Sunday, December 1, 2019

Students design characters, teacher surprises students with plushes

In September 2019, I had the pleasure of appearing at the York Children’s Literature Festival in Indiana, where I further had the pleasure of meeting author/teacher Shannon Anderson

Something she shared in her talk so grabbed me that I asked if she’d write a guest post about it for my blog. Busy as she is, she agreed:

As an elementary teacher, the holidays are a wonderful time of year for making memories with your students. But in my classroom, something magical also happens once we return from winter break.

You see, I’m not just a teacher, I also write books. I’m fortunate to be able to share my passion for writing with my students. I have them write their own stories and go through the entire publication process.

We start with brainstorming, write our first draft, edit, revise, and even have critiques from students in upper grades. Then they illustrate all of the pages and send them off (to Studentreasures Publishing) to be made into hardcover picture books.

The students also draw their main characters to send to Budsies, a company that turns each picture into a plush character!

If you want your heart to melt, watch the stuffed animal reveal video (featured on The Today Show). 

You will see the excitement of each student as they see their character in plush form for the first time. They are in awe seeing that something they imagined has been turned into something tangible.

From there, we create book commercials using iMovie trailers. Lastly, the students illustrate a white dress for me to wear to our publication celebration.

We invite the parents to come see all of the books and characters and then relax and enjoy watching the book trailers each student created. We end with some cookies and punch.

As a teacher and author, I love the time I get to spend writing with my students. That’s why I wrote the book Be an Amazing Writing Teacher. I wanted to share my passion for inspiring young writers with other teachers. This publication project along with many others are described in the book.

I’m always striving to find ways to get kids excited to be at school, so I also wrote Go the Extra Smile. If you want ideas for the non-academic side of teaching, this book is full of motivational activities and lessons.

Both of these books are available at Pieces of Learning and my website.

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