Mar 04

Change Happens: Don’t Let It Eat You Up

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

Last week we talked about frogs and self acceptance. This week let’s talk about something totally different. Change.

wolfie the bunny cover

Change happens. It comes whether we want it to or not.

In this picture book by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora, a family of rabbits wakes to discover a foundling wolf on their doorstep. The parents immediately fall for this sweet little charmer. However, the little sister isn’t so smitten. HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP, she keeps reminding them.

Despite her persuasive and logical arguments, the parents keep the baby wolf. What’s a girl to do?

I like this book because…

1) So many times we don’t ask for the change life brings. It just–poof–appears on our doorstep. WHAT WE DO about it determines who we become so much more than WHAT IT IS that happened.

2) The little girl-bunny in the story is totally passionate, and totally ignored, and totally right. Or is she right? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

3) Family love triumphs over all right in the middle of the vegetable aisle.

4) That pink suit. I want one.

5) Buster. The little girl uses words like buster. I love her.

Activity Time

While we have wolves and rabbits on the brain, here are a few games and activities to go along with this book.

  • Wolf, Wolf, Rabbit (Duck, Duck, Goose)
  • Bowling for Bunnies

Bowling for bunnies

  • Hopscotch
  • I love Wolfie’s suit. I want one for my girls. (I kinda want one for myself.) Anyway, here’s a coloring template for the bunny suit so kids can draw in their own Wolfie The Bunny. Or maybe it’ll be Kitty The Bunny. Pig The Bunny? I’ll let you decide…

Wolfie suit coloring page

Feb 26

When Frogs Have Identity Crises

by Hannah Holt »


Okay. This book makes me laugh so much.

I dont want to be a frog cover


First, it’s a really clever look at accepting and embracing the parts of ourselves that we might find lumpy, bumpy, or filled with flies. But also our family just happens to own this odd little puppet (pictured above), which my children named Green Cheetah.

Green Cheetah is a troubled puppet. He looks like a frog, hops like a frog, but always wants to play at gazelle hunting.

Thank goodness Dev Petty and Mike Boldt’s book arrived to help with this crisis!

I dont want to be a frog inside


It’s not that we want to change Green Cheetah. No, sir. We love him just the way he is, googly eyes and all. He’s still welcome on gazelle hunts, but deep down he’s a frog. And we want him to love the frog in himself, too. After several reads of this delightful book, I think we’re making progress.

Now for a very froggy craft…

What you’ll need:

  • an index card (any rectangle size will work)
  • markers (optional)

I WANT TO BE A FROG (jumping frog origami) 

I colored my card two different colors of green to make it easier to see, but coloring the cards is totally optional. You could also get green index cards if that makes life easier. Here’s how to fold it.

1. Top triangle fold down to the left.



2. Top triangle fold to the right.



3. The top will now be divided into four parts. Pinch the two side sections inward and squash fold down.



4. Bring the top right and left pleats up at a 45 degree angle.



(It’ll look like this without my fingers in the way.)



5. Fold the bottom sides inward until they meet in the middle.

Step 5


6. From Line A fold upwards.

Step 6a


Like so:

Step 6b


Step 6c


Step 7. Bend the top fold back about halfway to form the frog’s legs.

Step 7


Fold it all the way and press hard…

Step 7b


8. Turn him over and you have a frog.



By the way, if you bow out the folds in step 4 above…

step 1


…and reverse the fold in Step 6 (bend Line A backwards)…

step 2

…you get a rabbit instead of a frog.

step 3

Nov 06

New to the Library: Ducks Everywhere!

by Hannah Holt »


The Lightbulb Library has a new addition.

Title: Ducks Everywhere!

Ages: 2-4

Themes: Counting; ducks; sharing; feelings

Opening: One duck in a crib…

Synopsis: Ducks keep appearing in the strangest places today– in my room, at the table. Some ducks even wear my clothes. They make me feel crowded. I wish they would go away.

A Look Inside the Making of Ducks: I used a four-year-old boy {isn’t he handsome?} and a common rubber duck to create all the characters in this story.

I used photo editing to transform one small duck into a set of giant ducks.

To do this, I took pictures of the rubber duck in a variety of lighting settings.

{Okay, I had more than one duck. I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.}

I took pictures of the boy and superimposed the ducks into the picture afterwards. Like this…

{I often used balloons as place holders for the ducks. They helped me visualize the picture’s final layout.}

Of course, I had to add shadows and reflected light from objects that weren’t there. This shot was particularly tricky because I added the ducks’ reflection into the hardwood floors.

You can watch out for ducks, too. Head on over to the free picture book library and check them out.

Aug 17

Two Books for Beginning Readers

by Hannah Holt »


School is just around the corner. With that in mind, I have two new books for the free reading library.

The simple and playful texts of these books will help new readers gain confidence. Younger children might read with a parent, while older children can read by themselves.

I hope your school year gets off to a great start, and I hope these books give young readers a boost.

Book #1: I Can!

Summary: Come join Sam as he plays, jumps and learns to read.

Teaching Concept: Verbs. This book centers around seven common verbs: sit, stand, run, look, jump, play, and read. Each verb is used twice and is illustrated.

Possible Discussion Topics: What is a verb? What activities can you do by yourself? What do you need help with?

Sight words: Click here for a flashcard sheet with all the words from I Can!  (pdf)

Classroom Copies: Click here for a condensed printable version of the book (pdf).

Art Project: Have children make an I Can! collage with magazine pictures of activities they like to do.

Suggested Games/Activities: Follow the leader, Have children act out each verb as you read the book.

Book #2: What is it?

Summary: Jacob has hidden a toy. Can you guess what it is?

Teaching Concepts: Nouns and making guesses.

Possible Discussion Topics: What is a noun? How can you come up with a good guess? Is each hidden object a person, place, or thing?

Sight words: Click here for printable flashcards with all the words from What is it!  (pdf)

Classroom Copies: Click here for a printable booklet of What is it! (pdf)

Art Project: Children can make their own What is it? book. Draw a classroom object on each page of the book. Then cover the drawing by gluing a tissue paper flap over the top. Consider having children write clues about each object (its color or shape).

Suggested Games/Activities: 1) I Spy. 2) 20 Questions 3) Bring a blanket to class. Have one child close her eyes while another child picks a small object in the classroom to hide. Cover the object in the blanket. Have the first child try to guess the object by feeling it through the blanket.

If a child is comfortable reading both these books, they might also enjoy reading The Sun Came Out (also in the bookshelf).

Jul 26

How I Cooked the Alphabet

by Hannah Holt »


In May, the idea for Spicy Alphabet popped into my head. From the beginning, I knew I wouldn’t try to sell it. Alphabet books are a saturated market, and several picture books about spices already exist. But I have my own website, so YIPPEE! I can indulge pet projects as much as my limited free time allows.

You can read Spicy Alphabet here. (You’ll need Flash.) Here’s the inside scoop on my most delicious project ever.

I knew I wanted to make an alphabet book about spices; however, I had to nail down the exact concept: one spice per letter, each letter would be made out of the spice (fresh herbs if possible), each page needed a food item made from the spice, the text would describe the flavor.

Then I created the thumbnails. Now this was a bit backwards. Text usually comes before thumbnails. However, since I was working with fresh herbs, I wanted to write after tasting. You can see my thumbnails are minimalistic at best. Really, I just needed to decide which spices would get a double spread.

Next I collected the spices. Best treasure hunt ever. If you can imagine my toddlers playing with cans of squid while I poked my nose around the vegetable section of a tiny Vietnamese market, you’ll get a taste for the experience.

Take photos: Once I had the herbs, I arranged them into alphabetic letters. I took 190 photos as part of this project. The white background was mostly copy paper. For wet items, I used a plastic plate.

Cook: Each herb needed a food item. I prepared 14 of the dishes featured in this book. The rest are photos of candies, herb variations, or preprepared items. My children elected themselves heads of taste-testing.

(My oldest tasting the lime zest muffin batter… The muffins didn’t make the final cut.)

Take more pictures: Once the dish finished cooking I needed photos of the final product.

Edit the photos and add them to the template: Each spread is a collage of four or more photos. I used a white background as my standard for combining the pictures into one image.

Here’s my basic double-spread template. Pink is one page, blue the other. The black areas are guidelines for formatting uniformity:

Here’s a sample of two unedited photos copied and pasted together:

I used Gimp to edit my photos. It’s open source (free) software and fairly user friendly. Even writers who feel a little clumsy with visual effects can benefit from it. Here are a few of the main Gimp tools I used for this project.

First –> Under the Color menu pick “Curves.” Pull the curve upwards to brighten the photo.

Second –> Under the Color menu pick “Brightness-Contrast.” Increase the contrast to sharpen the image.

Lastly–> Increasing contrast can oversaturate the photo (especially in the oranges and yellows). So under the Color menu pick “Hue-Saturation.” Decrease the saturation by a few numbers, and you’ll have a clear and bright photo.

Am I forgetting something? Oh yes, then I wrote the book. I’d sit at my computer, an herb in hand. I’d smell it, bite it, and look it over. I’d let the flavor tickle the roof of my mouth and drift into the back of my throat. Then I’d try to capture the unique flavor in three kid-friendly adjectives or less. I wasn’t always successful.

After I put all the pages together, I had a few of my nearest and dearests review the book and check for typos. I usually have a critique group for this kind of thing, but at the moment I’m in between groups. Darn cross-country move. A huge thank you to all my first readers! Of course I needed to make revisions, and we went back and forth until everything felt right.

Lastly my husband imported all the jpeg images into the flash program he designed (from scratch!), and I uploaded the final file to my digital library. If you like the flash book, there are a few similar products out there. I haven’t tried any of them. However, if you would like your own digital library, you don’t need a degree in computer programming to accomplish it.

Each book in my library took me a couple hundred hours to compile (not including writing time). I don’t sleep well when I’m enthralled with a project.

I could go on about things like: why I’m not selling Spicy Alphabet on a digital platform, or how this fits into my long range plan. However, this post is already waxing long. If you have other questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comment section.

Thank you readers! You make my day. Please take a moment to visit my Facebook page. I post exclusive crafts, additional videos, and secret recipes. If you aren’t following my Facebook page, you’re missing more than half the Lightbulb fun.

See you around!