Listen. If you’ve never read Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, rush out right now and get a copy and read it with your littles. Seriously, I tear up every time I read it. Make the world more beautiful. That’s what Miss Rumphius does, and that is the lesson here. Leave the world a more beautiful place than it was when you came into it.
Yeah yeah. That.
But this book also celebrates having a life plan, learning through travel, and planting seeds. Not just seeds in the ground, but seeds of ideas. Since this is the season for planting, I thought it would be a good time to have some fun with Miss Rumphius and your littles.
Miss Rumphius Activities
In this story, children’s elders tell them tales of the past. I think it provides a wonderful opportunity for your little to interview a grandparent or other older family member and hear about the things they have done and the history they have lived through. Have your child come up with a list of questions, conduct the interview, then write a short essay incorporating the answers. You never know, you might discover a budding journalist.
A simpler activity would be to have your little create a list of ways he or she could make the world a better place. Planting flowers and trees is a good start. But maybe your little has some really cool way of making the world beautiful that we never considered.
Here’s a free How I Would Make the World More Beautiful download with a space to make a list and a couple of pages on which to write an essay about the list.
The very best science project you can do with your littles for this book is, of course, to grow some lupine seeds. If, for some reason, you can’t get your hands on lupines, find another flower seed. The point is in the growing. Get a small pot to put in the classroom or kitchen window, and plant some of your seeds in it. That way your little can see every day how her lupine is growing. Go to my Free Printables and pick up a copy of the plant diary download or the garden planning pages so she can keep track of her lupines. If you really want to make this fun, combine your science with your craft and make your seed pot pretty before you ever plant anything in it.
Lupines on a Terra Cotta Pot
What you need:
- Terra Cotta Pot in chosen size
- Craft paint in 2-3 shades of blue and/or purple
- Green paint
- 4-6 Q-tips
What you do:
- With the tip of a Q-tip, paint stems onto your pot. We chose to do a bouquet of 3 lupines; you can do as many as you want. Make sure the stems are long because they form the base for your flowers
- Using a different Q-tip for each color, dip the tip into the paint and dab it onto the pot, making circular ‘flower petals’ along each stem.
- Allow to dry.
- While flowers are drying, add leaves to the bottoms of the stems.
- Once dry, add new ‘petals’ to the flowers, putting them in slightly different places than the original petals.
- Allow to dry.
- Clear coat if you want–it will make it last longer, especially if you intend to use your pot outside.
This book practically screams for a tea party. Or maybe it’s just that I’m on a bit of a tea party kick this week.
A flowery tea is perfect to celebrate Miss Rumphius, and Chamomile would work quite well (plus, it’s Littlest’s favorite).
Bake some sugar cookies to go with your tea and decorate them much the way you did your terra cotta pot. Only use icing, not paint. Because Ewwww.
Also, make Seed Cakes
Because seeds. And Bilbo. Which has nothing to do with this book, but is one of the best books of all time and that makes anything in it cool. Way cool. Cool to the Nth degree.
What you need:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp caraway seed
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Grease and flour a bread pan
- Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl (don’t skip the sifting–that’s the fun part)
- In a mixer, cream butter and sugar
- Mix caraway seeds into sugar mixture
- Add egg to sugar mixture and mix thoroughly
- Add flour and milk, mixing well
- Pour into bread pan
- Bake 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
What an absolutely fun tea party to go with a fabulous book! What are you waiting for? Go enjoy it. On a blanket outside. Because it’s nice out today.