Author Archive for Emily

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Estela’s Swap


Introduction and Summary
Estela’s Swap written by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez,is about a young girl from Santa Ana named Estela. She is selling her music box at the Swap Meet for ten dollars so that she could pay for folk-dancing lessons that Estela has beein saving for all year. Estela learns how to bargain as she walks the meet with her father:

“As the seller, you name a price that’s a little more than what you are willing to take. That way you have room to bargain.

Estela encounters a old woman across the street who enjoys listening to the music box while sewing a skirt. As Estela begins bargaining with customers, a strong wind blows through the Swap Meet. Estela runs to help the old woman across the street who is selling paper flowers as they all blow away. As Estela grabs the tent, her music box falls to the ground. Estela  ignores her music box as she attempts to collect the flowers for the old woman. The woman gives Estela back her music box which is relatively unharmed from the wind. Estela decides to give the woman her box so that she can listen to music while she makes more flowers for the next Swap Meet. At the end of the Swap Meet, the old woman gives Estela the skirt she had been working on. Estela is very excited about her first swap and looks forward to next time to learn how to sell.

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce concepts of economics to young elementary students.  Key vocabulary could include goods, buyer, seller, money, savings, and barter . The book explores concepts of bargaining as well as selling to gain money in order to buy something else (SOL K.7b, 1.7, 2.8). Estela decides to sell her music box because she wants lessons, so she gives up something in exchange for something else (SOL 1.8). Students will enjoy learning about saving money for a specific item (SOL 1.9). A civics lesson is also incorporated into the story as Estela helps the old woman with her flowers even though she puts her own sale of the music box at risk (SOL 1.10a, K.8e)

Additional Resources

Book: Estela’s Swap
Alexis O’Neill
Illustrator: Enrique O. Sanchez
Publisher: Lee and Low Books
Publication Date: 2002
Pages:  29
Grade Range: Kindergarten-2nd grade
ISBN: 1584300442

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Travels with Charlie: Travelin’ the Northeast


Introduction and Summary
Travels with Charlie: Travelin’ the Northeast written by Miles Backer and illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg, is all about the Northeast United States. It includes the 12 states from Maine to Ohio to Maryland. The book features a different state on each page with seek-and-find questions in a poetic form. Along the tab of each page is information about the state including the capital, flag, and lots of interesting facts. A dog named Charlie goes to each state and hides somewhere in the state. Can you find Charlie?

Find Manhattan Island, home to Wall Street.
Find the Statue of Liberty. Find hot dogs to eat.

Where’s Charlie?”

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce upper elementary students to the Northeast states as a region. It can be used in conjunction with the other books in the Travels with Charlie series, Way Out West and Way Down South. With the multitude of maps used, it could also be a great way to explore the use of maps and key landmarks on a map in the younger grades (History SOL K.4a,b., 1.4a) The incorporation of the geographical landmarks and bodies of water such as the Great Lakes and the Statue of Liberty would be beneficial for older elementary as well (USI.1f, USI.2b, c)

Additional Resources

  •  Northeast Geography Lesson: A great lesson plan geared for grades 3-5 that focuses on map skills and resources of the Northeast USA
  • Northeast and more: This website is a great tool to allow students to research the regions of the United States with lots of information and pictures about each region
  • Northeast Info: this site has great information about the products and resources of the Northeast region as well as the geographic landforms, populations, climates, and tourist locations

Book: Travels with Charlie: Travelin’ the Northeast
Author: Miles Backer
Illustrator: Chuck Nitzberg
Blue Apple Books
Publication Date: 2006
Pages:  36 pages
Grade Range: 2nd-5th grade
ISBN: 1593541627

Teaching Earth Science with Children's Literature: The Magic School Bus Out of This World: A Book About Space Rocks


Introduction and Summary
The Magic School Bus Out of This World : A Book About Space Rocks written by Joanna Cole, is another classic in the Magic School Bus series. Mrs. Frizzle’s class is putting on a solar system play when they find out that an asteroid out in space is headed straight towards Walker Elementary School! The class rushes onto the Magic School Bus that turns into a Space Bus. On their trip to find the asteroid, they discover what shooting stars are and also get pulled into the Moon’s gravity. They defeat a comet and finally find the asteroid. They try many different ways to redirect the asteroid away from Earth until Dorothy Ann finally comes up with a plan. She says the Magic School Bus needs to become as big as the Moon to pull the asteroid into it’s gravity, then shrink at just the right time to send the asteroid far away from the Earth. After the class accomplishes this, they travel back and even get a phone call from NASA on the way home.

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce older elementary students to space rocks and gravity of the Moon. Key vocabulary could include Earth, Moon, comet, meteor, asteroid, gravity, and shooting stars. The book explores the different space rocks and also introduces how the Moon has it’s own gravity (SOL 6.8a,c). It also explores the distance and makeup of the Moon and how it is associated with the Earth (SOL 4.7c).

Additional Resources

Book: The Magic School Bus Out of This World: A Book About Space Rocks
Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date:
Pages:  32 pages
Grade Range: 2nd-5th grade
ISBN: 0590921568

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: This Is Your Life Cycle


Introduction and Summary
This Is Your Life Cycle written by Heather Lynn Miller and illustrated by Michael Chesworth, is about the life cycle of a dragonfly. The book is set up like a game show with host Bob Beetle. Bob interviews his special guest, Dahlia the Dragonfly as they go through the events in her life beginning as an egg and leading up to the molten stage where she becomes an adult dragonfly and tries to eat the audience!

We all know how that goes- right, audience? It’s the story of an insect’s life. We hatch, we grow, we mate, we die!

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce middle elementary students to the life cycles of insects. Many teachers have used it to introduce key vocabulary such as egg, nymph, molt, and exoskeleton. It describes the series of orderly changes in an insect’s life as they mature and grow (SOL 2.4a). This would be an amusing review for upper elementary students. It has also been suggested to be performed as a theatrical reading.

Additional Resources

  • This is Your Life Cycle Lesson Plan  : This is a lesson plan about insect life cycles geared grades 2-6 using the book This is Your Life Cycle 
  • Life Cycle Lessons : This is a great website about the life cycle of a dragonfly complete with actual photos of these insects in each stage of life
  • Dragonfly Handout:   This is a handout that explains the incomplete metamorphesis of a dragonfly

Book: This Is Your Life Cycle
Author: Heather Lynn Miller
Michael Chesworth
Clarion Books
Publication Date: 1998
Pages:  32 pages
Grade Range: 2nd-5th grade
ISBN: 0618724850

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: It’s Science! Solid, Liquid, or Gas?


Introduction and Summary
It’s Science! Solid, Liquid, or Gas? written by Sally Hewitt, is about the different states of matter. It explores matter throughout the book with a key word on each page, such as “Gas”, followed by a description of what the matter is. Each page also describes an experiment or question related to the topic of the page. For example: Gas has an experiment in the Try it Out! section that asks a child to blow into a balloon to see the gas blow it up and feel the gas come out of the balloon.

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce young elementary students to the states of matter and exploration of water. One of the topics is water where the different states of water are explored (SOL K.5a) as well as whether objects sink or float in the water (SOL K.5c). The question of “sink or float” can be explored in a simple experiment in small groups. The students will determine if the objects given to them will sink or float in the water. Another section of the book describes dissolving. There is an experiment determining what materials will dissolve in water (SOL 1.1). Finallly, the sections about melting and changing shape can be useful when one is learning about the processes of changing states of matter (SOL 2.3)

Additional Resources

  • States of Matter Lesson Plan  This is a lesson plan geared for grades 1-3 about states of matter using balloons filled with ice, air, or water.
  • Song about Matter :This is a fun song about matter using the tune “Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?” It might be a bit complicated for Kindergarten but was used in a 2nd grade classroom. It also has a video with a child singing the song.
  • Sink or Float Lesson Plan:   This is a lesson plan about objects that sink or float that also uses a book about Christopher Columbus to incorporate how his ship floated across the ocean. What else can float in the water? What sinks?

Book: It’s Science! Solid, Liquid, or Gas?
Author: Sally Hewitt
Publisher: Children’s Press
Publication Date:
Pages:  32 pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten-2nd grade
ISBN: 0613375459

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison


Introduction and Summary
A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison
, written by David A. Adler and illustrated by John & Alexandra Wallner, is about the life of Thomas Edison. Thomas was a very curious boy who asked lots of questions to everyone around him. He loved finding out answers himself as a child when someone else could not answer a question. For example, Thomas wanted to find out if HE could hatch eggs by sitting on them just like the mommy chickens. When Thomas sat on the eggs, he broke them all! Thomas learned from his experiment that he could not hatch eggs. As Thomas grew up, he continued to conduct experiments and eventually created inventions such as the light bulb, the stock ticker, and motion picture camera. He became known as the ” Wizard of Menlo Park”.

Curriculum Connections
This book could be used to introduce young elementary students to science experiments. It explores the concept how to observe then ask a question and discovering the answer (SOL K.1 G) (SOL 1.1 G).

Additional Resources

  • Thomas Edison Coloring Page from Crayola:  This page is a coloring page that has a paragraph to summarize Thomas Edison’s life at the bottom. It would be a great review of Edison’s life after listening to a story.
  • Menlo Park Museum :This site is about the home of Thomas Edison the “Wizard of Menlo Park”
  • Timeline:  Here is a timeline that chronologically displays the events of Edison’s life

Book: The Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison
Author: David A. Alder
Illustrators: John & Alexandra Wallner
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 30 pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten-2nd grade
ISBN: 0-8234-1246-6