Author Archive for Kelly

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: Jamestowne: Struggle for Survival


Jamestowne: Struggle for Survival, written and illustrated by Marcia Sewall, is an excellent resource that details the trials and tribulations experienced by the first settlers of Jamestowne.  The book is told through the journal entries of one of the settlers, and is enhanced with actual quotations of history known explorers, such as Christopher Newport and Captain John Smith.  Used as an anticipatory reading, this book serves as an effective precursor to explaining concepts of democracy, how the United States came into development, the necessity of the American Revolution, and the establishment of the Constitution.

Curriculum Connections
Jamestown: Struggle for Survival serves as an excellent and useful resource to help teach, reinforce, and emphasize the VA History learning objectives in accordance with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s).  Students will begin developing knowledge of the first permanent English settlement in America (VS.3) by explaining the reasons for English colonization (VS.3a), describing how geography influenced the decision to settle at Jamestown (VS.3b), and identifying the importance of the charters of the Virginia Company of London in establishing the Jamestown settlement (VS.3c).

Additional Resources

  • Historic Jamestowne has a page dedicated to lesson plans and activities for all grade levels, from kindergarten – high school, that look at the ways in which our current government mirrors its roots with the establishment of Jamestown.
  • Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission devotes an amazing page to educators, offering resources and lesson plans for all grades – they provide useful ideas and activities focusing on how the Constitution and principles of democracy evolving from the founding of Jamestown.
  • Super Smart Games offers online games for students to access either at home or at school in which they are the Captain of Jamestown Colony and need to make vital decisions on food, health, wealth, and morale in order to make the first colony run smoothly – these games are fun for students to play, and helps them think how best resources can be best utilized.

Book: Jamestown: Struggle for Survival
Author & Illustrator: Marcia Sewall
Publisher: Antheneum
Publication Date: April 2001
Pages: 40pp
Grade Range: 3rd – 5th Grade
ISBN-13: 978-0689818141

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.


A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Robert Casilla, is an excellent book to explain the legacy and important contributions made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. within America.  Students are made aware of his boyhood and family, and how prejudice and racism drove him towards his dream of equality.  Along with basic biographical information, this book highlights his most infamous events, such as his “I Have A Dream” speech and igniting the Civil righs Movement.  The illustrations will captivate students hearts and will sense why these injustices are no longer acceptable.

Curriculum Connections

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. serves as an excellent and useful resource to help teach, reinforce, and emphasize the the second grade civics learning objectives in accordance with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s).  The student will identify and begin to understand the significance of Martin Luther King, Jr. as an American whose contributions improved the lives of other Americans (CE 2.10)

Additional Resources

  • has a plethora of resources dedicated to teachers devoted to the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – resources include lesson plans, bulletin board ideas, printable worksheets and coloring pages, video clips of infamous speeches, powerpoint presentations, and links to webquests – if you’re looking for anything related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., look no further than here!
  • The International Reading Assocation offers some innovative lesson plan ideas on integrating the significance and importance Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with various language arts activities – also included are also several web resources, student materials, extension activity ideas, and teacher assessments
  • provides teachers with several lesson plan and activity ideas for all elementary grades – specific lesson plans offer ideas for instruction on the principles of equality,the Civil Rights Movements, and Jim Crow Laws – make sure to check out the links to suggested readings and articles, too!

Book: A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Author: David A. Adler
Illustrator: Robert Casilla
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: August 1990
Pages: 30pp
Grade Range: Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
ISBN-13: 978-0823408474

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: I See Myself


I See Myself, written by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Julia Gorton, follows a young girl exploring why she can see herself in some objects, like in a mirror or car window, but not in others.  Throughout the book, children start to learn the early beginnings of the scientific process for carrying out scientific investigations,  including the importance of formulating questions, making observations, performing experimentations, and predicting the outcomes of those experiments.  Children are encouraged to utilize both visual and tactile senses to help determine where they will be able to see their reflections, which can help develop classification and sorting skills based on physical properties.  In particular, children are exposed to a variety of light sources and how light is essential for objects to produce reflections.  As a bonus, this book allows teachers to integrate the use of several manipulatives, such as a hand held mirror, small ball, and flashlight, either during or after reading the book, to help children see firsthand how reflective items may be determined through observation, classification of physical properties, and how light can hinder or enhance reflections.

I See Myself  is as an excellent precursor to learning about the more complex science children will learn in the upper grade levels behind how reflective images are produced through light, all while getting children excited and confident about science!

Curriculum Connections
I See Myself
 serves as an appropriate and useful resource to help teach, reinforce, and emphasize the following Kindergarten Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s):

K.1 The student will conduct investigations in which:

a. basic properties of objects are identified by direct observations

c. objects are described both pictorially and verbally

e. a set of objects is seperated into two groups based on a single physical attribute

g. a question is developed from one or more observations

K.2 Students will investigate and understand that humans have sense that allow one to seek, find, take in, and react or respond to information in order to learn about one’s surroundings.  Key concepts include:

a. five senses and corresponding sensing organs (taste – tounge, touch – skin, smell – nose, hearing – ears, and sight – eyes)

Additional Resources

  • provides an assortment of lessons, activities, and experiments designed for kindergarten that include aspects of the scientific process regarding light sources; this website also provides activities that incorporate the relationship betweeen light and color.
  • How Stuff Works provides a variety of experiment ideas for young children on reflections and the relationships relfective materials and lights that can be altered for specific grade levels.
  • TLS Book’s website has a collection of kindergarten worksheets that focus on reviewing and enhancing concepts such as light, how the five sense can help classify objects based on a variety of shared properties, and thinking skills.

Book: I See Myself
Vicki Cobb
Julia Gorton
Harper Collins
Publication Date:
August 2002
40 pages
Grade Range:

First Grade Computation: Whole Number Addition and Subtraction

Addition and subtraction are two of many essential building blocks needed for long term mathematical success.  This blog concentrates on effective instructional teaching resources of addition and subtraction for teachers and their first grade students, focusing on recalling basic addition facts with sums up to 18 and their corresponding subtraction facts, as well as helping students create and solve basic picture and world addition and subtraction problems.

Here are some of my personal favorite books dealing with addition and subtraction.  These books serve as great anticipatory sets prior to presenting the lesson.

Text Annotations – Books on Adding and Subtracting

Cover Image

Oliver’s Party: Learning Addition and Subtraction with Oliver and His Friends

Written By: Jenny Fry

Illustrated By: Angelina Jolliffe

Summary: Friends join Oliver for his birthday party, and when the party is over, the boys and girls leave one by one, learning to subtract one number at a time. This addition and subtraction book deals with number from 1 – 10, adding from 1 – 10 and then working back from 10 – 1 through subtraction.  The illustrations are vivid and bright, helping to capture the attention of students and teachers alike, and numbers are spelled and written on each page.

Book Cover

Mission: Addition

Written and Illustrated By: Loreen Leedy

Summary: This humor-based book is based on a teacher, Miss Prime, and her students learning the basics of addition.  This interactive book encourages student involvement, by taking surveys and investigating mysterious scenarios.  Addition problems are comprised of word problems, adding numbers up to 60, and how to check work.  The illustrations are will capture and keep students interest, and can be used in sections, from learning to add numbers up to 18 to 60.  Above all, this book helps students see the relevance of math and just how much fun math can be.

Candy Counting: Delicious Ways to Add and Subtract

Written By: Lisa McCourt

Illustrated By: Brad Tuckman

Summary: This book takes the cake on snagging student’s attention; no pun intended.  Nothing can hook a child’s interest quite like candy; this book focuses on the use of classic candies in order to show addition and subtraction principles.  Students learn basic addition and subtraction skills through candy visuals, along with word story problems.  Not only are the illustrations bright and life size, this is a great book to use as an introduction prior to an activity working with candy manipulatives.

Domino Addition

Written and Illustrated By: Dr. Lynette Long

Summary: This books utilizes dominos as a way to help students begin to understand addition properties.  Dominos work great for students who are learning how to add, as they are large, visual, and may have been seen within ‘real world’ situations, like at home.  This book works with adding numbers from 1 – 12, and helps reluctatant students see that math can be learned and used like a game.  Simple, chic illlustrations that provide a perfect balance of visual stimulation without feeling overwhelmed.

Ten Little Ladybugs

Written By: Melanie Gerth

Illustrated By: Laura Huliska-Beith

Summary: Because subtraction can prove to be more difficult than addition for some students, it is important to find books that solely focus on subtraction methods.  This book tells a story about ladybugs disappearing one by one, counting down from 10.  Children will visually be able to see how subtraction works through hands on interaction and rhyming text.

Below are some great websites for kids to help build their addition and subtraction knowledge, as well as associate math with being fun!

Web Annotations – Sites for Kids to Practice Addition and Subtraction

Student Activities and Games: Parents Can Play, Too!

Summary: This website not only allows students to select which operation they want to work on, addition or subtraction, but also allows students to opt for games or hands on activities.  This is a great website that students and parents can utilize together at home and enhance addition and subtraction knowledge and skills.  The website is user friendly and well organized, allowing students to solely focus on what they want to do: have fun with math!

Adding Bricks

Summary: This is a very basic, beginning game for students who are just beginning to learn about addition.  This site contains many games, such as “Adding Bricks,” that give them both a visual number of objects, plus its written numeral, helping to show students connections between the number of objects and adding objects together.  Students and parents can return to the homepage of this site and continue to play a variety of addition and subtraction games of all levels.

Subtraction Fishing

Summary: This interactive game helps students with subtraction knowledge and understanding.  The website as a whole can be used to find a variety of addition and subtraction games, but I opted to link to the site directly to this game to avoid students and parents having to navigate to the addition and subtraction games.  This particular subtraction game is excellent because it tests for both accuracy and time efficiency.

Math Mayhem

Summary: Math Mayhem is an easy to use resource filld with a variety of activities and games for students to utilize while building addition and subtraction knowledge.  The website is extremely user friendly; all students have to do is click on the “+” or “-” to begin a series of games focused on that particular operation.

Digital Flashcards

Summary: This website is a great resource for students who possess conceptual knowledge of addition and subtraction and simply need repetitive activities to ensure understanding, accuracy of sums and differences, and time efficiency.

Check out these additional resources for teachers, parents, and students.  They are filled with creative lesson plans, games, activities, and other addition and subtraction essentials!:

Additional Resources

Cool Math 4 Kids

Summary: This website is completely dedicated to fun for both students and teachers alike throughout grades and mathematical content areas.  Students can access an array of games and  puzzles by clicking on any of the options on the homepage, while teachers can find lesson plans and assessment resources on several grades and areas of math; there’s even a place just for parents!

Resources for Teachers

Summary: This website is designed for teachers to incorporate the most effective ways to teach both addition and subtraction to their students.  Teachers will be able to access lesson plans, activities, tips, resources, content areas, and even online activities to share with their students.

Student Practice,Teacher Resource

Summary: This website is designed for both students and teachers, includuing comprehensive addition and subtraction lessons and games, providing immediate feedback to the students.  The site allows for students to work at their current levels of addition and subtraction in the privacy of their own home, and can help build mathematical confidence.  Also, there are some great addition and subtraction tables teachers can manipulate to visually help students learn these tables.