Saturday, May 13, 2017

On the Go with Karen Williams, Galimotos, & More

A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of having author Karen L. Williams visit our school. I’m always a little in awe when sharing space with real, published authors.
In preparation for that, our team of elementary Special Subject teachers created a bevy of activities to coordinate with eight of Karen's picture books. These picture books focus on the life and culture of Haiti and Malawi, two places in which she lived and found inspiration. The activities below took place both before, after, and even during her all-day visit to school.
While Karen Williams was on campus, she presented two assemblies (one geared for the younger students, the other for 3rd—5th graders). There on stage, she showed us pictures, art, & artifacts; and she told stories of her adventures and how they inspired her writing. We got to see authentic galimotos (GAL-lee-moe-toes), which are toy push-cars made by children out of found wire and natural items. We also got to see both pictures and toy tap taps (colorful trucks, much like buses that people used to get from place to place, and you “tap tapped” on the side to let the driver know where you wanted to get off). No surprise both of these inspired books by the names of these items.

As we created school-wide activities, these were some of our curricular goals to make her visit truly meaningful on multiple levels:
  • Students discover the natural connections between literature and other subjects (art, music, science, technology, social studies, physical education, research, etc.);
  • Students meet literary children/characters from different geographic regions, socioeconomic levels, and cultures;
  • Students receive writing feedback from a successful children’s author;
  • Students connect and interview both a published author and well-traveled humanitarian.
Below are some of the ways we integrated Karen Williams’ books with our studies across the grade-level spectrum. With all of these activities, students got a chance to embrace the maker movement, creativity, problem solving, perseverance & grit, innovation, sustainability, and cultural awareness.

To learn a little about our experience, you can click these links to read both Karen Williams’ blog & the Capital Gazette article by Sharon Lee Tegler.  Additionally, here are some ways to connect with both Karen and her books:

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