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 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.

Authentic Teaching – Poets and Poetry

Illustration by Eyen Johnson

I just attended an on-line poetry reading where the iconic Robert Frost Poem The Road Not Taken was shared.  I love Robert Frost and I love this poem.  Listening to this poem made me think about what a great idea it is to teach elementary and middle school students using the poetry of Robert Frost.  Ummm…NOT!
Let’s be honest – there are very few children who are mature enough to appreciate Robert Frost.  Maybe by high school, but I can assure you I didn’t appreciate him when I was in high school.  I had no use for his poetry.  I hated memorizing his poems.  And I honestly had no idea why this was anything but a waste of my time.  I pretty much hated poetry.

So fast forward to my teaching career and good old Robert is part of the 5th grade curriculum.  Now I am not one to fight city hall…so what to do?

Well, enter authentic teaching, learning, and projects.  We introduced the kids to Robert Frost and all the other poets that were in the curriculum. But then, instead of memorizing a poem, or writing in the style of Robert Frost we turned the kids loose to write their own poetry.

In one class the kids were working on a Martian Colony, so they wrote Martian Poetry.  Their poetry covered every topic possible – sports on Mars, monsters on Mars, weather, friendship, loneliness…  Some of the kids modeled their poetry after a Robert Frost poem, others looked to different poets. (The most popular choice by far – Shel Silverstein). 

The class ended up publishing a book of Martian Poetry that went home to every family. 

So, the kids really learned about poetry, they learned about different poets, and they had fun writing poetry.  The curriculum was covered. The project was authentic. The learning was authentic