Can I stow a saguaro in my suitcase? Or a tarantula in my tote bag? I don’t think so but I am packing some unusual items to share at my program and book signing at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. On Wednesday, August 13, I’ll be presenting my book, D is for Desert – a World Deserts Alphabet, in the Discovery Room at the museum. It will be fun to share my experiences of living in the desert with visitors to Washington, DC. I expect many will have never ventured into the land of sun, sand, and scorpions. I’ll do my best to introduce them to the wonders and beauty of this biome and how plants and animals are adapted to life in this arid environment.
Imagine a three week adventure in the rainforest. That’s how 22 future fourth graders at Cotton Boll Elementary School in Peoria spent their summer vacation. And they even wrote a book about it! I was invited to take students on a journey through the nonfiction writing process to create a class alphabet book. Everyone first learned about the biome they live in when I shared my book, D is for Desert – a World Desert alphabet and then it was off to the rainforest via a slide presentation of my photographs of the Amazon. It was a trip that didn’t require a passport or inoculations! Kids met in the library decorated as a colorful rainforest by library tech Margaret Crabtree. I visited four mornings and in that time we brainstormed and selected an animal for each letter of the alphabet, researched, wrote (and rewrote) and completed illustrations. Teachers continued the writing process (including peer editing) and also shared activities from rainforest read-alouds to tie-dying tshirts to puzzles and more on the other days. The books will be published by Vesuvius Press and distributed to the kids during a family literacy celebration in September.
Research – collecting awesome information
Writing using colored strips to help construct an organized paragraph
Illustrating ABCs – Accurate, Bold and Creative using oil pastels and background techniques like painting with bubble wrap
Thanks to Title 1 coordinator Kevin Adams and teachers Margarita Garcia, Linda Lavender, Amy Wallander and Sharon Stutzman.
To learn how to bring this writing workshop to your school, check out the Build a Book Writing Workshop page. Other author opportunties are outlined in the School Author Visit Presentations and Family Literacy Night pages on this website.