By Jena Ball
I am an author and illustrator of children’s books that I consciously design to be more than books. I want kids to fall in love with my stories about eight goofy mixed breed mutts and come away thinking, “I can do that!” In other words, I want to both entertain and encourage kids to use what they’ve learned in the stories. For example, after reading the tale of Ricky Bobby, a special needs dog rescued from a puppy mill, kids are encouraged to use their creativity to make posters about kindness and help dogs at their local animal shelter get adopted.
These kinds of practical, hands on activities are a wonderful way to engage the whole child – heart, mind and body – and help insure that learning sticks. They are also the reason I am very picky about the kind and number of technologies I ask kids to use. Any digital tool, whether it’s a physical device or a piece of software, needs to support and enhance learning in some way. It also needs to encourage and empower children to use their imaginations and interact with the world with more than their minds. That’s why I was delighted to discover “Write About This” just as we began planning CritterKin’s first summer reading program.
The CritterKin Summer Reading Program will begin June 23rd and continue through the week of August 4th. Kids will have the chance to not only read the books, but draw, write and explore topics based on the stories as well. We are suggesting that kids who have access to iPads use the “Write About This” app to capture images and record their thoughts as they work through the activities. The example below is based on the book Poco a Poco in which an abandoned mother dog and her puppy are rescued and find their forever homes. As you might expect, the story revolves around a difficult situation that is resolved thanks to the kindness, dedication and hard work of the people involved.
Since Poco a Poco is based on actual events, visual prompts can be created in “Write About This” that encourage kids to research the location, organizations and people involved. This not only helps bring the story alive, but expands the learning to include subjects such as geography, science and history. Being able to capture and include images and record audio in their documents personalizes and enhances the learning as well.
In short, “Write About This” is a tool that is practical, easy to use and expands a kid’s creative options. We will be using it, along with good old fashioned paper and pencil, to record and reflect our adventures reading the CritterKin books.
To learn more about the CritterKin Summer Reading Program, please visit http://critterkin.com/about/critterkin-summer-reading/ and check back often for suggestions on how to use “Write About This” and other creative tools to capture your children’s imaginations and help them fall in love with reading.