Activity Book Nonsense – New Album and Interview with comedy musician Mike Phirman

Do you like to say the words, Activity Books? Do you like all the puzzles and games found in Activity Books? Then you’ll love comedy musician Mike Phirman‘s new album titled, “Activity Books“. In this episode you’ll get to hear one of the songs from his new EP, “Word Search/Vacuum”, featuring the voice of Weird Al Yankovich; you’ll also get to hear our funny and fabulous interview with Mike about how he became famous and about his unfortunate experience with a vacuum; and, you’ll hear from two Buttons & Figs kids, Olivia and Sophia, who were inspired to make a word search of their own (see below)!


New episode featuring Mike Phirman and a song from his new album

You can learn more about Mike Phirman’s work and find all the ways to purchase the Activity Books EP at his website: mikephirman.com

Be sure to subscribe to Mike Phirman’s YouTube Channel to see these and all of his wacky videos, including the connect-the-dots project he mentioned in the episode!


A few of our Buttons & Figs kids were inspired to create their own word search activity after listening to this fabulous album. Click on the image to print and do the word search!

Olivia’s Wild Word Search
Sophia’s Word Search

Great kids podcast created by Drennon Davis & Mike Phirman

Thanks for this episodes go out to Buttons & Figs kids Olivia, Sophia and friends, Beth Blenz-Clucas at Sugar Mountain PR, UofA Librarian Intern Anna Ferguson and comedy musician Mike Phirman.

Word Search/Vacuum and song excerpts from the Activity Books album used with permission from the artist.

Sound FX from Zapsplat


Woke Poetry

Before Buttons & Figs heads back into the school year with more wacky wordplay…we have an extra! episode about social justice. On this episode you’ll hear three amazing poems read by Mahogany Browne from the new poetry picture book titled, “Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice.” You’ll also get to hear from some Buttons & Figs kids sharing their thoughts about justice. We hope hearing these poems and conversations will prompt you to talk about social justice with your family.

The poems in “Woke” also feature poets Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood, with a forward by Jason Reynolds. This picture book is filled with hope and joy and the poems will help grownups open up conversations with kids about justice. The book is illustrated by Theodore Taylor III and published by Roaring Brook Press.

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled wacky wordplay next time. Till then, may your head turn green and your hands turn blue. Thanks for listening to me and you and you and me.

audio sound by Blaise Collins
sound FX from Zapsplat
produced by Buttons & Figs

Buttons & Figs · extra! – Woke – poems about justice with poet Mahogany Browne


#51 – Jabber-Walking with poet Juan Felipe Herrera

“And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came.”
Listen as poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera reads this famous Lewis Carroll line, explaining it is the yeast that made his book, Jabber-Walking, rise. Jabber-Walking (public library) is a way to observe the world, inspiring kids to write poetry. On this episode, Juan shares where his love of poetry came from, how he came up with Jabber-Walking, and how YOU can start Jabber-Walking too. It also features 4th grade student voices from Landmark Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona, who share their Jabber-Writing as they walked through the tulgey wood. Be sure to listen to the full interview with Juan Felipe Herrera and download our free coloring sheet, by artist Ann Pickard, inspired by this episode – both are linked below — now go write and walk and color…Jabber-Walk…Jabber-Write…Jabber-Color!

Enjoy our full conversation with poet Juan Felipe Herrera, author of “Jabber-Walking.” Learn about how Juan learned to love poetry, when he first discovered Lewis Carroll and the poem Jabberwocky and hear GREAT advice for how YOU can write by Jabber-Walking.


Download our free coloring page from artist Ann Pickard, inspired by Jabber-Writing by Fernanda


#49 – Poem Explosion with author Kyle Lukoff

For National Poetry Month, we’re sailing in a sieve to the land of poetry, with author Kyle Lukoff. Kyle just released a picture book titled, “Explosion at the Poem Factory” [public library] Kyle shares the story about the good bad poem that inspired his book, you’ll also learn about the Philolexian Society he belonged that each year hosts a bad poetry festival each year…and he shares the secret of what makes a bad poem..good. And as always, a few Buttons & Figs kids share their good bad poems to show us the way to wordplay…Now go write a poem!


#48 – Gorey Nonsense! with author Lori Mortensen

On this episode we sail in a sieve to the land of Edward Gorey, with author Lori Mortensen to show us the way. Ms. Mortensen just released a biography of Gorey titled, “Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey.” On this episode you’ll get to hear about Gorey’s life, his style and his love of anagrams! Join Buttons & Figs listeners, including the hosts of Book Power for Kids podcast, as they come up with silly names using the letters of their names, just like Edward Gorey did. You’ll also get to hear how Lori Mortensen does research for her biographies, along with some great advice for how YOU can write a biography too. Now go write!



#43 – Nonsense Play with Calef Brown

On this episode we’re sailing our sieve to the land of Nonsense with Calef Brown’s latest book, “Up Versus Down: Poems, Painting and Serious Nonsense.” Calef’s nonsense verse shook up our minds, inspiring us to gather wacky words and play. Buttons & Figs kids show you how we played with word associations in order to write nonsense verse of our own – we hope you’ll give it a try at home. Calef has great advice if you’d like to write too, be sure to listen to his whole interview. Read all Calef Brown’s books aloud (13 to be exact!) for a super, earlicious treat (not to mention reading 13 books would be a nifty little feat.) www.buttonsandfigs.com

Enjoy our full, fun interview with Calef Brown, author of “Up Verses Down: Poems, Paintings and Serious Nonsense”. Learn about Calef’s process for writing nonsense verse, advice for becoming a writer and hear him read some of his poems from his latest work. Be sure to listen to episode “#43 – Nonsense Play with Calef Brown” to hear the ways we played with nonsense. www.buttonsandfigs.com

Here is the Buttons & Figs kids nonsense verse in process. We played word association games to gather our list of words, then we arranged them to build nonsense verse. Listen to their pieces on Episode #43 – Nonsense Play with Calef Brown.