Author Archive for Ann R

Instructional Resource Set: Geometry

This blog focuses on the Virginia Math SOL 3.14 that covers a portion of the geometry unit taught in the third grade.  Students will become familiar with plane and solid geometric figures and their specific characteristics.  You find included below several books that would be a good addition to this unit, some good websites that students can access to deepen their understanding of geometric shapes, and some resources that will be helpful to the classroom teacher.The following are excellent books to incorporate into the lessons on geometry:

  • The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns and illustrated by Gordon Silveria.  Burns creates a main character that is a friendly triangle that decides life would be better if he had more sides and angles.  He continually changes into new shapes, until he becomes very big and almost round.  He finally decides what will make him happy is to go back to being a triangle.
  • Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Remy Simard.  Murphy takes readers through the adventures of Captain Invincible and his space dog, Comet.  As they make their way back to earth, they ward off a meteor shower, poisonous gas cloud, a flying saucer, and a galactic beast with their multitude of space gadgets that are made out of solid geometric shapes.
  • Finding Shapes with Sebastian Pig and Friends at the Museum by Jill Anderson and illustrated by Amy Huntington. Sebastian and his friends are on a search in the museum to find art ideas that will help them decorate his new bedroom.  They find all kinds of artwork that includes plane and solid shapes. Anderson includes a nice graph of the shapes which includes a drawing, description, number of sides, and number of corners of each specific shape. Although this book is a bit on the juvenile side, it is still engaging and may be a good resource for the weaker readers in the class.
  • Sir Cumference and the First Round Table and Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone by Cindy Neuschwander and illustrated by Wayne Geehan.  These are two books in the series by Neuschwander that is set in the era of Camelot.  Sir Cumference is continually challenged with situations that require him and Lady Di of Ameter to use various skills.  During their adventures various geometric shapes are discovered in ordinary items around them, giving readers a good review of the characteristics of these shapes.
  • Geometry by Lucille Caron and Philip M. St. Jacques. Caron and St. Jacques walk the reader through a great deal of information about geometric shapes and vocabulary.  The information is clear and succinct, yet very informative.   Although this is not a literature book, I recommend it be included in the resource set because it is a good differentiation tool.  More advanced students who desire to dig deeper into the study of geometry may enjoy the challenge of this book, and students will find it to be an easy accessible resource book for any type of research on geometry in grades 3-5.

Students may enjoy utilizing the following sites throughout this study:

  • PBS Cyberchase On-line Tangram Games are quite user friendly. Students are on a page that displays a shape (i.e. a rabbit) which they are to create using the tangram pieces provided.  The game includes tools to rotate the pieces and move them into place.  This will be most helpful once the students have had exposure and experience working with actual tangram pieces.
  • Investigating the Concept of Triangle and the Properties of Polygons: Making Triangles is a site with interactive geoboards to help students identify simple geometric shapes, describe their properties, and develop spatial sense.
  • Polygons Around a Point is an on-line game that allows the student to use regular polygons to surround a point in a plane.  He/she will be able to make designs and decide how to best cover a surface by using regular polygons.
  • Tangrams on-line is another fun tangram puzzle site that allows students to choose various puzzles to solve with tangrams.
  • This on-line shapes matching memory game is a good level for students who are in the beginning stage of geometry and learning their plane shapes.

Teacher Resources:

  • MathSteps “Identifying and Classifying Polygons” is a good lesson plan with several pages of work that walks you through introducing and developing the concepts.
  • The Educator’s Reference Desk website offers a lesson on the beloved book by Marilyn Burns, The Greedy Triangle.  The lesson also incorporates the use of geoboards with the students, which is always a fun activity.
  • This lesson plan will have students act and think like architects as they team up to build their dream home with plane and solid shapes that they create.
  • Nancy Powell’s Web Pages have many good ideas for SmartBoards. This link is specifically to her geometry page, but you may want to look through the rest of her site for good ideas in other areas too!

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf


Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf , written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, is a simple story that describes the growth of a maple tree from seed to sapling.

This book is written as if a child were telling their friend about a special leaf he/she has been saving to show them.  The child tells the friend how it came to be – from a seed that sprouted, grew into a sapling, then was planted in their yard.  It takes the reader through the cycle of seasons, as well as the growth stages of a tree.  The illustrations are bright and colorful.

Curriculum Connections:  Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf is a good book for teaching the concept of seasonal changes as they relate to the life cycle of a tree.  SOL 1.7

Additional Resources

  • This Scholastic website offers several ideas for reinforcing the lesson on seasonal changes, fall leaves, and harvest time, utilizing the areas of poetry, language arts, and math.
  • In an effort to further understand the seasons, this website outlines a lesson plan on the four seasons, as well as an activity to create a “seasons book” that can be used as a tool to measure their knowledge and understanding of this concept.
  • This website offers a printable cut & paste activity for students to paste the appropriate activity under the proper season.
  • General Information:
    : Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
    Author: Lois Ehlert
    Illustrator: Lois Ehlert
    Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
    Pages:  40
    Grade Range: K-1
    ISBN: 0-15-266197-2

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Rare Treasure


Rare Treasure Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries written and illustrated by Don Brown is a brief biography of her life and a small window into the field of paleontology.

The story begins by letting the reader know that Mary was born in 1799 to a very poor family living in an English port town.  Her father taught her and her brother how to look for fossils at the nearby beach.  A fascination that started as a hobby became her life’s work at the age of 20.  Although she was able to sell the treasures she found, she remained quite poor.  “In 1823, Mary discovered her first complete fossil of a plesiosaur…a nine-foot-long creature.”  She went on to make many more important discoveries before she died in 1847, at the age of 48.

Curriculum ConnectionsRare Treasure Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries could be used as an introduction into the science of paleontology.  Students could learn about the simple tools used in her research (SOL 1.1b) and how and why their findings are arranged and classified (SOL 1.1c), utilizing measurement to the nearest centimeter (SOL 3.1e).  Building on that, students could learn how two or more attributes are used to classify their findings (SOL 2.1c), then, how the data from those findings are gathered, charted and graphed (SOL 3.1g). 

Additional Resources:

  • “Smithsonian Education” offers a lesson plan, activity, and worksheet to help students understand how an archaeologist does his/her job, as well as how to make and record observations in this field of study.  This directly relates common practices between archaeologists and paleontologists.  
  • “Discovery Education” offers a lesson plan, activities, and worksheets to help students understand the concept of scientific theory through the examination of information and artifacts related to dinosaurs, and how evidence helps to support a scientific theory.  
  • This interactive website allows students to independently utilize the computer to reinforce their understanding of paleontology through a simulated dig site, general information, and videos of students working an actual dig site.  

Book: Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries
Author/Illustrator:  Don Brown
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date:  2003
Pages:  32 pages
Grade Range:  K – 3

ISBN: 9780618310814