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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Moment with Martha , Author of Three Children's Books

The holder of a Bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from Clemson University and a master’s from the University of Maryland in Kinesiology, Ms. Martha Swirzinski has more than 20 years of experience working in the field of movement with children.

“More and more research is being developed about the rise of obesity in children,” notes Ms. Swirzinski, who teaches movement education in a local pre-school and offers teacher training workshops and customized consultations. At the same time, numerous studies continue to link increased brain function and movement, she explains. “Being active grows new brain cells!”

Ms. Swirzinski believes that every child should be afforded structured movement opportunities every day to promote an active, healthy lifestyle and become part of a lifelong regime.

It is along this vein that Ms. Swirzinski has published three children’s books focused on movement. Using entertaining rhymes and charming pictures, these developmentally based books offer fun and creative ways for children to move while also providing mind stimulating activities on each page. By following the suggested activities, children can engage in 30-60 minutes of their recommended structured daily movement, as well as enhancing other mind/body skills. Designed to be enjoyed again and again, the pages of these books are filled with laughter, learning, movement and more.

Martha’s books are: “Leap… Laugh… Plop,” “Guess… Giggle… Wiggle,” and “Kick… Catch… Buzz”

Let’s take a moment and get to know more about this fun author.

What do you love most about working with young children?
They hug and give compliments and “always say the darndest things.”

What is most challenging about being a pre-school teacher?
Saying “Goodbye” at the end of the year.

What do you enjoy most about writing children’s books?
I enjoy being creative and imagining the joy the children will experience when reading them.

What is the best way to engage children in story time?
 I believe in getting them to be part of the story. My books get children engaged by moving along to the rhymes but moving can be done with any book.

What other writing genre’s interest you?
 Mystery, Nonfiction based on my field of study (childhood development), Historical fiction

If a snapshot was taken of you enjoying a perfect day, what would it look like?
On the beach with my family.

Favorite gadget:
Heart shaped waffle maker

Favorite movie(s):
Christmas movies

The book(s) on your nightstand:
The Bible, The Developing Brain by Marilee Sprenger, Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (I’m reading this to my girls. They’ve decided to write a paper on the differences between the book and the movie. It’s been fun finding them.) Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Describe yourself in two words:
Adventurous and Kind

Comfort food:
Fried shrimp and grits
Your secret skill:
Making healthy food fun for my children.

What is your favorite word and why?
Serendipitous because I believe we should all be open to these kinds of moments.
What is your least favorite word and why?
Can’t because I believe the moment that it comes out of your mouth you are defeated.

What is your personal motto?
 "A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.” Winnie the Pooh

Any tips for parents and their children?

Safety Tips
Whether we play inside or we play out of doors,
We want to play safely and protect the ones we adore.

1. Teach children about personal space. Have each child extend their arms to the side and turn slowly in a complete circle. Make sure the arms of one child do not touch the arms of another child.
2. Use the concept of freeze. Play areas are often noisy so use your outside voice and yell freeze. Teach the children that when they hear the word freeze they immediately hold the pose that they are in. You can then have them sit down and regain their personal space.
3. Be sure that the proper fitting safety gear is worn for the activity.

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking water is important when children are exercising, especially when it is hot. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 10 ounces every 15 – 20 minutes.

Tips to Keep Children Active:
Use Outside as your Play Room
· Take a nature hike – name the colors you see, pick up trash for a more pleasant environment, count different types of plants, move like the animals you see.

· Visit a pick your own berry farm

· Play at a neighborhood park

· Ride bikes

· Walk the dog together or just take a walk as a family

· Teach your child how to plant a garden

· Dig for worms and roly poly animals

· Draw on the sidewalk with chalk

Find out what your child likes to do:

· Read- take a walk to the library, pick books that encourage movement throughout the story.

· Draw – draw people being active and act out what they are doing

· Play- Try some of the classic games like Red Rover, Red Light/Green Light, Hopscotch, Tag, Charades, or 4 Square.

· Climb – a tree, a rope, a rock wall

· Dance- turn on the music and DANCE!! No one is watching so be silly and have fun!

Set a positive example:

· Park farther from store entrances

· Take the stairs

· When you go to the park with your child be active with them and have fun playing.

· Eat healthy snacks and meals

· Drinks lots of water

· Take your children places that encourage walking: Zoo, botanical gardens, beach, museums, and parks.

Learn more about Martha at  and Also find her on Facebook at

The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using this little green retweet widget :


Vivian Zabel said...

I like how your books are actionword titles, Martha.

Interesting post.


Unknown said...

Great tips for parents, Martha.

I enjoyed learning your favorites, etc.

Unknown said...

I sure wish these books had been around when my girls were younger. They would have LOVED them! There's still time for my niece though!

Magdalena Ball said...

My favourite word is serendipity too! Your tips for keeping children active are excellent ones (and have the extra benefit of bringing parents and children closer). I'm curious though about what "roly poly animals" are!

Nancy Famolari said...

I think the idea of your books is great. Children, and oldsters too, need to be active. Great post!

Martha said...

Thanks Carolyn for having me today.
Mari, One of the reasons I wrote the books is I saw how teachers and parents expect children to remain still for stories. Not all children can stay still for long periods of time. So, I wrote books where movement is encouraged. Funny, how instead of being "out of control" (like most teachers fear) the students are more focused during and after the story time.

Margaret Fieland said...

The books sound charming. My youngest son could REALLY have used these when he was little. You're only about 20 years too late for him ...

Karen Cioffi said...

Great tips for kids' safety, Martha. And, I love the reading and movement book concept. With tv, video games taking so much of kids' time, even young children, they definitely need movement!

Heidiwriter said...

I always enjoy reading interviews with you--you are an inspiration! Love the book titles!

Debra Eckerling said...

What fun questions! Thanks for the great interview. Really enjoyed it.

Holly Weiss said...

Great ideas and questions. Thank you for giving me ideas for when my grandkids come to visit.Yes, movement! Then they get tired and can take a nap and so can grandmom. Very original.
Thank you for these great tips.
Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont