Author Archive for Ann Marsh R

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Discover the Planets

Discover the Planets

Discover the Planets, a Kids Can book written by Cynthia Pratt Nicolson and illustrated by Bill Slavin, introduces kids to the planets in our solar system.  This book is written at a level for kids to be able to read on their own.  Therefore, it is not as in depth as other books but it is a great resource for introduce students to the basic facts about our solar system and the planets.  The beginning answers questions like “What is a planet?” and “How can we compare the sizes of the planets?”  Then the book spotlights each planet giving facts like how long it takes to orbit around the sun and information about any moons.  A mix of photos and illustrations keeps the pages visually interesting and informative.

Curriculum Connections

Discover the planets can be used to teach students about the organization of the solar system (4.7) including details about the planets (4.7a), their order from the sun (4.7b), and their relative sizes (4.7c).  This book also covers information about Earth in relation to the the sun and moon (4.8).

Additional Resource

Go to the Head of the Solar System – a fun trivia game sponsored by NASA.

Make a mobile as a model of the Solar System.

Make your own Planet at KidsAstronomy.

Listen to kids’ interviews with NASA scientists to find out more about space and working for NASA.

General Information

Book: Discover the Planets
Author: Cynthia Pratt Nicolson
Illustrator: Bill Slavin
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication date: 2005
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-5
ISBN: 1553378261

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Butterfly House

Butterfly House

Butterfly House, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Greg Shed, is a sentimental story about a young girl and her grandfather who raise a butterfly from a larva.  The book walks through the life stages of the butterfly and also the aging of the young girl into an old woman.  The beautiful illustrations of the larva, the butterfly’s home, the butterfly, and people are captivating.  In the back of the book, there are directions on how to raise your own butterfly.

Curriculum Connections

 The Butterfly House can be used to teach students that animals go through a series of orderly changes as they grow and mature (VA SOL 2.4).  This book may also be used to teach students about changes in an organism’s niche at various stages in its life cycle (VA SOL 4.5e).

Additional Resources

Kids can color their own Butterfly Life Cycle worksheet as well as find out more about Rearing butterflies on The Butterfly Site.

View images of butterflies in the Butterfly galleries, sorted by family and geographic region.

Learn about gardening to attract butterflies.

Make a butterfly life cycle mobile.

General Information

Book: Butterfly House
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Greg Shed
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 1999
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-5
ISBN: 0590849085

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Galileo


The book Galileo by Leonard Everett Fisher chronicles the life of the famous Renaissance scientist.  Background information is presented at the beginning about the theories of Aristotle and Copernicus about the center of the universe.  The author does a great job not only summarizing the events of Galileo’s life but also some of his most famous experiments.  Galileo challenged Aristotle’s theory that two objects of different weights fall at different speeds.  “He dropped two balls of different weights at the same time from the same height at the top of a building, possibly the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  A crowd of students and professors watched the balls land together.  Those who were loyal followers of Aristotle refused to believe what they saw.”  The author describes Galileo’s use of a “spyglass” to view the stars and planets in detail as well as the reactions of the Church.  The illustrations throughout the book – all black and white – are amazing!

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used in instruction to teach students about planning and conducting investigations (2.1, 3.1, 4.1) and other general science process skills.

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: Galileo
Author: Leonard Everett Fisher
Illustrator: Leonard Everett Fisher
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication date: 1992
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 1-5
ISBN: 978-0027352351

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: A Bargain for Frances


A Bargain for Frances, written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Lillian Hoban, teaches children about saving money, making choices, and purchasing carefully.  Frances is saving for a real china tea set with blue pictures painted on but her friend Thelma convinces Frances to buy her old plastic tea set by telling her that they don’t make real china tea sets anymore.  Then, Thelma takes the money and buys a china tea set like the one Frances had been saving for.  Frances cleverly figures out how to get Thelma to trade the new tea set for her old one.  This story has some valuable lessons for young children, not only about saving, purchasing, and making decisions but about being careful not to be tricked and about being respectful to friends.

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used in instruction to teach students about using money to purchase things (VA SOL K.7), making choices because you cannot have everything you want (VA SOL 1.8), and saving money to purchase things they want (VA SOL 1.9).

Additional Resources

  • In this interactive game, players earn and save enough money to Escape from Knab
  • Kids Bank teaches kids about money and banking in a fun, interactive way
  • Learn about the Birth of a Coin on the US Mint site

General Information

Book: A Bargain for Frances
Author: Russell Hoban
Illustrator: Lillian Hoban
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: 1970, 1992, 2008
Pages: 64
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 006444001X

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Pompeii Lost & Found


Pompeii Lost & Found, written by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen, tells the story of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius which buried Pompeii.  The story begins right before the eruption; “As everyone went about their daily routines on August 24, AD 79, no one seemed to notice that strange things had begun to happen.”  The warning signs and the eruption are described; “Tons of hot ash rained down on Pumpeii until the town was completely buried.”  Then the story goes into the discovery of the buried city of Pompeii over 1500 years later.  Archeological findings, practices, and techniques are described.  “With all the discoveries of the archaeologists, we can now fully imagine what everyday life was like in a Roman town almost 2,000 years ago.”  The book helps children visualize the lives of the people of Pompeii by describing what their houses were like, what they ate, how they shopped, what adults and children did for entertainment, what children learned in school, and how the people worshiped their gods.  The illustrations show images from AD 79 before the eruption and from today, allowing students to make connections to the past which bring history to life.

Curriculum Connections

This book would be great for introducing a lesson on Pompeii or Ancient Rome in general.  The illustrations make the book approachable even for beginning readers.  This book would help students learn about the contributions of Ancient Rome, including their architecture, art, culture, sports, and hobbies (VA SOL 3.1).

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: Pompeii Lost & Found
Author: Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrator: Bonnie Christensen
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 1 – 5
ISBN: 0375828893

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Don’t Know Much About the Presidents


Don’t Know Much About the Presidents is a great resource for kids to explore the lives of the presidents and their families by learning fun and interesting facts.  The author, Kenneth C. Davis, begins the book with an introduction to the presidency and what the President does.  The book then goes through each President from George Washington to Barack Obama giving questions and answers about the President and a time-line of important events that happened during his presidency.  Facts are organized under headings in the form of questions like “What did Eisenhower do that was out of this world?” or “How was James Madison a father if he didn’t have any children?”  Readers learn trivia they wouldn’t learn in a history book like “At 332 pounds, William Howard Taft was America’s heaviest President.  A new bathtub – one big enough to fit four regular-sized men – had to be installed just for him.”  The illustrations, by Pedro Martin, include a portrait as well as comical interpretations of the facts being presented.

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used in K-5 instruction to identify the President as the leader of our country (K.9) and describe the contributions of the Presidents to our country (1.2, 2.11, 3.11c, VS.6a,b).  It can also be used to make connections between past and present (USI.1b, USII.1b).  For younger children, this book would be helpful for identifying the Presidents as the people honored by President’s Day (K.1b, 1.3) and for fostering patriotism by teaching students about our Presidents and some of the symbols of our country (1.11).

Additional Resources

1. Students can celebrate Presidents Day every day with crafts, activities, games, and more information about the Presidents.
2. View pictures of Presidential pets.
3. Print and color portraits of the Presidents or Presidential Seal.

General Information

Book: Don’t Know Much About the Presidents
Author: Kenneth C. Davis
Illustrator: Pedro Martin
Publisher: Collins
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 64
Grade Range: K-5
ISBN: 0061718238


Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Travels with Charlie: Way Down South

Down South, A Search & Find Geography Book

“If you follow Charlie
from state to state,
you’ll see the whole South.
Now, won’t that be great?”

Travels with Charlie: Way Down South, A Search & Find Geography Book, written by Miles Backer and illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg, presents geography and facts about states in the American South in a visually exciting way.  The book begins with a poem, introducing readers to landmarks they’ll see as they “travel” with Charlie, a lovable dog with a red bandanna, through the South.  The book then presents a 2-page spread profiling each southern state.  The left page has facts including State Nickname, State Capital, State flag, interesting “Did You Know…” trivia, and landmarks for readers to identify.  The right page has a map of the state along with comical but educational illustrations depicting key landmarks and state characteristics.  For example, North Carolina – The Tar Heel State – depicts the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk with an illustration of a plane like the one first flown there in 1903.  A picture of a dresser represents the furniture industry in High Point and students learn from the facts that there are over 125 furniture factories in the High Point area.  The “Did You Know…” facts also tell readers about Blackbeard the Pirate and the Lost Colony.  On each state page, Charlie is hidden within the map for readers to find among the state landmark illustrations.  The book concludes by asking readers to find a particular landmark on each state map page; “Can You Find…a festival in Virginia with a big, brass band…?”

Curriculum Connections

Travels with Charlie: Way Down South is appropriate for teaching United States regional geography and state facts to a variety of grade levels from Kindergarten to 5th grade.  This book is a great way to introduce students to the ideas of maps (K.4b), geographical regions, how geography influences people, places, and history (VS.1i, USI.2, USII.2), and factual information about states.  This book is part of the Travels with Charlie series which includes Travellin’ the Northeast and Way out West.  Fourth grade students studying their own state history could also use this book to compare and contrast their state to one or more of the states highlighted in the book, illustrating skills for historical and geographical analysis and good citizenship (VS.1).

Additional Resources

Book: Travels with Charlie: Way Down South, A Search & Find Geography Book
Author: Miles Backer
Illustrator: Chuck Nitzberg
Publisher: Blue Apple Books
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 36
Grade Range: K – 5
ISBN 10: 1-59354-594-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-59354-594-9