Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Author Visits and Workshops in North Carolina

"Put the Stripes on the Zebra" by TDS Kindergarteners
Last week I had two very nice author visits in North Carolina.  On Monday I spoke to a group of enthusiastic fourth graders at McDougle School in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, who were just embarking on their non-fiction unit for the year.  In my presentation I emphasized how my process writing nonfiction books is very much like what they do when they write a story or a report.  On Tuesday I spent the day at the Triangle Day School in Durham giving presentations and workshops to Kindergarten through Sixth Grade.  Each of the four sessions included a project.  With the sixth graders, who are studying ancient cultures, the students divided into small groups and prepared lists of items for the "trash can archeology" activity, a kind of virtual dig.  The fourth and fifth graders created "mixed up animals", inspired by the Hodag in my book The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers and then used their animals as the main character of a short story.  The two groups of younger children made cut paper zebras.  I am always surprised how individual each zebra becomes, even though all the children start with the same materials.  Of course, in real life no two zebras have exactly the same stripes!  At the end of the day I got a tour of the school, which included a stop in the art room where the students were just completing their pictures of Babylonian art and a visit to the science lab where I saw three baby quail that had just hatched in the incubator.  I had a full and fun day and was impressed by all the great projects the kids were doing.

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