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Puddle Proof Shoes

Puddle Proof Shoes

Martha Howell, instructional technology facilitator at Cash and Walkertown elementary schools, recently wrote and published a first draft of her children’s book titled, “Puddle Proof Shoes.”
Howell said the inspiration for her book came from a friend’s daughter, who she said called her rainboots puddle proof shoes.
What makes this book unique is that Howell used artificial intelligence (AI) to illustrate it. While the story was written years ago, Howell knew she would have to find just the right illustrator to create the perfect book she envisioned. AI did just that.
“I tried for several years to find an illustrator, but I could never find someone to commit,” she said about why she turned to using AI to illustrate her book.
After seeing the illustrations, Howell said she was shocked.
“I was initially shocked, but overwhelmed with joy as AI brought the dream of my book to reality,” she shared.
The book is about a young girl (based on her granddaughters) who loves to jump in puddles but always ends up with wet socks and shoes. She wears a special pair of “puddle proof” shoes that keep her feet dry no matter how much she splashes in the water. The story incorporates rhyming and repetition and includes a sweet message to adults.
To illustrate the book, Howell used AI software that allowed her to create custom illustrations based on her written descriptions of the characters and scenes. This approach gave her more creative control and flexibility than traditional illustration methods. Howell credits Dall*E with the beautiful pictures it generated based on lines from the story and instructions to illustrate with impressionism.
“I’ve always been interested in exploring the common lines where technology and creativity intersect,” said Howell. “Using AI to illustrate the book was a challenging but rewarding experience, and I’m excited to share the final product with young readers.”
The book has already received positive reviews from close friends and educators alike, who praise the engaging storyline and vibrant illustrations. It has also been used as a teaching tool at Cash and Walkertown elementary schools. Howell is using it as a platform for students to write their own class books this year. In Mrs. Shrewsbury’s first grade class at Walkertown Elementary, students are writing about Shrewsbury pies and in Miss Belsterling’s class, first graders are writing about their teacher’s magical collection of sterling silver bells.
As she uses AI in the classroom, Howell said the students are excited about it.
“The excitement is grand,” she remarked. “Students have the best way to show and share joy when they get to create something real.”
While, for some, AI may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, it is very real and Howell feels that it is important to share the knowledge about AI with students.
“We are in the beginnings of learning about artificial intelligence, but our students are resilient and want to learn everything they can,” she said. “Many of them were ‘born’ with devices in their hands and they have so much to teach us.”
“Puddle Proof Shoes” isn’t the end for Howell, as she shared that she has another book in the works.
“My next book title is ‘Baseball Cat.’ It is a book about a little orange tabby cat that visits my grandson and his team every day at the Sandlot in Kernersville,” she said. “I am looking forward to getting his input in helping me write and illustrate this next project.”
Howell started in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools district in 2009 at Union Cross Elementary School as the computer education specialist and has always been well regarded by her peers. Her hard work and dedication to education is stellar. Howell was awarded Certified Instructional Support Person of the Year this year at Walkertown Elementary. Howell has always been able to adapt to changes in technology and the times. During the pandemic, several teacher friends from Union Cross contacted her immediately to help guide them as they worked together and determined how to adapt the Canvas Learning Management System to elementary students. “Martha is an incredibly talented educator, and we’re lucky to have her on our team,” said Jennifer Swofford, Cash Elementary School principal. “Her book is a testament to her creativity and dedication to helping children learn in innovative ways.”
“Puddle Proof Shoes” will soon be available for purchase online. With its unique approach to storytelling and illustration, it’s sure to become a favorite among young readers and educators alike.

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