Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cut Paper Art Workshop with Fifth Graders at St. Timothy’s School, Los Angeles, CA

A week ago I conducted an art workshop with fifth grade students at St. Timothy’s Elementary School in Los Angeles, California, sharing some of the techniques I use when I am creating the illustrations for my own books.
Earlier in the year the students had written poems about animals. For the workshop they were asked to bring a printout of a photograph of the animal which they would use as a pattern for their cut-out art. The animal in the picture should be about 6-8 inches long and preferably a side (rather than a front) view. So the pictures needed to be expendable--either a Xerox copy of a picture in a book or other source or a picture of the animal printed from their computer.
The students then cut out the animal and traced around it on a piece of construction paper chosen to match the main color of their animal. They then cut out the animal, added details and chose a large piece of paper for the background.
I was amazed at the variety and creativity of the students’ pictures. Everyone had chosen a different animal so no two pictures were alike. Some had chosen to focus on just the head of the animal while others chose the whole animal and placed it in an environment. We had allotted an hour for the project. When the bell rang not everyone was finished although most had made a significant progress. They would have a chance to finish the following day.

Supplies needed for this project: animal picture, scissors, paper punch to make spots and eyes, glue sticks and pencils and a supply of 9 x 12 colored construction paper, especially blue, green and brown.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zebra Stripes Art Project at Haynes School, Los Angeles, CA

Last week I spent a very enjoyable hour with Jennifer Best’s kindergarten class at Haynes Center for Enriched Studies in Los Angeles, California--reading my book A Zebra’s World, going on a “Lion Hunt” and working with the children as they made their own zebra art. For the art project each child received a cut out shape of a zebra–but without any stripes. We looked at a picture of a zebra to notice which way a zebra’s stripes go, and then the children glued black strips of paper onto their zebra shapes to give them their stripes. Black dots made with a paper punch were glued on for eyes.
Then they chose green and blue paper (for grass and sky) for the background and cut out suns, clouds, butterflies, trees and other objects of their choice to include in their pictures. I was impressed with the variety of ways they chose to create their art and how each child’s picture was unique. Before I became a children’s book writer I was an art teacher, and projects like this remind me of the joys of doing art with children. I thank Jennifer Best and the children in her class for sharing their time with me!
The template for the Put the Stripes on the Zebra project can be downloaded from my website on the zebra book page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Author Visit at Golden Oak Elementary School, Shafter, CA

Welcome sign at Golden Oak Elementary School, Shafter, CA
Last week on Thursday I had an excellent author visit at Golden Oak Elementary School in Shafter, California, where a colorful sign welcomed me to the home of the Golden Oak Tigers.  During the day I gave four presentations in the multi-purpose room and autographed books in the library. The students were an enthusiastic audience and excited about my visit.
Autographing books in the school library
I was pleased that the students had read so many of my books and I could see from the creative  bulletin boards they had prepared for my visit that they had learned a lot from my books! At the end of each assembly the students had excellent questions and comments. I thank Principal Annette Blacklock for inviting me to Golden Oak and Assistant Principal Gloria De Hoyos-Tapia for her help during the day. I especially thank fourth grade teacher Christine Bryant for coordinating the details and schedule of the day, the book sale, the delicious “Mexican Fiesta” potluck lunch with the teachers, and for being my companion throughout the day. I also thank her students for making the wonderful welcome sign using cut-paper art. Altogether it was a most successful day! 

Here are the bulletin boards made by each grade:
Kindergarten and Pre-K students made animals of the rainforest with monkeys and snakes swinging from paper chain vines.

First graders made panda faces from paper plates.

Second graders learned about day and night animals in the desert and the rainforest and made their own cut-paper art.

Third graders drew a picture of me and scenes from their favorite books.

Fourth graders created their own versions of the terrible Hodag using tufts of colored tissue paper.

Fifth graders learned about birds and the art of flight, answering the question “Does bird flight connect to the engineering principles of paper airplanes?”

Sixth graders learned about birds and created tweets of fascinating bird facts such as “Wow! I didn’t know that birds have hollow bones.”.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Author Visit at Redwood Elementary School, Shafter, CA

Animal faces made by pre-K students at Redwood Elementary School, Shafter, CA
Last Wednesday I had an excellent author visit at Redwood Elementary School in Shafter, California, located in Kern County near Bakersfield.  I made two presentations in the large activity center–one to students in kindergarten through second grade, and another to students in fourth through sixth grade. They were excited to have a chance to meet me and were a very enthusiastic audience. The school mascot is the bald eagle so they particularly enjoyed learning that it takes two students with their arms stretched out to equal the wingspan of a bald eagle. 
Forest animal biome poster
I was especially pleased with the preparation for my visit. All the students had read at least some of my books, either as traditional books or as e-books, and many of the classrooms had done projects inspired by my books. The teacher’s lunchroom was decorated with wonderful animal faces made by pre-K students and moose pictures by first graders. Construction paper monkeys and other rainforest animals decorated the windows. Zebra striped balloons, napkins, and table cloths completed the animal theme. I enjoyed the chance to chat with teachers during the lunch period and to share in the delicious food.
Rainforest animals decorating the teacher's lunchroom
After lunch I autographed books in the library. (Students had pre-ordered books from Barnes and Noble.) I thank principal Rosa Romero and vice-principal Monica Garza for inviting me to Redwood and for doing such a good job of organizing the day. And I especially thank First Grade teacher Virginia Kulzer for being my assistant all day long and doing a great job of introducing me to the students. Altogether it was a very successful Author Day!
Animal pyramid poems on display in the library

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Author Visit at Calvary Christian School, Pacific Palisades, CA

Signing Books at the Calvary Christian School Book Fair
Last week on Tuesday I spoke to students in second and third grade at Calvary Christian School in Pacific Palisades, California and then signed books at the school book fair. It was an enjoyable morning. The students were enthusiastic during my presentation in the library and asked good questions. They were especially interested in my books about Australian animals. I was pleased that many of them bought my books and had them signed.  It was the first day of the book fair and the excitement in the room was contagious. I thank parent Stacy Johnson, the book fair chair, for inviting me and doing such a good job of organizing my visit.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

ALBINO ANIMALS: RARE, PALE BEAUTIES, New Book for Fourth Grade Reading Program

Perfectly pale: Animals come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some even come with no color at all. Researchers estimate that one in ten thousand mammals is born without any color. Discover some of these extraordinary albino animals inside this book.

Illustrated with spectacular color photographs, this 24 page book is written for fourth grade readers.  It is part of the Fountas Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention program. Like my books Octopus, Escape Artist of the Sea and How Smart is a Lemur?, Albino Animals is in the Intriguing Animals series. My book Sneezes and Sniffles is also in the Fountas Pinnell LLI program.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Author Visit at Ecole Bilingue, Berkeley, CA

Two weeks ago I made my annual visit to my granddaughter’s class at Ecole Bilingue in Berkeley, California. This year she is in fifth grade. Each year since she was in pre-kindergarten I have visited the school and talked with the children about my books and what it is like to be an author. Ecole Bilingue is a French immersion school and in the upper grades the students alternate French and English weeks. I do not speak French so I came during my granddaughter’s English week. I thank her teacher Luc De Armey for inviting me to the class and the students for their enthusiastic response and great questions.

Claude, albino alligator, California Academy of Sciences
Since my last visit I have published 10 new books, so there was a lot to talk about! The students were particularly interested in my book Albino Animals because many of them had visited the California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco and seen Claude, the albino alligator who is profiled in the book. On my visits to EB we often do a project or activity as well. All of the books in my new Caroline Arnold’s Habitat series have birds in them so we talked about wingspans. Every student in the class–and even the teacher–had a chance to measure their wingspan on my measuring tape. Most were about the size of a turkey vulture! I have enjoyed getting to know the children over the years and look forward to future visits.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Author Visit at Havens School, Piedmont, CA

Wiggle and Waggle Sock Puppets
A week ago I visited Havens Elementary School in Piedmont, California, and spoke to children in kindergarten through second grade. I enjoyed my visit very much. The kids were enthusiastic and asked good questions. With the kindergarten and T-K students I shared my book A Zebra’s World and then we went on a “Lion Hunt” together. I also read the first chapter of my book Wiggle and Waggle and had the children join me and my Wiggle and Waggle sock puppets singing the “Digging Song”.  I thank librarian Laura Remer for organizing the day, arranging the book sale, and making sure that everything ran smoothly–and for arranging to get a remote for the computer so I could advance my slides easily. I'm glad that retired librarian Barbara Flores was able to join us for my first session and lunch. It was her chance meeting with my son at a block party that initiated the arrangements for my visit.