Category Archives: Uncategorized

Easter Painting Activity for Children

Here’s an Easter art project for children that uses fun and easy water color techniques to make a colorful cross picture for cards or framing.

The cross design reminds us that on Good Friday, Christ died for us so our sins can be forgiven, and we can become part of God’s family.

So let’s get started!

Supplies:

  • Watercolor paints, brushes, and small containers to hold mixed paint
  • Watercolor paper is best for the special effects
  • Heavy white paper still allows a nice design (I’ll show you how)
  • Coarse salt
  • Wax paper torn into small shapes
  • Plastic wrap
  • Other techniques to try: paint spattering, drops of lemon juice or rubbing alcohol, grains of rice, leaves

Directions if using watercolor paper

Note: once your paper is wet,  you have to have everything ready and work pretty quickly

  1. Work in a place where you can leave your painting to dry before moving it. Put a plastic table cloth under your work.
  2. Before wetting the paper, use masking tape to form a cross on your paper (keep it a little rough looking). The masking tape allows you to paint right over it. When the paint dries, and you remove the tape, you’ll have a white cross, with beautiful paint patterns all around it.
  3. Choose and mix 3 or 4 colors for the background in the small containers  (I thought mine were dark enough, but would probably make them darker next time. Watercolors dry lighter than you expect)
  4. With a large brush wet your watercolor paper all over with clean water  (don’t make it sopping wet, just a light layer or sheen)
  5. Brush the colors around your paper; drop some in with a brush or right from a container
  6. Let the colors move around and swirl together for a couple moments  (too long makes colors muddy and you need wet paint for the next steps)
  7. Sprinkle salt or rice around your paper
  8. Place a few pieces of wax paper or leaves around, overlapping them
  9. Scrunch up pieces of plastic wrap and place on areas of paint

Leave everything to dry (it may take several hours if you had lots of paint puddles). Once dry you can try spattering paint.

   Directions if using heavy white paper

  1. Form a cross on your paper with masking tape as before
  2. Decide what design you want for a background
  3. Choose and mix 3 or 4 colors as before
  4. Do Not wet your paper, but you’ll still need to work pretty quickly
  5. With your brush paint your design., allowing colors to mix and blend
  6. The salt, wax paper, etc don’t work well or even much at all on this paper, but spattering works just fine. 

Leave everything to dry an hour or more depending on how wet your paint was. Once dry you can try spattering paint. Old toothbrushes work well for spattering.

Once either project is dry remove the tape, and any papers, leaves, etc,. Brush off the rice and/or salt and enjoy your creation!!

Now mount your creation on colored paper for all to admire or on cardstock to send Easter blessings to family and friends,

AND remember, Jesus didn’t remain on the cross or in the grave, but rose from the dead on Easter morning!

Hallelujah!!

Before You Go

Molly the Artsy Corgi and I hope you enjoyed this project. We’ll be back soon with more great art, devotions, and art activities! Sign up so you don’t miss any of the fun. And you can have even more art fun if you sign up to receive our monthly newsletter.

Interview with Josie Siler and Howie about Her New Picture Book Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw

Molly and I want to welcome Josie Siler and Howie to our blog today. Josie has written an adorable picture book about Palm Sunday and a little donkey named Howie who’s sad because he thinks his hee-haw is broken.

I asked Josie some questions so you can get to know her and how Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw came into being. Then Molly took over to ask Howie some questions. So read on to learn all about this special pair and get a glimpse of some of the book’s illustrations.

Kathy: Please tell us a little about yourself and how you began writing.

Josie: I grew up in small-town Wisconsin. I’ve traveled the world, but life with chronic illness has brought me back to my childhood home where I’m loving the small-town life. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never saw it as something I would make a career out of until chronic illness hit. I had a dream of serving the Lord overseas and that’s when I started writing. What began as a newsletter to my prayer team turned into a blog. The blog turned into a way to keep people updated when chronic illness hit and kept me from going overseas as planned. I discovered I loved writing and it snowballed from there. Now I write all kinds of things and God has used my words to spread the message of His love further than my two feet could have ever taken me!

Kathy: Isn’t it amazing how God leads us on paths we could never have imagined, but turn out to be just right for us and bring glory to Him? What was your favorite thing to do as a child?

Josie: This won’t come as a surprise, but I loved to read. I had many all-night reading binges as a tween and teen and have loved books for as long as I can remember. I also loved to climb trees and travel anywhere I could get anyone to take me!

Kathy: books and travel—two of my favorites, too! What were some of your favorite childhood books?

Josie: So many! My favorite picture book was The Muffin Muncher by Stephen Cosgrove. I just loved that muffin munching dragon! I also loved the Orphan Train Trilogy by Jane Peart and the Adventures of the Northland Series by Wisconsin author Lois Walfrid Johnson.

Kathy: I can see you were already interested in travel adventures! What is something not too many people know about you?

Josie: I haven’t shared this with very many people, but I’ve always had a secret dream of being the voice of a cartoon character! I also have my motorcycle license and I’m a huge fan of big trucks.

Kathy: Maybe someday, you’ll get to be the voice of a cartoon character who rides motorcycles! What do you like to do for fun?

Josie: Besides reading? I love to travel and explore new places. I love to shop small towns and photograph beautiful things. I enjoy a good movie and one day I would really like to ride in a hot air balloon.

Kathy: that would sure be an adventure! What was the inspiration for Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw?

Josie: One night when I couldn’t sleep God dropped this idea of a donkey with a broken hee-haw into my head. I wrote the first half of the book on the notes app on my cellphone that night and the next night when I couldn’t sleep again. I don’t think any book will ever come to me as easily as this one did. I feel like it was truly a gift from the Lord as He gave me the idea out of nowhere and words to write. Thank you, God- and insomnia!

Kathy: Wow, that’s amazing! I love how you’ve woven Howie’s story of realizing he’s not broken with the events of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem! What suggestions do you have for parents or grandparents to help children enjoy Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw and understand how unique and special God has made each one of them?

Josie: Kids (and adults) are constantly being told who they should be and that they’re not good enough. Parents can use Howie’s story to help kids see themself as God sees them. It’s so important to understand who we are in Jesus Christ. I encourage adults to speak Biblical truth to the little ones in their life. This will help them develop God-confidence instead of self-confidence! When we know who we are in Christ and that God doesn’t make mistakes, we’ll all be able to walk in the freedom of who God made us to be, broken hee-haws and all.

Kathy: Amen!

Molly the Artsy Corgi thinks Howie is the cutest donkey she’s ever seen, and she has some questions for him:

Molly: Howie, are donkeys related to horses?

Howie: Hi Molly! Donkeys and horses are in the same family, but we are a different species. So yes, we’re related but we have a lot of differences.

Molly: We corgis are good herders, so I bet I could herd donkeys really well! How will I find them? Are they all gray like you, Howie?

Howie: Oh no, us donkeys are a colorful bunch. Gray is the most common color, but my friends are also brown, black, white, or even multicolored.

Molly: I never knew that! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for those other colors. What’s your favorite food, Howie?

Howie: I really love fresh carrots for a special treat!

Molly: I love it when Kathy chops carrots and drops some for me. I think we’d get along really well, Howie! Thanks for these websites where we can find out more about donkeys. It has pictures of donkeys of different colors!

https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/knowledge-and-advice/about-donkeys

https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/sites/uk/files/2020-02/safe-treats-and-tempters.pdf

Molly: Howie, children may wonder how you got your name. Can you tell us?

Howie: I love this question! Do you want to know a secret? When Josie first wrote her book, I was a girl donkey named Hallie. Josie had lots of people read her book and help her make it the best it could be and one of those smart people reminded Josie that a colt is a male donkey. I’m so happy that mistake was caught because then I got to be Howie! When Josie picked my name, she wanted to keep it short and start with an H so she looked up lots of names. Josie and I both think the meaning of names is important and I’m really glad she picked a good one for me. Howie means “heart brave.” I really needed a brave heart to do what Jesus asked me to do!

Molly: How wonderful that your name means “heart brave.” But sometimes you look a little lonely and sad in the pictures. How did Jesus help you feel special and brave enough to help Him?

Howie: I love Jesus! Before I met Him, I felt like I was broken and that I wasn’t good for anything. But then Jesus picked me out of all the other donkeys and said that He needed ME! I felt so special because Jesus saw me. He told me that I wasn’t broken and that my Hee-Haw, Hee-Ha-La-La-Lay-Lu-Ya is special and that I was made to praise Him. I finally understood that I was made on purpose and that I have a great purpose in life. You’re special too, Molly. Never forget how important you are to Jesus. He loves you so much!

Molly: You’re right, Howie. Jesus is so wonderful! Sometimes when we’ve done something we shouldn’t or have trouble feeling special, it’s so good to remember He loves us! Your Hee-Haw was just right to sing Hallelujah to Jesus!

Let’s head back now to to my interview with Josie to find out where readers can get their very own copy of Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw!

Kathy: Josie, children will love to snuggle up to hear and look at the pictures in Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw. Can you tell us where we can find this wonderful picture book?

Josie: Of course! You can find my book lots of places. Your local bookstore might have it. If not, you can find it online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Christianbook, Walmart, and if it’s sold out some places, you can always get it right from my publisher, End Game Press. I have a list of places with links on Howie’s page on my website. Come visit us at

https://josiesiler.com/howies-broken-hee-haw/

Molly and I want to thank Josie and Howie for visiting with us today. We enjoyed getting to know you and hearing all about Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw!

Thanks so much for having us. We both had so much fun with you and Molly!

 

 

 

Interview with Children’s Author Nancy I. Sanders

Molly and I are pleased today  to tell you about a wonderful bedtime  story for children, called Bedtime With Mommy.

To help us, we’re hosting its author, Nancy I. Sanders, on our blog today! Nancy has written numerous children’s books, and her latest is called Bedtime with Mommy. Nancy is a Mom and Grandma, so she knows how important those last snuggles before bed are for little ones. Bedtime with Mommy is sure to become a favorite with your child or grandchild, so let’s meet Nancy and learn how she came to write this cute board book!

Welcome, Nancy, to Kathy the Picture Lady blog!

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself and how you began writing.

A: I’ve always loved reading, so when my two sons were little and I began reading infant board books to them, I wanted to write books just like that. Little did I know that 35 years and more than 100 children’s books later in a variety of genres, I’d finally get to write a board book, too! The beautifully illustrated padded board book, Bedtime With Mommy (published by End Game Press) arrived just in time this fall to celebrate my granddaughter’s first birthday.

What a special way to celebrate your granddaughter’s birthday! I’m sure she loved snuggling in to read your book!

Q: What’s your favorite “Mommy” memory from your childhood?

A: I’m the youngest of seven children and grew up on a dairy farm. One of my favorite memories of my mother was when I was a preschooler. I remember waking up many times in the early hours of dawn when I heard my father leave the house for the morning milking as he headed up to the barn. I’d climb out of the double bed I shared with my older sister, tiptoe through another sister’s bedroom, and arrive at my parent’s bedroom. I’d climb into bed and snuggle with my mother, falling asleep for a short time in her arms before she had to get up and start cooking a full breakfast for our household of nine. I cherish that memory even today!

This is such a wonderful memory to cherish, and I bet it contributed to your idea for Bedtime with Mommy.

Q: Did you have a pet when you were a child?

A: Living on a 750-acre farm just a mile out of town, our barn became a drop-off place for unwanted cats, kittens, and dogs. My father had a policy about these unexpected abandoned pets—all were welcome! Twice a day during milking time, Dad filled up a huge roasting pan with dogfood and milk and all were well fed. In exchange, the cats helped keep the rats out of the hay mow and the dogs helped keep the groundhogs out of the fields. From Bassett hound to collies to a fluffy orange Angora cat, I have many happy memories of countless dogs and cats and we loved them all!

How fun to have so many dogs and cats to love!

Q: What was your favorite thing to do as a child?

A: It was seasonal. In the winter, I loved to ice skate on the pond and roast marshmallows with my brother and five sisters at the nearby bonfire. In the spring my oldest sister led us on hikes to visit the vernal pools to find the tadpoles. Summer days were spent digging up prized arrowheads from the ancient Iroquois trail that ran through our property. And in the Fall we’d climb the pear trees and wild apple trees to collect fruit for applesauce and tarts.

Ice skating was one of my favorite things to do in the winter, too! I grew up in Maine and we had lots of ice for skating!

Q: What were some of your favorite childhood books?

A: Oooohhh, I have so many favorite “friends” from childhood. Our house was overflowing with books. We even had a bookcase of books in the bathroom! Here are a few that come to mind: Charlotte’s Web. Winnie the Pooh. The Secret Garden. The Jungle Book. Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series. Little Women. Freckles. Here’s a photo from my blog where you can see the childhood copies I still own today.

I love how you describe your house as overflowing with books!

Q: What is something not too many people know about you?

A: My husband Jeff and I play in a community orchestra that welcomes all levels of skill. (In the photo, we’re sitting on the left at the back of the stage behind the timpani.) Jeff plays the double bass. I played marimba in high school so now I’m one of the percussionists and help play glockenspiel, claves, the guiro, cymbal, timpani, and any other part a classical piece calls for. My favorite concert was when we performed the Nutcracker Suite a couple of years ago. I got to play the tambourine for the Russian dance!

As a percussionist, you have to have a good sense of rhythm, which I’m sure helps you when you write in rhyme!

Q: What do you like to do now for fun?

A: Writing is always my first choice for fun! But my husband and I also like to go camping at the nearby beaches or mountains. We also raise monarch butterflies in our backyard milkweed patch. I’m a Citizen Scientist and help track birds that visit our backyard. We’re right next to a riverbed that flows to the ocean and get some interesting varieties even though we live in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Raising monarchs and tracking birds sounds like lots of fun!

Q: What inspired you to write Bedtime with Mommy?

A: We have four grandkids and reading a book (or more!) at bedtime is a big deal. I wanted to write a bedtime board book about the special relationship a mother and child have. My hope is that this book becomes a favorite.

Bedtime with Mommy shows that relationship so well. I think it will quickly become a favorite bedtime book!

Q: Bedtime with Mommy has so many delightful pictures of mommy animals and their babies from all around the world. Do you have a favorite from the book?

A: The panda Mommy and baby are so sweet. The illustrator, Felia Hanakata did such a wonderful job. Plus I love the words:

It’s bedtime in the FOREST.

Bamboo stands tall and straight.

My mommy shares a bedtime snack

Before it gets too late.

 I hold my special Bible.

We find my favorite Psalm.

We read about God’s promises.

I’m peaceful now and calm.

Q: Bedtime with Mommy is written in rhyme. What do you enjoy most about writing in rhyme?

A: The best part about writing in rhyme is when you’ve worked hard over days and weeks on one particular stanza and filled pages with notes and potential word pairs. Then suddenly there comes that magical moment when you read the stanza out loud and it practically sings because the rhythm and rhyme finally metamorphosize and come together.

Q: I love how you weave prayers and songs into the story! And that the book ends with a human mommy tucking her child into bed. Do you have any suggestions for parents or grandparents to help children enjoy Bedtime with Mommy and share God’s love with little children?

A:  Bedtime is such a prime time to share God’s love on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or wait until everything’s perfect. It can start tonight. Just say a simple prayer as you tuck your little one into bed. Or choose a faith-filled book such as Bedtime with Mommy and read it to them before you kiss them goodnight. You can sing a praise song together as you’re helping them into their jammies. Or tape a Bible memory verse on the bathroom mirror and say it together as they’re brushing their teeth. And of course if you already have a bedtime routine, you can weave in all these wonderful faith-filled moments and more!

These are wonderful ideas, Nancy! I’m sure parents and grandparents will love them.

Q: You’ve written so many wonderful books for children. Can you tell us a little about any new projects you’re working on?

A: I just signed the contract for the next book in the series, Bedtime with Daddy! So be sure to watch for it next Fall in September, 2022!

Molly and I will be sure to watch for Bedtime with Daddy!

Thank you so much, Nancy for sharing with our readers about Bedtime with Mommy! While Molly and I snuggle down to read it together, would you tell our readers where they can learn more about you and your books.

A: At my website at www.nancyisanders.com.

And I love to connect with readers online! Here’s where you can find me on the Internet. Please follow me if you’re on these platforms and like my pages!

Blogzone (for writers): https://nancyisanders.wordpress.com

Christian Children’s Authors: https://christianchildrensauthors.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nancyisanders

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nancyisanders

Facebook Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/NancyI.SandersAuthorPage/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NancyISanders

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nancyisanders/

Amazon Author’s Page: www.amazon.com/author/nancysanders

Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Teacher-Plus-Writer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/95924.Nancy_I_Sanders

Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyisanders/

 

 

 

 

 

The American Cemetery above Omaha Beach in Normandy

When we visited France a couple years ago I took this photo of a small part of the American cemetery above Omaha Beach where, on D-Day in WWII, so many Americans gave their lives to preserve freedom for us and help bring freedom back to parts of Europe.

Over 9,000 crosses and stars of David stretch across the green hillside that was once a battleground. Seeing the beaches and the cemetery reminded me of all those throughout our history who have fought to preserve freedom and dignity for all.

We must also never forget all those first responders and the health care workers who have helped us through the terrible covid pandemic.

I hope you’ll join me on this Memorial Day, to remember and thank God for all those who have served and given their lives in the military and as first responders to keep the peace and protect us here at home and overseas.

This is a link to an earlier post of mine that has a tribute to my Dad who had just passed away. Although he had to get permission from his parents because he was only 17, he enlisted in the navy in WWII and served in the Pacific.

https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/the-storm-on-the-sea-of-galilee/

Fun and Easy Painting of Sheep in a Pasture

Let’s do a fun and easy painting of sheep enjoying a day out in the pasture.

Previous posts this month included Jean-Francois Millet’s painting, The Sheepfold, Moonlight, which is about the Good Shepherd bringing His sheep to safety for the night. Go here to see that post with its related devotion:   https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/2021/05/15/jean-francois-millet-french-realist-painter-of-ordinary-people/

Then on Tuesday of this last week I did an interview with children’s author, Laura Sassi, who has a sweet picture-book retelling of the lost sheep. If you missed it, you can go here.  https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/2021/05/25/interview-with-childrens-author-laura-sassi-and-illustrator-tommy-doyle/

This kid’s painting project is about when the Shepherd leads His sheep out to safely graze under His watchful care.

It makes a cute picture of sheep in a pasture and perfectly illustrates Psalm 100: 3, “…we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.”

The project can be done in 2 short activity times. Do part A and let the paint dry; then come back to finish with part B.

Supplies:

  • Sturdy white paper such as construction paper
  • Scrap paper, any color
  • Cardboard such as cereal box cardboard, cut into 2 to 3 inch squares
  • Yarn, any color
  • Tape such as masking, packing, or duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Green paint, largish plastic cover, paintbrush or plastic knife or spoon
  • Crayons or markers

Follow these simple steps:

Part A. 20 to 30 minutes

  1. Draw and cut out several cloud shapes of different sizes from the scrap paper.
  2. Fold over pieces of masking tape to stick the “clouds” to your white construction paper (you’ll be removing these so don’t stick them heavily—one piece per cloud, and don’t use regular, mailing, or duct tape)
  3. Arrange cloud shapes on your construction paper
  4. To make your “stamp,” make a “handle” out of tape for your piece of cardboard
  5. Tape one end of a piece of yarn on this same side
  6. Wrap the yarn around and around the cardboard, and tape the end on the back (wrap the strand fairly tightly, but not too close together)
  7. Put a small amount of green paint on the plastic lid and spread with a spoon or brush.
  8. Rub your cardboard stamp around the thin layer of paint just to coat the yarn strands
  9. Stamp all over your white paper and cloud shapes. The stamping should look like blades of grass. Pick up more paint as needed.( help children to stamp up and down without smearing)Let dry

Part B  20 to 30 minutes

  1. Remove cloud shapes
  2. With pencil draw heads, ears, and legs (I use pencil first so I remember the eyes)
  3. Color these in with black marker or crayon

Use other marker or crayon colors to make flowers. Or use your finger dipped in other colors to print the petals.

Molly and I hope you enjoyed making this painting of happy sheep grazing safely in a meadow that illustrates Psalm 100:3!Next month Molly and I begin our summer series of twice monthly fun and easy art projects!! Molly and I hope you’ll join us for some summer fun!

Before You Go

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Interview with Children’s Author, Laura Sassi and Illustrator, Tommy Doyle

This week I’d like you to meet children’s book author, Laura Sassi. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know Laura and hearing all about her latest picture book, Little Ewe. After an adventurous day, Little Ewe is lost and afraid. You and your Little Ones will love the rhyming and counting text and finding out who rescues Little Ewe.

You’ll also meet Tommy Doyle, the illustrator of Little Ewe.

Welcome, Laura and Tommy! We’d love to get to know you and hear about your latest picture book, Little Ewe.

Laura, Please tell us a little about yourself and how you began writing. Did you write as a child?

Laura: I began my career as a fourth grade teacher. Not surprisingly, my favorite subjects were reading and writing. But when I wasn’t teaching, I was always writing in my journal and playing around with words.

Actually, I’d been writing in journals ever since I was a a kid. As soon as could hold a pencil and spell (sort of), I started writing poetry and stories on my own. How do I know this? I know because my parents sent me a box full of papers and notebooks from my childhood including limericks, riddles, and silly rhyming snippets – all proof that I’ve loved playing with language for a very long time.

But being a very practical young woman, I didn’t at first consider pursuing a career in writing. It wasn’t until my children came along and I took time off from teaching that it dawned on me that there was a place, and maybe even a need, for a writer like me.  That’s when I took the plunge and began writing in earnest.  And what did I like writing best?  Humorous rhyming stories and poems. And, now with five books out and another set to release next spring, and oodles of poems and stories published in various children’s magazines, I’m still at it and loving every moment.

Laura, it’s wonderful that even as a child you were writing stories and poems! What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Laura: I grew up in a family of readers. Indeed, some of my favorite earliest memories include sitting in my mother’s lap while she read to me from A.A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young. I loved the rhythmic rhyming sound of Milne’s poems and memorized several, quite by accident, because I asked my mother to read them to me so often. I’ve carried the rhyming beat of those poems with me ever since. In fact, I think it’s one of the reasons I became a writer!

What was your favorite thing to do as a child?

Laura: I loved lots of things – most of which involved using my imagination. These included quiet things like writing, drawing, and reading.  I also loved to build imaginary play worlds where, using my imagination, my friends and I went on many adventures!  Many of these adventures were sparked by the books we read including the Little House on the Prairie series and countless others.

Using our imaginations is so important for all of us, and God has given each of us the  gift of imagination! What sorts of things do you like to do for fun today?

Laura: I like to read and write and create things. (So you see, I am still using my imagination!) I also enjoy going on long walks with husband and laughing over the dinner table with my family. I also love, love, love, connecting with readers through school visits and other book events.

Indeed you are! As an author you must use your imagination as you create and write. What was the inspiration for Little Ewe?

Laura:  Little Ewe is inspired by one of my favorite of Jesus’ parables. The parable is about a shepherd who realizes one sheep is missing and so he leaves the flock to find that one and bring it safely home.  As a child I loved this beautiful reminder that, like the shepherd in the parable, Jesus came to find the lost and, oh my, how wonderful it feels to be found. My hope is that, like Little Ewe in my story, readers of all ages will sense the comfort and joy of knowing that our Shepherd, too, wants to find us and care for us when we are lost.

That is such a beautiful parable about God’s love and care for us. And what fun that you wrote it in rhyme! What do you enjoy most about writing in rhyme? Is it hard? What’s your process?

Laura:  I’ve always enjoyed the sound of words and making meaningful patterns with those sounds using rhythm and rhyme, but I think what I love most about writing in rhyme is the challenge of  being creative within a set structure.  To flow smoothly and be pleasing to the ear, the piece must have a consistent form both for the rhythm and for the rhyme.  My poems and stories in verse tend to follow an AABB or ABAB rhyme scheme and I’ve used a variety of meters. The important thing is not so much which pattern I choose for the rhythm and rhyme, but sticking with it.

The fun comes in finding creative ways to express myself within that structure. I do this by playing with plot, character development, and word choice until the piece shines. Done right, writing in verse enhances a story – making it extra pleasing to young ears. Achieving this, however, requires lots of revision. And by lots, I mean 30+ (for me) rounds! And that’s exactly what I do, until the story flows smoothly and is the best it can be.

All your extra work really does shine through. And Little Ewe is not only a rhyming book, but a counting book. What inspired you to do that?

Laura: One of my favorite aspects of Jesus’ parable was that the shepherd left the 99 to find that one lost sheep. That counting aspect really resonated with me, so I knew early on that I wanted my story to have a numeric climb. However, I didn’t want it to be the typical counting book where readers just look for objects on the page that don’t necessarily relate to the plot. Rather, I wanted the counting in Little Ewe to be an integral part of the story, helping to escalate the tension as Little Ewe wanders farther and farther from Shepherd and to conjure feelings of comfort when she is found. I hope readers will agree it adds a rich dimension to the story.

The counting aspect makes reading Little Ewe even more fun! What suggestions would you give parents or grandparents to help children enjoy your books?

Laura: Just reading and talking about the story is a wonderful way to enjoy my books.  For Little Ewe, they might also enjoy the activities I created an activity kit, available for free download. Here’s the link: https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/LittleEwe_ActivityKit_web.pdf

Your activity kit sounds like lots of fun. Thank you for sharing a link to it.

I know my readers would love to hear about your other books. Can you tell us a little about these?

Laura: I am the author of five picture books including the best-selling Goodnight, Ark, which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, MangerDiva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, which won First Honor Book for the 2019 Best in Rhyme Award; Love Is Kind, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; and, of course, Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep. My next book, Bunny Finds Easter, will release in 2022. You can learn all about them in the Books section of my blog: https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/books/

What wonderful books for little ones! What would you like children to take away from your books?

Laura: All my books share themes of love, kindness and comfort.  Through the reading and enjoyment of each story, my hope is that children will know that, just like Little Ewe, in my newest book, or any of the characters in the other books, they are loved and cherished. It is also my hope that they will grow to love the wonderful sense of belonging, connecting and bonding that comes when parent (or grandparent) and child sit and read together.

I’m sure parents or grandparents and children will love connecting over your books and their important themes. What advice would you give young people who might like to become writers?

Laura: Read, read, read!  Write, write, write! Revise, revise, revise!

That is sooo important! Where can readers learn more about you and your upcoming projects?

Laura: Readers can learn more about me on my blog and various social media outlets.  Here are the links:

https://www.facebook.com/LauraSassiTales

http://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/

twitter.com/laurasassitales

https://www.instagram.com/laurasassitales/

And where can readers find your books?

Laura:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold!

And now, let’s talk with Tommy Doyle about his creative and colorful illustrations for Little Ewe. Children will love these illustrations and finding all the things and creatures to count.

Tommy, what part of illustrating do you enjoy the most?

Tommy: I get to be my own boss and manage my schedule as I wish. I find it helps having a better work life balance. I enjoy being home with my pooch, playing music, and create a space where I can be as creative as I want without any disruption.

That’s a super great recipe for creativity! What medium did you use for the illustrations of Little Ewe?

Tommy: My work is all digital. The sketching part is done on the iPad pro and the colouring is executed in Photoshop with all sorts of different brushes that each create a specific effect or texture.

That sounds like lots of fun. What advice to you have for young people who may be interested in art and illustrating?

Tommy: Keep illustrating. Everyone has bad days where it just doesn’t feel right. That’s ok, it helps you reflect on where you are versus where you want to be. It takes time to develop yourself. If you keep working hard, it will eventually pay off.

What great advice!

Thank you, Laura and Tommy, for taking the time to share about the creation of Little Ewe. I’ve have really enjoyed it! And I know parents and grandparents will love snuggling with their children and grandchildren over this delightful picture book!

Molly is on vacation this week so her fur cousin, Paisley, curled up and loved reading Little Ewe!

Before you Go

If you’d like more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, and book reviews, be sure to click the button to sign up for my newsletter., and receive a free guide to making art museum visits a fun masterpiece for your whole family!

Visit my all-new website to get free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids and see an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages. http://www.kathy-oneill.com/

 

 

Jean-Francois Millet, French Realist Painter of Ordinary People

Jean-Francoise Millet spent his youth doing the ordinary work of farming—plowing, sowing, cutting hay, and harvesting. Even when he later studied art and moved to Paris, he never forgot his roots, eventually leaving Paris to settle his family in a rural area. There Millet painted scenes of rural life, such as

The Angelus, by Jean-Francois Millet, Musee D’Orsay, public doma

The Angelus and The Sower, which are beloved paintings today.

The sower by Jean Francois Millet, public domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

The painting we’re going to look at isn’t as well-known as those, but I think you’ll love it and its spiritual emphasis, too!

The post includes:

  • Getting to Know Jean-Francois Millet and the Realist art movement
  • Looking at The Sheepfold, Moonlight, (includes helpful vocabulary)
  • Choosing Activities to Help You and Your Children Further Explore the Painting
  • Going Deeper to Discover What God Can Teach Us Through this Painting

Getting to Know Jean-Francois Millet, Realist painter

Jean Francois Millet, photo by Nadir, public domain

Born in 1814, the oldest son of a peasant family in rural Normandy, France, Millet spent his youth working on the family farm. When he was 19, he began studying with area artists, and in 1837 moved to Paris for further study.

Millet and several artist friends became more interested in painting landscapes and everyday life than portraits and historical events. They found inspiration in the landscapes of 17th century Dutch artists, such as Jacob van Ruisdael,

View of Naarden by Jacob van Ruisdael, public domain

and the contemporary landscapes of English artist, John Constable

The Hay Wain by John Constable, public domain

(for more about John Constable, see this first of a series of my posts about him). https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/2019/09/

These young French artists, working around the mid 1800s, became known as Realists, because they didn’t idealize the people and places they painted. The group is also sometimes called the Barbizon School, because many painted near Barbizon, a rural village on the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau, 30 miles southeast of Paris. (An artistic school isn’t a building, but a group of artists who often know each other, may paint together, and have similar artistic goals and/or styles)

The Realists were among the first to paint outside (en plein air). They loved nature and tried to observe and paint it accurately. Their work made landscapes an acceptable subject for art in France, inspiring and paving the way for the Impressionists at the end of the century. They also influenced later artists of America’s Hudson River School.

Autumn on the Hudson, Jasper Cropsey, public domain

(Look here for my first post in a series about one Hudson River School artist) https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/2020/09/18/painting-the-light/

Many Realist artists painted near Barbizon just in the summer. But following violence in Paris in the 1840s and an outbreak of cholera, Millet moved his family to Barbizon, where he spent the rest of his life.

In his much-loved paintings, The Sower and The Angelus, we see how Millet understood the importance of farming and gave farm workers dignity and a heroic quality, once only used for great historical figures. Millet had a huge influence on the work of Vincent van Gogh.

Millet”s The Sower, 1850

The sower by Jean Francois Millet, public domain

Van Gogh’s Sower at Sunset, 1888

Sower at Sunset by Vincent van Gogh, public domain

 

Looking at The Sheepfold, Moonlight by Jean-Francois Millet

The Sheepfold, Moonlight by Jean-Francois Millet, public domain

In this nocturnal, scene we see a shepherd directing his sheep into a pen on a wide plain near the village of Barbizon. Our vantage point is up close, just in front of the sheep. Millet typically paints his main characters up close and large.

Go here to the painting at the Walters Art Museum to look at an enlarged picture. https://art.thewalters.org/detail/24760/the-sheepfold-moonlight-2/

Beyond the shepherd and sheep in the foreground, the plain stretches away to the horizon. There’s no middle ground, and a good half of this painting is sky. Showing so much sky emphasizes the large plain and highlights the brilliant moon and its light effects. Notice that the sky is blue, not black as it might be later in the night.

It’s the end of the day. Twilight deepens, the moon rises over the plain, and the shepherd brings his flock home for the night. Much of the painting is in shadow, but see how the moonlight shines on the underside of the clouds and the backs of the sheep.

Also notice how the shepherd and his staff are silhouetted against the sky as he holds the gate open for the sheep to enter. Two dogs are next to him to help funnel the sheep into the pen.

Helpful Vocabulary

  • Realist—true to what is seen
  • Nocturnal—night time scene
  • Vantage point—where the viewer would be standing in the painting
  • Foreground—front of a painting
  • Middle ground—the middle of a painting
  • Horizon—where the land or sea and the sky meet
  • Silhouette—when a figure shows in dark outline against a lighter background

Choosing Activities to Help You and Your Children Further Explore the Painting

Before doing any other activities, ask children to tell what’s going on in the painting and what tells them that.

  1. This is a great painting to talk about mood and how an artist creates that.
  2. What is the mood of this painting? Do all those shadows make it mysterious? A little scary? Are there colors, shapes, lines, etc. that make you think that?
  3. If this were the opening scene of a movie, what do you think might happen next?
  4. What music might you hear during this opening scene?

You may also enhance children’s observational and verbal skills, as well as their imaginations with the following questions:

  1. What things tell you that the sheep are entering the pen, not leaving?
  2. How does a shepherd’s dogs help him?
  3. Why would the shepherd keep the sheep in a pen for the night?
  4. If we were in the painting, where would we be standing?
  5. What sounds might we hear?
  6. What colors do you see in the sky?
  7. What things are in shadow?
  8. Which things are lit by moonlight?
  9. Do the sheep look tired?

Going Deeper to Discover What God Can Teach Us through the Painting

This painting can help you explore with children an important way the Bible often talks about the relationship between God and us, and his loving and wise care of us. Psalm 23 says,” the Lord is my Shepherd,” and Psalm 100 says, “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Now let’s look again at The Sheepfold, Moonlight painting. It’s the end of a long day. The sheep look tired, and the sky is dark. Clouds may tell of a coming storm. Thick shadows surround the sheep pen.

The Sheepfold, Moonlight by Jean-Francois Millet, public domain

  1. Do you think the sheep would be afraid of those shadows?
  2. What dangers may lurk in the nighttime shadows surrounding the sheep? (wolves, thieves, rocky cliffs, scary storms with thunder and lightning could scatter the sheep and hurt them)
  3. Do you sometimes get frightened at night?
  4. What are some things that make you afraid?

Now look at who is silhouetted against the sky. It’s the shepherd with his staff. In Psalm 23:4 David says, “I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

The shepherd is taking care of his sheep. He has led them home for the night and is guiding them into the safety of a pen that will hug around them—it’s called a sheepfold.

See how the shepherd is holding the gate open for the sheep to go in. He opens the gate, so the sheep can enter the safety of the pen. In John 10 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate of the sheep . . . I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:8,9).

During the night, the shepherd will sleep across the gateway to protect his sheep from danger, and will even give his life for his sheep. “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

We are like those sheep—sometimes we become frightened of dangers that could hurt us. But Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He loves us and he gave his life, so we could become part of his flock. We can rest, knowing he will watch over us and never leave us, keeping us safe in his very own sheepfold.

Let’s thank Jesus for being our loving and wise Good Shepherd!

Prayer  Thank you, Jesus, that when we run to you, you will guide us and open the gate for us to enter your sheepfold. There we will be part of your flock and be safe forever. In your name, we pray. Amen.

(All verses are from the New International Version of the Bible)

Molly and I hope you’ll come back for our next post of a cute art project about sheep!

But Before You Go:

If you’d like more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, be sure to click the button to sign up for my newsletter., and receive a free guide to making art museum visits a fun masterpiece for your whole family!

Visit my all-new website to get free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids and see an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages. http://www.kathy-oneill.com/

 

 

And the Winner Is…

Congratulations to Beverly, who is the winner of the drawing from those who voted in our Cutest Pug Picture Contest.

Jean will be in touch with you, Beverly, to see which book from her Zuggy, the Rescue Pug series you’d like and the best way to send it to you.

Thank you to all of you who voted.  The pug with Santa hat and glasses picture received the most votes!

Santa hat

Before You Go

1. Our next post is the first in a series about the art of Jean-Francois Millet, the artist who painted The Angelus, and The Sower. I love these, but the painting we’ll look at may be unknown to you. I guarantee, you’ll love it, though! This series will continue with a related art activity and another children’s book author interview. Be sure to sign up to follow and receive these posts by email.

2. Are you going on vacation somewhere this summer? Consider visiting an art museum. But before you do, be sure to sign up on the button above to receive my freebie about how to make art museum visits fun for the whole family. You’ll also receive free newsletters  (just 4 each year) with links and more activities.

3. visit my website for free downloadables for childrenhttp://www.kathy-oneill.com/

A Fun and Easy Art Activity–Make a Playful Pug Picture

Pugs are playful, little lap dogs, but God created dogs with a huge amount of potential, enabling people to develop breeds to meet many needs from herding, guarding, and service to companionship. Today dogs come in more shapes, sizes, and abilities  than any other mammal species—over 300 recognized breeds worldwide, from tiny chihuahuas to huge Great Danes. Which breed is your favorite?

Mary Cassatt, the American Impressionist artist in my last post, loved little Brussels Griffon dogs, and sometimes added them to her paintings—often in people’s laps. Brussels Griffons were originally bred to hunt rats and mice in stables, but  breeders crossed the Brussels Griffons with other small breeds, including pugs, to create the lap dog you see in Cassatt’s work.

Young Girl at a Window by Mary Cassatt, public domain

Many think the Brussels Griffon looks like an ewok from Star Wars. The pug “force” is strong in that cute, mooshed-in griffon face, So our art activity this month is a fun mixed media art activity about a cute pug who’s asking a butterfly to play

In this post you’ll also find:

  • A list of the ways this activity can contribute to your children’s mental, physical, and social development
  • A list of curriculum connections

Supplies for the Pug

  • Colored paper in browns, tans, grays, black, white, red
  • Scrap paper to make patterns
  • Compass or various sizes of round lids to make circles
  • Pencil, scissors, and glue
  • Crayons or markers

Directions for the Pug (Except for the tongue, every body part begins with a circle)

  1. Using a compass or various round lids, draw a large circle for the pug’s body and a smaller circle for its head
  2. The muzzle or snout is a smaller circle from which you draw and cut a heart shape with the pointy end rounded off (see photo)
  3. The ears also begin as circles. (follow the photo to turn these into ears)
  4. You need two circles for the eyes, one a little bigger than the other
  5. The tail and paws are the same size circles. (follow the photo to make one into the tail)
  6. The nose is a small circle, trimmed to a rounded triangular nose shape
  7. The smallest circle is the white dot for the eyes
  8. The tongue is two straight parallel lines with one end curved
  9. Once you have the patterns made, cut the pug shapes out of the appropriate colors
  10. To get the white edge for the eyes, cut two moe eye circles out of white paper, and then cut each into a quarter moon shape
  11. Glue all the parts together, making sure to slip the eyes and the tongue under the muzzle before the glue dries
  12. Finish with crayon or marker details on paws, under nose, and above eyes

Supplies for the Garden Background and Butterflies

  • Sturdy white paper
  • Watercolor paints and brush
  • Crayons
  • Toothbrush
  • Various colored scraps for the butterflies

Directions for the Garden and Butterflies

  1. With crayons draw shapes for the flowers on the white paper. Press down with the crayons to make heavy lines, but don’t color the flowers in (see photo for shapes or make up your own)
  2. Mix puddles of water and paint and paint right over your crayon lines. Don’t worry if you go outside the lines
  3. Notice that the crayon lines still show (this is called crayon-resist painting)
  4. Let the flowers dry
  5. If you like the speckled look, mix up more watery paint and use a toothbrush to build up as much speckling as you like. You can use several colors.
  6. To make the butterflies, choose several colors and cut into small rectangles
  7. Fold the rectangles in half and draw half of the butterfly’s body against the fold. Then draw the upper and lower wings and one antenna
  8. Cut these out while still folded. Then flatten the body out and fold up each wing

Putting it all together

  1. Glue the pug onto the background garden
  2. Glue the butterflies where ever you’d like
  3. With green crayon draw blades of grass along the bottom, with some coming across the pug’s paws, so it looks as if he’s in the grass.

Now you have a cute pug who wants to play with the butterfly on his nose!

Helpful Hints:

  • Try the speckling on scrap paper first to see if you like it (to speckle, run your finger backwards along the bristles)
  • If you want to be really precise with painting the flowers, use less water, and a smallish brush. The crayon will help you stay in the flower shapes.

Hints for Clean Up:

Wax paper is helpful under things when you spread glue, because it doesn’t stick to the paper AND it keeps globs of glue off your table

Variations:

  • Use big googly eyes for the pug
  • Use colored paper for a background
  • Do a background of wet-in-wet watercolors, letting the paint swirl together

Ways this activity can contribute to your children’s mental, physical, and social development

  • Using crayons and scissors, and other art tools helps children develop fine motor skills.
  • Seeing how to use basic shapes to create a more complex form helps children be more observant.
  • Measuring and using a compass helps with math skills
  • Opportunities to make choices as in this activity, enhances problem-solving skills.
  • Discussing their choices as they work aids in vocabulary and conversational skills.

Curriculum Connections

  • Make a map showing where your favorite breed came from. Tell what it was bred to do.
  • Look up different dog sports, such as herding dog trials, fly ball, agility, etc. List all the words that describe how the dogs move in these sports, such as leap, scurry. See who can come up with the longest list.
  • Some dogs can sniff out diseases. Are certain breeds better at this? Write a report about how the dogs are trained.
  • How are dogs trained as guide dogs or as other service dogs? Make a poster of all the ways dogs help people as service dogs.

Before you leave:

  • Comment and tell us what dog breed is your favorite.
  • Be sure to sign up for my newsletter by clicking on the button at the top right of this post. You’ll get a free, downloadable Guide to Making Art Museum Visits a Fun Masterpiece for the Whole Family! Molly contributed some good ideas to the guide, too!
  • And you can visit my all new website to see the tings we’ve added to help you engage your children’s hearts and hands to discover God in art, history, and Nature.http://www.kathy-oneill.com/

Molly hopes you enjoyed making this cute pug picture. She was kind of disgruntled at first that it wasn’t a picture of her, but she came around.

And don’t forget to come back for our next blog—an interview with a children’s author, who has written a series of picture books about her rescue pugs! They are so cute, and we’ll interview her illustrator, too!

Thanks for stopping by. See you soon!

 

 

More Ways to Enjoy Art, History, and Nature, Visit My All New Website

Molly is so excited, she couldn’t sit still! She wants to tell you about our all new website! Come see its new look  and check out how we can help you engage your children’s hearts and hands to discover God in art, history, and nature!   http://www.kathy-oneill.com/

When you get there, be sure to:

  • Go to the Kids’ Corner and get downloadable coloring pages, puzzles, and how-to-draw lessons.
  • Visit my Workshop page and browse through all new workshops and lessons to engage the hearts and hands of children and adults, either online or in-person.
  • Look at the new pictures on my About page, including one of me as a child with my first dog. See why my present dog, Molly, and I click.
  • Finally, are you and your family ready for summer vacation, after this long year at home? Then be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free guide to help make your family’s visit to an art museum a fun masterpiece!

Molly is packed and ready to go, and she put in lots of her favorite hints, like taking breaks for snacks, so this guide will give your family have a fantastic museum visit!!

You’ll also get my spring newsletter. These newsletters will come just 4 times a year, so sign up so you don’t miss this one with its link to a video from the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands and fun facts about two women who excelled in art and science, becoming models for today’s children.

Molly and I are so thankful for all of you who follow my blog here or on Facebook, and we hope our website will now give you even more ways of Engaging Hearts and Hands to Discover God in . . .

ART,

Rouen Cathdral by Monet, author photo at Musee d’Orsay

HISTORY,and NATURE

 

Also be sure to sign up for our blog and get the next post with a craft about a pug! Molly’s a little jealous, but agreed to a one-time pug craft!