Cook with Books: America the Beautiful: Together We Stand

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America the Beautiful

With Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day all so close together, this is a great time of year for a patriotic book like America the Beautiful: Together We Stand.  This book is a unique combination of the lyrics of “America the Beautiful” with illustrations by some of the best children’s book illustrators and quotes by a variety of presidents.  Pair it with a patriotic dessert, and you’ve got a great way to spend a summer afternoon!

America the Beautiful

2We decided to make a pound cake with whipped cream and fruit!

4Make your pound cake (see directions below) and once it has cooled, slice it up and cover the bottom of your dish.

5Cover the cake with whipped cream.

6Then you can use fruit (we used blueberries and strawberries) to make your cake into a flag!

Here’s a simple recipe for a delicious pound cake!


  • 2 cups butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2/3 cups milk


  1. Grease three 8×4 inch loaf pans.
  2. Mix butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  4. Alternate flour and milk until everything is mixed in.
  5. Divide the batter into the three pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes.


Cook with Books Pinterest Board

July Making the Days Count Activity Calendar

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I see a theme for July . . . National Ice Cream Month . . . Chocolate Day (chocolate ice cream, anyone?) . . . and Cow Appreciation Day (Where do you think all that milk comes from?)!  Three great topics to study all rolled into one yummy month!

July also hosts these delicious days:

  • Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day on July 1st
  • National Strawberry Sundae Day on July 7th
  • National Sugar Cookie Day on July 9th (Cookies shaped like ice cream cones? Yes!)
  • Peach Ice Cream Day on July 17th
  • National Ice Cream DAY on July 20th
  • Vanilla Ice Cream Day on July 23rd

I really, really expect you to feed your kids ice cream at least once in July.

Of course, you can make a lot of memories without all the sugary sweetness. Just click on the calendar for ideas to make your July Days count!

July 2014 Homeschool Activity Calendar

The Matchbox Diary

Sometimes kids seem to think of history as a dry, boring subject, but by telling the personal story of one person, Paul Fleischman brings the past to life in The Matchbox Diary.  In this story, a girl is visiting her great-grandfather for the first time.  He shares his matchbox diary–started because he promised his grandmother he would not forget her or his old life in Italy–to tell her about his life’s story.  Held in a large cigar box, the many matchboxes each contain a tiny memento to help him remember important events in his life.

cook with books

The first boxes tell of the young boy’s life in Italy, where they were very poor.  One box contains an olive pit, which is what his mother would give him to suck on when he was hungry and they had no food.  There is also a picture of his father, who went to America to work and save money to bring his family over.  The father couldn’t read or write, so he had to hire someone to write his letters home for him, and when the letters arrived, the family had to find someone to read them for them.

The next set of boxes held items from the family’s ocean passage to America.  There is a hat pin found on board and a Saint Christopher’s medal like the ones many people threw into the sea when the waters became rough.  He also has a box full of nineteen sunflower seeds–one for each day he was on the ship.

When the family reached America they still had a difficult life.  The items he collected included a fish bone (for the job in a cannery) and newspaper scraps (to help him remember all the different places the family lived).  There’s a tooth lost when some boys who didn’t like immigrants threw rocks at the family, but there are happy memories, too, like the baseball ticket to the game he enjoyed with his father.

Ultimately, the young boy learned to read and write and got a job as a typesetter (and a box of the lead letters they used) and made a good life in America.  He owned a bookshop and then sold antiques, jobs he says he was good at from his years of looking for items to collect for his diary.  As he shares the little boxes with his great-granddaughter, she realizes that she would like to have her own matchbox diary, and the final picture shows her plane ride home, placing tiny pilot wings into a candy box and continuing the tradition.

Bagram Ibatoulline’s paintings for The Matchbox Diary are beautiful.  The pictures of the grandfather and the little girl are done in rich, warm colors that create a cozy feeling.  On many of the pages that show the boxes and their contents, one page shows the box and the item and the opposite page shows a black and white scene from the past that goes along with the grandfather’s story.  The pictures are so detailed that some of them almost look like photographs.

I liked that in telling one person’s story, Fleischman gives a good, broad picture of a specific time period.  This would be a great book to include as part of a unit on immigration or early 20th century history.  I also like the way he makes keeping a record–and really, telling a story–accessible to kids who can’t yet read or write.  Sometimes little ones get so hung up on all they things they can’t do yet that they don’t realize what they can do!

The Matchbox Diary is a wonderful book to share with your kids and may even be the start of some matchbox diaries at your house!


June Grand Giveaway — NaturExplorers

june giveaway

Our awesome giveaway for June is NaturExplorers from Shining Dawn Books!

One winner will receive BOTH the Early Summer Bundle and the Late Summer Bundle. The bundles include these products:


Shining Dawn Books Giveaway!

Shining Dawn Books Giveaway!


Use the Coupon Code: HSSJUNE  through June 30, 2014 to purchase Incredible Creeks for just $5! ($3.95 savings)

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below! U.S. residents age 18 and older only please.

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