Archive for November, 2010

Introducing Division

Introduction

This post includes a variety of resources (books, websites, lesson plans, games, printables, etc.) that can be used to introduce basic division concepts to students and aid them in committing the basic division facts (dividends to 144) to memory. The target grade level is third grade since these skills are first introduced at this level.  However, many of these resources could and perhaps should be used at the fourth and fifth grade levels to reinforce basic division skills, which are the basis for so many other higher-level math concepts.

FIVE BOOKS for INTRODUCING SIMPLE DIVISION

The Great Divide, written by Dayle Ann Dodds and illustrated by Tracy Mitchell: Using a cross-country race as a plot line, Dodds demonstrates how dividing by two decreases the contenders in the race to the finish.  Eighty contestants start out on bikes in ten groups of eight but when half pop tires, only forty continue.  Forty becomes twenty, twenty becomes ten, and ten becomes five, at which point one contestant has to stop with a rock in her shoe and only four move on.  Though the plot is minimal, a surprise ending, likable characters, and fun illustrations keep children engaged while getting the mathematical concepts across.

Divide and Ride, written by Stuart Murphy and illustrated by George Ulrich: Murphy's book introduces division as eleven children sort themselves into smaller groups in order to go on different rides at a carnival.  Mathematical vocabulary such as "per", "divide", and "left over" is used throughout to introduce the concepts of "groups of", "sets of", and remainders.  The children in the story are racially diverse and even young children can relate to the idea of going to an amusement park and begin to see the patterns that emerge as the book continues.

How Hungry Are You, written by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen and illustrated by Amy Walrod: In the same vein as Pat Hutchins classic, The Doorbell Rang, Napoli and Tchen's book is a great introduction to simple division and the difficulties that can arise when sharing.  A rabbit and a frog decide to have a picnic.  Along the way, they meet up with a variety of other creatures who share in the food (creating the need to redivide) and contribute more food.  The story presents a great opportunity for reader's theater as the entire tale is told through dialogue of the various characters identified by rebus-like headshots at the beginning of each line.

A Remainder of One, written by Elinor J. Pinczes and illustrated by Bonnie MacKain: An army of 25 insects line up in multiple arrays in an attempt to create a formation that doesn't leave anyone out.  Rhyming text and simple illustrations combine to present the basis for a clear understanding of remainders and the use of arrays in division problems.

One Hungry Cat, written by Joanne Rocklin and Marilyn Burns and illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy: A hungry cat bakes 12 cookies and invites over two friends to share them, but each time he divides the cookies into equal shares, he gets hungry, gobbles them up, and has to bake something else. Throughout the story, subtle math problems arise.   For example, how does one divide eight cookies onto three plates, or cut a square cake into three equal pieces? Answers to the problems are presented in the back of the book along with suggested activities for reinforcing the math lesson.  The cartoon illustrations add to the fun and kids will enjoy the slapstick while they figure out the math.

ADDITIONAL BOOKS FREQUENTLY REFERENCED

Everybody Wins, written by Sheila Bruce and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye:  When Oscar and Emmy both contribute box tops for a contest and agree to split the prize of 100 frozen pizzas, they learn valuable lessons about how to divide and the costs and rewards of friendship.  As the book continues, so does the sharing as friends practice dividing other things among their classmates.  Additional activities to support the lessons in the book are listed on the inside back cover.

Division, written by Sheila Cato and illustrated by Sami Sweeten: Less of a story and more of a straight up math lesson, this book effectively uses authentic math problems to teach division.  A group of ethnically diverse children present a series of division problems using everyday examples that get progressively more difficult.  Equations are used to reflect the original word problem and the explanations are thorough and concise, building on prior knowledge.  Boxed areas provide further information and offer more practice equations, while colorful cartoons break up the text and illustrate the answers.

The Doorbell Rang, written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins: Pat Hutchins uses a dozen cookies to illustrate the partitive model of division as more and more children have to share the same batch of cookies. Two children are delighted when their mother bakes a tray of a dozen cookies and they find that by dividing them equally each can have six. But the doorbell rings repeatedly, friends arrive and the cookies must be re-divided again and again. When each child's share is down to one, a surprise visit from Grandma brings dozens more cookies for the elated multiracial children to share.

17 Kings and 42 Elephants, written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy: As 17 kings and 42 elephants make their way through the jungle, they encounter a variety of animals from crocodiles and tigers to hippopotomums and baboonsters.  Though the book has no formal plot and uses words both sensible and nonsensical, it holds great appeal to children because of the rollicking rhymes, joyous adventure, and beautiful illustrations.  From a mathematical perspective, the book can be used as a springboard for a division problem with remainders as students figure out how many elephants each king has if the kings share the elephants equally.

One Hundred Hungry Ants, written by Elinor J. Pinces and illustrated by Bonnie MacKain:  Rhymed verse is used to tell this whimsical story of 100 hungry ants setting out in one long line for a picnic.  When the littlest ant announces that the line is moving too slowly and suggests 2 lines of 50, followed by 4 lines of 25, 5 lines of 20, and 10 lines of 10 to speed things up.  By the time the ants reach the picnic, the food is all gone but students will have gained valuable background knowledge about both multiplication and division.

WEBSITES FOR REINFORCING BASIC DIVISION FACTS

Divider Machine: Students attempt to answer basic division facts and obtain a score of 100 without making any mistakes by selecting the appropriate level of difficulty.

Division Derby: Choose from a series of racecar themed multiplication and division games for single or multi-players focused on basic facts.

Flashcards: Students can use this site to generate their own division flashcards by entering the highest level of quotients they are interested in working with.  The site also has a variety of division games for students to choose from to support their learning process.

Math Magician: Great site for building automaticity with basic division facts.  Answer 20 division facts in a minute or less and earn a certificate.

Mystery at the Peculiar Zoo: Students read and use the clues in a poem along with multiplication and division skills to figure out how many animals were stolen by the Zoo Bandit.  If you like this story, additional mysteries are available through this scholastic site as well.

ADDITIONAL TEACHER RESOURCES

Basic Division Facts Differentiated Learning Pack: This Scholastic resource, while worksheet driven, does provide a good opportunity for differentiating activities for students who are reading below, on, or above grade level.

Lesson Idea for Introducing Division: In this activity, students are placed in groups of five or six and provided with 30 pieces of dry pasta and a paper plate for each child.  Students are asked to share the pasta equally and talk about their results.

Dividing with Bricks: This worksheet is a simple way to support the development of division concepts while children divide sets of bricks (or any cubes) into towers.

All About Division Smartboard Lesson: This Smartboard Lesson provides an introduction to the math concept of division and provides students with the opportunity to practice dividing by 3's, 4's. and 5's.

Teaching About Electricity

Introduction

Chosen books could be used to help students investigate and understand the characteristics of electricity, such as conductors and electricity, basic circuits, static electricity, transformation of electrical energy into light, heat and mechanical energy, electromagnets, and historical  contributions in understanding electricity. Selected books are aimed for elementary school students but for different grade levels.

The short sections in “Electricity” make the book useful for different levels and for multiple activities and lessons. “Switch On, Switch Off” is perfect for use in young classrooms. The text is extremely kid-friendly, leaving out any elaborate, overwhelming explanations. “Flick a Switch” will help lower elementary students picture how electricity travels from power plants to their homes. Fourth and fifth grade physical science lessons can incorporate this book into electricity units about conductors,  insulators, electromagnetism, and historical figures who contributed to our understanding and use of electrical power. “Wired” is a great resource to help upper elementary school students learn about an important part of physical science; electricity, because it describes in great detail how electricity is created and how it is transported to different places, while still being fun with its illustrations and catchy subtitles. “The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip” can be used to cover a wide range of science topics in regards to energy in grades 3-5. The book covers information on different sources of energy, magnetism, electrons and atoms, and explains the science behind how many things work.

“Electricity”

Electricity, a DK Eyewitness book written and illustrated by Steve Parker, is a great introduction to electricity. The book is written in short sections with one topic per two pages spread. There are lots of pictures which makes the book very visually interesting. Each section discusses the science behind electricity and includes information about important historical scientists. Topics covered include Circuits and Conductors, Electromagnets, Discoveries using electricity, Electricity in the home, and more.

Students can learn more about electric circuits with the interactive Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits.

Teachers can explore static electricity with this experiment.

 “Switch On, Switch Off”

Light switches are everywhere! They are in every house: in the kitchen, the bedroom, the office, the bathroom…but are they really magic? When it’s time for bed and mom yells “lights out.” is it truly magic within that switch that allows the room to get dark? Switch On, Switch Off, written by Melvin Berger and illustrated by Carolyn Crolll, is an excellent resource for your children to begin exploring the magic within the light switch, or what is better know as electricity. The story begins just this way, with a child heading to bed, curious as to how his light switch operates. This commences the lesson where Berger youthfully explains circuits, generators, light bulbs, and plugs, thus demonstrating how electricity is produced and even used. With the help of Croll’s easy to understand illustrations, children can not only read about electricity, but they can see pictures that enforce how the process works. The author even offers a live experiment that children can do to create their own electricity using just a magnet, compass and a piece of wire.

Electricity Circuits and Conductors is a great interactive tool for children to experiment with electricity conductors.

Electricity and Magnetism is a help site for children to utilize if they have questions or need clarification about the concepts. Within  specific sections under various topics are games, activities,histories, and helpful hints.

Electricity Teaching Resources is a site to be used by teachers wishing to explore electiricty with students. The site contains, activites, games, teaching strategies, physical science links, quizzes, tests and more!

“Flick a Switch”

You flick a switch to turn on a light or to turn on your computer. You know electricity makes it happen; but, where does the electricity come from? The path electricity takes from the power plant to homes and businesses is described in Flick a Switch: How Electricity Gets to Your Home written by Barbara Seuling with illustrations by Nancy Tobin. This book uses straight-forward language and bright, kid-friendly drawings to help children understand the science and technology behind generating electricity. Simple activities that use everyday items to demonstrate electrical circuits are included.

When you hear the name Thomas Edison you think light bulb. When you hear Ben Franklin you think electricity. But what do you think when you hear Michael Faraday? Learn more about Michael Faraday, whose work with electromagnetism made the generators in power plants possible.

Benjamin Franklin was an inventor. This website helps students understand Benjamin Franklin’s contributions. Drawings were done by other students and they all wrote a sentence about who Ben Franklin was. This a way for students to learn from their peers as well as to see other points of view on Ben Franklin.

 ”Wired”

Wired, written by Anastasia Suen and illustrated by Paul Carrick, is a physical science book for students related to electricity. The book starts out by explaining the importance of electrons and describing how electricity is made at the power plant. It goes on to explain the different types of vehicles used to transport electricity to surrounding areas and cities (transformer towers, feeder line, secondary wires, ect.) As one reads the book, he or she can see that the author is explaining the process of how electricity is created and moved to other places step by step. The pictures start out showing the power plant, and end up illustrating the ways electricity is used around the house in lamps, computers, breakers, and more. The book ends with a few tips for children on how to “Be Smarter About Power!” and lists some websites and other book resources where children can find more about electricity.

“The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip”

The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip, takes Ms. Frizzle’s students through the concepts of electricity in an exciting field trip. The field trip begins when the power goes out at school and Ms. Frizzle takes the students on a journey to find out the problem. Power lines are down in the streets and the students begin their exploration at a power plant. The students travel through steam and a turbine and enter into power lines. From there they travel to the library, explore inside a light bulb, continue on to a restaurant and Phoebe’s house, and then return back to the school. Throughout the storm many topic of energy are covered such as; how to make an electromagnet, different sources of energy, how a motor works, how a TV works, how a switch works, how steam works, and how to make a mini-power plant. It also discusses electrons and atoms.

The Florida Project Learning Three has a great resources for teachers to use with The Magic School Bus and the Electric Filed Trip on activity. The packet includes discussion questions, vocabulary words, vocabulary practice, worksheets, comprehension questions, sequencing practice worksheets, and writing exercises.

Hotchalk has a good three week unit for students to learn about electricity. Topics include: renewable energy, wind turbines, testing electric currents, and energy resources.

 

 

 

 

Classification of Living Things

Scientist have tried to classify living organisms into groups since Aristotle’s time.  Over time this classification system has changed and evolved as we have learned more about organisms.  Advances in technology have fueled many of these changes.  Scientist are now studying the genetic makeup of organisms.  With this new information, scientist believed that the long held system of 5 kingdoms needed to be reevaluated.  In 1990, it was suggested that the name “domain” be used to describe a rank higher than kingdom. The proposed three domain system includes the kingdoms, Protista, Plantae, Fungi, and Animalia under the Domain Eukarya.  The Kingdom Monera was separated into the two domains, Domain Bacteria and Domain Archaea.

This blog is intended to address the needs of educators teaching the classification of organisms using physical characteristics, body structures, and behavior of the organism (Virginia Standards of Learning 5.5).  With over one million different species on earth there is an abundance of books available.  I have tried to find a few excellent examples of books and other resources to get you started.

Book Reviews:

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth,
By Rochelle Strauss and illustrated by Margot Thompson

This book is a great introduction to classification.  In a short 39 pages this book covers the traditional 5 kingdoms.  On a two page spread the book gives a colorful overview of each kingdom.  There is a brief description of the kingdom along with examples and a graphic that depicts the size of that kingdom compared to the remaining kingdoms.  The book breaks down the animal kingdom into invertebrates and vertebrates and the five classes of vertebrates.

http://contentcafe2.btol.com/ContentCafe/Jacket.aspx?UserID=CHESTERFIELD&Password=BT0160&Return=1&Type=L&Value=081725885X

The Animal Kingdom: A Guide to Vertebrate Classification and Biodiversity
By Kate Whyman

This book is 45 pages full of great information.  But don’t let the size deter you.  The introduction to each class of vertebrates contains a bulleted box that lists the characteristics of that vertebrate.  You can quickly cover the basics by looking at the pictures and bulleted boxes.  This book also contains a great introduction to what is a living thing and classification.  Herbivores, carnivores and the human impact on the animal kingdom are also briefly covered.
bug Bugs Up Close
By Diane Swanson and Photographed by Paul Davidson

Of all the different kinds of invertebrates, insects are the class we are all familiar with.  This book quickly describes the characteristics of insects and then devotes a page to each characteristic.  Photographer Paul Davidson provides amazing close-up photos of different types of insects.
book Amphibians: Water-t0-Land Animals
By Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Kristin Kest

Just like the cover, this book is filled with rich, colorful illustrations of amphibians.  The text is easy to read and brief.  Throughout the book are inserts with additional information and trivia facts.  At the end of the book is a scientific classification chart and glossary.  If you like this book, then you may like one of the other five that is in the series.

crab  Crab Moon
By Ruth Horowitz and illustrated by Kate Kiesler

In this fictional story, a young boy and his mother go to the beach in the middle of the night to see horseshoe crabs spawning.  This book would be a great way to introduce invertebrates to students.  After reading the story, students can discuss the characteristics of invertebrates and arachnids and how they are mentioned in the story.  The book also contains a fact sheet about horseshoe crabs.

Web sites for kids:

Animal Classification.  This site offers a brief description of the characteristics of mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and birds.  The descriptions are four to six bulleted points that are done colorfully and with pictures.  There is a Classification Game that is an excellent review of the different characteristics of the animals discussed.

Classifying Critters.   At this web site, there is a brief explanation of how scientists classify living things and an interactive quiz on vertebrates.  The quiz shows you a picture of one animal and asks that you identify an animal that would be in the same category as the first.  After you identify the correct animal, you are then given a multiple choice question.  The question is, what characteristics do these animals have in common?

Plant and Animal Differences.  To play this game you must quickly sort and drag the items to the correct box.  As the items go by on a conveyor belt you must sort them by bird, mammal, insect, or plant.

A Touch of Class game.  In this game you are given a grid with 16 shadow pictures of living things. You are asked to click the pictures that correspond with the statement at the top of the page.  Some examples of statements are: “things that have a tail” or “things that have a backbone.”

Video. Select the video titled “Form and Function.”  This video discusses how scientists look at animal’s structure and behavior when comparing them.  After watching this video, viewers should have a better understanding of how animals that look similar can be classified differently.

Teacher Resources:

Lesson plan.  Science NetLinks offers a two-part lesson plan on classification.  In addition to the lesson plans, the site also discusses the misconceptions and the difficultly that most students have in understanding classification. This site also offers assessment and extension activities.

Introducing Classification.  This site offers a brief explanation and history of classification along with descriptions of the 5 kingdoms and examples.  There is also a section that compares the kingdoms and an activity for students that can be printed.

Teacher overview.  At this site educators can review the characteristics of the main kingdoms.  The kingdoms are then broken down into further subgroups and examples of each are given.   Click on “Printable Worksheets” and you will find a 10 question assessment based on the information found on this site.

Biology4Kids.com. This link takes you to a slide show about classification and discusses the three domains.  Look around the site and you will find great pictures and quizzes that can be used.

Cells: Fifth Grade

In fifth grade, students study cells as part of the living systems unit. Students must understand that organisms are made up of cells, which have defining characteristics that contribute to the organism’s survival (SOL 5.5). This resource set will support instruction during the cell unit.

Plant Cells: The Building Blocks of Plants

Written by Darlene R. Stille and Illustrated by Eric Hoffmann

Plant Cells: The Building Blocks of Plants would serve as a valuable resource for a research project on cells. The book is divided into four clearly defined chapters that address distinct aspects of plant cells. These aspects are the basics, the defining characteristics, the function, and the reproduction of plant cells. Since this book is written at an appropriate reading level, students could read Plant Cells independently in order to collect information for their project. Clear headings and an extensive index create a research-friendly format that will assist students as they search for information related to their topics. Finally, a descriptive glossary and illustrative diagrams support students as they read content-specific vocabulary. Overall, this is an age-appropriate text that enables independent exploration.

Animal Cells: The Smallest Units of Life

Written by Darlene R. Stille and Illustrated by Eric Hoffmann

Animal Cells: The Smallest Units of Life is a good companion resource to Plant Cells. This book explains the vast range of cells, the appearance of animal cells, animal cell functions, and the reproduction of animal cells. Animal Cells specifically emphasizes the impact of cells on all life, from the “smallest ant to the largest elephant.”  Stille distinguishes between one-celled and multi-celled organisms. She also explains how the quantity and type of cell affect the life of the organism. For instance, a one-celled bacteria does not posses the same abilities and characteristics as a 60-100 trillion-celled human being. Concrete examples and detailed images will assist students as they read this book. Once again, this resource lends itself toward independent research. Simple diagrams, fun facts, bibliographical resources, and a descriptive glossary combine to create a valuable resource for student research.

Cells

Written by Kimberly Fekany Lee and Designed by Heidi Thompson

Cells is a good resource because it teaches about cells in the context of daily life. This approach supports student comprehension of this difficult topic. For example, the book begins with a description of cells and their size relative to other objects. These descriptions are supported with illustrations of enlarged cells as well as pictures of their size equivalents. For instance, Lee demonstrates the size of human cells relative to a pin head. According to her calculations, one pin head can hold 10,000 human cells. This description concretely conveys the size of a human cell. Cells also explains the various cell organelles and their functions. The differences between the organelles are highlighted through the use of specific examples. For instance, Lee begins by defining the term “ribosome” and explaining its function. She follows up this description with an example that relates ribosomes to the human immune system. Lee explains that prescription antibiotics work by attacking bacteria’s ribosomes. Concrete relationships, such as this one, help students to connect with the content material. This book would serve as an engaging read-aloud for  a unit on cells.

Cells and Systems

Written by Holly Wallace and Designed by Celia Floyd

The first four chapters of  Cells and Systems focus on cells. This section of the book begins with a simple definition of the term “cell.” Clear illustrations support this definition. Additionally, the author differentiates between animal and plant cells. Two diagrams highlight the defining organelles of each cell type. The second chapter emphasizes the different functions of cell organelles as well as their placement in animal and plant cells. Bold terms, definitions, and exemplary images help readers develop an understanding of the content-specific vocabulary. The third chapter focuses on plant organelles and their role in the plant system. This includes an in-depth view and explanation of chloroplasts, cytoplasm, and stomata. The final cell chapter describes vacuoles and the importance of vascular tissue within plants. Diagrams and photographs outline a plant’s water transport system. These four chapters can be utilized as a read-aloud or as independent reading. Students will benefit from the clear illustrations, simple definitions, and organized layout of this book. Cells and Systems is an approachable text that students can use to develop their background knowledge of cells or to clarify an abstract concept. This resource will help students gain a deeper understanding of  cells and their vital role in our lives.

Cells

Written by  Darlene R. Stille and Designed by Tammy West

Cells focuses on different cell types. In this book Stille explains cell reproduction and explores the connection between different cell types and life processes. For instance, Stille describes vascular tissue and its vital role in a plant’s transport of water, minerals, and nutrients. Stille also examines the similarities and differences between various cell types. For example, she defines the three types of muscle cells as well as describes their defining features. Due to the extensive nature of this book, the teacher should focus on each chapter individually. Each chapter could serve as an introduction to a lesson on cells. This book could also be used as an independent resource. Students could use this text when researching a specific topic on cells. Through this book, Stille helps students to understand cells’ function and importance in their lives.

Student Resources

  • Vascular Plants: This tutorial explains vascular plants through the use of interactive models and grade appropriate descriptions.
  • Cell Structure: Students can use this interactive model to recognize the differences between animal and plant cells. Additionally, students will learn about the functions of the organelles in these two cell types.
  • Cell Rap: This rap describes the components of animal and plant cells through simplistic rhyme. Its description of organelles and their functions will help students to differentiate between the various organelles and their purposes.
  • Cell Practice Test: Students can test their knowledge of animal and plant cells with this comprehensive online test, which is aligned with the Virginia SOLs.

Teacher Resources

  • Plant Cell Lab: Through this interactive lab activity students will be able to view and compare plant cells. Students are asked to draw sketches of their observations, answer comprehension questions, and compare and contrast two different cell types.
  • Cell Project: This assignment requires students to construct a 3D model of an animal or plant cell. Through creating a cell model students will develop a deeper understanding of cell components. This assignment also includes a rubric and photos of two sample cell models.
  • Cell Webquest: This webquest leads students through a guided explanation and exploration of animal and plant cells.
  • Cells are the Starting Point: This website provides explanations about cells and their organelles. These explanations are written at a level appropriate for use in interactive notebooks or study guides for fifth grade.
  • Animal and Plant Cell Worksheets: These two worksheets provide students with a diagram of each cell type. Additionally, students are required to color code the corresponding organelles as well as answer analysis questions.

Trees, Trees, Trees….

     Trees have always provided us with essentials to life: both food and oxygen. As technology has advanced trees have been used  more and more, for shelter, medicine and tools.  Trees improve our air quality, conserve water, preserve soil, and support wildlife. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.” Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind. Clearly, trees are a very important resource to humans and the entire world. As more and more forest land is cut down, we need to educate the next generation about the importance of trees. These resources can be used for SOLs from all grade levels  having to do with plant structure, life cycles, needs, recycling, animal habitats, and erosion (k.6b, 1.4 a-c, 1.7a, 2.4b, 2.7b, 3.4a, 4.4a, 5.7e,f).

Books:

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry

This book is a great story about a man who is going to chop down a Kapok tree in the rainforest. He decides to take a nap and while he is asleep all the animals that live in and depend on this tree- snakes, butterflies, a jaguar, and a child, come to him and whisper all the reasons not to cut down the tree. It really shows the interconnectedness of all living things. When he wakes up and sees all the animals around him he decides not to chop down the tree and walks out of the forest. This beautifully illustrated book speaks to the importance of conservation as well as related subjects such as endangered animal species.

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing Trees By Jim Arnosky

Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the TreesThis book is one of a great series of guide books for kids on nature. Crinkleroot is a loveable, wise, old man who explains about trees along his walk through the woods. He details the difference between hardwoods and conifers, and gives detail skecthes of the different types of leaves. He tells about why we need a rich diversity of different types of trees to provide shelter and food for animals. He even talks about the role that dead trees take in the forest, as well as how seedlings and saplings grow and factors affecting their development. With rich watercolor illustrations, and information dense text, this succint book will engage and activate curiosity in students. Also check out, I Was Born in a Tree and Raised by Bees and Crinkleroot’s Guide to Walking in Wild Places by the same author.

Forest Explorer: A Life Size Field Guide By Nic Bishop

 When encouraging outdoor exploration, Forest Explorer is a must. This field guide built for miniature naturalists, shows real, oversized photographs of common animals and insects living in the forest. It has a critter index in the back with pictures, tips for things to look for in all seasons, and many other hints that excourage students to get out there and get dirty exploring the forest!

Nature’s Green Umbrellas by Gail Gibbons

Product Image

This book, using great watercolor illustrations entice students to become a part of the rainforest while learning with straightforward text. The ecology of the rainforest is discussed, with simple definitions of terms and labeled animals. Global warming  and the danger of destruction of the rainforest and its potential impact on the world are discussed as well. The author also suggests methods for reducing damage to the rainforests from cutting. This is a great book to give students an introduction to the rainforest and the issues associated with it.

 A Tree is a Plant  by Clyde Robert Bulla, illustrated by Stacy Schuett

From the Lets Read and Find Out leveled readers series, this book shares a breif overview of general tree knowledge and then focuses on the apple tree to show  its parts and functions, as well as its seasonal changes. The author uses direct and simple language. Impressionistic illustrations engage the eye while also show the functions of the plant  like with arrows indicating the water intake route. This book features large pictures, with a diverse group of kids in the outdoor scenes. Extension acitivities are included in the back like a transpiration experiment and measuring the age of a tree.

Student Resources:

A Walk in the Woods is a great website acitivity with visual pictures, sound, and text educating kids on different things they can find in the woods. This would be a great precursor to a real walk in the woods. This would give hte kids some great ides on what to look for.

What Tree is That? This interactive tools allows students to practice identifying features of different trees when given a mystery tree sample.

Exploring the Secret Life of Trees This interactive presentation goes through the basic stucture of trees and what they need to survive. The student learn about the root system and have to stack soda cans to represent how deep roots grow. With the same host- Pierre the acorn, also try Trees are Terrific.

Dichotomous Tree Key is an interactive site where kids can choose the feature of their tree and see what species they end up with. This illustrates all the factors that are considered when trying to identify tree types.

SmokeyKids has information and several interactive features and games having to do with forest fires, prevention and how they put forest fires out. I especially like the Smoke Jumpers game, where students put fires out before they burn all the trees.

 

Teacher Resources:

Real Trees 4 Kids Printable Teacher guides

This website created by the National Christmas Tree Council has leveled lessons for all age groups having to do with tree farming and trees in general. There are many great actvitities, especially in the grades 3-5 section such as classifying trees, growing cycles, and recycling. More childrens’ literature suggestions are found here as well.

Tree Cookies/My Life as a Tree This a great classic lesson showing students how to count how old a tree is. They can also see for themselves the cambium, bark and hardwood. They then will create their own tree cookie on a paper plate to represent their own lives (with the same number of rings as their age). They will label all the parts that would be on a real tree cookie, but also major events of their life on the appropriate ring year. This could also be a great brainstorming activity for a narrative writing assignment.

 Tree Kit by University of Illinois has many many lesson plan ideas to do with all things related to trees. There are three units with over 15 lessons/activities to explore. One I liked in particular is Dead and Alive showing how the animals and plants around a dead tree still use it to help them flourish.

Tree Chain Game This lesson explores all the things that seeds need in order to germinate and grow into a seedling and then into a tree. Student learn that they have to have a certain order. They then play a game where each student is assigned a “need” or a “seed” card. The “seeds” have to run between two areas playing a memory type game to try to collect all their needs in the correct order. Once they find their next need that student has to run with them making a chain until all the needs are collected.

 

Shaking It Up: Earthquakes!

Even though we may not feel it, the ground beneath us is in almost constant motion.  There are hundreds of earthquakes each year; however, many are not felt or occur far away from civilization.  Tectonic plates move along fault lines creating earthquakes which in turn form the landscape of our planet.  This constant changing of the earth’s crust is examined in VA Science SOL 5.7.  Although earthquakes are often considered dangerous and scary events to be taken very seriously, the scientific concepts discussed in the materials that follow give students an insight into the earth in which they inhabit.

A Project Guide to Earthquakes
Written by Claire O’Neal

Inside A Project Guide to Earthquakes, you will find thirteen experiments that elementary aged students will enjoy.  This book is targeted for upper elementary students and guides their interests in the science of earthquakes through hands-on activities.  It is a newer book (10/2010) and would be a good resource for teachers to use as they explore geology in the classroom.

Earthquake Games
Written by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvador, Illustrated by Christina C. Blatt

This book is best used for upper elementary and middle school students.  Included in the book are many activities that engage the student in learning about the awesome power of earthquakes.  This is a great book to use for both earthquake and volcano experiments.  Activities presented in Earthquake Games need to be supervised by an adult, and adult assistance may be needed to decipher some of the confusing page layout.  Solid information on geology, earthquakes, and volcanoes is given in this book and the games, experiments, and activities really enhance students’ interest in these topics.

Hands-on Science Projects
Written by Chris Oxlade

This is yet another very practical, experiment laden book for teachers and students to learn about not only earthquakes but many other geological and meteorological phenomena.  With a target age range of 9-12 years-old, this collection of over 50 experiments gives students a great resource from which to activate their knowledge of these subjects.  By having students interact with the scientific concepts presented, the experiments and activities in this book help teachers reach the full range of learning styles.  Also, by preforming the projects themselves, students can take ownership in their learning.

Earthquakes with Max Axiom
Written by Katherine Krohn, Illustrated by Tod Smith and Al Milgrom

This graphic novel will draw students into scientific concepts with its action-packed drawings and fast-paced action.  Earthquakes is included in a series of graphic novels centered around the main character, Max Axiom.  Again targeted at upper elementary, this book gives plenty of statistics, important events, and interesting facts about the topic while still staying with it’s comic-book like style.  The Max Axiom series is a great resource for students who are below level, struggle with, or are uninterested in reading.

…If you Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake
Written by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Pat Grant Porter

  This book was written to give students insight into what life would have been like before, after, and during one of the largest earthquakes ever.  Along with wonderful illustrations for visual learners, this book can either be read aloud to students or students themselves can easily read and comprehend the content.  A great cross-curricular learning resource, this book encompasses science, sociology, history while building on reading skills.  Students are placed into the disaster through vivid linguistic imagery and given questions and answers that help children get a visualization of what it may have been like to be involved in the earthquake.

Earthquakes for Kids

This website is presented by the United States Geological Survey and contains links to student focused activities, games, and facts.  The site can be navigated by either teacher or student and contains resources for both as well.  Due to the amount of information contained within the links, this tool would be best used by having the teacher guide the student step-by-step through a process that would be most beneficial to the scope of learning.  However, the site can also be used by the student alone in spare time to explore areas of interest that may lead to furthering knowledge.

Weather Wiz Kids

Perfect website for older elementary students to navigate. Earthquake information, science, terminology, and images bring to life the concepts involved in earthquakes.  There are also plenty of other links to further information on each section so that students can get more in depth knowledge on a particular interest.  While the site is directed towards children, teachers can benefit from the lesson plan links offered at the bottom of the page and other topics linked on the left column.

Dragonfly TV

Dragonfly TV is a production of PBS Kids that is geared towards involving kids in the knowledge through videos, games, and other interactive resources.  This particular link leads the teacher and/or the student to a video in which two young girls discuss earthquakes where they live.  Along with factually laden information given by peers, this video shows the girls preforming actual science as well.  Although the video is a little lengthy for the classroom, the other links on the page will give teachers more great resources to interact students with the concept of earthquakes.

Earthquakes 101

A short video (about 2 1/2 minutes long), made by National Geographic (a well recognized institution) gives students vivid images and plenty of factual information.  Although the tone of the video is a bit serious and focuses on the severity and destructive nature of earthquakes, it is a good introduction to the concepts and science behind earthquakes.  The imagery shown in the video will enhance visual learners ability to grasp the geological concepts presented.

Kid Scoop Special Report: Earthquake in Haiti 

  This website gives students a current event experience with earthquakes.  There are several other resources on this site to accompany the actual story of what happened including ways kids can help raise money and awareness.  Hopefully the links and suggestions on this site will further a student’s knowledge, understanding, and questioning about the topic of earthquakes as well as the human condition/social awareness.

Plate Tectonics Activity

An interactive model of the different ways tectonic plates move, this will help students visualize the effects of earth movement.  By actually moving the the earth themselves, students are much more interactively involved in the scientific concept of plate tectonics.  Also, this activity gives students an idea of the spacial-relations involved with earthquakes by appealing to their senses of touch, sight, and using motor skills/hand-eye coordination.

Earthquake Legends Throughout the World 

From the California Department of Conservation, the California Geological Survey has put together a list of legends that explain the phenomena of earthquakes.  This multicultural list can be used as a cross-curricular tool tying the earth science unit of earthquakes and plate tectonics to the telling of legends and myths in the english department.  Also, there is the multicultural connection that can be made with students who have family connections to one or more of these legends.

California Real Time Earthquakes

What a cool resource!  This map shows a real time map of earthquakes in California, perhaps the most active state in the country.  Students can see the amount and frequency of earthquakes throughout the state and can click on the individual quake to find out more information about each specific occurrence.

Shaken! Earthquake Rocks Central Virginia

This report gives students a localized notion of earthquakes.  Although the information contained within the report is well above elementary level reading and comprehension, this resource is still a useful tool for teachers.  There are good maps for students to explore and some of the information will help to teach about plate tectonics.  By using information that is local to Virginia students, their interest will be piqued and perhaps students will develop more questions from which the teacher could build the learning process around.

Learning About Plants

 All the books listed below are great resources teachers and readers can use in and out of the classroom to learn about the different parts of a plant. In these books, not only can you find important information, but ideas for projects. These books will be great to use while teaching Virginia Science Standards of Learning 4.4 a, b,  and c.

Plants (Make it Work Science) by Andrew Haslam, Claire Watts and Alexandra Parsons. Photographed by Jon Barnes

The book Plants takes an in depth look at how plants work. The great photographs illustrate the different activities and experiments that you can do at home or at school. Each activity has a list of supplies (most which are readily available), and clear, direct directions. From working with seeds to observing fruit decay, there are many unique and creative activities that will help students understand the different parts of the plant and how they work. The book defines what it means to be a scientist, what is botany, and how scientists collect data. It encourages children to conduct experiments using the scientific methods as well as record all their data. It also includes home made game instructions.

A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston Illustrated by Sylvia Long

A Seed Is Sleepy is a great book for young students who are learning about plants and how they grow. The author uses adjectives  to help describe certain plant characteristics (A seed is secretive,  A seed is thirsty… and hungry) Simple statements like these are easy for students to understand and even make connections to. The author also describes difficult terms with easy simple explanations. The illustrations are detailed and interesting and all the plants and seeds are labeled. Both the book and illustrations  do a good job demonstrating the variety of seeds, their colors, their sizes, and even the plants they grow into.

The Science Book of How things Grow by Neil Ardley

Similar to Plants (Make It Work Science), this book offers students various activities and experiments to perform easily at home or school. It explains each step carefully with step by step photographs and uses readily available materials. Each experiment provides a bit of background knowledge, the experiment, as well as a short description relating the experiment  and connecting it to the real world. For example, the activity “Root Power” experiments with the strength of roots by growing marigold seeds in an eggshell (as the plant grows, the roots break the egg shell). The author includes a photograph and description of a tree breaking through a cement sidewalk. This is the type of detail that helps build deeper understanding.

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of  a Garden by George Levenson and photographs by Shmuel Thaler
“The pumpkin seed makes the pumpkin plant, and the pumpkin plant makes pumpkins.” This story follows the life of a pumpkin, detailing each aspect of its life. In this book the pictures do most of the talking. Kids can see the seed in the flesh of the pumpkin, seeds being eaten as a snack, different types of seeds side by side, a seed being planted, the sprouts, and finally the seed in the soil with the roots spreading through the earth. Levenson narrates in easy to read sentences. As the garden of pumpkins grows, kids can see the large pumpkin leaves, the flowers, and even the insects the live along side the pumpkins. The pumpkin is finally ready to be made into a jack-o-lantern. Students can watch it slowly decay and return to the earth. Included in the back pages are instructions to grow your own pumpkin. I recommend this book to all young scientists especially for English Language Learners.

A Fruit Is A Suitcase For A Seed by Jean Richards, illustrated by Anca Harington

This book is a great introduction to seeds, plants, and fruits. Jean Richards compares fruits and seeds to suitcases, the seed being what is inside each fruit/suitcase. Readers can learn about what seeds are, how they travel, and different examples of fruits and seeds. The book includes colorful watercolor illustrations of seeds, fruits, and animals. This is a great book for beginning readers because it is simple and easy to comprehend.

Great links for kids

The Great Plant Escape Match the clue with the part of the plant

How Does Your Garden Grow? become a virtual gardener

Plant Word Search Find each word on the list

Plant Parts Match the plant parts with the correct definition

The Life Cycle of Plants Review games/activities

Links and resources for teachers

Parts of a Plant worksheet

Plants in Motion Time lapse movie and activities

From Seed to Plant Lesson plan

Plants and Seeds Lesson plan

Native Gardening Comprehensive guide to local plants

Hibernation

Introduction

The common meaning of the word hibernate is the state that an animal sleeps for the entire winter, to protect themselves and help themselves survive when the temperatures are cold and food is hard to find.  There are several forms of hibernation and examples of animals that hibernate are bears, frogs, and groundhogs.  The concept on hibernation is covered in SOL 1.7, 2.5, 2.7, and 3.4.

Animals Hibernating:  How Animals Survive Extreme Conditions, by Pamel Hickman

This fun and informational book defines the two groups of hibernators:  true hibernators and deep sleeper. The true hibernators save energy during winter by greatly lowering their body temperature and breathing and heart rates (chipmunks) Some true hibernators include such as insects, toads, snakes, whose bodies partly freeze and then thaw again in the spring.  The deep sleepers such skunks and raccoons, go into a deep sleep for several weeks or months during winter-their breathing and heard rate drops but their body temperature lowers only slightly. In addition, this book provides activities to find out how our heart rate compares to bats and why maple syrup is like a hibernating frog.

What Do Animals Do in the Winter? How Animals Survive the Cold, By Melvin and Gilda Berger

This child’s book describes how groundhogs hibernate in the winter by sleeping for six months in nests found inside tunnels.  Also, this book describes how bats hibernate in caves by hanging upside down.

Extreme Animals:  The Toughest Creatures on Earth, by Nicola Davies

This book on page 19 describes the hummingbird as a “truly tough” creature on Earth because it lets their body temperature drop 35 to 55 degree F below normal.  The hummingbird does this every night to save on food.  Also, bats are “truly tough” too, because live off their own body fat until spring – so bats hibernate and let their bodies get really cold.  In addition on page 20, there is a description of the “frogsicles”- instead of hibernating the wood frogs  freeze and become brittle as glass, but they are not dead.

Every Autumn Comes the Bear, by Jim Arnosky

This colorful children’s book describes how a bear comes every autumn and prepares to hibernate for the winter, the other animals know what to expect from the bear.

Bear on the Train, by Julie Lawson

This book tell the story of a bear up jumps on a train car, eats grain, and falls a sleep during the snow the wind, and the rain.  A boy named Jeffrey sees the bear come into the small town and shouts at him to get off the train.  Jeffrey sees the bear for several months during the winter and the bear remains asleep.  It is not until the spring that the bear smells something different, open his eyes, and gets off the train.

Children website on hibernation.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/coloring/hibernate.shtml  This kids website give a definition of true hibernation and gives examples of animals that hibernate and a description of each.

http://www.saskschools.ca/~gregory/winter/win.thml This kids website defines torpor shortened sleep time and provides five examples of animals that sleep and eat to survive in the winter.

http://www.apples4teachers.com/java/concentration/games/animals-that-hibernate  This childrens website provides a memory games that after pairs of hibernating animals are matched, a picture of an animal that hibernates will appear.

http://www.bbc.co/uk/bristol/content/kids/nature/hibernation.shtml

This website provides a story about “sleeping through a dark cold winter” and talks about “true hibernation.  The websites talks about animals about such as dormouse, hedgehogs, pet tortoise, frog and newts.

http://library.think.quest.org/TQO312800/team.htm

This website provides a detailed kids friendly description of hibernation, with links to the animals that hibernate.  Also, this website provides additional links regarding the subject of hibernation.

Resources for teachers.

http://www.mrsjonesroom.com/themes/hibernation  Excellent resource for teacher and includes links to website on activities regarding hibernation.  Website shares easy songs, poems, and provides links to fun and educational websites for kids.

http://www.atozkidstuff.com/hibernation This website provides fun finger plays, songs, and activities to do with children, including an idea for a hibernation celebration.  Also, a link to the Booklet – Hibernation theme folder for Grade 1.

http://eibelviazquez.fastpage.name/hibernationlessonplansworksheets  This teacher resource provides a lot of information and in a link to books and activities on hibernation.

http://stepbystepcc.com/hibernation.html  This website provides hibernation theme ideas including books, songs, finger play, art and crafts.

http://www.proteacher.com This website discusses “How do animals spend the winter?” Website goes detailed information regarding on hibernation and “How do animals know it is time to hibernate” and a corresponding project to with the class.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

The following resources are relevant when teaching about Ulysses S. Grant and his contributions to the United States of America (VA SOL United States History to 1865 USI.9 d).  He was a war hero during the Civil War, leading the Union Army in victory over Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army.  He would go onto become the 18th President of the United States, serving from 1869 until 1877.

Relevant Children’s Literature

union-general-and-us-president.jpg

Ulysses S. Grant: Union General and U.S. President
Written by Brenda Haugen

Ms. Haugen does an excellent job of detailing the life of Ulysses S. Grant in this biography.  Aimed at young adults this book is suitable for strong elementary readers; the lack of illustrations and detailed writing style will deter young/inexperienced readers.  Nonetheless, the work does a terrific job of giving the audience a strong foundation of knowledge about the life of Mr. Grant both in regards to his time in the military as well as his two terms as President.  Perhaps the most valuable segment of the book is the detailed, easy-to-follow time line which can be used in any classroom teaching VA SOL USI.9 d.

mike-v.jpg

Ulysses S. Grant: Eighteenth President 1869-1877 (Getting to Know the US Presidents)
Written and Illustrated by Mike Venezia

Venezia’s mixture of lively text and humorous illustrations makes his book a must-read for the young learner.  Aimed at the upper elementary grade levels (ages 9-12) Venezia does not shy away from Grant’s alcoholism and corrupt Presidental cabinet; however, he treats both situations with respect and sensitivity.  Parents and teachers should not be alarmed by this books subject manner, Venezia does an excellent job of keeping his work mature yet interesting.  This book is the most effective work available for teaching children about Ulysses S. Grant — it details all the courageous actions he undertook to help his country while at the same time not turning a blind eye to the imperfections of the man.

s-gregson.jpg

Ulysses S. Grant (Let Freedom Ring Series)
Written by Susan Gregson

Susan Gregson has written an informative biography of General Grant, suitable for ages 9-12.  To insure accuracy Ms. Gregson consulted one of today’s most prominent Grant scholars, John Y. Simon, during the writing and editing of the work.  What this book does better than the other works available is provide many photographs of Grant.  Evidence shows that when a child is shown a picture of someone they can relate to them better than if they merely read or see cartoons portraying that same person.  The value of actual photographs is immense; they allow children to see the actual man and, consequently, make President Grant seem more like an actual person — it allows the children to relate to the man.  Moreover, teachers can use the photographs provided in a primary source activity.

williams.jpg

Ulysses S. Grant (Profiles of the Presidents)
Written by Jean Kinney Williams

Ms. Williams work is one of the more detailed biographies available for young readers.  When compared with similar works, this one is more detailed and covers a greater variety of information.  Nonetheless, the book is easy to follow in large part because of the inclusion of a glossary, index, fast facts about Grant, and a parallel time line of world events.  Teachers should take advantage of the well-written glossary when teaching students vocabulary.

behrman.jpg

Ulysses S. Grant (Presidential Leaders Series)
Written by Kate Havelin

This work is interesting because it focuses more on Grant’s failures than his successes.   The tone of the book, however, is not pessimistic but rather manages to be uplifting.  Ms. Havelin details how Grant had to constantly overcome his failings before finding immense success on the battlefield and in politics. Unlike many books on Grant, this particular one does address his alcoholism.  But like Mr. Venezia’s work above, Ms. Havelin addresses the issue with maturity and understanding.  What is unique to Ms. Havelin’s work is that she does defend President Grant to a great extent, arguing the rumors about his rampant overuse of alcohol (particularly during his presidency) has been greatly exaggerated.

Relevant Websites for Students

 USA 4 Kids

This website provides students with some fast facts about the president (ex., where was he born, where did he die, who did he marry, what political party was he a member of) while also including a brief, but comprehensive biography.  This website is valuable because of its brevity, which will make it approachable to students.  When given a book of over 100 pages many children panic; however, this website provides a lot of information in a short amount of reading.  I would encourage teachers to have their students read this website for homework, perhaps assigning a fill-in-the-blank sheet to go alongside. Also, teachers could use the brief biography provided as a template for interactive note taking.

Grant the Artist

One of Grant’s lesser known attributes was his artistic talents — this website shows a few of Grant’s paintings. Teachers could also pull this website up during class and show the paintings on a projector.  I would encourage students to view this website because it shows a different side of the man they will be studying.  It is important to recognize that there is more to Grant than his time as General and then later as President.  Some may argue this is irrelevant to the SOLs; however, students will benefit from knowing the President in a more complex manner.   It will help them think deeper on Bloom’s taxonomy, one of the ultimate goals of education.

 President Ulysses S. Grant Word Search Puzzle

This word search does a great job of incorporating important vocabulary. Teachers can make the activity even more worthwhile by having students explain why each word is in the word search (for example, when the student finds Methodist they would have to explain Grant’s religious beliefs).  Students are bombarded with lots of reading, particularly in the social sciences, so this activity provides a fun alternative.

The Political Machine

The Political Machine 2008 is an award-winning videogame which allows the player to create a politician (or choose from a real one) and run for the office of President.  There is a fee of $9.95 to download the game but for those parents who can afford the cost, the game is remarkable.  Students will learn the tasks and responsibilities of the President, but chances are they will be having too much fun to notice. Additionally, the studio behind the game has included facts and lessons about every President, including Grant.  Learning cannot stop at 3:00 when school ends — it must continue at home.  The Political Machine will make children want to learn.   I can speak personally on the matter because my 12-year old brother cannot stop raving about the game.  It amazes me how much he picks up from the game (for example, when he learned that I was researching President Grant he asked me, “Did you know he was born in Ohio? Or that is what the game said…”).  The game is rated E10+, meaning suitable for ages 10 and up.

Ulysses S. Grant Game

This quiz is too difficult for use within a classroom; however, for students truly interested in Grant this quiz offers a great place to learn interesting trivia.  In a diverse classroom with a variety of different skill levels, this game could be offered to advanced students who have already grasped the basic material and want to learn more.  Also, a teacher could challenge his students to go home and take the quiz once alone and see how they did and then to ask for help from their parents and see if they could do better.

Helpful Resources for Educators

Ulysses S. Grant Timeline (Simple)
Ulysses S. Grant Timeline (Advanced)

I have linked two separate timelines above.  The first, labeled simple, can be modified and made into a great homework assignment: print out the timeline, white-out over a few of the important Grant entries, make copies, and then have the students fill in what is missing.  To make the assignment easier, leave the dates and provide a word bank if necessary.

The second, by PBS,  is much more thorough and could be assigned as a reading assignment.

Facts About Ulysses S. Grant
More Facts About Ulysses S. Grant

These websites contain a wealth of interesting trivia about Grant.  As a teacher you could use a fact to begin or continue a lesson in a more captivating manner.  Instead of saying, “Okay, now we are going to learn about Ulysses S. Grant,” you could say, “Did anyone here know that former President Ulysses S. Grant was actually born named Hiram Ulysses Grant but he did not like the initials H.U.G.?”  Fun facts will help keep the students interested and engaged.

Background for Teachers

For teachers who do now know much about President Grant, the linked article is comprehensive, relatively brief, and will give the reader a good foundation of knowledge.  It is important when teaching Grant to understand the controversy surrounding the man, particularly his alleged alcoholism and well-cited corruption, in case parents are worried how you will approach teaching these facets of his life and career.

Counting on Number Sense

 Number sense is an intuitive feel for numbers and their relationships. Since number sense is something that develops over time, it is imperative that teachers provide students with a variety of materials and resources. Literature is a great way to  provide many different experiences with numbers.

Virginia Mathematics Standards of Learning: K.1- K.5, 1.1-1.6

Let’s Count Goats by Mem Fox Illustrated by Jan Thomas

Let’s Count Goats a charming, silly book about- you guessed it- counting  goats. This is Mem Fox’s latest book, and if you have never read any of her books, you will instantly be drawn in by the the rhythm, rhyme and humor of this book. What is special about this book is that it has many layers. The most important is that you wont find any numerals! Mem designed this book to be interactive, allowing the readers to practice one to one correspondence by calling out each goat by number. The reader then has to count goats when directed by the story. Another interesting aspect is that that the number of goats isn’t sequential. While a page might have 6 goats, the next page might have one goat. For example:

“Here we see a show off goat playing on the bars. (1)
But can we count the ROWDY goats careering round in cars? (4)”

In every page of the story, you find goats doing silly things: goats playing trumpets, playing with their toys, eating, drinking, and even a goat going under while another is going over. Simple tasks or events that kids can relate to.

The illustrations compliment the story very well. The use of bold brilliant colors are very eye catching and attractive, while the silly expressions on each goat’s face just adds to the humor of the story.

Since Mem believes that children should be read to as babies and even before they are born, I recommend this book to any child, in or not yet in school. This book is not only useful as a number sense book but can also be used in language arts when exploring poetry, rhythm, and rhyme.

My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Bill Grossman creatively weaves a story about a little girl who eats and eats and eats! While performing in a magic show, this little sister eats all sorts of creatures and things! Grossman creatively reinforces number sense in his writing by using a cumulative poem structure.

My little sister ate 3 ants.
She even ate their underpants.
She ate 2 snakes. She ate 1 hare.
We thought she’d throw up then and there.
But she didn’t.

As children read, they recount all the things she ate. Though she seems to consume these creatures effortlessly, by the end of the book, she is faced with her most challenging plate yet: 10 peas!

Count Your Way Through Iran by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Books like these are great for developing number sense but also to introduce students to different cultures. On the left pages you will find the numeral, the Arabic numeral, and the pronunciation. Under the number you find a short paragraph that correlates the number in some way to an aspect of Iranian culture, from the Two Towers of Silence, to the musical instrument tar, which has six strings! The beautiful watercolor illustrations are on the right. As teachers, it is important to pick books that are diverse and interesting. I recommend this book, and the companion books in the series.

This book is part of a series of “Count Your Way Through…” books which include China, IndiaRussia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Korea, Israel, Ireland, Africa, Brazil, Afghanistan, just to name a few. They are all written by Jim Haskins (and co-author).

 

Mouse By Mouse: a Counting Adventure by Julia Noonan

“One mouse sits alone and blue. Her friend joins her, that makes two.” One by one these cute little mice get together to have a tea party, play, rescue little mouse 5 who is stuck in a soda bottle, go swimming, and finally after spending the day together, ten little mice  all go to sleep. The illustrations are animated and fun; kids can count the mice who have their numbers labeled on the front of their colorful dresses or shirts, which keeps the readers engaged! This book helps develop one-to-one correspondence and stable order.

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

“You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.” This is the big problem for one little girl. She discovers that once she starts, she can’t stop! From calculating how much time she has to get ready for school, to figuring out how many slices of pizza she should eat at lunch, she can’t seem to look at anything with out it becoming a math problem. She believes her math teacher, Ms. Fibonacci has put a MATH CURSE on her! Fractions, addition, multiplication, distance, time, measurement, and so much more, this book explores different mathematical concepts in a fun, silly way. The book is also interactive. The authors pose different unsolved math problems that the reader can solve themselves. The illustrations are creative, and unique.



We All Went on Safari: a Counting Journey Through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns

This book follows a group of Maasai people as they travel through Tanzania, exploring and counting different animals that they find along the way. On each page, you can find beautiful watercolor illustrations, a numeral and the equivalent number of animals, along with the written Swahili number. In the back of the book you find information about the Maasai people and culture, a list of the different animals explored, and a list of number written in Swahili, the pronunciation, and the English translation. Additionally, you find color dots that you can practice counting on. Also included in the back is information about the country of Tanzania and a map with all the surrounding countries.

Games to help students with number sense

Big Count Bayou Count all the bayou critters and match with the right number

Rock Hopper Help Rock Hopper jump to the large rock using a number of jumps

Billy Bug Help billy eat his food by taking him to the right spot by using coordinates

The Number Game Read the number word and find the corresponding numeral

Fishy Count Count how many fish

Links for teachers

BBC Number Time  Printable worksheets (addition/subtraction, number ladders, number sequence, writing numbers, number stories)

Climb The Ladder Number sense activity (includes instructions, and templates)

Second Grade Locker Room  Number sense activity ideas (includes domino place value, paper plate relay and place value game)

The 100th day of School Unit Plan Ideas (include 2 lesson plans and related materials and resources)