April's Author of the Month
Author of the Month: Denise Fleming
For the month of April we will highlight the works of Denise Fleming,
About Denise Fleming
Denise Fleming was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1950. She grew up in a neighborhood where the kids rode bikes, played games, and organized outdoor circuses and plays. Denise also loved to spend time in her father's basement workshop, where she would make things out of wood, clay, and papier-mâché while her father built furniture. Denise also loved to paint and draw. One of her third grade paintings was selected to be on the cover of a teachers' magazine. During high school she took many art classes and won several awards.
While at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Denise changed her major from advertising design to illustration. After graduation she worked in many art-related jobs such as furniture building and teaching arts and crafts. When she took a job illustrating mass-market children's books for a major publisher, she learned about bookmaking and decided to create her own books. After taking a papermaking class and developing her craft, Fleming traveled to New York City with a portfolio and returned with a two-book contract with Henry Holt & Company.
Denise Fleming's first book, In the Tall, Tall Grass, was well received. In 1994 its companion book, In the Small, Small Pond, received a Caldecott Honor. Ever since then, Fleming has been able to make a living writing and illustrating children's books. Her husband, a fellow artist whom she met in art school, helps with her papermaking process and book design.
Denise Fleming and her husband live in Ohio. Their daughter, who now lives out of the house, still helps to edit her mom's books.
April's Reading List
Lively language and appealing characters — both human and animal — combine with the vibrant colors of handmade paper for what is now the hallmark of work by Denise Fleming.
Alphabet Under Construction
An appealing mouse (also seen in Lunch) creates active letters of the alphabet, beginning by "airbrushing" the A and all the way to the zipped Z. The mouse keeps a calendar of work accomplished which astute readers will note at the end.
In the Small, Small Pond
A child (and a small green frog) witness the change of seasons in a small, critter-filled pond. Engaging language swirls and moves across the pages in this vibrantly illustrated Caldecott Honor book.
In the Tall, Tall Grass
The sounds of a caterpillar munching through vegetation combine with Fleming's distinctive illustrations for a small adventure in the tall, tall grass. The satisfying conclusion is a sleepy one, making this an ideal bedtime tale.
The Cow Who Clucked
When the cow discovers that she's lost her distinctive "moo," she visits other farm animals to retrieve it. Her proper voice is magically restored when she meets a chicken who moos! This is a playful, colorful introduction to farm animals and their sounds.
April's Artistic Corner
Earth Day Hands Craft
Drop several drops of blue, green and brown paint on white construction paper.
Fold the paper in half and rub the paint to blend. The colors will mix together. Allow to dry. Cut in the shape of a globe.
Trace hands on construction paper and cut out.
Glue hands together on a sheet of paper with thumbs facing out. Only glue the palm parts.
Glue the Earth on top of the hands. Fold up the fingers to look like they are holding the Earth.
In spring, we study farm animals. Our art and crafts will center around farm life.
Black and blue construction paper
Using a cork, dip in paint and create the body of the sheep. Assemble the head, ears and leg cut outs using the construction paper. Glue on the google eyes and ribbon.
April's Inspired Snack
This apple-phibious treat is so charming, our kids may not even notice that it's good for them.
What you'll need
Green apple (such as a Granny Smith)
How to make it
Cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Cut a thin wedge from one quarter for a mouth. For the eyes, shape cream cheese into two half-inch balls, and set them in place. Insert a chocolate chip, point-side in, into each cream cheese ball.
Use the grapes, cut in half, for the legs and feet. Slice four halves to create toes. Arrange the pieces as shown and serve on a paper lily pad.
What you'll need
Children follow the recipe to make their own pudding that represents garden soil, planting the seeds (M&Ms) and adding in earthworms (gummys).
April's Science Lab
Life Cycle of a Frog
The life cycle of a tadpole begins with an egg. The egg stage is a vulnerable stage in the life of a tadpole. Different species of frogs have different strategies for laying eggs to minimize risk of threat from predators.
The tadpole hatches from an egg. Tadpoles vary in appearance according to which species of frog they are. In general, tadpoles are more fishlike; they have oval bodies and long, flat tails. Tadpoles also have gills that help them breathe.
Tadpole with Legs
A tadpole will maintain the appearance it had when it hatched for anywhere from three to 21 one days, depending on the type of frog. After that, it begins to change. The tadpole begins to grow hind legs. After the hind legs form, the front legs begin to grow. This stage is when the tadpole acquires more froglike physical features. Its head becomes more hard, the tail decreases in length and its lungs are nearing full development. This stage is complete in about five to eight weeks.
The tadpole transforms into a froglet after about two to four months, depending on species. In this stage, the tadpole has almost transformed fully into a frog. It breathes through lungs and gills. It has developed hind and front legs, yet it still has evidence of a tail.
An adult frog no longer has a tail and breathes completely through its lungs at this stage. A frog usually reaches this stage after four to six months, depending on type.
Life Cycle of a Plant
Understanding the life cycle of a plant is one of the basic foundations of biology and the life sciences. For young children, learning how a simple seed grows into a great tree is amazing and somewhat mysterious. Explaining to kids how a plant grows can be very simple when you break the subject down into its parts.
A plant begins as a simple seed. Inside the seed are all of the parts of the future plant, dormant in their immature form. There is an immature root, stem and small leaves. When planted in the ground, the seed will germinate and begin to grow. The tiny root will work its way down as the tiny stem works its way up.
The small plant that first makes its appearance is the seeding. It has a small, vulnerable stem with a few small leaves. With sunlight and water, this seeding will grow larger and more mature. The stem and root will grow longer, and new leaves will appear on the plant.
When the plant reaches maturity, flowers will form. The flower is different for each plant, yet all contain the same basic parts. Most flowers use color and scent to attract insects to help them pollinate. Once pollinated, the flowers will begin developing seeds. Some plants protect the seeds inside a fruit that houses the seeds until they are ready.
Releasing New Seeds
When the new seeds are ready, they will be released back out into nature. For some plants, this means dropping fruit onto the ground to rot or be eaten by animals. Other plants release their seeds in unique ways, such as being blown by wind or by sticking to animal fur.
At this point the cycle begins again, with a small seed finding its way into the ground. This seed will sprout and grow into a new plant that looks exactly like its parent plant. When this seed begins to grow, the cycle will start over again.