Friday, April 4, 2014

Story Time

I am the best grandmother in the whole wide world.

Okay, if you want to be picky, I am not really a grandmother. My son’s intended has a four year old son from a previous marriage, whom my son refers to as his “steppish” son. Little Ace calls me Nonna (and sometimes Nonnie) and seems to have accepted me, and my husband, and my son’s dad and stepmother, into his life without fuss. A few days ago I even got a package in the mail: artwork from his daycare that I could put on my refrigerator.

Okay, that’s what other grandmothers do, perfectly nice, loving grandmothers who bake cookies, and read bedtime stories and may even be raising their grandchildren for all I know. The world is filled with wonderful grandmothers.

But how many of them scan their grandkids artwork onto the computer and then use Hyperstudio to turn it into an interactive ebook with sound and animation? Probably more than I think, given that there are a lot of former and current teachers and therapists out there who are grandmas, but I digress. 

Since one of the pieces of art was a painted and cut-out boot, I made the storyline about a lonely boot who can’t find his other boot. A traced circle became the sun, a flower became a lot of flowers, and a painting of tall plants became a jungle that was home to a tiger who decided that the protagonist “tastes like an old boot”. The story has a happy ending of course.

I emailed it to my son and hoped for the best. 

Ace loves it! I got a call on FaceTime to thank me, and he insisted on reading it with me (my son reading while Ace described the pictures and made comments). Then he wanted to read it again. It’s becoming a bit of a problem because my son needs the computer to work on. So maybe I am not the best grandmother in the world after all.

The page first shows without the eyes and frown showing.
They pop up on a timer. They weren't on the original boot.

Ace had drawn an outline of a flower and the rough circle that became the sun.
I made multiples and added the colors.
There's an animated boot that crosses the page to the tune of "Boot Scoot Boogie"

The tiger says, "This tastes like an old boot" in a voice that sounds a lot like mine.

I don’t know where I get this compulsion to tinker with technology. Back when we first got a video camera where I worked, I set out to do a project called the WHY-ME TV News with all my little clients. Only 6 or 7 of them appeared in the video, but others got to help make backdrops while we all discussed the questions words “who, what, where, when, why, how” in lessons designed to improve grammar, practice target sounds, elicit expressive and receptive language, and for one child, practice using an augmentative device. The weather girl (whose segment was a description of what makes up weather) had a dad who had just returned from the first Gulf War, and he agreed to be interviewed for the news segment by a young man who was working on speech fluency. Other segments included a video game review, a health segment on the four food groups (which tells you how long ago this was), a sports report by a child who played baseball, and an “ad” for the center by our spokesmodel, who needed to practice her /s/ sounds.

I was prescient in choosing the call letters WHY-ME. But they all had fun, and to wrap up the project, my husband and I made everyone copies of the video and then took them out for pizza. A local motocross group had donated some old trophies, so everyone got one of those, too.

All those children are at least in their mid-twenties by now. I think of them often and hope they are doing well. I hope they learned something from the video project, not just how to roll their r’s and speak in correct sentences and speak fluently, but also how to elicit fun from the mundane tasks of everyday life.

As for me, I probably learned the most of all. Now my steppish grandbaby is getting some of the benefit.


  1. I had no idea Hyperstudio still existed! I thought it had been replaced by Powerpoint. I used it when I was in sixth grade to do a report on Ogden Nash that involved extraordinarily goofy animations. I have to say, I think using Hyperstudio really helped me understand how the Web worked when I got a modem the next year.

  2. I think it disappeared for a while, but now is being produced by MacKiev. I used to use it to make animated versions of my little clients target sounds and vocabulary words.

    I also loved Intellitools, but it costs over 3 times what Hyperstudio does. OTOH, it makes much better animations and is easier to use with adaptive keyboards.

  3. You are the best grandmother in the world!! And Ace is going to totally thank you when he gets his own tablet so his stepfather can do some work. ;-)

    1. Aww, thanks. They are coming to visit tomorrow and spending a long weekend. I'm excited.