Author Archive for Hannah R.

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel?

Ever wondered how we can look at an object and sense how it would feel if we touched it? When did we learn that spiky things hurt or that extreme water temperatures were uncomfortable?  The book Looking at Nature: How does it feel?  teaches the reader how to infer things about the feeling of an object. Bobbie Kalman, the author, begins the story by introducing the 5 senses that humans have.

 “We have five senses. Our senses help us learn about the world around us. We see with our eyes. We smell  with our noses. We taste with our mouths and tongues. We hear with our ears. We touch things, to feel what they are like. Our sense of touch is in our hands and skin. What is this hand feeling?”

The book continues to show pictures of animals and objects, and asks questions about how we can imagine something would feel. Question after question throughout allows for kids to think rather than be told. They need to decipher why something may feel the way it does. Experience can be key in figuring such things out. If an student has a pet cat they can figure out that a bunny might feel similar based on how the furs look. Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel? also introduces empathy by getting students to think about how a lizard might feel if it crawls on a cactus.  The photographs throughout are outstanding and really give the reader a “feel” for what touching it may feel like. Check it out!

Curriculum Connections: 

 Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel? can be used in particularly first grade classroom when teaching the kids to make inferences and draw conclusions about familiar objects.(VA Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic 1.1) The question style of the book will allow students to think on their own to develop a reasoning for thinking something may feel a certain way. The words used to describe the feelings are thinks like sticky or rough. The book will teach to use appropriate words when trying to describe how something feels. This is a form of investigation because they are able to describe what they sense accurately.

This book could also work in a kindergarten classroom because it highlights one of the five senses (VA Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic K.2a). It does a great job of explaining how the skins feels.  Bobbie Kalman has a series of books that address the senses in a kid friendly way. Great resource! While the kids are listening to the book it would be fun to have some people holding things that can be found in the book so that they can tell the class how it feels. A feather, a small snail, a snake skin, and a turtle shell are examples.

Additional Resources:

Lesson Plan– Hands as a means of sensing how things feel.

Touching…– activity that can be used to get kids feeling things to see how their sense of feel can help them discover what something is without using any other sense.

Unit Plan -this link takes you to the introductory lesson plan about the 5 senses. Attached are great lesson plans dealing with each particular sense.

 General Information:

Book: Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel?

Author: Bobbie Kalman

Illustrator: collection of photos from

Publisher: Crabtree Publishing Company

Publication Date: 2008

Pages: 24 pages

Grade Range: k-2


Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Story of Money

“A long time ago, there was no such thing as money. The first humans had simple needs.”(3)

The Story of Money by Betsy Maestro is an informative picture book about the development of a barter system and how it led to the creation of coin and paper money. The illustrations, by Giulio Maestro, are beautifully done and create a visual for the students because they help to support the text. The book starts by telling about how people thousands of years ago lived and why they did not need money. When the groups expanded and the climate warmed up, the people began to develop settlements and grow crops. They could not use everything they produced and they could not produce everything they needed so they had to find other settlements to trade things with. The book continues to expand on how and why countries used things like salt and tea leaves as currecy. People traveled long distances to trade so a system for exchange between countries became necessary. Precious metals became the first official money in the ancient kingdom of Lydia in 640 B.C. Many examples of coins are shown and a map of the United States shows who came to the new world. When the people first settled they used a barter system with the Native Americans and then developed a need for a money system. The Story of Money finishes by showing how we now use cash, checks, credit cards, and ATMs.

Curriculum Connections: 

The Story of Money can best be used to teach the difference between they barter system and the use of money (VA2.8). It goes into great detail about what they barter system started out as and how money was developed based on the needs of the people.  There are great textual and visual examples of what bartering is and detailed drawings of coins as they developed. For second graders, its a book that must be read to the class and maybe even in parts. The first part could be to study bartering and the second to study the development of money. Its a long read but an informatively interesting one. There are also aspects of the book that would teach about specialization by countries because people and regions cannot produce everything they want and need (VA3.8) This book could be used after the concept is started to show how specialization shaped the economy today.

Additional Resources

  • Bartering Lesson Plan–  great lesson plan to teach kids what it meant to barter things that had value to you, whether it be wants or needs. Great way to show that people did not just trade to trade. They did it with purpose.
  • What did people use as money?– this is an activity that will get kids thinking about what people could have used as money. They can think about why it could have been of value.
  • How do you get what you need with what you have?-This is a great lesson plan to simulate how groups of people had needs and they had to use what they had to get the other things.

Book: The Story of Money
Betsy Maestro
Giulio Maestro
Houghton Miffilin Company
Publication Date:
Grade Range:
2nd -5th

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: You Are In Ancient Greece

You Are In Ancient Greece, written by Ivan Minnis, is filled with photographs of ancient buildings and artifacts and excellent information for teaching about Ancient Greece. There is no particular illustrator because all of the images are photographs. The book aims to put students in the civilizations hundreds and thousands of years ago by teaching them from the perspective of what their education, food gathering, entertainment and other aspects were like during those times. Each page has headings like “A Greek City” and “Growing Up”which give organization to the plentiful information. Important vocabulary works are in bold and their are portions of a page devoted to “finding out about” a topic. This visually separates the information from the student which may help recognize the information as interesting facts. This book is a great read for an educational setting because the words are large and the visuals are informative. An excellent example of the way Minnis conveys the extensive information is below.

 ” As you walk through the busy streets of Athens, you see rich businesspeople and craftspeople working in their shops. There are also poor peasants and laborers and many slaves who are forced to work hard by their masters.” (6)

 Curriculum Connections:

You Are In Ancient Greece would be most appropriate when teaching Ancient Civilizations to 3rd grade students because it gives factual information about they way Greece was 2,500 years ago. Instead of blatantly stating the information, this book is sure to captivate the readers by trying to place them on the streets of Greece. The photographs are informative and relevant to the topic discussed on the particular page. This helps visual learners get a mental picture of what it was like. Due to the length and abundance of content this book could be used as a main aspect of a lesson. It may be too much information for a “hook” activity. From this book the student will gain an understanding of what contributions the ancient Greeks made to architecture, government (direct and representative democracy) and athletics. (3.1) The bolded vocabulary words could be used as a set of words the students can focus on for the topic of Ancient Greece. Excellent educational tool! Consider Minnis’s other books about Egypt, China, and Rome.

Additional Resources:

Worksheets– Interactive worksheets with reading, coloring, and questions to anwer.

Lesson Plan– Creating a Greek Newspaper Lesson Plan that would be a great assessment and a creative way for kids to practice writing skills

Interactive Website– this site can be used by teachers to gain background knowledge or by children to see Ancient Greece in a more creative and understandable way.

General Information: 

Book:  You Are In Ancient Greece

Author: Ivan Minnis

Publisher: Raintree

Publication Date: 2005

Pages: 29 pages

Grade Range: 2nd to 8th

ISBN: 1-4109-0617-5


Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

 Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln  by Doreen Rappaport is a non-fiction picture book that walks vividly, with illustrations by Kadir Nelson, through the life of the 16th president of the United States. It begins with his childhood in the wilderness of Kentucky and continues to show that he moved to the free state Indiana. Abraham was a boy who loved to read and craved to be told stories by his father. As he grew older he made moves southward on the Mississippi River where he was able to see the wickedness of slavery in action. As a young man he worked quite a few jobs and read many books. He viewed education as the most important “subject which we as people can be engaged in.” As he continued to learn he expressed an interest in becoming a lawyer so he studied hard and gave public speeches. The first time he ran for Illinois state legislature he lost the election but he was persistent and won the second time he ran. When he was elected he gave speeches to bring the evilness of slavery to people’s attention. He lost the election for the position of senator, however he again persistent and ran for President of the United States of America. The book ends with the important events of the Civil War and discusses the freeing of the slaves.

Curriculum Connections: 

Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln   is a great resource for teaching about Abraham Lincoln because it explains his contributions to American history in an understandable way. (3.11b) The information in the book correlates mostly with the 3rd grade curriculum for civics in Virginia as it covers topics like individual rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equality under the law. (3.11a)  Talking about slavery and the political matters behind their attaining freedom will teach students what it meant to Abraham Lincoln and the majority of the American people. Lincoln was civically engaged and was persistent in his dreams which can be an example of taking part in your government. (3.11d) Overall, with the use of this book, students will be able to explain the guiding principles of a republican form of government and to recogize the contributions of our 16th President. (3.11)

Additional Resources: 

Educational Crossword puzzle– This could be a creative way to do a summative assessment.

Creating Timeline– Lesson plan with great worksheets that guide students in making a timeline of Lincoln’s life.

To Tell the Truth: Abraham Lincoln–  a gameshow to play in class that can be used as a formative assessment tool.

General Information:

Book:  Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Doreen Rappaport
Kadir Nelson
Hyperion Books for Children
Publication Date:
48 pages
Grade Range:
2nd- 4th grade

Teaching Geography with Children’s Liturature: On the Same Day in March

On the Same Day in March

Ever considered that while the children in Canada are playing games in the snow, the children in Barbados are swimming in the ocean and playing baseball on the scolding sand?  On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather, written by Marilyn Singer, is a written tour of places around the world including Kenya, Canada, France, New York City, Eqypt and China.  Each of the scenarios are happening at the same time illustrating how different cultures live on a typical day in March. The illustrations throughout, by Frané Lessac, help the children to visualize the differences between places both physically and culturally. The story line flows from country to country showing people playing, working, cooking, gathering food and many other activities. This book has great illustrations and is a quick read that would be perfect for an introduction to almost any topic in geography.

Curriculum Connections
On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather
would be most appropriate for first or second grade because of the simplified descriptions and the short storyline. It is most applicable to the second grade Virginia Standards of Learning for Geography. It is an excellent tool to use to introduce human and physical characteristics of the Earth’s places and regions. The countries of United States, China, and Egypt are highlighted so the students can learn to locate those places on maps. (2.4a) The excerpts on China and Egypt can aid in the teaching of the relationship between the environment and the culture of ancient China and Egypt.(2.4b) At the beginning of the book there is a map that locates the places in the book on a world map. This will introduce or strengthen the understanding of maps and could be used with an activity to teach the difference between the concepts of location and place.

The book can also be used to begin the study of map skills. They can learn about the equator, the seven continents, and the five oceans as it relates to the countries highlighted in the book. The addiction of a globe into the lesson can teach the difference between seeing continents and oceans from the perspective of a map versus a globe. (2.5a)

Additional Resources

  • Mapping the Garden – this site provides a great lesson plan that could be used to teach the basic parts of a map( title, legend, and compass rose). It also is a great way for students to understand perspective by constructing a map of something familiar. (2.6)
  • Craft: Chinese Lantern– this craft can be used to introduce artifacts of ancient china. (2.4b)
  • Things to Know about Ancient Egypt– This page will be a great resource for interesting information to teach about Egypt. It will get you thinking about creative lesson plans the kids will enjoy and learn from. (2.4b)

Book: On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather
Marilyn Singer
Frané Lessac
Harper Collins Publishers
Publication Date:
30 pages
Grade Range:
1st -4th