Relative of Holling uses Paddle-to-the-Sea

By Carole Gutteridge

As a child, I grew up with my mother reading Paddle to the Sea to me and my brothers and sisters. We loved the story and pictures and loved that we had a family connection to the book. My mother would tell about her cousin, author and illustrator, Clancy Holling Clancy. Other cousins of my mother would tell us stories of Clancy patiently trying to teach them to draw. Unfortunately, none of those artistic genes showed up in my family.

Clancy was born in 1900 grew up on the Holling farm near Jackson, Michigan. As a child, he was remembered for his love of story telling and drawing for his friends and the neighborhood children. After graduating from Leslie High School, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied drawing, painting and illustration. While studying art, he met his wife, Lucille Webster, who was also an artist and later co-authored and co-illustrated many of his books. They lived in California and traveled the world extensively until his death in 1973.

As a fourth grade teacher, I have been excited to use the book, Paddle to the Sea, as an integrated way to study Michigan and the Great Lakes region. The descriptive language with many metaphors and similes encourages students to create their own mental pictures and helps them improve their own writing. Science is taught by examining different ecosystems such as the marsh, the forest and life in the Great Lakes. Social Studies is incorporated by using maps to follow the journey of Paddle. Using the Google Earth Paddle to the Sea connection through COSSEE added an exciting new level to the book. While studying iron ore and shipping, we were able to zoom in and see real freighters in the harbor at Duluth, Minnesota. We could see the heavily forested upper peninsula of Michigan. The many links at each chapter location added so much depth to our study of the Great Lakes and the enthusiasm and interest of my students never wavered throughout the book.

I have also been fortunate to attend several COSSEE workshops that have added to my personal knowledge and helped me develop fun activities and lessons to my curriculum. Spending a week on the Lake Guardian Environmental Agency Research Ship let me work with real scientific data using sophisticated equipment and scientists that monitor our lakes. My power point presentation lets students see the importance of monitoring and protecting our precious water resource.

Our last Paddle activity is watching the video of the book. I love to see the disappointment at the end when students realize how much was left out or changed. They learned the power of reading a book, creating their own pictures and savoring the special place we live in surrounded by our Great Lakes.