Learning about the four seasons through music, pictures and words

Vivaldi and the Four Seasons struck the right chord with Kids in Milbridge and Machiasport, while Vinalhaven students learned some seasonal secrets. IRW brought authors to schools last week − Jan Coates gives us the lowdown.


Milbridge Elementary School

A copy of Stephen Costanza’s book ‘Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra’ stands proudly placed in the trophy case at Milbridge Elementary after a visit from Stephen and IRW on Thursday, March 7.

Children gave us an extraordinary welcome. They made a colorful sign, ‘Maine Island Readers’ with letters that they had cut out themselves. They greeted us with smiles and a helping hand. None of us could wait to get started!

Island Readers WelcomeMachiasport kids SteveC

Steve’s audience, over 100 K-8 students, actively listened to music and participated in his presentation. Youngsters modeled masks from Venice, played imaginary stringed instruments and read passages describing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. They learned firsthand about the tools of an artist — especially imagination, which they showed by demonstrating an invisible game of catch.

Stephen shared his inspiration for the book, the story of Vivaldi and the orphans he taught to play the violin, and the writing process before engaging in a series of workshops. The workshops had all kids listening to The Four Seasons and illustrating what the music conveyed for each of the seasons.

An artist shares her creations

They wrote their stories as they imagined them, too. 

IRW gave all students their very own individual copy of ‘Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra’, signed by Steve.

Placing a book in the trophy case is now a tradition at Milbridge Elementary School, which began with Cynthia Lord and her book ‘Touch Blue’ when she visited with IRW recently. Cynthia was the first author to visit the school in 22 years. We hope Steve’s visit will be another one in a long line of author visits to come!


Fort O’Brien School, Machiasport

On Friday, March 8, IRW and Stephen Costanza visited Fort O’Brien School in Machiasport. We enjoyed sharing the life and music of Vivaldi with youngsters there.  We set up in the library in a cozy setting where students could easily see the many instruments, posters and paintings that Steve included in his presentation.

Machiasport - Let the Program Begin!

Steve’s love for music was surely experienced by the students, as he took them through the evolution of music over time − demonstrating the sounds of jazz, ragtime and rock & roll.  They all discussed the stories that each piece of music told.  The Four Seasons has a special story too, and that was the focus of Steve’s workshop and program.

Illustrating the Four Seasons

Students all received their very own individual copy of ‘Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra’, signed by Steve.

Books Given to all!mask pic

It was a magical mix – a welcoming school with eager learners − some being introduced to the music of Vivaldi and eighteenth century Venice for the first time − and a creative artist to conduct the proceedings. We hope for a symphony of future visits to the Fort O’Brien School in Machiasport!


 Vinalhaven: Author Kim Ridley and Illustrator Rebekah Raye

Goose. Kim, BeckyEven though snow is still on the ground there is much to learn before exploring outside this spring, that is why IRW took a ferry ride to Vinalhaven with Goosey, Kim Ridley and Rebekah Raye!

Where were we headed? Can you keep a secret? We were going to visit the Vinalhaven School to share a story about ‘The Secret Pool’, by Kim Ridley and illustrated by Rebekah Raye.

What fun!  It all started with an assembly presentation that Kim and Rebekah refer to as the ‘story of the story’.  They talked about what inspired ‘The Secret Pool,’ and the research, writing and illustrating that went into the book.

KIim, Becky Ferry4th grade Vinalhaven School

‘What is the Secret Pool’ you ask? It is the story of a vernal pool and all the animals who live in it throughout the seasons. It is everything from a snack bar to a safe haven for woodland creatures. All the children in grades 3-5 got to work with Rebekah and Kim to write and draw their own stories about an animal that can be found in a vernal pool!

Here’s what kids had to say about the day:

‘I liked how they told the story about the story’ – 4th grader

‘Wood frogs are so athletic’ – 5th grader

‘Rebekah and Kim inspired us in our writing and art’ − 5th grader

‘I never knew that a wood frog’s heart stops in the winter and warms up in spring’ – 4th grader

The fifth grade is going to put all of the stories and illustrations together and make their own book.  We hope for more writing opportunities on Vinalhaven in the near future.

All of these were wonderful visits!  Thank you to all the students and teachers too!


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One Comment

  1. Sallie Findlay

    It all starts with a good story!! IRW sure is busy this month, inspiring the children of DownEast Maine!

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