June 25th, 2015 | posted by: Admin

Dressing Up Is Fun for All Ages

Even though my own kiddos are in middle school and older, we confirmed the fun of dressing up when we got to try out a very cool Morphsuit. My youngest has an all-purple Morphsuit, which he wore last Halloween. Morphsuits are available in many different styles. The options range from the classic, one color, as well as animals (eg. gorilla, tiger, in partnership with Discovery Planet), superheroes, and skeletons, zombies, biker dudes, tux, etc.

Last week, we got to try a tiger Morphsuit.
Since the Morphsuit covers your entire body and pulls over your head (zipper in the back), it makes quite a realistic, or at least startling and very cool impression. My niece appeared as a tiger and was met with oohs and ahhs from assembled family. She indulged us with some suave tiger moves.

photo 1
Too bad Halloween is only once a year! But there are lots of other excuses for dressing up: Mardi Gras, Fasching, to add some real pizzazz to a presentation or performance, or just for fun!














Note: I ordered an Adult size small for my average size 14 year old; it was quite snug, so I would say the sizes run small, at least for the model we tried.

To order your own Morphsuit, go to http://www.morphsuits.com/kids-costumes.

I received a complementary Morphsuit for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.




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September 23rd, 2013 | posted by: Lynette

The Magic Ball of Wool: Picture Book review

I had the chance this weekend to review the charming picture book The Magic Ball of Wool, written by Susanna Isern and illustrated by Nora Hilb. The book is translated from Spanish and published by Cuento de Luz (October 2013, ages 3-5).


The Magic Ball of Wool illustrates generosity, creativity and transformation in quite a masterful manner. Hedgehog wakes one morning to find that a magical ball of wool has floating through his window and sticks to his prickles. He sets about knitting presents for his forest friends. Little children who love wrapping up and giving presents to family and friends will surely identify with this generous and industrious little hedgehog! But, as we know from the title, this is no ordinary ball of wool. When the thoughtful gifts are given away, they magically transform into what the recipient likes best in the world. The animals are delighted!


One day, Hedgehog gets a visit from a crab, who needs his help to make a strong long rope to rescue a huge blue whale who has gotten stuck on the beach. To his dismay, Hedgehog realizes that he only has a tiny piece of wool “no longer than an ant” left from his magic ball. He can’t help the crab help the whale.

However, the other animals in the forest hear of the trouble and they bring all of their gifts back in the night. Hedgehog is able to pull a thread from each of them and restore the magic ball of wool. This is a delightful example of fluidity, of recycling – even of sacrifice. It is a very impressive and uplifting story for little ones with its sweet characters, colorful pages and admirable message.

The Kindle edition of The Magic Ball of Wool is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Ball-Wool-ebook/dp/B00CNVOI4S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379944082&sr=8-1&keywords=the+magic+ball+of+wool




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May 15th, 2013 | posted by: Lynette

Above and Below: The Gift of Perspective

One of the many wonderful qualities of books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction, for children or for grown-ups, is that they can offer a different perspective. We can travel to places we’ve never been before, we can get to know characters whose lives are very different from ours, or we can explore “what ifs.”

Debra Lazarus, the author and illustrator of “In the Middle of the Lake,” has crafted a picture book that is a meditative poem with detailed illustrations of trout and insects, informative facts, and suggestions for extra research and projects related to brook trout. Her story takes us away to a peaceful lake where the birds sing and the insects hum and where, for a moment or two, we can shake loose from our customary view of the world and glimpse the sunlight from the perspective of a brook trout. You can find the book app In the Middle of the Lake here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/in-the-middle-of-the-lake/id470891897?mt=8

Debra’s image “Above Below” juxtaposes these two views. What unusual perspective would YOU like to experience?

Above Below, by Debra Lazarus

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May 8th, 2013 | posted by: Lynette

Remembering the King of the Wild Things…

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May 8th, 2013 | posted by: Lynette

Playing with words, …and food, and string, and nails and more

When I first spotted Muddyum’s artwork in an online article, I was hooked. Muddyum, a graphic artist currently working and studying in New York, has developed a unique signature style that plays with words and objects to create fun images that are part fine art and part puzzle. Muddyum’s photographs like this one:

Eye Candy – original image by Muddyum

really caught my eye, and I wanted to puzzle out more, and I wanted to show my friends and family. Working in partnership with Muddyum, we incorporated her extensive portfolio of images into a game app for the iPad, which can be played in single player mode, with two players, or more, with Apple TV. Muddyum’s WordPlay App will be available in the iTunes App Store in late May 2013.

Introducing Muddyum, the artistic talent behind WordPlay

Muddyum Choudhury

I recently asked Muddyum some questions about her work as an artist and her process in creating her WordPlay images. Below are her responses:

PPB: Where did you get your art training?

Muddyum: I received my B.F.A. in Painting and Drawing at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2007. I moved to Georgia in 2008 to purse an M.F.A. in Illustration at The Savannah College of Art and Design. I graduated in 2010 and received the Outstanding Achievement Award in the SCAD Graduate Illustration Department. Currently, I take Continuing Education classes at School of Visual Arts in New York City, which is where I started my Wordplay project.

What was your inspiration for the WordPlay project?

I am inspired my puzzles, puns and typography. I started making letters with chocolate syrup and glue when I was developing concepts for my first line of greeting cards. In summer of 2011, I decided to take Gail Anderson’s Type Play workshop at SVA.  It was one full week of type and I wanted to spend some time experimenting with typography and hand lettering. One of the assignments was found object type and I new I wanted to write with condiments. That morning of the class I went to the grocery store and bought anything I could write in; jelly, sprinkles, ketchup etc. The only idea I had in mind was “Let’s Ketchup.” I figured out the rest on the spot in the workshop.

Where do you get your materials?

I buy materials from convenience stores, hardwares stores, flower shops, craft stores and I walk to the park to get materials such as grass, dirt, sticks etc.

Can you share some of the process of making the images? 

When I randomly think of new wordplays I write them in a notebook. I can’t really explain how they come to me. Sometimes I think of an object I can write with and google it to see what other words come up. When I get enough ideas I write a list of materials I need to buy or get for free and spend a couple days shopping for these. Shopping and looking at all the items in the stores only gives me more ideas. Then I spend a few days cutting the materials or biting the food into shape and then take a few photographs of each WordPlay. Then I take them into Photoshop and edit a few things here and there.

Do you have any funny stories about an image that didn’t work out or that got messy?

The salmonella image was hard to do because I am actually allergic to some seafood. I forgot to buy plastic gloves so I put plastic sandwich bags over my hands while I cut the salmon. I also had to cut the kiwi in one image with the plastic sandwich bags on because I am allergic to that also. Those were a couple foods that had to go to waste after I was done photographing it!

Do you ever eat your artwork after you’ve photographed it?

Usually I do eat my wordplays that are edible before, during and after I photograph it. For apple pie I had to eat one apple to the core because I wanted to use it as an an “i.” I am not actually not allergic to shrimp so I ate the shrimp scampi wordplay. I did not eat the wordplays made out of condiments. The rest of the items such as chain, string, pins, rope, etc. I keep just incase I need them for a future project.

What other art projects or products do you have?

Other art projects I enjoy creating are greeting cards, book design and textile design.

Where can people go to see more of your work? Do you have a website, Facebook Fan Page, Pinterest or Etsy store?

To see more of my work here are my stores and pages:
Twitter: @muddyum





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February 23rd, 2013 | posted by: Lynette

Common Core State Standards for Apps With Curriculum

What are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) all about, again? Here is a portion of the CCSS Mission Statement: “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

Cyndie Seyborne, a retired teacher from Arkansas has created Apps With Curriculum, www.appswithcurriculum.com, an educational technology service to develop Common Core-aligned lesson plans for book app developers.  Apps With Curriculum makes educational apps better suited for classroom use. All curriculum is downloadable and free to access.

“Teachers are looking for quality educational apps that can provide more than an hour of entertainment to their students,” said Sebourn, a National Board Certified Teacher who was in the classroom for more than 20 years. “By pairing curriculum with apps, I provide teachers with another tool to integrate technology into education and to help kids be 21st Century Learners. Now through Apps With Curriculum, educators can easily find quality apps that can be quickly assimilated into classroom education.”

The site features book apps with curriculum that includes deeper-level Reading Strategies, and Project-Based Learning.

“Often book app developers provide only fun facts or simple recall questions,” Sebourn said. “Apps With Curriculum engages students with multiple reading strategies that prompt them to think critically, incorporate technology, reach the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and align to Common Core State Standards.” “Combining the apps with Common Core-aligned curriculum and group activities allows teachers to use the app in class to foster critical thinking and communication.”

Apps With Curriculum’s Book App Library features popular and award-winning apps such as “Brush of Truth,” the “Treasure Kai” series, the “Human Body Detectives” series, and multiple apps from PicPocket Books.  Recently added to the collection is “A Troop is a Group of Monkeys” by Julie Hedlund, which teaches collective nouns.

Sebourn, a speaker at educational conferences and an educational consultant, has conducted case studies about using apps paired with curriculum to integrate technology in education.

After National Board Certified Teacher Cyndie Sebourn retired from the classroom, she founded Sascyn Publishing, Inc. to create educational apps. Her first book app “Smarty Britches: Nouns” was released on the iPad, Google Play, Kindle Fire, and NOOK in June 2012. “Smarty Britches: Verbs” will be released in 2013.  “Smarty Britches: Nouns” features a boy who owns a magical pair of britches that teach him the nouns in his life; it is set in Arkansas.  “Smarty Britches: Verbs” is also set in Arkansas but, in addition, educates students about the southern states of Louisiana and Texas.  She developed curriculum for her own app, then started offering the educational service to other book app developers. Apps With Curriculum offers free, downloadable Common Core-aligned curriculum.

Interested teachers and book app developers can view the free curriculum at www.appswithcurriculum.com/curriculum.

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January 22nd, 2013 | posted by: Lynette


At a visit to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, I was lucky enough to run into not one but two of my picture book author/ illustrator heroes:


Mo Williams was at the museum to install his Red Elephant sculpture. Eric Carle was on hand to supervise. I think it is wonderful that these two great artists from very different backgrounds and different generations are friends. Here are some doodles they sent each other:

Whether or not YOU are a famous, published artist, how about sending a doodle to a friend? You might just make somebody’s day!

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January 19th, 2013 | posted by: Lynette

Creature Comforts

On days like this, I hope you have a cozy place to hang out, and a really good book to read. I’d love to hear what book is your companion on these wintery days and evenings!


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December 7th, 2012 | posted by: Lynette

Announcing New Apps With Curriculum – on sale today for #AppFriday

Twelve educational apps that offer free Common Core-aligned curriculum are joining for a one-day sale Dec. 7. The discount day is being organized by Apps With Curriculum, a National Board Certified teacher’s movement to create curriculum for book apps.

“This group of developers are trendsetters that are joining with Apps With Curriculum and classroom teachers to educate,” said Cyndie Sebourn, founder of Apps With Curriculum. “They recognize the immeasurable value of providing curriculum for their book apps and are excited about being a valued asset to education.”

Apps participating in the one-day sale are Smarty Britches: Nouns, Treasure Kai and the Seven Cities of Gold, Brush of Truth, and PicPocket Books apps: The Lucky Escape, Battle of the Bugs, A Heart Pumping Adventure, Penelope the Purple Pirate, Gerry the Giraffe, A Royal Pest, A Royal Pest Mine, Choco Gets a Check Up, and Tractor Mac You’re a Winner.

“Apps With Curriculum links book app developers with teachers to promote 21st Century Learning Skills, said Sebourn, a retired teacher who was in the classroom for 25 years. “With curriculum, book apps serve a higher purpose. They become educational tools that provide extended learning for the classroom. Educators are excited to see Project-Based Learning and reading strategies that align with Common Core Standards and incorporate Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. It empowers them to teach with technology and saves them countless hours in lesson planning.”

Apps With Curriculum was formed by Cyndie Sebourn, a retired National Board Certified Teacher, to create curriculum for book app makers. Sebourn also owns Sascyn Publishing, Inc., which creates educational book apps.

Apps With Curriculum

A Royal Little Pest
Smarty Britches: Nouns
Tractor Mac Arrives
Tractor Mac Builds A Barn
The Lucky Escape
A Heart-Pumping Adventure
Battle With the Bugs
A Royal Little Pest: Mine!
Gerry the Giraffe
Tractor Mac You’re A Winner
Penelope the Purple Pirate

Located in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, Sascyn Publishing, Inc. develops children’s apps for education, and it creates custom-designed curriculum for other app developers that meets the needs of educators. Copyright (C) 2012 Sascyn Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Look for the CCSS tab on top bar of PicPocket Books’ website, and access the curricula via the links next to the app icons.

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December 5th, 2012 | posted by: Lynette

Gerry the Giraffe, a new picture book app from PicPocket Books

Check out the fun trailer for Melissa Northway’s “Gerry the Giraffe,” a new book and an app from PicPocket Books.

(Click on the image to access the video link)


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