In his book Faraway Friends, Russ Cox’s characters declare, “To Jupiter and beyond!”
On April 25th and 26th, IRW went to the islands and beyond.
At North Haven on the 25th, Russ pulled props out of an envelope for 5th – 8th graders to use as prompts to get creative with their newly acquired sketchbooks, by incorporating their prompt object into their drawings. The 7th & 8th grade group requested a second session with him for after lunch since they were just getting warmed up in the morning!
The PreK group at the Waterman’s Center on the island had created their own helmets and a space ship complete with a drawbridge entry door! They were also very well practiced on the space countdown.
Kids had interesting questions for Russ, such as the 5th/6th grader who asked, “Have you ever used a rock to draw on another rock?”
A great first island visit day was topped off by an adventure by water, not spaceship, as Ruth, IRW program director, and Russ crossed the thoroughfare by water taxi to Vinalhaven.
A lovely potluck dinner with Vinalhaven elementary grade teachers awaited us, thanks to the hosting by long-time teacher/IRW supporter/Vinalhaven’s school site coordinator Sue Dempster.
Russ viewed students’ projects based on his book, including PreK and kindergarteners’ paper rocket ships and “shape ships,” 3D rockets ships, rocket ship collages and accompanying stories (which first graders read to us out loud).
The highlight of the day was an epic egg drop; all elementary students were partnered across grades and given an identical kit of materials with which to build a safe container for their egg to be dropped. They had to graphically design the “harness,” describe it, and write a story about it. Amidst shrieks of excitement and disappointed “aw”s in unison, the surviving eggs – dropped from a height of 25+ feet – were celebrated and cheered on.
During an afternoon workshop with Grades 3 – 5, students asked Russ engaging questions, such as, “When did you make your first project?” “Did you go to art school?” and “How long does it take to write a book?” (Answers: About one year old, yes, four years and seventeen versions).
Thank you, North Haven and Vinalhaven, for welcoming us to your schools and being dear (and not-so-faraway) friends to our team and authors!