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Farmer John visits Chamberlin School December 17


Children’s author and local farmer, John Churchman, came to give a presentation to 35 second graders on December 17, along with, Laddie, his sheep dog.  Chamberlin School was very fortunate to have this wonderful opportunity!

John Churchman is a farmer who lives in Essex, Vermont.  He is also a photographer.  John  began writing his book about his lamb, Sweet Pea, when she was quite ill.  Sweet Pea was an orphaned lamb who was bottle fed.  Laddie is his border collie who herds all the sheep at the farm.  


John self published the book, Sweet Pea and Friends The SheepOver this past summer.  The inspiration for this book all began when Sweet Pea had a temperature and was not feeling very well.  Laddie tried to inform John that something was wrong and not quite right with Sweet Pea.  John called upon his local veterinarian, Allison, who came over and prescribed medication for Sweet Pea’s infection.  The rest is history as John Churchman took his small idea of Sweet Pea’s illness and turned it into a very engaging beautiful children’s picture book.  

On the farm in Essex, Vermont, John has 18 sheep, 4 dogs, 3 geese, 15 ducks, 60 chickens, 1 horse and 6 turkeys.  His daily schedule begins at 6:00 a.m., when he feeds the dogs and begins all his farm chores stacking wood and feeding all the animals.  He also shears the sheep and sells the wool.

Now that John has successfully published Sweet Pea and Friends, he is beginning to work on a second picture book entitled The Brave and Mighty Little Finn, about another little lamb.  


The second grade students learned about John’s wonderful art of storytelling as well as his life as a farmer.  It is very clear that John has a very loving and nurturing relationship with all of his animals and shares this caring through his storytelling.


The second grade students all wanted to know what they can be doing as student authors.  

“Write about yourself and your daily life,” exclaimed John.   At Chamberlin, students take small moments in their own lives and expand on them in their writing, just like Farmer John.  IMG_4524.JPG


Thank you, John, for sharing your love of animals and storytelling with our students.  We look forward to reading about more adventures about you and your animals on the farm.  



Alison McGhee, Children's Author, visits Chamberlin on October 5

Alison McGhee, children’s author, came to give two presentations to students at Chamberlin School on Monday, October 5.  All Kindergarten through third grade students listened attentively as Alison shared her author’s craft and inspirations for writing books.  


Alison has coauthored, along with Kate DiCamillo, the very engaging and popular children’s book series Bink and Gollie.  Alison also shared her inspirations for writing her beautiful new chapter book entitled Firefly Hollow.  



After a captivating assembly, Alison presented a writing workshop to all third graders using her book, Firefly Hollow, as a model for writing strategies.  The third graders learned about word choice, elaborating on small moments, character development and plot.  



All students left her workshop with many tools in their toolbox to write more student pieces using their own experiences, imagination and ideas.  They learned that each character in the book, Firefly Hollow, followed their dreams. Alison explained her process of editing until the characters were just perfect for the book. Firefly Hollow is filled with magical adventures of Vole, Cricket and Firefly.  Each character followed their passions with courage and tenderness.  The power of friendship enabled them to believe in each other and themselves.




Emma learned that the Mercy Watson books written by Kate DiCamillo were dedicated to Alison McGhee because Alison loves toast.  It is wonderful to observe and learn how two children’s authors collaborate, share and write together to create children’s books to love and treasure.



The students presented Alison with several gifts from Vermont as a thank you for her time and inspiration.


Isabelle gave her maple syrup made in Vermont because Bink loves pancakes so much and wonders, “Will I smell pancakes?”


Peyton brought peanut butter made in Vermont because Bink makes Gollie peanut butter sandwiches to share.  Dominic gave Alison goldfish for Bink’s fish, Fred, to eat.


 Jordan and Caleigh presented her with teeth for Mrs. Watson’s treat box and a cup for

A Very Brave Witch to drink from.  


Audrey, lastly, presented Alison with glitter stars to hang so it would remind her of the magical world that Cricket, Firefly, Peter and Vole live in.


The connections that the students at Chamberlin made with Alison McGhee enable them to visualize her stories in a very personal way.  Alison helped the third graders realize that they can all be authors. Her books now have very special meanings for Chamberlin students.


Thank you, Allison, and thank you, to the Flying Pig Bookstore, for bringing Alison McGhee to Chamberlin!





Barry the Bat Man Visits Kindergarten on October 29, 2015




After Kindergarten students researched bat science, we had the special opportunity for a visit from Barry the Bat Man.  We shared our new knowledge about bats and Barry taught us many new features about bats.  


Curious and inquisitive students had many questions to be answered.  Here are a few of our questions:

  • Will bats hurt you?

  • What do bats eat?

  • Do bats hibernate in the winter?

  • How many bats can live in a bat house?

  • How many different types of bats are there?

  • Are there many different sizes of bats?

  • How do bats drink water?

  • How do you help injured bats?


Barry shared a rescue bat house, the types of food that bats eat, many photographs of different types of bats, a special device that can record the sounds bats make and how bats use echolocation to locate their food.  


There are over 1,300 types of bats.  All bats have a special type of hand wings.  They have four fingers and one thumb.  


The flying fox is six feet wide.  The smallest one is the size of a paper clip.


There are different types of bats.  

A frugivore is a bat who eats fruit.  They have large eyes and small ears.  They use their eyes to see fruit.


Insectivores eat insects and have big ears and little eyes,


Some bats have tongues that are longer than their bodies.  Bats drink water using their tongues.  


Bats can eat apples, peaches, crickets, caterpillars, grasshoppers, bananas, flies, flowers scorpions, snakes, lizards, mice and birds depending on the type of bat it is.  


Bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour.  Can you believe that!!  Just think of all the gardens and plants that benefit from the bats!


Bats use echolocation to find their food.  Bats listen with their ears.  It is dark at night when they fly.  Their sounds fly towards the mosquito and the echo comes back to the bats.  Bats can hear things we cannot hear with our own eyes.  




In the winter, bats will hibernate.  If a bat is hurt, Barry and his workers will rescue the hurt bats.  

There are nine types of bats that live in Vermont.  They are all the size of a thumb.DSC08956.JPG


Bats should NEVER be picked up if they are hurt.  Barry will put on his leather gloves that are thick and strong to protect him from any germs.  


Bat pups have no fur and are the size of a bee.

Barry wraps them under towels, feeds them from little dishes, and gives them special milk in little nipples to drink.  Barry will keep the bats in pouches under towels or in the bat house.  There can be 100 bats in the bat house.



We are looking at the mealworms that are fed to the injured bats.



Vampire bats live in South America and are tiny.  They drink blood from chickens’ toes.


We try to guess what different types of bats eat.  There were many surprises!  Bats will hurt you if you try to pick them up.  Bats will think that you will want to eat them.



There was a lot to learn about bats and we thank Barry the Bat Man for coming to Chamberlin School to teach us.  We love learning from experts!  We even made an All About Bats Alphabet Book in Kindergarten.


Deborah Freedman - Skype Visit with Second Grade on September 24, 2015


On September 24, 2015, the second graders had the wonderful opportunity to Skype with children’s author, Deborah Freedman.  She has written and illustrated Blue Chicken, Scribble, The Story of Fish and Snail and By Mouse and Frog.  


Deborah Freedman read By Mouse and Frog to a very excited second grade audience.  It is very exciting to hear the author of the book read to you.  The students all had questions for her.



Cade:  Are you writing any books now?  “Yes, I am working on two books currently.  I am almost done with the book Shy, which is about a character almost too shy to appear in this book.  The other book is about a house.”  


Andy:  Do you have any favorite authors?

“William Steig, Arnold Lobel and Frog and Toad books, and all the LIttle House on the Prairie books.  I also loved From the Mixed Up Files of”


Jackson:  Do you like making books with funny characters?

“I don’t try to make them funny, but they come out funny.”


Lucy:  What is your least favorite book?

“Honestly, if I don’t like a book, I don’t finish it.”


Rosie:  Who is your favorite character?  

“Ramona, Clementine, Little Bear”


Oliver:  How did you come up with the book The Story of Fish and Snail?

“I am an idea collector; I like to walk and go to museums and write my ideas in sketchbooks.  I always keep paper and a flashlight by my bed.  I thought to myself, ‘A book full of water.’  That is how I started to think about the book and who would bne in the book.  I began to think about a fish and then came up with snail.”


Rylan:  What inspired you to become an author and illustrator?”

“I went to school to become an architect and when my kids were little, I made them little books and I thought I would like to write books that children could read.  I love to write and draw and I like to put my ideas and drawings together.”


Anthony:  How do you make your illustrations?

“It is a long process and I start out with sketches.  Then, I create a dummy and send it to my publisher.  This takes a long time.  I have been working on the book, Shy, for over one and one half years now.”


Nadia:  How can authors learn to make books?

“I read an infinity number of books.  I practice and practice and practice.  I have lots of dummies in my



Cameron:  What types of art materials do you use?

“I use pencils and watercolors.  Sometimes it is messy, but fun.  In the book, Blue Chicken, I dropped liquid on the paper and ever blew with a straw and splattered paint.  I even used a toothbrush to brush on paint on paper.


The students had many things to say after Deborah Freedman’s visit:


I want to try to splatter paint.  

I want to go to museums to come up with ideas.

I love the way all the other words from books were inside the book By Mouse and Frog.  

I like the fact that the books are written in different languages.  

I want to keep a notebook to write my ideas down.  I can be an idea collector just like her.  

I like her dining room that had walls of bookshelves.  

She has a very colorful house.  

I am going to try splatter painting.  

Chamberlin School  •  262 White Street  •  South Burlington, VT 05403  •  (802) 652-7400
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