Sunday, February 13, 2011

Books and Reading for Young Folks


As a teacher I could not abide textbooks. I have had the eye opening experience of writing state standards for education and then writing state mandated assessments.  And while the educators who are on the committees have the children's best interests at heart, it becomes evident very quickly that it is a political game of chess and not all of the parties involved have the children's best interests as their motivation. What drives publicity and then later votes is what reigns supreme in regards to standards and textbook selection. I would like to believe that has changed since I retired from education, but as I read the headlines unfortunately I believe it continues to be the same. Textbooks are written to meet political agendas, not to meet the needs of the child.

I found my special education students did not respond to textbooks. My kids often came to me with no reading skills. So it made no sense to me to continue to use textbooks that had already failed. Instead my classroom was filled with children's literature. And one of my all time favorite historical author's was Jean Fritz. She captured the kids' imaginations. She found out small trivial details that would never find their way into a textbook, but that were interesting and relevant to kids. It made them want to stay in from recess just because they had to know what Benjamin Franklin was going to invent next! Or what did George Washington eat for breakfast?

I also found that sometimes a historical figure appearing in the classroom was so much more interesting than a teacher. So there were days I would travel back in time to find someone to come visit and spend the day with the class. And I would take a much deserved day off from teaching, LOL. (And I still can't believe it that the kids bought that story!)

So on this particular day Ms. Humility from the 1700's came to the 1990's. What a shock it was for her! The children spoke strangely! There were electrical candles that the children called lights run by electricity. But Ms Humility had just been to Mr. Franklin's house and electricity came from lightening. Did the children figure out how to put a thunderstorm into a computer to make it work?????? And girls wearing pants and dressing like boys? Were they not afraid of being shamed and being sentenced to spending time in the public square and being ridiculed?

What a day the children and Humility had. The American Revolution became real to the children. Different viewpoints were being discussed. Why taxing tea was just unforgivable King George! And now not only did men have the right to vote about taxes, women now had the right to vote???? Humility almost died of shock.

So now Humility has returned to her own time, and all I had left was a picture of her visiting. So what to do?

When the Bo Bunny Learning Curve line came out I was just breathless with excitement. I loved the paper. And low and behold a friend is selling it on an EBAY at an awesome price and you get to pick and choose which parts of the line you want to make your own kit! To see it click on this link: Bo Bunny Learning Curve Products

I used the blackboard paper behind Humility's picture because I wanted to draw the correlation between the centuries. The 1990's blackboard with the message from me is behind Humility in the picture. She was so relieved to know blackboard's still existed! I also copied 3 of my favorite Jean Fritz books that we later read in the classroom onto glossy paper so they would look like the paperbacks we had in the classroom. And all of my books in the classroom had library cards, so they were a natural to incorporate.

And since sewing was a major occupation in Humility's time, I stitched the ribbon and Humility's photo to the page. A word about sewing on paper. It takes some practice. Paper is very unforgiving. There are no do overs with sewing. Every time I sit down to sew I always practice on scrap paper. Lots of things can go wrong. Paper creates a ton of dust. The adhesive I use to tack it down before I sew causes the needle to gum up. I clean the machine weekly. I have a brush I dust with. I use Un-Du adhesive wipes to wipe down the needle and the fabric feeder. I oil the moving parts once a week. And I learned all of this the hard way. The first machine I used for sewing on paper I destroyed in three months. This machine has lasted two years. It is a cheap Singer Simple I bought at Wal-Mart for less than $75.00. Cleaning time has paid off well!

Here's the resulting page:
Books and Reading for Young Folk

 I am sure Humility would be amazed!

Have a wonderful day of learning moments!


  1. I really like the page you made!!! Everything you've done with it, anything you added 100% suits the concept you wanted to present! I love the stiching as well..i really want to do it myself but i'm too scared that i'll ruin the project i'm working on!! :P Well done!!!

  2. Thank you Ioanna Maria. One of the things I have learned is to do the sewing first. That way if you do have a mistake you can cover it up with an embellishment or maybe moving a photo. And I practiced on scraps for a very long time before I even attempted a page. I didn't want to ruin the paper. And I still have had some growing moments! LOL


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