Then & Now

Growing produce is a challenge! I could never be a farmer. You just never know from one year to the next what will happen to your crops, plus the biggest factor, the weather, is out of your control.

Last year the tomatoes never got their act together to produce much. This year, we are awash with tomatoes. Unfortunately most of them are still green balls.

I cannot believe the clusters of tomatoes this year.

I cannot believe the clusters of tomatoes this year.

Recently I counted the possibilities of tomatoes, there were over fifty potential tomatoes hanging. Now if only they ripen gradually, I should be set for at least a month of savory, home-grown tomatoes with every meal.

The beginnings of last year's bounty.

The beginnings of last year’s bounty.

Last year the peaches were bountiful. I was knocking at every door handing out bags of peaches.

This spring, the tree never had a chance to bloom. It was with sadness I gazed at my tree, longing for the beauty of the golden peach. However, one day I did notice there there were a few fuzzy balls beginning to form. They were difficult to see, but I kept watching, as they slowly began to take on the blush of a golden peach. Each day I would check the ground under the tree to see if any had fallen. Thankfully, they were hardy and continued to hang on until we decided they needed to be picked. The ladder was brought around and by str-e-t-ch-ing my husband was just able to pluck them. There were five and they were the sweetest peaches of the year. All the sugar from the tree must have pooled into those five peaches. Yum! There was no sharing this year.

Can you see how high up the peaches were? Aren't the five peaches a sad sight compared to last year?

Can you see how high up the peaches were? Aren’t the five peaches a sad sight compared to last year?

I wonder what my “crops” will be like next year. Would it be too much to ask for a bumper crop of tomatoes AND peaches?

Spark an Idea

10 for 10

It is time once again to comb the bookshelves for your go-to picture books. Since this is my third year, I was clueless as to what books to highlight. I approached my shelves wondering what could be my focus for this year? In the past, I’ve shared the books that I just love and have to use, but this year something different happened as I began pulling books.

I discovered that each book sparked a writing idea for me. Hence my theme was born. It may be the topic or perhaps  the structure that sparks an idea. I hope you will discover something that sparks an idea for you.

The books are listed in alphabetical order by author.

First up is A Is for Apple Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan. musk oxThe zebra is writing an alphabet book but musk ox has perfectly good reasons why each letter is for musk ox. Sample: “Gg is for goose musk ox. Because musk oxen eat grass. And live in Greenland.” This book has great vocabulary and more facts about musk oxen than you ever thought you might need to know.

favorite animalWhat’s Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle and Friends would be perfect for developing opinion writing. Fourteen illustrators draw their favorite animal and explain why. Did you know that Jon Klassen’s favorite animal is a duck? He likes to watch them walk around.

The End by David LaRochelle really takes cause and effect to the-endthe extreme. Sample: “The knight fell in love with the princess because   . . . she poured a big bowl of lemonade on top of his head. She poured a bowl of lemonade on top of his head because . . .” If you want to know the answer to that, you will need to find this book.

TogetherTogether by George Ella Lyon is a beautiful poem about a special friendship. The rhyming couplets and repeating refrain are worthy of multiple readings. Sample: “Let’s put our heads together and dream the same dream.” Isn’t that what we want our students to do?

My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson is a situation that my no no dayalmost everyone can relate to. Bella’s day begins badly and it continues its downward spiral all day. Sample: “Yesterday I woke up and Bob was crawling round MY ROOM licking MY JEWELRY. . .” Now that’s the start of a terrible day!

no one sawNo One Saw, Ordinary Things Through the Eyes of an Artist by Bob Raczka takes you on a journey into the art world. Sixteen pieces of art are shown. I love to show the picture and ask what do you think Bob Raczka said? The ending is a perfect beginning, “Artists express their own point of view. And nobody sees the world like you.”

What the Sun Sees by Nancy Tafuri is a double book because tafuri bookhalfway through you flip it and you have the second part What the Moon Sees. A wonderful way to compare and contrast. Sample: “The sun sees bustling streets. The moon sees empty streets.”

where i liveWhere I Live by Frances Wolfe has a hidden answer within the first letter of each two-line verse. The pictures are amazing! They are drawn from many different perspectives. The language of the text is beautiful. Sample: “Sunbeams sparkle like diamonds on water and gulls glide on morning breezes, where I live.”

Least Things, Poems About Small Natures by Jane Yolen makesleast things you stop and notice nature. Yolen has used the format of haiku to bring each creature to life, then she gives additional facts in a sidebar. Her son was the photographer for each. Can you guess what the animal is from this haiku?

“I am green as grass,

Green as moss, miracles, morn,

Green as a moment.”

It is a lizard.

I, Dokoi, doko the tale of a basket by Ed Young allows us to experience a lifetime and a lesson from the point of view of a basket. Students could take on the voice of an inanimate object as it observes their life.

I hope these titles and bits from the books sparked your interest.

Thanks to Cathy Mere (Refine and Reflect: Building a Learning Community) and Mandy Robeck (Enjoy and Embrace Learning) for creating this special day in August.




Plant Envy?

One evening I was checking the progress of my tomatoes in my minuscule garden plot when a spot of red appeared through the feathery ferns of the asparagus. My heart beat a little faster. My mind already planning when and how to eat the juicy tomato as my hands eagerly reached through the greenery that tickled my hands. Oh yes, it was a tomato that had developed all on its own while hidden by the asparagus. It was ripe and just ready to be picked. So I did.

A hidden tomatoe!

A hidden tomatoe!

Then I wondered if there were any more. Gently my hand separated the fern fronds. My eyes scanning and seeking a bit of red. Ah ha! Red! But as I moved aside the green, this red was simply a red berry produced by the asparagus.

The asparagus wants to get attention too.

The asparagus wants to get attention too.

I thought that perhaps the asparagus was jealous of all the attention the tomatoes have been getting, so it decided to produce its own version of  a round red fruit. However, I have investigated and discovered that the female plant produces this berry as a seed. The plant’s yield will be reduced due to the energy put into developing the seed. Therefore, I must get out there and pluck the seeds so I will be sure to have lots of asparagus next spring. No plant envy here.

Still waiting on the ones front and center to begin the process of turning red.

Still waiting on the ones front and center to begin the process of turning red.