Author Archive for Diane M

Teaching Physical Science Through Children’s Literature: Amazing Magnetism


Amazing Magnetism by Rebecca Carmi is another wonderful addition to the Magic School Bus series.  This is one of in the collection of chapter books, but even though it is longer than the typical Magic School Bus book, it does not fail in grabbing kids attention and sparking their interest in science.  The crazy shenanigans Ms Frizzle’s class gets themselves into this time is a science challenge with Mr. Neatly’s science class, who always wins everything.  As with any Magic School Bus story Ms. Frizzle’s class learns about magnets in a way that no other class can!

Even though this is longer, its short chapters make it easy for kids to keep their attention, while also making it easy to break up into several days of reading.  This makes the book great for younger students, but can easily be read by older students as well.  No matter what age kid, all will find this an informative while enjoyable read.

Curriculum Connections
Teachers will appreciate how easy this book is to tie into science curriculum for many different grades.  Magnetism is a topic that students study throughout school, and when they are in high school they will remember this book.  Attraction and repulsion, having two poles, magnetic properties in metals (2.2), the idea that the earth is one giant magnet (6.8) are all in this book.

Additional Resources

  • Practical Physics provides a simple experiment to introduce students to the properties of magnets, such as attraction and repulsion, magnets in compasses, and what is and is not attracted to magnets.
  • Fun Science is a site for kids covering many different science topics in life and physical science.  This site has games covering all elementary science topics.  Here students will find games about magnetism, food chains, electricity, energy, force and much, much more.
  • Magnet Races provides another fun activity to reinforce the properties of magnets.  Children create magnet boats with soap and race them using a large bar magnet at the other end.

Book: Amazing Magnetism
Written by: Rebecca Carmi
Illustrated by: John Speirs 
Publication Date:2002
Pages: 192 pages
Grade range:  2nd- 6th Grade

    Teaching Ancient Egypt Through Literature: You Wouldn’t Want to be a Pyramid Builder

    pyramid bulider

    You Wouldn't Want to be a Pyramid Builder by Jacqueline Morley with illustrations by David Antram is a one-of-a-kind book in the series You Wouldn't Want To Be.  This book takes children into the world of Ancient Egypt by putting them in the place of a slave during ancient times.  This engages children in a way that many books cannot.  The descriptive pictures and fascinating text teach children about life, society, and the pyramids of Ancient Egypt.

    This book is a fun way to teach what can be a dull subject.  The more "icky" facts, such a embalming, are presented with a comic tone that children appreciate.  Overall the book does a wonderful job reflecting Ancient Egyptian culture and creating awareness that the pyramids were no easy feat to build.

    Curriculum Connections

    Not only is this a fun and informative book for both adults and kids it also has many classroom tie-ins.  The contributions of the Egyptians as well as their culture and social structure are presented in this wonderful book (2.1, 2.3).

    Additional Resources

    • Ancient Egypt Fun provides a fun website for kids with many different games and activities that they can do to learn more about Ancient Egypt.
    • Tour Egypt is a tourism site for Egypt, but this is a special kids page.  It information on Ancient Egypt as well as modern Egypt.  It also includes activities and games.
    • Ancient Egypt Crafts provides many different arts and crafts activities for children, such as making a paper Pharaoh’s mask and making model pyramids.

     General Information

    Teaching Process Skills Through Children’s Literature: What’s That Sound?

    whats that sound

    What's that Sound by Mary Lawrence with illustrations by Lynn Adams combines science with literature to engage children's problem solving and reasoning skills.  Tim and his older sister, Amy, are on vacation in a spooky, old house that Tim believes is haunted.  Amy assures him that it is not by explaining every noise he believes to be a ghost.  By the end of the book Tim becomes brave and explores the sounds on his own, only to find a man playing the tuba!

    The book offers fun and colorful cartoon illustrations that children enjoy, while at the same time every page explains why and how a sound occurs in a scientific manner.  The book also includes suggestions for related sound activities, such as making a kazoo or creating a sound code.

    Curriculum Connections

     This is a great book that is easy to apply to the big picture of learning science, learning how to use what we know and applying that to solve problems.  What’s that Sound can be used to get kids thinking and creating ideas (3.1a, 3.1c).  This book can also be used with younger students (K.1a and K1.b).

    Additional Resources

    • Auditory Processing provides games and songs for children to have to repeat and learn different types of sounds and games to help children improve their auditory memory.
    • Processing Skills is a website that provides auditory games for children with disabilities.  These activities can be done either at home or a school, so it is useful for both teachers and parents.
    • Hotchalk provides a fun science activity for younger children that requires then to uses their senses to observe, describe, and figure out what an object is.

     General Information

    • Book: What’s That Sound?

    • Written by: Mary Lawrence

    • Illustrated by: Lynn Adams  

    • Publisher: Lerner Publishing

    • Publication Date:2006

    • Pages:32

    • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade

    • ISBN:1575651181

    Teaching Economics Through Children’s Literature: Pennies for Elephants

    pennies for elephants


    Pennies for Elephants written and illustrated by Lita Judge is a wonderful tale based on a true story of how the children of Boston came together to save three very special circus elephants.  A brother and sister duo unite to raise $6000 to save the elephants, which in 1914 is no small task.  They ask all the children in Boston to donate their pennies, but they only have two months to save them.  Soon children from all along the east coast are donating their pennies to keep these three circus elephants at the Boston zoo.

    This heartwarming story teaches children the importance and satisfaction of saving money.  The illustration and newspaper clippings make the book unique while bring the audience into the time period of the book.  This book introduces children to the important ideas of economics and emphases saving, using a topic that all children love, the circus.

    Curriculum Connections

    This heartwarming story is more that just a book about keeping beloved elephants in Boston.  It introduces kids to saving, opportunity cost, and interdependence.  The children of Boston are left with tough choices about how to use the little money they have (1.8, 1.9, 3.9).  Saving their pennies is the only way that the elephants can stay (2.8).

    Additional Resources

    • Kids’ Turn Central this site provides information for kids about the importance of saving and investing money.  It also tells of the possible benefits and losses that can occur and explains complicated economics concepts in terms that older children can understand.
    • Economy for Kids provides information about the current state of the economy for both children and teachers.  Provides a dictionary for economic terms for kids. lesson plans , and links to what the government is doing in this economic rough spot.
    • Econopolis provides games and activities for students just starting to learn about economics.  It covers areas such as supply and demand,  producers and consumers, and goods and services.

     General Information

    • Book: Pennies for Elephants
    • Written by/ Illustrated by: Lita Judge
    • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
    • Publication Date:2009
    • Pages: 40
    • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade
    • ISBN:142311390X

    Teaching Earth Science Through Children’s Literature: The Cloud Book

    The cloud book The Cloud Book written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola introduces children to the ten most common types of clouds, what weather will likely occur based on the formation of the clouds, and myths inspired by different cloud shapes.  This book mixes fact and fiction to teach the science of cloud formation is a way that children will both understand and enjoy.The Cloud Book integrates science into reading. The illustrations and text are comical, so it captures children's attention and is fun for adults to read as well.  To finish off an already fun book, dePaola concludes with "Very Silly Cloud Story," further demonstrating the authors talent to attract audiences of all ages.Curriculum ConnectionsWhile being a comic and fun book to read, The Cloud Book introduces children to both the types of clouds we observe in the sky and also types of weather (K.6a).  Of course, first the book tells how clouds are formed, through evaporation, which is caused by the warmth of the sun (1.6), condensation which forms the clouds which in turn leads to precipitation (3.9b).Additional Resources

    • Weather WizKids a childrens site from the ABC station from Indianapolis, IN, it provides an excellent link to clouds.  It has information on formation color, height in the atmosphere, type, and much more.  It also includes actual pictures of each cloud formation, lesson plans on clouds for teachers and experiments that can be done in the classroom.  Plus it also provides useful information on other types of weather, such as tornados and volcanos.
    • Web Weather for Kids provides an experiment where students will create a cloud in a portable cloud in a jar.  It also explains what children should see when they do the experiment as well as explains why the phenomena occurs.
    • Weatherworks provides students with the opportunity to have an ongoing observation of the different colors and cloud types in the sky.  Students predict what they will observe most then everyday for a month students observe the sky to see what cloud formations they can find.

     General Information

    • Book: The Cloud Book
    • Author/ Illustrator:  Tomie dePaola
    • Publisher: Holiday House
    • Publication Date:1984
    • Pages:32
    • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade
    • ISBN: 0823405311

    Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Look Out for the Big Bad Fish

    Big Bad Fish

    Watch Out for the Big Bad Fish! by Sheridan Cain and illustrated by Tanya Linch is a fun story about a young tadpole who wants to jump so badly.  As he grows he meets many different animals who are able to jump, teaching him to wait patiently for he will be able to jump one day.  Finally the young tadpole grows into a frog, just in time to jump out of the mouth of the Big Bad Fish.

    The bright, colorful, torn-paper collages of this book capture children's attention and the repeated "Boing!" onomatopoeia is fun for children.  This book is a fun way to teach the life cycle of a frog and the upbeat story has a moral that all children can relate to, having to wait patiently to grow-up.

    Curriculum Connections

    Not only is Look Out for the Big Bad Fish! a fun book to read, it also ties in well with the life science SOLs.  The book illustrates the changes that the tadpole goes through before he becomes a frog and is able to jump (2.4a).  The book also, even though not explicitly, acknowledges that living things are interdependent, the tadpole needs his mother to survive and the Big Bad Fish wants to eat the frog (2.5a).

    Additional Resources

    • DLTK provides printable templates for an activity where students can cut and paste the life cycle of a frog.  Larger templates are also given so teachers may use them on bulletin boards.
    • Kidszone is a website that offers students many different ways to learn and test thier knowledge of the life cycle of a frog.  There are fun riddles that they can solve, worksheets both with and without word descriptions, and a creative writing topic.
    • Enchanted Learning offers a worksheet with the stages of a frogs life at the top and blank lines below for students to write out each stage of the frogs life.


    General Information

    • Publisher: Little tiger Press
    • Publication Date: 1998
    • Pages: 32
    • Grade range: K- 3rd
    • ISBN: 1888444274

    Teaching 3rd grade Math: Fractions

    The following resources can help in teaching fractions to elementary students. The books and the other resources are a good way to help make learning math fun.

    Give Me Half
    written by Stuart Murphy
    illustrated by G. Brian Karas


    Splitting things in half may seem like an easy thing to do, but when two siblings and a pizza are involved, things can get messy. Children learn about fractions at school but fractions are also an important part of everyday life outside the classroom.

    Fraction Action
    written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy


    This picture book presents math concepts through five brief chapters. Leedy makes it easy for children to visualize what is meant by the various amounts. Subjects tackled include basic fractions, sets, dividing objects into equal parts and subtracting and comparing the value of fractions. With mini math problems and answers and large doses of humor worked into the text, this classroom-oriented book adds up to a lot of instructional fun.

    Fraction Fun
    written by David Adler
    illustrated by Nancy Tobin


    This simple, hands-on concept book is clear and concise. The simple definition of a fraction, that it is a part of something, introduces a pizza pie that is divided, studied, compared, and, of course, eaten. Weighing coins determines how many make one ounce, and what the fractional value of each coin is. The cartoon illustrations are colorful, whimsical, and humorous; they also make the concepts clear.

    Polar Bear Math
    written by Ann Whitehead Nagda and Cindy Bickel


    In this book children learn about fractions while following the Denver Zoo’s baby polar bears, Klondike and Snow. The right-hand pages tell the story of Snow and Klondike, with full-color photos showing how zoo personnel raised them from newborns until their first birthday. On each left-hand page, a lesson on fractions incorporates data about the animals. The explanations, which combine text with pictographs, are clear and well formulated. The first lesson, for example, defines fractions and their parts, and compares the one-third of polar bear mothers that have twins with the two-thirds that have single births. Other lessons deal with preparing formula for the cubs, milk consumption, hours in a day, and polar bear weight.

    The Doorbell Rang
    written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins


    As Victoria and Sam are sitting down to a plateful of a dozen of Ma’s cookies the doorbell rings, and two of their friends arrive to share. Just as they have the cookies all divided, the doorbell rings again and again and each time the number of cookies per person dwindles until at last there is only one cookie per person and . . . the doorbell rings again! (Luckily, it’s Grandma arriving with reinforcements.)

    Web Sites for Kids on Fractions

    • Fishy Fractions – Just hit “start activity” to begin helping Ulani the hungry pelican. Help her catch some fish by selecting the correct answer and watch her swoop into the water to eat the fish. You have to be careful to make sure Ulani doesn’t fly into one of the obstacles or you will lose points.
    • Bug Splat – In this game you must add the fractions together, if you get the incorrect answer the bugs will splat on the windshield.
    • Who Wants Pizza? – This site is a good place to go to refresh your memory on fractions or to learn about them for the first time. After an idea is taught there are a few questions to test your knowledge.
    • Cool Math 4 Kids – Here you can find 17 different lessons on fractions. Each lesson is full of bright colors and fun ways to learn. Cool Math for kids has pages for all of your math subjects. Don’t forget to move your mouse around and watch the numbers dance.
    • Math is Fun – Here is a good way to compare unit fractions. You will have a choice to use <=> to finish the problem.

    Additional Resources

    Teachers’ Domain
    Teachers' Domain is an online library of more than 1,000 free media resources from the best in public television. These classroom resources, featuring media from NOVA, Frontline, Design Squad, American Experience, and other public broadcasting and content partners are easy to use and correlate to state and national standards. Resources include video and audio segments, Flash interactives, images, documents, lesson plans for teachers, and student-oriented activities. Once you register for free, you can personalize the site using "My Folders" and "My Groups" to save your favorite resources into a folder and share them with your colleagues or students.

    Math Forum: Elementary School Teachers’ Place

    The Math Forum is an online community of teachers, researchers, parents, educators, and citizens at all levels who have an interest in mathematics and math education. The Math Forum provides high quality content and useful features. You will find lesson plans, fun sites for kids, activities and projects, teacher to teacher ideas on how to teach mathematics, and so much more.

    Super Teacher Worksheets

    FREE Math Worksheets, Grammar Worksheets, Word Problems, Creative Writing Prompts, Holiday Word Search Puzzles, and More! This site has it all. There is also a link to other teacher resources that are wonderful too.

    Teaching Civics with Children's Literature: Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope


    Introduction and Summary
    Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope
    a New York Times bestseller written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Bryan Collier is a glimps of the life of the 44th president of the United States.  This childrens book is based on Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams From My FatherThe story is told by a mother who is trying to explain what her young son David, is seeing on the television.  David’s mother explains the path that a young Barack Obama “Barry” took to get to where he is today. There is a strong message of how hope deep inside of Barack persevered and that is how he became president. The story does a great job of explaining the different places that he lived and the many cultures that surrounded him. It explains how he was not sure of who he was because he didn’t look like his black father or his white mother, and how this difference could be a bridge for the future. With the election of a any president history is made. With Barack Obama as president there is also a great significance because he is the first African American to become president.

    Curriculum Connections
    This story can be used for several different lessons. It could be used as part of the studies of the presidents and during black history month. There is a great time-line of the important dates that have shaped Barack Obama. Students can draw out this time-line or use this as a guide to draw their own time-lines.  This book could be incorporated into K.1,K.9, 1.10c, 1.12c, 3.12 SOLs

    Additional Resources

    • Student’s can learn more about the 44th president of the United States of America along with other fun facts about the White House.
    • Your students can search the official kids portal to the U.S. Government at

    General Information

    • Book: Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope
    • Author: Nikki Grimes
    • Illustrator: Bryan Collier
    • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
    • Publication Date: August 2008
    • Pages: 48
    • Grade Range: K- 5
    • ISBN: 1416971440

    Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Listen to the Wind

    “We are the children of Korphe.

    Not so long ago we had our lessons outside.

    We learned to write with sticks, on the ground.

    But then Dr. Greg came to our village,

    and he listened to the wind…”

    Listen to the Wind, by Greg Mortenson, is a beautiful true story of a man who lost his way on a climb of K2 in Pakistan, but was rescued and nurtured back to health by the people of the Korphe village.  Mortenson knew he had to give something back to the people of Korphe so he asked the village wise man what he should do, the wise man told him “Listen to the wind” and when he did Mortenson knew what he needed to do…

    The story Listen to the wind is told from the children of Korphe’s point of view. It is a very inspiring story of one mans gratitude and a villages strength to work together. The illustrations in the book are by Susan L. Roth. When making her collages she uses materials just like the women of Korphe do to make their clothing. Roth’s collages alone tell such a heart warming story.

    At the end of the book there is a collection of photographs of the villagers journey through this story. It allows readers to see how true the story really is and it gives readers more insight to how the people of the Korphe village look and where they live.

    Children of all ages will enjoy the story of hope and courage in this book. As students get older they can read the young reader’s version Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World…One Child at a Time or the adult version Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time.

    Curriculum Connections
    Listen to the Wind
    is a great book that can be used in multiple areas of education. There are so many lessons being taught in this story from the one that Dr. Greg learns about giving back to those that help you to the lesson of community and how working together can accomplish some wonderful things. This book is a great tool to introduce China and the mountains that separate it from Pakistan (Geography 2.4). There is a great lesson in cultural differences and in economics with showing how different cultures have different wants and needs (Economics 2.9) The book can be used in an art class to show how everyday materials can be used to make beautiful clothes just as the people of Korphe do. There is a strong message of community service and a good way to introduce different charities like Pennies for Peace (Civics 2.10c). Listen to the Wind is a true story and it can be used in a language arts lesson to talk about the differences between non-fiction and fiction. The book is written from the eyes of the children of the Korphe village and this can be used to have students write their own stories.

    Additional Resources

    • Pennies for Peace Here students can learn about the charity and how each penny can make a big difference in another students life.
    • At Kids Around The World students can connect to kids in other countries and learn more about their culture through games, songs and other activities.
    • Visit Yahoo kids to find a great website that gives facts that students would want to know about Pakistan and any other country they would want to learn more about.

    General Information

    • Book: Listen to the Wind
    • Author: Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth
    • Illustrator: Susan L. Roth
    • Publisher: Dial Books For Young Readers
    • Publication Date:2009
    • Pages: 32
    • Grade Range: K-3
    • ISBN-10: 0803730586
    • ISBN-13: 978-0803730588