Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Elephants Aloft


Elephants Aloft, written by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Keith Baker, is a beautiful children's picture book that uses just one word on most pages to tell the story of the young Asian elephants' travels to visit their Auntie Rwanda in Africa.  Before the cover page, the book begins with a letter written to Rama and Raja from Auntie Rwanda,

Dear Rama and Raja,
I miss you!
Please come
for a visit.
Auntie Rwanda

The book cleverly and simply continues with one preposition word on each page.  It allows the beautiful illustrations, done in colorful acrylic, to tell the story of Rama and Raja's travels in a hot air balloon to see their Auntie Rwanda.  They get "In" the hot air balloon basket, then they fly "above" the Asian town, and "beside" one of the domes of the Taj Majal.  After they fly "through" the clouds, they go "between" the rock pillars, "behind" the waterfall, "across" the ocean, at night they float with balloons attached to their feet "below" the basket & the moon, in the morning they go "around" a snow capped mountain, the elephants go "under" the water in their basket as they bathe, "beyond" the rainbow, "over" an African village, "out" of the basket as they finally land their balloon, and "into the arms of Auntie Rwanda".  A simple concept beautifully done to clearly illustrate these positions words.  Young children and students will love to travel along with these adorable elephants as they learn position words.

Curriculum Connections

Elephants Aloft can be used to introduce and/or enhance the physical science standard of learning that states a student will investigate and understand that the position of an object can be described.  (VA SOL K.4e) It contains six of the position words contained within the VA SOL K.4e (over/under, in/out, and above/below) as well as several other position words.  The Kindergarten student will be able to "read" the pictures in order to describe one object in relation to another object and according to its motion.  While looking through the illustrations, the student can also describe the colors of the objects in the story.  (VA SOL K.4a)

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: Elephants Aloft
Author: Kathi Appelt
Illustrator: Keith Baker
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 36
Grade Range: PreK – 2
ISBN: 015225384X

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