Author Archive for Jennifer K.

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: If You Were There When They Signed The Constitution


Summary and Introduction
If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution, written by Elizabeth Levy and illustrated by Joan Holub is a great resource to use when teaching about the document.  The book is broken into 50 sections which describe the key players during the time period, and the provisions of the Constitution in great detail.  The book breaks a vast topic into smaller parts that students can easily digest.  The author did an excellent job putting a confusing topic into terms that students will readily understand.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a great resource to use when teaching about the weaknesses of the government established by the Articles of Confederation and the basic principles of the new government established by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (VA SOL USI.7, a and b).

Additional Resources

General Information:
…If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution
Author: Elizabeth Levy
Illustrator: Joan Holub
Publisher:  Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: June 1992
Pages: 80
Grade Range: 4-6
ISBN: 0-590-45159-6

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: I Pledge Allegiance


Introduction and Summary
I Pledge Allegiance, written by Bill Martin Jr. and Micahel Sampson, illustrated by Chris Raschka, is a great tool to use when teaching students about civics.  The book does a great job explaining the pledge to students by defining terms that are likely unfamiliar to them.  For instance, the authors explain that, “A pledge is a promise” and “A flag is a symbol that stands for a place, a thing or an idea.”

The book also has many sidebars with additional facts about the US, such as “Each state has its own name, its own song, bird and flower, its own favorite food, some of its own laws, and even its own flag!” The authors also do a nice job explaining the US flag, and what each color symbolizes, as well as explaining the proper body language to put forth when saying the pledge.

Curriculum Connections
This book is a great tool to use when teaching VA SOL K.9, “The student will recognize the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance and know that the president is the leader of the United States.”  It could also be employed at the first grade level to satisfy VA SOL 1.11 B, “The student will recognize the symbols and traditional practices that honor and foster patriotism in the United States by demonstrating respect for the American flag by learning about the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Additional Resources

  • This flag coloring sheet can be used to help students become more familiar with the American flag.
  • This flag fact sheet can be used for students performing above grade level.
  • Have students make their own Pledge of Allegiance book using this handout.
  • This lesson plan provides a great way to incorporate the flag and mathematics.

Book: I Pledge Allegiance
Authors: Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson
Illustrator: Chris Raschka
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Publication Date: June 2004
Pages: 40
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN: 9780763625276

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: There’s a Map on My Lap


Introduction and Summary:
There's a Map on My Lap (All About Maps), written by Tish Rabe and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz, is a great book to use when teaching about geography.  The book, written in rhyme and illustrated with bright colors, provides a basic overview of many geography concepts including; maps, directions (NSEW), scales, legends and symbols.  One area the book does a particularly good job with is explaining the relationship between globes and maps.

"The map of the earth
that we use most of all
is a globe.  Like the earth,
it is round as a ball.
Peel the skin off an orange
and lay it out flat.
A flat map of the earth
would look something like that,” (pages 24-25).

Additionally, the author does an excellent job explaining different types of maps (topographical maps, dot maps, etc), and explaining why people use/need maps.

Fact boxes inserted throughout the text, including definitions of terms such as cartographer, longitude and latitude, are great items to share with students performing above grade level.

Curriculum Connections:
There’s a Map on My Lap (All about Maps) is appropriate for use in the kindergarten and first grade curriculums, when students are beginning their exploration of geography and maps.  At the kindergarten level, it could be used to satisfy standards involving the purposes of, and the relationship between, maps and globes.  (VA SOL k.4 The student will use simple maps and globes to: A) develop an awareness that a map is a drawing of a place to show where things are located and that a globe is a round model of the Earth. VA SOL k.5-The student will develop an awareness that maps and globes:  B) show things in smaller size; C) show the position of objects).

Since the book also touches on the more advanced concepts of map symbols and cardinal directions, it could also be employed at the first grade level. (VA SOL 1.4-The student will develop map skills by: A) recognizing basic map symbols, including references to land, water, cities, and roads; B) using cardinal directions on maps).

Additional Resources:
-This worksheet is a great activity to use when teaching about cardinal directions.
-This is a fun, hands-on activity which helps familiarize students with maps.
-This worksheet is a great tool to use when teaching students about basic map symbols.
-This site provides two great ideas for activities (creating a classroom map and creating a treasure map).

General Information
There’s a Map on My Lap (All About Maps)
Author: Tish Rabe
Illustrator: Aristides Ruiz
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 41
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN: 0-375-81099-4

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Round and Round the Money Goes


Introduction and Summary
Round and Round the Money Goes (What Money Is and How We Use It)
by Melvin and Gildar Berger, and illustrated by Jane McCreary, is a great resource to use when exploring economics with early elementary school students.  The book provides a detailed overview of the history of money, beginning with specialization of labor and trading.

“Long ago there was no money.  People grew or made everything they needed.  Then things started to change.  People did only one kind of work.  Farmers farmed.  Hunters hunted.  Weavers made cloth.  Woodcutters chopper wood.  Now people needed other things.  So they traded; potatoes for cloth, fish for meat, or fishwood for animal skins,” (pages 6-7).

Berger and Berger discuss how the problems associated with trade led to the institution of currency (the earliest of which were shells).  The authors also discuss the U.S. mint, as well as the ways that people use money and the cycle of money.  Berger and Berger point out the importance of saving, and provide an overview of interest, checking accounts and credit cards.  “Start saving your money at home,” the authors suggest.  “Find a good, safe place to keep it.  After awhile bring your money to a bank…They will give it back to you when you ask for it.  Banks will also give you back a little extra money.  The extra money is for letting them hold your money.  We call the extra money ‘interest.'”

Curriculum Connections
Round and Round the Money Goes (What Money Is and How We Use It),
is a great resource to use when teaching kindergardeners, first graders, second graders, and third graders about money and the economy.  Pages 32-33 provide many useful examples to share with students when learning about how people work to earn money and to buy things they want (k.7 b).  Page 36 is a good resource to use when discussing how people save money for the future to purchase goods and services (1.9).  The beginning part of the book, pages 3-20, can be employed at the second grade level when teaching students about the difference between the use of barter and the use of money in the exchange of resources (2.8).  These pages also touch on the idea of scarcity, and how people must make choices about producing and consuming goods and services.   Pages 3-20 also convey the more sophisticated concept that people and regions cannot produce everything they want, leading to the idea of specialization and trade (3.8).  

Additional Resources:
-The “Fifty Nifty” economics cards and assessments found on the Federal Reserve website are a great tool to use when teaching economics. (Many games can be played, and activities can be done, using the cards.  See additional activities on the right-hand side of the webpage). 
-This site provides great activities to use when teaching economics in the elementary school classroom.
-This lesson plan is useful when discussing scarcity with students.
-This game is a great way to students to practice distinguishing between goods and services.

General Information:
Round and Round the Money Goes (What Money Is and How We Use It)
Authors: Melvin and Gilda Berger
Illustrator: Jane McCreary
Publisher: Ideals Children's Books
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 47
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN: 0-8249-8640-7

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle


Introduction and Summary:
The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, written by Nuria Roca and illustrated by Rosa M. Curto, is a great resource to use when teaching students about conservation.  The book discusses the ways in which the main character, Paul, can reduce, reuse and recycle items found in his everyday life.  For example, Paul tries to reduce his water and electricity consumption at home, and wears tee shirts his brother has outgrown (reuse).  The book also discusses how Paul recycles at his home and school.  “In the kitchen at Paul’s home there is a container for things made of plastic, metal or glass, and another for all other garbage,” (page 25).  The author does an excellent job putting the three R’s in concise terms that are understandable and relatable to students.  The book also explains landfills, and how trash and pollution ultimately impact plants, animals and people.  “Plastic bags are very handy, but sometimes they end up in the sea where they can be dangerous for animals.  Turtles may take them for jellyfish and eat them, or they may get tangled up in the plastic rings used to hold cans together,” (page 17).  The end of the books contains fun activities students can do to recycle items found in their homes.

Curriculum Connections:
The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle is appropriate for use in the kindergarten curriculum to show how everyday materials can be reused, recycled and conserved.  The Three R’s does a great job showing how materials can be used over and over again, such as bags at the grocery store (SOL K.10 A).  Pages 18-27 do a great job describing what everyday materials can be recycled, as well as the process used to recycle materials (SOL K.10 B).  Page 13 is particularly useful in illustrating how water and energy conservation, at home and in school, helps preserve resources for the future (SOL K.10 C).   

Additional Resources:
-This word search is a great way to reinforce vocabulary. 
-This activity is a great means to see how your school handles recycling and garbage.  Note: This is a worksheet from the UK and uses the word “rubbish” instead of trash.  Modify.
-This link contains many crafts that can be made by recycling items that students would normally discard.

General Information:
The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Author: Nuria Roca
Illustrator: Rosa M. Curto
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Services, Inc.
Publication Date: February 2007
Pages: 36
Grade: K-1
ISBN-10: 0-7641-3581-3

Teaching Life Processes with Children’s Literature: Growing Like Me


Introduction and Summary:
Growing Like Me, written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Holly Keller, is a great resource to use when exploring life processes at the most basic level.  The book begins by explaining, “Here in the meadow, by the woods and the pond, everything is growing, just like me,” (pages 3-5).  Growing Like Me, goes on to show students how living things change as they grow.  Examples include; white blossoms transforming into berries, a blue egg hatching and becoming a robin, and a pollywoogs wiggling in the water turning into big, green frogs.  The book concludes, by the author explaining that humans too change as they grow.  “Little baby brother, what in the world will you grow up to be?  You’ll see!  One day you’ll be a big boy-just like me,” (pages 19-21).

Curriculum Connections:
Growing Like Me is appropriate for use in the kindergarten curriculum.  It can be used in several ways.  First, it can be used as students begin their investigation of basic needs and life processes of plants and animals.  Growing Like Me is a great source to use when teaching students about how living things change they grow (VA SOL K.6 a).  The book provides several examples of plants and animals changing as they mature including showing how eggs hatch and acorns transform into oak trees.  Additionally, this book can be employed when students learn about offspring.  This book does a great job through its text and pictures illustrating that the offspring of plants and animals are similar, but not identical to their parents and to one another (VA SOL K.6 c).  One example in the book shows how baby ducklings, look similar, but not identical to grown ducks.

Additional Resources:
-This animal parent matching game is a great and interactive way for teachers to illustrate how animals change as they grow.
The Growing Storyby Ruth Krauss is another great book teachers may want to share with their classes.
-This worksheet can be used to reinforce that living things change as they grow.

General Information:
Growing Like Me
Author: Anne Rockwell
Illustrator: Holly Keller
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 21
Grade Range:K-1
ISBN: 0-15-202202-3

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: What Is the World Made Of? (All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases)


What Is the World Made Of? (All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, and illustrated by Paul Meisel, is a great resource to use when exploring matter.  The book begins by explaining what matter is in terms children can readily understand.  “Walls and blocks, dolls and socks.  Milk and lemonade.  Rocks and trees.  All these things are made of matter” (page 6).  After reviewing the basic definition of matter, the book goes on to discuss the three different states of matter; solid, liquid and gas.  Zoehfeld does an excellent job making matter understandable to children.

“Liquids have no shape.  You pour a glass of milk for your little sister, and the milk takes on the shape of the glass.  If she knocks it over, the milk spreads out on the tabletop…Milk is not round or square-it has no shape” (page 12).

After thoroughly explaining each state of matter, the book discusses how matter can change states (ie: from liquid to gas, liquid to solid).  The book provides examples of changes in states of matter, making the subject understandable for the elementary school reader.

Curriculum Connections
What Is the World Made Of? is appropriate for use in the kindergarten and second grade curricula.  The entire book would be a great tool to use when discussing that water occurs in three states; solid, liquid and gas (SOL K.5 a).  What Is the World Made of? can also be used at a more advanced level, when students study matter in greater depth.  Pages 9-16 provide a clear and concise explaination of the basic properties of solids, liquids, and gases (SOL 2.3).  Additionally, pages 19-27 tie in perfectly when discussing processes involved with changes in matter from one state to another (SOL 2.3 b). 

Additional Resources

  • This Oobleck experiment is a fun and interesting way for students to further investigate solids and liquids.
  • This worksheet can be used to review the states of matter.
  • This online game is an interactive way to see if children are grasping the concept of matter.

Book: What Is the World Made Of? (All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases)
Author: Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Illustrator: Paul Meisel
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 28
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 978-0-06-445163-5

Teaching Process Skills with Children's Literature: How does it look? (Looking at Nature)


How does it look? by Bobbie Kalman is a great resource to use when exploring the sense of sight.  The book offers an overview of several areas associated with sight including: the identification of shapes and colors (pages 4-5), line types (pages 6-7), patterns (pages 8-11), spirals (pages 16-17), patterns of change (pages 18-19), and sets (pages 20-23).  How does it look? also explores symmetry (pages 12-15).  This book is very useful, as it introduces a concept to children and then poses several questions regarding the newly learned information.  The organization and approach of this book is conducive to learning because it reviews information just learned, and fosters conversation and student involvement.

Curriculum Connections
How does it look? is appropriate for use in the kindergarten and first grade curriculums.  It can be used in several ways.  First, pages 4-7 can be used as students begin to identify basic properties of objects by direct observation (SOL k.1 a), as well as  an investigation of the five senses (SOL k.2 a/b).  Additionally, pages 20-23 can be employed at a higher level when students are asked to classify and organize objects according to attributes or properties (SOL 1.1 c), and to make predictions based on patterns of observation, rather than random guess (SOL 1.1 f; page 14 face example; page 17 toilet example; page 19 flower example).

Additional Resources

  • This worksheet can be used to supplement the “Which doesn’t belong?” activity on pages 22-23.
  • This bingo game can be used to reinforce students’ understanding of shapes (pages 5-6).
  • This worksheet can be used to review patterns of change, discussed on pages 18-19.

Book: How does it look? (Looking at nature)
Author: Bobbie Kalman
Publisher: Crabtree Publishing Company
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 24
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN-10: 0778733351