Author Archive for Amy

Teaching First Grade Math: Money

Teachers can use the following resources for students that are in the first grade who are learning about money with a total value up to 100 cents or less (Virginia Standards of Learning for 1.7 a & b).

Text Annotations:


 The Coin Counting Book written by Rozanne Lanczak Williams is a fun rhyming book for students to learn about counting money and it’s value.  The book introduces pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters as a way for students to do simple math with rhyme:

“Let’s count our five pennies just one more time. If we add five more pennies we’ll have…one dime.”

Actual size coins are spread out over the pages showing both front and back for student learning.  If the book says to count five pennies as an example, there are five pennies laid out on the page with a addition sign in between each coin to help with student visualization.  The book ends by showing a hand placing coins in a piggy bank making the statement: “If we save some of it- the rest we can spend!” 



Pigs will be Pigs, Fun with Math and Money written by Amy Axelrod and illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally is about a family of hungry pigs looking for money in their house so they can go to their favorite place to eat a snack.  This is a great book for introducing students in the first grade to money.  The pig family is hungry and realize they do not have enough money to go out to eat; so Mrs. Pig decides that everyone will “Hunt for Money!”.  The book describes where in the house and how much money everyone in the family finds while on the money hunt.  In the end, the Pigs have enough money to eat out and when they arrive home they find their house in a mess from their hunt.  Pigs will always be pigs.   



The book, 26 Letters and 99 Cents written by Tana Hoban provides photos of numbers from 1-30, counting by 5’s from 30-90 and 99.  Beside of each number there is a photo of coins that shows the value of the number when added.  The book can be shown to the whole class while identifying each coin and the value.  This would also be a great book for students to look at during the day as a center activity, etc.  The book shows students both the front and back of real American coins: pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in their actual size.  This helps students to visualize the size and identification of each coin.



The book If You Made A Million written by David M. Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg is a book where students can really use their imagination.  Readers are given different scenarios with spending anything from one penny to purchase a peeble all the way up to one million dollars with the option of saving the money at the bank.  This would be a great way to ask students for ideas about what they would purchase with different amounts of money.  Schwartz gives differnet forms of measurement for various amounts of money.  For example, one hundred dollars in pennies stacked up would be equal to fifty feet or a million dollars in quarters would equal a whale’s weight.  This is a great book to help students realize that a paper bill is sometimes easier (and lighter) to carry around instead of coins.



The last text would be a great resource for students who are in need of a more challenging way to think about money and its uses.  Money Madness written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Edward Miller explains how money first originated and how money is now used to purchase different items from around the world.  The book starts off by asking:

“What’s all this money madness? People talk about money and work for it. They seem to always want more of it…”

The book gives examples of why people now use money to purchase a variety of items.  If people did not have money then they would have to make their own bread.  Adler explains at a child’s level how people first started to trade by introducing the word, barter.  An example that Adler used was when a person would trade an animal in exchange for berries. Even though the person receiving the berries might not want them he knew that someone else would want to trade the berries for something that he wanted or needed in return. The book explains how rocks were used as an early form of money and then replaced by metals (silver and gold).  The silver and gold pieces were made into coins but were at times difficult to carry if someone had a lot.  Paper money was then invented.  Adler explains how each country has it’s own form of money and that the value of the money can vary from place to place.  “You know with money you can buy things you want. With money you can buy things you need.”

Web Annotations:

Students can play the game Change It  for additional practice on adding up different coin values.  Teachers can create each game to specifically fit each students instructional level. 

GPB Kids has created a web-site for students to play a game where they are given nine different items that they need to buy.  Players are instructed to buy one of the nine items by dragging the correct coin(s) to the matching picture in the chart.  If the player is right then they can move on to the next problem; if not, they have the chance to try again.

Teachers can create different tutorials for students by selecting any combination of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters for practice.  For each category chosen, students are provided a picture of real money on the left side of the screen and need to select the correct value of the money from the right side of the screen.  If the student selects the correct amount of money they can move on to the next problem.  If an incorrect answer is chosen, then the student can try again.

HMH School Publishers created a great money practice tool for students.  For the activity, coins are lined up in decreasing value from largest to smallest.  Students need to count the value of the coins and type the correct amount of money in the blank provided.  Students then need to click on “check” to see if they have typed in the correct amount.  If so, the student will hear chimes, if an incorrect amount is typed in then the student will see a screen flash up that explains the amount is either greater or less than the answer that was entered.

Kid 20/20 has an activity, Coin Sort that students can play on-line.  Students are given 280 seconds to properly place different coins in the corresponding piggy bank.  Each piggy bank is labeled with either pennies, nickels or dimes on the side.  Students must click on each coin and drag it to the proper piggy bank.  If the coin is taken to the correct piggy bank then the coin will disappear and the value of the coin will be added to the amount already in the piggy bank.  Students can visually watch as the amount increases by either one, five or ten cents.

Additional Resources:

The United States Mint has a great web-site that teachers can use for various reasons.  The site contains ideas for lesson plans, coin programs which give detailed information about each coin and coin curricula.  Teachers can also use the site for class activities: game centers, web gadgets (worksheets), learning centers (ways to bring in different areas of the curriculum and financial literacy). 

Scholastic has a great web-site for teachers.  Teachers can download different activities from worksheets, foldables, mini-books, and even lesson plans.  Click on “Teachers Resources” and select lesson plans, printables or mini-books. Narrow each search by selecting 1st grade, math and then money from each category on the left hand side of the screen.  *This web-site requires a yearly paid subscription.*

Teaching Money Skills by Grade Level: First Grade is an article that teachers can read prior to teaching first grade students about money.  The article provides a review and instructional method for teaching a lesson or unit on money.  The article recommends that teachers use play/fake money with their students for a hands-on learning experience.  After the unit lesson on money, students should be prepared for second grade math: addition and subtraction of money. 

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: The Life Cycle of an Owl


In the book series Learning About Life Cycles, The Life Cycle of an Owl written by Ruth Thomson explains the entire life cycle of a barn owl.  The book has real life pictures and is does an amazing job of portraying life in the wild for the barn owl.  The book starts out with the places owls live and what they eat.  Characteristics of an owl is described by stating that

“It has very good eyesight and hearing.  It flies silently and pounces on animals with its feet.  It usually swallows them whole.”

Since this book is only about barn owls all of the physical features are described.  The book starts the life cycle with “finding a mate”.  This is usually done durning the spring season; males and females can often be seen flying together while making a loud screeching sound.  The book shows and explains how the mother owl lays eggs and cares for her owlets.  The father keeps both the mother and the owlets alive with providing food. The book lists the different stages the owlets go through until adulthood.  Pictures are provided with each stage.  The author ends the book with displaying the owl life cycle that was described throughout the book for a better visual understanding.

Curriculum Connections:

This would be a great book for teachers teaching about animal life cycles and habitats (SOL 2.4a & 2.5b).  The book explains the life cycle of an owlet as it grows and matures into an owl at the elementary age school level. The book has outstanding pictures that are detailed and not graphic for young children.  The book explains the habitat surroundings needed for the barn owl. 

Additional Resources:

Exploring the Southwest Desert USA has a great web-site for anyone that would like to learn about the barn owl.  The range, habitat, description, habits and the owl’s life cycle are all explained in this web-site.  This could be used as an additional resource for a teacher that is teaching a lesson plan on the barn owl. 

Teachers can handout a coloring page for students to color as they learn about the barn owl.  Students have room to draw the owl’s habitat.  The students can also list some of the facts that they learned about the barn owl around their artwork. 

Teachers and students can watch a real barn owl live on the internet! Teachers will need to click on the link to watch Molly the barn owl in the classroom.  This is a free web-site.

Eastside Audubon has listed a lesson plan for teachers who will be teaching about owls.  The lesson plan is geared for students grades 3-6 (adaptions can be made for younger students). *Registration is required to enter the site.*

Book: The Life Cycle of an Owl
Author: Ruth Thomson
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 24
Grade Range: 2-5
ISBN: 1-4358-2833-9

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: A Color Sampler


A Color Sampler written by Kathleen Westray describes how to create colors by using primary colors, secondary colors and intermediate colors.  The twelve colors that make up the color wheel (primary, secondary and intermediate colors) can be mixed to make up hundreds of other colors.  An example would be if someone wanted to create the color citron, green and red would be added together. The book describes how to make the color black and shows how adding black and white can change a color.  The book plays with color showing how a color will look lighter against a dark shade and lighter when placed against white. This visuals in this book help to support the color creations.  Colors that go well together are called complementary colors; they are created when a color is matched with a color directly across from it on the color wheel.  
“Color is everywhere, and everything has color. The variety of color is endless…and this is just a sampler”.

Curriculum Connections

This would be a great book for an early elementary school student.  It shows a color swatch of each color along with the written word.  A Color Sampler would be a great book to introduce students to colors and how colors are made (K.4 a). The book also shows what happens when black (darkens) or white (lightens) an existing color. The book plays with shapes and colors by showing how a color can look darker or lighter depending on the location of each color or shape.

Additional Resources

Students can play Mix and Paint with Curious George from PBS Kids. Students can pick which picture they would like to paint and then with the help of Curious George they can create colors from white, red, blue and yellow. It makes learning about color creations fun!

Teachers or parents can print off color pages from Kids Color Pages with over one thousand categories to pick from. This would also be a great way to bring in material from other subject areas.

Mixing colors is a great lesson plan for teachers.  In this hands-on activity students can mix colors with shaving cream in a Ziploc bag and watch the color change. After the colors have been mixed, students can then paint with the new color they just made.

Book: A Color Sampler
Author: Kathleen Westray
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 28
Grade Range: k-5
ISBN: 0-395-65940-X

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


 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

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Making Cents

Book Cover

The book, Making Cents, written by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson and illustrated by Bob McMahon, gives young readers ideas about some of the items they can purchase with a penny going all the way up to a one hundrend dollar bill. 

The children in the book want to make a clubhouse.  They will need to save money and learn what they can purchase with every amount.  The book starts off explaing that 1 penny can buy a perfect nail.  The amount adds up to a $100 dollar bill; which the children have the choice to purchase 10,000 nails or plywood sheets, 2 x 4’s, a hammer and a saw.  Each page starts off by adding the previous coin or bill by a certain number to make up the next demonation.  An example would be: 

“Soon we’ll have two tens, and they’ll add up to a…Twenty-dollar bill! Andrew Jackson’s on the front and that’s that White House on the back. It’s worth two thousand cents, but it’s easier to carry. That twenty-dollar bill can buy..”

The children have have doing things throughout the book to earn money.  They have a lemonade stand, sell items at a yard sale, wash windows & deliver the newspaper to name a few.  The final page shows all of the children playing on the clubhouse that was built with the money that they had worked so hard for. 

Curriculum Connections

Making Cents would be an excellent book to use as part of an economics lesson related to people need to have money in order to purchase goods.  The book is realistic with what each amount of money can actually purchase in today’s economy.  It is simple enough to be read to 1st graders all the way up to 3rd grade.  After reading the story, students could think about what they would build if they had a certain amount of money and then journal about it. 

In Virgina, Making Cents can be used in the social studies SOLs 1.9, 2.8 & 3.9.  The SOLs explain that people can save money for future purchases of good and services.  As well as economic costs when making a purchase.

Additional Resources

  • Here a link that teachers can use for PowerPoint presentations for their students.  The presentations are free and range from good & services to wants & needs.
  • The Council for Economic Education has listed several tools that teachers can purchase to help aid in the teaching of economics.  The tools that are available for purchase can also be used to tie the lesson in with language arts.
  • Teachers can use the interactive worksheets from the Goods & Services Lesson as a support to the economic content. A student can take the on-line worksheet more than once; and each time different questions will be asked.  This would be a great way for students to practice the economic knowledge they just learned.

Book: Making Cents
Author: Elizabeth Keller Robinson
Illustrator: Bob McMahon
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 30
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 13: 978-1-58246-214-1

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book about Ancient Egypt


Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book about Ancient Egypt was written by Gail Gibbons and illustrated by Saho Fujii.   “One of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations began about five thousand years ago, in the land of Egypt.”  The book gives an great overview of how and where ancient Egyptian’s lived, what jobs they held, how they celebrated different occasions, what their houses looked like, their medical & magic healing powers.  Communication and story telling through picture writing, known as hieroglyphs, was a very important part of ancient Egyptians life.  “People called scribes spent up to ten years to learn the hundreds of hieroglyph symbols.”  Ancient Egyptians were ruled by kings, known as pharaohs.  Pharaohs were burried in pyramids along with their family and slaves.   Today people can go and visit pyramids as well as museums around the world and view some of the ancient Egyptian art from that era.

Curriculum Connections

This would be a great book to start off or use to support a lesson on ancient Egypt.  The illustration in the book is great and can be used as a quick reference for life during ancient Egypt.  The photos can be used for early readers.  The life style, architecture and location are described in detail for early learners (SOL 2.1 and 2.4a).

Additional Resources

Book: Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book about Ancient Egypt
Author: Gail Gibbons
Illustrator: Saho Fujii
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 30
Grade Range: 2-5
ISBN: 0316309281






Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: The Civil War


The Civil War, written by Georgene Poulakidas is a chronological record of events leading up to and throughout the Civil War.  The book starts off with a well written explanation of “One Country, Two Ways of Life”.  Throughout the book examples are given for each side of the war, the North (Union) and the South (Confederate) with their beliefs and what they fought for.   The book concludes with President Lincoln’s assassination at Fords’ Theatre where he was celebrating the end of the Civil War. 

Curriculum Connections:

This is a very detailed book with just the right amount of material for a child to grasp.  Great vocabulary words are highlighted with a definition following (outstanding teaching aid).  The Civil War would be a great teaching aid for The Civil War (SOL I.9 a,b,c,d,e & f).  The book can introduce the events of The Civil War or be used at the end of the lesson for all of the SOL’s there were taught.   There is a Timeline and a Glossary in the book to aid with highlighted words that are defined in the content of the pages.

 Additional Resources:

1) Students can color a picture of Grant & Lee as they learn about the end of The Civil War.  
2) Civil War activity worksheets are a great teaching supplement with the following worksheets:
    Fill-in-the-blank, Word Search & A Civil War Diary.
3) A Map of 1861 will help students visually see what states were apart of the Union, Confederacy & the territories that were not yet states in 1861.

General Information:

Book: The Civil War
Author: Georgene Poulakidas
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 24
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN: 1-4042-2684-2

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Roughing It On the Oregon Trail


Set in 1843, Roughing It on the Oregon Trail, written by Diane Stanley and illustrated by Holly Berry, is based on the 5 month 2,000 mile journey on the Oregon Trail.  The story starts off with twins, Lenny & Elizabeth going back through time with their grandmother, and her magic hat that takes them back to 1843.  Once Lenny, Elizabeth & their grandmother arrive in the Louisiana Territory, they head off looking to meet the twins great-great-great-great grandmother, Elizabeth.  The children learn what it was like traveling along the Oregon Trail.  Descriptions are given about traveling in the covered wagons, the hot and dusty atmosphere, the food that was cooked, the oxen & the Indians they would meet along the journey.

Curriculum Connections
This is a wonderful book with detailed descriptions on every page.  I would recommend reading this book to students in a Virginia 5th grade classroom when learning about the Oregon Trail and the Westward Expansion.  Reasons for the westward expansion are explained (Panic of 1837 when a lot of people lost the farm that they called home/depression) along with the hopes and adventures of moving out west (SOL USI.8).  Stops made along the journey include historic sites such as: Scott’s Bluff, Chimney Rock, Independence Rock, The Great Plains, Snake River, Columbia River and many more.  The early encounters with Native Americans are explained: events such as the leader of the camp smoking the clay pipe with the Indian Chief and the leader of the camp giving up dried buffalo meat to the Native Americans (SOL USI.2 & USI.3).

Additional Resources

  • Oregon Trail map of 1843 has landmarks that can be selected for any additional readings and photos.
  • Oregon Trail Lesson Plan will help students become familiar with the geography of the land along the Oregon Trail by using teamwork and cooperation.  This will also introduce students to basic navigation. *The first 3 resources are free, after that the user will need to pay a subscription fee.
  • The Oregon Trail gives detailed information about the Oregon Trail in the following categories: historic sites along the trail with pieces of information about each location, interesting facts and games there were played, diaries that were kept along the trail & a shop where teachers can purchase items to aid in the lesson plan.

Book: Roughing It On the Oregon Trail
Author: Diane Stanley
Illustrator: Holly Berry
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 4-5
ISBN: 0060270659