Educator Missy Richey of The Capitol School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama had always loved the children’s classic, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see. One day while preparing a student activity on adjectives for her class of 7 to 9 year olds, Richey became inspired - why not let her students use this activity as an opportunity for a service learning project that will benefit both The Capitol School and would help provide college scholarships for The University of Alabama.
From this idea came the book, Big Al, Big Al, What do you see? Richey helped her students write sentences modeled after the structure of “Brown Bear” by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. Instead of Brown Bear, the mascot of the University of Alabama, Big Al, was the star of the story.
First, the students wrote sentences describing what they thought Big Al would see at an Alabama football game. By studying Carle’s blog, they learned how to make a collage for each page of their book. The students practiced their new skills by painting tissue paper, cutting the paper out into shapes, drawing on it, and gluing the paper together, just like Carle does for his popular children’s books. Then the students and their parents went across town to experience in person an Alabama football game.
After a visit to the Quad where the students experienced the joys of tailgating, the students then went to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Like Big Al, they saw students coming to the game, the statue of Bear Bryant, the Game Day announcers and the bus driver delivery the football players for the Walk of Champions. Excited children and wonderful grandparents were there and the ticket-takers let them in so that the ushers could show them to their seats.
The football field was bursting with activity, with cheerleaders, football players, Coach Saban, the chain crew and trainers , all doing their best. Adding sound and color to the stadium were the drummers, the saxophonist, and the color guards. The venders were selling soda and peanuts, and the opposing team looked fierce and strong. Recording it all was the photographer. But in the end, do you know what Big Al said? “Roll Tide, Roll Tide, What Do We See? We see the Championship Trophy looking at me!”