Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Celebration Book

I was deeply moved by the entire inaugural celebration but what echoed in my mind the following day was the tune of the Shaker song Simple Gifts that was used in John Williams’s composition Air and Simple Gifts. It was played by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, clarinetist Anthony McGill, and pianist Gabriela Montero. I have designed a small booklet with the words of the song to commemorate the day. Print out the pdf and follow the directions for making the hot dog booklet either on my YouTube tutorial or on my website. It's very simple: all you need is the printed page and a pair of scissors. If you don't have scissors, you can tear instead. The writing will be on the outside when you make the first fold.

Watch the performance

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Narcissus Step Book

youtube tutorial

Every year after Thanksgiving we place paperwhite narcissus bulbs in a bowl filled with gravel, add water, watch the sprouting of the green leaves, and enjoy their growth until we get the rich scent of the delicate white blossoms. It's a tradition carried on from my childhood which I have expanded to include a second round of bulbs started in late January to bring us through the cold winter days.

The process of getting bulbs to bloom is usually called forcing. One of the websites I looked at talked about coaxing rather than forcing which I liked a lot. Paperwhites are the easiest because they do not need to be chilled ahead of time. However, they can't be planted after. This will be their one and only time to bloom. I love what The Great Plant Escape said about bulbs: "A bulb is a promise."

The step book was made with four pieces of paper cut from the side panels of a grocery bag. The ties were made from the plastic bag bananas came in. I used colored pencils for the drawings as I found that the white pencil showed up the best on the brown paper.


Delightfully illustrated with cut paper, Paperwhite tells the story of two bunnies, Lucy and her neighbor Miss Mamie. On the first day of winter, they gather stones and put them in a glass jar, place a paperwhite bulb on top of the stones, and water them. While they wait for it to "bring a little spring into this dark winter day," they enjoy their friendship, baking and making music.

Information on coaxing bulbs as well as curriculum connections can be found here

For some very nice close-up photos of flower buds and blossoms, along with other flowers, visit

Kids learn about bulbs as they solve Case 5: Mysterious Parts That Surprise in the Great Plant Escape.

Step Book Tutorial on Youtube