Teaching Earth Science With Children’s Literature: Just a Dream


Looking for a book to discuss the concepts of pollution, recycling and environmental stewardship.  Use Just a Dream, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, to get class discussion started.

With beautiful illustrations and kid friendly prose, this book is able to bring abstract ideas of resource conservation and health into children’s minds.  While dreaming, Walter takes a journey into the future with revelation of what his litter bug ways might cause.

“As usual, Walter stopped at the bakery on his way home from school.  He bought one large jelly-filled doughnut… Then he crumpled up the empty bag and threw it at a fire hydrant.”

Curriculum Connections
Use this book to discuss resource management, human impact on the environment, and recycling. Themes in this book correlate with Virginia SOLs 1.8, 2.7, 2.8, 3.9- 3.11, 4.8, 5.7 and 6.9.

Additional Resources

  • Your students and you can get involved with Kids for Saving Earth.  There are activities, information, and a club they can join.
  • Try a global warming experiment on David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge for Kids website. Also, he has teacher resources.
  • Chris Van Allsburg website extends the concepts of the book with activities and links to other site, like the EPAs and a recycling game.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a whole teacher’s guide to connect to the book’s themes.

Book: Just a Dream
Author/ Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 1990
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: 2-5
ISBN-13:   9780395533086

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