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Betsy Lewin

Discussion & Activity Guide:

Creative Suggestions for Sharing TeachingBooks Author Programs with Children

This guide includes activities for students of all ages. All suggested activities and discussions should be adapted to fit your particular classroom dynamic.

Dumpy La Rue and the Use of Markers Betsy Lewin says in the movie that she likes to illustrate using a loose brush or felt tip marker. Give your students a variety of sizes of felt tip markers. Have them draw the same shape using each of these markers. Why would Betsy Lewin use a different size marker when illustrating? Does the different size change the mood of the picture? Use the book Dumpy La Rue to discuss with your students the use of markers. Does the thickness of the outline of the animals change their appearance? Where is it thicker? What might be a reason for this? Dumpy La Rue and the Use of Color Betsy Lewin carefully chooses the colors she uses for her illustrations. As she explained in the movie, when she has a completed a drawing in the form she wants to use in a book, she has her original photocopied onto watercolor paper, and then paints on that. This way she can explore different color palettes for the picture without having to re-draw the whole thing. In the movie, she shows two versions of the illustration when Dumpy La Rue dances for the other animals. Have your students experiment with different color palettes on the same picture. Hand out multiple copies of the same coloring sheet and ask them to fill it in with very different colors. How do the color choices change the mood of the drawing? What colors best show quiet? What colors give a feeling of happiness or excitement? Dumpy La Rue and Dancing In the story Dumpy La Rue, the author uses very specific words to describe the moves of the animals. Two examples are "glissade" and "pas de bourree." Put the words on the board. Ask the children if they recognize them. Glissade means, "a gliding step in ballet." Look at the word. Does it remind you of glide? Pas de bourree means, "a walking or running ballet step usually executed on the points of the toes." Find the other words in the book that relate to dancing. List them on the board and discuss them. Brainstorm other words about dancing. If you have students who dance, ask if they will demonstrate a few moves. If there is time, go to the gym or outside to practice some of the steps the animals are doing. Create a Congo line. Incorporate masks or tails or animal headbands into the Congo line. Use musical instruments if they are available to add to the celebration.

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Dumpy La Rue says, "If you want to dance, if you want to glide, just close your eyes and listen inside." Ask the students what he means by that. Would animals have the chance to hear music very often? What kind of music would they enjoy? Why? Collect a sampling of music and ask the children to close their eyes and listen. After each song, have them sketch or write about the feeling the music inspired. Play the music again, and this time, ask the students to close their eyes and dance to the music. Do your students agree or disagree with Dumpy's sentiments of "just close your eyes and listen inside?" Explain.

Dumpy La Rue and Revisions In the movie Betsy Lewin says "the way I really like to draw is out of my head." Ask your students what they think Betsy means by saying "out of my head?" Can they give examples of times they did the same? Ask the students to draw a picture without thinking about it very much. Encourage them to create a spontaneous image. Then ask them to take time and draw it over, this time thinking about the lines and the shapes. How did it change? Which do they like better? Discuss.

Betsy Lewin uses tracing paper for her pictures. As she says "Because my drawing is so quick and spontaneous, a lot of times if I have to do that drawing over several times, it loses some of that spontaneity. So I discovered that if I do the drawings on tracing paper and I don't like a particular gesture, I can tear that out and put another one in." We see in the movie how Betsy changes her cow's eyes with the tracing paper. Give your students several pieces of tracing paper and ask them to draw different eyes. Have each student draw a cow or other animal head on another piece of paper.? Give them time to change the eyes on their animal. Ask them to write in a journal or discuss in small groups how the different eyes change their picture. Do they have a favorite pair? Could they use these same eyes for another animal? Why or Why not?.

Click, Clack, Moo and Shadows In the story Click, Clack, Moo, Betsy uses the shadow of the farmer to show her audience how upset he is about the cows leaving him a note on the barn door. She tells us "it was just a bonus that the straw hat looked like Farmer Brown's hair standing on end, which showed his rage even more." Using a bright lamp, have the students use an ordinary object from the room and look at the shadow it makes. If you combine the first item with another object, what else does it look like? Put a large piece of drawing paper or poster board on the wall and have the students trace it. Discuss what could be added to make it more realistic. Would color make a difference? What should the background show? Click, Clack, Moo and the Last Page One of the special pleasures that Betsy Lewin has with illustrating children's books is the last page. "I like it to be just a drawing if I can work it out that way, without any text. Because in that drawing I like to bring something to the story that wasn't told." Read the book Click, Clack, Moo to the class without showing the last picture.

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Discuss the story and what they think will happen to the ducks. They asked for the diving board, but will they get it? Have the students study the pond, what could they add to it, to make it more exciting? Ask the students to illustrate their own last page to Click, Clack, Moo or have them chose their own story and illustrate a new ending.

Click, Clack, Moo and Animals at Play In Click, Clack, Moo, cows type. In Dumpy La Rue, animals dance. Would Click, Clack, Moo be as interesting without typing cows? Could Dumpy La Rue dance without standing on two feet? In some zoos, zoo keepers have discovered that elephants enjoy painting. Is it possible that pigs could enjoy dancing? Think of something an animal could really do that is similar to games you enjoy. Draw a picture of that animal playing on something you enjoy. A cat sliding down a slide, a monkey playing a guitar, or a horse on a skateboard? Write a poem or a story to go with your picture. A Houseful of Christmas and Characterization and Illustration During the movie, when Betsy is discussing Barbara Joosse's A Houseful of Christmas she said, "When you illustrate a story like that, where there are specific characters, you have to give each of those characters a face." Without showing the cover or pictures, read the pages in A Houseful of Christmas when all of Grandma's family arrives and walks in the door. Ask the students to pick out specific words they feel describe the characters the best. Write these words on a large piece of paper or the chalkboard. Generate more words from students that might describe their own relatives. Tell the students they are to be an author and an illustrator. Have them choose three of those words and write a sentence about a relative and then give it to another student. Have each illustrator draw what they think that relative might look like, and share it with the author. · In a journal, have the students write about their feelings about the picture. Was it really like their relative? · What other words could they had added to make the description more clear. How would they change the picture? If time, have the student bring in a picture of the relative and hang the picture next to the illustrators version. A Houseful of Christmas and Emotions The illustrations of A Houseful of Christmas do a wonderful job of portraying feelings without any need of reading the text. Picture read the story with your students. Ask the children how the characters are feeling. For example, how do they know the cat on the ladder is upset? What in the picture shows that the dogs are excited? How can you show emotions in a picture? Ask the students draw several animals or faces to portray different emotions. If time, ask the students to trade pictures and write a sentence or two about that picture. Is it Far to Zanzibar? and Watercolors

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Nikki Grimes spent a year doing linguistic and cultural research in Tanzania, East Africa. She brought back with her stories that she crafted into imaginative poems, which Betsy Lewin illustrated in Is it Far to Zanzibar? Poems about Tanzania. Betsy's watercolors enhance the beauty of the poems. They are active and full of movement as they depict the busy lives of the Tanzanian people. Pass out watercolors to the students and have them experiment on paper. How does it feel to use watercolors? What is fun about them? What is challenging? What happens to the paper when it dries? How do watercolors differ from markers or crayons? Color a picture with a marker and then try to make a watercolor picture exactly the same. How would you describe the differences between the images from different media? Which was easier to create? Do you have a preference?

Betsy Lewin, interviewed in her studio in Brooklyn, New York on August 22, 2001. Multimedia program available at www.TeachingBooks.net beginning July, 2002. Books by Betsy Lewin TWO EGGS PLEASE (written by Sarah Weeks), Atheneum, 2003 CAT COUNT, Henry Holt, 2003 THE SLEEPOVER (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 2003 GIGGLE, GIGGLE, QUACK (written by Doreen Cronin), Simon & Schuster, 2002 AUNT MINNIE AND THE TWISTER (written by Mary Skillings Prigger), Clarion 2002 A HUG GOES AROUND (written by Laura Krauss Melmed), HarperCollins, 2002 SOFTBALL PRACTICE (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 2002 A HOUSEFUL OF CHRISTMAS (written by Barbara Joosse), Henry Holt, 2001 DUMPY LA RUE (written by Elizabeth Winthrop), Henry Holt, 2001 PURRFECTLY PURRFECT: LIFE AT THE ACATEMY (written by Patricia Lauber), HarperCollins, 2001 BUG GIRL (written by Carol Sonenklar), Random House, 2000 CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE (written by Doreen Cronin), Simon & Schuster, 2000 ELEPHANT QUEST (written by Ted and Betsy Lewin), HarperCollins, 2000 IS IT FAR TO ZANZIBAR?: POEMS ABOUT TANZANIA (written by Nikki Grimes), HarperCollins, 2000 PROMISES (written by Elizabeth Winthrop), Clarion Books, 2000 AUNT MINNIE McGranahan (written by Mary S. Prigger), Clarion Books, 1999 BUG BOY (written by Carol Sonenklar), Random House, 1998 CLASS TRIP (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1999 GORILLA WALK (written by Ted and Betsy Lewin), Lothrop Books, 1999 I HAVE A COLD (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1999 SNAKE ALLY BAND (written by Elizabeth Nygard), Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1998 RAPUNZEL: A HAPPENIN' RAP (written by David Vozar), Bantam, Doubleday & Dell, 1997 SHARING TIME TROUBLES (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1997 WHAT'S THE MATTER HABIBI? Clarion Books, 1997 A THOUSAND COUSINS (written by David Harrison), Boyds Mills Press, 1996 CHUBBO'S POOL, Clarion Books, 1996 GYM DAY WINTER (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1996 NO SUCH THING (written by Jackie F. Koller), Boyds Mills Press, 1996

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RECESS MESS (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1996 BOOBY HATCH, Clarion, 1995 CLASSROOM PET (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1995 LUNCHBOX SURPRISE (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1995 MY TOOTH IS ABOUT TO FALL OUT (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1995 FRAIDY CATS (written by Stephen Krensky), Scholastic Press, 1993 SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK (written by David Harrison), Boyds Mills Press, 1993 YO HUNGRY WOLF! (written by David Vozar), Bantam, Doubleday & Dell, 1993 ITCHY, ITCHY CHICKEN POX (written by Grace Maccarone), Scholastic Press, 1992 ARAMINTA'S PAINT BOX (written by Karen Ackerman), Simon & Schuster, 1990 WHAT IF THE SHARK WEARS TENNIS SHOES? (written by Winifred Morris), Simon & Schuster, 1990 Additional Books by Betsy Lewin ANIMAL SNACKERS ARAMINTA'S PAINTBOX (written by Karen Ackerman) CAT COUNT DOODLE DANDY!: THE COMPLETE BOOK OF INDEPENDENCE DAY WORDS (written by Lynda Graham-Barber) EDDIE AND THE FIRE ENGINE (written by Carolyn Haywood) FIRST GRADE ELVES (written by Joanne Ryder) FIRST GRADE LADYBUGS (written by Joanne Ryder) FIRST GRADE VALENTINES (written by Joanne Ryder) FURLIE CAT (written by Bernice Frechet) GOBBLE!: THE COMPLETE BOOK OF THANKSGIVING WORDS (written by Lynda Graham-Barber) HELLO, FIRST GRADE (written by Joanne Ryder) HERE'S THAT KITTEN! (written by Maria Polushkin) HIP, HIPPO, HOORAY HO HO HO!: THE COMPLETE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS WORDS (written by Linda GrahamBarber) I'M GEORGE WASHINGTON AND YOU'RE NOT! (written by Steven Kroll) JIM HEDGEHOG AND THE LONESOME TOWER (written by Russell Hoban) KITTEN IN TROUBLE (written by Maria Polushkin) M.C. TURTLE AND THE HIP HOP HARE: A HAPPENIN' RAP! (written by David Vozar) MATTIE'S LITTLE POSSUM PET (written by Ida Luttrell) MUSHY!: THE COMPLETE BOOK OF VALENTINE WORDS (written by Lynda GrahamBarber) PENNY (written by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers) SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK: POEMS (written by David L. Harrison) THE BOY WHO COUNTED STARS: POEMS (written by David L. Harrison) THE DETECTIVE STARS AND THE CASE OF THE SUPER SOCCER TEAM (written by Caroline Levine) THE WAR BEGAN AT SUPPER: LETTERS TO MISS LORIA (written by Patricia Reilly Giff) WALK A GREEN PATH WEIRD!: THE COMPLETE BOOK OF HALLOWEEN WORDS (written by Peter R. Limburg) WHAT'S BLACK AND WHITE AND CAME TO VISIT? (written by Evan Levine) WILEY LEARNS TO SPELL

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Bibliography created in 2002.

This Discussion & Activity Guide is created by TeachingBooks.net for educational purposes and may be copied and distributed solely for these purposes for no charge as long as the copyright information remains on all copies. Questions regarding this program should be directed to [email protected] Copyright ©2002 TeachingBooks.net LLC. All rights reserved.

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