Seventh graders from O’Maley Innovation Middle School took a walk Monday morning to read picture books they had created to kindergarten students at Beeman Elementary. The O’Maley students, under the guidance of their Phoenix House teachers LaRae Davis and Adrienne Marden, started their book making project with a visit to the Cape Ann Museum to examine the life and creative work of Virginia Lee Burton on display at the Museum’s special “Little House” exhibit. With the help of the Museum’s staff, students learned about the whole process of picture book creation.
Following the model of project based learning, a part of the Innovation School approach, the seventh graders wrote children’s stories individually or in pairs. Next, with the the collaboration of Art teacher Ashley Doke and retired O’Maley teacher and local artist J.P. Ware the students created the art work to illustrate their stories. Retired O’Maley teacher Heidi McGrath then visited the Phoenix House classes to teach the students how to assemble their pages into a bound book. Finally the young authors/illustrators were ready to share their books with the Beeman kindergarteners.
On April 1 the weather was finally warm and sunny enough for a walk up Cherry Street to read to the children in the classrooms of Ms. Sawyer, Mrs. LeBlanc, and Miss Polizzia. Judging from their smiles, the younger students not only enjoyed the stories but also were inspired by the example of the older students.
Surely Virginia Lee Burton, author/illustrator of books such as “The Little House”, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, and “Katie and the Big Snow”, and mentor of the Folly Cove Designers, would be glad to see her influence continue to nurture the creativity of her young neighbors and the ongoing work of creative collaboration in Gloucester.