Monday, October 17, 2011

Veteran's Day on Horizon

"Changing the world, one song at a time."
Veteran's Day is next on the horizon!!
This is the perfect occasion for my nationally INDIE Award of Excellence winning picture book "Red, White and Blue" to make a contribution to your classroom's observation of patriotism. My book's text is based on the lyrics of a song that I wrote celebrating our country; it's great beauty, diversity and all things Americana!!

The book includes a CD insert which allows students to sing the song as they read along. There's even an instrumental version included for performance purposes. I've received some amazing feedback regarding student 'performances' of my song for PTA, parent's nights and even auditorium presentations for peers. My song and book were used extensively last month with the observation of the 10th anniversary of September 11th and brought numerous creative, age-appropriate contributions to that historical event.

I am also the illustrator of the book, having created the16 small quilts for its 32 pages worth of illustrations.
We start off with the flag and conclude appropriately with fireworks! In between there's purple mountains, red-rock mountain formations and palm trees -- each with their own implicit geography lessons. From the simplicity of our beautiful country's natural topography we travel to the small family farm, then on to a bay-side village and ultimately into the big city, all portrayed 'representational-style', through fabric quilts.

Yes. It took me a long time to create the quilts -- over five years in fact!! Creating them was a labor of love and I'm always ecstatic to have the opportunity to share the actual quilts during my school & library concert-visits!! At this moment I am currently in OH and we're bunking it at my daughter Sarah's home as I make a series of professional presentations, keynotes and school author/illustrator visits amidst my Buckeye brethren.

BTW: That's Sarah's husband, my son-in-law, Scott, in the very first picture, way at the beginning of this blog-post. He'd just returned from his latest deployment to the Middle East as we arrived walking in the front door in his flight suit -- just as I was opening my amazing fan-mail. He's holding my Kinder-LUV mini-quilt from one of my biggest fans. Thanks Captain Mettle for posing as my back-drop. [Click here to read an earlier Fourth of July post entitled: Freedom Isn't Free about his service to our country.]

Last spring I presented at the state-wide Illinois Reading Association's conference and we filmed the YouTube video above. You can watch as fellow educators sing along and learn the sign language that supports the lyrics of my song which become the text of my book. That event is also where I met Carie the Kindergarten teacher. She'd served 9 years in the US Army, with one year stationed in Iraq, prior to taking over the reins in kindergarten. She 'just happens to be a lover of quilts. She left the conference to travel home to direct her K-kiddos in the creation of this monumental construction paper quilt measuring 19 feet wide by 11 feet high as last school year came to its close.

I'm THRILLED to have a snippet of their efforts to share up-close with others. I hope that you'll have time to take a look at the photos in these earlier posts, to see how this master piece was created. Did you guess that each color of paper was 'painted' by rolling marbles thru paint? Here's the personal inscription on the back of my laminated quiltie-snippet.

We've created a mutual admiration society, the two of us!!!

While many think of picture books as primarily appropriate for the youngest of children, I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing this, my newest picture book, with a wide variety of educators of all grades and have carefully listened to their response, ideas and insight. My dear friend and Language Arts professor Mary Meyer took one look and came up with several 'writing' and extension ideas for the upper elementary age students at our first luncheon-reveal.

+++++Upon seeing the illustration above Mary thought it would be fun for the older elementary students to use this two page spread [some artists would call it an 'opening' or a 'window'] as a prompt to make up a story about who these people are & how they are related to one another, as per an episode of TV's popular "Modern Family." I'd LUV to read those writings!! [BTW: Yes, that's our Scott coming home  in his dress bluesf rom Afghanistan last year just in time for some gobble-gobble.]

+++++Mary's other idea was to have the older elementary students write an essay on what part of 'America' the illustrator (yup, that's me) left out of the pictures. While I included purple mountains and red-rock formations there are no ocean-side illustrations, no frozen tundras, no flat corn fields, no cactus...... you get the idea. What else is missing?? If you were going to make a picture book of America, what 'pictures' and images would you include?

+++++With the older students, I think it would be fun to do some mathematical estimations of how many different fabrics I used in any given two page spread. The gifted and talented could extrapolate the total number of different fabrics used through out the entire book. [BTW: I have no idea what the correct answer is, let's just agree that I have an extensive fabric stash.] Doing a quick scan of the Thanksgiving lay-out just above I can quickly see over 85 different fabrics in play!!!! The fireworks quilt is also LOADED with different fabrics.

+++++Here's a brilliant idea from Denise Boehm over at Sunny Days in Second Grade as they created heart shaped patriotic responses while using my book as a portion of their observation last month for 9-11. She had her students write out the Pledge of Allegiance on the back of their flag-esque construction paper hearts.

+++++ Last Veteran's day an early childhood program in Texas used my song as the basis for their serenade to a group of Veterans and active duty, enlisted personnel stationed near their center. Here's a journal entry from one of those wee wonders. The child's hand has been traced in the formation of the American sign language short-hand 'sign' which conveys "I love you" the rhyming lyric that follows "red, white and blue" in each of my verses.

Following this concept, an older student could trace their hand and do a writing 'art-journal' entry about what being an American means to them, weaving their words around the contour of their extended fingers. I can envision some scrap book papers or other stars and striped artwork for mounting each hand -- to create a quilted bulletin board of writing hands for an upper elementary social studies unit of study.

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth -

[Editor's Note from the future: I am now a participant at Teacher's Pay Teachers and my work is now available in zipped filed which include the Mp3 of the song and their instrumental, plus the charts for sign language support, music notation with chords and a page of flag facts. Please click right here for your immediate digital download purchase opportunity.]

In conclusion I want to give my heart-felt, special and sincere appreciation to my new "cyber-mentor," Laura Candler over at Teacher Resources. We have met one another in the 'secret club-house' of Teaching Blog Training School. Laura is a true champion of others, a champion of education and a champion of teachers everywhere. She has been giving me the most positive support and suggestions to introduce my work to the wider educational community. THANK YOOOOOU, LAURA!!!!

******I have just added a permanent link in my sidebar to Laura's site. I continue to marvel at the amazing resources she has assembled. Approximately 80% of the resources on her site are FREEEEEE! They would be especially helpful for 'new' teachers.

If this is your first visit here, one of the main ways to "support" my work is to 'officially' follow my blog. Up in the top left side-bar is Facebook's Networked blogs graph. By clicking "follow" in that grid you will be raising my visibility to other educators. If you really want to go the extra mile you could 'like' my Facebook's newly created fanpage. I will continue to "announce" my presentations and travels in that forum, so that you might meet me on one of my tours.

To read my two earlier 'comprehensive' posts regarding the creation of "Red, White and Blue" follow these links.

Go to this post to learn about the writing of my song and to read other bloggers impressions.
Go to this post for my September 11, tenth anniversary blog article with other patriotic resources.

*****TO ORDER Your own COPY OF my book, click here to go to my website.

I've added this post to a blog hop for November at KinderFun.
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  1. Great Goooogaa Mooooogaaa----I just ordered Red, White and Blue, and by georgie, I think it went through:) LOL.

    It will be perfect for DD's little Cherokee Indian Babes:)

    Hope you are doing well. I think of you often!!!

    xxooxxoo (Coonie)

  2. YAY!!!! I am so glad you received it! I was hoping that it made its way to you safely! And how awesome that your son-in-law came home and posed with it in uniform!!!!

  3. Coonie and Carie in my comment box!!! I'm glad that both of you saw this post. It's very dear to my heart.


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