by Lori Nichols
Maple is a book about the friendship between two maples, Maple the girl and her maple tree. Throughout the seasons Maple and her tree entertain each other with snowballs, games of make-believe, and quiet times of simply enjoying each other's company . Maple sees the joy and happiness that comes from a good friendship. Caring for her tree prepares her for the important job of being a big sister and, like any good sister, she shares her special friend with the new baby.
In day to day life it is easy to pass tress without really seeing them. But without being sappy (ha ha), Maple reminds us to pause and appreciate the friendship that trees offer.
The pages of Lori Nicols's book are brought to life with whimsical, child-friendly illustrations that perfectly capture the simple happiness of childhood. Especially vivid are the maple tree's leaves that seem to glow and dance above Maple's play. The tree is just as much a character as Maple is, and will inspire young readers to find a tree friend of their own!
In this Issue
Also in this issue, Walter the Art Cat makes an appearance! Can you find him?
Equal parts art and science, a fun way to hone observation skills that are important in art as well as science. In the book, Maple interacts with her tree in many different ways. Encourage your young reader to become friends with a tree by pulling out the art supplies on a beautiful, sunny day, observing the play of shadows on the paper, and using those shadows to create an original piece of art. These shadows will be guides for painting or drawing the lines within the work of art. Young readers might be fascinated, depending on how quickly they work, to see that these lines will move even though their paper stays in the same spot.
As young readers immerse themselves in the play of shows on paper, many things can happen. Will they use light or dark colors to fill in the shadows? Will they fill lines with patterns? Will they play with thick and thin lines? There is no right or wrong, it is just fun to explore and experiment with the tree, the shadows, and the art materials.
Whether or not you have had the opportunity to enjoy Maple, this is a fun activity to do any time throughout the year. It might even be fun to do it during the different seasons, to enjoy the shadows alternatively through the leaves and the bare branches.
Playing with Trees Art Activity
- Large sheets of paper
- Paint brushes
- Lay out a piece of paper on a shadowy spot on the ground. Watch the shadows on the paper. Is this a good spot for capturing the shadows? If not try moving the paper where it will be easier for your young reader to trace the lines of the shadows.
- Set out paints, markers, etc. and invite your young reader to follow the lines of the shadows however they want. They might fill the entire page or might choose only one branch; they may choose to use a variety of art materials (maybe even actual leaves!), or only one. The fun is in the exploration.
- When your art exploration is complete, give your tree a hug and thank it for the fun!
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Take inspiration from Maple and find a tree of your own to adopt. Truly get to know your tree by spreading a blanket beneath its branches and observing the play of light through the leaves. Perhaps your young reader is a budding photographer and would enjoy taking pictures of your tree. Potential photographic subjects include the tree in each season, a collection of its leaves, or a closeup of its bark. Then, you can compile the photos into a book of their own. The possibilities for playing with your tree are endless, from bark and leaf rubbings to a picnic beneath the branches. You might also enjoy reading A Tree is Nice, Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, The Apple Pie Tree, or Miss Suzy, beneath your tree of course!
Or, you and your young reader can plant a tree of your own together. Watch it grow from year to year!
What better way to celebrate the friendship between Maple and her maple tree than to cook a recipe featuring the unmistakably yummy flavor of maple! Many recipes include maple syrup as an accent, but we chose this pudding recipe because it really allows the maple flavor to shine.
Although most young readers know that maple syrup comes from maple trees, they may not know exactly how it is produced. Never fear: we have just the video for you to watch!
After learning how maple syrup is made, head to the kitchen and enjoy cooking up some delicious, creamy maple pudding. To help engage your young reader in the cooking process, download and print your own copy of this recipe, illustrated and written for young cooks. The full recipe with complete instructions (just as it is below) is also included on the print-out.
Adapted from Good Housekeeping.
- 2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Whisk together 1 cup almond milk and 1/3 cup cornstarch until completely smooth.
- In a medium saucepan, stir together 1 1/2 cups milk, maple syrup, butter, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to bring milk mixture down to a simmer. Whisk in cornstarch mixture. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened. Transfer to a covered dish and refrigerate until cold.
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Or, enjoy maple syrup on these breakfast favorites!
- Bewitching Blueberry Pancakes
- Cornmeal Pancakes
- Fletcher's Warm Breakfast (French Toast with Roasted Apples)
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