Teaching Authentically – Start Small and…This is SO Cool!!

Early sketch for
Tex the Explorer
The Jared Box Project

Eyen and I are so honored to have been asked to write a book about The Jared Box Project. This is an amazing group that donated boxes of games, toys, etc to children in the hospital. They have donated over a million boxes to over 400 hospitals in the United States and also internationally.

As I have mentioned before, I started this blog as a way to get my books “out there” on the web. I had never even read a blog before, but the folks in my 55+ community told me I had to have a presence on the web for my books. Then the blog took on a life of its own and became a way for me to continue to promote authentic teaching and learning.

One of the concerns that teachers have is how to handle a huge authentic project on top of everything that they are already required to do. I can’t emphasize enough that you start small and take it from there. Many authentic projects are short, sweet, and accomplish their goal of engaging students without a lot of fuss. Some simply don’t work – time to move on. And some take over your life. The Martian Colony Project I worked on in 5th grade did just that. When that happens it actually becomes easier to incorporate your curriculum goals and objects as the project is so big you have everything happening right in front of you!

My books started as a deal I made with my illustrator, Eyen, to write a book together once he was an adult. We made this deal when he was in 5th grade. This was an authentic project that has engaged me and taught me so many things as an adult learner. I had no idea it would become this big. I had no idea we would publish five books together, with the Jared Box Book being number six – and more planned. I had no idea I would publish two books about teaching authentically with my principal, Peggy.
I had no idea I would write a blog – I had no idea what a blog was!

When I retired, I wanted to stay mentally active. I wanted to stay involved in promoting authentic learning. I wanted to continue to help others and volunteer. Oh, and I wanted to explore unique craft stores and boutiques.

Being involved in the authentic project of writing books with Peggy and Eyen has accomplished all of that – even the shopping part – explained below! I never planned for things to happen this way, but I payed attention to opportunity and walked through doors as they opened for me. I didn’t get up one morning and decide to write seven – and counting – books. I made a deal with a fifth grader over a decade ago, and here we are! A real authentic project with students should start just like that. Have a driving question or goal, start out small, pay attention to opportunity, see where it takes you.

So Eyen and I are now working on our book for the Jared Box Project. I am honestly overwhelmed by this opportunity, in a good way! I would have been overwhelmed in a bad way if this had been a goal of mine a decade ago, or if the opportunity had presented itself before now. But this had been a long a winding word to get to this point, full of so many amazing authentic teaching and learning experiences.

Eyen and I will be donating the book to The Jared Box Project, and we both feel blessed to have this opportunity. And I have become hooked and making Jared Boxes – hence the shopping part – so much fun.

Our goal is have the book out by the end of next summer. Stay tuned. And meanwhile, check out The Jared Box Project !

Tex the Explorer: Journey to the Oceans

Eyen and I are thrilled to announce the publication of our fifth book – Tex the Explorer: Journey to the Oceans.

Tex is a young T-Rex. He loves to explore. For his birthday his parents gave him a ship with a submarine. Tex is off to explore the oceans!

Available on Amazon.

Tex the Explorer – Journey Through Our Solar System is a Finalist!

Tex the Explorer – Journey Through Our Solar System is a Finalist in the Little Peeps Early Readers Category of the Chanticleer International Book Awards Contest. So proud of this book! Tex the Explorer – Journey Through Our Solar System is available on Amazon.

Tex the Explorer – Journey Through Our Solar System is a Distinguished Favorite

The INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD recognized Tex the Explorer – Journey Through Our Solar System by Ellie Smith, Illustrated by Eyen Johnson, as a Distinguished Favorite in the category of Children’s Picture Books.

The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. Selected IPA Award Winners and Distinguished Favorites are based on overall excellence.

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through Our Solar System continues the journey of Tex the Explorer. Tex is a young T-Rex. He loves to explore. For his birthday his parents gave him a rocket ship. Tex is off to explore our Solar System!

In 2022, the INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD had entries worldwide.  Authors and publishers from countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Jordan, Puerto Rico, Switzerland participated.

Tex the Explorer – Journey Through Our Solar System is available on Amazon.

Tex The Explorer: Journey Through Our Solar System

I am very happy to announce that the fourth book in our award-winning “Tex the Explorer” series is finished and published!  Tex the Explorer: Journey Through Our Solar System is available on Amazon.  Eyen and I are really excited about this book!

Tex is a young T-Rex. He loves to explore. For his birthday his parents gave him a rocket ship. Tex is off to explore our Solar System!

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet Wins First Place in International Contest!

I was beyond excited when our book Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet made it to Finalist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards Contest – Little Peeps Division (Early Readers). Well, Eyen and I found out last night that we came in FIRST PLACE in our category. (We will get a new digital badge for our cover that says First Place!)

And once again, I need to say that I am so proud of my amazing illustrator – he is the reason these books shine!

Available on Amazon.

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet is a FINALIST!

Eyen and I are thrilled (overwhelmed) to announce that our book Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet is a FINALIST in the Chanticleer International Book Awards Contest – Little Peeps Division (Early Readers). We were both blown away when we made it to Semi-Finalist in this competition – to be a Finalist is over-the-top for us.

I am so proud of my amazing illustrator – he is the reason these books shine!

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet is available on Amazon.

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet Wins Another Award!

2020 Chanticleer International
Book Awards
Semi-Finalist

2020 Mom’s Choice Awards® Silver Recipient

2020 Story Monsters Approved®

2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards Semi-Finalist

Available on Amazon.

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet Receives 2020 Mom’s Choice Award

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet is a

2020 Mom’s Choice Awards® Silver Recipient!

Available on Amazon.

Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet

I am very happy to announce that the third book in our award-winning “Tex the Explorer” series is finished and published!  Tex the Explorer: Journey Through the Alphabet is available on Amazon.  Eyen and I are really excited about this book!

Tex is a young T-Rex.  He loves to explore.  For his birthday his parents gave him tickets to a prehistoric museum.  Tex is off on a journey through the alphabet!