Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December Bulletin Boards

With only one more day left of school before we head off to break, I figured it was time to share our December bulletin boards. They are all holiday themed starting with "Oh Christmas Tree"
 While this one doesn't have a saying attached to it, it is still based on Christmas trees.
 Poor Greg, he had some difficulty wrapping gifts this year and even with his snazzy hat and glasses he's still doesn't have the holiday spirit.
 Every year the P.F.A. donates a tree to the library and the kids always have so much fun decorating it.
On a side note I got my first ever holiday card yesterday from an author/illustrator! I was beyond excited to receive it. Do you know who it's from?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Dragonflies Meet Dev Petty (Via Skype That Is!)

The Dragonflies and I have spent the last few weeks talking about author Dev Petty, looking at her books and wondering where her ideas come from. We were so excited to get a chance to meet her and ask her all the questions that we had. We learned so much!
Did you know that when she was younger she didn't write stories but she wrote poems and drew funny characters. She didn't start writing stories until she was an adult. The students had learned that she likes to think her stories completely through before she writes them on paper. The kids wanted to know where her favorite thinking spot was. Here is her answer:
We found out that she has an idea book and will put all sorts of things in it, tiny ideas, observations, everything because she doesn't want to forget them. If she doesn't have her notebook with her, she will talk into her phone so she doesn't forget them. She also told us that she gets ideas from kids because kids are so funny and you can learn a lot from them.
But what does she do when she runs out of ideas?
What else did we learn? 
1) She uses speech bubbles because she likes to write in dialogue and thinks it is a fun way to to read a book. Mike Boldt, the illustrator of the Frog books, decides where the speech bubbles go. 
2) Frog doesn't have a name! Why? Because she doesn't know if Frog is a boy or a girl, and she also likes not knowing if Frog is a boy or a girl. This is great because then Frog is someone that everyone can relate to. We offered some name suggestions and our favorite out of all of them was Art.
3) Dev tries not to get bored. She likes to go hiking, gardening, she draws and paints. She even plays with Lego's! She loves to make cars and Star Wars things out of them. So cool!
4) She has 2 dogs named Pickles and Oscar, a cat named John and a snake named Boots! We got to meet Pickles and think Boots is the best name for a snake ever. 
5) There is another Frog book coming out! It will be called I Don't Want to Go to Sleep. Her husband will be writing a new song for that book.  If you haven't heard the Frog songs that her husband wrote you have to check them out. They are amazing.  She has 3 other books coming out but they are top secret!
Thank you so much Dev for taking the time to meet with us. We had so much fun and can't wait to see all the new books you have coming out.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Dolphins Meet Tim Miller (Via Skype That Is!)

The Dolphins and I laughed, drew and asked a lot of questions to author/illustrator Tim Miller. It was a blast!
We got to take a peek into his idea book. It turns out he writes in it first thing in the morning every day, putting in whatever comes to mind. Everyday is different and he never knows where an idea is going to take him. He shared with us that creating in his idea book is just like playing and is a lot of fun. We also got to see an idea book that he started just a few days ago and that no one else had seen before, not even his wife to cats. We were the first! The illustrations were beyond amazing.
The kids were curious to find out what he did when he ran out of ideas. Here is the answer to that question.
We also learned that he wrote his first book when he was the students age. It was called Silly Willy and he still has it. The kids thought the title was hilarious and that it was so cool that he still had it.
Easter eggs are something that he liked to discover in books when he was younger and it all started with a book his aunt gave him called Miss Priscilla's Secret. After he read the book he went back and discovered the mice in it and all the silly things that they were doing. He puts Easter eggs in his books too. For example when Snappsy, of Snappsy the Alligator fame, goes grocery shopping one the jar of pickles is called Johnny Mac pickles. He named that brand after his friend who makes pickles! We also now have confirmation that it is Mr. Quackers at Snappsy's party and not some ordinary duck.

He shared with us that as we write we are going to make mistakes and that those mistakes are perfectly fine and that we need to make them. That's how we get better. He also told us it is important for us to know what we like so that we can write and draw about it. These are great tips that we are going to be reminding the students of throughout the remainder of the school year.

The kids were dying to learn how to draw Moo Moo. We had so much fun learning how to draw her and the directions were so easy to follow. Please note that noises while drawing are essential.
The kids did such a great job drawing Moo Moo that they all ended up getting jobs as Tim's assistant when they were all done. No more school!
What else? Well, we know what he is working on right now! We got to see some of the pictures and hear what the story is going to be about. I am not going to give it away, but I will tell you that the kids and I can't wait for it to come out and are beyond excited to read it.

Thank you so much Tim for taking the time to Skype with us. We learned so much from you and had the best time.

Side Note: Prior to the Skype session the kids and I had watched Tim draw on an episode of Ready, Set, Draw. I loved how easy he made drawing, creating his characters out of basic shapes.  He encourages his audience to create their own characters using shapes as he had demonstrated.  I decided it would be great to have the class do this. When I told him we were going to be doing this prior to meeting him, he shared that he had improved upon his idea and thought it would be cool for the kids to create characters using cut-out shapes as it is more tactile.  I ran with that idea! I cut out a wide variety of shapes in all different colors and sizes. The kids started out by shopping for shapes.
They then began to put their shapes together to create their characters.
Here are some finished products
But we didn't stop there. I thought it would be cool for them to also draw the character that they created and name them. They came out amazing! Here is just a small sample of them.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Rainbows Meet Lita Judge (Via Skype That Is!)

For the last few weeks, The Rainbows and I have been talking about Lita Judge. We have been reading at her books, exploring her illustrations and are in the midst of doing literature circles based on her books. This past week we even got the chance to Skype with her and Beatrix, her parrot!

We had so many questions that we wanted to ask her and jumped right in by asking her how she makes her pictures so realistic. Hear her answer below.
We had a lot more questions for her about writing and illustrating. Here's just a bit about what what we learned.
Her book Red Sled  is based on her childhood and has her favorite onomatopoeia words in it, many of which she made up. She likes to use onomatopoeia because she wants to create stories that kids will remember and will read over and over again. She also learned how to draw much quicker than she learned how to read and that books with rhyming and onomatopoeia helped her become a better reader.

Her pets give her story ideas all the time and she loves to write about them. She loves to slip her pets into all of her stories. She shared with us that it is important to write about what you love and for her that is her pets, snow and animals.
While she likes both writing and illustrating, writing is harder for her. She loves that she gets to draw whatever she is writing about and when she finishes her writing she feels so good. Plus it can take her 3 years to write and illustrate a story so she loves all her books for different reasons.
The kids loved seeing her journal from when she was younger and she encouraged us to write in a journal or diary every day. She said we could write anything in it, a poem, what we saw that day, drawing, whatever it maybe, but to do it everyday because writing takes practice. 

What else did we learn? Her favorite dinosaur is a Ankylosaurus because it was the first bone she found when she was doing some paleontology work when she was 14. Plus it's like a big turtle. In Hoot and Peep she is Peep and her husband is Hoot! She is also working on a sequel to Flight School! We can't wait to read it.

Thank you so much Lita Judge for taking the time to Skype with us. We had the best time and learned so much from you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Magic Dragons Meet Jan Thomas (Via Skype That Is!)

 The Magic Dragons were so excited to meet their favorite author and illustrator Jan Thomas.  We had been talking about her books for weeks, noticing things about them, reading them and even making our own Rhyming Dust Bunnies(you can see those at the bottom of this page). We started off our Skype session with her reading to us her book, Can You Make A Scary Face? She had us getting up, wiggling, dancing and laughing hysterically. 
Jan Thomas asked us to share some of the things that we like to do. One student shared that he loved to go outside and collect things. It turns out she does too. She also loves to go outside and take pictures of things that look like other things. She emailed us a picture of one of those finds later in the day. It was a rock that looked like a heart. So cool!
The students had a ton of questions that they wanted to ask her and we learned so much! Here's just some of what we learned:
1) She loves animals and has 2 puppies which is why most of her characters are animals. Their names are Spot and Scout and they are so cute and are very entertaining.
2) She uses speech bubbles because we get to hear what the animals are saying quickly
3) She has always made googly eyes on her characters which is why their eyes are so close together.
4) Her backgrounds are always solid colors with no details so our attention will be on the characters and she wants to keep things simple. She has tried adding details in the background but ends up taking them out.
5) Want to know how she gets her ideas? Watch the video below.
6) She doesn't have a favorite of her books because she had fun writing them all! When she was little she liked to read Dr. Seuss and Pippi Longstocking
7) Not all of her stories have worked, in facts she has stacks of those that didn't.  That's ok though because she has fun trying.
8) Turnip is her favorite word because it is fun to say. Try saying it, we did and it's fun!
The kids were thrilled when she taught them how to draw one of her characters! 

We didn't know what it was going to be at first but as we followed her directions we knew it was mouse. Our pictures turned out amazing because we had such great directions.
Don't you love our finished pictures?
Thank you so much Jan Thomas for taking the time to answer all of our questions, draw with us, laugh with us and share a story with us. It is a day the Magic Dragons won't forget!

Want to see some of our Rhyming Dust Bunnies?
The kids didn't use a pattern. They all folded their construction paper in half and drew the shape of their dust bunny.
They all had a small piece of black, brown and white construction paper to create the arms, legs, nose, mouth, tooth and speech bubble
 They also got to choose what rhyming pattern they wanted to explore.
I loved seeing how different each of the dust bunnies looked. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Secret Tree Fort: A Maker Project

"Why would someone want to build a fort?"
"What are some of the things that you would do in your fort?"
These were just two of the questions we asked after we read Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley. After our discussion we tasked the kids with designing their own tree fort. We shared with them that while the design was all theirs, there were certain things that had to had in their fort. They all must have:
*1 door
*2 windows
*Can only be constructed out of cardboard.

The kids were super excited to begin and started drawing out their designs right away. Some kids preferred to work on their own, while others were sharing their ideas with others.
Their tree fort designs and features were over the top, just as they had been in the book. They were multi-level, had water balloon launchers, craft rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, dance rooms, areas in which you could spy on others, secret elevators and trap doors. While those ideas were amazing, we decided to throw another design challenge into the mix.

Day Two: When we met again, we talked to the kids about how often times architects will make these amazing drawings, but when they show them to the client, it might not be what the client had in mind. They have to listen the clients feedback and go back to the drawing board to make the changes. In this case, there were a few changes that they needed to make.
1) The tree fort could only be 1 floor
2) They could only have 1 special feature
The kids set-off with their original drawings and a new planning sheet. It was great seeing them reference their original drawings, edit them, take their favorite things from them and add them into the new design. What was also amazing is that not one child complained about having to go back to the drawing board.
Day Three: The kids were super anxious to build but we told them that building materials can be expensive and when we are building we need to really make sure our design is going to work before we get started. We discussed what a prototype was and how we were going to test out their designs using paper. We then threw in another design challenge. Their prototype must fit into a 12x12 inch box. We had measured several 12x12 squares out with tape onto tables throughout the room so they could test their tree forts size throughout the process.
They got right to work, cutting, folding and taping.
 Listening to them throughout this was amazing. They were sharing ideas on how to get things to stand, sharing how they had come up with ways to do things and sharing their thinking behind their designs.
They shared with me things like, "I remembered how we made the Manoa mountains in art class and I'm trying to do that" and "It was falling down so I rolled this paper and stuck it here. It stands up!"
Day Four and Five: We had the kids begin to instruct their tree forts. While many of them wanted to use hot glue to hold the walls up, they discovered that that wasn't always the best method as the walls fell down. 
We discussed with some some methods that might help their walls stand up, like using an L Brace and the students were able to refer to this board for other connecting ideas as well.
Measuring, cutting, clue, building
The kids used the dremel saw to cut smaller pieces of cardboard along with cardboard scissors but we also used a zip snip cutting tool (purchased on Amazon) which was amazing. Due to its super sharp, crazy cutting ability we didn't allow the students to use this tool.
Once construction was done, they wanted to paint and decorate their forts.
Here are some of their finished products. This is the exterior and interior of one
The kids had a blast decorating their forts.
This kids had so much fun with this project. They did an amazing job.