By winter’s end, the well has run dry of indoor activities to do with our children (or grandchildren). We become restless and ready to make a mad dash out of the house by the time spring makes its arrival. Thankfully, we have beautiful Lincoln Park, welcoming us with open arms at this time of year.
Krista August, and her activity book Giants in the Park, will turn a walk in the park with your family into an adventure...
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And, thank you Classic Chicago for featuring Giants in the Park!
in the Park Activity Book for Growing Giants
by Krista August.
Lincoln Park Press, December 14, 2015
Large Format Paperback, 64 pages.
What do William Shakespeare, Alexander Hamilton and Philip
Henry Sheridan have in common? They are all Giants in the Park, as in statues that
adorn Chicago’s Lincoln Park. And in the hands of Krista August—a skilled
author, artist, lecturer and tour guide—they and more than a dozen other
inspiring figures that were cast in bronze or chiseled out of stone now reside
in the park have much to teach students about history, literature, politics, warfare,
and many other things.
In Giants in the Park
Activity Book for Growing Giants, August masterfully draws on Lincoln
Park’s outdoor, public statuary to engage students in the stories behind these
figures and the lessons they convey about a wide range of topics—everything
from the Chicago Fire to Ben Franklin’s vices and virtues.
It’s clear that August was also an elementary and middle
school teacher because this book’s well-defined activities are sure to appeal
to students (from third grade to above) by capturing their interest and
sparking their curiosity.
Students benefit from the book’s text, images
and activities. In addition, after completing the activities, the students—“growing
giants”—could follow-up with a fieldtrip to Lincoln Park to see the freely
accessible giants, look for the details described in the book, and test their
understanding of the book’s lessons. They could also search for additional
statues and monuments in the park, all of which August expertly described and drew
as watercolors in her Giants in the Park
(Independently published, Chicago, 2011 and 2015), the guidebook upon which
this activity book is based. Within the pages of these two tomes, students will
find plenty of ideas for history fair projects and term paper topics.
The activity book is remarkable in several ways:
-Its attractive layout features ample
white space that just begs to be filled in with words and numbers, names and
dates, colors and collages.
-Its broad blend of activities (games
and exercises, puzzles and quizzes, fill-in-the-blanks and essay questions)
offer students an appealing array of entry points and will encourage them to
keep turning the pages.
-Its novel combination of references
(audio and video; internet-based and traditional text; maps, photos and
drawings) will help attract and keep students’ attention in their fast-paced, multitasking
-Its eclectic fusion of topics addresses
a large variety of issues and shows students how important it is to be
well-versed across subjects.
My only beef with this book is that I would have liked it to
include more lessons about Lincoln Park’s metal
and stone statuary: Friedrich von Schiller and his Ode to Joy (“All men will
become brothers”); George Solti and his music (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra);
Charles Tyson Yerkes and his Electric Fountain (why was he so reviled?); the misfortune
of lost statues (the stolen Ludwig van Beethoven bust); the Eugene Fields
Memorial’s Dream Lady (and her sleep-inducing poppy seeds); etc. Young enquiring
minds will want to know! But by making history and art fun, Giants in the Park Activity Book for Growing
Giants will lead students to seek out these additional statues on their
own, to investigate how and why they came to be, and to explore the monumental stories
these silent statues have to tell.
Greg Borzo, author of the Chicago “L” and Where to Bike