Explore the Many Hats of Dr. Seuss
To honor Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) on the anniversary of his birthday, NEA, in conjunction with Random House Children's Books, has developed materials to help educators and others take children on an in-depth odyssey to learn about the man behind the pseudonym.
"The Many Hats of Ted Geisel" materials are designed to help educators take students through the creative process of writing their own children's picture book. Activity suggestions are separated by grade level so that students of all ages will have the opportunity to enjoy building skills and imagination through pre-writing, writing, editing, illustrating, reading, publishing, and advertising activities.
But Ted Geisel wore so many hats that we couldn't fit them all in "The Many Hats of Ted Geisel." Consider trying on some of Ted's other hats for a winning March 2nd Read Across America Day celebration.
Artist and community activist
In addition to his book illustrations, Ted Geisel painted regularly and was an accomplished artist. He often told young artists to "paint at least one picture a month that is just for fun." For inspiration, have a look at the art Geisel created to please himself in The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1995).
Geisel was also involved in the betterment of the La Jolla/San Diego (California) community and lobbied for a local billboard ban; served as a trustee to the San Diego Fine Arts Museum and La Jolla Town Council; and was a member of Citizens United, a panel dedicated to civic improvement.
Combine Ted's artist and community activist hats, and beautify an area in your community by having students paint a mural about reading!
Gardener and environmentalist
Ted Geisel often took an afternoon walk through his garden at his home in La Jolla, California. He believed gardening to be another form of art and enjoyed creating a relaxed, lush outdoor environment to share with his family and friends.
Ted was also concerned about the environment as a whole, and wanted to make the world aware of the consequences of indifference to nature. The result of his concerns was The Lorax (Random House, 1971) a book that has inspired generations to conservation.
Combine Ted's gardener and environmentalist hats and plant a tree at your school or in your community. Hold a special tree planting ceremony and dedicate it as a reading tree -- a place where readers of all ages can enjoy a good book under the shade of its branches. (For more information about the best planting times in your area, contact a local nursery. If weather or climate preclude outdoor planting, plant a tree seedling indoors in a container at least six inches deep with good drainage. Keep in a sunny spot until you can plant outdoors.)
Film maker, big AND small screen
During World War II, Ted Geisel served in the U.S. Army in Frank Capra's Signal Corps, and worked on making movies relevant to the war effort. While serving, he was introduced to animation by animator Chuck Jones and developed a series of animated training films for Army troops. He also wrote scripts for live-action films for American military forces. Two of these films were later developed into Academy Award winning documentaries.
Following the war, Ted's interest in Hollywood continued, and the friendships he made in the Army led to more big and small screen productions, including the 1951 Academy Award winning cartoon, Gerald McBoing Boing and television favorites like How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Have kids try on Geisel's film maker hat and create scripts for documentaries about a favorite author (look for production ideas at Biography.com or check out the film Stone Reader); instructional films about how to use the library or school media center; or creative shorts that celebrate the joy of reading.