Author Archive for Kelly

Teaching about Money in Kindergarten

This post focuses on teaching money to Kindergartners. The resources below will be useful for teaching young children to name and identify the value of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters and to count collections of coins up to 25 cents (in Virginia this relates to Kindergarten Math SOL K.7).  

Recommended Books for Teaching Money to Kindergartners


Benny’s Pennies by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Bob Barner – The book Benny's Pennies by Pat Brisson tells the story of Benny McBride who has five new pennies that he decides to spend buying things for his family and pets. As he walks through his neighborhood, Benny spends one of his pennies on each of his family members and then he arrives home with five simple but splendid gifts – a rose for his mother, a cookie for his brother, a paper hat for his sister, a bone for his dog, and a floppy fish for his cat. This book is perfect for Kindergarten and is a great way to introduce a lesson about the penny.


Jelly Beans for Sale written and illustrated by Bruce McMillan – The book Jelly Beans for Sale by Bruce McMillan uses colorful jellybeans to illustrate the value of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters and how to count coins up to 25 cents. This book starts with the poem "One for a penny. Ten for a dime. Count them and buy them. You'll have a good time!" and then shows pictures of children using different combinations of coins to buy 1, 5, 10, or 25 jellybeans. Each page also includes a number sentence at the bottom of the page to explain how to count each set of coins. For example, one of the pages has a picture of 5 pennies, 1 nickel, and 10 jellybeans and then at the bottom of the page it says "1¢ + 1¢ + 1¢ + 1¢ + 1¢ + 5¢ = 10¢”. This book would be a fun way to introduce young children to the basic concepts of counting money.



Welcome Books: Money Matters series written and illustrated by Mary Hill – The nonfiction Welcome Books: Money Matters series by Mary Hill includes the books Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters, which would all be great for introducing children to each coin. Some of the information in these books includes what coins are made of, which president is on each coin, the meaning of the symbols on the coins, the value of each coin, and how many of each coin it takes to make a dollar. This series is geared toward Kindergarten and 1st graders and would be useful as part of lessons about each individual coin.


Once Upon a Dime written by Nancy Allen and illustrated by Adam Doyle – In the book Once Upon a Dime by Nancy Allen, Farmer Worth notices a little tree growing on his farm where nothing had ever grown before and discovers that this special tree produces a new variety of crop – money. The tree produces different kinds of money, depending on what animal manure he uses to fertilize it. Students will enjoy listening to this story about farmer Truman Worth, his special tree, and a young boy's journey to learn the value of money.


Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz – In Judith Viorst's book, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Alexander's grandparents give him a dollar and he thinks he is rich. Little by little, however, the money disappears, as Alexander spends it on lots of small things, such as 15 cents for bubble gum, 15 cents for losing bets with his brother and his mom, and 12 cents to rent his friend's pet snake. By the end of the book, Alexander has spent all of his money and has only a few useless objects and some bus tokens. This would be a great story to read aloud and then have students practice counting pennies by using pennies to show how much money Alexander spent or lost in each part of the story.

Websites for Kindergarten Kids

  • Money to Build a Robot – This game from the Kindergarten section of the Harcourt Math website focuses on identifying coins. In this game, kids will be asked to count the number of pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters in a set of coins and type their answer in the box. For each correct answer, one part of a robot appears and after answering 4 questions, the kids will get to see the completed robot fly around the screen.
  • Kindergarten Money Game – In this game, kids use coins to buy 9 different food items. They are given a simple direction at the bottom of the screen and then as students drag coins onto the correct food, the game counts the value of the coins for them. This game does not require much prior knowledge about coins and all students will need to be able to do in order to play is find the coins that match the pictures at the bottom of the screen. Playing this game will help kids learn both the names and value of the coins, as well as how to count pennies.
  • Spending Spree Game – In this game, kids choose from two sets of coins to select the correct amount to buy each toy. Some of the questions might be a little hard for kindergartners, but many of the amounts are less than 20 cents or use a single coin. Once kids have learned the value of each coin, this game will be a great way to practice counting small sets of coins.
  • Coin Sort Game – In this game, kids sort pennies, nickels, and dimes into the correct piggy banks. As each coin is placed on the piggy bank, the total value of the coins in that bank is shown below the bank. Playing this game will provide practice with identifying and distinguishing between these 3 coins and will also show kids how pennies are counted by 1s, nickels by 5s, and dimes by 10s.
  • Penny and Dime Sort – In this activity, kids sort pennies and dimes into piggy banks labeled “1¢” and “10¢”. This will help kids distinguish between pennies and dimes, as well as identify the value of each of those coins.

Additional Resources (For Teachers)

  • Money Song from TeacherTube – This is a great 1 1/2 minute song video for helping students to recognize each coin and it’s value.
  • Money Printables from – This site includes lots of printables and math and literacy activities to go with the story Benny’s Pennies, as well as several other money related activities.
  • Once Upon a Dime Readers’ Theater – This would be a great cross-curricular activity for students to do after reading the book Once Upon a Dime as a class. If used in Kindergarten, the teacher might want to read the narrator parts herself.
  • Little Giraffes Math Centers about Money – This website includes several center activities related to money that would be good for kindergarten, as well as money songs and poems to teach students.
  • “My Own Store” Money Activity – This is a fun activity where students each make their own store using magazine pictures and then use coins and/or coin stamps to show the money they would use to make purchases from each others’ stores.

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: If I Were President

The book If I Were President, written by Catherine Stier and illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan, explains the daily activities and responsibilities of our country’s leader and is told from the point-of-view of six young children who are imagining that they have been elected President.

Each page starts off “If I were president…” and then provides readers with lots of information about the president, including where the president lives, who helps him (or possibly her) make decisions, how he travels, who protects him, and some of the powers and responsibilities given to the president. In addition to describing government-related activities, such as signing bills to make laws, being in charge of the armed forces, and meeting with leaders of other nations, the story also includes several fun, less-known tasks done by the president:

If I were president, in the spring I’d toss the first pitch of the baseball season, and in winter I’d light the nation’s holiday tree. If I were president, my words and picture would appear in newspapers and magazines all over the world. Even my dog would make the headlines!

Towards the end of the story, Stier explains that each president can only be elected twice, for a total of eight years and then mentions several ways that past presidents are honored and remembered. She provides a description of the Lincoln Memorial and Mount Rushmore, as well as a picture of our country’s money, showing Abraham Lincoln on the penny, Thomas Jefferson on the nickel, and George Washington on the dollar bill.

The final page shows a young boy who has fallen asleep in his room with an American flag above his bed and a sketch of the capitol building laying on his floor. He is dreaming that someday he just might be president of the United States. This ending, along with the following sentence from the introductory page, encourage readers to dream big, telling them that they too could become president:

Perhaps someday you may choose – and be chosen – to take on this very important job.

Curriculum Connections
If I Were President would be an excellent book to use as part of a civics lesson related to the role of the president or the US government in general. This book provides lots of information about our nation’s leader in a way that is easy for children to understand and relate to. It is simple enough to be read to Kindergartners but could also be used as a fun way to begin or end a 2nd or 3rd grade lesson about the president. After reading the story, students could write about they would do if they were President and create a class book about what each person would do as president.

In Virginia, this book relates to social studies SOLs K.9, 2.11, and 3.11 which state that students will know that the President is the leader of the United States, identify George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as Americans whose contributions improved the lives of other Americans, and recognize the importance of government in the United States. It would also be a great book to read while learning about Presidents’ Day (SOL K.1b and 1.3).

Additional Resources

  • This Scholastic “If I Were President” webpage includes 12 creative activities related to the role of the president and the accomplishments of past presidents. The activities are designed for a variety of grade levels and include creating paper bag flags, holding an inauguration day ceremony, decorating a bulletin board with a “White House Menagerie” of presidential pets, and making White House books showing all of the rooms in the president’s home.
  • Here is a link to an interactive, online “President for a Day” activity that allows students to find out what a day in the life of the president is like.
  • Take your students on a virtual tour of the White House guided by Spotty the dog.

Book: If I Were President
Author: Catherine Stier
Illustrator: DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-3
ISBN: 0-8075-3541-9

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures Imperial China


Have you ever thought about how much students would learn if they could go back in time to visit the countries and civilizations that they are studying in history? The book, Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China, written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen, takes readers on an adventure to ancient China during a Chinese New Year celebration over 1,000 years ago and explains lots of information about ancient China and Chinese culture along the way.

When the story begins, Ms. Frizzle and two of her students, Wanda and Arnold, are celebrating the Chinese New Year at a local Chinatown festival. As a parade passes by, Wanda, Arnold, and Ms. Frizzle duck under the dancing dragon. When they peek out from under the dragon, they discover that they are no longer in Chinatown and have traveled back in time to visit a farmers’ village in China. The villagers there are also celebrating the Chinese New Year.

We were under the dragon for a long time. When the dragon came to a stop, we peeked out. Chinatown was gone! We were in a farmers’ village in China, and it was one thousand years ago! 

While in ancient China, Ms. Frizzle and her students dine with the farmers and help work in their rice fields. They learn all about growing rice and also discover that this year’s rice crop has been very small and as a result, the farmers cannot afford to pay all their taxes. Ms. Frizzle’s group decides to travel to the capital city to talk to the Emperor and tell him to lower the taxes. On their way to the Emperor’s palace, Ms. Frizzle and her students meet the Chinese poet Su Shi who teaches them about Chinese writing, visit a town market and learn how silk is made, and watch a battle between Chinese soldiers and an invading army at the Great Wall of China. Finally, they arrive at the capital city and find the Emperor’s palace. They then return home by walking through an “amazing door” that takes them directly into Wanda’s living room, just in time for her family’s New Year’s banquet.

Curriculum Connections
Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China would be an excellent book to use as part of a history lesson on ancient China. This book provides lots of information about ancient China and Chinese culture and brings the history of China to life in a memorable and educational way.

In addition to describing Ms. Frizzle’s journey through China, sections at the bottom of each page tell about many ancient Chinese inventions that are still used today, including kites, umbrellas, the compass, paper, gunpowder, and fireworks. They also show how rice is grown and how silk is made, describe the meaning of several Chinese symbols, and provide additional information about the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration.

In Virginia, this book relates to social studies SOLs 2.1 and 2.4, which state that students will explain how the contributions of ancient China have influenced the present world in terms of inventions and written language and will understand the relationship between the environment and the culture of ancient China.

Additional Resources

  • Here is a link to a Chinese New Year lesson plan. This lesson includes 4 hands-on activities that allow students to experience traditional Chinese activities, including the dragon dance and making red envelopes as a symbol of good fortune. There is also a section with background information regarding these traditions and their symbolism in Chinese culture.
  • This China webquest was designed for second graders and includes links to information about names in Chinese, Chinese writing, the Great Wall of China, and the Chinese calendar, as well as a student activity sheet for students to complete while doing the webquest.
  • This ABCs of China unit contains seventeen different lessons related to China’s geography, holidays, inventions, daily life, language, and customs.

Book: Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 40 pages
Grades: 1-3
ISBN: 0-590-10822-0

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Mapping Penny’s World


The book Mapping Penny’s World, written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy, is a great way to introduce children to different types of maps, as well as the main components of a map.

In this book, Lisa’s class has been learning about maps. After her teacher says that “we can make a map of anyplace”, Lisa decides to make a map of her bedroom. Her dog, Penny, helps her with the map and then she continues making maps of various places where Penny likes to go around her house, neighborhood, and town.

The locations which Lisa maps include:

  • her bedroom,
  • her yard, which she labels as “Penny’s Treasure Map” because of all the toys and other items that Penny has hidden there,
  • the route to a neighbor’s house,
  • nearby bike trails,
  • Penny’s favorite places around the town, such as the pond, the park the pet store, and the grocery store,
  • and a map of the world showing the many countries that Lisa and Penny would like to visit.

On each map, Lisa includes everything that people will need in order to be able to read the map – a compass rose, a map scale, and a clear, detailed key showing all of the symbols used on the map. While making her maps, Lisa demonstrates using various tools, such as a tape measure, a pedometer, and an odometer, to measure an area before creating its map. She also explains several important aspects of map-making, including that maps show a view from above, maps can be helpful for giving directions, and a map’s scale can be used to determine the real distances of the mapped area:

These are our trails. To make this map, I measured our foot paths with a pedometer, a tool that shows how far a person walks. For the bike trails, I used on an odometer, which shows how far a vehicle travels. The map’s scale shows the real distances in the park.

Leedy’s illustrations help students to understand how maps are made and used. For each map, she has included illustrations of the actual area being mapped followed by a full page copy of the map. All of the maps are simple and easy to follow.

Curriculum Connections
Mapping Penny’s World
would be an excellent book to use as part of a geography lesson on maps. This book includes multiple examples of simple maps that include a title, map key, scale and compass rose. After reading this book, students could make their own map of a familiar place, such as their bedroom, classroom, neighborhood, or school.

In Virginia, this book relates to social studies SOLs K.5, 1,4-1.5, and 2.6, which state that students will understand that maps and globes show a view from above, show things in smaller size, and show the position of objects, and that students will construct simple maps using titles, basic map symbols, map legends, and a compass rose.

Additional Resources

  • Here is a link to a maps skills lesson plan. This lesson is related to the story Gingerbread Baby and it includes an activity in which students create a 3-D map of the journey the gingerbread boy traveled and then use it to practice giving and following directions. The lesson could also be adapted to use with Mapping Penny’s World by using one of the maps from the book as the basis for creating the 3-D map.
  • This United States mini-unit contains several lessons on map skills and directions, in addition to geography lessons about landforms found in the US. The last lesson in the unit teaches students how to use a map legend and its symbols to identify the location of crops, industry, and resources produced in the US.
  • This edible map activity would be a fun way to review map-making and the parts of a map.

Book: Mapping Penny’s World
Author: Loreen Leedy
Illustrator: Loreen Leedy
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-3
ISBN: 0-8050-6178-9

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: A New Coat for Anna


The book A New Coat for Anna, written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Anita Lobel, takes place right after World War II and tells the story of young Anna, who has outgrown her old winter coat. As a result of the war, money, food, and other goods, including clothes, are still very scarce and Anna’s mother does not have enough money to buy her a new coat:

Last winter Anna’s mother had said, “When the war is over, we will be able to buy things again and I will get you a nice new coat.” But when the war ended the stores remained empty. There still were no coats. There was hardly any food. And no one had any money.

Anna’s mother must make choices about what she will buy and decides to exchange the few valuable items she has left for the services of a farmer, a spinner, a weaver, and a tailor to make Anna a new coat.

“Anna, I have no money,” she said, “but I still have Grandfather’s gold watch and some other nice things. Maybe we can use them to get what we need for a new coat.”

The story takes readers through all the steps involved in the production of Anna’s new coat. First, Anna and her mother go to the farmer and offer to trade grandfather’s gold watch for enough wool to make the coat. When spring comes, the farmer sheers his sheep and gives Anna’s mother a big bag of wool. Anna and her mother then take the wool to the spinner and offer to give her a beautiful lamp if she will spin the wool into yarn. After receiving the yarn, Anna decides that she would like her coat to be red, so she and her mother pick lingonberries and dye the yarn red. Then they take the red yarn to the weaver and ask her to weave it into cloth in exchange for a garnet necklace. Two weeks later, Anna and her mother take the cloth to the tailor, who measures Anna and makes her coat in exchange for a porcelain teapot.

At the end of the story, Anna proudly wears her new red coat home and shows her appreciation for everyone who helped make her coat by telling her mother that she would like to invite the farmer, the spinner, the weaver, and the tailor to come to their Christmas celebration.

Curriculum Connections
A New Coat for Anna
would be an excellent book to use as part of an economics lesson on scarcity, specialization, and/or barter and trade. This book includes numerous details about the producation of Anna’s coat and clearly explains the role of the farmer and his sheep, the spinner, the weaver, and the tailor.  It also reveals the benefits of specialization, as each of these people are able to trade their services for valuable items. The book is simple enough to be read to Kindergartners or first graders but also contains sufficient details to be used as an introduction to a 3rd or 4th grade lesson on scarcity and specialization.

In Virginia, this book relates to social studies SOLs 1.8, 2.8, 2.9, and 3.8, which state that students will

  • distinguish between the use of barter and money in exchange for goods and services,
  • explain that scarcity requires people to make choices about producing and consuming goods and services, and
  • recognize that people specialize in what they do best and trade for everything else.

Additional Resources

  • Here is a link to a 2nd grade lesson plan for the story A New Coat for Anna. This lesson focuses on barter and trade and the economic resources used to produce Anna’s coat. It includes lots of discussion questions, worksheets, and activities to go along with story, as well as a class bartering activity.
  • This teacher’s guide for the story provides activities designed to help students understand the steps involved in creating fabric from sheep’s wool. Activities include discovering factual information about sheep, weaving a placemat, and dying a coffee filter with food coloring, jello, or Kool-aid.
  • The website “Show-Me Economics” contains student activities and lesson plans for a variety of economics concepts for grades K-5.
  • You can listen to a terrific podcast review of the book.

Book: A New Coat for Anna
Author: Harriet Ziefert
Illustrator: Anita Lobel
Publisher: Dragonfly Books
Publication Date: 1986
Pages: 40 pages
Grades: K-4
ISBN: 0-394-89861-3

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: My Favorite Time of Year

My Favorite Time of Year

The story My Favorite Time of Year, written by Susan Pearson and illustrated by John Wallner, takes readers through an entire year in the life of Kelly and her a family and shows the exciting activities and seasonal changes that occur. At first, Kelly thinks that fall is her favorite time of year, but then after experiencing all the fun activities of each time of year, she decides that every season is her favorite.

Susan Pearson begins her story by describing the characteristics of fall:

“It’s October! The maple trees are turning red. The elms are turning yellow. When Kelly and Mommy take baby Patrick for a walk, they stretch their necks back to see the colored roof above them.”

Leaves are changing colors and whirling to the ground, people are preparing their houses for winter, the days are getting shorter, and ears of dried corn are appearing on doors. Kelly and her mom also watch the geese flying south and wave good-bye to them. Right now, fall is Kelly’s favorite time of year.

Next it is December. The weather is much colder and it begins to snow. Kelly comments on the extra clothing that people have to wear:

“Now dressing Patrick seems to take forever…The doorway is filled with snowsuits and scarves, hats, mittens and boots. We look like a department store.”

Kelly goes sledding with her dad and builds a snowman with her mom. When the house smells like cookies and Kelly sees Santas on every corner, she realizes that Christmas is coming and excitedly declares that she likes winter best of all.

In spring, the snow melts, trees and flowers bloom, and the rain makes puddles everywhere. The robins have returned and are building nests in trees. As her mom puts away their winter clothes, Kelly explains that spring is her favorite season.

Finally, it is summer. Kelly wears shorts instead of overalls, Daddy mows the lawn, and Mommy picks vegetables from the garden. Kelly’s family goes to the beach, eats hamburgers and hot dogs, and has watermelon seed spitting contests. At the end of the story, Kelly lies in bed with her windows open, listening to the frogs and crickets sing her to sleep and decides that now summer is her favorite time of year.

Curriculum Connections
My Favorite Time of Year 
would be an excellent book to use as part of a unit on seasons and how seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and people. This book includes numerous details about each season, ranging from leaves changing color and falling off trees, geese migrating south for the winter, days getting shorter in winter and longer in summer, changes in people’s dress based on temperature and season, flowers and trees blooming in spring, and fireflies coming out on summer nights. The detailed illustrations of each season enable children to clearly see how the world around them will change during fall, winter, spring, and summer.

The book is simple enough to be read to Kindergartners or first graders but also contains sufficient details to be used as an introduction to a 3rd grade lesson on seasonal changes and patterns. In Virginia, this book relates to science SOLs 1.7, 2.7, and 3.8, which state that students will understand how seasonal changes and weather affect the activities of plants (growth, budding, and falling leaves), animals (migration), and people (dress, recreation, and work).

Additional Resources

  • Here is a link to a lesson plan for the story My Favorite Time of Year. This lesson focuses on fall and includes instructions for lots of fall activities, including leaf rubbing, making pumpkin bread, acting like falling leaves, taking a nature walk, and carving a pumpkin.
  • This winter unit includes a “My Favorite Time of Year” poem to go along with the story, as well as many other winter activities for reading, math, social studies, and science. The poem could be used for all four seasons.
  • DLTK’s Spring Section includes many spring crafts, coloring pages, poems, games, worksheets, and bulletin board ideas.

Book: My Favorite Time of Year
Author: Susan Pearson
Illustrator: John Wallner
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 1988
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-3
ISBN: 0-590-46353-5

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Home for a Bunny

Home for a Bunny, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Garth Williams, offers a great way to introduce students to animal habitats and the differences between various animals, all while helping a cute little bunny to find a home.

It is spring. The robins are chirping, the frog is croaking, and the flowers are blooming. This is the scene in which a little brown rabbit sets out in search of a place to call home: “Down the road and down the road he went. He was going to find a home of his own. A home for a bunny, A home of his own. Under a rock or a log or a stone. Where would a bunny find a home?”

During his search, the bunny meets several different animals and asks each one where it lives, hoping that he can share its home. First, he finds a mother robin and her babies high up in a tree. The bunny realizes that he cannot live there, stating “Not for me, I would fall out of a nest. I would fall on the ground.” Next, he finds a frog living in a bog. Again, the bunny recognizes that this will not make a good home, as he would surely drown in a bog. The third animal he meets is a groundhog who lives in a log, but when the bunny asks if he can come in, the groundhog selfishly says no. So he continues “down the road and down the road” until he meets another bunny. This pretty white bunny shows him her home under a rock. When he asks to come in, she happily says yes and that becomes the bunny’s new home.

This book contains beautiful illustrations of the bunny and all the other animals he meets. Children can clearly see where the different animals live and will laugh in agreement as the bunny explains why he cannot live in a tree or a bog.

Curriculum Connections
Home for a Bunny
would be an excellent book to use as part of a unit on animals and, more specifically, as an introduction to animal habitats. After reading the story, teachers could discuss with their students why the bunny cannot live in a tree or under water in a bog. The students could compare the various characteristics of the animals in the story and sort animals based on where they live. In Virginia, this book relates to Science SOLs K.6 and 1.5, which state that students will understand that animals have basic needs (including a suitable place to live) and can be classified according to certain characteristics (including water homes versus land homes).

Because the story takes place in spring, it could also be used as part of a lesson on seasons (science SOL 1.7a-b). The beginning of the book explains several aspects of spring, such as leaves budding on trees, flowers blooming, and baby robins hatching from eggs.

Additional Resources

  • Here is a link to a lesson plan about animal habitats, which includes an internet scavenger hunt related to animal homes and a writing activity in which students compare an animal home to their home and then write a friendly letter to that animal inviting him to sleep over and explaining the accomodations that would need to be made
  • This Home for a Bunny lesson plan contains a “Where do I live” webquest about animal homes, a bird nest making activity, and a Venn Diagram activity for sorting land versus water animals.
  • Students will enjoy playing this interactive on-line Habitats Game, which explains how certain animals are best suited to live in the antarctic, the desert, a grassland, a farm, a forest, a pond, the sea, or a tropical rainforest.

Book: Home for a Bunny
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Garth Williams
Publisher: Golden Books
Publication Date: 1956
Pages: 19 pages
Grades: K-2
ISBN: 0307105466

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Sounds All Around

Have you ever wondered how we hear sounds? Sounds All Around, written by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Holly Keller, explains how sounds from vibrating objects make tiny bones in our ears vibrate to hear sound.

The book Sounds All Around begins by listing various sounds that young children often make and hear: “Snap your fingers. Clap your hands. Whistle! Clatter some pans. You’re making sounds!” It then explains that that each of these common actions creates sound waves that vibrate through the air. This causes tiny bones in our ears to vibrate, allowing us to hear sounds. Readers will also learn how both people and animals use sounds to communicate and bats use echolocation to find food and avoid running into objects in total darkness. In addition, there are several other interesting facts throughout the book, including that some animals, such as snakes, don’t have ears: “A snake has no ears. To hear, it puts its head on the ground. A bone in its head feels the sound vibrations.”

This book also includes several hands-on-activities related to sound for students to do after reading, such as making a tissue box guitar, listening to sounds travel through a string telephone, and playing a sounds matching game. The activities are clearly explained and could easily be completed in an elementary school classroom.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a great resource for introducing a science lesson related to sound for Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd graders. In Virginia, this book and the activities listed at the end relate to 1st grade science SOL 1.2b, which states that students will understand that objects vibrate to produce sound.

Additional Resources

  • The A to Z Teacher Stuff website contains an Eggs Filled with Sound lesson plan, in which students use their sense of hearing to guess what objects are inside the eggs.
  • The A to Z Teacher Stuff also provides 17 experiments related to sound and its application to animals, musical instruments, and communication.
  • The PBS Kids website provides explanations of several sounds experiments for kids to do at home or at school, including a glass xylophone, string telephone, and super sounding drums.

Book: Sounds All Around
Author: Wendy Pfeffer
Illustrator: Holly Keller
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-2
ISBN: 0-06-027711-4

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Measuring Penny

Have you ever wondered how many different ways you can measure a dog? Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy offers a great way to introduce students to measurement while discovering 14 different ways to measure a pet. At the beginning of Measuring Penny, Mr. Jayson gives his students a homework assignment: “Choose something to measure and measure it in as many ways as you can…Use your imagination.” Lisa chooses to measure her dog, Penny. She and Penny go to the park, where they find plenty of other dogs to measure as well. Although the only “real” measurement tool that Lisa has brought to the park is a ruler, she finds many other creative ways to measure the dogs. Lisa’s measurements of Penny and the other dogs include:

  • the length of their noses, measured in inches
  • the length of their tails, measured in dog biscuits
  • the length of their ears, measured with cotton swabs
  • the width of their paw prints, measured in centimeters
  • their height, measured in inches
  • how high they can jump, measured with Lisa’s body
  • their comparative weights, measured with seesaws – "The seesaw is down on Penny's end, so she is heavier than the pug. Now Penny's end is up because she is lighter than the cocker spaniel."

Back at home, Lisa weighs Penny on a scale and measures the volume of food that Penny eats. She also measures the time that she spends taking care of Penny and then calculates how much it costs for her family to care for Penny for a year. She even explains how to determine the temperature using "Penny the Thermometer".

This book has simple, straight-forward illustrations with cute dogs that are easy to follow and will hold students’ attention. Each page includes a picture of the dog part being measured, as well as a visual of the tool being used to measure it. For example, the page with the dog tails shows each tail with the corresponding number of dog biscuits laid out beside it. Each illustration also includes a page of Lisa’s notebook, on which she has recorded Penny’s measurements.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be an excellent resource for introducing both standard and nonstandard units of measurement. It is simple enough to be read to Kindergartners but could also be used as a fun and engaging way to begin a 2nd or 3rd grade lesson on the different ways to use measurements. In Virginia, this book relates to Kindergarten science SOL K.1f (nonstandard units are used to measure common objects), 1st grade science SOL 1.1e (students will investigate measurement of length, mass and volume using standard and nonstandard units), and 2nd grade science SOL 2.1e (length, volume, mass, and temperature measurements are made in standard English units).

Additional Resources

  • The UNC School of Education website contains a lesson plan with suggestions of several activities for students to do after reading Measuring Penny, including using dog biscuits to measure various classroom objects and measuring and recording the height of each student.
  • The ProTeacher Collection provides an explanation of two fun activities involving measurement: a “Measurement is Right” game and a scavenger hunt in which students must measure specified items and then find items of a particular length.
  • A Measuring Penny coloring page is available from Loreen Leedy’s website.

Book: Measuring Penny
Author: Loreen Leedy
Publisher: Henry Holt
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: K-3
ISBN: 0-8050-5360-3