About Benson’s Adventures
We believe children should be curious, inspired and encouraged to DREAM BIG. As educators, we know books and travel can take children to magical places beyond their homes, classrooms and communities. Our goal is to help children understand that a world of travel adventures and opportunities awaits them and that they can make a difference by following their dreams.
Right now is the perfect time to invite Benson into your home. Across the nation, families are dealing with lots of new situations from parents working from home to distant learning to schools and childcare facilities being closed. Benson provides support for parents and children as he provides engaging educational activities for each book in the Benson’s Adventures Series. Each book comes with a Parent’s Guide and a Teacher’s Guide packed full of Pre-K though Fifth grade activities incorporating math, science, social studies, writing, reading, and fine arts national curriculum standards.
National landmarks, historical sites, iconic cities, our nation’s capitol, our national parks, and our coastal destinations are ranked among the top places to visit in the world. As educators, we continue to be surprised by the number of children who have never had the opportunity to travel outside of their community. We wrote the Benson’s Adventures children’s book series to raise children and families’ interest and awareness about unique places and destinations and to encourage them to experience these attractions first-hand.
It is our sincere hope that our Benson’s Adventures series will inspire families to show their children what the world has to offer to find their passion to DREAM BIG!
Tracy and Shannon
“DREAM BIG” is the motto of two mid-Michigan educators, Kindergarten Teacher, Tracy Foster and Shannon Cooper-Toma, Special Education Teacher. Children all over the nation are being inspired by Benson, the main character, from a series of children’s books written by the two educators. Tracy has been an Early Childhood Educator and Literacy Specialist for twenty-three years. Tracy received the “2016 Educator of the Year” title for Corunna Public Schools and received the “Innovative Educator” award from Western Michigan University in 2017. Shannon has served in many leadership roles in the educational realm, including building principal, early childhood educator, literacy specialist, and a special education teacher for over twenty years. Using the DREAM BIG philosophy, on their teaching salaries, community sponsorships, and corporate sponsorships, the educators funded these unique, educational travel experiences for students throughout the nation.
Over the past four years, the educators and hundreds of students, logged thousands of miles throughout their national travels learning about what our world has to offer. Many of the destinations in their books have been ranked as some of the top destinations to visit in the world. Some of these excursions included visiting NASA, visiting television studio lots in Hollywood, visiting the set of Good Morning America for a private photo shoot, taking an airboat tour through the Everglades, touring Chicago, visiting many different oceans on each of the coasts, dog sledding at Nature’s Kennel, touring the Shinola factory, attending a basketball camp with former NBA player, Morris Peterson, Jr., conducting science experiments on a tall ship while sailing on a Great Lake, climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, cruising under the Mackinac Bridge while learning about the night sky constellations, and visiting various National landmarks.
The authors and their books were recently featured in the National Education Association’s magazine NEA Today (Fall 2016 edition), Michigan Education Association’s magazine MEA Voice (December 2016), The Michigan History for Kids magazine (May/June 2017), and the SVSU Reflections magazine (June 2018). The two authors were featured on the cover of the June 2018 edition of the Women To Women Michigan magazine.
The two educators were selected as featured authors and presenters for the Michigan Reading Association Conference in Grand Rapids in March 2017, July 2019, and March 2020. Tracy and Shannon were also selected to be on the Cavalcade Alumni Authors Panel in 2018 at Saginaw Valley State University. The authors presented at the Michigan Association for Media in Education State Conference in November 2017, the MEMSPA State Conference in December 2017, the MSU “I Am A Teacher” Expo in 2018, and are featured keynote speakers for the Alpha Delta Kappa North Central Regional Conference on July 20, 2020.
ABC 12 News (www.abc12.com) announced the new partnership with Benson’s Adventures (Benson’s Literacy Foundation) and ABC 12’s Project Imagination program for the 2018-2019 school year. The authors’ book, Benson’s Seasonal Adventures in Michigan, was the ABC 12 News featured book for Project Imagination. ABC12 received an Emmy in 2019 for the promotional television commercial for Project Imagination with Benson’s Adventures. ABC 12 has now selected the authors’ third book, Benson’s Adventures in the U.S.A, as their new book for 2019-2020 Project Imagination. The ABC 12 News talent visits school districts to read the book and then donates a copy to each student. ABC 12 News also travels with Benson’s Adventures and students across the nation.
The third book in the Benson’s Adventures series, Benson’s Adventures in the United States, made a debut in June 2019. As the educators worked on their third book, they also traveled with students to national iconic educational locations. The authors and a group of students visited a television lot in Hollywood. Students were surprised with private dance lessons at Ventura Beach with Disney’s Moana dance consultant, Rika Traxler and private self-defense lessons with a Celebrity MMA Championship Fighter, Gabriel Ruediger. Students also enjoyed a whale watching tour, a visit to tide pools in Laguna Beach, California, and enjoyed a viewing tour of the planets at Griffith Observatory. The students loved visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, and swimming in the ocean. The students learned many life lessons about self-confidence, dreaming big, and working hard.
The authors treated students to a national trip to the Kennedy Space Center at NASA. Benson’s Adventures was invited to the Kennedy Space Center for a private tour and a meet and greet with Astronaut, Norm Thagard. At NASA, the students explored the Rocket Garden, Space Shuttle Atlantis and Shuttle Launch Experience Ride, and took a bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center and launch sites. Later in the evening, the students visited Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures to learn about the wildlife and their habitats, as well as enjoy an educational Native American presentation. The educators set up a shelling tour at Shell Key. The final stop of the trip to Florida was Clearwater Beach. The students enjoyed swimming in the ocean. The students also got to experience the Disney atmosphere by staying at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The authors surprised two students with the trip of a lifetime to New York City for a private photo shoot with Ginger Zee on the set of Good Morning America. Ginger Zee, Chief Meteorologist for ABC News, is featured as a national and Michigan celebrity who inspires all children to DREAM BIG in the authors’ first book, Benson’s Adventures in Michigan. She shares her story of growing up in Michigan and how her adventures inspired a passion for science. She shares that as a young girl she was dreaming big of becoming the first female national meteorologist by the age of 30.
On June 20, 2019, Tracy and Shannon embarked on a national road trip to Chicago with a group of thirty-eight kindergarten through third grade students enrolled in a summer school literacy program. The students were immersed in Chicago’s culture by exploring the city, having a private tour and experience at the Shedd Aquarium, and a private tour at the Willis Tower Sky Deck. Dylan’s Candy Bar treated the students to a massive once in a lifetime candy party and candy shopping spree, and American girl provided a complimentary dine with the dolls experience to each child. Benson’s Literacy Foundation purchased a doll for each child in the group. It truly was a once in a lifetime trip for many of these students.
The authors have also created a non-profit called, Benson’s Literacy Foundation. They have donated over five thousand books back to students in classrooms in the last four years. Tracy and Shannon have worked closely with organizations to donate books to classrooms through backpack giveaway programs, MDA camps, food banks, hospitals, shelters, and community organizations. The authors and educators feel that donating their book will allow all children (and parents) the opportunity to see the beauty of our nation (if they aren’t able to travel) and the endless opportunities our nation has to offer to encourage all children to DREAM BIG. Through the non-profit foundation, the authors were also able to take hundreds of students on educational trips.
Educators all over the nation are using the books in their classrooms. There are literacy projects based around the books traveling around the world. Students in classrooms are receiving artifacts, postcards, pictures, and letters from around the world. Teachers have even integrated technology, the arts, presentations, and national history into many of the projects. Benson has inspired students and families to share their adventures throughout our nation and has inspired children to become the authors of their own adventures. Teachers are excited about the opportunity to utilize student interests in this engaging and educational project. Students are excited to read about our nation, find their own passion, and to become the author of their own adventures.
Benson’s Adventures is a brand that empowers families to be engaged in their child’s education by providing parents with knowledge about free resources in the community, by providing a parent’s guide, and educating parents on the importance of providing their children with unique learning experiences. No matter where students live, they should have access to the same high quality educational opportunities as any other student in our nation.
Benson’s Adventures in Michigan, A children’s book featuring the main character, Benson the turtle, travels to twenty different locations exploring all that Michigan has to offer. Many of the destinations in this book have been ranked as some of the top destinations to visit in the world. Benson’s Adventures in Michigan has curriculum embedded in the book for the different content areas for students from birth to sixth grade. The book comes with a teacher’s guide and a parent’s guide. There are also postcard bundles to encourage students to become authors of their own adventures, as they travel with their family and classroom.
Benson’s Seasonal Adventures in Michigan features MSU’s Head Basketball Coach, Tom Izzo, as our Michigan celebrity who has been inspired by growing up in Michigan. He continues to inspire youth all over the nation by DREAMING BIG for each one of them. Benson’s Seasonal Adventures in Michigan features adventures throughout Michigan’s unique seasons including the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, The Henry Ford Museum, sailing under the Mackinac Bridge to look at the constellations of the night sky, and dog sledding with Iditarod Dog Sled racing professionals from Nature’s Kennel in McMillan, MI. This book also comes with a teacher’s guide, a parent’s guide, and a postcard bundle.
Benson’s Adventures in the U.S.A. made its debut in June 2019. The educational, children’s book features iconic locations to visit throughout the diverse regions of the United States. Some of the locations include NASA, Hollywood, NYC, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, iconic national parks, and many historical landmarks. Benson visits different iconic national locations in each U.S. region sharing his experiences with children to highlight what the nation has to offer. Benson inspires children to DREAM BIG by finding their passion through self-discovery. He shares the history of our nation through many exciting “Did you know…” fun facts in the book. This book also comes with a teacher’s guide, parent’s guide, and a postcard bundle.
The educators are currently doing educational consulting, keynote speaking, Family Literacy Night presentations, and author visits to schools, universities, libraries, bookstores, summer camps, and community programs around the nation. To purchase books, please visit www.BensonsAdventures.com
ABC12 News Segment on Benson’s Adventures Chicago Trip with Students:
Chicago’s NBC News Segment:
ABC12 News Segment on Benson’s Adventures Trip to NASA:
ABC12 Project Imagination Partnership with Benson’s Adventures:
ABC12 News Segment on a Benson’s Adventures Family Literacy Night. We gave away over 150 travel passes to students and families to ensure they would get the opportunity to travel.
The authors can be reached at:
Tracy Foster: 810.845.4983
Shannon Cooper-Toma: 989.233.2745
Pack your suitcase and join Benson, a curious turtle, as he learns about the world around him. Through unique adventures and self exploration, Benson will ignite a child’s interest and curiosity about opportunities they may not experience otherwise. Always with a notebook and pencil in hand, Benson takes notes along his journey, explores different places, and makes real life learning connections. Benson inspires children around the world to find their true passion and to DREAM BIG!
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