One way to promote engagement in the classroom is to provide the kids with a fun activity. Something they can make in class and use both in class and at home.
This past weekend was an epic road trip adventure through the incredible state of Alabama.
Friday started with my book, Amazing Alabama, being used as decorations for the Alabama Society Daughters of the Revolution state conference on Friday afternoon. I was so incredibly honored, and the ladies all LOVED the centerpieces.
After the DAR conference, Maggie and I were joined by our friends, Shannon and Avery, and we headed north! The first stop in our trip was the Florence Lauderdale Public Library for a book talk. We really had a great time learning about Alabama, the history of coloring, and we even learned some new coloring tips and tricks!
After the book talk was over, we enjoyed some local Florence flavor at Trowbridges (who is celebrating their 100th birthday this year). If you eat there, you have to MAKE SURE you get the pineapple orange ice cream, which is on the list of 100 Things to Eat in Alabama Before You Die. It's super creamy and delicious! After filling our bellies, we went to see Leo III and Una, the sibling lions on the campus of UNA, the Rosenbaum house (Alabama's only Frank Lloyd Wright house), and Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller. We even got to see the infamous water well where Annie Sullivan taught her "water".
The next day we drove through Cullman on the way home and stopped at the Ave Maria Grotto. This is one of those hidden gems in the state that everybody should go see at some point in their life. The dedication and artistry of Brother Joseph was incredible.
Backtracking just slightly, I wanted to say that throughout our entire trip, we had fun getting our Past Ports stamped. If you don't have one yet, you can get them HERE. If you don't know what they are, you can learn about them HERE. It's a really cool booklet that's $10 and you can go around on your own epic Alabama road trip getting stamps from all the 67 counties! In fact, you can use it in conjunction with your very own copy of Amazing Alabama - get your Past Port stamped and color the county you're visiting.
Maggie and Avery already have 3 stamps (I've got 4)... how many do you have?
You all know by now that I have published a book called Amazing Alabama - our state's first coloring book. It took me a little under a year to complete and each of the 67 counties has its very own coloring pages. I'm not originally from Alabama and didn't get to take Alabama History in the 4th grade, so this was a really cool research project for me.
Well, now I'm working on the Georgia version. It's not going to be called "Gorgeous Georgia", but if you have any other ideas for a good name, please shoot me an email and let me know. Anyway, Georgia has 159 counties (as opposed to Alabama's only 67), so this book will be structured a bit differently. Not ALL of the counties are going to have their own page - mainly for logistical reasons. Nobody wants a 180 page coloring book that would probably cost $40! Not to worry - all of the counties will be represented.
I actually grew up in Georgia - Athens, in fact. My Dad was in sales and used to drive those Georgia backroads all the time. He has been really instrumental in helping me figure out neat "off the beaten path" things to include. I'm about 1/8 of the way through right now. That's not as far as I'd like to be, but I'm having to do a lot of weeding through... Georgia has a TON of really neat things! I've been sharing a few things here-and-there on my Facebook and Instagram, so if you don't already follow me, you NEED TO. Hey, you've got to stay up-to-date with everything!
One of the really cool things I had to include is in Athens (Clarke County). Did you know that there's a tree that doesn't belong to anyone? The (very edited) story goes like this: a man died and left a trust in the name of his favorite tree (yes, a TREE) so that it would be taken care of in perpetuity. This tree is rightfully called, "the tree that owns itself".
Bulloch County, GA is home to the U.S. National Tick Museum at Georgia Southern University. Let me tell you - let felt like CHRISTMAS when I found that little gem!
This one is still in the sketch-phase, but the world's ONLY life sized elephant funerary monument is in Colquitt County. Did you know that? I sure didn't...
Cobb County, in north Atlanta, is home to the Big Chicken, a fast food beacon that has been around for over 50 years. At one point it was scheduled to be torn down, but the people of Cobb County pitched a fit and started a petition to save it! If you've never seen the Big Chicken, you really need to make a special trip.
I'm already planning an epic Georgia road trip this summer with one of my daughters. We're going to try to hit all 159 of the counties. Has anyone else done this? I need to get a brand new crisp (properly folded) Georgia map and draw out a route for us... tell me I'm not the only one who still does this...
What neat things have YOU found along the backroads in Georgia that I need to make sure we see?
I'm going to back-track a tiny bit this morning and talk about something incredible that happened last week. On October 26th, Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities (aka: Pebble Hill) hosted my Amazing Alabama book launch party and we really had such a great time! I talked about my childhood growing up NOT in Alabama, my research, gave a few fun facts about Alabama that I learned along the way, we had refreshments, I signed books, and we had a super fun coloring party! There were people in attendance that I knew, people I didn't know, and even a few students who were there for class credit and they were taking notes. NOTES! About what I was saying... about my COLORING BOOK! But it was made even more special by the fact that my Dad and Stepmom and also my Aunt drove 6+ hours to be here for it.
A HUGE Thank You to Kellie Wilson for taking the great photographs. Not only is she a dear friend, but she's also a really talented photographer!
Y'all, I LOVE seeing your gorgeous coloring pictures from Amazing Alabama. It's so exciting to see how much everyone is enjoying coloring in their books. Whether you color with crayons, colored pencils, markers or felt tip pens... I would LOVE to see your beautiful artistry!
Please tag #amazingalabama or @alabama.pen.paper if you post to Instagram or Facebook so I will definitely see your fun colored Amazing Alabama county pages!
There's something cathartic about sitting down with a box of colored pencils to color. Not only does coloring relax the soul, but it's really a wonderful experience to see something come to life on the page in front of you.
Something different altogether is coloring with a child. I wouldn't say that coloring with my 11 year old is exactly RELAXING. Yes, she may ask 50 questions per minute about what color I'm using, or what shade of blue she should use here, or how she should blend this section, but it's definitely a sweet bonding experience.
Last Saturday she woke up and asked me for her very own copy of Amazing Alabama so we could color together.
Cue the waterworks...
So for a large portion of the morning last Saturday, she and I sat on the back porch using my "good colored pencils" and coloring... together... talking... spending time together.