Warbler Wave will be released by Beach Lane, Simon & Schuster on February 13, 2018. See some spreads on S&S website. This book is the fulfillment of a dream, part of my life goal to share wonder. The text and photos are by me (April), with a bit of help from Jeff (a couple of photos, years of camera carrying, pointing out warblers, loving support, reviewing text, scientific fact checking, driving thousands of miles, 28 years of marriage, daily partnership in learning about nature). We are both birders and the migratory journey of these amazing avian athletes is the highlight of our year. Below are some identification notes and discussion of the birds in the book. Continue reading “New Book Backstory: Warbler Wave”
Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening With Kids
Turn your garden into a hummingbird hotspot, a haven for butterflies, and a thriving ecosystem. This family-friendly guide is my most personal book yet, sharing the wildlife gardening knowledge that Jeff and I have gained over the years. Continue reading “Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening With Kids”
Vulture TED Talk
There was a TED talk recently about vultures. I think educators might be interested in seeing it for their own background research. It’s only a little over six minutes long. You’ll want to look it over first before deciding whether it is appropriate for your elementary school students. The humor at the beginning would probably raise more sidetracking questions than it would actual vulture inquiry. So take a look and perhaps start two minutes twenty seconds in (2:20). Because the rest of it is good stuff for older elementary, middle school, and high school. There are quite a few carcasses involved and it is frank in environmental threats to vultures worldwide.
Vegetable Art, Trout Trees and More!
I had the pleasure of visiting Pioneer Elementary in March. Wow, the art teacher was a burst of creativity, working on such incredible projects with the kids. Many other teachers were doing amazing work, as well. See some of it below! Click on each photo to see it in greater detail. Continue reading “Vegetable Art, Trout Trees and More!”
Time for some desert animals. Jeff and I drove all the way to Phoenix so I could give talks at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. LOVE this place. Full of plants. Wild birds, butterflies, squirrels, and bunnies wander freely. These Gambell’s Quail strut around, then dash, dash, dash when startled.
Vulture View review and activities
Author/educator Shirley Duke’s Simply Science blog has a lovely review of Vulture View and some follow up activities. Hooray! Check the link here.
Liberty Union-Thurston Elementary’s Creativity
I am excited to share with you a few of the creative educational activities at Liberty Union-Thurston Elementary School in Baltimore, Ohio. These projects were done in relationship to my books in advance of my 2-day visit to their schools. They’ve had some great authors, including Ron Hirschi, who did stream walks with them some years ago. (In DECEMBER, they said. Cold toes but worth it.) It seems they have an ongoing nature and stream study in this school. Hooray! Kids will learn so much from seeing nature and science in action.
Ah, the halls were festooned with beautiful bumblebees and flowers. A shiny paper mirror said “Look here to see the author.” How wonderful for each student to see a young author in themselves. We had some of the first art celebration of He’s a Howler: a howler paper quilt. Beautiful!
Many of the students were studying geography. They had done drawings and short writing pieces about the features of continents to go with my continent books.
One classroom did a hilarious counting riff on One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab. They did counting by eyes.
One class analyzed and classified the information in Bumblebee Queen.
Another class created new versions of the fish chant but with ocean fish. They created fish cutouts, wrote reports about features and behavior. Then they drew a fanciful sea/town scene where the fish swam. It was nonfiction with a visual fiction twist, in the spirit of Trout, Trout, Trout. Hooray!
One of my favorites was the bird poetry written by the fourth graders. Using Vulture View as a model, the teacher had created a form with key words and phrases from Vulture View. Students each drew a bird species and filled in what that bird would or would not eat and how it would move. Brilliant.
A highlight of my visit was two small sessions with young authors and illustrators. I will never forget my discussions with them! I hope that Reading Rainbow Book entry goes well.
This is a fine school with energetic educators and students that are excited to learn. The students were well prepared for my visit and worked well together in the assembly setting. The faculty welcomed me. Students and staff have much to be proud of; together they have made an environment for learning. As an author, it was a pleasure to visit.
Thank you, librarian Ms. Brown, for bringing me in to share this joyful place with you.
Inspiration at Seven Hills-Lotspeich in Cincinnati, Ohio
I was greeted by a parking sign, marching ants, and the wonderful Marcia Snyder, librarian at Seven Hills—Lotspeich in Cincinnati, Ohio. The classrooms had done dioramas of undersea scenes for Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! and even made a 3-D pasta machine and listed their own desired “suprpwrs” in celebration of Noodle Man: the Pasta Superhero.
This was the first time I’d seen activities for the new Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out. There were turtle shape poems which looked like ancient, beautiful style art. What about these wild pine cone birds for Bird, Bird, Bird? Extraordinary.
What a lovely school. The science teacher, Ms. Wildfong, showed me the science building. They have lots of animals. It really feels like a science-in-action place.
The music teacher, Ms. Wilson, shared the use of Bird, Bird, Bird: a Chirping Chant. She was teaching kids the half and quarter notes and how to use the staff by getting them to sound out and choose among a few notes to set this book to music.
The art teacher, Ms. Knoop was a wonder. Love her! She’s made a creative space, complete with old plastic toy color wheel, great supply drawers, and projects galore. She partners with another teacher to do a whole big unit on fibers. Ms. Knoop brings in wool from her sheep and they dye it with natural plant dyes and spin it. Wow. Hands on science and history and art all at the same time.
Thanks, Seven Hills, for an inspiring day. Your students and staff are great! Lunching with with these joyful, dedicated educators was a pleasure. Their ideas popped like popcorn. Really, it was like being in some of the great creative meetings I had at National Geographic. You walk away uplifted and refreshed.