Glacier Hills kindergarten-authors create a book about their school mascotMay 08, 2023 12:56PM ● By Julie Slama
Glacier Hills kindergarten teacher Sarah Turner helped her students author the book, “Yeti Finds a Friend.” (Photo courtesy of Sarah Turner/Glacier Hills)
Glacier Hills kindergartner Eva Yoshida thought carefully before she created her page she authored and illustrated in her classroom book.
She chose a mermaid because “she’s friends with the Yeti.”
Each student in Sarah Turner’s kindergarten class had a page to move along the school mascot’s story, “Yeti Finds a Friend.”
Eva’s classmate, Natalie Kanan chose to have the school mascot, Blizzard, meet a cat.
“I picked a cat because I love them, but I can’t have one since my dad is allergic,” she said.
The Yeti made friends with all sorts of people and animals—an astronaut, kids, dinosaurs, a shark, a dolphin—and even Annie Jones’ cat-unicorn creation.
“It was what was in my mind that I thought it would be cool for the Yeti to meet,” she said.
The book taught her kindergartners several lessons, Turner said.
“I wanted it to really be a collaborative experience for my students where we were really walking through the writing process together,” she said. “I told them that they were going to be authors and that we would write a book together. We started by brainstorming what we wanted the book to be about, and they were really excited about it being about the Yeti as the main character because it’s our school mascot, and we’re a new school uniting behind it.”
From there, the class had to decide what the Yeti would do. Going on an adventure, learning something at school and making friends topped their list.
“The more we talked about one of the first most important things they learned in kindergarten—being a friend and how to make friends—they liked the idea of including that in our storybook. So it’s about Yeti trying to find different friends and make friends as he wandered through the area called Glacier Hills, which was named after our school,” she said.
Turner wrote the first page and introduced the character and storyline about the Yeti being sad and lonely. Then, each student got to take a page to brainstorm and create a character they wanted the Yeti to meet to become friends.
“Their creativity went wild, and they thought of magical friends and characters that meant something special to them,” she said.
Students wrote and illustrated their pages and were added in a random order until the end, when Yeti came to the end of his journey with his friends, knowing he’d never be lonely again. In the final page, the students’ drawings of their characters joined the Yeti.
In addition to the kindergartners’ artwork, many of the pages have the students’ original spelling as they sounded out the words to write their part of the story, Turner said.
This isn’t the first book the kindergartners have authored together.
Each month this school year, the kindergartners have made paper booklets about subjects they’ve learned in class, from nonfiction writing how to take care of a frog, tying into learning about habitats of their class pets, to fictious topics, such as where a leprechaun would hide gold.
Those books, along with the book about their school mascot, can be found in Turner’s room so students can pull them out and read them again and again.
However, “Yeti Finds a Friend” was the first one that was hard-bound published and it “was a big step.”
“They’re really learning about written communication and being able to express their ideas and writing. They’re understanding that their words can share their stories, their feelings and their thoughts. This has helped them learn about authors and being an author, and sharing their own stories and what they’ve learned to the world. It’s a powerful thing for them to learn,” she said.
Kindergartner Jett McKee, who had Yeti meet his favorite animal, a dog, said he likes to write.
“I like stories and telling what happens,” he said. “We could decide what we wanted to happen on our page. My dog played ball with Yeti.”
In addition to the classroom copy, a second book was given to Principal Julie Winfree, who has it on display at the school. Parents had the option to purchase the book, and it also was shared with families on a YouTube link.
“This was definitely community building,” Turner said about the book dedicated to the inaugural year’s Glacier Hills families, which came from two different elementaries to bond as one school. “When our principal came, after we gave her the book, and read the story to the kids, it was really meaningful. They were just beaming.”
Turner, who is in her fourth year of teaching and was recently named the school’s teacher of the year, hopes writing a book about the Yeti will become a class tradition.
“This class did such a good job on the story,” she said. “I’m so proud of them.”