Saturday, March 4, 2017

March 5 - Mem Fox's Birthday

And a very happy birthday to one of our favorite picture book authors! Obviously, we start again with


Fox has more than 40 titles to her name, so we tried to narrow it down a bit:


Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge is a small boy who lives next to a home for old people, all of whom are his friends. His favorite is Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, because she has four names too. Wilfred is worried when he hears his parents mention that Miss Nancy has lost her memory. He asks the old people what a memory is, and all of their answers inspire him to fill a basket with objects. When this small boy presents the basket to Miss Nancy, each object sparks a special memory from her childhood.

Such an incredibly sweet story! Gently touches on the struggles of aging, while celebrating the special relationships that can happen between the very young and the very old.

 - Are you willing to commit to regular visits to a local nursing home? Talk with the staff (the activities director is probably your best bet) about how you can engage regularly with the residents. Some possibilities include bringing well-behaved pets by for visits, reading out loud to individuals, leading groups in songs (what songs do they remember from their childhood?), doing crafts or puzzles together, recording memories, dictating letters...

- What items in your house hold special memories for you or your child? Share some special stories from your own childhood (wait - Mom was a little girl once?!)


There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep?

- There are many sets of opposites mentioned throughout the text. Have your child help you think of other opposite pairs and illustrate them.

- Print out or draw a basic sheep shape (or several), and give your child a collection of colored items to decorate them with - torn paper, pom-poms, yarn, etc. Make a green sheep...a purple sheep...a rainbow sheep...


Harriet doesn't MEAN to be pesky. Sometimes she just is. And her mother doesn't MEAN to lose her temper. Sometimes she just does.

I, of course, NEVER lose my temper and yell at my children. Who don't read my blog. Ahem. A good book to read together at the end of a long day hour.


I can see the airport goats and I can see their cases.
But can you count the pilot goats with goggles on their faces?
This hilarious count-to-ten book features goats of all shapes, sizes, hobbies, and professions—and each spread gives readers a delightful opportunity to count the funny four-legged creatures.

Illustrated by another one of our favorites! This counting book doesn't actually include the numbers, so you get to count them up yourself. By the second or third reading (you can't just read it once), your child will be saying the words along with you, maybe even ahead of you. Yes, it's 'just' memorizing, but it is a HUGE step in the learning to read process!

Make your own counting book by writing the numbers 1-10 on pieces of paper, or by sectioning off a poster board. Cut out magazine pictures to illustrate each one.


When a mysterious egg appears outside Hunwick's burrow after a terrible storm, no one knows what to do with it. And when it doesn't hatch right away, everyone is even more bewildered, Everyone, that is, but Hunwick. For Hunwick understands the egg. It is his friend. And he is the only one who knows its secret.


- Spoiler alert: the egg is actually a rock. Take a walk through the woods or the desert, and look for a special rock that speaks to you. What other treasures can you find along the way? Bring your special rock home and make a little habitat for it.

Fox has a fabulous web site, just chock full of fun and information. You can click on many of the books to have them read to you, check out her latest blog entry, or read answers to some of the questions children have asked her. Click on the "contact" tab to ask her some of your own - and don't forget to wish her a Happy Birthday!


- WHAT on earth IS Hunwick? (a bandicoot) Explore the animals of Australia and compare them to the animals native to your area. Could those same animals live in the habitats of your area? Why or why not?

Social Studies

- Fox lives in Australia. Find it on a map, and check out some books from your local library about the history and culture of this island country.

- This happened after I wrote and scheduled this post. While I plan to keep politics out of this blog, age-appropriate discussion of current events should be part of any home schooling curriculum - or basic family conversations, for that matter! I am providing the link and will leave it to you to decide if or how to broach the topic with your children.


If you are here in the U.S., chances are Fox will not make it to your house for a birthday celebration. That doesn't mean you can't still enjoy a traditional Australian birthday treat, however: fairy bread! It's just as pretty as the name sounds, and easy to make. Simply spread butter on a slice of bread, then cover it completely in multi-colored sprinkles (known as "hundreds and thousands"). Sweet enough to make my teeth ache, so probably not something we'll have every morning for breakfast - but this is, after all, a special occasion!

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