The second grade students and I read Uncommon Traveler Mary Kinsgsley in Africa by Don Brown.
About the book: "Mary Kingsley spent her childhood in a small house on a lonely lane outside London, England. Her mother was bedridden, her father rarely home, and Mary served as housekeeper, handyman, nursemaid, and servant. Not until she was thirty years old did Mary get her chance to explore the world she’d read about in her father’s library. In 1893, she arrived in West Africa, where she encountered giant flying insects, crocodiles, hippos, and brutal heat. Mary endured the hardships of the equatorial country—and thrived."
As we read the book, I would pause and ask the students to attribute character traits to Mary. By the end of the story the students described Mary as a thankful, creative, intelligent, smart, caring, curious, thoughtful, clever, adventurous, problem- solving, brave explorer. I think they nailed it.
I am in awe of what Mary Kingsley achieved in the eight years between her parents' death and her own. In the mid 1890's, Mary traveled from Nigeria through Cameroon and into Gabon.
This web page from Cornell demonstrates the impact of her bio-science work over 100 years later, to say nothing of how she changed people's perceptions of those living on the African continent.
The second graders study Ghana, so reading about exploration in the area is not as foreign as it might appear. After reading the story and talking about Mary Kingsley's character traits, the students thought about their own.
On this person, they wrote down their own character traits.
On this building (a rather sad looking excuse for a school), they wrote down how they had demonstrated this character trait.