Author Archive for Jamie

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: You Are in Ancient Egypt


You Are in Ancient Egypt, written by Ivan Minnis, is a wonderful interactive resource for young children learning about Ancient Egypt and it’s contributions. The book is packed with important vocabulary, illustrations, photographs, charts, graphs, statistics, etc. The language of the book is simple and jam packed with information for children.

The book tells essential important information for young kids when learning about the early civilization of Egypt. Information such as religious beliefs, Egyptian technology, art, pharoahs and law, are included, amongst many other things. Throughout the story important anecdotal information and pictures are included, giving students an extra perspective on life in Ancient Egypt:

“People use a shaduf, a long pole used to raise or lower a bucket into a well, to take water from the Nile” (21)

“Even at the time of Ramses II, pyramides were more than 1,000 years old. Some were built around 2500B.C.E” (20)

Throughout the story highlighted vocabulary are offered for the students, focusing the students attention on the main ideas about the civilization. Such important vocabulary includes afterlife, scribes, pharoahs etc. The end of the book offers important facts for Ancient Egypt, summing up important information for students. These facts included information about Time, Money, Dates, and Numbers. A glossary is also offered defining the key terms from the book, as well as other resources to find out more about Ancient Egypt.

Curriculum Connections
This book is a wonderful resource for children learning about Ancient Egypt and can be used to help explain to children how the contributions of this civilization has influenced the present world in terms of architecture, inventions, calendar, and written language (SOL History 2.1)

Additional Resources

  1. This website allows children to create an interactive Ancient Egyptian postcard. Students can create a postcard to sent to a friend by email, filled with important ancient Egyptian pictures, such as the Sphinx, King Tut, and Pyramids.
  2. King Tut online allows students to color five beautiful images of Ancient Egypt. The pictures may be printed and hung in the classroom to help students identify with Ancient Egypt.
  3. This website offers easy to read information on Ancient Egypt and Egyptians to help kids learn about this topic to help with specific projects and homework assignments.

Book: You Are in Ancient Egypt
: Ivan Minnis, Victoria Parker
: Raintree
Publication Date
: 2005
: 32
Grade Range
: 1-3
: 978-1410906168

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: LIVES: Poems about Famous Americans


Lives: Poems about Famous Americans
, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Leslie Staub, is a wonderful collection of various types of poems about all different kinds of American heroes. Fourteen poems compose the book, with illustrations of the characters to match. Individuals who shaped and changed the course of American history are highlighted in different types of poetry including rhyme, narrative, and free verse.

Fourteen poems are in the book, each accompanied by a matching illustration saying the name of the character and their respective life span. Each poem is written by a different author and the poems are written in many styles. The poems  are written about Paul Revere, Sacagawea, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Harriet Tubman, Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Langston Hughes, Rosa Parks, J.F.K, Martin Luther King Jr., and Neil Armstrong. An introduction is included by Lee Bennett Hopkins and detailed notes on the lives of these specific American heroes are offered at the end of the book.

An excerpt from the poem written about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy can illustrate the ways in which the poems tell important facts and events in American history:

“No roses seen./ No songbird heard./No moonlight./ Not a single word./Till…/Annie/ came.

Then-/ words,/ Sudden near./ Pulsing/ Clear.” (page 14)

Each poem is written in a different style and tells about each specific character. Some poems may be difficult for children to understand, but they all include the basic importance about each American and present the information in a different, unique way.

Curriculum Connections
This book is a very helpful way for young students to learn basic reasons why these specific characters are famous Americans. Reading the poems to the students, and the students looking at the illustrations to become familiar with the faces of these Americans, is a different way for students to learn about these key American figures. Students will be able to identify such figures as Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther King Jr. as Americans whose contributions improved the lives of other Americans (Civics SOL 2.11, Civics SOL 3.11 (b)).

Additional Resources

  1. This website provides students with coloring sheets and handouts about all 44 presidents. It is a helpful and fun way for students to learn the names of the presidents as well as the ability to identify the American presidents in chronological order.
  2. Americas Library offers biological information about famous Americans, such as Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman, and Thomas Edison. For each individual pictures, timelines, and specific stories are offered.
  3. This lesson plan provides teachers with a project to use where students choose a famous American and create a detailed report about the person’s life.

Book: LIVES (Poems about Famous Americans)
Author: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrator: Leslie Staub
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date:  April, 1999
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN: 978-0-06-027767-3

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: One Hen



One Hen, written by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, provides a unique and interesting story serving as an example of how loans are used and how one can start his/her own business. The story is kid friendly and clearly illustrates the steps that are necessary to start a business, defining important economic terms such as “loans,” “trade,” “bargain,” “savings,” and “profit.” The story as well as the graphics and illustrations provide a great example for children to easily relate to in understanding economic concepts. The progression of the story and the way it is written help to explain how a small business can grow and expand. The bold sentences offered on each page with illustrations provide a great way to easily summarize ideas of each passage. The detailed information offered as well also gives students a further in-depth look at starting a new business.


This book tells the story of a young boy named Kojo who gets a loan from his mother to buy a Hen. He uses the Hen to provide eggs as food for him and his mother as well as to sell at a market and start a business. The eggs that Kojo sells from the hen he bought give him enough money to buy more hens and sell more eggs. From the money Kojo saves, he is able to pay back the loan to his mother, pay the fees to attend school, and eventually go to college. With the help from a bank, providing him with a loan to buy his own land and start his own farm, Kojo is able to head a thriving business, which in turn employs others and has tremendous effects on the country with other growing businesses,

“And it all started with one small loan to buy own brown hen” (pg. 27).

The end of the story provides a real life example of a success story similar to Kojo’s story, a man named:

“Kwabena Darko, a real boy from Ghana’s Ashanti region who really did lose his father and have to help his mother support his family” (pg. 28)

The end of the book offers examples of real people who have been helped by small loans from micro-credit organizations and also provides lists of such organizations and different ways which we can help. The glossary on the last pages define different African terms as well as economic terms, for children to further understand topics in the story and other economic concepts.

Curriculum Connections:

This book can be used in a second or third grade classroom to explain, from one specific example of a young boy from Ghana, how loans work and how to start one’s own business. The story helps students learn about bartering and the use of money in exchange for goods and services (SOL economics 2.8). From this specific story, students will recognize how people specialize in what they do best and how they trade to account for everything else (SOL economics 3.8).

Additional Resources:

1. This website provides a lemonade stand program to help kids learn about business. It has developed a business plan to use a lemonade sale, including the steps needed to start a lemonade stand program.

2. This website provides a lists of jobs for kids, such as babysitting and lemonade stands, and other ways for kids to make money. This site encourages saving and budgeting skills for kids as well.

3. This site is a wonderful resource because it provides different presentations, in powerpoint format, about economics for kids. Some topics that are included are goods and services, bartering, business plans, marketing, and basic definitions of economic terms and concepts.

General Information

Book: One Hen

Author: Katie Smith Milway

Illustrator: Eugenie Fernandes

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Publication Date: February 1, 2008

Pages: 32

Grade Range: 2nd-3rd

ISBN: 978-1554530281

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: An Island Grows


An Island Grows, written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Cathie Felstead, is a wonderful introduction to the topic of Earth Science for young children. The book explores how an island is formed, providing a step by step guide as to the cycle of the birth of an island to the presence of human life on an island. The book begins by discussing magma at the bottom of the ocean, then addresses the presence of lava and volcanic activity, and eventually talks about how life comes to the island (plants, animals, and humans).”Magma glowsVolcano blowsLava flows, and flows, and flowsAn island grows”The book concludes by coming full circle and discussing how the cycle starts from the beginning, where “Another island grows.”The language and vocabulary used in the story are at a very basic level so young kids will comprehend and more fully understand the concepts. The short rhyming pattern of the story makes the story flow with ease, presenting an almost “sing-song” pattern. The illustrations are also simple and basic, without too much going on. This helps students to understand visually, as well, the concepts of the story.

Curriculum Connections: 
This book is a very helpful resource for very young students. The book clearly describes formation of life, in a cyclic rhyming pattern. Students will understand how the earth changes and evolves over time, exploring the natural world over time (K.9 (a) (b)). Clear stages and steps of the formation of an island is explored while introducing important terms such as volcano, magma, and lava.

Additional Resources:
1. This lesson plan provides an activity/experiment where young students will begin to explore what volcanoes are and will visually demonstrate a volcanic eruption.
2. This blog shows how an actual class performed experiments showing the formation and explosion of a mini-volcano. Real pictures and explanations are provided as well.
3. This website provides young students with links to an Art Gallery, where kids share there drawings and descriptions about volcanoes. Virtual field trips are also provided.

General Information:
Book: An Island Grows
Author: Lola M. Schaefer
Illustrator: Cathie Felstead
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: August 2006
Pages: 40
Grade Range: PreSchool- Kindergarten

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Oodles of Animals


Introduction/ Summary:
The book, Oodles of Animals, written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, is a helpful resource for young students learning about different animals and different animal characteristics. The book consists of short, rhyming poems that study many traits and features about tons of different animals. The creatures explored range from caterpillars to frogs, lobsters to chickens, and porcupines to elephants, just to name a few. Over 50 animals are studied, in concise and catchy rhyming poems, that are each about 4-5 lines in total. The poems are short and easy-to-read and reveal what is unique about various animals:

A Caterpillar’s
future plan
includes a
butterfly wingspan”

If her tail’s raised,
give a skunk room,
unless you like
pee-yoo perfume”

These poems, included within the story, are important examples because within a few simple lines, a student discovers the important features of caterpillars (changing into a butterfly) and skunks (having a terrible odor).
The most distinctive and interesting feature of this story is the illustrations that fill the pages. The pictures portray the animals consisted of just a few different shapes and colors. The author designed each animal to show it’s distinctive features, while giving young students an introduction to shapes and colors. The title is clever and catchy as well, attracting the student’s attention right away. Using nine basic shapes to visually depict animal characteristics as well as short, witty poems to explain different animals, is a great way for young children to learn about animals.

Curriculum Connections:
This book is a wonderful resource for young elementary students to learn basic facts and characteristics of specific animals. It can be used to help students learn about animals and how they grow and change (SOL K.6a, K.8c), as well as different animals’ physical characteristics (SOL1.5b). Students can use this book’s illustrations to learn about different physical properties, such as color and shape (SOL K.4a,b) as well. Kindergarten or first grade students can use the short, yet informative and entertaining, rhyming poems and illustrations provided in this book, to learn about many different animals.

Additional Resources:
1). “Explore Animal Homes“- This site comes from Springboard Magazine and it explores the many different animal habitats (barns, caves, burrows, etc.) and which animals occupy each “home.” The site includes pictures and lists to help students learn about where animals live.

2). This website, for young children, is a site with many pictures of sea animals, including a quiz, that explores the many different animals that inhabit the ocean and characteristics of sea life creatures.

3). In this show, students will learn about animals and their young, through visual representations. Young students will also begin to understand how animals are born and how they grow.

4). “All About Farm Animals” includes farm animal facts, lots of illustrations, coloring sheet templates, clipart, and a variety of songs. This site can be used for various activities studying animals that live in the farm habitat.

General Information:
: Oodles of Animals
Author:Lois Ehlert
Illustrator:Lois Ehlert
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 56
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN: 978-0-15-206274-3

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


The book “What is the World Made Of” written by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld and illustrated by Paul Meisel, explores all about solids, liquids, and gases. The illustrations and everyday examples provided give young students a deeper understanding of the distinct phases of matter.

The story opens by describing impossible scenarios, such as “Did you even drink a glass of blocks? Have you ever played with a lemonade doll, or put on milk for socks?” to introduce the importance of matter. A foundation is thus set, showing that all things are made of matter. As the story progresses, more and more examples are given for the three phases of matter; solids, liquids, and gases. Everyday connections are given to show the properties of matter. Solids are explained using clay to show that they hold shape. Milk is used to explain how liquids take the shape of their container and have a definite volume. Finally, air is used to portray the qualities of the gas state of matter. Connections to everyday life are also provided to help kids understand phase changes of water, such as the idea of making ice cubes and the melting of ice cubes in warmer temperatures. The book ends with an easy and informative summation of the lesson, offering hypothetical, funny questions that show the importance of the distinct phases and properties of matter in the day to day lives of children:

“Can you imagine a world where your toys melt when it gets too hot? Where the walls of your house turn into hazy gas, and animals just walk in and out as they please? A place where, on cold days, you have to swim through the air, and where everything you’d like to drink is hard as a block? What a crazy world it would be!”

To find out more about matter, on the inside cover, the book also offers questions and further experiments to illustrate specific concepts about the three states of matter.

Curriculum Connections
This book provides a very thorough introduction to the topic of matter and its different phases. The book could be used for grades 1-3, providing easily understood, everyday examples of matter in different forms and the different phase changes of water (SOL K.5 (a)). The different properties of solids, liquids, and gases, including mass and volume, are also taught throughout the story (SOL 2.3 (a)(b)). The book provides hands-on activities and experiments for kids to more fully understand the topic, as well.

Additional Resources

  • This website provides an online quiz exploring the different states of matter. The quiz consists of 10 questions with correct answers and detailed explanations offered for each question.
  • This lesson consists of an experiment “The Power Of Ice,” focusing on water and its properties in different phases. The lesson provides space for student hypothesis, materials and procedures, as well as experimental conclusions.
  • This lesson plan will have students observe different phases of matter, changes in patterns, perform experiments, and explore differences between physical and chemical changes.

Book: What is the World Made Of? (All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases)
Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Paul Meisel
Harper Collins Publishers
Publication Date:
Grade Range:

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition


The Magic School Bus series, written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen’s, has been helping children learn about different spheres of education curriculum for years. This specific book, focusing on a science fair expedition, gives the students in wacky, Ms. Frizzle’s class different ideas for science fair project topics by studying the scientific method and famous scientists throughout the ages.

This colorful and wild story, about a teacher who takes her students on crazy adventures, describes science as asking questions and testing ideas, as explored by studying and “interacting” with different, famous scientists throughout history. The students meet and learn about, through easily understood language conversations, the specific achievements and contributions of such scientists as Galileo, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, and Albert Einstein, and how they came to make such discoveries using the scientific process. By using specific famous examples, and relating them to the scientific method and scientific process skills, the students in the class were able to learn about scientific concepts, questions, and discoveries. The students begin their journey in a science museum exploring different topics for a science fair project and continue by traveling through the ages, meeting different scientific characters and finding out how and why they made their discoveries. Each page of the story offers side-information that is helpful for the students. For example, when the students meet and talk with Galileo, side assignments are shown, describing how Galileo was able to make his discoveries in relation to the basic ideas about science and the scientific method:

‘How Scientists Work’ by Keesha.

They observe nature (Galileo looked at Jupiter).

They gather evidence (Galileo saw that Jupiter moved and it had moons).

They use logical thinking (Galileo connected the facts he had learned).

The pages of this book are colorful and filled with illustrations that help students understand basic science concepts. Aside from the main storyline of the book, conversations and interactions between characters are offered which help students understand facts and ideas in a more simple dialogue. The “Gallery of Scientists” provides the basic premise of the book; teaching students that science is all about asking questions and testing ideas.

 Curriculum Connections
This book is great for helping students understand the basic definitions of science and the scientific method, through the exploration of specific case studies and biographies of famous scientists. The students will learn to plan experiments, formulating hypothesis and drawing conclusions (SOL 3.1 (c)(j)), as well as making observations and predictions, based on cause-and-effect relationships (SOL 4.1 (a)(b))  This book is also an important resource for students to find ideas for science projects and research topics.

Additional Resources

  • This quiz provides an interactive assessment to test children’s knowledge about the scientific method. The quiz compiles 10 different questions about the scientific method, with correct answers and detailed explanations given for each question.
  • This lesson plan is directed for grades 5-8, yet can be modified to fit younger grade levels. The lesson plan aims to teach students about the scientific method and different processes in science. Students will use their imaginations and creativity to role play the different parts to many of science’s life processes, using the specific steps of the scientific method, and then watch as other students in the class “perform” their specific process.
  • This activity/worksheet could be used as a single lesson, or as an ongoing research project/ book report for students learning about a specific scientist. The template provided helps children complete a “Bio of a Famous Scientist.” The students will choose a scientist and learn biographical information, such as why they were famous, how they made the world a better place, and a word to sum up the specific scientist.
  • This game is an interactive matching game. Students will match each square term of the scientific method with it’s correct definition.

Book: The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 48
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN: 0-590-10824-7

Counting Book Podcast – Ten Little Mice


In this podcast, Jamie Malone introduces listeners to the book Ten Little Mice by Joyce Dunbar.

In Joyce Dunbar’s counting book, entitled Ten Little Mice, young math students focus on counting back from 10 to 0 by one’s. The book includes creative, interesting illustrations, that match the numerals studied. This book is a useful tool when students are learning basic counting facts and number sense, as well as fundamental subtraction principles.

Related Books
Count and See by Tana Hoban
Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Additional Information
LearnNC has a brief lesson that uses this book.
Listen to a podcast about the book Mouse Count.