While I was teaching elementary school, I was always looking for good literature to enhance my lessons, particularly in Math, Science, and Social Studies. I found and used some good stories, especially for Math, but found it difficult to find good poetry in the content areas.
Therefore, when I retired, two years ago, I chose to write “Mathapalooza”, a collection of math poetry, before my superhero series. It turned out well, so I went on to write “Sciencepalooza” and “Historypalooza”. Each of my “palooza” poetry books contains rhyming poems that sum up the main content and vocabulary of the poem topic. They have creative titles and are fun to read, so children are being entertained while simultaneously gaining knowledge in math, science, and history! Many of the poems also include a corresponding picture! “Mathapalooza” and “Sciencepalooza” cover the main topics taught in the elementary grades, and “Historypalooza” focuses on Prehistoric and American History.
The books in my poetry series are not only great for children in grades 1-5, but are quite helpful for elementary teachers! Parents will also discover many interesting facts in the poems!
The Superhero Pack consists of four third grade children, who are all in Ms. Huckleberry’s Class at Langston Elementary School (two boys – Jonathan Ray and Paco Pete, two girls – Bella Blu and Krista Kate), and their Superhero Pets (Gil, the gecko – Jonathan Ray’s pet, Fred, the frog – Paco Pete’s pet, Lacey, the Doxie dog – Bella Blu’s pet, and Sammy, the Teddy Bear hamster – Krista Kate’s pet).
The Superhero Pack meets at Pack Tree House, in Jonathan Ray’s backyard, after school each day, where they have an after school snack and wait for Holly the hummingbird to stop by and inform them of a child who is involved in a character conflict! When they hear about the child in conflict, the four superhero kids quickly put their superhero garb on themselves and their pets, and race off on their electric scooters to the conflict scene (sometimes pulling their pets in a small wagon, and sometimes putting their pets on their shoulders as they zoom along on the scooters).
Jonathan Ray, a Caucasian boy, is the pack leader. He has great leadership qualities! He has strength of character and is calm, patient, and logical. Jonathan Ray always has the right words to say to the villain child in conflict, offering advice on how they can become a real superhero too if they are a person of good character! Jonathan Ray is the person who always ceremoniously puts a superhero cape on the villain when they agree to be a person of good character and a real superhero!
Paco Pete, a Latino boy, is the character who always tells the villain that they have a choice! He calmly explains the choices, sharing the negative consequences that go with a bad choice and always encouraging them to make the right/good choice! He also shares that they can be a superhero too if they choose to be one!
Bella Blu, an Asian girl, is the intelligent/more serious character that tells the villain that it’s best to follow the good advice of their teacher and the pack! She is a blunt/to the point/no messing around person, but she is also low keyed and rather sophisticated!
Krista Kate, a Mulatto girl, is the happy, relaxed, down-to-earth character! She’s always willing to offer advice and help when needed!
The four pets are all cute, fun, and sometimes humorous characters who always support and reiterate what the superhero kids have told/taught the villain! The entire Superhero Pack are all concerned, caring, helpful individuals who have good character! They are all good, supportive friends to each other, and their main concern is to help other kids to be persons of good character, and, consequently, also real superheroes! Each pack member is a unique, colorful character, adding to the colorfulness of the pack!
Holly, the hummingbird, always sees and hears what’s going on as she’s flying around, and, therefore, knows the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the child villain that is in conflict. Holly always reports this conflict to the Superhero Pack at their Pack Tree House, so they can rush to the scene of the conflict and offer their help! She is observant (sometimes a bit nosy), concerned, and articulate!
Ms. Huckleberry is the third grade teacher at Langston Elementary School! She is a young, vibrant, caring person who teaches wonderful, special lessons to her children about being a person of good character!
As a child, I dreamed of teaching elementary students and one day writing children’s books! During my 36 years of teaching fourth grade, I often wrote poems, raps, and songs to help enhance my lessons (these writings always included rhyme and humor, both of which I love). The children always enjoyed hearing my creations, and I loved having an audience to sing to, as no one else would listen to me sing! I really can’t blame my family and friends, as singing is not my forte. But I soon discovered that teaching was my forte!
I believed in tapping into each child’s creativity and talents, integrating “Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy” of thinking levels and “Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences” into my daily curriculum! I also was a strong proponent of making school relevant, interesting, and fun, giving my students a variety of opportunities, including writing and sharing/performing their authored poems, raps, songs, stories, and skits, in addition to participating in creative drama and plays (my students performed in a play I wrote, entitled “The Case of the Missing Olympic Medals”, during the 2010 Winter Olympics, which I integrated in my Social Studies Olympics Unit).
To make learning more interesting and relevant for my students, I often tied literature into the topics I taught, reading great stories and poems as an introduction or summary to my lessons in Math, Science, and Social Studies. Of course, it was even more special for the kids and myself when I’d integrate their writing creations, or my poems, songs, and raps!
Upon retiring from teaching, in June of 2011, I thought I would fulfill my second lifelong dream – writing and publishing children’s books! I knew I had a lot of practice and experience, writing for all of my classes during my 36 years of teaching, so I thought I’d give it a try. The theme I used with my last class was “Superheroes” (I had a theme for my students each year, which I’d tie into my lessons, discussions, assignments, etc…). During discussions of this theme, my class and I decided that the definition of a real superhero is a person of good character. I decided by the end of that last year, that I would write stories about what a real superhero is and integrate good character. This is how “Jonathan Ray and His Superhero Pack” came to be, with stories about “Respect”, “Bully-Free”, and “Honesty”. I was all set to start this series after I retired, but decided to write a Math poetry book, “Mathapalooza”, while I still had all of the important elementary level Math topics and vocabulary fresh in my mind. I liked the way it turned out, so I continued with two more poetry books – “Sciencepalooza” and “Historypalooza.”
It was difficult for me to retire, as I loved being a teacher, but I feel that I am still teaching thru my writing. Though I am now a children’s author, I think of myself more as a teacher, teaching good character in my superhero series and important topics and vocabulary in my poetry series! I have also incorporated three of my loves into my writing – rhyme, humor, and animals (the superhero pets). I also still feel like a teacher when I go to schools and read my stories and poems to the children, which was always one of my favorite parts of teaching! I have written and self-published six children’s books, three in each of my series, and hope to write/publish a few more in my superhero series (possibly “Good Sportsmanship”, “Responsibility”, and “Good Citizenship”)! Any other good character/story ideas that you might have are welcome!
Well, I taught for 36 years and then gave this writing/publishing thing a stab, fulfilling my two childhood dreams! By fulfilling these dreams, I have been able to help children in two important ways, and for this I am grateful!