Monday, September 23, 2013


Short, tall, brown hair, red hair—we all look different in one way or another. Early in life, infants quickly learn to recognize their parents by looking at their faces and hearing their voices. Our differences, both inside and outside, are what make us unique. However, sometimes the differences between us become not only a symbol of our originality but also a misguided opportunity for teasing or ridicule. Adventures at Walnut Grove, by Dana Lehman and Judy Lehman, provides parents and educators a wonderful opportunity to approach the delicate subject of teasing.

Lehman's story unfolds in a setting inviting to any child—a summer resort filled with friendship and fun. As many of us know, summer vacations can provide laughter, create fond memories, and help us to develop lifelong friendships. Lehman's story presents the reader with the all the excitement and adventure one would expect from a fun-filled resort vacation—from wonderful games of softball (walnut ball) to the friendly competition of swimming races.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, many of us can also relate to the moment when all the fun is washed away by tears brought on by an unkind word. Sammy Squirrel, the main character, experiences this sadness when a newcomer to Walnut Grove makes fun of his appearance. Sammy cries, but does not lash out at Bucky, thus presenting the first of Lehman's timeless lessons.
As the story progresses, Lehman continues to communicate to the reader how teasing effects everyone. Bucky, the beaver that teased Sammy, learns a valuable lesson in empathy when the teaser becomes the teased. This turn of events provides parents with a great opportunity to find teachable moments in their child's life. Usually, when one child teases another, there is a reason behind the unkind act. In Bucky's case, he didn't mean any harm when he made fun of Sammy; he merely wanted Sammy to strike out while he was at bat in the game of walnut ball. When Bucky is teased by another character in the story, Lehman guides the reader through the best way to solve the problem.
In the end, the animals are once again great friends enjoying their time together in Walnut Grove.
Adventures at Walnut Grove is a delightful story that is beautifully enhanced by watercolor illustrations.

Total Word Count: 878
Average word count per 2-page spread: 68
Extra Value: Provides valuable lesson on empathy and a reminder not to tease others

Dana Lehman’s series of books based on Walnut Grove can be found on Amazon and her website. Please check out the other exciting stories that take place in Walnut Grove.

The activities that I created to accompany this book are a terrific way to reinforce the skills of identifying differences in others and celebrating those differences.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION: Students will sort animal cards by a specified attribute. They will then select animals from at least two categories to create a new animal. They will create a verbal description of the newly created animal.
Grade Range: K-2nd
Time to complete: 30-45 minutes

Animal cards
Note cards with categories
Crayons, markers, watercolors, or colored pencils
1. Conduct a classroom discussion based on the following introduction—

Try to imagine a world where everything is the same. What if you had to eat the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day? What if everyone had the same type of pets? Bikes? Houses? Toys? Etc. Now try to imagine a world that is filled with variety. How would that world be different? Which world would you like to live in? Why?
2. Flip through the animals cards and discuss how the animals are different. (Size, shape, color, number of legs, type of skin, etc.)

3. Sort the animals by various attributes,  similar to the categories shown below.

4. Students will then choose 1 animal from each of the categories and create their own unique animal. They will then name their animal.

5. Write or verbally create a description of that animal.

The artwork for the Snabbit and Butterdog were generously created by Ali from Florida.

This activity addresses not only the skills of positively identifying our individualities, but it also provides a way to embrace those differences. It hurts when someone calls us names. By creating a unique animal based on individual preferences, and giving the animal a special name, this activity provides a gentle way to deal with teasing by others.
True Story: There was once a child that loved collecting rocks. He often came home from school with his pockets loaded with rocks of every shape, size, and color. Sadly, the boy was teased and called ‘Rocks and Minerals’. He was sad that his friends and classmates made fun of him because of his hobby. The boy had a wonderful science teacher that encouraged his passion for discovery and realized that her student was as unique as the rocks he collected.
When that boy grew up he went on a rock and fossil hunt near the Chesapeake Bay. While there, he discovered a rare type of whale fossil. That fossil, a whale from the Miocene era, now resides in a museum in Maryland.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION: Students will create an animal based on their personal preferences. They will then use that animal to compare with the animals created by others in the class.
Grade Range: 1-4
Time to complete: 30-45 minutes

Animal Printouts (provided)
Crayons, markers, or colored pencils

1. Prior to the activity, prepare an animal glyph based on your choices for the animal components.
Ask: Looking at the animal I created, and the key, what do you think is my favorite outdoor fun? Indoor fun? Helping fun?

Explain that the students are going to create their own animal, based on their favorite things to do.
2. Show the key to the students. Discuss the options for each category.

3. Give the animal printout and the key to the students.
4. Students will cut out the animal components based on their choices. They will then glue them to paper to create a unique animal

5. For the section entitled Indoor fun, instruct the students to draw their favorite item, cut it out, and add it to the paws of their animal. This addition will make their animal creations TRULY unique.
6. When the animal glyphs are completed, student will share their choices in small groups.
Hint: You can mix up the groups by having them find classmates with some similarities, some differences, or all differences. This is a wonderful opportunity to help select students for classroom chores.


*This giveaway will include a free copy of Adventures at Walnut Grove (Dana Lehman & Judy Lehman), as well as a $10 gift card for a future Amazon purchase. The registration will last from the posting of this blog post until midnight, October 7, 2013. One winner will be randomly selected from the entries. The books and treat will be shipped from Amazon within approximately 2 weeks following the close of the giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the United States with a United State’s mailing address. The winner’s name will be posted on the blog, unless the winner chooses not to have his/her name posted. To be considered for entry into this giveaway, the entrant’s email address must be submitted to the blog administrator.

This post was linked to the following blogs. Please check them out:

Mother Daughter Book Reviews dot Com

Kids Activities Blog dot Com

Living and Learning at Home dot Com

I Can Teach My Child dot Com

The Mom Maven dot Com


Congrats to the winners of the book and Amazon gift card: Amy, April, and William.

I will post the final winner's name when I receive confirmation from that winner.

Thank you to all of the entrants to this giveaway.



  1. What fun - Conway will have to get in my lap next time and see what he wants to do.

  2. Neat giveaway! I like how you have all the different activities to go along with the book. Thanks for linking it up to Trivium Tuesdays!

  3. Thanks for visiting this blog post. The theme of this book provided so many ideas for extension activities~it was easy to do and I had fun creating the glyph animals.

  4. This looks like so much fun! Really love the way you've organized everything to make this a fun and educational event. It's clear to see you love what you do. All the best

  5. Fantastic activity ideas! Thanks so much for sharing with the KLBH :)