Friday, May 27, 2011


In Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep, Kathy Stemke tells a story that children, especially those who have younger siblings, can relate to. Zachary's life takes a drastic change when a baby sister enters it. He puts on his special glasses and uses his creative imagination to become a superhero and quiet all the wild and noisy commotions that disturb her sleep. Each page of this delightful book is filled with bold, colorful illustrations by Jack Foster and has cute rhymes, which add to the fun. As an added bonus, there are games, word puzzles, a song, and rhymes at the end of the book. It's a great book for home and the classroom.

Connie Arnold
Inspiration poet 

Having a new baby in the house can be a stressful situation for the parents, but don't forget the affect it has on the baby's older siblings. This is the premise of Kathy Stemke's delightful children's picture book, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep.

Before Layla joined the family, Zachary's time was his own, whether playing, feeding the bird, or going to school. Now, his time revolves around the needs of his baby sister. His mother needs this for the baby and she needs that for the baby. And, shhhh, Zachary needs to be sure Layla doesn't wake up. And, he's just about fed-up.
Escaping the annoying and boring tasks that his mother asks of him for the baby, Zachary dons a pair of black-rimmed glasses and turns into what every little boy would love to be . . . a superhero. And, in superhero-mode he saves his baby sister from a ferocious bear, a tooting train, and a number of other calamities that either scare or awaken little Layla. One action adventure after another.

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep is a story that children will absolutely love and will easily be able to relate to. How many children get annoyed that they're no longer the center of attention, or that they have to help take care of the baby, or that the family revolves around the baby's needs. Stemke addresses this issue in a fun-filled manner that shows children who feel this way, they are not alone and all is not lost.

With amazing and vivid full page illustrations and witty rhymes that lend themselves to teaching children consonant blends, this story will be a wonderful addition to every child's library, as well as the classroom.

At the end of the book, Stemke includes a "Teacher Supplement" that includes:

* The link to a template of thick black-framed glasses that Zachary wore
* Comprehension questions
* A consonant blend song
* A consonant blend musical chairs game
* A consonant blend worksheet
* Dolch Sight Words Recognition exercise
* Instructions for Beanbag Hoop Toss
* And more

Between the story, the illustrations, and the back-of-the-book teacher supplement, children, parents, and teachers will all find Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep a real treasure.

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, and Freelance Writer
Day's End Lullaby

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Stay tunned for my virtual book tour schedule.  There will be lots of prizes and even more fun!  Amazon got more books in stock!!


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Sunday, May 22, 2011



Please excuse my exuberance, but this is my first book available through amazon. I'm so excied that I can hardly breathe! It has been worth all the hard work. Thank you to all my friends, family and colleagues as well as the teacher groups and writing groups for your wisdom and support.  
Kathy Stemke has released an action packed picture book with Guardian Angel Publishing titled, "Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep." Zachary turns into a super hero to protect his new baby sister as he learns to love and accept her into the family.
It's available through Gap:
Kathy Stemke's websites:
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Create a Verb-Adverb Wheel

Create a verb-adverb wheel to aid them in their understanding and mastery of the adverb concept.

Each student will need the following materials:
a donut hole (purchased from a store or donut shop) 8-1/2 inch oaktag circle 3-1/2 inch construction paper circle 1 brad (paper fastener) crayons/markers

The Lesson
Are you looking for an "appetizing" way to introduce your students to the concept of adverbs? In this lesson, students use discovery and observation as they create a yummy way to remember adverbs.

First, pass out to each student a donut hole. Before they begin munching the donut hole, challenge them to brainstorm verbs that tell how they might eat the donut hole. Write on a board or chart the verbs that students share. For example, they might share verbs such as: chomped, chewed, bit, devoured, and so on
Next, have students provide words that describe how they are doing the action of eating the donut. Write those words on the chalkboard. For example, students might share words such as:  slowly, quietly, noisily, excitedly, and so on.

Point out that the words that describe the action are called adverbs.
Now that students know what adverbs are, challenge them to add to the list they already provided.

After students have finished eating their donut holes -- quietly, I hope -- pass out an 8-1/2 inch oaktag circle, a 3-1/2 inch construction paper circle, and a brad to each student. Have each student imagine that the small circle is the center of the donut.
In the center of the 3-1/2 inch circle, have each student write her/his name with a black marker. Also on the smaller circle (around the student's name in the center), have him/her write four of the verbs that were listed on the chalkboard. Students might write one verb on the small circle at 12 oclock, one at 3 oclock, one at 6 oclock, and one at 9 oclock. On the larger circle, have students select and write some of the adverbs that describe the verbs.

Students have created a verb-adverb wheel. They can spin the wheel to create a variety of sentences. For example
Harry chomped hungrily/noisily/slowly Harry devoured hungrily/noisily/slowly Harry gulped hungrily/noisily/slowly Harry feasted hungrily/noisily/slowly

At the end of the lesson, offer students time to frost or sprinkle their donuts. They can do that by turning over their donuts to decorate the side that does not have the verbs and adverbs written on it. Watch as they turn their verb-adverb circles into appetizing-looking donuts to go with the appetizing phrases on the other side!
Assess each "Appetizing Adverb" donut by checking for accurate labeling of verbs and adverbs.

Lesson Plan Source
This lesson is adapted from and idea I saw in Mailbox magazine.
Submitted By: Laura Graham, Tri-City Christian School in Independence, Missouri
Education World®
Copyright © 2007 Education World

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Scapbook and Marine Homecoming!

Our Mother's Day 2011 celebration has proven to be one of the best days of my life.  I finally got to see my grandson, Michael, after his time stationed in Afghanistan.  He looked fantastic with his new muscular body and sun tan.  He has matured into a man who thinks of others first!  Thank you United States Marine Corps!

My daughter, Stephanie, presented me with a beautiful Mother's Day Tribute in the form of a scrapbook.  As you can see by the photos of just some of the pages, it is full of great family photos and beautiful seniments.  I cried.

I was a single parent most of my life and always worried that my daughter wouldn't get all she needed to grow up properly.  She has grown into an amazing woman, wife, and mother.

We used to sing, "You and Me Against
the World," and dance around the living room. 

So much changed when my daughter became a mother herself.  She's a fantastic mother!

Here's my daughter with each of her children.

My beautiful granddaughter, Tori, wrote me a poem. I'll post it in the next post.

On the left is my other daughter, Chali and her husband Doug, then Jeff, Stephanie's husband, my husband, me, and my granddaughter Tori.

             At times our family is a little silly as you can see by these photos.

My grandson graduating from Marine boot camp. 

Here he is showing off his muscles.

This is the part that made me cry!

This is my terrific dog, Lucy.   

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Author, Magdalena Ball, Mother's Day Poetry!

Oh Mother

 It’s nearly Mother’s Day, just in case you hadn’t begun giving that a little thought.  Speaking as both mother and daughter, it’s hard to beat something home-made (especially when your recipient is paying the bills!).  If you’re up to it, why not write a little poem for your mother, maybe coupled with a bouquet of flowers, her favourite tea (I like Celestial Seasonings’ Tension Tamer, thanks), and a home-made card.  If you aren’t up to that, the next best thing is someone else’s poetry, and I heartily endorse books of poetry for any gift, especially if you’ve taken a little time to choose something tailored for the occasion.  The magnificent Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I have put together an award winning book of poetry designed just for mothers titled She Wore Emerald Then.  The book has a beautiful colour cover by photographer May Lattanzio and contains thirty poems that reflect on motherhood.  Two sample poems follow, along with a link to me reading the first one.  JR McRae called the book “A book of finely cut gems to hold, admire, let their multi-facets flash their messages to mind, and the fine sharp edges of each plane hold the image indelibly.”  In any case, and however you decide to celebrate your mother, grandmother, or the mother of your children, Happy Mother’s Day! 

Mother’s Bed

In the restless night

when mortality lurks in every shadow

the blanket won’t cover your fear

and morning is a half-forgotten dream

vague and uncertain,

slink into my bed

the pillow holds a mother’s secret

whispered charm

you can sink your head into.

There are no demons here;

no whirlwind of memory and anticipation clouding sleep

only eternal warmth

a shared space

free from the ticking illusion

of time, motion, and change.

Here, where you are always welcome

nothing matters

except this peace

this place

containing every possible now.

in the primeval heat

four billion years

before you opened

one puffy eye

the chemical imbroglio

of our home

shouted your name

from the depths of its seabed

no more miraculous

than the smack of light

against your heaving diaphragm

in the random accident

of your arrival

contingency or collaboration

paternal will or

lucky break

makes no difference

you are life itself

the stunning complexity

of DNA woven

within each cell

culmination of every moment

that gave rise to this one

changing everything

sloppy, sleepy



your carbon atoms

common as the earth

beneath your first steps

the organised complexity

of your extraordinary


couldn’t be simpler

as you reach a tentative


towards the future

Magdalena Ball runs The CompulsiveReader. She is the author of the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks.  Find out more about Magdalena at 

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