Author visits are cool, but recess is cooler!
This past week I had an opportunity to visit a local Montessori school and give an author presentation to about 30 kids, kindergarten through 3rd graders. Both of my kids attended kindergarten at this school (many years ago), so it was a homecoming of sorts for me, and a lot of fun.
As is the case every time I visit a school, the enthusiasm level of my audience ran very high. Because kids are easily excitable, sometimes I think that an author of a book titled, “How Paint Dries” would be a big hit with a youthful audience. But then I realize that kids are fascinated by fishing and fish. When I asked the group to raise their hands if they like fishing, nearly the entire room was filled with up-stretched arms. Not all of them had gone fishing, but they were all enthralled by the prospects of fishing.
Some of the audience members had even been fly fishing before, and while my presentation obviously emphasizes fly fishing, it’s really more about fishing in general. After all, the chances are much greater that kids will have dunked a worm or salmon egg than wet a line with a fly on the end.
The first phase of my presentation is Powerpoint slide show in which I reveal the great things about fly fishing: Having fun with friends and family; seeing beautiful new places; seeing cool things in nature, like wildlife; and of course fish. Then I talked about the process of writing and illustrating the Olive books. This always gets kids in the mood to do some drawing, so next up I drew Olive on a whiteboard.
It’s always fun to hear the kids’ reaction as I do this. Then, much to the horror of my audience, I erased my drawing! Next, I drew Olive again, but this time step-by-step as the kids followed along with each stroke of the pen. I love to see the widely-varied results of their efforts. Kids are very creative.
Lastly I asked the kids to each draw something having to do with fishing and write a short description of their artwork. Again, this was very entertaining and the subject matter ranged from a military tank made to look like a fish, to a fish tank with goldfish, just like the one in their classroom. One little boy even drew his own fishing fly in the style of Olive. One little girl named Brooke signed her name to her drawing, Brooke Trout!
At 2:44pm (my visit was scheduled to conclude at 2:45) one little boy, who had been particularly engaged throughout my presentation, came up to me and reminded me that I had to leave soon. I looked at the clock on the wall and told him that I didn’t have to dash out the door right away–I was enjoying the chance to observe all the creations the kids had just finished. He insisted that I had to leave at 2:45. Then I realized why he was so concerned that I leave right on schedule: recess began at 2:45.