I Geeked Out on This Guide, Big Time - GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code is an inspirational story about a dynamic, tenacious, and accomplished woman whose entire life was guided by insatiable curiosity.  It was clear from the beginning that Grace Hopper was going to make a lasting impact on the world. As a child, she was driven to understand how and why things worked as they did. Her tolerant mother accepted her daughter’s continual dissections of alarm clocks and other household items as “Grace just being Grace”.  As an adult, Grace’s perpetual need to question the scientific status quo, coupled with her deep patriotic devotion, affected every project she was involved in, as well as the people she served along the way. Grace Hopper was one of kind, to say the very least.

As a teacher, I’ve worked with lots of kids like Grace Hopper. Brainiacs obsessed with math and science. Kids that won’t take an adult’s word for an answer. Instead, they are driven to comprehend why and how about everything and will not stop questioning until they do. (I once had a batch of students that found memorizing the numeric sequencing of pi to be entertaining! Good times, right?) Because of my experiences with Grace’s clones, I particularly enjoyed creating a guide for Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code. Ideas for projects kept on coming.

One of Grace Hopper’s most remarkable scientific contributions was developing computer code using the English language, rather than relying totally on the binary system.  In the guide, I created a lesson in which young readers could experience the tediousness and attention to detail computing with base-two, the binary numeric system. To think that Grace Hopper had to use that system to write code all the time! Yikes!  

There is also a manipulative historical timeline in this guide. Because Grace’s life was so extraordinary, readers deserved an elaborate one.  The dated timeline strip is documented with tabs describing key events in her life which coincide with others noting historic occurrences of the day, highlighted by labeled phrases derived from a lively list poem found in the introduction to the book.  I can just imagine Grace Hopper Mini-Me’s huddled around the timeline and the other projects in the guide, exploring the life and times of this astonishing woman.

I only wish I could be there with them.

Trekking Down the Jes' Happened Timeline

With each guide I work to create something that will help keep the book in the minds of teachers and librarians for a long time. Something that they can easily pull up and reuse. Something that the kids can make by themselves. The objectives of teacher guide exercises must stem from the varied themes presented in the story. And, I try to create activities in which the kids must repeatedly refer to specific pages in the book. Gotta keep that book in their hands!  

The overarching theme in Don Tate's It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw is the passage of time. It is a remarkable tale of a man who, while in his 80's, began to draw pictures depiciting the vivid memories of his life as a slave, a sharecropper, and a freeman. This great story is pieced together with multiple references of time and place, more so than in many picture books I've seen. So, I thought, since the aspects of time and place are critical to Bill Traylor's story, let's make a timeline!

 There is some assembly required to create this project. Not to worry, though. It's super easy to make. Everything you need is listed in the guide. With a little glue, some scissors, and the book in hand the incredible events of Bill Traylor's life and death can be chronicled over and over again.

 There are lots of other interactive activities in Don's guide. For instance, comprehension is reviewed by working an awesome crossword puzzle. There's a writing exercise built around writing in a character's point of view. And a poetry activity in which the students pull from their own memories as inspiration - the best kind.

So, get the book, download the guide, and have yourself some grand old fun! Make it jes' happen.

Simple Saturday: Anasazi Cave Art

Photos taken by Tony Kuyper A quote from Flood's Sand to Stone and Back Again,  "I shelter deer, pack rats, antelope, and bats. And hikers, like you, or long ago, the Ancient Ones. In my canyons the built their homes, painted pictures, carved messages, and left handprints."

Pretend that you are an Ancient One living hundreds and hundreds of years ago in a cave located in the great Southwest with a desire to communicate, to express yourself artistically, or to just have some Simple Saturday fun! Let's take our Styrofoam meat tray, scissors, tempera paint, small art brush, small something to carve with, and piece of paper and roll back the hands of time, shall we?

Here's what we'll do:

Cut Styrofoam meat tray into 3 X 5 in. pieces. Carve a petroglyph into one of the small pieces. (Petroglyph is another word for cave art.) Brush tempera paint onto the petroglyph stamp. Press stamp onot piece of paper.

Great Gods! You've created cave art!

Study the cave art in the photos above. What ones speak to you? What do you think the Ancient Ones were trying to say? Be a Anasazi and create your own image, you little Simple Saturday wise one.

Simple Saturday Prep: Cave Art

Tomorrow's Simple Satruday is inspired by Nancy Bo Flood's From Sand to Stone and Back Again.

In the book, Nancy speaks of the Ancient Ones, "...People who lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago," who "...painted or carved rock art on cliffs or in caves." Well, in true Simple Saturday form, why don't we make our own cave art prints. Sound like fun?

So gather up a styrofoam meat tray, some tempra paint, scissors, something sharp to carve with like a nail or a toothpick, a small art brush, and a piece of paper and let's step back into time and replicate the artistic wonders of the Anasazi...the Ancient Ones.