Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus Gets All Dries Up

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 The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Upwritten by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen is a fun and adventurous children’s book about survival in the desert.  The book starts off in Ms. Frizzle’s class, where things are not normal for long.  The students are making a diorama and observe that they are missing something important, animals that live in the desert! Carlos does not think that the cute little stuffed animals that they have put in the diorama will survive the hot, dry desert; and Phoebe is determined to prove him wrong.  She decided they are going to for a committee called S.A.D.S. (Students Against Desert Scarcity).  “Scarcity because food and water is hard to find in the desert.”  Surprising Arnold decides they should take a field trip and the next think you know, the students are boarding the Magic School Bus which turns into an airplane.  While the class is at the desert they learn what it would be like to be a Gila Monster, lizard with spikes, a rabbit, and a tortoise while comparing and contrasting the ways of survival. It does rain over night and in the morning there are beautiful flowers everywhere in the desert. Ms. Frizzle ends the field trip by saying “All things that live here have special features-adaptations-for survival.”

Curriculum Connections

This would be a great book to read aloud to the younger elementary school grades. A kindergarten teacher or first grade teacher can use this book to help teach and relate the book to scientific investigation, reasoning and logic (SOL: K.1 or 1.1) by observing the different attributes of surroundings, physical properties such as the mountains vs. the desert, predictions and conclusions.  If the children in the classroom have difficulty reading, they can looked at the detailed pictures and still understand a majority of the authors content.  This is a good book for teachers to stop and ask questions to the students about what they think will happen next, while they are using their processing skills.

Additional Resources

Scholastic has a web-site just for The Magic School Bus adventures. Teachers, parents and students can all find something to do! Teachers can find free engaging activities for their students.

All Kinds of Weather is a worksheet that can help students process what activity can go along with each season. Students can process the following as an example: the boys and the kite go along with the wind blowing. 

Preschool coloring pages of the desert can help to tie in the climate and what things can be found in the desert after reading the book, such as, cacti.

A to Z Teacher Stuff is a great resource for teachers.  It has free lesson plans, coloring activities, games, etc. for the classroom. There is a whole section on the desert and each grade is broken down into sections for easier findings.

Book: The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Up
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN: 0-590-50831-8