The GraciePress Newsletter

By J.R. Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The GraciePress Newsletter - “PeeP!” - Chapter 3 - “The Big Scary Thing”

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The GraciePress Newsletter - “PeeP!” - Chapter 3 - “The Big Scary Thing”
A huge welcome to all of our new readers! We are so happy to have you joining our adventures!
We are excited about this next chapter which concludes the first section of PeeP! There are three more sections to go! This chapter tells about how Gracie faced The Big Scary Thing. After she did, she was able to do what her heart wanted to do more than anything.
Even though she was very small, she still had courage to take a leap of faith and believe for the best. Gracie doesn’t give up. She always has hope.

A curious thing happened one early afternoon. It was the first time the baby chicks had a chance to play outside their brooder box on the sunroom floor. They needed to understand there was a much bigger world waiting for them once they were old enough to leave the warm safety of the brooder box.
Since I didn’t want to chase fourteen excited baby chicks around in every direction, they had their playtime in small groups rather than all at once. But I did try to keep those who seemed like best friends together.
They all had a turn to explore and play. Lefty probably had more than one turn, but he would not have been Lefty if he hadn’t tried. Bessie and Gracie were last, and I made sure it was just the two of them because of how timid Gracie was about protecting her side.
When I placed them down on the floor, they looked around, but they didn’t start discovering new things like the others had done. Instead, they stayed in one spot and looked up at my knees.
They peeped and cheeped back and forth as if they were discussing something very important. Bessie did most of the peeping and cheeping, and then she gently nudged Gracie towards me.
Gracie walked over to me, one slow and hesitant step at a time. I was sure she would run back to Bessie if I moved even the least little bit.
She took a deep breath, and her little body trembled for a moment as she looked all the way up at my belt.
Bessie said a long string of peeps and cheeps quite sternly. If I had understood at the time, I would have known she had told Gracie, “When your heart is full of love, there is no place for fear. Don’t be afraid of The Big Scary Thing.”
Gracie looked all the way up and up at my chin.
“PeeP! CheeP!” she said.
She looked back at Bessie to see if she had said whatever she was supposed to say correctly.
She must have because Bessie peeped back at her happily and gave her several big wing flaps as a sign of approval.
Gracie looked at me and all the way up and up and up into my eyes. I was sure she would fall over backwards at any moment.
“PeeP? CheeP?” she asked.
She waited politely for me to answer, never taking her eyes off mine.
“You must have something very important on your mind,” I said, “But I don’t understand what that is. Maybe it would help if you hopped up onto my shoe and showed me when you told me.”
And that is exactly what she did. She hopped right up onto my shoe, the shoe of The Big Scary Thing.
“PeeP! CheeP!” she said and then stood on her little toes and spread out her wings.
“PeeP? CheeP?”
Whatever “PeeP? CheeP?” meant, it was important to her even though I didn’t understand.
Maybe she wanted to know if they were allowed to play in the big room with the warm afternoon sunlight streaming across the floor.
“Yes,” I said. “Here you can do anything your heart dreams.”
They both must have understood me because their eyes sparkled with joy. Gracie began to run and leap back and forth in front of me, and then Bessie copied what she was doing. Whatever I had agreed to had delighted them, and that delighted me in a most unexpected way.
It would be several more months before I would learn how to listen with my heart, but it was something they had known how to do from the day they hatched. They had understood me perfectly.
These two were different, and I wondered why. None of the other baby chicks had acted this way when they had their turns at playing in the sunroom.
Some of them would try to find things to hop up onto. Others would look for things to hide under and explore inside. None spoke directly to me, only this one that The Sales Clerk had dismissed as not quite good enough.
Back and forth they went and then around and around. As I sat and watched, they would chatter together and then run and leap some more. Occasionally, they would look up at me and cheep happily.
I wondered if they wanted me to join them in whatever game it was they were playing, and I probably would have if I could have. But my feet are too big and too clumsy, and it was more fun simply watching the two of them.
Gracie did not seem to be troubled about the lump on her side when she was playing with Bessie. It did not prevent her from doing whatever it was she had told me she wanted to do more than anything else. There on the sunroom floor with her best friend, she was free to be herself and to do whatever her heart desired.
“Little girls, it’s time to join the others,” I said at last when they seemed exhausted from their running and leaping.
“You probably need something to eat and drink after all this exercise. But you can play again tomorrow and the day after and the day after that one too.”
Gracie spread out her first tiny tail feathers and did what looked amazingly like a ballerina curtsy.
“One day when you are dancing on the grandest stage in all of Paris, I hope you will remember that your first stage was my shoe.”
She stood on her tiny toes and nodded as if to promise that she would. Then she hurried over to where Bessie was waiting, and I gently scooped them up together and return them to the brooder box.
And so, The Big Scary Thing was scary no more.
Note for parents and teachers
The three questions above correspond with three levels of comprehension. If a child is reading the chapter, then it’s reading comprehension. If a child is being read to, then it’s listening comprehension.
There are other ways of categorizing comprehension, but this is the simplest way to look at it.
The first is literal comprehension which is about what is right there.
The second is interpretive comprehension which is about what is between the lines.
The third is applied comprehension which is about what is beyond the lines.
We picked up a toy xylophone from The Thrift Store. It’s one of the few instruments Gracie and Bessie can play. They don’t need to use the little mallet that came with it. They just peck the notes with their beaks!
You might have a different kind of instrument like a piano or keyboard, but you might not have any musical instruments at all. That doesn’t mean you can’t practice listening for high and low sounds.
This week we have an activity to share with you that is very inexpensive, and you can might be able to make with old things in your own house.
Steps for making a musical wind chime
Step 1: Gather all of your materials. We found everything we needed at The Thrift Store. We found an old small white basket that might have held Easter treats and some old mismatched metal spoons and forks of different sizes. (Those work best.)
Step 2: Cut a piece of thin string to hold each spoon and fork. If you have 8 spoons and forks, you will need eight strings. They should all be about the same length. 12 inches long seemed to work well for us. (Remember some of it will be used for tying knots.)
Step 3: Tie one end of each piece of thin string to the bottom of the basket. When you hold up the basket, the strings should hang down. You can always adjust these and make some a little shorter if you want.
Step 4: Tie the other end of each piece of thin string to a spoon or fork. When you hold up the basket, the strings should hand down and hold the spoons and forks.
Step 5: Test your wind chime to make sure that the spoons and forks are not too close and not too far apart. You should hear nice musical notes. Then decorate! This was our favorite part when we made ours. The basket from The Thrift Store already had some beads, but not enough. You can decorate any way you want!
Extra ideas
Hang Your Wind Chime: The basket handle is a great way to hang your wind chime inside or outside. If you have decorations that might be ruined by rain or bad weather, you may want to bring it inside.
Think About Turning the Basket into a Bird Feeder: What can you design to go inside the basket that might hold seeds for the wild birds that visit your yard? You will probably need something that will keep the seeds from falling through. We are going to try it this weekend!
Discover What Can Change the Sounds: Think about some things you can change that might change the sounds your wind chime makes. Do forks and spoons make the same sound? Do big spoons make a different sound than small spoons? Think up lots of different questions to make The Best Wind Chimes Ever!
Notes for parents and teachers
This last idea is a good way to introduce something called the scientific process. If that sounds too complicated, just call it an experiment!
An experiment begins with a question. It could be as simple as the one above about big and small spoons.
Here is a science experiment way of saying it: How does the size of a spoon affect the sound it makes?
It has a hypothesis. That is a big word that just means your best guess. Maybe you think it doesn’t matter. Your best guess is just a guess. You do not have to guess right! You just have to make a guess.
Then you do your experiment. For this question, you might tie different sized spoons when you make a wind chime.
In an experiment, you keep everything the same except for one thing, and that one thing is the size of the spoons. So you would want to keep every thing the same like the length of the string and the way you tie the knots. These things are called the controlled variables.
The one thing you change is called an independent variable. For our example question, you change the size of the spoons. Big spoons. Little spoons. Medium-sized spoons.
Then you test your hypothesis an experimental process that uses the same steps for each one you are testing.
Fun Fact: You have probably been doing scientific process all of your life! Question: How does the amount of ketchup on a French fry affect its taste? Hypothesis: I think the more ketchup that is on the French fry, the worse it will taste! Controlled variables: freshness of French fries, temperature of French fries. Independent variable: amount of ketchup from none to overloaded with ketchup! Experimental process: Dip and eat! Dip some more and eat! Dip even more and eat!
It’s not so important that you know these words right away. It is more important that you know how ask questions and find answers!
PeeP! Activities Page: GraciePress
Next Week: Chapter 4 - A World Full of Wonders
Please feel free to share and forward this newsletter to others who might be interested. Chickens are really big fans of sharing!
Thank you for reading!
Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia
Did you enjoy this issue?
J.R. Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The GraciePress Newsletter brings you the latest news, stories, illustrations, special offers, and free gifts from Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia. They are the inspiration behind all of the books published under The GraciePress imprint.

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From A Small Backyard Garden and A Most Wondrous Place in Portsmouth, Virginia