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January MOSS Kids Book Club

And our January pick is...

Maribel's Year story by Michelle Sterling, art by Sarah Gonzales

January Pick -- Maribel's Year

We're excited to announce our first MOSS Kids Book Club pick of 2024!! Join us as we celebrate a special connection between father and daughter as we recount the year a little girl and her mother spend in America while waiting for her father to join them from the Philippines. New year, new country, new school, new friends. A lot can happen in a single year. But one thing's for certain: Maribel won't forget her Papa, even when he's 8,000 miles away. We'll start in January as we see Maribel navigate a new country, a new language, new traditions, making new memories. New foods & friendships. New experiences. All while writing letters to her Papa remembering all they had done together & looking forward to all they'd do once reunited. As the months pass & the seasons change, Maribel & her mom wait patiently as their new place finally becomes home.

Michelle Sterling os an author, photographer, & speech-language pathologist. Her first picture book, When Lola Visits, illustrated by Aaron Asis received four starred reviews and was named a Kirkus Best Book of the Year and an ALSC Notable Children's Book of the Year. Michelle lives with her family in Southern California, where she enjoys watching the sunlight stretch into long afternoons. Find her & her incredible blog here: Avery & Augustine. Keep scrolling to find out more about illustrator, Sarah Gonzales.

Below you will find our monthly craft; printable activity sheets; and our community outreach activity where we will be learning how to write a letter, address an envelope, & understand how the Post Office works. Don't forget to check out our wintery book list:

We really hope you enjoy this month of book club as we try to keep our nationwide book club free & accessible for all. Each book is intentionally handpicked with each activity and outreach curated to engage and enrich our youth's experiences. Through these diverse and inclusive reads, working and playing together, and giving back to their own community, we hope to instill empathy, understanding, & kindness in our kids. If you didn't receive a copy of the book, don't fret. Below is a reading of Maribel's Year, read by our co-founder, Kara Cecchi:


Let's Craft: we're making snowflakes with science!

Maribel's Year starts off in January, in snowy America. A place foreign to her. Seeing snow for the first time. The snowflakes illustrated throughout January (& in December at the end of the book) are beautiful & sparked creativity in us at MOSS Kids. We have created two different snowflake crafts this month to do based on your time & location. Both need time to dry. We suggest reading a book (or a few) from our wintery list.

craft 1: coffee filter snowflakes

This craft is more suited for teachers, who can incorporate their book club across two days, or families looking to do this at home with their kids. We're working on fine motor skills including pincer grasp/strength, writing, folding, & cutting. Also working on sequencing & following instructions when folding the coffee filter.


  • Coffee filter

  • Washable markers

  • Water

  • Eye droppers

  • Cookie sheets (or a washable container to contain the mess as we will be dropping water on the coffee filters)

  • Cardboard pieces (put those holiday boxes to go use & reuse for kids to take home if they're snowflake is still wet)


Easy: Allow child to color on coffee filter. Hand over hand assistance for using water dropper if necessary. Adult to cut.

Moderate: Allow child to color on coffee filter, use the water dropper, & fold the snowflake. Child may need some assistance with cutting.

Hard: Allow child to create independently.


  1. Gather materials.

  2. Allow child to draw design with washable markers on their coffee filter. We chose wintery colors (blues, purples, pinks) but allow kids to choose their own to create their own special snowflake. Kids can create patterns or free draw.

3. Use an eye dropper (or a small measuring spoon) to drip water onto the coffee filters. You want the entire coffee filter to be wet. Just make sure it's not "swimming" in a giant pool of water or it will take FOREVER to dry.

4. Drying: Leave them to dry. It took mine about 2 hrs to dry completely by the window. Teachers: you could leave them to dry overnight & finish the next day.

5. Once they are completely dry -- and it's important that they are completely dry, otherwise your fingers will get messy -- you can fold them into a triangle to make the snowflake pattern.

6. How to fold: Fold the coffee filter in half, 4x. This will give you a snowflake with 8 edges. Not scientifically accurate but much easier for kids to fold independently.

7. Next cut out the pieces from your folded coffee filters to make your snowflake. Open up to reveal a beautiful patten!

craft 2: Watercolor & Salt Snowflakes

There's two ways to do this craft -- an easier activity geared more towards younger kids & a little more advanced activity requiring more set-up & a little more messy. You will need the same materials for both crafts with the exception of liquid elmers glue, which you will need for the more advanced art.

Basic Watercolor & Salt Snowflakes:

This craft is working on our fine motor skills -- holding a crayon/paintbrush.

Perfect time to encourage a dynamic tripod grasp.


  • White watercolor paper -- you can use cardstock

  • White crayons

  • Watercolor paints / water

  • Paintbrush

  • Salt -- I would use courser salt that that you ensure the appropriate reaction


Easy: Pre-draw the snowflakes on the watercolor paper with a white crayon. Allow child to paint freely.

Moderate: Allow child to draw snowflakes, adult may need to go over their drawings with firmer pressure to assure it works. Child to finish independently.

Hard: Allow child to create independently.


  1. Gather materials. We cut our watercolor paper in fours, leaving each child with a small square. Each kid made multiple.

  2. Allow child to draw a few small-sized snowflakes on their watercolor square paper with white crayon. You may need to draw the snowflakes prior to starting the activity for younger children. Remind kids that they need to draw with firm pressure to make sure the activity actually works. Also, may need to remind kids that they won't be able to see their snowflakes right away. We had to remind our kids, multiple times.

  3. Once they are drawn, allow child to paint their watercolor paper with their watercolor paints. Be sure to paint the whole paper. Over top of the snowflakes, too! You will notice that the watercolors are repelled by the crayon, leaving their snowflakes white. We chose to use blues, purples, & pinks for our snowy escapes.

  4. While the paint is still wet, sprinkle a few grains of salt on top of the watercolors. Less is more. I mean seriously like one grain in each spot you plan to put one. The grains of salt act like little sponges. They soak up the paint that’s surrounding them so you end up with neat little frosty looking circles on your painting!

  5. When the painting is dry, brush away the grains of salt.

Advanced Watercolor & Salt Snowflakes:

This craft is working primarily on hand strength which promotes appropriate pencil grasp, scissor skills & activities of daily living (getting dressed, opening containers, etc). We will be working on sustained endurance while strengthening. Tracing works on visual motor control to stay on given line.


  • White cardstock (the thicker the better)

  • Elmer's Glue (liquid)

  • Table salt

  • Paintbrush

  • Watercolors (or you can use food coloring with a little bit of water, try not to dilute too much because you will lose the vibrancy)

  • Cookie Sheet -- or something to keep the salt contained

  • Printable snowflake template (see below)

Download PDF • 22KB


Easy: Hand over hand assistance throughout the craft.

Moderate: Allow child to create independently. Child may need assistance with squeezing the glue bottle & with pouring the salt.

Hard: Allow child to create independently.


  1. Gather materials. Print snowflake template.

  2. Trace snowflakes on template with liquid Elmer's glue. It doesn't need to be too thick. The thicker the glue is applied, the longer it will need to dry. After each snowflake is traced, pour table salt to cover the glue. Be liberal with your pours. You want to make sure all the glue is covered with the salt -- think of how we use glitter. If you miss a piece, the color wont run to that spot.

  3. Shake the excess off & save for the next kid to use.

  4. Now, you should have beautifully salted snowflakes.

  5. Allow glue/salt combo to dry a little bit before the magic!

  6. Choose your watercolor (or food coloring diluted with a little bit of water) & grab a paintbrush. Dip the paintbrush into the watercolor & then gently tap your salt with the paintbrush, the salt will soak up the watercolor from your brush and spread like magic!

  7. Keep painting until you've painted all of your snowflakes.

  8. Once you're done, let the painting dry. Be careful not to touch the salt or it may come off.

Remember: After you are done reading the book (if you received a copy from us!) & making your crafts, please have your kids sign the library card located in the front of the book (first names only!). Let's bring back a little bit of fun from our childhood. Also, please donate your book to your local public library, to your school library, or to a little free library in your area so more kids can enjoy a new diverse & inclusive read.


printable activity sheets:

Let's meet our incredible illustrator, Sarah Gonzales! Sarah is a Filipino Canadian illustrator based in Montreal. She was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Alberta. She has worked in games, editorial, & book illustration. Maribel's Year is her first picture book and the artwork is inspired by her childhood memories. Check out more of Sarah's art here: sgonzalesart.

This month we have printable sheets from our friends at Harper Kids! They have created an activity sheet to draw what each season looks like outside a window. There is also a coloring sheet encouraging kids to color Papa's handmade parols. The last activity ties perfectly with our community outreach activity -- learning to write a letter, just like Maribel & here Papa wrote to each other! This is the perfect supplement for a minute of peace in classrooms teacher friends.


Community Outreach:

This month's community outreach activity we're learning how to write/mail a letter and all about our local Post Office. Within our printable activity packet (see link above), you will find a letter writing template. Print one template for each child. Talk about who they would like to write their letter to -- a grandparent, a cousin, a friend. Discuss the format of a letter starting with a greeting with the recipients name, followed by their message, & ending with salutations and signing their name. Have each kid write as much of their own letter as they can. If they aren't writing just yet, have them draw their chosen recipient a picture. Have them fold it up & place into an envelope. Talk about addresses; how you need to write the recipient's mailing address on the envelope so they postal service knows who to deliver it to, how you need a return address, & most importantly that it needs a stamp! Then talk about your local post office. If you're able, this would be the perfect opportunity to talk a field trip to the post office. If you're not able, talk about mailboxes & how if you have a stamp on your letter & the flag up, your postal worker will take it to the post office for you. There is a great Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood episode "A Surprise for Dad" that talks all about writing a letter for a loved one & how the post office works. Not only is this a great opportunity for children to learn about the formatting of letter writing, it's a chance for children to know & meet working members of their community!

Check out our supplemental book list:

Please do not skip this activity. We truly believe this outreach activity is a vital part of childhood & an opportunity to raise kind kids. Teaching our youth who works within their community is necessary to raising the kind of kids that will help shape this society into something we are all proud of. It is vital that our youth understand the value of snail mail, a dying art of communicating with letters through the mail service!


YAY! Another MOSS Kids Book Club pick, craft, printable sheet, and community outreach activity. We would love to see when you receive your books and all the beautiful crafts your kids create. You do not need to share kid's faces. Please be sure to tag us on Instagram @mosskidsbooks & use #mosskidsbookclub. Sharing about MOSS Kids Book Club is a way for your community to learn more about what MOSS Kids has to offer & for them to know where they can find the book you're donating. By doing so, we can reach & help more kids across the country. We'd also love to hear any feedback you may have, please email us at We appreciate you all so much for taking the initiative to bring kids together to read diverse books & hopefully learn vital life skills to help make our world a better place.

did you miss out on a chance at the book this month & want to sign up for next month?

All you need to do is fill out the google doc below & you'll be entered to win next month's book. TEN lucky winners will receive a copy for their book club to read together that month & then donate to their local school library, public library, or a little free library in their area!


Don't Forget: We Have Local moss kids book club locations in eastern north Carolina!!

Saturday, 1/13: MOSS Kids Book Club at Books and Beans in Rocky Mount at 10am

Monday, 1/22: MOSS Kids Book Club at Wilson County Public Library in Wilson at 430pm

Sunday, 1/28: MOSS Kids Book Club at Larema Coffee House in Rocky Mount at 2pm

*we're currently working on transitioning our Tarboro location to their local library!*

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