Bloggiesta Challenge: Generating Ideas for Blog Posts

Belle Wong has a great Bloggiesta mini-challenge:  how to create a treasure trove of blog post ideas. Since she is in the middle of a 365 days of blogging challenge, I figure she has to be an expert at coming up with new blog post ideas. I am going to give her suggestions a try.

Bloggiesta-S15Some ideas:

  • Brainstorm on a blank piece of paper and keep track of the ideas with promise
  • React to blog posts and news articles from other sources/social media
  • Use a blog topic generator like this one at HubSpot

I tried the blog post generator first because it seemed intriguing. I found out that rather than a blog post idea generator, it is more of a title generator because you have to supply it with three topic nouns. It might be useful when I’m trying to spruce up a title, though.

Plugging in tree, books, and children’s yields:

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 6.34.57 PMOkay, that was good for a laugh.

Lately, I have been running a weekly list of ideas in columns for each of my blogs, which helps keep me focused. Generally, I put the upcoming. more-polished posts at the top and topic ideas I’m working on further down. I used some of the brainstorming suggestions and came up with the following (no stealing, ha, ha):

creativity-info

This is about 2 weeks of posts. In addition to reacting to news articles, I also thought about upcoming holidays and events that I might feature, such as National Library Week and Arbor Day.

In case you are interested, here are links to some of my other blogs:  Growing with Science, Science Books for Kids, and family recipes at Your Individual Taste.

How do you come up with ideas for blog posts?

Regular readers:  I’m always open to suggestions for topics from you!

Posted in Internet Savvy | Tagged | 3 Comments

Art Books for Kids: Beyond Crayons With The Big Book of Color

Do you want to celebrate children’s art and nurture creativity? Get off to a great start with two new consumable activity books.

The Big Book of Color: An adventurous journey into the magical & marvelous world of color! (Big Book Series) by Stephanie Meissner, with artwork and illustrations by Diana Fisher, Lisa Martin, and Damien Barlow introduces children to color wheels, complimentary colors, analogous colors, and color values through activities and tear out pages.

With dimensions of 8.8 x 0.5 x 11.8 inches, this really is a big book. Every page is covered with big, bold bright illustrations that really “draw” children in.

After explaining and exploring the color concepts in the first 31 pages, the rest of the book consists of fun tributes to different colors. For example, the first color showcased is red. After explaining that red is a primary color, what its complement is, and that it is a warm color (all concepts defined in the first part of the book), readers are taken on a whirlwind tour of things that are red. Each page features a mix of stock photographs and illustrations, plus sidebars with color factoids (like red means stop and bees don’t see red), each section finishes with step-by-step instructions to draw and color a specific animal.  The red animal is a hermit crab in a shell. In addition to the six colors of the traditional color wheel, the featured colors include pink, brown, gray, white and black.

So, who is the target audience of this book? Preschoolers generally are the ones learning their colors and thus would appreciate the featured color sections, but  the consumable art pages, and draw and color activities require fine motor control skills of 7 or 8 year-old children. The good news is that, rather than being a drawback, the ambiguous age range of the book is an asset because it means that it would work well for families and mixed age groups. It also likely that a single child might return to it over the years and find out more and more as his or her grasp of concepts and skills develop. The front section might even be helpful for adults to brush up on color concepts before working with children.

The bottom line:  The Big Book of Color has a little something for everyone.

Age Range: 5 and up
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Jr; Act Clr Cs edition (January 6, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1600584357
ISBN-13: 978-1600584350

The Big Book of Art: Draw! Paint! Create!: An adventurous journey into the wild & wonderful world of art! (Big Book Series)

This companion book is a guide for using different art media such as crayons, colored pencils, markers, and paint.

Age Range: 5 and up
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Jr (January 6, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1600584349
ISBN-13: 978-1600584343

Related:

1. Tissue Paper Color Bleed Activity

Gather:

  • Colored bleeding art tissue paper
  • Water
  • Large sheet heavy-duty white paper, such as watercolor paper or even card stock
  • Spray bottle
  • Newspapers or plastic sheets to protect work surface

Color bleeding art tissue is easy to use and gives beautiful results. For a basic project, simply lay strips and pieces of the tissue in a layer onto the white paper. Spray water onto the tissue until damp enough for the colors to bleed. Allow the artwork to dry over night and then remove the tissue. The colors will create unique mixes where they overlap.

tissue-cool-colors

Extend the project by sorting the tissue into warm colors versus cool colors, or explore complimentary and analogous colors.

Artospectives has more complete instructions, more ideas to expand the project, and lovely photographs of finished projects.

2. Pinterest Boards

Have you ever used Pinterest? It is a great way to organize links to projects you’d like to do, particularly art projects. Take a look at my board Art Projects for Kids to get ideas.  Let me know if you have any links to suggest, as well.

Disclosure: The Big Book of Color was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

nonfictionmonday

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

 

Posted in Arts, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Spruce Up for Spring with Bloggiesta

Do you have a blog, particularly a book blog? Time to get organized and energized with Spring 2015 Bloggiesta, running from March 23 -29, 2015.

Bloggiesta-S15

What is Bloggiesta? It is a wonderful opportunity to ramp up your blog, get organized, take challenges, and best of all, meet awesome new bloggers! If you are a Twitter addict, there will be a series of Twitter chat parties to look forward to, as well.

If you’d also like to sign up to participate in this Bloggiesta event, be sure to make a to-do list/landing page and then add your link to the Bloggiesta sign-up page.

This week is a particularly hectic one for me, so I’m going to concentrate on the mini-challenges. They are a great way to learn about new things to keep your blog lively and up to date.

To Do List:

✅ 1. Read the Twitter Chat Tutorial ASAP. I’m never sure how to best use Twitter, so this will be useful, especially if I find time to attend one of the chats.

Ah, there are apps to make Twitter chats easier to follow. I’m definitely going to try one.

✅ 2. Check out Trello for organization. You can never be too organized when it comes to blogging.

I like the color labels (visual cues) and links to calendars. Just might take organization to a new level.

✅ 3. Improve your Disquis experience? Sounds like something good to do.

Just wish Disquis would let you link to more that one website or blog in the profile. Anyone know how to do this?

✅ 4. Joy has an intriguing challenge about making and participating in memes. All the memes I have participated in the past have fallen apart or have been transformed into blogs. Might be time to take a fresh new look at them.

Success! I have an idea for a meme I’m quite excited about. No details right now because I want to pass it by a potential co-sponsor.

✅ 5. Can’t wait to work on a treasure trove of blogging ideas. (Here’s my post about it).

Now if there was only a challenge about finding time to complete all those ideas!

6. Add more items to this list as the week progresses.

Visit my Bloggiesta Wisdom Pinterest board for easy access to Bloggiesta challenge links.

 

Spring Blogging Challenges(Last time I learned about Canva for making images.)

Are you going to join in? I’d love to hear what you have planned.

Posted in Internet Savvy | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Things Are Looking Up With Maria Mitchell

Have you been keeping up with the posts at KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month blog? There have been some gems this year.

Women's-History-Month

Do biographies of women need to be middle grade or young adult level? I have long been a fan of the picture book biography, and now Anna Butzer shows us the importance of beginning reader biographies with  Maria Mitchell (Great Women in History) .

This small book goes a long way to tell the story of pioneering female scientist Maria Mitchell, who was trained as an astronomer by her father. The author reveals that while Maria Mitchell was working as a librarian, she spent her nights searching the skies with a telescope. Eventually she discovered a comet that no one else had seen. She was on her way to becoming our first professional female astronomer.

If you are looking for a way to teach timelines, this book would be an excellent choice. There is an ongoing timeline at the bottom of each two-page spread. With each event recounted, a new date and summary of the event are added to the growing timeline. Brilliant!

Be sure to pick up Maria Mitchell for Women’s History Month to share with beginning readers or even slightly older children looking for a subject for a wax museum project.

 

Mitchell_Maria_desk(Public domain image of Maria Mitchell from Wikimedia)

Related:

Maria Mitchell Association website

See our growing list of biographies of women scientists at Science Books for Kids

21more-books-about-women-scientists

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 1
Publisher: Pebble Books (July 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1491405422
ISBN-13: 978-1491405420

Disclosures: The book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

 

Posted in Biography, Nonfiction, Science, STEM Friday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spring Into Art With Modern Art Adventures

Spring is just around the corner and what better way to get into a festive mood than with a great book to inspire art projects?

Modern Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Artists from Monet to Banksy by Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw is like a hands-on children’s art museum. It features art history, examples of artwork of famous artists to study, and 36 fresh and imaginative  hands-on projects to take learning to another level.

 

The book is divided into seven chapters , each of which cover a modern movement or category of art:

  • Impressionism
  • Expressionism
  • Portraits
  • Abstract Art
  • Graphic Art
  • Pop Art
  • Street Art

Within each chapter are introductions to specific pieces of work of two or three artists that embody that category. (In the back matter are short biographies of each artist for those who want to delve deeper. ) Following are two hands-on projects inspired by each artwork that teach children about an array of different media and techniques. Because there are two projects, the reader has a choice of doing one or both of the activities depending on constraints of time, supplies and/or interest.

Each project is shown a two-page spread. An example of the finished project is shown on one page, with step-by-step instructions (including photographs of the project in progress) and a materials list on the other.

As a former Art Masterpiece volunteer, I love this book. Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw are experienced art teachers and writers. Their real life experience is evident throughout the book. These are projects that could be easily carried out at home, in the classroom, or in an after school program setting. They require art supplies, but most of them are easy enough to find. Even the larger grocery stores are carrying and array of art supplies for kids these days. The only thing I would say even remotely questionable is the choice of calling attention to graffiti-artist Banksy in a children’s book, but the art piece they choose to emphasize is fresh and highly appropriate.

The bottom line is every child deserves to be exposed to art and Modern Art Adventures is a wonderful way to accomplish that. Pick up a copy and help youngsters start producing their own masterpieces today!

 

Related activity inspired by the book:

Shamrock Art Activity for St. Patrick’s Day

Gather:

  • Photographs, illustrations or living “shamrock” leaves (ours is pink woodsorrel, Oxalis debilis)
  • Pencil
  • Oil pastels in shades of green
  • Art paper
  • Blending tool or vinyl eraser (optional)

shamrock-leaves-oxalis

If you use living plant material, you may want to flatten it in an old book for 30 minutes to an hour to make it easier to trace. If you are using illustrations or photographs, cut out the shamrock shape.

1. Arrange the shamrocks in a pleasing design on the paper.

2. Trace around the leaves or cutout shamrocks lightly with a pencil.

3. Remove the leaves or cutout shamrocks.

4. Cover the pencil outline with a thick line of oil pastel in shades of green.

cray-pas

5. Using a finger, blending tool or vinyl eraser, pull the color into the center of the leaf evenly. This will give a smooth, shaded appearance. Wash your fingers before changing colors.

single-shamrock

Extension:  More advanced artists may want to fill the shamrocks with oil pastels and blend in layers of colors. This instructional video from Jerry’s Artarama will give some details how to do this.

Age Range: 6 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (April 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1613731779
ISBN-13: 978-1613731772

 

Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

nonfictionmonday

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Posted in Arts, Middle Grade Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review | Tagged , | 4 Comments