Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life Cycle of a Pumpkin - How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? - Science Sunday

This spring, Great-Grandpa planted numerous pumpkin seeds in the garden. They took over his garden! The kids were able to watch the plants grow, see the pumpkins form and watch them turn from green to orange. When the vines started to dry out we picked a few pumpkins to take home.

Our science studies this week revolved around pumpkins. We even threw in a little math for fun! First we learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin. We read a couple of books on the subject:

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson, photographs by Shmuel Thaler
Mystery Vine by Cathryn Falwell

We also discussed how two years ago Grandma left her jack-o-lantern outside to decompose in her flower bed. The next year a pumpkin vine grew from the rotten pumpkin. She must have left a few seeds behind when she cleaned it before carving! The book Pumpkin Circle mentions decomposition, too. My daughter told us that she learned in school that a pumpkin is a fruit.

We examined the inside of a pumpkin. Both kids like touching and pulling out the inside mass of string and seeds.

Every year our family carves pumpkins, but we've never tried counting the seeds inside. This year we were inspired by the book How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara and G. Brian Karas. We picked two pumpkins to compare, a small and large one. We estimated how many seeds were inside. My daughter thought the big one would have 120. I thought around 350. We were both wrong. My daughter and I grouped the seeds from the small pumpkin into piles of 10 seeds. Daddy grouped the big pumpkin seeds into piles of 100 seeds. (My son tried to help with this, but he kept messing up the piles. We gave him a spoon and the pumpkin insides to play with and he happily transferred the mush into the pumpkins and back out during our counting period.) After counting we discovered that the large one contained 696 seeds. The small one contained 360 seeds. In McNamara's book the smallest pumpkin has the most seeds, unlike our result.

Some of the seeds were not fully formed. We did not add these seeds to our final count. We only used the white seeds (the ones suitable for roasting).

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Life Cycle Printables:
Kizclub How a Pumpkin Grows [pdf]
A to Z Teacher Stuff Pumpkin Life Cycle [pdf]
Montessori for Everyone Life Cycle of a Pumpkin - seed seedling vine flower [pdf]
Scholastic Life Cycle of a Pumpkin Observation Journal [fill in blank pages]

If you enjoyed this post you can find more Science Sunday experiments involving kids at or even join in the weekly meme. Science is Fun!

This week we're also participating in Math Monday hosted by Joyful Learner. Math is fun, too!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sloppy Joe Jack-O-Lanterns - Halloween Food

We made some fun and easy Sloppy Joe Jack-O-Lanterns for supper last night. A yummy treat for Halloween. Just cut cheese for the facial features and add to the sandwich. Broccoli makes a neat pumpkin stem. Plus, it's an excuse to play with your food! I think this is the first time that both my kids ate their entire Sloppy Joe. A little creativity goes a long way (but totally not my idea. I stole the recipe from a 2004 Taste of Home's Halloween Food & Fun magazine).

Afterward we used our Mr. Potato Head pieces to create crazy pumpkins. What kind of pumpkins are you creating this weekend?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Disneynature: Oceans Blu-ray/DVD Combo - Review

My kids have never seen an ocean. They've never walked on the sand or felt the waves lap at their feet. They've never heard the ocean roar, though I know they'd love the sound. They like pretending to hear the ocean by holding Grandma's large conch shell to their ears. When you live in the Midwest, a trip to the ocean is a vacation, something that takes planning and time. Someday we'll take the kids to visit an ocean. But for now, they'll have to experience it in books and on film. Disney's latest release, Disneynature: Oceans Blu-ray & DVD is a great place to start.

Disneynature: Oceans premiered in U.S. theaters on Earth Day 2010. The Blu-ray/DVD combo just came out on October 19th and we had the chance to preview it in our home. Wow, the cinematography in this masterfully produced documentary really is spellbinding. My kids sat entranced for a good portion of the movie, soaking in the fascinating, crystal clear photography and expressive narration by James Brosnan. It really feels like you are right there in that underwater world alongside the extraordinary creatures and sights.

The documentary explores all five oceans (the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic (or Southern) Ocean). In the beginning of the film children run along the beach and a young boy pauses to contemplate the sight as the narrator remarks, "to really know the ocean, you have to live it." For one hour and 24 minutes, viewers truly live it and gain a special appreciation for the "universe of wonder and mystery" through the amazing sights and sounds caught on film.

One of my favorite quotes from Oceans is when the narrator remarks, "Down here it's like nature has given everything a try." Viewers get a chance to witness a variety of different species, all living in their natural habitats -- yellow clouds of jellyfish, mobula rays, a extraordinary blanket octopus, curious sea lions, humpback whales waking up from a slumber, a leafy sea dragon, a strange looking Asian sheepshead wrasse -- the list goes on and on. There's a touching scene with a walrus mother cradling her baby. In one particularly powerful scene, dolphins jump and swim with speed through the water, herding a large school of fish together while sea bird dive down snatching the fish in their beaks. An impressively large whale joins the feast -- what a sight!

The narration is there more for effect than for explanation. This is a very visual production, a starting off point for independent exploration. I sat and watched the movie along with my kids and we conversed throughout, discussing the images on screen. As I pointed out the sea lions to my toddler, he looked at me and corrected, "No, those not lions. Those fish." I was, however, impressed at how many animals my kids recognized. I did not allow my kids to witness the heart-breaking sea turtle scene, where baby sea turtles race for their life across a sandy beach while seagulls pluck them up one by one. I didn't think this was something they needed to see just yet. Did you know only 1 in 1000 baby sea turtles make it to the sea?

The directors, Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud bring the viewers closer to blue seas by speaking to their hearts. The film makes you think about the creatures that live there and their future, and it promotes conservation. "The animals themselves cannot stand up for their survival ... Yet, never has the will to protect them been so strong." It is hard to watch it without feeling some responsibility to act. In some way, we are all dependent on the ocean.

The Blu-ray's "Living Menus" (main menu) includes a interactive globe that the viewer can spin with a remote and click on various locations around the world that are featured in the documentary to hear commentary and read factual insights. The Blu-ray filmmaker annotation option brings up picture in picture windows during the film as various individuals comment with factual information and insights into production.

Related links:

Learn more about the film at Educators can find helpful activity guides there. You can also follow Disneynature on Facebook at or on Twitter at

Watch the following Trailer to preview this impressive documentary -

(DVD Source: review copy provided for review purposes by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All opinions expressed are my own. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (10/29/10)

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I publish "Full to the Brim" every Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!

Book giveaways:
Becoming Sarah - Book Giveaway Ends 10/31/10
sign language board books
Little Sprout Books - Book Giveaway Ends 11/3/10
The Butt Book by Artie Bennett
Laughing Lindsay - Book Giveaway Ends 11/9/10
Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman
Curious Minds Children's Books - Book Giveaway Ends 10/31/10
The Berenstain Bears: Trick or Treat by Stan & Jan Berenstain and Smelly Peter: The Green Pea Eater by Steve Smallman
There's A Book - Book Giveaway Ends 10/31/10
Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguse by Kate DiCamillo
A Novel Idea - Book Giveaway Ends 10/31/10
5 Scholastic Books
Reading to Know - Book Giveaway Ends 11/4
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
Mundie Kids - Book Giveaway Ends 11/9/10
SIGNED The Magnificent 12, The Call By Michael Grant (middle grade)
Mundie Kids - Book Giveaway Ends 11/18/10
The Brimstone Key Book & Poster (middle grade)
Dealwise Mommy - Book Giveaway Ends 11/2/10
Little Green Books
Debbie's World of Books - Book Giveaway Ends 10/31/10
Shadow by Suzy Lee, Other Goose by J. Otto Seibold and The Present by Bob Gill
Raising Homemakers - Book Giveaway Ends 11/2/10
Noble Rose Press COMPLETE collection of Paper Dolls and The Family Treasure Coloring Book

Scholastic Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus…and more stories by Mo Willems DVD
Muse Reviews Ends 11/1
Mommy PR Ends 11/12

Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Halloween Stories 3 pk DVD
Mommy PR Ends 11/8

The Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop will be running from 10/25-10/31. Several book giveaways, some including children's books there. Take a look at

Fish for more children's book giveaways at Lori Calabrese's Fish for a Free Book linkup each Friday

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer also has a new book giveaway linky with lots of YA and some other kid's books.

Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bats Around the Clock by Kathi Applet - Book Review and Bat Craft

"The cameras were rolling -- it was live from coast to coast, a special twelve-hour program, and click Dark was the host."

Bats Around the Clock by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; HarperCollins (April 2000); ISBN 9780688164690; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from our personal library

Bats, typically nocturnal creatures, gather for a 12 hour dance-a-thon, American Batstand style. Starting early at one o'clock, they start with the shug, moving through various other dances like the twist, hootchi-coo and hokeypokey as the clock strikes hour after hour all the way to midnight. Click Dark hosts the rockin' dance event and a special bat in blue suede shoes makes a late night appearance. Little mice hold up analog clock images at each hour, making the book especially fun for kids that are learning to tell time.

This is the third book in Applet's bat math book series that includes Bat Jamboree (counting) and Bats on Parade (multiplication). The rollicking verses rhyme, and Sweet's humorous watercolor illustrations add a fun twist to the story with images like a "Gotham Electronics" store and bats lined up in the street doing the locomotion.

A couple weeks back we attended the Sheboygan Childrens Book Festival. We bought several books while there including Bats Around the Clock by Kathi Applet. While we didn't have a chance to attend any of her presentations (you can only do so much with two little kids in tow), we did get a chance to meet her at the book signing. She is the author of many books, both picture books and those for older readers including The Underneath, a 2009 Newberry Honor book.

Related Links:
Kathi Appelt - Author Website
Melissa Sweet - Illustrator Website

❖❖❖❖❖❖ stArt Craft - Accordion Wing Paper Bats ❖❖❖❖❖❖

Last year Filth Wizardry posted some awesome Toilet roll bats with accordion folded wings. I really didn't want to get out the black paint this week so we modified the craft by drawing and cutting a paper body out of black cardstock instead of using the toilet rolls. The kids added google eyes and decorated the bats with glitter glue. We cut a brown pipe cleaner in half to make the legs. The wings are made from a piece of black construction paper that we accordion folded and stapled in the center, creating a fanned-out wing. Prior to folding we cut out notches on the bottom to make a bat wing shape. Glue Dots came in handy to attach the body to the fanned-out wings. Our bats have danced all around our house and like hanging upside down from the throw on our couch.

By the way, if you'd like a clock craft, Almost Unschoolers posted one earlier this year. Kids could easily add some fingerprint bats around the clock printable!

abc button

A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Join in Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Show off your ideas at ABC & 123 Show and Tell.

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

What Pink Means to Me - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In my grandparents' spare bedroom there's a gray wig sitting on top of a stand. It's my grandmother's wig. She bought it over 25 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can't remember the first time I learned what the word cancer meant. I can't remember much about the time when my grandmother went through her cancer treatments. But I remember the wig. I remember thinking that it didn't look very much like my grandmother's own thick and wavy gray hair. Her real hair grew thin but came back overtime. My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To me that pink color stands for strength, faith and hope. When I walk through the stores and see the pink ribbons, the pink merchandise, the pink labels, I am reminded of my grandmother and of all those who have dealt with or are currently dealing with this disease. I am reminded that I should take the time for those monthly self-exams. I am reminded that I need to take care of my body, eat right and exercise. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to an end but the reality is even as the pink fades, the fight with this disease continues on.

There are many different campaigns, companies, individuals and organizations that help spread awareness, donate money to help find a cure and provide hope to all those dealing with breast cancer. It is important that we all work together to raise awareness and bring attention to this disease. Early detection and screening through self-examination and yearly mammograms are crucial because breast cancer is most treatable in the when it is found early. And, through the ongoing development of life-saving treatments and the search for the causes, those dealing with cancer can find support and remain hopeful for a cure.

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You Are the Best Medicine - Children's Picture Book about a parent with cancer

"When I tell you I have cancer, I will be sad. I will be sad because I am sick, but I will be happy because it is not a sickness you can catch from me, and so you can still kiss me and hug me and love me."

You Are the Best Medicine by Julie Aigner Clark, illustrated by Jana Christy; Balzar + Bray (September 2010); ISBN 9780061956447; 32 pages
Book Source: Review copy from publisher

Imagine trying to explain cancer to a child. Imagine trying to explain it to your own child. Julie Aigner Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein Company, is a mother to two daughters. She is also a breast cancer survivor. Her picture book, You Are My Best Medicine, takes a mother's thoughts on cancer and turns them into a story for younger children. In a lulling, contemplative and gentle way, she talks about the bad days, the sad days in a way young children can understand, all the while keeping a positive, optimistic tone throughout the book. The book, with its pastel pages and warm images, offers reassurances that both mother and child can appreciate. It explains how love and kindness are the best medicine and has an ending filled with hope for better tomorrows --- "And then I will be well. And I will think of all the happiest times that we have had."

Julie Clark is donating 100% of her proceeds from the sale of this book to UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. It truly is a story from the heart. Learn more at

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Dannon's Give Hope With Every Cup

Dannon products are currently displaying a pink ribbon image. These specially-marked Dannon products contain a code that you can enter at Dannon has pledged to donate 10 cents to the National Breast Cancer Foundation for each code entered by November 30, 2010. They have already guaranteed a $500,000 dollars but they hope to increase that donation to $1.5 million dollars through this ambitious campaign. The National Breast Cancer Foundation's mission is to save lives through early detection and to provide mammograms for those in need.

We occasionally eat Dannon yogurt and I especially like their All Natural Vanilla flavor, but until learning more about this campaign, I hadn't entered any codes in from our labels. I'm happy to know that I have another month yet to participate.

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Hanes is Passionately Pink for the Cure

I wear Hanes underwear because they are comfortable, affordable and I like the styling options. You don't have to worry about the underwear in one of their special lines turning pink in the wash. They already come pink (or partly pink)! The Hanes Pink Collection of panties, bras, socks give women a way to help raise awareness and show their support of the fight against breast cancer. According to the Hanes website, "in 2010, Hanes is supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure with a total donation of $500,000, which includes a $250,000 cash and in-kind donation to Passionately Pink for the Cure, and another cash donation of $250,000 to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Series." Hanes sent me a comfy pink dove t-shirt with the words, "Soar for a Cure." I've seen the t-shirts in this Hanes pink line for sale recently at our local Wal-Mart.

Three of the t-shirts in the pink line were designed by actress Melina Kanakaredes. And, there's an area on the website where you can create your own customized t-shirt. Hanes has pledged to donate 10 percent of the proceeds from all custom T-shirts through the Design and Buy program to Komen for the Cure.

Hanes is currently holding a design a tee contest. Entrants can create their own special design and enter for the chance to win prizes. The contest ends on November 29, 2010. See the website for complete rules.

Dannon Give Hope With Every Cup information from blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Dannon. I received a gift certificate and products to thank me for taking the time to participate. Hanes provided a t-shirt and HarperCollins provided a book for review purposes. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Peek-a-BOO!

View through a hollow tree piece on my grandparents' farm.

Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom or Parenting for Dummies.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A few fun Halloween songs for kids

Not too spooky and fun to sing, I'm sure these videos will be a hit with your kids at home or in the classroom. We liked watching them and singing along.

"The Skeleton Dance" (version of Dem Bones) from Super Simple Songs

"The Halloween Song" from HeidiSongs - A counting song that's a great alternative to the 5 Little Pumpkins Song

"That's How A Pumpkin Grows" by Brian Vogan

Bring back some memories with the songs on this Halloween music list. Remember "Ghoul Days", "Boogie Woogie Ghost" or "Skin and Bones" (There was an Old Woman) with the Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Ooo refrain? The lyrics are all there and some include music links.

Related Halloween Song List Links
20 Spookiest Kids’ Halloween Songs on Boston Children's
Top 10 Halloween Songs for Kids and the Young at Heart -

What Halloween songs/rhymes are on your playlist this year?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

All About Blood & Fake Blood Experiment for Kids - Science Sunday

Why is blood red? What is in it? Every kid that has scraped their knee or cut their finger will probably want to know more about blood. Even little kids want to learn the facts about their bodies and what goes on inside.

This past week my whole family has been fighting a nasty cold/virus that turned into pneumonia. I thought this was a good time to discuss our body's defense mechanisms and specifically talk a little bit about blood. Plus, its getting closer to Halloween and I thought it might be helpful to also discuss real vs. pretend in case the kids accidentally see something frightening like a blood thirsty vampire. So our science Sunday fun revolved around blood today - real and fake.

My daughter has already learned a little about anatomy in her health class including the basics about her heart. We expanded a little on this and studied a diagram of the circulation system and blood vessels. Texas Heart Institute has a wonderful online website, Project Heart, that includes pdf diagrams for kids of all things related to the circulatory system.

We learned about the make up of blood and especially concentrated on white blood cells because they help fight infection.
- Red Blood Cells: carry hemoglobin that delivers oxygen
- White Blood Cells: fight infection
- Platelets: help blood clot

- Plasma: yellowish liquid that carries the blood cells, nutrients and waste

We viewed this neat image showing the above components:
And, we watched this animated gif showing the blood circulate:


After learning all about blood we made some fake blood using a recipe we found in The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition. While this recipe is not available online, several Fake Blood Recipes can be found at Steve Spangler Science.

Scientific Principles:
Color Mixing

Materials we used: Mug, cocoa powder, warm water, corn syrup, red food coloring, old cotton t-shirt

Our thoughts:
While my kids thought it was fun to mix up all the ingredients and stir the fake blood, they didn't want to touch it at all or taste it (it's edible). We all expected the concoction to look more red. Our mixture had a really muddy brown color in the mug and didn't look like blood at all until we took it out of the mug and put some on our cotton cloth. The kids also commented that the fake blood smelled like chocolate Pop Tarts - it really does! We talked about the differences between fake blood and real blood and talked about instances when people might use fake blood. If my kids were older, I'd probably talk a little about blood types or try out some of the other recipes to see which looks the most realistic. Our recipe made way more blood than we needed, so I'd recommend halving most recipes unless you have a need for a ton of fake blood. They really enjoyed this simple and easy to conduct kitchen science experiment.

This week we hope to check out a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book called A Drop of Blood by Paul Showers, illustrated by Edward Miller from the library. It looks like an informative and fascinating science book for kids and the cover art is perfect for the upcoming Halloween weekend.

Related Links:
Kid's Health: What's Blood
Idaho Public Television - Blood

For older kids:
Scholastic About Blood
PBS Red Gold

If you enjoyed this post you can find more Science Sunday experiments involving kids at or even join in the weekly meme. Science is Fun!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Secrets to Tutu Making Success - DVD Review & Giveaway

With Halloween only a week away, the costume scramble has begun. I just finished my daughter's Ladybug Girl costume this week. As I'm sure many of you know, Ladybug Girl (from the picture books by David Soman and Jacky Davis) wears a bright red tutu. I really didn't want to purchase a tutu, especially since some of the fancier ones cost $20+.

Thankfully, Jenni from just recently contacted me about reviewing her tutu making DVD tutorial, Secrets to Tutu Making Success. Talk about perfect timing. I found the DVD extremely helpful. I'm not sure my homemade tutu would have ended up looking as good without all her helpful tips and detailed instructions on what and how much material to buy and how to assemble the tutu. Without this guide, I would have never thought to use a rotary cutter to cut the tulle and her tips on how much tulle to use saved me from having to make multiple trips to the craft store for more.

Surprisingly, these tutus are very easy to make. I made a Basic Tutu in one hour, from start to finish. Pretty good for my first attempt! With practice, I'm sure that I could easily make one in half the time. The whole tutu cost me about $7 for materials, but if I would have used coupons and shopped around, I could have easily spent much less than that. A bargain, either way.

The Secrets to Tutu Making Success DVD includes directions on how to make 15 different tutu designs, including the Basic Tutu. None of the designs require a sewing machine. Even a novice crafter can easily whip up a tutu by following this DVD guide. In fact, the only sewing required for most of the designs is a few simple stitches to close and secure the elastic waistband of the tutu. Jenni speaks clearly throughout the entire video and her instructions are very easy to follow. It's like attending a tutu making course, but you can learn right in your own home on your own time.

This weekend my daughter brought home one of the class stuffed animal "pets." We need to record all of our activities this weekend with the special puppy and my daughter will share these experiences with her class on Monday. I had such fun making the red tutu for my daughter, I decided to make a tiny tutu to fit a stuffed animal. The doll-sized tutu took me about a half an hour to assemble. The puppy now has her very own ballerina Halloween costume! I hope the teacher won't mind. I wish I would have learned how to make a tutu years ago. These homemade tutus would make perfect Christmas and birthday gifts, besides Halloween outfits!

Head on over to to learn more or purchase the DVD. (When you purchase you'll also receive a downloadable manual and several bonuses for accessories like hairbows and wands.) Jenni offers this entire package for $67 and the purchase comes with a 100% No Question 60-Day Money Back Guarantee. If you search around, you can often find discount codes for as much as $50.00 off, making it extremely affordable. In fact, just for Brimful Curiosities readers, if you order by 10/31 with the code BRIMFUL, you can get the course for $52.00 off!

Also, you can view the "Basic Tutu" part of the tutorial online for FREE - you just need to enter your email address on the main website - This is very handy, especially if you need to make a last-minute tutu in time for Halloween or whip one up in time for Christmas for your little Nutcracker ballerina wanna-be!

Thanks to Jenni at, one lucky Brimful Curiosities reader will win this Tutu making instructional DVD course, Secrets to Tutu Making Success (includes DVD and downloadable manual):

To enter, leave a comment letting me know why you'd love to own this instructional DVD.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US Only
• Contest ends on Monday, November 8th 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Go to and enter your email to watch the free tutu making course. Then, leave a comment letting me know you checked out the website.
2nd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
3rd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
4th extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

I received a complimentary DVD for review in exchange for my honest opinions. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sick of Being Sick

No, we haven't dropped off the face of the earth! Just sidelined for awhile by some minor but annoying colds (not me but every one else in my family). It's that time of year.

I heard this song on Kids Place Live today and thought it was cute and appropriate.
"Sick of Being Sick" - The Cul-de-Sac Kids by Paul Rogers

Monday, October 18, 2010

The latest Contest Winners! - plus a Chronicle Books WCS Grossest Room Contest

It's time to use the handy to pick the latest round of Brimful Curiosities winners. All winners have been contacted by email. If you are a winner you have 72 hours to get back to me before another winner is chosen. (Click on the image to enlarge the numbers.) Thanks to all that entered the contests!

Ziploc Storage Products

The winner is Karen (comment #89).

Secretariat Merchandise

The winner is k_sunshine1977 (comment #43).

Guardians of Ga’hoole: The Capture / Wolves of the Beyond: Lone Wolf.

The winner is Pam S (comment #8).

Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition.

The winner is susan (comment #65).

Chronicle Books is looking for a video of the Grossest Room! The winner will get and iPod Touch! Runner’s up will get a $50 iTunes gift card. All winners get a complete set of Worst Case book and more! Enter the WCS Grossest Room Contest at

While supplies last, kids can request a free beaker of Worst Case Scenario Gross Slime! Visit

Banana Ghosts - Healthy School Snacks

Do you provide snacks for your child's class? Every month when my daughter is "Friend of the Day," we try to bring an appropriate but fun healthy snack to share with the class. I know that the kids eat a lot of crackers during break time so I try to steer clear of that staple. Frankly, it's a struggle to come up with something that I think the kids will like and something that doesn't take hours to prepare. No wonder more parents don't opt in to bring this "optional" treat. I queried my twitter friends and they had a few wonderful suggestions:

LitLass (Holly) from LitLad suggested a fruit mosaic and provided the following inspiring link to Week of Menus:
This fits my requirement of fun, but it looks more complicated than I wanted to tackle this month. I've bookmarked the site for future use though!

Christianne from Little Page Turners said she brought string cheese for her daughter's class (to mixed reviews). Their school does not allow homemade food, only store bought. You'd think finding fresh, tasty string cheese in Wisconsin would be an easy task, but not so, at least in our experience. My husband's parents live near a cheese factory that makes the absolute best string cheese, but I'm just not willing to drive 3+ hours for a school snack. I'm sure there's a closer source, so we'll have to search around before next month's leader day.

BANANA GHOSTS (with Cheerios and Mini Chocolate Chips)

After spending a bit of time online browsing, I decided to bring bananas and let the kids turn them into ghosts. (Modified version of Family Fun Banana Ghosts idea.) Since I was volunteering at school during snack time I was able to help peel and cut the bananas in half. Then I provided each child with a small bag of regular Cheerios and a few mini chocolate chips and let them decorate their own half-banana ghosts. I loved all the variations - one boy made his into a one-eyed alien and one of the girls made hair for her ghost. Almost all the kids ate their creations when they finished creating so I guess the snack was a hit!

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the class treasure book of the day was Boo to A Goose by Mem Fox, illustrated by David Miller. The kids might not say "Boo" to a goose, but they sure had fun making their ghosts say Boo!

What books would you recommend reading along with the Banana Ghosts snack? We like Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O'connell, Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara and The Ghost's Dinner by Jacques Duquennoy.

Also, do you have any other suggestions for fun and healthy school snacks? Let me know - we're still searching for more ideas!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Guess the Author

Oops, no Full to the Brim this week! Sorry, but we've been keeping busy in other ways. We went on a little side trip this weekend to Sheboygan,WI and spent a few hours at the Sheboygan Children's Book Festival. We also toured Sheboygan's Bookworm Gardens during the grand opening.

Here's a sneak peak from the book festival. Can you guess the author's identity? (Need a hint? - This author/illustrator has published books about leaves, butterflies, snow and soup, and she lives in Wisconsin!)

I'll post more about our trip later on in the week. We had so much fun!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Diamond Edition - DVD Review

Almost 20 years ago, in 1991, the movie Beauty and the Beast made its debut in theaters. I remember going to see this amazing version of the "tale as old as time" when it first came out and marveling at the wonderful animation. Even high school students like myself at the time found the movie amusing and witty enough to become a favorite. I have fond memories of my friends and I sitting in the band room listening to the CD and remarking on the moving and expressive music. Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful story in itself, but this Disney production made it into so much more -- a powerful love story with magical characters in a wonderful musical form. And then there's Belle, a princess for every little girl to admire, an intelligent, adventurous book-lover with brown hair and brown eyes. The movie features a bookstore and a to-die-for, amazingly large library in the castle. Yes, I've loved Beauty and the Beast from the beginning.

"Ohhh, isn't this amazing, /It's my favorite part because, you'll see /Here's where she meets Prince Charming /But she won't discover that it's him 'til chapter three!" - "Belle"

Finally, after being locked in the Disney Vault for a long while, Beauty and the Beast is available once again for purchase, this time in the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Diamond Edition. Disney released this newly restored version last week, on October 5th (the 2-Disc standard definition DVD releases on November 23). The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes two Blu-ray Discs plus a bonus DVD for regular disc players. Thanks to Disney, we recently had the chance to watch this newest Blu-ray version.

I'm not going to rehash the synopsis because the tale is so familiar and the film so popular it hardly needs an introduction. Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most beloved and highly-regarded films, receiving two Academy Awards for music in 1992, three Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, Best Original Score and Best Original Song in 1992, and two Grammy Awards in 1993. It was previously re-released on DVD in 2002. What this newest version brings to the plate is a brightly restored picture, a new audio in 7.1 Digital Surround Sound, and tons and tons of new behind-the-scenes stories and bonus features.

My daughter had the opportunity to watch a community production of the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast this summer and has been patiently waiting for this movie to come out. My kids both enjoyed watching this new DVD (and hiding their eyes during the scary wolves and beast scenes). The restoration in this Blu-ray edition truly makes the pictures in the movie brilliant and clear. The French countryside never looked better. There are three versions of the film available for viewing on both the Blu-ray and DVD: the original theatrical release, a special extended edition that includes the previously cut "Human Again" musical sequence, and an original storyboard version that shows the film simultaneously with the original storyboard sketches. If you feel so inclined you can even watch the movie in a sing-along mode.

All of that is well and good, but what I really enjoyed in this new edition was the bonus features. I spent several hours watching the informational features and learned much about the development of the film and the people that created the movie. Navigating through all the bonus features is a little difficult. The menu text is hard to read and the cobbled together organization leaves a lot to be desired. But, these background stories are truly fascinating and you can't call yourself Beauty and the Beast fan without seeing these features.

The most interesting bonus in my opinion is the interactive "Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind the Making Of Beauty and the Beast." This piece-by-piece documentary is divided into several acts and is found on Blu-ray Disc 2. The creators discuss the rocky beginnings and an initial attempt in the 1980's, a much darker and non-musical version (The Purdum Reel), was completely scrapped. Thankfully, Disney changed directions and hired Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise as acting directors and decided to develop it as a musical, hiring composer by Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, the same amazing team responsible for the music in The Little Mermaid. There's also plenty of information on the process behind the animation. I always wondered who created the Beast character (he's a combination of various animals) - it must have been extremely challenging to find the right balance between scary and lovable. Those passionate about fairy tales and renditions will enjoy the background information on Walt Disney's love of fairy tales and his silent Laugh-o-grams. The Broadway aspect is also discussed in features like "Full Circle to Broadway."

Other fascinating features include the deleted scene, "Belle in the Library." The scene introduces four new characters: a bookstand named Oxford, a globe named Cambridge, a statue full of various quotes, and a telescope. This scene doesn't really advance the story and I can see why it was dropped, but it is still fun to watch. An alternate version of "Be Our Guest" shows that the famous song was originally sung to Maurice, Belle's father.

This classic and beloved film is well worth owning. I'm so glad that Disney finally released this Blu-ray version and we're happy to put in a place of honor in our personal Disney DVD collection.

Related Links:
$5 Coupon off Blu-ray Combo Pack - Expires 10/31
Disney Website - Beauty and the Beast (activities, crafts, videos and more)
Princess Belle Disney Website

(DVD Source: review copy provided for review purposes by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. All opinions expressed are my own. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall & Spinning Flyer Craft

Here's a riddle for you today:
What can pass before the sun without making a shadow? ... [Answer: The wind!]

Autumn brings with it plenty of blustery days! Yesterday afternoon, the wind entranced my kids as it blew the leaves around on the street and in our yard. They ran along racing with the wind, trying to catch the blowing leaves. It's an exhilarating and exciting experience playing outside on a windy long as the wind isn't so strong it blows you away like in Flora's Very Windy Day!

Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall, illustrated by Matt Phelan; Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (August 2010); ISBN 9780618986767; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library

Flora gets upset with her little brother Crispin after he spills her paints. After the incident, their weary mom sends both of them outside. Flora worries about blowing away on the very windy fall day so she wears her super heavy red boots as a precaution, but Crispin goes out unprepared. Still unhappy with her brother, Flora taunts the wind and Crispin gets swept up into the sky by a strong blast. Without hesitation, Flora kicks off her boots and takes off after her brother. The two sail in the sky carried by the wind, and Flora receives several tempting offers from various creatures and entities to take her pesky brother off her hands once and for all.

This story is dreamily imaginative, and I simply adore the whimsical illustrations by Phelan. (The drawings remind me a little of those by another one of my favorite illustrators, Tricia Tusa). There are so many wonderful images of the red, and orange and yellow leaves swirling around, making it a magical and exceptional book to read during autumn. Phelan's drawings of the swirling winds and blowing leaves make me wish that I could take flight on a windy fall day! The illustrations truly stretch the reader's imagination. In one charming picture, Flora even brushes some rainbow bits off of Crispin's coat.

At first glance, this book looks perfect for my kids. After all, it's about the relationship between a big sister and a little brother. But, after reading it myself, I decided not to read it to my toddler son. The little brother's fate in the book lies entirely in his big sister's hands, and he doesn't get to say a single word. While the ages of the children are unclear from the text, the illustrations depict them as young siblings. Honestly, I don't think it is appropriate that the mom seemingly placed her tiny tot outside under the care of an older yet still very childish sibling. I feel sorry for little Crispin and also for Flora who unfairly is expected to take on the huge responsibility of caring for her young brother. That issue aside, my daughter and I still had fun imagining what it would be like to blow away on a windy day. Besides prompting the obvious sibling relationship discussions, the book also works well for talking about story sequences. In their travels in the sky the two siblings meet the following in order: a dragonfly, sparrow, rainbow, cloud, eagle, man in the moon and, finally, the wind.

Related Links:
Jeanne Birdsall - Author Website
Matt Phelan - Illustrator Website

Other Windy Day books:
The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins
Elmer Takes Off by David McKee
Like a Windy Day by Frank Asch

❖❖❖❖❖❖ stArt Craft - Flora Spinning Flyer ❖❖❖❖❖❖

A while back I came across a spinning "Fantastic Flyers" pattern in the March 2009 issue of Ladybug magazine. Basically, it is a modified paper helicopter that has a string attached to the top so it flies like a kite. It's a fun toy to make for playing outside, wind or no wind! I unfortunately couldn't find the actual template online. Below is a poor sketch but at least you should get the basic idea.

We created a couple of different flyers on regular copy paper. One looks like Flora. The other my toddler decorated with fall colored markers. After coloring we cut along the lines indicated and folded the flaps up and down. We reinforced the top with a piece of scotch tape. After threading a needle with some kite string, we poked the needle through the top of the flyer and tied a knot on top. Then we took our flyers outside and ran around the yard, and watched the flyers spin in the sky. Flora gets blown away again! Just a quick warning about the flyers -- the string tends to get wound up and tangled, requiring some adult help. However, the flyers are cheap, easy to make and a lot of fun to fly! Definitely worth trying with your kids.

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A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Add your kids craft post to the Kid's Get Crafty linky at Red Ted Art's Blog. Link your kids' "masterpieces" at Welcome to Our Wonderland. Join in Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word. Show off your ideas at ABC & 123 Show and Tell.

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)