Monday, April 27, 2009

Surprising Subjects

I've been fascinated by photography since I was given a Brownie Hawkeye camera when I was eight or nine years old. The changes in technology since then have been astounding, and you don't have to worry about the cost of film and processing anymore, but the act of framing an image in a viewfinder and then capturing it hasn't lost its magic at all.

Last year I used a digital camera to shoot many of the flowers in our garden. The images were crisper and more lifelike than any pictures I had taken in the past. I put together a collection of images to show how buds formed and opened and put them on the site. See Spring Colors.

During the remainder of the year and through the winter, I continued taking pictures of trees and plants. Many were close-ups and, as you might imagine, they included spectacularly colorful details of fall leaves.

Since I watch for ideas for children's stories, it was easy to imagine creatures living in the colorful little world I was shooting. That led to the idea of "capturing" garden pixies with my camera. To accomplish as much as they do, they have to move quickly. So a fast shutter speed is required. Above are some photos. In one, you just might see a pixie. Maybe if I increase the shutter speed some more? See The Spring Flower Show to see what I found.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meet Mr. Squared Pine

Now and then we receive envelopes from teachers bursting with terrific stories submitted to our Young Writers Workshop. Usually, these are based on our Story Starters. Reading them all is great fun. Picking one or two to publish is a terrible task. If we could, we would publish every one.

Students and their teacher in from Pierre, South Dakota, sent a collection of stories in March, last year. We picked a story by Eden W. and published it in April. We wanted to publish them all.

In May, we received an envelope full of stories from a second grade class in Eugene, Oregon. Since the beginning of the school year, they practiced skills such as brainstorming, peer editing, paragraph structure and the use of dialogue. They used all those skills preparing a wonderful group of stories based on our Story Starters. We chose one from Zoe P. to publish in June.

Last summer, another big envelope arrived, this time from Ilford, Essex, U.K. This teacher works with a wider age range of students. She invited the children to read Frogwart and the Tooth Fairies and Frogwart and the Easter Eggs. They studied the characters and discussed their personalities and behaviors and the settings I had illustrated. Then they set out to write and illustrate their own stories about Frogwart and Tippity Witchet. We selected stories by Sreram R. and Garthika S. to publish in August. Mr. Squared Pine is one of Garthika's wonderful characters.

Though most of the stories we receive are submitted individually by parents, we were intrigued by the ways these teachers used our simple Story Starters and other content from our site.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Welcome to our blog!

Like many people, Susan and I love to spend time on the beach. The sun, sand and ocean breezes are wonderfully refreshing. Away from email, cellphones, and our daily distractions, we can read a good book, look for shells, or play in the sand with our children and grandchildren if they happen to be along. We can also spend time thinking about and how to make it more engaging and helpful for children, parents, teachers and librarians.

So we thought we would invite you to join us on this virtual beach to share your ideas and experiences using our content with young children. Other parents and early childhood professionals are sure to benefit from your comments. We will be happy to learn what works and what doesn’t. 

A second purpose of this blog to let you see “behind the scenes” as we work on the site. We’ll use this space to preview ideas and show you sketches of content that’s being developed. No telling what you might see.

Thanks for visiting Chateau Meddybemps. Please comment as you see fit. Don’t forget your sun block.