Too Darn Cute

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Written and Illustrated by Keith Baker

From acrobats, artists, and astronauts all the way to zoologists, the little green peas in this story introduce themselves one letter at a time. The big, bright letters on each page are accompanied by cute round peas with arms, legs, and costumes that show us what they do best. It's filled with alliteration (which I love!) and great rhyming and rhythm that bounces through the pages.

This is a unique book that shows off some words you don't find in a typical ABC book for children - words like electricians, investigators, and parachutists. There is a wide variety of jobs, hobbies, and interests included, so everyone can find something with which they identify. It's snappy, fun to read, and more interesting than many of the other ABC books I have read to my little guy. Though he's not quite old enough to recite his ABCs yet, it won't be long until he can appreciate this one more fully!

Fun Fact! I learned a new word while looking up some info and pictures for this book! It's a cool one too: An abecedarian (noun, pronounced ay-bee-see-dair-ee-uhn) is a person who is learning the alphabet, or a beginner in any field of learning. It can also be an adjective describing something pertaining to the alphabet or something arranged in alphabetical order. For example, "This abecedarian book shows little green peas doing a variety of jobs to help abecedarians practice each letter of the alphabet."

This would be a great story to share with a classroom! Although its target audience is probably the younger grades, I had a few fun ideas for activities to help you use it in both younger and older elementary grades that I think all will enjoy.

First Day of School (older grades)
After introducing themselves, the story ends with the peas asking, "Who are you?" I was always looking for fun new ways to get students to introduce themselves during the first week of school. I love that the peas in this story introduce so many different roles. There are very specialized occupations like farmers and vets, but there are also many everyday activities, like listeners and readers, that many of us would use to describe ourselves. It would be so fun to see what the kids could come up with to describe themselves. Ask them to list the alphabet vertically on a piece of paper and give them enough time to think through each letter of the alphabet and come up with at least one role for each letter that describes them. They can be as serious as "painters" or as silly as "gigglers." Encourage them to be creative!

Jobs (younger grades)
Younger elementary grades often spend time discussing different roles of members in a community. In Utah, I know first graders identify roles of people in school and in the neighborhood. LMNO Peas can be a fun book to use in a lesson about identifying jobs. As you reread the story with the class, ask them which of these roles they can find in school? Which can be found in their community? Are any of them found in both? You could also make a class list of jobs not included in the book. I'm sure the students will have lots of ideas to contribute to your list.

Career Day
If you have a career day in your classroom, this would be a great story to share with them on that day or as an introduction to the special day. Invite students to dress up in the "uniform" of whatever they want to be when they grow up. Each student could draw his own picture of a pea as someone that he wants to become (or assign each student a different letter of the alphabet and ask them to illustrate one job for that letter). I love the diversity of jobs in the book and the idea of exposing students to careers they've never considered.

If you enjoy this one, be sure to check out Baker's other pea-inspired stories, 1-2-3 Peas (all about numbers) and Little Green Peas (all about colors).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day Cupcakes

Though I'm hardly a prankster, I definitely enjoy a well-played joke every once in a while. April Fool's Day can be a fun day to plan and carry out such a prank. One of my favorite memories of growing up is an April Fool's Day when I taped the sink sprayer "on" so that when someone turned the sink on, it would spray water all over them. My Dad thought it was pretty hilarious, too... And there was the classic prank I think someone in my family tried every year where you put a few drops of food coloring on a new stick of gum and let it dry. After carefully putting it back its foil wrapper, you casually offer your victim a stick of gum. When they start to chew it up (if they don't notice the drops of dye), their unsuspecting mouth would soon turn blue! Oh, those were good times.

I'm excited to start trying silly little pranks on my kids, but my little one is still too young to appreciate the humor. So instead, last year I pulled this one on my husband. I don't think he minded too much.

I also made these adorable TV Dinner cupcakes! We put a bunch in a big pot, put the lid on, and went to "deliver dinner" to a few of our friends. We told them there was a sign-up sheet passed around church that week to bring them dinner (which is often done for new mothers or other families in need of a meal, so it was plausible). It was so funny to watch their reactions of confusion or panic as they had already started to get dinner ready for the night. Ha! My husband is not a very good liar, so I got to do most of the talking...

They were really fun to make and only need a few special ingredients. A few notes:

  • The "Peas and Carrots" cupcake looks best if you cover it completely (instead of leaving spaces in between the candies like I did). I used cut up orange Starburst for the carrots and green skittles for the peas. It's really hard to get enough green skittles to cover several cupcakes because there are only so many in a package. You could also use runts, M&Ms, or any other green hard candy.
  • The "Mashed Potato" cupcake is probably my favorite. It's just white frosting piled high with a small well on the top. Drizzle caramel sauce on top for the gravy and plop a yellow Starburst in the middle as a pat of butter. Although it looks a little chewed, the secret to the butter is putting the Starburst in the microwave for a few seconds to soften up the corners a bit. Isn't it so cute?
  • The "Chicken Leg" cupcakes take a little more work because you have to make the bones out of melted white chocolate, form it into a bone shape on wax paper, and stick them in the freezer for a few minutes. The cupcake is yummy covered in frosting and dipped in crushed up graham cracker crumbs.
  • The "Dessert" cupcake is pretty self-explanatory. And very delicious. 

Did you pull any pranks this year? What are some of your favorite ones from past years? I'm always looking for fun new ideas to try!

Inspiration from Our Best Bites and Delectable Edibles: Check out their websites for more instructions and pictures. They also have some cute ideas for other foody cupcakes (I LOVE the spaghetti and meatballs!).