“Alabama the Beautiful” is a state tourism slogan from a few years ago, and Alabama certainly is that. From the white-sand beaches of the gulf to the rugged, craggy foothills of the northeast, the landscape has beauty in spades. But the real beauty of Alabama comes from its people. I am not claiming that Alabama folks are perfect, but when it comes to overcoming adversity, you won’t find better examples anywhere — Rosa Parks, Heather Whitestone, and Marva Collins all hail from our state. So when I started looking at books for the Booking Across the USA project, I knew focusing on an Alabama personality would be the way to go.
Helen’s Big World
It seemed fitting to focus on the personality engraved on the back of our state quarter — Helen Keller. Born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, a childhood fever left Helen blind and deaf at the age of two. Through the patience and perseverance of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and much hard work, Helen learned to sign, read, write and eventually talk. She graduated from Radcliff college in 1904 and went on to become an advocate for the deaf and blind and a political activist.
My search for a good book on Keller was plagued by insipid children’s biographies. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller. This is a beautiful book. It is over sized with large illustrations that fill the pages to the edges, effectively drawing the reader into Helen’s world. The book tells the story of her life and is interspersed with her own quotes, lending an authentic look into Helen’s thoughts on her trials and successes. Unlike other children’s books, this one does touch briefly on Keller’s later social activism. It does not mention specifics, so while it is true to Keller’s legacy, it does allow families with younger children to focus on her triumph over adversity without having to discuss meatier topics if they do not desire.
Our activities with the book focused on the senses and information about the communication of the deaf and blind. We briefly discussed the use of braille and took turns running our fingers over the raised braille title embossed on the cover of the book. Next we turned out attention to the finger alphabet. There are sketches of the alphabet on the back fly-leaf of the book, but I also downloaded a set of finger alphabet flash cards from ABC Teach. We reviewed each of the letters and then took turns finger spelling the names of family members.
|The flashcards provided clear diagrams on the finger spelling alphabet.|
Our next activity focused on “seeing” with our fingers. For this the kids each donned a blindfold. I provided a number of small household objects for them to feel and guess. They identified most of them pretty easily, but the chalk did stump Olivia. Eventually, she employed the senses of smell and taste as well to try and figure out what the strange object was.
|Smelling the chalk to see if the extra sense would help with the identification.|
|Sometimes we would get stumped, but that was part of the fun.|
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues: Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan (YouTube Video)
- Helen Keller Kids Museum Online
- Helen Keller Activity Book – Made in conjunction with Animated Hero Classics, but works fine as a stand-alone activity.
Now Book It!
Be sure to check out the other bloggers who are Booking Across the USA today for more fascinating books and activities. There is a giveaway on the Booking Main Page an some of these other ladies are offering giveaways as well. Check them all out!
|All 50 States for Booking Across the USA Blog Hop, A book review and crafts, activities, or freebies are included in each post. All the posts were live on February 25, 2013.|
|Alabama Blog Post by Everyday Snapshots Blog||Alaska Blog Post by Little Wonders’ Days Blog|
|Arkansas Blog Post by Homeschooling in Arkansas||Arizona Blog Post by Simply Kinder||California Blog Post by Juggling with Kids|
Illinois State Post by Growing Book by BookIndiana State Post by Teach Pre-School BlogIowa Blog Post by Surviving a Teacher Salary BlogKansas Blog Post by KCEdventures Kentucky Blog Post by Chicken BabiesLouisiana Blog Post by Your Child’s Next Book and Project BlogMaine Blog Post by Country FunMaryland Blog Post by Picture Books and PiourettesMassachusetts Blog Post by Mama Smiles BlogMichigan Blog Post by Play Dr. MomMinnesota Post by the Wise Owl Factory Book a Day Blog