Kids love dragons. There's no denying it. Elementary school activities or lesson plans that include dragons often do a great job of holding a students' interest. Kathy Prater, reading specialist and Adjunct Professor at Mississippi University for Women, came up with some wonderful Science, Art, Math, and English cross-curricular activities that not only have a tie to dragons, but have a tie to my picture book, Old MacDonald had a Dragon.
Take a look at her ideas on the International Reading Associations' website at www.reading.org/general/Publications/blog/BlogSinglePost/engage/2013/05/23/putting-books-to-work-ken-bakers-old-macdonald-had-a-dragon.
For other dragon related teaching resources, you can also check out my lesson plan page on my website atwww.kenbakerbooks.com/lessonplans.htm.
Monday, May 6, 2013
A child that masters reading opens the door to an endless array of opportunities for success and happiness. Their choices become virtually unlimited. To paraphrase William Godwin, reading puts everything within our reach.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Getting books in the hands of children that they will love is so key to helping them form habits of regular reading. That doesn't mean forcing certain types of books on them. It means being open to their personal tastes and helping them find books that they will want to devour. That could mean graphic novels, classics, non-fiction, adventures, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, poetry, contemporary, humor, whatever.
Monday, April 8, 2013
I had a nice chat the other day with Old MacDonald to get his insight on the dragon fiasco that took place on his farm. Enjoy!
Ken: What prompted you to get a dragon for your farm?
Old MacD: You know, the old song was getting as stale as a year old biscuit. Having a dragon on the farm just seemed to make sense. What kid singing my song wouldn’t want a verse of “With a roar, roar here. And a roar, roar there. Here a roar, there a roar. Everywhere a roar, roar.” Besides, who doesn’t love dragons?
Ken: What was the best part of having a dragon?
Old MacD: Marshmallows. I never needed a campfire. Just throw him a marshmallow and voila- instant deliciousness. Add some chocolate and graham crackers, and ooh-wee, you’re in S’more heaven.
Ken: When did you first start suspecting a problem?
Old MacD: Well, the animals started to complain. Of course, I thought they were just jealous. Dragons are cool. Bold. Flashy. And downright awesome. They got the wings. The massive tail. And you can’t beat that breathing fire bit. Dragons can be a bit intimidating when you’re just a pig wallowing in your own goo.
Ken: What does a full-sized, fire breathing winged dragon cost these days?
Old MacD: No matter what those blasted infomercials say, $19.95 won’t get you a decent dragon. Oh, sure they’ll send you a toad or newt with taped on wings, but you won’t get any fire out of those buggers. If you’re careful you can find a good dragon online, but the shipping and handling will burst your billfold.
(Spoiler Alert!) Ken: What was it like to sing and play your guitar inside a dragon?
Old MacD: I could do without the slime and the intestines jiggling under my boots, but the acoustics were dagnab delightful. I ain't no fancy smancy virtuosos, but inside a dragon I can give that Chesney fella a run for his money.
Ken: After the whole dragon incident, are you still on speaking terms with your animals?
Old MacD: The whole dragon thing was what got the animals talking to begin with. Hecky-darn, now I can’t get the pig and cow to shut up. I kinda miss the days when all I had to worry about was a moo moo here or an oink oink there. Believe me. I’ve learned my lesson. Dragons are a big fat fuss. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about.
Ken: Any final words?
Old MacD: You know, not many people can say they once had their own dragon. That’s something, ain’t it? But Pappy used to always say, “Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.” For awhile there, having a dragon was quite the fandango, but in the end I think I might just have getted got… Oh, and one last thing. E-I-E-I-O.
For the full story on the great dragon farm fiasco, check out the book Old MacDonald had a Dragon.
In case you want to tweet Old MacD's interview, here are some tweetables
Dragons can be a bit intimidating when you’re just a pig wallowing in your own goo - click to tweet
For $19.95 they’ll send you a toad or newt with taped on wings, but you won’t get any fire out of those buggers - click to tweet
The dragon thing got the animals talking to begin with. Hecky-darn, now I can’t get the pig and cow to shut up - click to tweet
I ain't no fancy smancy virtuosos, but inside a dragon I can give that Chesney fella a run for his money - click to tweet
Add some chocolate and graham crackers, and ooh-wee, you’re in S’more heaven - click to tweet
For awhile having a dragon was quite the fandango, but in the end I think I might just have getted got - click to tweet
Image by Christopher Santoro
Thursday, March 14, 2013
The school librarian told me ahead of time that the small, out-of-the-way community doesn’t get much in the way of entertainment, so my visit to the school was going to be a big deal. So of course, the teachers, school administration, and students were all excited to have me there. The kids were all engaged in the presentations I gave. They listened. They participated. They laughed when they were supposed to. Even one sweet little girl ran up to me and gave me a hug afterward. All of those were wonderful and added to making it a great experience, but what really made it such a satisfying experience were comments that different teachers made to me at different times after the presentations.
After my Exciting World of Books presentation, one teacher said something to the effect, “The way you read to the kids with such expression is just what we needed to reinforce what we’ve been teaching with fluency. The kids loved it, and now we can say, ‘See, that’s why it’s important to read with expression.’”
After my presentation on Story Creation Fun, one teacher made a comment like, “Your segment on showing versus telling is just what we we’ve been trying to get across to our students. Kids don’t always believe or think what teachers teach is important, but when they hear it from an author, then it makes an impact.” Another teacher said, “Thank you for covering the “try-fail cycle. We’ve been working on that and you reinforced what we’ve been teaching. It was perfect.”
This is the effect that I want all my school visits to have. I want to reinforce in a positive way what teachers are trying to teach. I want kids to get excited about reading. I want to help nurture a love for reading in their lives. I not only want to teach kids some of the key aspects of how to write better stories, but I want them to get a feel for how wonderful and fun the story creation process can be.
The real value of an author school visit is not its entertainment value. The real value of an author school visit is the positive, life-changing impact it can have on students, while reinforcing the schools, teachers and librarians’ efforts in a way that no other activity or assembly can.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Friday, February 8, 2013
Best-selling author, Jeff Rivera, interviewed me the other day. In the interview I talk about why I write and how I hope to help kids, among other things. You can find the interview on his site at jeffrivera.com/interview-with-author-ken-baker/