Boyhood Tale of Abraham Lincoln by Jen Bryant.  Illustrated by Amy June Bates.  Sterling Publishing, 2009.

Abe's Fish uses a fictional account of Lincoln as a boy to describe his understanding of the word "freedom."

The last 4 pages include factual information about Lincoln and an bibliography of books and websites.  This kind of additional information is unusual in a picture book but very appreciated!
Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers written and illustrated by Karen B. Winnick.  Boyds Mills Press, 1996.

Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers is based on the story of a letter written by an eleven year old girl to Mr. Lincoln advising him to grow whiskers. 

Though the book is fictional the letter to and from Lincoln are real.  I appreciate this book as a way to develop an interest in history.

Sybil's Night Ride written and illustrated by Karen B. Winnick.  Boyds Mills Press, 2000.

Sybil rode her horse 40 miles to muster the men of her father's volunteer militia during the Revolutionary War.  Though Sybil's Night Ride is a fictional account it is based on a real girl.

I loved learning about Sybil's heroic actions.  According to the author's note "if you can follow Sybil's journey now, you can see historic markers all along the way.  There is even a statue of Sybil and her horse Star on the route in Carmel, New York."

This isn't strictly a President's Day book but George Washington is said to have thanked Sybil in person for her actions so I'm including it.

"The Many Faces of George Washington" Cobblestone, November 2007.  Technically this is a magazine and not a book but the entire magazine is exclusively about George Washington.  And it's good.  Lots of info.  You can purchase a copy of the issue from Cobblestone for $6.95.

My favorite article is the excerpt from Washington's "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior" and the modern translations.

Those are my recommendations for children's picture books related to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and President's Day.  What books do you recommend?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Girls Night Out at Hair Cuttery

What do you need for a great Girls Night Out?

How about ...
Let me tell ya, sometimes I REALLY love my life!!

Last week I attended a blog event sponsored by Hair Cuttery.  We were pampered and primped, and treated to a delicious dinner. (Try the bison burger!  You'll be glad you did!!)

My stylist, Pat, did a great job trimming up my layers.

If you are looking for a walk-in full service salon, I suggest you start with one of the 800 Hair Cutterys on the East Coast, in New England and the Chicago area. I found my local facilities to be clean, and the stylists friendly and knowledgeable.  They even have a coupon online that you can print and take with you to save money.

After getting all dolled up, I enjoyed sharing a meal with area bloggers.  I had a ton of fun swapping blog stories with women who understand why and what I do.

I'm the front right blogger with the orange scarf.
Thanks again to Hair Cuttery and Aigner Prensky for sponsoring a great Girls Night Out!

You might also be interested in reading my fellow Rhode Island bloggers: 

Disclosure:  I received free goods and services as a part of this blogger event.  However, I am NOT required to blog about any of the event.  The opinions here are my own and have not been influenced by the event sponsors or PR firm.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Benjamin Franklin Children's Book and Video Recommendations (Part 3)

"Order allows more time for attending to projects and studies."
- Benjamin Franklin
We've had a lot of fun learning about Benjamin Franklin.  We've read a LOT of books, put together a lap book, and watched two videos.  At this point my guys are begging me to take back the Franklin books and get "normal books" (their words).  So, this will be the last post about Benjamin Franklin books, for now at least.

Books on Film

Ben and Me:  An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin as Written by His Good Mouse Amos by Robert Lawson.  Published by Little, Brown Books, 1988.

Originally published in 1939, Lawson presents the book as a tiny manuscript that he discovered and published.  Amos the Mouse is the narrator and tells us about the life of Benjamin Franklin - from the perspective of a mouse.

My 7 year old, Will, enjoys this book because the mouse takes all the credit for Franklin's witty proverbs, inventions and writings.  Will thinks the mouse if very smart and funny.

I like the book because the history is, mostly, accurate and the story line is fun.  It's a relatively short chapter book that my 2nd grader can read on his own in a couple of hours.

In 1953, Disney released an animated short movie of Ben and Me.  The video doesn't appear to be available on DVD by itself but can be purchased on Disney Timeless Tales Volume 3.

The video is only about 20 minutes long and is the basic story line of the book.  It is typical Disney and is very cute.  I suggest reading Ben and Me as a read aloud and then watching the movie afterward.


Now & Ben:  The modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta.  Published by Henry Holt and Company, 2006.

Barretta describes many of Franklin's inventions and shows us how they have influenced modern American life with many still in use today.  Did you know Franklin was the first to suggest Daylight Savings Time?  His intention was to change clocks to take advantage of as much daylight as possible during winter months and thereby save candles, which in turn saved money.  Who knew one of the Founding Fathers was to blame for this annoying practice?!

I enjoyed this book immensely.  The cartoonish illustrations are entertaining and interesting to look at.  The comparison of Ben's inventions or ideas to today's products is informative and fascinating.  Overall, this is a fun book that I'd love to add to my personal library some day.

After reading the book, we watched the DVD version.  I have searched high and low on the internet and finally discovered the DVD on Spoken Arts Special Appearance.  The video begins with an interview with the author.  The remainder of the video is made from the illustrations of the book.

It's cute but intended for libraries and schools.  If you can find it at your local library, I recommend it.


There you have it - my recommendations for Benjamin Franklin children's books.  

Have you read any of books about Ben Franklin?

You might also be interested in:

Monday, February 7, 2011

100 Free or Cheap Family Activities for Winter

Winter brings with it snow, hot chocolate, fires and CABIN FEVER! 

In an effort to direct all the pent up energy my children have, I made a list of 100 free or inexpensive activities for us to do.  I hope they inspire you to spend quality time together as a family.

  1. Cook popcorn on top of the stove.  Provide a few add-ons like shredded cheese, M&Ms, nuts, or chocolate chips to give it a special touch.
  2. Paint pictures on heavy paper with water colors.
  3. Paper wad war!!  (Use scrap paper or paper from your recycle bin.)
  4. Nerf dart gun war!!  
  5. Work a 1000 piece puzzle.
  6. Cook Snickerdoodle cookies.
  7. Play a classic board game (Sorry, Clue, Chutes & Ladders, Candyland, Monopoly just to name a few).
  8. Pillow fight!!!
  9. Build a snowman.  Think creatively.  It can be 6 inches tall, look kind of like Jobba the Hut, or be have a red scarf.
  10. Watch a movie marathon.  Anne of Green Gables, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, 80s movies, Little House on the Prairie, Lord of the Rings, Disney Princesses, or Toy Story would all make great movie marathons on a dreary winter day.
  11. Play shadow puppets in a dark room with a lamp or flashlight.  Then make stick puppets from your shadows.
  12. Read aloud a classic children's book.
  13. Color in a coloring book.  Our local dollar store has seasonal coloring books.
  14. Build a house with Lincoln Logs.
  15. Snowball fight!!!
  16. Cook chocolate chip pancakes for supper.
  17. Attend a free children's craft/building clinic at Lowe's or Home Depot.
  18. Play with the Thomas the Tank Engine table at Barnes and Noble.  Check out the clearance table for good books while you're there.
  19. Make homemade finger paint and create self-portraits.
  20. Play a card game. (Go Fish!, Old Maid, Skip-Bo, Uno)
  21. Plan a Backward Day.  Wear your clothes backward and do things backward or in reverse order.
  22. Visit your local library and check out books.
  23. Melt broken crayons together to create fun swirled crayons to use for coloring.
  24. Build cars, houses, or space ships with Legos.
  25. Drink hot chocolate.
  26. Build a house of cards.
  27. Write a story together.
  28. Illustrate your story.
  29. Work a crossword puzzle.
  30. Take a walk through a state park and look for animal tracks.
  31. Play trashcan basketball with an empty trashcan and paper wads.
  32. Cook homemade personal-sized pizzas.  Let each person choose their toppings.
  33. Write a short skit together.
  34. Video your skit performance.
  35. Host a game night with friends.
  36. Skype with friends or family.
  37. Draw outlines of each family member on left over wrapping paper or butcher paper.  Decorate your paper person and then sticky tack to the wall.
  38. Make snow ice cream.
  39. Watch old home movies.
  40. Play with a doll house.
  41. Visit a consignment or second hand stroe and buy wacky clothes to wear for Wacky Wednesday.
  42. Host a Wacky Wednesday Party.  Wear crazy clothes.  Serve drinks in bowls and food in cups.  Just make it wacky.
  43. Build a blanket fort.
  44. Memorize a poem together.
  45. Tour a local green house.
  46. Make your own bowling pins.  Play a game.
  47. Play "I Spy."
  48. Bake chocolate chip cookies.
  49. Make your own scavenger hunt list.  Divide into teams and visit a local mall armed with a camera for each team.  Take photos of a team member with each item on the list.
  50. Tour a local museum.
  51. Play hide and seek.
  52. Make cards to mail to grandparents or friends.
  53. Complete a Word Search puzzle.
  54. Plan your spring break vacation.  Request tourist brochures and travel guides for your stay-cation or getaway.
  55. Host a cowboy party.  Dress up.  Eat chili.  Watch a John Wayne movie.
  56. Play indoor volleyball with a line of chairs and inflated balloon.
  57. Make and eat s'mores.
  58. Create your own board game.
  59. Play Charades.
  60. Play Simon Says.
  61. Play Pictionary.
  62. Read several children's picture books about a historical figure.
  63. Make and fly paper airplanes.
  64. Have a taste test with salsa, ketchup, or other condiments.
  65. Visit your local zoo. (Admission might be 1/2 priced through February.
  66. Celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day (January 21).
  67. Read a joke book aloud.
  68. Bake homemade cinnamon rolls.
  69. Get all dressed up and take glamorous pictures of each other.
  70. Make a paper mache mask.
  71. Build a race car with a box.
  72. Sign up for a free month of Netflix.
  73. Create your own crossword puzzle.
  74. Hold a family dance in your living room.
  75. Host a Tropical Cruise party.  Invite guests to wear their Hawaiian shirts, make paper leis, and drink fruit punch.
  76. Rearrange the furniture in the living room or a bedroom.
  77. Make a scrapbook or photo album from Christmas pictures.
  78. Build a birdhouse for spring.
  79. Start seeds for spring planting.
  80. Grow bean sprouts.
  81. Make homemade play dough.
  82. Cut out pictures from magazines and make a college of "My Favorite Things."
  83. Listen to The Chronicles of Narnia on CD.
  84. Make a list of free days at local attractions. (Often area business will sponsor the 1st or last Saturday of the month.
  85. Race matchbox cars.
  86. Turn large boxes (appliances or something similar) into houses, rockets or anything else.
  87. Check out a how to drawing book from your local library.  Practice drawing animals or insects.
  88. Make sock puppets.
  89. Celebrate a Space Shuttle launch (February 3 and 4, 2011).
  90. Celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day by making homemade salsa to go with your chips. (February 24)
  91. Celebrate National Napping Day (March 9).  Take a nap, read a book about sleeping animals or spend the day in your pajamas.
  92. Challenge family members to a Wii bowling tournament.
  93. Bake homemade peanut butter cookies.
  94. Listen to Adventures in Odyssey Radio Drama.
  95. Listen to The Secret Garden by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre.
  96. Go sledding.
  97. Make a countdown to Spring Break paper chain.  Remove one link everyday.
  98. Read magazines at your local library.
  99. Make milk jug bird feeders.
  100. Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Did I forget your favorite winter family activity?  Please share it with us!!

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    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Moses' Memory Book by Allia Zobel Nolan

    Moses' Memory Book:  How God Led His People and Me out of Egypt and into the Promised Land by Allia Zobel Nolan.  Illustrated by Linda Clearwater.  Published by Harvest House, 2010.

    The biblical book of Exodus details the story of Moses leading the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the promised land of Canaan.  From the Ten Plagues to the Ten Commandments to the Israelites reluctance to enter the land, there are a lot of details for a child to understand and remember.

    Moses' Memory Book presents the Exodus story as a scrapbook with Moses narrating the story to his readers.  He begins with his calling at the burning bush and ends right before passing his position to Joshua.  All of the major events of the story are touched on - from the perspective of Moses.

    I really like the concept of this book.  Most children can relate to retelling the story of a trip through a scrapbook or photo album so I think children can easily understand the Exodus story through this book.  The illustrations are very cute and look almost like a cartoon, which also helps children to engage with the story.

    The book is laid out as a chapter book but contains many illustrations.  I think it would be appropriate for readers from 5 to 10 years old.  Older children should have no difficulty reading the story on their own.

    Even though I enjoyed this children's book, there are parts that make me a little uncomfortable.  I think that the author is attempting to use humor and wording children will understand.  While I appreciate tongue-in-cheek humor, I'm just not sure that my children can discern between what is meant to be funny and what is meant to be smart-aleky.

    Overall, I found Moses' Memory Book to be a cute re-telling of the Exodus story and will be enjoyed by both parents and children.

    Do you have a favorite children's book that tells all or part of the story of Moses and the Exodus?

    Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers for me to review.  The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

    You may also be interested in my brief review of Lift the Flap Nativity by the same author.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    1 Corinthians 6:12 -- Siesta Scripture Memory Team Verse 3

    This year I am participating in the scripture memory challenge on Beth Moore's blog.  The rules are here.  The first verse post is here.

    Here is my third verse:

    "Everything is permissable for me - but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissable for me - but I will not be mastered by anything."
    - 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)

    How are you doing with your scripture memory work this year?

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Benjamin Franklin Children's Book Recommendations (Part 2)

    "He that scatters thorns, let him not go barefoot." - Benjamin Franklin

    I have a confession to make - I'm a nerd.  There, I admitted it.  Why am I a nerd?  Because I actually enjoy history and learning about people and events of the past.

    My favorite way to learn and teach history (especially American history) is to read children's books and take field trips.  As I mentioned last week, general Benjamin Franklin children's book biographies abound at my local library, but I did find a few that focused on specific events our portions of his life.

    Here are my 5 favorites:

    Picture Books

    Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica by Bryna Stevens.  Illustrated by Priscilla Kiedrowski.  Published by Carolrhoda Books, 1983.

    Did you know Franklin invented a musical instrument that both Mozart and Beethoven composed music for?  I didn't either.  Franklin created the instrument by using different sized glass bowls laid on their sides.  Think of running your finger around the rim of a crystal glass and you'll get the idea behind Franklin's Armonica.

    Stevens explains why Franklin developed the armonica.  She then describes how the armonica was built and it's popularity in Europe.  I love the focus on such an obscure detail from Franklin's life!


    The Hatmaker's Sign:  A Story by Benjamin Franklin.  Retold by Candace Fleming.  Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker.  Published by Orchard Books, 1998.

    After spending his time and energy drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson listened to the Continental Congress debate and change his document.  His friend, Benjamin Franklin, noticed his frustration and anger at all of the alterations and told Jefferson a parable about a hat maker who wanted to have a sign made for his shop.

    Fleming does an excellent job of retelling Franklin's story and Parker's illustrations keep the reader visually interested.  Again, the book highlights a little known event from Franklin's life.


    How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightening by Rosalyn Schanzer.  Published by Harper Collins, 2003.

    Schanzer gives an overview of Franklin's life in the first half of this book.  Then during the second half she focuses on Franklin's experiments with electricity and his famous kite flight.  My favorite part is the explanation of how the kite experiment worked.  There was more to it than lightening striking a kite but you'll have to read the book to find out for yourself.
    Early Readers

    Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares by Frank Murphy.  Illustrated by Richard Walz.  Published by Random House.

    Ben Franklin is bored while listening to the Pennsylvania Colonial Assembly debate and discuss various bills.  In order to stay awake he invents a new mathematical puzzle.  The puzzle is a grid like ticktacktoe with numbers arranged so that each row, column and diagonal row add up to 15.  (It reminds me of Suduko puzzles.)

    As a "Step into Reading" book, a student can practice his reading skills while learning about Franklin and a fun math puzzle.  He'll be having so much fun he won't even notice he's learning something.  


    Ben Franklin and His First Kite written by Stephen Krensky.  Illustrated by Bert Dodson.  Published by Aladdin an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2002.

    A level 2 "Ready-to-Read" book from the "Childhood of Famous Americans" series this book provides a glimpse of the young Ben Franklin.  Even as a child Franklin invented contraptions and conducted experiments.  Here we learn that young Ben wanted a way to swim across the pond faster, so he used a kite to pull him across the water.  Sort of a precursor to wind sailing.

    I think this book inspires children to think creatively and look for solutions to everyday problems in their lives by telling the story of a real boy and his real experiment.  A fun read for energetic and inquisitive boys!

    I love learning new things and these books have been a ton of fun!!  It's too bad we don't live close enough to Philadelphia to visit any of the Benjamin Franklin related tourist sites!

    Now that I've confessed my nerd status, I want to know - are you are nerd, too?  Do you enjoy reading historical children's books?  What about non-fiction?

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