Beautifying Bird Nests - A Simple Craft Idea

I'm excited to include some of my most favorite simple craft ideas in an upcoming guide for a book with an awesome nature theme. One project that I particularly like and will include in the guide is Beautifying Bird Nests (Not that birds need much help in creating their masterpieces, mind you.). This craft is most effective when created in the early spring, when birds are busily building their nests. This project is as simple and simple can be. Kids love it. Birds benefit, too.


The supply list is short and cheap! All you need to gather is a mesh produce bag, scissors, and an assortment of thin ribbon, yarn, and string.


Cut ribbon, yarn, and string into short strips about 3 or 4 inches long. 


Loosely insert bits of ribbon, yarn, and string into the produce bag mesh. Once complete, hang mesh bag outdoors near a tree. Wait and watch. Soon birds will snitch some of the strips to use as construction material for their nests! Truly! I've seen this happen.  

Who would've thought enhancing nature could be such fun!

Your Mommy Was Just Like You - A Celebration of the Spirit of Mother's Day

I began making guides for folks before the Common Core was cool. Even then, I was creating hands-on, project-based content that is entertaining, yet academically sound - the kind of stuff that both the kids and the folks that care for them would appreciate, and have been enjoying every minute of doing so for a long, long time.

Recently, author Kelly Bennett asked if I would go back and align all of the guides I previously made for her with the Common Core State Standards. I was glad for this opportunity as I would be able to revisit the work I had done almost three years ago in the light of present-day standards. That's kind of exciting, in a nerdy sort of way.

Kelly's Your Mommy was Just like You is just as charming as I remember it being. I love the way it celebrates humanity, in all it's messy forms. In it, tales of a mother's childhood are told to a child. The grown up is presented as an awkward, fantasy-loving, mistake-making kid. This book brings the "nobody's perfect, everybody has an off day" message home, loud and clear.

I encourage you to read this delightful book. Review the guide, too, if you'd like. There are a couple activities in there that will make your Saturday simply delightful, on being creating a Daisy Chain, as demonstrated in the video below.


Below is a video showing how to make a Hibernating Bear Craft which is part of a CCSS-Aligned Discussion & Activity guide created for Eileen Meyer’s SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS: A STORY OF SLEEP.  The book guide can be downloaded at the author’s website at or right here!!!!

Synopsis: Fourteen animals, including the cuddly koala, the hairy anteater, and the wise owl, are featured in this lyrical bedtime story about the unusual ways that animals sleep. Natural history notes explain how each animal sleeps, from the magnificent frigate bird, which naps while flying hundreds of feet above the sea, to the walrus, which sleeps with its tusks anchored in floating ice. Whimsical watercolors of dozing animals will help any weary child fall to sleep with a smile.


Written by: Eileen Meyer


Illustrated by: Laurie Caple


Published by: Mountain Press Publishing Company

ISBN: 978-0670012855


Featured Guide of the Week - Picture Day Perfection

Deb Diesen is the queen of the plot twist! In her Picture Day Perfection, we’re riding along with our sullen protagonist on his way to the photographer’s stool, even feeling a little bit sorry for the messy mix-ups this kid is enduring, to discover that he had it all planned out – perfectly! That little twit. He had me right where he wanted me the whole time. 

Not only did Deb craft a clever tale, Dan Santat’s illustrations kept me smiling with each page turn. Y’all, this book is straight up funny! If you’ve got a kooky kid in your life, this one’s for them. Get it. They’ll love it. And, if you’re hoping to lead said kooky kid into a deeper study of foundational skills in literature, download the guide. Strike while enthusiasm is hot, right?

Along with series of pre and post reading discussion questions, the guide presents writing and illustrating prompts, a study of adjectives (which Deb highlights masterfully in the text), a calendar/sequential numeric activity, and a super fun construction paper photography craft that I just have to tell you about.

I have a passion for making quirky, inexpensive kiddie crafts. Give me some tape, construction paper, and a sunny afternoon and watch me go! And, that’s just what I did with an activity for this Picture Day Perfection guide. The catch is, though, I don’t live in Texas anymore, where the sun shines brightly almost every day of the year. No. I live in Michigan now, where gun-metal grey skies dominate the calendar. This change in locale made the processing portion of this project a little bit more challenging.

When you download the guide, you’ll see that sunshine is a key procedure element and, when I was making a sample for the guide, I couldn’t find any! I chased whatever rays I could find by taping and retaping the ‘photo’ to just about every window all around the house.  My husband cracked up when he pulled up after work to find this fellow taped on the picture window facing our front lawn, for the entire world to see!

What will the neighbors think, right? We decided that they’d better get used to it.

Download the guide here and see what I mean. I hope you have as much fun with the projects as I did making them.

One Day I Went Rambling Giveaway!

A shared post with

Parents, teachers, and librarians! Take a moment to consider the absolutely charming premise of One Day I Went Rambling, written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Terri Murphy, won’t you? If so, you will be ever so glad that you did.

In the story, Zane, the protagonist sees magic in the mundane surrounding him. Pop tops are jeweled rings. Wooden crates hold the daring intrigue of a pirate ship. Nothing is normal. To Zane, everything is fantastical!  And, as life would have it, Zane is surrounded by nay-sayers, peers that poke fun and tease a child who dares to think as a creative individual. Yet, Zane stays true to his individualistic nature, and in turn, influences others to begin to celebrate the wonderful freedom of thinking outside of the boring, common, everyday box.

Kelly and Terri are over-the-top enthusiastic about this important tale. So much so, that they are offering a number of incentives to entice you to climb aboard the Rambling train. One is a discussion/craft guide in which directions for a variety of homemade band instruments are included – instruments that serve as props for a Reader’s Theatre interpretation of this unforgettable story. And, finally, the opportunity to participate in a giveaway! Yes! How wonderful is that? Link away today!

In closing, enjoy an excerpt from Bennett’s and Murphy’s One Day I Went Rambling:

Ahoy, mates, time’s a wasting.

Climb aboard! Let’s sail away!

We’ll explore the world together.

Finding adventure all the way.

Doggin' and Horsin' Around

I just finished creating the coolest guide ever! First of all, you must check out Jeff Crosby's and Shelley Ann Jackson's b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l non-fiction picture books, Little Lions, Bull Baiters & Hunting Hounds and Harness Horses, Bucking Broncos & Pit Ponies. Not only are the illustrations amazing and the facts fascinating, you need the books to complete most of the activities I created in their Research and Activity Guide.

However, there are two anatomy lessons that you can do without the books. Look though the guide to find them. Did you know that both the dog and horse have a muzzle, stifle, a fetlock, and pasterns? And that a horse has a coronet? (I'm not talking the rootie-toot-toot type of coronet, mind you. I'm talking anatomy here.)

So, go get yourself some scissors and glue, look through the guide, print out pages 15 to 17, and have some dog and horse fun!

I tell you, it takes good books to be able to make good guides. And, my dear Simple Saturday friend, Jeff and Shelley have created two masterpieces. Don't take my word for it. Check them out and see for yourselves!!!

Paper Dolls As Pretty As You Please

 Today we're going to focus on a craft that I found while researching supportive material for one of our ReaderKidZ Beyond Boundaries selections - Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios. This book is way, way, w-a-y too cute, y'all.  Here's what Nancy Bo Flood says about the story:

Marisol McDonald is teased about being different – sometimes it is because of her fire-red hair and freckles.  Sometimes she is teased because she prefers playing pirates to soccer. Mostly she is teased about “nothing matches.”  This book in pictures and words is as high-spirited as Marisol and a wonderful inspiration for celebrating being different and being proud of it.  Every kid gets teased. Readers will enjoy Marisol’s creative approach to being herself.

So, now that you know about the darling story, let's get busy Simple Saturday-ing, want to? To do so, you'll need to download the Teacher Activity Guide Monica has loaded on her website. In addition to finding a ton of great lessons, activities, and even recipes in the guide, pages of paper dolls are there just waiting for you to print out and create. Print the Monica Marisol paper doll on card stock and you're ready for some good old-fashioned paper doll dressing fun.

 There are two basic styles of clothes to chose from....the pre-colored selection or the color-it-yourself-creative selection. Either of which is marvelously original, spunky, and fun - just like Marisol! (And you and me, I might add.)

Now go get yourself some scissors, print off these sheets, and have some Simple Saturday fun, you hear? See you next week!

Meat Tray Block Printing - Inspired by Ellen's Broom

Y'all, this is an incredible book founded on the celebration of everlasting love between a husband and a wife and it ROCKS! Kelly Starling Lyons' tender poetic prose nails the inquisitive nature of Ellen, a young girl learning about great happiness born from hardship - all in the name of marriage and of freedom.

I really enjoyed working on Activity/Discussion Guide. Not only is the story amazing, the illustrations....oh, my golly gosh! Daniel Minter's linoleum block prints blew my socks off! To imagine the patience and skill required to carve away with such delicate precision baffles me.

I spent hours studying the movement of his lines and the expressive faces of his subjects. There is one spread, in particular, that I love in which Ellen and her family are gathered by the fireplace and her father has his hand on her shoulder. So sweet... And, man-oh-man, does Daniel know how to play with color and light for effect. There's a haunting spread that is so tastefully unsettling it will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life. (I'm not telling you which one it is, either. Get the book and see for yourself.)

Simple Saturday crafting, once again! You know the simple drill...meat tray, sharp pointed tool (pencil or pen), paints, brush, and paper. CHEAP!So, let's dedicate this Simple Saturday post to the fabulous art of Daniel Minter, illustrator for Ellen's Broom, want to? There is a detailed explanation of the Styrofoam Meat Tray Block Printing a-la Simple Saturday-esk technique described in the Activity/Discussion guide I made for Kelly. (Close your eyes, Daniel. This might make your stomach roll.)

Where Daniel skillfilly carves his master pieces, I basically used the point of a pencil like trowel and sketched something that, hopefully, resembles a tree. (I see you smirking...Don't laugh.) 

Then I spread black paint all over my meat tray block print and made a print. After my print dried, I used tempera paint to fill in white space with color. What do you think about my apple tree? Pretty spiffy, eh? Not bad for a novice. I'm sure you can do a whole lot better. Try it. Make a meat tray block print. It's fun!!!

And, more importantly, take a look at Ellen's Broom, when you get the chance. Get lost in Kelly's wonderful words perfectly complimented by Daniel's incredible artistic sensibilities. 

 Much like my own! Ha!

Bring on the New Year!

I've just spent the most delicious morning basking in gratitude for the joy in my life and setting intentions for the great new year to come, one of which is to return to my beloved Simple Saturday blog posts.

Truth be told, I've been busy crafting reading guides for a number of great books, many of which are seasoned with Simple Saturday-like activities. You name it - games, crafts, recipes - all kinds of good stuff. And I've been busy blogging with my ReaderKidZ buddies on a regular basis, so I have lots of good ToolBox goodies to share with you, as well.

All this to be said, come back and see me on Saturdays, won't you? You'd best bring some scissors and glue with you, while you're at it. Together, let's craft a stellar New Year!

Want to? 

Hummingbird Love

Ready to celebrate National Hummingbird Day with me? September 1st will be here before you know it!!! To kick things off right let's give my pal Jeanette Larson a bit of a shout out by checking out her seriously wonderful book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas. Talk about beautiful. Wowzers.

So let's party down by making two Simple Saturday crafts, want to? The first is a repeat of a previous Simple Saturday post in which we made a hummingird feeder out of a baby food jar, a long wire, water, and sugar. Go ahead and click HERE for all of the sugary sweet details.

And, to make a hummingbird party mask, gather up markers, glitters, scissors, feathers, glue, and a popsicle stick or a wooden dowel for a handle. I made a .pdf with a mask template on it for you to download by clicking HERE. (Actually, there are two templates on the .pdf - one for you and one for a pal. Birds of a feather flock together, right?) Print the template on card stock. Simply cut the mask portion out and create away!

Man, I am all a-goggle for the hummingbird. You will be too after you watch this PBS video. Good gosh. Did you know that hummingbirds can even fly upside down? Click HERE and watch for yourself.

It's no wonder hummingbirds have their our national day of celebration. Let's get making those masks and party down!

Prep: Loving the Hummingbird

Yesterday I bought a few Papyrus greeting cards for some friends of mine. Inside the cards' wrappers were  small sheets with a lovely passage printed on them that read, "Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.  The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation."

Dang...wasn't that nice? And I was looking for something thoughtful to send my friends. Shoot, look what came back my way.

Did you know that this petite winged cherub has its own national day of commemoration? Well, it does. This little critter is down right fascinating!

Hey, why not tomorrow let's look at a book a dear, dear  friend of mine has written about the hummingbird? Want to? Maybe we can make a couple of Simple Saturday crafts while we're at it.

Sound like fun? See you tomorrow, then.

Simple Saturday Pudding Pops on Neighbor's Day

To begin with, let me tout the splendor of this amazing picture book, Around Our Way on Neighbor's Day, written by Tameka Fryer Brown and illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb. If you're looking for a lively book that celebrates a sense of community, diversity, and the joy of friendship look no further, pal. This book is a one stop shop for all things neighborly.

Speaking of shop...did you get the milk, Dixie cup, Popsicle stick, and box a instant pudding we talked about yesterday? Good. Now you're ready to mix up a little bit of tongue-tickling fun!

Access the Teacher's Activity Guide by clicking HERE. The recipe for Simple Saturday Pudding Pops can be found on page 6.  While you're at it you might like to check out the discussion questions, the other craft ideas, and the rockin'-sockin' song list. Get down with your bad self... Afterwards, go ahead and buy the book. You know want to!

Simple Saturday: Pudding Popsicles

We're going to do something a little different tomorrow. Change is good, right?

 Not to worry. We'll still be making something simple on Saturday, in fact tomorrow's treat with be deliciously divine! If you bring some milk, a box of instant pudding, a small Dixie cup, and a popsicle stick with you tomorrow, I'll show you how to make the most delcious pudding pops this side of border.

The deal is tomorrow we're going to feature an amazing picture book that I made a guide for, as well. The recipe will be found inside the guide. I'm not sure what you're going to like the most...the book or the pops. 

Now...quit that salivating on your keyboard, will you? See you tomorrow.

Simple Saturday: Monkey Business

 Good morning, Erik Kuntz!

Isn't this little fella just the cutest thing, ever? And easy to make, too, thanks to the pattern found on Erik's site or the .pdf attached HERE.

All I did was print the pattern on cardstock. Cut it out and follow Erik's great folding directions. He suggests that you use glue to secure the edges of the folds. That might be a better idea than using tape, like I did. I also used part of a drinking straw to support the inside of the sign's handle. Don't want a floppy greeting sign, now do we?

 Wouldn't this little guy serve as a darling place card at a kid's birthday party? Or charming greeter at an event welcome table?

Or just a Simple Saturday way to say hello to a friend.

Now go and have a lovely weekend. See you next week.

Simple Saturday Prep: Monkey Business

 What a cutie patootie, don't you think? Looks like he's revving up for a good time, doesn't he?

So, hey, tomorrow want to make a monkey business with me? Maybe a make a monkey who will help you market your wares?

Join me as we cyber-surf into the monkey-filled world of the amazingly-talented-yet-ever-so-humble Erik Kuntz, the master mind behind Square Bear Studios and a dear, dear friend of mine. All you need to create a Simple Saturday Monkey Business craft is scissors, tape, card stock, and your printer.

 Click HERE to get in the mood for a little monkey business. Or HERE to listen to the monkey of all monkeys, King Louie, sing one of my favorite songs ever."I wanna be like you, hoo, hoo, I wanna walk like you. Talk like you - hoo, hoo, hoo."

See you-hoo-hoo tomorrow!