Shelly Lyon
Apple     This is Shelly ’Klingensmith’ Glennon. Shelly teaches fourth grade at Tularcitos Elementary School in Carmel Valley, California. Leslie volunteered in Shelly's first grade classroom for 14 years.

All of this exposure to the first-grade classroom has had a lasting effect on Leslie’s books, not just providing a setting but also making the books very curriculum friendly. Albert’s Field Trip was a direct result of a class field trip. Ms. Klingensmith (Shelly) can be seen (in her Pleasant Valley/rabbit persona) working with the first-graders in Albert’s Birthday. Shelly created these materials and used them in her classroom with great success.

Family History Project

By Shelly Lyon

This month my class and I have embarked on a hunt for family history. It was actually initiated by Leslie, herself, on one of her Tuesday morning writing sessions with my class of 4th graders. She showed us her family’s letter from an Irish relative who had written to his son after a labor meeting in Ireland in the 1800’s sometime. It is a family tradition for this letter to be read around Leslie’s dinner table every St. Patrick’s Day. After reading the letter, Leslie suggested the children do some family research based on some old archived piece of their own family’s writing.

Not long after that Eleanor Coerr came to our school and spoke about her process in writing Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. She spent 7 years searching for Sadako’s diary before she could write the story of this young girl’s courage resulting from atomic outfall after WWII. Eleanor interviewed people who knew Sadako and read newspapers from those times. Eventually she wrote this amazingly touching piece of historical fiction.

Armed with words of encouragement from both these gifted authors, my class has undertaken this project of research and historical fiction writing with vigor. Leslie helped lay out the steps in the process. (Eleanor Coerr’s process was much the same as ours will be!):

1. Find an old letter or journal as our “primary source.” Photocopy it so as to save the fragile old paper.

2. Interview people in the family who knew the author of the family archive. Take notes.

3. Look for family photos of the author of the original writing.

4. Research the time in history when the “primary source” was written. Take notes.

5. Write a story about the person who wrote the original letter or journal. This piece of historical fiction will be a made up story, but will include accurate information from that time in history.

I’ve included the class check-list so you can download it and let your children use it to do some research and writing of their own. I’m allowing about a month from beginning to ending. That way allowing families enough time to crawl through attics, call grandparents, and become acquainted with their roots. One can find history in the strangest places! Enjoy!

Until next month,


Please click this link to download the PDF pages with instructions for this project.