A Teacher's Resource
Here's a great bridge building exercise from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago for Primary & Intermediate Schools that complements using Drawbridges Open and Close in the classroom!
Students work in engineering teams to design, build and test straw bridges as they determine how shapes affect the strength of structures. Read More
Teaching kids is a lot of work, and keeping students' attention takes a lot of energy so having a children's author pinch hit for a while can be really helpful. Plus, the kids really do get excited to meet a real live author of children's books. There are a few ways to bring Mr. McBriarty and his books into your classroom.
The kids LOVE to know things about authors before they visit. It adds so much to the visit so questions and answers are shared below. Special thanks to Diane Nelson a teacher and librarian at the Mark Delay School for originally proposing the questions prior to a fantastic school visit.
What is your favorite food?
Patrick: I love french fries, but know they are not very healthy for me. So I try very hard not to eating them more than once a week. I like to exercise regularly, because then french fries and all foods taste even better, and I feel better. I think my next favorite food is onions. Really, I eat onions in just about anything -- in eggs, salads and sandwiches, with grilled vegetables, and sometimes even raw. It's kind of weird, I know! Sometimes I have a craving for a hot dog or hamburger and I think it is just because I can put ketchup, mustard, and onions on top to eat them!
Do you have any pets?
Patrick: I don't have any pets, and it seemed as though every time I was about to get a dog, friends asked me house sit their dog(s) for a week, and that cured me. Not that I don't love dogs or pets in general, but I just didn't want to have to walk a dog first every morning, before I even had a shower. Plus, I like to travel on short notice. Growing-up the only pets we had were fish or hamsters, so I don't miss having a dog or cat. I enjoy playing with other people's pets, dogs especially. Cats are okay too, but I have a mild allergy to cats so have to be careful and wash my hands afterward. Otherwise if I will touch my face or neck and I breakout in a mild rash that lasts for several hours, which is annoying.
Why do you like bridges so much?
Patrick: I think bridges are cool. There is a beauty and strength to bridges AND the idea of a bridge is so amazing. Here are these structures that allow us to walk straight through the air over water or deep valleys. I really would not like having to scramble down and probably swim across a river or lake and scramble up the other bank if a bridge were not there. Imagine how hard it would be, and with a bridge, people can use it over and over again. So bridges are a very powerful idea and very cool! Bridges (both natural and man-made) have probably been around for millions of years, and yet even the simplest of bridges are still used today.
What sport do you play?
Patrick: My main sport now is racing sailboats, mostly here on Lake Michigan, but other places too. However from a very young age I have always enjoyed playing sports. Several times a week I exercise by going to the gym, swimming, or bicycling to stay in shape. I really enjoy the competition of sports, and have made many friends by participating in sports. I miss most playing soccer and twisted a knee many years ago and haven't played since. In High School I wrestled for a couple years and played soccer. During college I played intramural basketball, football, soccer, and broomball. After college I continued to play soccer for a few years and in my mid-20s picked up sailing. I have also done triathlons, raced bicycles, run 5Ks, and have tried snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, whitewater rafting, scuba diving, and even pine tree climbing. I like most any activity to get outside and play.
What is a favorite memory of when you were young?
Patrick: That is a tough question because I was very lucky to have a great childhood. I also experienced a great deal because I was born in Bloomington, Indiana and at two-weeks old with my parents we moved to Normal, Illinois. Then at age 7 we then moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and when I was 10 years old we moved to Youngstown, Ohio were I did most of my growing up. So I have a lot of fond memories of all those places and it is tough to pick a favorite.
Tell us something silly about yourself - the kids LOVE that kind of thing.
Patrick: Well I've already told you how I love onions, but I guess that is just kind of weird and not very silly. In general, I like to be silly and funny, and enjoy goofing around with people, especially if they are also funny and clever. I did take improv classes for a whole year just for fun and some of the things we did (like make up silly noises to pass an imaginary ball around in a circle) were very silly indeed. I can be very serious and there is a time and place for being serious and for being silly. It is fun to make people laugh, and a good way to get to know people, make friends, and find lasting friendships. Sometimes it is hard to resist being silly, because life is often completely silly!
The Mark Delay School Librarian (who was super-great!) held a draw a bridge contest after my six-session author visit to give away six copies of Drawbridges Open and Close. They sent me some great thank you notes and shared pictures from the bridge drawing contest. Thank You to all the students at the Mark Delay School in Darien, Illinois. They were super well behaved, asked great questions, and were very enthusiastic to listen and learn, making my visit so much fun!!
As a way to expand on the PTM Werks Series in the classroom several downloadable teaching lessons are below to use in your classroom. These are designed for Pre-K through 3rd Grades and offer additional information and ideas in working with students to using Drawbridges Open and Close to introduce simple machines, animal habitats & diversity, and sound & energy. We are expecting additional Lesson Plans for the next two books in the PTM Werks Series very soon.