Did you ever want to be a storyteller? You probably already are! Join author/illustrator David Hyde Costello at the Drawing Table and help him figure out what to do about one scary lake monster. Is he friend or is he foe? Your ideas are needed!
Humdrum or delicious? When students eat their homework, the
classroom suddenly turns from tedious to oh-so-tasty. Get ready to serve up
some yummy new fun—while discovering and learning about math and science.
Psst, did you remember that Pi Day is March 14? It’s time to
divvy up some Variable Pizza Pi. Look up the recipe for this constant
crowd-pleaser in Eat Your Math Homework, and get set for variable
excitement—quite a lot . . . or mega.
Never mind the constants (the crust and the sauce), here’s
your chance to add your own variables: toppings such as pepperoni, green
pepper, or pineapple chunks. And we’re not done yet! Measure the circumference
and determine the diameter of the pizza. This will help you pinpoint pi, that
amazingly endless decimal number that starts 3.1415926 . . . (pi =
circumference divided by diameter)
What about in the classroom? How about switching things up a
bit with this yummy classroom adaptation? Share circle shaped cookies (Yes, the
cookie itself and the icing are the constants). Have students decorate each
cookie with variables such as chocolate chips, raisins, or colored
marshmallows. Figure out the circumference and diameter of one cookie (Hint: To
measure the circumference, use a piece of string. Place the string around the
rim of the cookie. Cut or mark the string to match the size of the cookie’s
circumference. Straighten this measured string and find its length using a
When students find the circumference divided by the
diameter, it’s easy as pie to calculate pi. Was the answer close to 3.14? Why
wasn’t it exact? What else can you find out about pi?
And now here’s another tasty tidbit. Let’s face it, all
science lessons are not created equal. Neither are rocks. In fact, there are
three basic categories of rocks: metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. Heat
and pressure cause metamorphic rocks to morph, or change form. Igneous rocks
form from cooled liquid rock beneath the earth’s surface. And sedimentary,
well, think of a lasagna—when layers of sediment press against each other, the
layers meld together.
Speaking of lasagna, check out the recipe for Sedimentary
Pizza Lasagna from Eat Your Science Homework . . . Yum!
. . . Or whip up some classroom friendly Sedimentary
Sandwiches instead. Use 3 or 4 layers of bread (or crackers) and your favorite
sandwich fixings to build a rock solid masterpiece. Bite in—and don’t worry
about chipping a tooth!
At first, I was elated when the Hunan Provincial Museum
invited me to their International Symposium Commemorating the 40th
Anniversary of the Excavation of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui. Elated to be
surrounded by experts and scholars from Asia, Europe, and North America who
research myriad aspects of Mawangdui. To meet people whose work I had studied
in preparing my book, At Home in Her Tomb.
To return to Changsha, where Lady Dai and her family had lived and were buried
in their lavish tombs.
But then reality and intimidation set in. Like the other
symposium participants, I was expected to make a presentation. Oh no. This was
the audience I worried about while writing the book because they would know if
I had made any mistakes. And now, what could I say about writing a children's book
that would possibly be of interest to scholars? Could the book interest them as
a research project on introducing Mawangdui to students and nonspecialists—people
who haven't heard about the tombs and don't know how important they are?
I flew to Changsha in early December where more than one
hundred people from nine countries gathered for the symposium. For two days we
met in general sessions all together and in three smaller groups focusing on
Mawangdui's archaeology, artifacts, and bamboo and silk writings. I reveled in
learning from the many experts about different aspects of the tombs.
I was awed to see people who took part in excavating the
tombs and to meet leaders and staff of the Hunan Provincial Museum. I
recognized many of their names from articles and books I had studied. Meeting
Dr. Peng Long-xiang was especially meaningful because we had corresponded about
the autopsy on Lady Dai's body.
With Dr. Peng at the opening dinner
During my presentation (with help from my wonderful
translator, Lee), I recounted how becoming captivated by Lady Dai at a museum
exhibition launched me into learning everything I could about Mawangdui. I
described writing challenges, especially in adapting academic research about
ancient history into a book that modern students and non-academics could find
compelling. I talked about discovering the human story of a family in grief
honoring their lost loved ones. I shared how learning about Mawangdui helped me
understand Chinese traditions for honoring the dead that continue today, including
within my extended family. Lastly, I reported how readers are responding to the
Although I had worried about what the experts would think, they
were excited that people—especially children—in America and other countries are
learning about this archaeological site that reveals so much about life in
early China. Several who worked in major museums said I'd given them ideas for
outreach and education programs for their museum collections.
The ramp and steps of
the son's tomb, which remains open for viewing.
On the last day, we visited the excavation site of the
Mawangdui tombs. Standing where Lady Dai, the Marquis of Dai, and their son had
been buried brought tears to my eyes, along with gratitude for how learning
about this family has impacted my life.
Charlesbridge publishes high-quality books for children, with a goal of creating lifelong readers and lifelong learners. Our books encourage reading and discovery in the classroom, library, and home. We believe that books for children should offer accurate information, promote a positive worldview, and embrace a child's innate sense of wonder and fun. To this end, we continually strive to seek new voices, new visions, and new directions in children's literature.