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Green is a Chile Pepper Activities

Over in The Nonfiction Nook I just posted my interview with award winning illustrator John Parra about his new color concept book, GREEN IS A CHILE PEPPER. The book is beautiful and fun and speaks to the teacher in me, so I’m posting a few activity and lesson ideas for parents and teachers below.


Last month the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendations for early literacy to include reading aloud to babies from the first days of life! Singing, talking, and reading to your infant, baby, toddler, and big kid help prepare them for success in school. The number of words a baby hears before entering school effects how well they do. And studies show, the words that count are the words from YOU–their parent, their caregiver, their teacher–not from the radio, the TV, or electronic toys.

These are my recommendations for reading GREEN IS A CHILE PEPPER, but ANY book you both enjoy is a good book to read together.

INFANTS: before they are wiggly babies love the snuggly rhythm of rhyme and I think it is always best to read in a rocker, but anywhere will do! Read before nap, on the bus, in the waiting room, after bath, before bed—anytime is a good time to read!


BABIES & TODDLERS: Once they start wiggling babies and toddlers might not sit through a book read from front to back, or they might one day and not the next. During this stage the important things are you and the words. Point at the pictures to build vocabulary. Go on little hunts: “Where is the chicken? THERE is the chicken! Where is the bicycle? THERE is the bicycle! What’s your favorite page?” John Parra’s work is FILLED with tiny details perfect for keeping little kids interested—so let your kids grab, point, turn pages, and have fun!


PRESCHOOLERS: Most preschoolers will sit through a whole book. Some preschoolers will wander around the room while you read. Both kinds of reading are good for kids. And preschoolers are ready to understand concepts like color. After you read the book you can go on a color hunts. How many green things can we find? How many purple? Can we count them? Or if you have a class full of kids, you can have them find ONE object in their favorite color and share out. (I love muffin tins to organize found objects)


BIG KIDS: Here is the amazing thing about big kids: all that other stuff, all those other games, they STILL like those. But now they are ready to help read words (color words are great for early literacy), and to help make rhymes. If I were teaching this book in elementary school we would probably be making our own color books. I bet mine would be GREEN IS A FROG. For younger kids you could choose just a few favorite colors, and it wouldn’t have to rhyme, but it could!

You don’t need fancy toys or materials to make a good book into great fun—so get going and read!

Click here to learn about John Parra’s inspiration for the art in GREEN IS A CHILE PEPPER and you could win a personalized signed copy!


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The January Sky

I love the winter sky!

While so many of our days’ hours are dark, it seems a shame to spend them all inside. I’ve spent some wonderful moments snuggled up in one big winter coat with a drowsy kiddo. You don’t need to know the names of the stars, planets, and constellations for that time to be magic, but it helps. The words themselves are a beautiful lullaby, whether you’re crunching across snow, littered leaves, or smooth sidewalks. The names can be sung, whispered, and giggled. Moon, meteor, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus. Spica, and Saturn. Sing them all while the earth makes it’s turn, round its axis, round our sun. It will be fun!

I’ve been using Space.com‘s stargazing guide and the month ahead looks to be lovely.

If you have early, EARLY risers like mine you might catch the Quadrantid Meteor Shower before dawn on January second and third.


On January 23 you can view the bright star, Spica, quite close to the Moon, with Mars looming above at around five in the morning EST.


And at sunrise, on January 28, we will see Venus close to the slender crescent of our moon!


Happy gazing,

❤ Robin

P.S. – We’ve been love, love, loving, STARS, by Mary Lynn Ray and Marla Frazee. Go catch a copy!


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Migration Maps

Monarch Chyrsalis

It’s fall and animals are on the move!

There are no more chrysalides clinging to my wall in southern California and all our milkweed leaves have been eaten. I still see adult Monarchs, but not very many!

Ever wonder where they go? Where are the Whooping Cranes, the Gray Whales, the hummingbirds, the Monarchs, the Robins? Where are they RIGHT NOW?

These interactive maps from Lerner.org are a great place to find out: Migration Maps! Just click the link to find out where your favorite migratory animal is RIGHT NOW!