Monday, December 15, 2014

Author Visits

'Tis the Season. (Since my book is a Christmas book)

For author visits. (To talk about my Christmas book)

Got one tomorrow. (Because Christmas is near)

I'll be sharing and talking with fourth graders about my writing process...and my book.

I've been to several schools this season, each offering an experience so delightful I almost feel like going back to my first career love, teaching. (Almost!) I miss the children, their joy and curiosity, even their crazy, out of context questions. I miss eating in the lunchroom where a bit of reality is served up daily. I miss watching the light bulb moments when a child understands a concept we've gone over and over and over and then ka-boom, he gets it. 

Last week I went to a school in a nearby county. The fifth graders had prepared welcome signs that were displayed in the hall. I read every one and I signed a thank you note on each poster. What fun. These children had visited me before I ever arrived...imagine that. They had gone to my webpage during computer lab class and read through it as a lesson. They played with my interactive page where I reveal my messy desk and the tools I use as I write. Check it out here. There's a hidden gem in the picture, so see if you can find it. 

By the time I walked into the gym, those students were ready to visit as old friends. I was ready for them and they were ready for me.

Advice to other authors, be prepared. Take a water bottle just in case. Dress in layers. I visited in classrooms in a school where I was cold in one room and burned up in another, depending on how far away from the ancient heater the room was. Be familiar with the writing objectives the teachers are required to follow because this is your chance to reinforce them. You are the example they will use the next time they teach a concept.  Most of all, enjoy the day and appreciate the privilege of meeting readers up close and personal. 

Catch of the day,


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Retro Toys

Between all the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday sales pitches going on, I heard a still small voice speaking about toys of the past making a comeback. Some have never left, the yo-yo, dollhouses, bicycles, although each of those have updated versions, new etch-a-sketch.

New and improved Chatter Phone by Fisher-Price. Modern children might not know what it is for or how someone would ever use it, but it still is for sale, still fun to them.

One toy I didn't see in the video is the one that drove the teachers at Pilot Mountain School rather crazy.

Clackers. Study them well, because I would bet they will never become a retro toy on the market. What were we thinking?

They don't look like much, sitting there so innocently, balls on a string, just the right weight to give a solid bang when they collide. Yet given over to the hands of a sixth or seventh grader of the sixties, they came alive. They spun in orbit and clacked together at the other side. Or they clomped up against someone's head. Then they clacked some more. And more. 

Homemade versions of this toy just didn't work because the sound that drove the teachers crazy just wasn't the same. From an interview of a student:
  • Something came through here called clackers. It was a ring with a string and a ball on each end. You went pow, pow, pow, pow. Two clear plastic balls, you tried to get them going fast enough and you’d hear it. The clacking. The teachers got tired of that after a while and they banned them.

And teachers today think they have it so rough!

Catch of the day,