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If you are interested in hiring a guest speaker to talk to the youngsters in your classroom, consider Alaska authors. Children’s writers know how to speak to kids in a fashion that is easy to understand.


As an educator, you surely know how important it is to help your students learn about the world in which they live. There are a number of methods you can use to expand youngsters’ knowledge bases. One option is to hire a guest speaker. If you decide to do this, Alaska authors make excellent presenters. They understand how to engage an audience and how to state their ideas clearly. Children’s writers are especially good at relating to students in elementary school classrooms. This website features information that you can use to hire a guest speaker to visit your school.

My picture books will take your students across 1100 miles of Alaskan wilderness by dog sled, put them on the summit of the world's highest peaks and show them that indeed, their dreams can come true. Students will meet new heroes, imagine new possibilities and experience new responsibilities as you lead them down the trail to rip-roaring adventure.

In addition to the Wilderness Adventure Series in my catalog you will find the first two in a series of expeditionary curricula. These are hands-on expanded units that cover science, math, geography, language arts, music, fine arts, social studies -- in short the whole gamut -- but in the context of a rousing adventure. These materials were created by teachers who use my books in the classsroom. Take them back to your students and HAVE FUN!

Looking for ideas for activities to incorporate into your curriculum?

Here are some suggestions that coordinate specifically with each of the stories available through , or that can be used separately. Each category is separated in terms of the story and then subject matter (science, geography, art, etc.).

Best of all, they promote active learning.

Also, author visits are most successful when the exposure of the students to the author and the book is extended beyond reading into creative activity.


Teacher's Resource Guide


To coordinate with The Alaska Mother Goose:

Geography:

  • Have the map of North America available to locate how far and how big Alaska is.
  • Find a map to use that has Alaska attached to Canada, so that children can see how much bigger Alaska is than Texas, and how far away it is. Globes are also useful for this.
  • Have students research: Arctic Circle, Arctic Ocean, Kodiak Harbor, Nome, tundra, Whitehorse.

Vocabulary:

  • buoys * cranberry bog * crowberries * mossberries * musky * piercing * portly * schist * shale * sulks * trill * tufted * vast

Science:

  • Research the plants in the book: fireweed * devil's club * reindeer moss * willows * spruce * birch * cranberry bog.
  • Investigate a variety of animal tracks; make them out of vegetable prints.
  • Explain to students about schist and shale.
  • Research animals: Arctic (White) fox * black bears * brown bears * caribou * collard lemmings * lynx or "link" kittens * marmots * musk oxen * polar bears * sea otters * silver or coho salmon * snow geese * snowshoe hare * tufted puffin * wolverines/wolves.

Poetry:

  • Read MotherGoose rhymes or recite ones that students know from memory.
  • Write "new" Alaska Mother Goose rhymes after learning about Alaska.
  • Write and illustrate Mother Goose rhymes about your school, neighborhood, town or city using the format in Alaska Mother Goose.
  • Write and sing a "piggy back" to a nursery rhyme.
  • Take a nature/discovery walk around outside and take sensory notes. How does the grass smell, the wind feel, etc. Then use notes to write a rhyme.
  • Make a class poem by adding on to a poem in the book such as "spruce for breakfast"...using what animals eat.

Creative Arts:

  • Create a chalk pastel for your favorite illustration.
  • Find out about the Northern Lights/ create an illustration with pastels on dark blue or black construction paper.
  • Create an Alaska Mother Goose stick puppet show; have students make a character and use it to retell the rhyme.
  • Use a paintbrush computer software program to create an Alaskan Mother Goose illustration.

 To coordinate with Alaska's Three Bears:

Science:

  • Discuss concept of species. Look at classification.
  • Find a species of an animal and write a "Three______" story. Include some of the facts found through research.
  • Investigate animal tracks. Each student could become an authority on one set of tracks. Go to a nature area to look for tracks or make up a track story using potato print tracks and mural paper.
  • Investigate family names of animals besides boar, sow and cub. Cut out animal and write name on each; display on classroom wall.
  • Investigate hibernation.
  • Explore danger of extinction that bears face. Tongass in Alaska, loss of habitat in United States; investigate ways that kids can help save the bear...see Emmy Award winning video THE BIGGEST BEARS by Daniel Zatz.
  • Go on a "bear hunt"...ask students to bring in pictures, facts, articles, books and any information they can find on the topic; spend some time each day allowing students to be on the hunt; at the end of the reading ask what they "captured" in the way of interesting facts.
  • Visit a zoo...make arrangements to have one of the zookeepers come and talk to the class about the care and handling of the bear; let kids send their questions to the zoo in advance of the trip so that Resource person will be prepared.
  • Find out how the constellation of the bear was developed; read the story to the class; have them create a bear constellation; use dark paper and a paper punch or gold stars; use terms Ursa major and Ursa minor.

Social Studies:

  • Create a list of famous bears (Goldilocks' three, Smokey, Winnie the Pooh, Gentle Ben, etc.). Have kids add to the list throughout the year.
  • Research the bear in myths and legends. How did different cultures view the bear through time? How did they use it or protect themselves against it?
  • Show geographic locations of the different bears; cut out small examples and place on world map to show habitat.
  • How did people perceive the bear throughout history? Did it affect the way the bear was treated?
  • What laws are there to protect bears? What evidence can students find that shows the mistreatment of this animal?

Math:

  • Use the Venn diagram to compare and contrast facts about three bears in a story (what each eats or how they get their food).
  • Use data from the book to teach children about graphs. Double bar graphs can be used to show information about height and weight of three bears.
  • Have students keep a chart of the facts they learn abut the three different kinds of bears.

 To coordinate with Swimmer:

Science:

  • Investigate different kinds of salmon: Chinook or king, humpy or pink, chum or dog, silver or coho, sockeye or red.
  • Investigate fish camps; set one up outside the classroom.
  • Use a pizza cardboard to draw pictures for the life cycle of a salmon; compare to life cycles of other animals.
  • Create a salmon calendar to show what happens each month.
  • Visit a fish hatchery.
  • Visit a fish store.

Social Studies:

  • Invent a scenario that deals with the future of the salmon species; students portray one of the following roles and must make a decision that affects salmon: logging, dam construction, irrigation, destruction of wetlands, industrial pollution, commercial fishing.
  • Make a salt flmy map of Alaska; put in the Yukon, Bering Sea, Caribou Creek and other locations.
  • Write to fishing companies to determine amounts taken and legal limits.
  • Write to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
  • Learn about different Native Alaskan tribes and customs.

 

Creative Arts:

  • Write an ancient prayer to an animal.
  • Taste test different ways of cooking salmon: smoked, dried, salted, canned.
  • Make a cardboard story knife and use it to retell a story in the sand.
  • Investigate the Northern Lights; do a watercolor painting.
  • Rewrite the "circle of Life" song from The Lion King to tell the story of Swimmer.
  • Make a diorama from a scene of the story.
  • Use symbols of Native Alaskans to tell a story.
  • Create Swimmer out of watercolors, pastels, or crayon; make a border around the picture.

 To coordinate with Kiana's Iditarod:

Social Studies:

  • Have students locate Anchorage and Nome on the map.
  • Have the children research the Iditarod, including its history. What are the rules? Who can enter? How do they train the dogs?
  • Have the children research dog sledding.
  • What does the term "as the crow flies" mean?
  • Use the game show "Jeopardy" to learn facts about the Iditarod and Alaska in general.

 

Math:

  • Have them measure the distance of the race. Using the scale, see how close they can come to the actual 1049 miles that the race runs. How much are they off?
  • Would the dog sleds be able to run on a straight line, like the students drew between the two cities? Why/why not?

Other:

  • Simulate your own dog sled race either as an obstacle cmyse or as a seventeen-day jmyney of reading- students must read/be read to a certain number of minutes for each of the seventeen days to "complete" the race.
 

 To coordinate with Mammoth Magic and Will's Mammoth:

  • Compare the likenesses and differences in the two titles.
  • Research mammoths and discuss the similarities between the two in these books.
  • Where have there been sightings of mammoths?

 To coordinate with Thunderfeet: Alaska's Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Critters:

  • Research dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.
  • Why might they have become extinct ?

 To coordinate with North Country Christmas:

  • What is the true meaning of Christmas (and other holidays) to students?
  • Have them write their own stories describing this.

 Other ideas:

Art Projects:

  • Mobiles Drawings/Illustrations
  • Paintings
  • Ceramics
  • Scrolls/Dioramas
  • Banners/Murals
  • Bulletin boards
  • Decorated table cloths
  • Book covers
  • Posters/Collages

Games:

  • Word Search
  • Crossword Puzzles
  • Mix and Match game (small picture or cards to match book titles with characters)
  • Then What Happened? game. Put pieces (events from a book) in chronological order.

Creative Arts:

  • Create a magazine ad.
  • Be one of the characters in the book and perform skits, plays, pantomimes.
  • Write an article for the school/town newspaper.
  • Have a panel discussion or debate. "Interview" characters from the books.
  • Write a poem about something from a book.
  • Compare an encyclopedia article with the author's style of presenting facts.
  • Create a special song or cheer to perform for the author.
  • Write thank-you notes as a follow-up.

Miscellaneous:

  • Bake a special cake and decorate it.
  • Bring your camera the day of the author's visit; get candid snaps for a classroom scrapbook.
  • Sew a burlap wall hanging with felt appliqués (make it re-usable for other author)
  • Make a stuffed animal or character - felt makers on a piece of white sheet - cut out, stitch and stuff. (Small ones make a great mobile).
  • Bring a large prop into the classroom to stimulate interest.
  • Declare the day "author's name Day" - have an official proclamation signed by the principal.

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