The Carrot Seed

by Ruth Krauss

illustrated by Crockett Johnson

Dear Friends,

Although The Carrot Seed was originally published in 1945, the allure of playing in the dirt is still the same for kids today as it was then. The fascination of growing things, of exploring leaves and sticks, discovering what's under a rock, and the timeless attraction to mud sparks the imagination in a way not possible in indoor play.

I have such vivid memories of outdoor imaginative play, whether it was creating fairy salads from a variety of weeds or a muddy witch's brew in a large flower  pot, or like the hero of The Carrot Seed, waiting and watching for the first green sprout  of a seed. What are your outdoor memories? 


In This Issue


 Underground Carrots Prints


This fun art activity is part stamping and part science exploration that helps young readers understand what's going on underground while they watch the green stems above ground.

Underground Carrot Prints


  • 1 large carrot, cut in half lengthwise
  • Large sheet of paper
  • Orange and green paint
  • Crayons or markers
  1. Using a large paintbrush, paint the flat side of one half of the carrot with orange paint. 
  2. Place flat side of carrot on paper to make a carrot stamp. Repeat to make a row of carrots. 
  3. Using finger, paint green tops on each carrot. Let paint dry. 
  4. With a brown crayon or marker, draw a line to show what grows above the ground and what grows below the ground. Add any other creative details like clouds, a sun, or birds.


Here's a glimpse of carrots growing in my garden last year, and when they were just picked, ready to be rinsed: 

carrots - Off the Shelf

carrots - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf
Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf Carrot Croquettes - The Carrot Seed - Off the Shelf

Carrot Croquettes

Adapted from Ziggity Zoom's carrot croquettes recipe. Makes 4. 


  • 11 ounces carrots, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, plus more for coating croquettes
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • parsley or lettuce, for carrots tops
  1. Steam or boil carrots until tender; drain.
  2. Roughly mash carrots. They do not have to be silky smooth, just mashed enough so that no large chunks remain. A fun was to do this (especially for kids) is to place about 1/2 cup cooked carrots at a time on a cutting board and press with the back of a fork. 
  3. Place mashed carrots in a medium mixing bowl. Add egg white, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, salt, cinnamon, cumin, and garlic powder and stir until well combined. 
  4. Place additional breadcrumbs on a plate. Form carrot mixture into 4 carrot-shaped croquettes. Roll in breadcrumbs. 
  5. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place croquettes in skillet and cook about 6 minutes, rotating a quarter turn every 90 seconds or until lightly golden brown.
  6. Place some parsley or a piece of lettuce in the top of each croquette and serve!

A Tree is Nice

Dear Friends,

Trees are the perfect childhood friends. How many summer days are spent playing in the shade of a tree? Or fall afternoons spent tramping in the the fallen leaves? In imaginative play, tree can be almost anything, from houses to spaceships, as well as base in a game of tag or the perfect place to climb. Although we sometimes take them for granted, this week's book helps us to take a few quiet moments to celebrate the many gifts that trees give us!

A Tree is Nice

by Janice May Udry
illustrated by Marc Simont

Winner of the 1957 Caldecott Medal, A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry is a timeless classic that has a feel that is both vintage and contemporary at the same time. Gently proclaiming a deep appreciation of the beauty and virtues of trees, the text is simple yet expressive and has a calming rhythm that entices readers in for factual reasons to love trees.

Gorgeous illustrations by Mr. Simont are perfectly matched to the poetic text, alternating between soft, lush watercolors and black and white illustrations that are quiet but never stark and cold. Simplistic but never dull, A Tree Is Nice compels readers to go for a walk and take the time to notice and appreciate the beauty of the trees that surrounds us.

In This Issue


Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Bark rubbings and leaf rubbings are autumn activities that never get old. No matter the age of the artist, making these fall favorites seems to usher in the season of crisp weather, shorter days, and the excitement of the quickly approaching Halloween season. We decided to expand on the basic rubbings in order to further engage in the spirit of our book of the week. So get out the paper, crayons and scissors and get ready to create a little autumn magic.

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree
Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree from Off the Shelf

Why We Like It

  • Fun activity for developing observational skills by discussing the size, shape, texture, and colors of the leaves.
  • Great way to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and make some fun art.

Crayon Rubbing Autumn Tree

What You Will Need

  • White paper
  • Crayons – wrappers removed
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Leaves – fresh are best
  • A tree

How To Do It

  1. Hold a sheet of paper on the trunk of a tree and, using the side of a crayon, gently rub the crayon over the entire sheet of paper to get a bark rubbing.
  2. Collect several autumn leaves. Place 1 leaf on a flat surface, textured side up, and lay another sheet of white paper on top of the leaf. Using the flat side of a crayon, gently but firmly rub across the leaf to make the image of the leaf appear. Repeat until you have several leaf rubbings.
  3. Cut a vertical section of paper from the bark rubbing to use as your tree trunk. Cut the remaining bark rubbing into strips to use as tree branches.
  4. Cut out the leaf rubbings individually.
  5. Glue the branches to the trunk and attach leaves.
  6. Lay flat to dry.


Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix

With dried cranberries and golden raisins in the colors of fall leaves, pretzels sticks reminding us of the shape and crunch of twigs, and flavored with two delicious gifts from trees, this is the perfect snack to enjoy on a beautiful autumn day while sitting under your favorite tree. 

Snack mixes are perfect for kids because they are portable, not messy, and easily customizable to picky eaters!

Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix from Off the Shelf

Leaves and Twigs Snack Mix

Granola adapted from Pumpkin Granola.

Makes roughly 2 cups.


  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (see video below)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup pretzel sticks, broken in half


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix together oats, applesauce, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon until well combined. 
  2. Spread mixture on an oiled or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  3. Let granola cool before scooping into a medium bowl, breaking up any large chunks. 
  4. Add cranberries, raisins, and broken pretzel sticks to granola. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Curious where cinnamon comes from? 

My Garden

by Kevin Henkes

A garden that doesn’t grow weeds but instead has jelly bean bushes, chocolate rabbits, tomatoes as big as beach balls, and never-ending flowers are just a few of the wonders of our little gardener in Kevin Henkes beautiful, imaginative My Garden. Illustrated with ink and watercolor illustrations in a sunny, pastel palette, this is a book that naturally inspires imaginations to meander beyond the restraints of our everyday world and envision a garden bursting with enviable wonders.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Each page invites readers in to see the unique details of the little girl’s garden but also manages to simultaneously inspire readers to imagine their own unique garden and the special things they would grow. A true Kevin Henkes classic that will hold a special spot on (and off!) the bookshelf for years to come.


My Garden activities coming up this week:

  • Young readers can imagine what they would grow in Their Garden with the My Garden Mural.
  • One "crop" featured in the book is seashells. Harvest your own shells to make Garden Shell Pasta Bake.

One Year Ago: We're Going on a Bear Hunt

More Kevin Henkes: Lily's Purple Plastic Purse


More garden books:

Growing Vegetable Soup

The Curious Garden

The Gardener

Does your young reader have a favorite book about gardening?