Author Archive for Eric

Math Instruction for Second Grade Addition and Subtraction


Once students have had success with number sense and concept of number in grades K and 1, it is time to introduce addition and subtraction.  The VA SOL for thread 2.5, states the students will recall addition facts with sums to 20 or less and the corresponding subtraction facts.  It is important that both addition and subtraction are taught together to help students learn the concepts and understand the process rather than just producing an answer without an understanding of why it works this way.  This setup and delivery of this skill is vital to the future success of any student in the undertaking of more challenging math concepts in the future.

Text Annotations:


 Addition Annie

Author: David Gisler

Illustrated by: Sarah A. Beise

In this short story Annie likes to count and counts everything in sight.  Each page of the book is a math problem involving addition problems using numbers under 10.  The back of the book contains a word bank totaling 30 commonly used words for this specific age group.  This book would be best suited for children at the end of first grade who possess strong math ability or students entering second grade.


 The Hershey Kisses Addition Book

Author: Jerry Pallotta

Illustrated by: Rob Bolster

With this delicious book, the reader will find themselves surrounded by chocolate math problems.  In addition, there is a little history about the creation of the Hershey’s Kiss.  The book continues with a discussion of addition vocabulary, the commutative property, and some of the basic rules of addition.  Towards the end of the book, it starts to delve into adding three numbers and basic subtraction which would be an attempt to persuade the reader to read the next book in the series regarding subtraction.  This book is suited for any child learning about the addition process and would be a complementary activity within the days lesson discussing addition.


Math Fables

Author: Greg Tang

Illustrated by: Heather Cahoon

In Greg Tang’s Math Fables, Tang uses poems to paint pictures of stories that include math problems.  While the addition in this book is basic, yet appropriate to this SOL, it utilizes numbers under 10, the message sent to the reader is loud and clear.  By the end of the book he includes some information on higher math discovering addend combination that equal 10.  This is a wonderfully illustrated book that the children will enjoy reading in groups or independently.




Math Fables Too

Author: Greg Tang

Illustrated by: Taia Morley

This is the second book of the addition series from author Greg Tang.  This book incorporates the same poetic verse that includes math addition problems within the poem.  The addition problems themselves are at a beginner level but are still good examples of the addition process.  Like all other Tang books, the illustrations are brightly colored and are a lot of fun for all ages to enjoy.  In the back of this book, Tang includes some animal facts regarding the animals within this book, thus providing some cross curricular study in animal science.


Subtraction Action

Author/ Illustrator: Loreen Leedy

This book involves subtraction problems that the characters of this book require solving while attending a school fair.  The teacher in the story, Miss Prime, shows the students how useful the ability to perform real world yet fictional subtraction type problems.  The book is best suited for students towards the middle to end of second grade.  Later in the book, some of the problems do involve regrouping and some money (decimals) problems which might be a challenge for beginner students learning about subtraction.  The book has an answer key and provides a short explanation behind the answers to the problems it asks throughout the story.


Web Annotations


In this website from, the game is titled Math Mayhem and is a speed challenge with other Internet players in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.


This website from is an addition game called MATHO that is a timed exercise that is fun for kids.  When the questions are answered correctly, pictures are revealed.


Also from is a subtraction game titled Hidden Picture.  In this game the goal is to answer the subtraction questions correctly to identify the picture behind the answer tiles.


This website asks the question, “Are you a Math Magician?“.  The player is assigned to complete 20 math problems as fast as they can.

Cool Math Games has a game titled Feed Fribbit Addition and Feed Fribbit Subtraction.  This takes some hand eye coordination but is fun to play.  Fribbit is hungry and needs flies marked with the answers to math questions.  The object is to get Fribbit to eat the fly with the correct piece of the problem.

 Additional Resources

Tina Cho has created a lesson titled Candy Corn Subtraction and in the lesson, she has the kids complete subtraction problems using the segments of the candy corn.  She provides the candy corn templates and the instructions to go along with it.  This lesson can be used in the fall season around Halloween, or certain can be used any time of the year.  What child doesn’t like candy corn?

From the site, William L. Gaslin, Charles Lund, & Martin M. Gaslin have provided an example of addition and subtraction problems from a deck of cards.  The web page is titled Disclose.  This card activity can be differentiated for those that need additional assistance or for students that work better in homogeneous groups.  It can also be played with two players or running through the deck a student can practice basic facts.  The website provides a printable deck of cards if you do not already have one. has a page titled, Max’s Math: Card Castle Adventures and the lesson idea involves using a rhyming poem to answer basic math facts.  The site is flexible as it includes audio of the poems that the teacher can let the students listen to.  The site also provides a printable version as well.  This will accommodate auditory and visual learners alike.

Another page titled,  Addition Facts provides a lesson activity focusing on the commutative property of addition and subtraction.  The focus is to teach addition and subtraction together as opposed to teaching them seperately.


Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Pigs Will Be Pigs


Introduction and Summary
Pigs will be Pigs
was written by Amy Axelrod and illustrated by Sharon McGinley-Nally.   This is a story of a family of pigs who become hungry and decide that it is time to eat.  The only problem is they haven’t any money.  They turn their house upside down on a quest for loose change and some bills to have enough to go and eat.  The story is very kid friendly and the pictures are wonderful in capturing the stereotypical evidence that pigs really are pigs.  In the back of the book, it summarizes how much money the pigs did collect and shows it in a simple set of columns that the children could add together.  The book also asks about how much did their visit to the restaurant cost which would encourage some basic arithmetic.  Finally for those kids up for the challenge are encouraged to determine how much money did they have left after their dining experience.

Curriculum Connections
This book could be used for a couple of different concepts.  It could be used for a younger audience just learning about the concept money and how money is used to buy goods and services.  It can also teach economic choices for example (I want this, but I need that to survive) economic cost.  For older groups of children it can be used to help teach addition and subtraction skills as well as also incorporating the economic cost of choices made.  The book touches on both economics and mathematics at the same time.  (VA SOL 2.8).

Additional Resources

  • This website titled Peanuts and Crackerjacks combines sports trivia with economics questions.  It is geared for older kids and is a lot of fun while discussing economics.
  • This site includes a game called Dumptown which is all about recycling programs and managing expenses and revenue from recycling.  Teachers and parents can assist with this game until the students get the idea of it.
  • This site provides information that can be used to create an activity involving supply and demand or can be turned into a lesson plan on this concept.  This would be ideal for 3rd graders in their understanding of economics.

Book: Pigs will be Pigs
Author: Amy Axelrod
Illustrator: Sharon McGinley-Nally
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 31
Grade Range: 2nd – 4th grades
ISBN: 0-329-12098-0

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Adventures in Ancient Greece



Introduction and Summary
The book Adventures in Ancient Greece was written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Bill Slavin.  This story is about a set of twins and their younger sister who want to see the Olympic Games in the future.  They stop by Jullian T. Pettigrew’s Travel Agency and inform him of their wishes and he hands them a book.  Once they open the book, the three of them are transported back to ancient Greece.  Once there, they see all of the culture, arts, customs of Greece and of course the Olympic Games.  They have a lot of adventures in ancient Greece and all while they read from this book to get the information about what they are witnessing.

 “Democracy in Athens – Are you at the Pnyx yet?  Pay close attention.  History is being made here!  Greece is the first place where ordinary people get to rule their own country.  The ancient Greeks call this kind of government ‘demokratia’ (‘demos’ means people, and ‘kratos’ means power).  Later in history, it will be called ‘democracy’.”

Curriculum Connections
This story focuses on the life and culture of ancient Greece.  It shows the contributions to the world in the future as well as the advancement they have made themselves.  The book includes the study of art, architecture and construction. It also focuses on government, politics,civics, agriculture, as well as the so famous sports and competition.  (VA SOL 3.1)

Additional Resources

  • Greek Gods Word Search: This is a word search referencing the Greek Gods
  • Olympic Event Match Up:  This online activity tests the students’ knowledge on how well they know the sports the ancient Olympians competed in.
  • Time Line of Ancient Greece:  This activity, geared for older students provides eight distinct periods in Greek history and is up to the student to research what took place and create a picture in that time slot.

Book: Adventures in Ancient Greece
Author: Linda Bailey
Illistrator: Bill Slavin
Publisher: Kids Can Press, Ltd.
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 48
Grade Range: 3rd – 5th
ISBN: 978-0329-00072-1

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: The Journey of The One and Only Declaration of Independence


Introduction and Summary
The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence
was written by Judith St. George and was illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.  The book is a historical account of the Declaration of Independence, a powerful document used to commence this nation’s government and more importantly free the colonists from the grasp of England.  The book goes into detail about some of the signers of the document and even the person who had to draft all of the copies of the document.  From this point, the book reveals the true story of the many places this important document was housed over the past 200 plus years.  It goes as far as to describe some of the ways the document was preserved and repaired so that it could be viewed by all, even today.

“On July 4, 1777, the Declaration of Independence was one year old.  So was the United States.  Like any one year old, the nation was toddling on unsteady feet.  The war still hadn’t been won.  But it hadn’t been lost, either.  Philadelphia threw a wingding of a birthday party.  The Declaration didn’t march in the parade…or join the militia in firing a salute…or marvel at the sky-high fireworks.  But the forty-four line, one page parchment was the star of the celebration.  Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!  Now the Declaration could be placed under glass in the Pennsylvania State House for all the world to admire, Right?”

Curriculum Connections
This book discusses one of the most important tools in our nation’s government, the law.  It stresses the importance of this document to secure America’s way of life and the ways it has been defended, protected and preserved for all time.  While the Declaration of Independence is a lesson in civics about the rights and privileges of free people, the book also provides a strong lesson of American history.  One that this books spends a lot of time discussing places and dates with regard to the Declaration of Independence.  It might not fit some of the standards for lesson planning but is a fun and insightful book for students in the third through fifth grades. (VA SOL 3.11 or CE.2)

Additional Resources

Book: The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence
Author: Judith St. George
Illustrator: Will Hillenbrand
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 45 pages
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 0-399-23738-0

Teaching Geography with Children's Literature: Nine O’Clock Lullaby


Summary and Introduction Nine O’Clock Lullaby was written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Frane Lessac.  With the use of its wonderful pictures, this book takes the reader all over the world one hour at a time.  It displays with pictures and words information about each city’s culture and activities that might be unique to their area of the world.

7:30 A.M. in India All over the village well ropes squeak, buckets splash, bracelets jingle, long braids swish.  All over the village morning music.  7:30 A.M. in India is …”

Curriculum Connections
One suggestion to do while reading this book would be to have a globe handy so that after each page or city is read, you could show the students where that is on the globe.  This book has a lot of cross curriculum connections.  While the book certainly does a great job taking its readers all over the world and definitely captures the essence of Geography, it also has a scientific focus on the time of day as each page begins with a specific time.  In addition, it covers the idea of day and night, where it may be daytime and the sun is shining in one area of the world, but it is nighttime, dark and the moon is out in another area.  There is also an ecological element regarding the animal habitats in the various regions that book displays.  Based on its short passages and reoccurring reading patterns, this book is geared for a student in K-2nd grades. (VA SOL Geography K.4)

Additional Resources

  • First Grade Map Activity:  This flash card game ties in traits from different types of communities along with the types of things that might be present in those communities.
  • Continents, Poles and Equator: This is a song to teach the children sung to the tune “Are you sleeping?”  The child will use body parts to describe where in the world the continents, poles and equator are.
  • Continent Word Search: This is a continent word search worksheet for use with first or second graders.

Book: Nine O’ Clock Lullaby
Author/Illustrator : Marilyn Singer / Frane Lessac
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Publication Date:
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K – 2nd

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Tornadoes!


Introduction and Summary
The book Tornadoes was written by Gail Gibbons and provides information to students about their formation, how they are classified from one another, historical and safety information if one were to occur where they live.

“The word Tornado comes from the Spanish word tronada meaning ‘thunderstorm’.  It is raining hard, the winds are strong.  The sky is dark.  Suddenly a twisting column of moist air reaches down from a cloud and touches the ground.  It makes a loud, roaring sound.  It is a tornado!”

Curriculum Connections
This book can assist teachers and students on identification of cumulonimbus clouds and learning about severe weather situations.  It goes on to explain how tornadoes are formed and then goes into the classification of these storms utilizing Fujita Tornado Scale system.  It shows what the projected aftermath would be based on each storm time and provides an estimated range of wind speeds per classification.  This book also provides a lot of vocabulary terms relevant to fourth grade science.  Terms like temperature, condensation, updrafts and downdrafts are defined to name a few.  The book also provides safety tips to follow if a person was ever in a situation where a tornado was taking place.  (VA SOL 4.6 a, b, and c.)

Additional Resources

Book: Tornadoes
Author: Gail Gibbons
Publisher: Holiday House Books
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 2nd through 5th
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2216-6

Teaching Life Science with Children's Literature: Never Smile at a Monkey


Summary and Introduction
Never Smile at a Monkey
was written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.   This book discusses animal adaptation and some of the defense mechanisms animals possess to protect themselves from predators and humans.  It focuses on 17 different animals including mammals, lizards and sea creatures.  The book deals with the protective aspects of these animals whether it be teeth, claws, spines or venom.  While the subject matter is serious and informative for children, the illustrations keep it kid friendly.

“And a final word of advice: NEVER smile at a monkey!  If you smile at a rhesus (ree-sus) monkey, it may interpret your show of teeth as an aggressive gesture and respond violently.  Even a small monkey can give you a serious bite with its sharp fangs.”

In the back of the book, it provides additional information about each of the animals habitat and where they are indigenous.  The section also provides an opportunity for additional reading and offers five other books to choose from.

Curriculum Connections
The book provides a wealth of opportunity to study about living things in an ecosystem and how they might interact or fight with one another.  It tells the reader despite looking friendly and harmless, some creatures can be deadly to others.  One can tie the protective defenses lesson when discussing predator and prey or when discussing animal adaptations in class.  While the book is geared for younger audiences, I think that it would best fit students in 2nd, 3rd or 4th grades based on some of the subject matter.  (VA SOL 4.5a)

Additional Resources

  • Animal Adaptations Worksheet  This worksheet can be completed in class or as homework and focuses on  animal adaptations and their function.
  • Animal Adaptation Lesson Plan  This lesson plan focuses on reptile adaptations and provides a critical thinking exercise dealing with the effects of such adaptations.
  • Animal Adaptation Jungle Walk  This link provides pictures and video of different animal adaptations and breaks them out by region.
  • Animal Adaptations (Another Evolutionary Lesson Plan!)  This lesson plan allows students to brainstorm about animal adaptation concepts.

Book: Never Smile at a Monkey
Author/Illustrator : /Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K – 4th
ISBN: 978-0-618-96620-2

Teaching Physical Science Skills with Children's Literature: Squirts and Spurts Science Fun with Water


Squirts and Spurts Science Fun with Water was written by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Steve Haefele.  This author has written many books like this one focusing on all different areas of science.  In this particular book, Ms. Cobb, details different science experiments involving simple machines, water, air and oil to teach the reader about forces, pressure and motion.

A Balloon Water Shooter

Rubber is a material that is said to have a ‘memory.’  You can stretch a balloon and change its shape.  If you release it, the balloon snaps back to its original shape.  You stretch a balloon when you blow it up.  When you let go of the open end, the balloon shrinks, forcing out the air.  This same force can be used to shoot a jet of water.

Curriculum Connections
Due to the complexity of some of the experiments and the nature of the science learned, this book would be recommended for upper elementary students.  While a lot of the experiments are fun and the kids will love doing them, the actual learning about force, motion, and simple machines could be hindered if the audience is too young to understand these concepts as they relate to science.  This would result in a glorified playtime for them.  With regard to the Virginia SOLS the curriculum can be tied to 4.2 a, b, c, and d.

Additional Resources

  • Newton’s Third Law of Motion Students  Students will  experiment with balloons and send their balloons across the room by using various techniques.
  • Forces and Motion  Students will create different size parachutes and with an egg as its passenger.  The students will drop the egg from a distance of ten feet and hypothesize which eggs will land safely.
  • Daily Doings with Simple Machines  Students will make a hypothesis as to how many simple machines they use during a day.  Using the worksheet provided in this link, students will take the sheet home and record all activities they might do during the day using a simple machine.  Then the students will write about their results as compared to their hypothesis.

Book: Squirts and Spurts Science Fun with Water
Author: Vicki Cobb
Illustrator: Steve Haefele
Publisher: The Millbrook Press
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: 3-6
ISBN: 0-7613-1572-1

Teaching Process Skills with Children's Literature: How to Think Like a Scientist


How to Think Like a Scientist is written by Stephen P. Kramer and illustrated by Felicia Bond.  The book focuses on real world and sometimes comical situations that children encounter.   The stories focus on the types of questions that arise and how students can learn by putting the scientific method into practice to get the answers to their questions.  The illustrator, Felicia Bond illustrator for the series, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, is known for utilizing a comedic element within her illustrations making it appealing to children to read.

For the sake of brevity, this example will be paraphrased.

The situation entitled “Because we want to” takes a real world approach to children making choices towards completing homework.  In this example, the teacher, Ms. Wilson, assigns a math assignment to be turned in on Monday.  You, the student, are working diligently on a math assignment Sunday afternoon when your friend Pat calls and invites you to see a movie that you really want to see.  Ms. Wilson has been behind on collecting and returning homework assignments and you and Pat figure she will not collect this math assignment until later in the week.  Pat offers to distract her Monday by asking how her weekend went.

QUESTION: Is Ms. Wilson going to collect the math assignment Monday morning?

ANSWER:  Pat does as promised and asks Ms. Wilson how her weekend went and she responds “I’ll tell you all about it while you’re passing your math papers up to the front of the room.”

“Suddenly you feel very sick.  You were sure the answer to the question would be “no”.  As a matter of fact, you were the only person in the whole class who doesn’t have the paper finished.  What happened?”

“Part of the reason you answered the question incorrectly was because of an observation.”

The book then takes the students through the art of using the Scientific Method.

Curriculum Connections
How To Think Like a Scientist is appropriate for third graders in their development of logic and reasoning as well as the development of practicing the steps of the scientific method.  SOL 3.1 a, b, g, h & j are achieved by reading this book and putting these practices in real science experiments either performed at home or in the classroom.

Additional Resources

  • Utah Education Network: “It’s Hammer Time” A lesson plan teaching third grade students to use the scientific method while learning about simple machines, and push and pull forces.
  • Another example that I have collaboratively taught at the third grade level should be done in close proximity to the Thanksgiving holiday.  The basic idea is to use the scientific method to make hypotheses about what families will eat during the holiday meal.  The students will collect data from the class and will learn to input the data on a computer and graph the results.  From this process, the students will draw conclusions from the data collected.  As I recall, the data was broken out into the main course, the starch, the vegetable and the best part, the dessert.
  • A to Z Teacher Stuff: Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Mixtures

Book: How to Think Like a Scientist
Author: Stephen P. Kramer
Illustrator:  Felicia Bond
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Publication Date: 1987
Pages: 42 pages
Grade Range: 3-7
ISBN: 0-690-04565-4