Wednesday, June 20, 2018

READING TAKES YOU EVERYWHERE: Author Visit at Encino/Tarzana Library for Summer Reading Program

Encino/Tarzana Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library
Yesterday afternoon I spent a wonderful hour with kids and their parents at the Encino/Tarzana Public Library in Los Angeles giving a presentation as part of the LAPL summer reading program for kids. The theme this year is “Reading Takes You Everywhere” and my books are a perfect example of all the different places you can go when you read about animals. We started with a virtual trip to Africa as I read A Zebra’s World and we all did a Lion Hunt together. We then talked about birds and I measured the kids wingspans. The kids also helped me sing the Wiggle and Waggle song, along with my Wiggle and Waggle sock puppets.
With Star Volunteer, Masha. A STAR Volunteer Reader is a volunteer who reads books and tells stories with children at their local library. They serve as positive role models for children. They commit 2 hours per week for at least 6 months.
During my visit I enjoyed meeting Jennifer, the new head librarian, as well as one of the teen volunteers who helped with my program, and a devoted Star reading volunteer who works with kids at the library every week. I thank Shokoufeh Moghta, the children’s librarian, for inviting me to the library and organizing the event. From the enthusiastic participation of the kids and good questions at the end, I know the afternoon was enjoyed by all!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

OBSERVING OUR OWN NATURAL HISTORY at Esperanza Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA

The natural habitat garden at Esperanza Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA
On May 30, 12:55 pm three white-tailed swifts were soaring above the palo verde trees. They look like flying cigars with wings.
This careful description was posted by a student at Esperanza Elementary School in Los Angeles on the school bulletin board “Observing Our Own Natural History” after discovering the birds near the school. Every day, as the students spend time in the school's native plant garden, they are learning to be young scientists and how to look at things closely and observe pertinent details.
Students share information and observations on a bulletin board in the school hallway
A corner of the playground where a building once stood has been turned into a natural habitat–a garden filled with California native plants such as poppies, wild grasses, lupins, sage and more. It is home to birds, butterflies, spiders and a wide variety of insects. The school is in a neighborhood located very close to downtown Los Angeles. The garden provides a refreshing oasis in an otherwise totally urban environment.
A wild grape vine climbs over the garden fence. Skyscrapers loom in the background not far from the school.
When I visited Esperanza last week, a group of third graders working with teacher Elizabeth Williams gave me a tour of the garden. They excitedly pointed out the frothy spittlebug deposits on some of the plants, several spiders, lupins both in bloom and developing seed pods, and a pair of sparrows foraging for seeds–the male with his handsome black markings and the female a duller brown. Then they discovered a pair of house finches carrying nesting material to a nest site. Principal Brad Rumble, who has spearheaded the garden project, met us in the garden. He is an avid birdwatcher and his enthusiasm is contagious. He introduced me to a girl who had observed and identified a white-throated swift and then was excited to find it again in exhibits at the Natural History Museum when the class went on a field trip.
Teacher Elizabeth Williams and Principal Brad Rumble with students
Before we visited the garden, I talked with a group of third grade students in the library and shared the books in my Caroline Arnold’s Habitats series. They had great comments and questions! I plan to go back in the fall when school starts again to do an author visit with more of the students. I love it when kids get excited about the animals that I write about in my books, but I find it even more exciting to see kids learning about nature hands-on--by observing it themselves. The natural habitat garden at Esperanza is a great resource and a wonderful stimulus for learning.
For an excellent video about the Esperanza school garden produced by television station KCET for their Earth Focus series, click on this link: https://www.kcet.org/shows/earth-focus/urban-habitat-esperanza-elementary-school 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

NEW CHICKS: Author Visit with Campbell Hall Kindergarten Students, Los Angeles, CA

Day-old chicks in the Kindergarten classroom at Campbell Hall
When I first met librarian Linda Pechin at the CLCSC workshop two weeks ago and she told me that the kindergarten students at her school, Campbell Hall, were hatching chicks in their classrooms, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for an author visit. So Linda arranged it, and on Thursday last week I went to the school and had a wonderful time.
Caroline with Linda Pechin, Librarian at Campbell Hall
Both classrooms had incubated eggs so there were two sets of day old chicks peeping in their cages. The children had read my book HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 and we talked about how their process was similar to that described in the book. We also talked about how they know that chickens are birds–they have feathers and they lay eggs–and then I showed them my feather collection and measured their wingspans. I also shared my ostrich egg. Everyone was impressed that it takes 42 days for an ostrich egg to hatch–twice as long as a chicken egg. The visit ended with a story from my WIGGLE AND WAGGLE book and singing the gardening song. I then went to the library to autograph books.
I thank Linda Pechin and the kindergarten teachers and their students for a very enjoyable visit at Campbell Hall.