Monday, September 8, 2008

The Siblings' Busy Book

We have been enjoying our copy of this book - for one of our first big "school" activities, we're making a Tree Book, in which we go out, find some interesting trees, take bark rubbings and a leaf from each, identify each and then turn them into a book.

From Summer 2008

When children create their own books, they have such a sense of ownership, not just of the book itself but of the knowledge gained through the creation (in this case, about trees). This activity is just one of many in Heather Kempskie and Lisa Hanson's excellent, fun book.

From Summer 2008

Recently, I had the chance to interview Heather and Lisa for this blog; here're my questions and their answers.

1)How did you come up with the idea for this book?

Lisa: Quite simply we were both living in a situation that called for a book just like this. We had both recently given birth to our second children, so there we were with two toddlers to love and entertain and two newborns that needed us as well. As we were poring through books that gave suggestions on how to play and what to do with each age group, we had an epiphany. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have one book that gave ideas for kids of different ages to do together? We decided in that moment (with children climbing all over us) that we should write it! Our goal was from the very start was to support parents, engage children and to help families foster sibling bonds!

2)What are your favorite activities (if you had to choose) in the book?

Heather: That's a tough one to answer. But if forced to, I would say we really loved writing and trying activities in the Team Family and World Family chapters.In very simple ways, the activities in Team Family teach profound lessons when it comes to being a family. To us, that means taking care of each other (Get Well Basket has kids designing a fun basket of goodies for a sibling who is not feeling well); helping one another (Helping Hands activity where a board of hand-cut outs recognizes moments where siblings cooperate and help each other) and celebrating the fact that each person plays a special role in their family (Show and Tell Me is a sort of Show and Tell where family members get to share something special with each other). Where Team Family focuses on the family unit, World Family challenges kids to look beyond to the greater world and the part they play in it. From making bird havens to organizing a charity donation, children can work together to make a difference. It doesn't get better than that! The real cool part is that there is an activity for every occasion, mood, timeframe and even weather pattern. With 200 activities, we're hoping families will find some of their own favorites!

3)Did you do any of these activities as children?

Lisa: Absolutely. We look back at our childhood and are completely impressed with our parents, first of all for the whole raising twins thing but also how they managed to give us a great mixture of imaginative play and structured learning opportunities. The Let's Pretend chapter in our book was pretty much our summer time play as children. The kids in our neighborhhood were non-stop with pretend school houses, post offices, hair salons and more.
Also, Heather and I were masters of the 5 minute scrambled eggs!

4)This book seems like it would be extremely useful to homeschoolers, because the activities are for siblings of all ages; would you talk a bit about your hopes for how parents might use it? (I mean homeschoolers and parents of schooled children alike)

Lisa: A wise man once said, "We can teach our children to have courage, faith, and endurance and show them how to learn, and they can teach us to laugh, to sing, and to love." In other words, each family member has valuable lessons to teach the family. ~ Pamela Connolly

While writing, we did research using many settings that multi-age children are a part of. We designed each of the 200 activities to be done together as a family unit with high detail being paid to the developmental stages of each child participating. We wanted it to be simple for a parent/teacher to facilitate and for each child to be active at their own level of learning.

Our hopes is that the book is used in any way that is right for each family or childcare setting. We hope it is handy for the parent that is packing for a long road trip or on the counter for a parent that needs to cook dinner and wants to involve her children. We are hoping that whether a child is being home-schooled or learning outside the home that parents use the book to reinforce what is happening in lessons or even use to begin their own unit. In short, there are so many ways that The Siblings' Busy Book can support a love of learning.

5)Could you tell what the process of getting a book published was like for you two? The nuts-and-bolts, but also, what was it like to juggle family, work, and writing?

Heather: It was an amazing process. At first, we had to be our own self-motivators which was easy because we really believed in the idea. We just had to convince a publisher to believe in it too. Lisa immediately launched into writing activities and I took on the book proposal component. Our roles on the project came naturally. We live next door to each other so it was fairly easy to get together. We worked independently for the most part but as the process continued we'd meet during naptimes or escape for a few hours during weeknight and weekends. Our husbands were very supportive! Once Meadowbrook decided to publish the book, work began in earnest. To balance family and our own work schedules, we had a set schedule every week: Lisa would write a set amount of activities; I would edit/complete them; our husbands would review them; we'd test them and on and on. There were definately some exhausting stretches. We took breaks when we could and we always remembered to enjoy the journey. There was nothing a little laugh couldn't cure. We couldn't have done it without our husbands and kids. We look back now and wonder how we did it all. But don't all moms wonder the same thing?

6)Is there anything you'd like to say about either the book, or about parenting, or being twins, or life in general?

Heather: We started writing this book for parents. We wanted to share simple ways to entertain and engage kids of different ages. But as we continued the process we realized that this book really benefits children too. The sibling relationship is the most significant relationship any of us will ever have. Before you panic, I say that because it's the longest any of us will ever have. We meet our spouses later in life and we outlive our parents. At a young age this relationship is especially important. When they play and interact they are learning valuable life lessons. Lessons such as, how to socialize, negotiate, stand up for themselves, and find their strengths and weaknesses. It's lessons that will serve them over their lifetimes.

From Summer 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I Love it!!!!!!!!!!! Max