Author Archive for Kerrie R.

Fractions: Second Grade

In second grade, students study fractions. Students learn how to identify and represent fractions, compare unit fractions, and write fractional values (SOL 2.3). The resources provided below will support instruction during the second grade unit on fractions.

The Lion’s Share: A Tale of Halving Cake and Eating it, too

Written and Illustrated by Matthew McElligott

The Lion’s Share: A Tale of Halving Cake and Eating it, too is a story about an ant that is invited to join the lion’s dinner party. Throughout the dinner the ant observes the other animals’ rude behavior and unwillingness to share fairly. When the lion presents his guests with a large cake, the other animals take turns halving the dessert until there is nothing left but a crumb for the ant and the lion to share. As a gesture of goodwill, the ant offers to bake the lion a new cake. Meanwhile, the other guests refuse to be outdone. They continue to double the ant’s offer until the last guest offers to make 256 cakes! This tale of halving and doubling will help students to visualize the relationship between fractions, multiplication, and division.

The Wishing Club: A Story About Fractions

Written by Donna Jo Napoli and Illustrated by Anna Currey

In  The Wishing Club: A Story About Fractions four children wish on a star. They soon discover that each child only receives a fraction of his or her wish. For example, Petey wishes for a dollar but only receives a quarter. This cycle of fractional wishes continues until Samantha designs a plan. The children work together to combine their fractional values into one whole wish. This book highlights unit fractions, comparing fractions, and adding fractions to create one whole.

Give Me Half!

Written by Stuart J. Murphy and Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Give Me Half! tells the story of two siblings who do not want to share. The mother intervenes and insists that the children share everything equally. She tells her children to divide the food into halves. As the story continues the children learn how to divide solids, liquids, and parts of a set into halves. The illustrations are accompanied by pictorial and numerical representations of the children’s fair shares. For example, a diagram illustrates two halves of a pizza forming one whole. Underneath this illustration the is the number sentence 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 whole. This book will help students visualize the fraction one half in a variety of ways.


Inchworm and a Half

Written by Elinor J. Pinczes and Illustrated by Randall Enos

Inchworm and a Half is a tale about an inchworm that has set out to measure all of the vegetables in her garden. The inchworm’s stride measures one inch in length. Therefore, measuring the garden is as easy as counting her steps. One day the inchworm realizes that one of her measurements is in between two whole numbers. She cannot measure this length with her stride. In order to finish measuring the garden, the inchworm asks for help from the 1/2-inch, 1/3-inch, and 1/4-inch worms. Together they are able to measure the vegetable garden. This book focuses on unit fractions and their relationship to one whole.

Fraction Action

Written and Illustrated by Loreen Leedy

Fraction Action is divided into five chapters. In each chapter Miss Prime teaches her students about a different aspect of fractions. Her first lesson teaches students about equal parts as well as halves, thirds, and fourths. She emphasizes that any whole shape can be divided into fractions. The second lesson focuses on parts of a set. In this chapter students learn to identify fractional parts of a group. The third chapter highlights the importance of fair shares and equal parts. The next chapter focuses on the relationship between fractions and money. The book concludes with a fraction test. Miss Prime tests her students’ knowledge of fractions through a review game. Each mini lesson could be read aloud throughout the fraction unit. The book’s word problems and puzzles will keep students engaged as they learn about the many uses of fractions.

Student Resources

  • Fraction Shoot: This game has four tiered levels that help students recognize fractional values. In the first level, students learn how to discern between equal and unequal parts. As the levels progress, students learn about halves, thirds, and fourths.
  • Fraction Flags: Students create flags using the required proportions. Through this activity students learn the different ways to represent halves and fourths. Click here to create fraction flags using thirds.
  • Naming Fractions: Students write the fraction that corresponds with the highlighted portion of the shape.
  • Fraction Domino Cards: Students can practice their fraction skills at home with these printable domino cards.

Teacher Resources

  • Fish Fractions: Use this file folder game to teach students how to read, write, and identify fractions.
  • Fractions Smartboard Activity: This Smarboard activity can be used with whole class or small group instruction. Through this activity students will learn how fractions are used in daily life. Students will also be required to match fractional values with pictorial representations.
  • Fractions Activity: These virtual models can be used during an introduction to fractions. These models allow you to illustrate fractions in a variety of ways. For example, you can choose to represent fractions as slices of pizza, part of a set of people, the amount of liquid in a measuring cup, or pieces of a candy bar. This resource will show students that fractions can be represented in many ways, not just pieces of a circle.
  • Pattern Blocks:  Use this virtual pattern blocks to demonstrate the fractional relationships between the different blocks. Assume that the yellow hexagon is one whole. Ask students to explore the various ways to construct one whole using the other blocks. This activity can be used as a center activity for small group or individual exploration. It can also be utilized as a model during whole class instruction.
  • Use a Picture: Use this outline as a framework for teaching students how to solve a fraction word problem.


Cells: Fifth Grade

In fifth grade, students study cells as part of the living systems unit. Students must understand that organisms are made up of cells, which have defining characteristics that contribute to the organism’s survival (SOL 5.5). This resource set will support instruction during the cell unit.

Plant Cells: The Building Blocks of Plants

Written by Darlene R. Stille and Illustrated by Eric Hoffmann

Plant Cells: The Building Blocks of Plants would serve as a valuable resource for a research project on cells. The book is divided into four clearly defined chapters that address distinct aspects of plant cells. These aspects are the basics, the defining characteristics, the function, and the reproduction of plant cells. Since this book is written at an appropriate reading level, students could read Plant Cells independently in order to collect information for their project. Clear headings and an extensive index create a research-friendly format that will assist students as they search for information related to their topics. Finally, a descriptive glossary and illustrative diagrams support students as they read content-specific vocabulary. Overall, this is an age-appropriate text that enables independent exploration.

Animal Cells: The Smallest Units of Life

Written by Darlene R. Stille and Illustrated by Eric Hoffmann

Animal Cells: The Smallest Units of Life is a good companion resource to Plant Cells. This book explains the vast range of cells, the appearance of animal cells, animal cell functions, and the reproduction of animal cells. Animal Cells specifically emphasizes the impact of cells on all life, from the “smallest ant to the largest elephant.”  Stille distinguishes between one-celled and multi-celled organisms. She also explains how the quantity and type of cell affect the life of the organism. For instance, a one-celled bacteria does not posses the same abilities and characteristics as a 60-100 trillion-celled human being. Concrete examples and detailed images will assist students as they read this book. Once again, this resource lends itself toward independent research. Simple diagrams, fun facts, bibliographical resources, and a descriptive glossary combine to create a valuable resource for student research.


Written by Kimberly Fekany Lee and Designed by Heidi Thompson

Cells is a good resource because it teaches about cells in the context of daily life. This approach supports student comprehension of this difficult topic. For example, the book begins with a description of cells and their size relative to other objects. These descriptions are supported with illustrations of enlarged cells as well as pictures of their size equivalents. For instance, Lee demonstrates the size of human cells relative to a pin head. According to her calculations, one pin head can hold 10,000 human cells. This description concretely conveys the size of a human cell. Cells also explains the various cell organelles and their functions. The differences between the organelles are highlighted through the use of specific examples. For instance, Lee begins by defining the term “ribosome” and explaining its function. She follows up this description with an example that relates ribosomes to the human immune system. Lee explains that prescription antibiotics work by attacking bacteria’s ribosomes. Concrete relationships, such as this one, help students to connect with the content material. This book would serve as an engaging read-aloud for  a unit on cells.

Cells and Systems

Written by Holly Wallace and Designed by Celia Floyd

The first four chapters of  Cells and Systems focus on cells. This section of the book begins with a simple definition of the term “cell.” Clear illustrations support this definition. Additionally, the author differentiates between animal and plant cells. Two diagrams highlight the defining organelles of each cell type. The second chapter emphasizes the different functions of cell organelles as well as their placement in animal and plant cells. Bold terms, definitions, and exemplary images help readers develop an understanding of the content-specific vocabulary. The third chapter focuses on plant organelles and their role in the plant system. This includes an in-depth view and explanation of chloroplasts, cytoplasm, and stomata. The final cell chapter describes vacuoles and the importance of vascular tissue within plants. Diagrams and photographs outline a plant’s water transport system. These four chapters can be utilized as a read-aloud or as independent reading. Students will benefit from the clear illustrations, simple definitions, and organized layout of this book. Cells and Systems is an approachable text that students can use to develop their background knowledge of cells or to clarify an abstract concept. This resource will help students gain a deeper understanding of  cells and their vital role in our lives.


Written by  Darlene R. Stille and Designed by Tammy West

Cells focuses on different cell types. In this book Stille explains cell reproduction and explores the connection between different cell types and life processes. For instance, Stille describes vascular tissue and its vital role in a plant’s transport of water, minerals, and nutrients. Stille also examines the similarities and differences between various cell types. For example, she defines the three types of muscle cells as well as describes their defining features. Due to the extensive nature of this book, the teacher should focus on each chapter individually. Each chapter could serve as an introduction to a lesson on cells. This book could also be used as an independent resource. Students could use this text when researching a specific topic on cells. Through this book, Stille helps students to understand cells’ function and importance in their lives.

Student Resources

  • Vascular Plants: This tutorial explains vascular plants through the use of interactive models and grade appropriate descriptions.
  • Cell Structure: Students can use this interactive model to recognize the differences between animal and plant cells. Additionally, students will learn about the functions of the organelles in these two cell types.
  • Cell Rap: This rap describes the components of animal and plant cells through simplistic rhyme. Its description of organelles and their functions will help students to differentiate between the various organelles and their purposes.
  • Cell Practice Test: Students can test their knowledge of animal and plant cells with this comprehensive online test, which is aligned with the Virginia SOLs.

Teacher Resources

  • Plant Cell Lab: Through this interactive lab activity students will be able to view and compare plant cells. Students are asked to draw sketches of their observations, answer comprehension questions, and compare and contrast two different cell types.
  • Cell Project: This assignment requires students to construct a 3D model of an animal or plant cell. Through creating a cell model students will develop a deeper understanding of cell components. This assignment also includes a rubric and photos of two sample cell models.
  • Cell Webquest: This webquest leads students through a guided explanation and exploration of animal and plant cells.
  • Cells are the Starting Point: This website provides explanations about cells and their organelles. These explanations are written at a level appropriate for use in interactive notebooks or study guides for fifth grade.
  • Animal and Plant Cell Worksheets: These two worksheets provide students with a diagram of each cell type. Additionally, students are required to color code the corresponding organelles as well as answer analysis questions.

Teaching Children about Ancient China

In second grade, students study ancient civilizations. One of these civilizations is ancient China. Students learn about the architecture, inventions, and written language of China (SOL 2.1). The resources provided below will activate background knowledge, support instruction, and capture student interest.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China
Retold by Ai-Ling Louie and Illustrated by Ed Young

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China can serve as a cross-curricular connection. While students study ancient China in Social Studies, they can read Chinese literature in Language Arts. You can compare this original version of Cinderella with the modern-day version or interpretations from other cultures. Yeh-Shen tells the story of a beautiful and kind young girl who is forced to serve her stepmother. Yeh-Shen’s only friend is a goldfish. One day, Yeh-Shen’s stepmother cooks the fish for dinner. A distraught Yeh-Shen saves the fish’s bones, which contain an ancient spirit. On the night of the spring festival, the ancient spirit gives Yeh-Shen an intricate evening gown and a pair of gold slippers. The spirit states that she earned these gifts through her kindness to others. That night Yeh-Shen attends the festival and loses a golden slipper. The story concludes when the king returns Yeh-Shen’s slipper and marries her shortly afterward.

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China

Written by Joanna Cole and Illustrated by Bruce Degen

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China uses the fictional story of Ms. Frizzle’s field trip in ancient China to teach students about ancient Chinese culture. The top two thirds of the page are dedicated to Ms. Frizzle’s story as she and her class travel back in time. As they travel through China, the students learn about Chinese writing as well as the art of silk making. Meanwhile, the students are also searching for a way to travel back home in time for a Chinese New Year celebration. Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China includes the written story as well as detailed illustrations and speech bubbles. This comic book style contrasts with the lower third of the page. In this section, the author describes ancient Chinese culture. She explains how to make Chinese silk, identifies Chinese inventions, illustrates the process for growing rice, and includes additional facts about Chinese culture. Ms. Frizzle’s field trip allows students to explore ancient China through a story that combines relevant facts with entertaining fiction.

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet
Written by Carol Crane and Illustrated by Zong-Zhou Wang

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet examines Chinese culture in alphabetical order. A four line rhyming poem is written for each letter. For example, the page dedicated to the letter G contains a poem about the Great Wall of China as well as a large illustration. In the margin the author includes additional facts about the Great Wall. The entire book follows this model. The poems outline the essential knowledge while the sidebars contain supplementary information. D is for Dancing Dragon allows you to differentiate based on reading level. Students who need more support can learn the essential knowledge through reading the poems and studying the illustrations. Meanwhile, students who need to be challenged can read the more difficult sidebars. This book provides a close look at twenty-six aspects of Chinese culture in a manner that is accessible and entertaining for all learners.

Ancient Civilizations: China
Written by Dolores Gassós and Illustrated by Estudi Toni Inglés

Ancient Civilizations: China is arranged like a student encyclopedia. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of Chinese culture. These topics range from ancient Chinese inventions to Chinese architecture. The chapters contain a brief description of the topic, multiple illustrations, informative captions, and vocabulary definitions. This book is an ideal resource for student research. Using Ancient Civilizations: China students will develop an understanding of their research topic, visualize essential features of that subject, as well as define vocabulary words related to their assignment.

You are in Ancient China
Written by Ivan Minnis

You are in Ancient China is a great tool to build students’ background knowledge about ancient China. The combination of detailed photographs and student-friendly text make this a valuable resource for students in the lower elementary grades. Through reading this book, students will explore the daily life and customs of the Han Dynasty. Notable sections in this book include descriptions of Chinese cities, the use of Chinese characters, ancient Chinese art, and science and technology from China. Since this book is divided into topics, students can elect to read the entire text or specific sections. This versatility lends the book to a variety of uses. For instance, students can read this book in order to gain broad knowledge about ancient China or read sections of this book in order to research a specific topic. You are in Ancient China allows students to visualize and comprehend the unique culture of ancient China.

Additional Student Resources:

  • The Great Wall of China: Learn more amazing facts about the Great Wall of China
  • Review Cards: Print these review cards to study the differences between ancient China and ancient Egypt
  • Tangram Puzzle: Can you complete the seven pieces of cleverness?
  • Fun Facts About China: Do you know who invented ice cream? To learn more fun facts about China, click here
  • Terra Cotta Army: Uncover the Terra Cotta Army and learn about their exciting history

Additional Teacher Resources:

  • Ancient Chinese Book: Teach students why the Chinese characters are written vertically by making ancient Chinese scrolls
  • Paper-Making Project for Kids: Experience the process of Chinese paper-making with this hands-on craft
  • Folktales from China: Connect Language Arts and Social Studies with these ancient Chinese folktales
  • Learning About Ancient China: Use this webquest with your students to teach about Chinese writing, the Great Wall of China, and the Chinese calendar