Happy Poinsettia Day

poinsettiaWe often associate the poinsettia with the holiday season and Christmas, but did you know that today is a day that we not only celebrate the plant but the man who this flower is named for.

The poinsettia is native to southern Mexico and Central America; it was Joel Roberts Poinsett that brought the plant to America. Poinsett was the first Ambassador to Mexico in the early 1800’s and his interest in Botany inspired him to bring back samples of the red flowers that grow wild in Mexico. The Aztecs called the flower Cuetlaxochitl, the botanical name is Euphoria pulcherrima, and other names have included “the lobster flower” and the “flame-leaf flower.” It was in 1836 that William Prescott was asked to name the plant and he chose to honor the Ambassador by naming the plant poinsettia.

On December 12, 1851 Joel Roberts Poinsett died, and poinsettia day was enacted by congress to honor the amateur botanist. Likewise in Mexico December 12th is the Dia de la Virgen, and the poinsettia is displayed as a symbol of the day.

So to celebrate today here is a craft to make poinsettias and learn more about the parts of a plant.

You will need:

Red and green felt
Gold sequins or beads
craft glue, or glue gun

craft3Cut a five point flower out of the green felt, then cut the same flower out of the red felt.  We used this pattern from the Shabby Art Boutique

Glue the red on top of the green with both colors showing.

Then cut five petals and curl them up and glue the two sides together at the wide end.

Glue the petals onto the red and green base.

Then in the center glue the sequins or beads


Your poinsettia is complete! Now download the For Creative Minds section of The Tree that Bear Climbed to learn more about the parts of a flower. Then do your research the poinsettia is not ordinary flower.

Learn more about flowers and plants with Count Down to Fall, Daisylocks and The Tree that Bear Climbed.

Happy Friendship Day!

Yesterday, August 3rd, was International Friendship Day! The first Friendship Day was celebrated in 1919, after Hallmark created the holiday as a means of sending cards to your friends to let them know that you appreciate them. However, the tradition died out in the United States around 1940 and didn’t regain popularity again for many years.

The idea of a Friendship Day had stayed prevalent throughout Asia and it became a fun tradition for friends to give each other “friendship bands.”

It wasn’t until 2011, though, that the United Nations finally recognized International Friendship Day as a worldwide holiday. Although the UN set the date for July 30, most countries celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday in August.

To celebrate this year’s friendship day, why don’t you make your own friendship bands? Here’s a great list of fifteen friendship bracelets that you can make yourself!

Or you can read a book all about making jokes with friends like Moose and Magpie!

Moose and Magpie_COVER2Click to view

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Friendship Day, be sure to tell all of your friends that you’re happy that they’re your friends!

Happy Friendship Day!

Hooray, it’s Independence Day!

Fourth-of-JulyToday is a day to celebrate our great country and the wonderfully unique heritage and history that makes up the United States.

Many of us will celebrate with picnics and fireworks, outdoor games, festivals and other celebrations, but it is also a great day to learn a little more about the country you live in…so here is a fun little activity to learn more about the states and their symbols.

Fill in the blanks with either the state name or the plant or animal. Helpful hint: Visit Arbordalepublishing.com to find the animals in each of the books listed.

It took a magpie to help Maine’s state animal (___________)  to learn to tell jokes in Moose and Magpie.

Ohio’s state bird the _______________ fills the apple tree planted by Nicholas and Grandpa Santos in Christmas Even Blizzard.

12-t Felina is Florida’s state animal and when she meets Felix; this ____________ learns that she is very special and rare.

In North Carolina the state flower___________________ may attract a bear just like in The Tree that Bear Climbed.

Mandy __________ (Washington’s state land mammal) joins Peter Pika to find the Mountain Monarch in The Glaicers are Melting!.

New York’s state animal, the _____________, won’t be found watching fireworks from the empire state building, but you can read about their incredible building ability in The Beaver’s Busy Year.

If you visit Texas, be sure to try the state snack ___________________. You can even get a recipe to make your1-t own from Burro’s Tortillas.

In Prairie Storms, Kansas’s state animal the _____________ stands strong in the cold wind and snow.

Maggie’s sandbox was not the ideal spot for Maryland’s state the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________________ to lay her eggs in Turtles in my Sandbox.

If a Dolphin were a Fish star Delfina would swim over to this state (_____________), that has named the bottlenose dolphin as their state marine mammal.

If you visit Alabama be sure to try the state fruit, blackberries all of the animals in this book _____________________ love them too!

If you are in Minnesota, follow Hope’s lead and raise this state insect ________________ in your own garden.

The national bird and a symbol of liberty, ____________; this bird tries to help Marcel find food in Whistling Wings.

fireworkWe hope you enjoyed this fun Fourth of July activity and learned a little too! For more information on state symbols we did our research at State Symbols USA. Or learn more about the books mentioned here at Arbordale Publishing.

Cinco de Mayo!


photo by D. B. King

On May 5th, around the United States and Mexico, colorful decorations will hang, mariachi bands will play, and people will party in the street to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This holiday celebrates Mexican culture – the music, the traditions, the food, but why, exactly, are we celebrating on this day? Some people think that Cinco de Mayo marks the day when Mexico became independent from Spain, or when the Mexican Civil War ended. Nope! Actually, Cinco de Mayo celebrates a battle in a war that Mexico lost!  

Mexico had a tough start as a country, enduring war after war, first against America in 1846, then against themselves in the Mexican Civil War. When all this was over, the country had spent so much on war that there was very little money for regular people to spend in their lives; in other words, the economy was hurt. As countries sometimes do, Mexico borrowed money from other nations in order to help itself. And, as friends sometimes do when you borrow a toy or book from them, those countries got tired of waiting for Mexico to give their property back and came over to collect. No, their moms didn’t drive them over in the van or anything like that; fleets of warships representing England, Spain and France crossed the Atlantic Ocean, entered the Mexican coastline and demanded that Mexico pay them back.

Mexico didn’t have the money to pay them though! What’s a young country to do?! All they had were vouchers to give to the representatives from these countries, papers that double-super-promised to someday pay them back. This satisfied England and Spain and they went home, but to France, this meant war! Sacre bleu!

Under the command of Napoleon III, France invaded Mexico with the intention to totally control it. They marched from the coastline to Mexico City, and on the way passed the small Mexican state of Puebla. The Mexican soldiers at Puebla were vastly outnumbered, but in this fight on May 5, 1862, called La Batalla de Puebla, Mexico somehow overcame the odds and defeated the French forces! Now that’s reason to celebrate!

France eventually managed to occupy Mexico, but they were delayed a whole year by this surprising Mexican victory. The shocking, underdog victory at Puebla has come to symbolize the Mexican spirit of resilience and tenacity. Therefore, on its anniversary every year, Mexico and places with many people of Mexican descent play Cumbia music, wave the Mexican flag, eat tamales, hit pinatas, and generally celebrate all things Mexico!

Of course, at Sylvan Dell we celebrate Mexican people and culture every day! Each and every one of our dozens of titles are available in Spanish, such as Los árboles de globos and La naturaleza recicla—¿Lo haces tú? and El detective deductive!