Author Archive for Elizabeth

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money


Introduction and Summary

In Trouble With Money, by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Brother and Sister Bear are very good at spending money.  Any time they receive money from a grandparent or from a neighbor, they run to the Country Mall and spend it all.  One day their mother decides they should start receiving an allowance  so that they may learn the value of money.  Their father says that they should instead earn their money so Brother and Sister Bear decide to start doing odd jobs to make money.  They begin to make a lot of money.  When their father finds out that they start to sell the family’s secret location of the best honey trees he gets very upset.  At the end of the story the little bears give their father all of their hard earned money so that he won’t have any worries about money.  The cubs have learned a lesson!  Finally they get to go to the bank to put the money into a savings account to earn interest.  A great story for any child that is learning about the value of saving money.

Curriculum Connections

Trouble With Money could be a useful resource for first grade students that are learning about the value of money and about saving and spending.  Students could have this book read to them or try to read it themselves.  Then they could write a short passage about what they would do if they were given an allowance, save it or spend it.  Students should be encouraged to think about money in a postive way. (VA SOL’s 1.7, 1.8, 1.9)

Additional Resources

  • Planet Orange – Virtual lessons on saving and spending money for kids.

General Information

Book:  The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money
Author:  Stan and Jan Berenstain
Illustrator:  Stain and Jan Berenstain
Publisher: Random House Inc.
Publication Date: 1983
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 0-394-85917-0

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali


 Introduction and Summary

 Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali, by Khephra Burns,  tells the story of young Kankan Musa, who vanishes from his village in Mali after slave traders kidnap him.  His mother and brothers were devastated.  Kankan was only fourteen when he was sold to a mysterious man dressed so heavily in robes that only his eyes could be seen.  The mysterious man befriends Kankan and shows him the ways of living and surviving in the desert.  Kankan goes on a journey of self-discovery while traveling thousands of miles with him around Africa.  He learns about the pyramids in Egypt, confronts genie’s that transform themselves into lions, and learns about self-control and maturity.  Seven years later, when he is twenty, he makes a journey back to his village to find that his brother has been named King.  He approaches his family and they learn that Kankan has finally returned to the village after all these years.  Kankan becomes a great adviser to his brother and later he himself becomes King.  Many parts of the story are true while the author, Khephra Burns, used fictional stories to detail parts of Kankan Masa’s life.

 Curriculum Connections

 Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali would be great for a third grade class learning about Ancient Mali.  A teacher could read Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali aloud to students as it is a long book with some difficult words.  Students could go online and do a webquest to learn about the journey that Mansa Musa took and about the culture of Ancient Mali.  (Va SOL 3.2)

 Additional Resources

  • Ancient Mali Scavenger Hunt – An online scavenger hunt where students can find clues and information on Ancient Mali.  Directions are included for students.
  • Mansa Musa Webquest – Online resource for students to learn about Mansa Musa and the journey that he went on.

 General Information

 Book: Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali

Author:  Khephra Burns

Illustrator:  Leo and Diane Dillon

Publisher:  Harcourt Childrens Books

Publication Date:  2001

Grade Range:  3-6

ISBN:  100152003754  

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: The Story of Ruby Bridges


Introduction and Summary

The Story of Ruby Bridges, written by Robert Coles, is the true story of a little girl in New Orleans that became the first African-American student to attend Franz Elementary School in 1960.  When the parents of the other students in the school found out that Ruby was attending school too, they pulled all of their children out of class.  Every day an angry mob of people would stand outside of the school in protest and yell hateful things at Ruby.  Ruby was the only child in her class and her teacher realized that she wasn’t scared and she wanted to learn.  The Story of Ruby Bridges is bittersweet as she tries to bridge the gap of equality in the south by becoming the first African American child in an all-white school.

Curriculum Connections

This book is a wonderful story to introduce equality and respect for individual rights and freedoms (Virginia SOL Civics 3.12).  It would be great for students to read to learn about the principles of the civil rights movement and why it was such an important time in the history of our country.  Students could read The Story of Ruby Bridges and then write a reaction journal to how they would feel if an angry mob tried to scare them from coming to school everyday because their skin was a different color.  A great way to add in writing skills for language arts while learning about civics.

Additional Resources

  • Word Wall – An activity to make a word wall using the words from The Story of Ruby Bridges.
  • Video Clip – Video of The Story of Ruby Bridges as retold by a child.

General Information

Book:  The Story of Ruby Bridges
Author:  Robert Coles
Illustrator:  George Ford
Publisher:  Scholastic
Publication Date:  1995
Pages:  25
Grade Range:  1-3
ISBN:  978-0-439-59844-6

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Geography from A-Z: A Picture Glossary


Introduction and Summary

Geography from A-Z: A Picture Glossary, by Jack Knowlton, is a great resource for elementary students that are trying to learn the difference between a plateau and a plain or a knoll and an atoll.  This wonderfully illustrated book defines sixty-three key geographic terms and includes a picture example to go along with each child-friendly definition.  It introduces recognizable terms such as marsh, rain forest and coastline and then explains terms hardly known by adults such as oxbow lake, escarpment and promontory.  This book is perfect to help children understand geography vocabulary terms in your classroom!

Curriculum Connections

This book would be a great resource for geography lessons where children must identify key geographic terms (Virginia SOL US 1.2 D).  A fun activity would be to give each student several geographic terms and then have them illustrate the terms and present them to the class.   They could also be made into foldables to place in an interactive notebook.  Younger grades could learn the more basic terminology and older grades could have fun learning new terms such as isthmus, strait and butte.

Additional Resources

  • Geography Terms Lesson – A great lesson that teaches meaning and spelling of key grade geographic terms.  Incorporates language arts with geography as students mini passages that have the key terms in them.
  • Atlas Vocabulary Game – Fun online game that allows students to match a geography term to its definition.

 General Information

Book:  Geography From A-Z:  A Picture Glossary
Jack Knowlton
Illustrator:  Harriet Barton
Publisher:  Harper Collins Publishers
Publication Date: 
Pages:  48
Grade Range:  3-5
ISBN:  0-690-04616-2

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: So That’s How the Moon Changes Shape!


So That’s How the Moon Changes Shape!, by Allan Fowler, gives simple explanations to young readers about the different phases of the moon.  It explains that children may think that the moon changes it’s shape, but helps them to understand that it is sunlight reflecting off of the moon.  There is a moon calender that shows how the moon may look on any given day of the month and a great graphic that shows the moon orbiting around the earth.  Although very simple and basic, this book would be excellent to share with a young class that is learning about the different phases of the moon.  Now children can understand how the moon changes it’s shape!Curriculum Connections
So That’s How the Moon Changes Shape!
is a great teaching tool for introducing the phases of the moon.  It also has great pictures from space that further show the different phases of the moon.  Perfect for a third grade class that is beginning instruction on moon phases (VA SOL 3.8 a)  This book gives simple explanations and could really help students that are having troubling grasping the topic.

Additional Resources

  • Phases of the Moon Handout –  Great fill in the blank worksheet for students to identify and correct name the phases of the moon.
  • Moon Phases Interactive Graphic – Moving graphic that shows the moon orbiting the earth and what the moon looks like during the different phases.
  • Moon Phases Simulation – Allows teacher to control the movement of the moon around the earth.  Each day of the month is available to show the way the moon will look.  Great interactive tool for teacher and students.

Book:  So That’s How the Moon Changes Shape!
  Allan Fowler
Page Design:
  Sara Shelton
  Children’s Press Chicago
Publication Date:
Grade Range:

    Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Waiting for Wings


     Introduction and Summary

    Waiting for Wings, written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, is a wonderful book for young learners that explains the life cycle of a butterfly.  With beautiful illustrations and simple explanations, Waiting for Wings is a great teacher’s resource for teaching life cycles.  We can see the butterfly start as a tiny egg, then turn into larvae, then spin into a chrysalis and finally we see the beautiful butterfly emerge.  Vivid illustrations of flowers and butterflies are in the book as well as an identification guide for students to find examples of flowers and butterflies outdoors.

    Curriculum Connection

    Waiting for Wings is a great resource to use for a kindergarten or first grade lesson on life cycles.  The bright illustrations are wonderful for young elementary learners.  The identification guide in the back would be great to use in a hands-on activity.  Students could go outside and identify butterflies and flowers that may be around the school yard.  (Virginia SOL K.7)

    Additional Resources

    • Butterfly Unit  – Great unit on butterflies with science activities, songs, poetry, art activities, math activities and language arts activities.
    • Life Cycle of a Butterfly Booklet – Small booklet for children to cut out and label each stage of butterfly life cycle.  They can then put the pages in order and make a small booklet to keep.

    General Information

    Book:  Waiting for Wings
    Lois Ehlert
      Lois Ehlert
      Harcourt Books
    Publication Date:
    Grade Range:

    Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Sound: Loud, Soft, High, and Low


    Sound: Loud, Soft, High, and Low, written by Natalie M. Rosinksy and illustrated by Matthew John, is a colorful book about all of the different ways that sound is made.  Written especially for young learners, the author gives elementary definitions of how different sounds are made and why they sound the way they do.  She gives examples of loud and soft sounds, such as the whack of a baseball against a wooden bat or the soft pitter patter of raindrops against a window.  Wonderful examples of echo, high and low sounds, and sound waves are given so that young children may understand this topic.  Science experiments pertaining to sound are listed in the back of the book.
    Curriculum Connections

    Sound:  Loud, Soft, High, and Low corresponds to Virginia SOL 1.2 B – Objects may vibrate and produce sound.  This book could be used when giving an interactive lesson on sound.  Musical instruments could be used to give examples of high and low sounds by plucking guitar strings, striking a triangle or using small drums.  The book could be read and then different sounds could be played to have the children understand the concepts in the book.

    Additional Resources

    •  Sound and light activity – Teacher submissions on what activities they use during their sound units.  Also gives wonderful examples of activities for a light unit.
    • Sound and vibration lesson – A great lesson with multiple sound activities.  Uses tuning forks and music to illustrated how sounds are made.  Also a bit of a history lesson on Ben Franklin.

    Book:  Sound:  Loud, Soft, High and Low
    Author:  Natalie M. Rosinsky
    Illustrator:  Matthew John
    Publisher:  Picture Window Books
    Publication Date: 2003
    Pages: 24
    Grade Range: K-2
    ISBN:  978-1-4048-0335-0

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Why Do Leaves Change Color?


    Why Do Leaves Change Color?, written by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski, takes a fascinating look at why leaves change color and exactly what color a specific leaf will be in the fall.  Maestro thoroughly explains what process a leaf takes, beginning as a bud in the spring, through it’s journey to become a beautiful part of fall foliage.  She allows children to observe what various leaves will look like in the fall and how we can tell what color a leaf will become.  The science of physical properties and observation are heavily emphasized in this wonderful children’s book.  There are also a few wonderful activities in the back of the book along with a list of places where fall foliage can be seen at it’s best!

    Curriculum Connections
    Why Do Leaves Change Color?
    could be used during an observation lesson on fall leaves and their characteristics.  Children could learn the physical properties of the life cycle of a leaf and then observe what various leaves look like once they have changed colors for the fall (1.1).  They also learn that no two leaves are the same.  Characteristics of deciduous leaves (1.4) and plant life cycles are discussed (1.7)  (Virginia SOL’s 1.1, 1.4, 1.7)

    Additional Resources

    • Why Do Autumn Leaves Change Color? – Lesson plan that is labeled:  “Give children hands-on experience collecting, preserving, identifying, and examining leaves to deepen their understanding of how and why leaves change color in the fall.”
    • Falling Leaves – A science experiment with a nature walk and a leaf graphing worksheet.

    Book: Why Do Leaves Change Color?
    Author: Betsy Maestro
    Illustrator: Loretta Krupinski
    Publisher: Harper Collins
    Publication Date: 1994
    Pages:  32 pages
    Grade Range:  1-3
    ISBN:  0-06-022873-3