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Notes from the Writing Life

How to Make A Bathtub Friendly Antlered Ship

How to Make A Bathtub Friendly Antlered Ship

Yesterday, at the launch party for my new picture book, The Antlered Ship, I taught folks how to make their very own bathtub-friendly antlered ship. It's the perfect bookstore, library or classroom craft -- no glue, no tools, no paint, no mess. All the materials are easy to find, around-the-house things -- perfect for upcyclers. Want to make your own? Watch the video demo or scroll down for written instructions. (I'll have a PDF of these instructions available for download soon. -- visit the Speaking section of this site and look under Resources and Learning Materials.)

Materials You'll Need:

·       1 or more pipe cleaners

·       2 rubber bands

·       3 corks

·       1 bamboo skewer trimmed to roughly 6 inches, or 6 inch knitting needle, or sharpened chop stick, or similar item to use as a mast

·       scrap card stock or acetate for sails (old folders or binder dividers work well)

·       clear or colored tape

·       scissors

·       hole punch 

Screen Shot 2017 09 24 at 5.58.09 PM

Step One: Make Your Antlered Figure Head

·      Cut one pipe cleaner in half

·      Take one half, make a loop, and shape the ends into antler shapes. The loop is your deer head – you can twist into a solid shape or keep it as a loop – your choice.

·      Twist the other half around the antlers to create more antler branches.

·      If you want, you can continue to add more pipe cleaners.

 Screen Shot 2017 09 24 at 5.40.14 PM

Step Two: Make A Ship and Attach Your Figurehead

·      Loop a rubber band around each end of the antlers.

·      Gather three corks. Make sure the center one is made of actual cork so that it’s easily pierced. If you have plastic corks, you will need to make a hole in the side of the center one with a nail or other implement. (Grown-ups should do this for small kids; older kids can do it themselves with supervision.)

·      Wrap the rubber bands around three corks so that the corks are held together like a raft and the figure head is at the bow.

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Step Three: Add Sails

·      Cut sails out of card stock or acetate. I find that two rectangle shapes work well, with one smaller than the other.

·      Fold the smaller sail in half and pierce down the center line with whatever you’re using as a mast. (You can use a hole punch to make holes, or just poke it through)

·      Slide the sail towards the top and do the same with the larger sail.

·      Add a pennant to the top of your mast. You might use a piece of colored tape folded over the top and trimmed into a penant shape. Or you might cut a pennant shape from colored paper or acetate and tape it to the top of the mast with clear tape.

·      When all your sails are on the mast, poke the mast into the center cork.

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Step Four: Sail Away in Search of Answers . . . or More Questions

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Tips for Using ESCARGOT In Your Classroom Or Library

Tips for Using ESCARGOT In Your Classroom Or Library

It’s been a crazy, fun, and exhausting month for me and Escargot. Over the past three weeks, the gallic gastropod and I have visited more than a dozen schools. Talking with teachers and librarians gives me the opportunity to hear some of the creative ways school professionals are using Escargot to teach everything from science to persuasive writing.

Here are some classroom and library tips and tricks I’ve picked up in my travels. You’ll find more ideas and tools in my downloadable Escargot Story Hour Kit.

 


purple bubble raft snail copy

Share the Wonder of Snails!

My presentations for preK to 2nd grade students include a slide show of amazing snails and snail facts (some of which can be found in the Story Hour Kit.) I teach kids about snail radulas and tentacles and operculums, as well as some of the crazy and beautiful snail varieties found on land and sea (the one above is the Purple Bubble Raft Snail). Kids are fascinated by these familiar-yet-exotic creatures and always have dozens of amazing and perceptive questions.

Teachers and librarians tell me they are pairing Escargot with non-fiction books for science-based snail units and story times. One mom even brought some snails to school that she had collected in her backyard. You can emphasize the book's healthy-eating theme by feeding backyard snails delicious vegetables and fruits (cucumber, watermelon, and strawberries are beloved by kids and snails alike).

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Teach Persuasive Writing

Sheila Murphy, a first and second grade teacher in Maplewood, New Jersey, shared this lesson idea. 

She teaches her students that persuasive writing relies on a thesis statement followed by reasons and evidence. (She doesn't necessarily use these terms though.)

In Escargot, the thesis statement is, Escargot should be your favorite animal. 

Then she asks kids to come up with reasons and evidence to support this statement. For example:

- He is beautiful

- He is fashionable

- He is charming

- He is affectionate

- He is fierce

- He knows how to relax

And so on. (Kids will come up with many more.)

Then she asks her students to write a letter (to Escargot, to their teacher, etc.) making the case for their own favorite animal using the same format: a statement (________ should be your favorite animal) followed by reasons.

“It worked well for me," she reported. "All the children were engaged!”

asking questions lees class 2

3.     Use Escargot to Write Odes

I do group writing exercises with children as part of nearly every presentation – even in assemblies with hundreds of kids. Often we write a story together, but sometimes we write a kind of poem called an Ode. Escargot provides a natural introduction to odes because he gives so many reasons why he himself should be loved.

When talking about odes, I explain that they are poems of praise used show how much you like something and why. We then choose something that we all like and jointly write an ode to it. Sometimes we write odes to ice cream, books, teachers, or shoes. But lately kids have wanted to write odes to snails! 

Here is an ode written at an assembly this month. We had just talked about many amazing kinds of snails, so the kids were primed! While many odes are addressed to the object itself, I often don’t bother with this aspect when working with young kids.

 

Ode to Snails

by the PreK-2nd Graders at Lead Elementary School

 

We love your shell color,

your tentacles like bunny ears.

We love your bubbles

and your slime because

you can pass through sharp things.

We love your shimmery trail.

We love your eyes because

you can look at the dark.

We love your colorful shell.

You live under the sea

and can walk on the bottom of water.

We love how you eat,

how you share your food.

We love how you tickle us

when we hold you.

 

Note that the natural language of children makes it poetic. I didn’t have to ask them to be poetic -- they are poetic. Simply asking kids what they like about something generally elicits wonderful resultsWhen responses begin sounding too much alike, I ask a few leading questions. How do snails make you feel? What do they sound like? What colors are their shells? If they could talk, what would they say?

Children who can write independently can also write their own odes. I like this ode-writing lesson plan.

If you are using Escargot in the classroom, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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