Writing Appearances · Ramblings

8 Batty Books

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I love doing activities or unit studies based on specific themes. Fall is a great time for themes such as fall leaves, apples, pumpkins, and even bats!

I recently compiled 20+ batty crafts, snacks, and activities to try at home, which was published on Hands On As We Grow.

After doing some batty crafts, snacks, and activities, you may want to huddle together like a colony of bats and enjoy some batty books. Although there are many bat books to choose from, below is a list of eight bat books I was able to check out from my local library.

Bat Jamboree by Kathi Appelt

This rhyming picture book shows the many acts of a group of bats performing in front of other animals. It counts from one to ten and then back again from ten to one. The “show won’t be over until the bat lady sings”.

Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle

This is a longer story with some sad realities of a bat’s life. It starts with a female Mexican free-tailed bat giving birth to her little baby. It discusses the life of a little bat inside of a cave including some dangers. For example, it states “a snake lurking at the entrance crawls across the cave ceiling and snags a baby bat for dinner”. It also talks about the bats searching for meals of moths, beetles, and mosquitoes; a bat using echolocation (although it only describes the process instead of using the word echolocation); and it goes into detail of an owl snatching the mother bat out of the air. The baby bat waits and waits inside the cave for his mom to arrive, but she never does because she has been taken by the owl. At the end, the baby bat finds another mom bat (who has lost her baby bat) to take care of him.

Although this story does show the realities a bat may face in the wild, some children may have a difficult time accepting the loss of a baby bat and the death of the mom

Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies

This story focuses on a pipistrelle bat’s activities throughout a day including waking up, gliding, capturing a meal, and feeding her own little baby bat. Various bat facts are also included throughout the pages.

Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

This story has simple text for little readers. It is set up in question and answer format. For example, the little bat is asked his name, and the little bat responds that his name is Bumblebee Bat. Throughout the book, the bat answers how small he is, what he looks like, how he sees at night, where he lives, how he sleeps, and more.

I found this book in the children’s nonfiction section at my library. It focuses specifically on information concerning bumblebee bats.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book talks about the adventures a colony of bats has at the library throughout one night. They hang upside down from a lamp, create shadows, copy themselves, splash in a drinking fountain, and (of course) read.

Bats in the Band by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book starts with bats awakening after hibernation. So, what do bats do when they no longer are quietly hibernating? They create music with horns, bagpipes, bugles, violins, straws, spoons, and more. There’s a one-bat band that plays, a group that plays a country song, and more. As night ends and the bats head home, they realize music can be found in everything.

Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies

This rhyming picture book shows the adventures of bats at a ballgame. A vendor flutters around with mothdogs, the mound is raked (with a fork), the anthem is sung, and the bats play a great game of bat-ball. What team will win before the night ends?

Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies

This rhyming picturre books shows the adventures of bats at (you guessed it) a beach. The bats even take turns being kites (as seen on the cover) and enjoy dessert at the snack bar (hanging upside down around a single light bulb that is attracting many insects).

What do you think of bats? Are they cute and furry or creepy creatures?

Jobs of a Preschooler · Ramblings

Our Grand Pumpkin Experiment

I’ve mentioned that my family and I have been able to make pickles, can jalapenos, and make quick fresh salsa this summer using fresh ingredients.

Our garden is no longer nearly as large as it had been in the past since we moved last year, but we have still been able to enjoy jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, green beans, sugar snap peas, and strawberries from the plants we have planted in pots on our deck.

We were even able to get a few zucchinis from a zucchini plant in a large pot on our patio. My daughters were so happy we had actually gotten a zucchini from a potted plant that they invented “Zucchini Harvest Day” on the day we picked the first zucchini.

It’s now time to enjoy pumpkins.

We don’t have pumpkins in our potted garden, but my grandparents recently gifted my daughters with two pumpkins from their garden. My grandma mentioned these pumpkins are specifically grown for cooking.

Since we had written “make a pie” on our fall activity list, we decided to attempt to make a fresh pumpkin pie using these pumpkins.

pumpkins on deck

Maybe we’ve been doing too many scientific experiments lately because when I mentioned this would be our “grand pumpkin experiment”, one of my daughters reminded me that I needed to follow the steps of the scientific method in order to call it an experiment.

Jobs of a Preschooler- I'm a scientist...

“I’m a scientist…” from the book Jobs of a Preschooler

Well, my objective was to make pumpkin puree and create an edible pumpkin pie using the pumpkins we had been given.

My hypothesis was that we would successfully create pumpkin puree, and the pie would be edible but would not taste or look good, yet we would still have fun even if it didn’t turn out well. At least that way, I would either be right with my hypothesis or pleasantly surprised with the results.

I wasn’t sure what materials or procedure we needed to follow to make the pumpkin puree, though, so I did some online research.

We started by cutting the pumpkins open and scooping out the insides.

scooping pumpkin innards

As one of my daughters and I were scooping out the insides, my other daughter separated all of the seeds from the guts of the pumpkins.

Sorting through pumpkin guts

One of the ideas I found online for making pumpkin puree was to cut the pumpkin into strips and bake it. We decided to try that.

I had the pieces sitting with the peel side down, but they started burning, so I rotated them a few times while they were baking. I removed them from the oven when they were soft enough to peel and mash.

Baking pumpkin

One of the other ideas I saw online for making pumpkin puree was to remove the peel, cut the pumpkin into cubes, and boil the pieces. We decided to try that, too.

This technique reminded me of a combination of cutting a watermelon and making mashed potatoes. I used a colander to remove the water once all of the pumpkin pieces were soft. Then, my daughter mashed them in a large bowl using a potato masher.

Boiling pumpkin

We had more pumpkin pieces baking in the oven than boiling on the stove since I couldn’t fit as many pieces in the large pot as I could on the cookie sheets.

Our observations were that the boiled pumpkin seemed to soften quicker than the baked pumpkin. We were also able to mash it sooner since the peel had already been removed. I had to let the baked pumpkin cool for a little bit before I could remove the peel and mash it. I apparently didn’t let it cool long enough because I still managed to burn my fingers a little as I was removing the peel.

The mashed baked pumpkin pieces seemed more stringy and less moist than the mashed boiled pumpkin pieces. I was concerned the boiled pumpkin puree was going to be too moist for future recipes (especially if frozen first), so I ended up mixing the baked pumpkin puree and the (drained) boiled pumpkin puree together. I divided the puree into containers, so it could cool in the refrigerator.

pumpkin puree in container

Once we had our pumpkin puree, we were ready to make the pumpkin pie. I found a recipe on allrecipes for homemade fresh pumpkin pie using 2 cups of the pumpkin puree.

We read through the recipe, made sure we had all of the ingredients, and then watched a video on Youtube to see how to cut shortening into flour using the two butter knives method.

We successfully made the pie crust, but I managed to accidentally tear it apart as I was trying to put it into the greased pie pan. So, we rolled the dough flat again, placed the greased pie pan upside down on it, cut around the edges, and carefully peeled it away from the board we had used to roll it. Once peeled from the board, we flipped the pie pan with the dough in it. From there, we pushed the dough flat and pinched along the top edges.

It wasn’t the most gorgeous pie crust, but I considered it a success since I was able to get it into the pie pan without it falling apart again.

homemade pie crust

We had looked through the list of ingredients before making the pie, but we didn’t realize we only had about 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg instead of the 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg suggested in the pumpkin pie recipe. So, we used 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and we decided to increase the amount of ground cinnamon to 1 teaspoon.

We also didn’t use an electric mixer or immersion blender like the recipe had recommended. Instead, we mixed the filling by hand with a large plastic spoon.

Mixing pie filling

Once mixed well, we poured the mixture into the pan. We actually had a little bit of extra mixture that didn’t fit in the pan, which I disposed of. We created a heart with the small amount of left over pie crust we had. Then, the pie was carefully placed in the preheated oven. I was thankful I managed to get it into the oven without spilling any of it.

precooked pumpkin pie

The result was that cooked pumpkin pie actually turned out much better than I had expected, so my hypothesis was wrong. It may not be the best looking pumpkin pie, but it didn’t look horrible and everyone in my family thought it tasted great. In fact, the entire pie was eaten in less than twenty-four hours by my family of four.

finished pumpkin pie

In conclusion, we were able to successfully make pumpkin puree and an edible, delicious pumpkin pie using the pumpkins my daughters were gifted. We were able to do this by researching information, following (and adjusting) directions, and working together.

But, we didn’t stop there.

We didn’t let those seeds my daughter had separated at the beginning go to waste. We soaked them overnight and then made two different kinds of baked pumpkin seeds. One included a mixture of butter, sugar, and cinnamon and the other was just salt.

2 kinds of pumpkin seeds

When the pumpkin puree was completely cooled, I divided it two cups at a time into six separate labeled freezer bags. I’m curious to see how well it will work in future recipes once it has been frozen. Hopefully, we will be able to replicate 6 more delicious pumpkin pies within the next few months with this puree.

pumpkin puree prepared to freeze

We had made a total of 15 cups of pumpkin puree from the two pumpkins. We used 2 cups for the pumpkin pie and packaged 12 cups in the freezer bags to freeze, so we had a total of 1 cup pumpkin puree remaining. Since I didn’t want to waste the extra pumpkin puree, I found a pumpkin muffins with cinnamon streusel topping recipe from allrecipes that required only 1 cup of pumpkin puree.

We made a total of 18 muffins using the recipe. They didn’t hold together very well when I removed them from the muffin pans, but they still tasted pretty good.

pumpkin muffins

Do you have a pumpkin recipe you’d like to share?

From book Jobs of a Preschooler...Preschooler being a chef

“I’m a chef…” from the book Jobs of a Preschooler

 

 

 

Events · Ramblings

When a Book Purchase Has a Story

Recently I wrote about my daughters’ little business selling some homemade items. My husband and I offered to pay for my daughters to sell at the local farmers’ market five times this year as a Christmas gift. As a result, I have had the opportunity to accompany my daughters and sell my books Jobs of a Preschooler and Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles at the market.

I really enjoy talking to the people who walk through the market. Some are just passing through the area. Others are in town visiting family. Some have lived in the area for their entire lives and regularly go to the market.

It’s nice when people buy my books, but I take even more pleasure in listening to the reasons why people buy my books.

Jobs of a Preschooler (affiliate link) has been purchased by preschool teachers, people who know preschool teachers, and parents and grandparents of children who will be starting preschool soon or who are currently in preschool.

Jobs of a Preschooler book

Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles (affiliate link) has been purchased by many people for children and adults. Apparently it makes a great gag gift, which is quite entertaining to me. A lot of people have told me they are buying it for their adult child or spouse who loves pickles.

Other purchases have touched my heart and make me feel so excited to be a part of someone’s learning process. One lady purchased Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles for a reluctant reader who loves pickles. A speech pathologist purchased it for the repetition of the word pickles. Another parent purchased it for her child who was going to speech therapy and was told to try sour foods such as pickles to get his mouth moving.

Quite a few teachers have also bought Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles to further their discussion during their plant unit. Not only can they read the book, but the students can also put together the order of how to make pickles using the free printable that goes along with the book.

Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles book cover

Thank you to anyone who has purchased one (or both) of my books, and thank you to those of you who have shared your story with me.

Other people’s stories are one of the reasons I plan to continue writing stories. I would love to hear from you if you have purchased one (or both) of my books about the reason you made the purchase.

May you have a wonderful day!

 

 

 

Ramblings

Kids Can Be Entrepreneurs

Earlier this year, I had an article entitled How to Quickly Boost Your Child’s Money IQ published on A Fine Parent. In the article I mentioned that my daughters had started their own little business when they were wanting to earn some money.

Once my daughters decided they were going to start their own business, they had to decide what their business would be. Since they were only seven and eight years old at the time, they were a little limited on what they could do as a business. They have always enjoyed doing crafts, so they decided to sell some of their finished crafts at a local farmers’ market.

To help them learn about businesses, we read books together about entreprenuership for kids. They also watched all of the videos from the Secret Millionaire’s Club, which has many short educational cartoons for kid entrepreneurs.

Overall, this business experience has been very educational and entertaining for them. They have learned a lot through this business opportunity such as expenses, income, profit, prices, competition, location, sales tax, and more.

They started with some simple crafts such as magnets,

DIY button magnets

bookmarks,

Homemade bookmarks from cards

rubber band bracelets,

Rubberband bracelets

and pot holders.

potholders

Not only have they learned about the business aspects, but they have also learned other skills through this process so they could make more items.

They learned how to use a loom to knit hats.

knitted hats

They learned how to sew pillows

homemade pillows

and aprons.

homemade apron

They also learned how to make coasters,

DIY picture tile coasters

paracord bracelets,

homemade paracord bracelets

sashay scarves,

sashay scarves

and fleece scarves.

fleece scarves

They have learned some items sell well and others don’t. Items that have not sold well for them include their Christmas themed napkin rings

Christmas Napkin Rings

and gift card boxes.

gift card boxes

In addition to the items shown, they have made and sold a few other items.

They know if they don’t have as many expenses, they are able to make more of a profit. For this reason, they have asked for materials and supplies for their crafts as Christmas gifts.

The farmers’ market they originally sold at was free of charge to attend, had very few customers, and was located near our previous house. So, for Christmas this past year, my husband and I offered to pay for them to go five times to a different famers’ market during this summer. This market is much closer to our new house, has many more customers, and charges a small fee.

They have invested quite a bit of time in their business making supplies, tracking income and expenses, loading supplies, and selling at the market.

I don’t think this business will continue into adulthood for them, but I hope it has taught them the importance of hard work, the aspects of a business, and new skills they otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Did you start a business as a child?

Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles · Ramblings

Quick Fresh Salsa

My family enjoyed making pickles in July, which just happened to be National Pickle Month. Although we didn’t have enough cucumbers in our garden to make all of our pickles, I do enjoy being able to use our own fresh produce when possible. In fact, Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles began the day I was in my former garden picking cucumbers to make pickles.

We had a large garden at our previous house, which I loved. It was nice having a wide variety of produce in our garden and multiple fruit trees in our yard. Now that we are at a different location, our garden consists of a variety of plants we are growing in pots on our deck and patio.

It is definitely different (and takes less time) than what we had before, so it has been a little bit of a learning process. I am glad we have still been able to enjoy some of our own fresh produce.

We use to have sixteen jalapeno plants, so we pickled a lot of jalapenos and made/froze a lot of jalapeno poppers. Now, we have four jalapeno plants. I am glad we have still been able to enjoy quite a few jalapeno poppers, and we have been able to pickle two quarts of jalapenos (so far).

Pickled Jalapenos

We’ve canned salsa in the past, but since we don’t have as many plants anymore, I was really excited when we had enough peppers and tomatoes to make some fresh salsa. One of my daughters and I ended up making two varieties of salsa.

We picked some tomatoes, a jalapeno, and a green pepper.

We rinsed them off, diced the tomatoes, and cut and deseeded the peppers.

salsa making

In our first batch, we mixed diced tomatoes, cut jalapenos, a splash of vinegar, and some salt. Our second batch was less spicy and included diced tomatoes, diced green peppers, diced onions, a splash of vinegar, and some salt.

The salsa was really simple to make and tasty to eat with some tortilla chips.

Do you have a garden to enjoy some fresh produce?