Author Archive for Kim S

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Emperor’s Birthday Suit


Introduction and Summary

The Emperor’s Birthday Suit, written by Cindy Wheeler and illustrated by R.W. Alley, is a book that takes children along a comical journey of an Emperor that wants a new outfit to wear on his birthday during a parade.  He wants it to be extra special so he interviews tailors from all around.  He finally decides on two tailors that promise him a magic suit.  “A suit that fools couldn’t see!  A suit that only wise people could see! That would indeed be a suit like no other!”  The tailors demanded bags of gold and silver coins along the way so they could get paid before anyone caught on to their trickery.  Once they finished, the Emperor put on the invisible suit.  He did not let anyone know that he did not see it because he was afraid people would think that he was a fool.  The parade began and the Emperor was walking around in his t-shirt and underwear.  A young child screamed out the truth and everyone went looking for the crooked tailors.  They were caught just as they were running out of town.  Their punishment was to make the Emperor a new wardrobe of REAL clothes.

Curriculum Connections

The Emperor’s Birthday Suit is a super resource for teachers to help students understand how people are consumers and producers of goods and services (SOL Economics 1.7)  The tailors provided a good for the Emperor, his new birthday suit.  Another content that this book touches on is the use of money in exchange for goods and services. (SOL Economics 2.8)  The Emperor paid the tailors for their good (his birthday suit) with bags of gold coins.  Lastly, while reading this book, students can see that there are consequences for doing wrong and that they must not cheat others. (SOL Civics K.8, 1.10, and 2.10)

Additional Resources

  • Lesson plan idea where everyone in the class gets a different job and gets paid for it with pretend money
  • Online PowerPoint presentation on economics, specifically teaching goods and services
  • Interactive activity that allows children to identify what or who provides a good or a service.

General Information
Book: The Emperor’s Birthday Suit
Author: Cindy Wheeler
Illustrator: R. W. Alley
Publisher: Random House Inc.
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 48
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN: 0679874240

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Castle Under Attack


Introduction and Summary

Castle Under Attack written by Nicola Baxter and illustrated by Roger Harris is a book that paints a fascinating picture of everyday life in the Middle Ages.  This historical fiction story uses Lego characters to make reading exciting and fun for young children.  Throughout the book, there are informational boxes that are full of background information and give real examples of what life was like in a community during the Middle Ages.  King Leo and Queen Leonora decide to hold a feast at their castle.  An information box describes a castle as being “built in the Middle Ages.  People and animals were safe there if an enemy attacked.”  For entertainment during the feast, they held a tournament with contests.  During the festivities Cedric the Bull, the enemy plotted to attack the castle.  Since Cedric the Bull did not succeed at the initial attack, they decided to take the King’s daughter, Princess Storm instead.  In the end King Leo and his men surround Cedric the Bull’s men and get Princess Storm back.  The bad guys were put in the dungeons and the feast continued.

Curriculum Connections

This book is a super resource for teachers to help students identify how community life in the past is different from present day community life.  It also helps young children to see how the daily lives and roles of people in society has changed. (History SOL 2.3)  The lesson that is trying to be taught along with the story of character and value is a wonderful example of civics and the traits that make up a good citizen. (Civics SOL 1.10)  Lastly this is a great book to encourage better language arts skills because it challenges a young reader with longer sentences and expanded vocabulary.

Additional Resources

  • Kids-Castle is an interactive website that lets you explore a castle by scrolling over different areas of the castle and clicking on them to see more information about that area
  • Informational coloring page that contains vocabulary words pertaining to castles that students can color
  • A word search that contains words about the parts of a castle

General Information
: Castle Under Attack
Author: Nicola Baxter
Illustrator: Roger Harris
Publisher: Tandem Library
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN: 0613244982

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Me Too!


Introduction and Summary
Me Too!
, written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer is an adorable book about Little Critter trying do the right thing while learning how to share with his little sister.  He tries to go about each day enjoying the things he loves to do (by himself), but his little sister wants to follow along and do everything with him.  Little Critter is faced with situations where he has to decide if he wants to do what is right by others or if he wants to do what makes him happy.  Little Critter explains, “I went hiking with my friends and my little sister said, “Me too!”  I had to carry her because she got tired.”  Each time he practices self-control and always helps, shares, or is kind to his little sister.  In the end he sees that his kind actions are reciprocated.

Curriculum Connections
Me Too! is a great resource to use to exemplify to young students the characteristics of a good citizen.  It demonstrates traits such as taking turns, sharing, helping others, and practicing self-control (Social Science SOL K.8).  This book also touches on Family Life programs by teaching and modeling courteous behaviors and good manners (Family Life SOL K.2).  It also helps students become aware of the effects that their behaviors have on others as well as how others’ behaviors effect them (Family Life SOL K.3).  Lastly students will develop an awareness of many positive ways that families show respect and appreciation for one another (Family Life SOL K.6).

Additional Resources  

  • Good Citizen Award is a handout that allows students to nominate who they think is a good citizen and the reasons why.
  • Good Citizens In Action is a lesson plan for Kindergarten that teaches about the attributes and actions of a good citizen.
  • Be A Good Citizen With Miss Rumphius is a webquest that explores ways to be a good citizen.

General Information
Book: Me Too!
Author: Mercer Mayer
Illustrator: Mercer Mayer
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 24
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 0307119416


Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Puzzle Maps U.S.A.


Introduction and Summary

Puzzle Maps U.S.A. written and illustrated by Nancy L. Clouse is a playful book about geography.  It concentrates on the different states within the United States.  This book is a very basic introduction to maps while Clouse uses puzzle activities to utilize the different shapes of the states to appeal to young children.

“This turtle is going for a swim.  Which states are going to get wet?  The turtle’s eye is the smallest state in the United States.  Look closely at the turtle and you will find eight states in all.”

It begins with a big map of the United States where each name of the states have been omitted.  Clouse transforms the United States map into a large puzzle that visually can be taken apart and put back together.  The subtle use of basic colors and the efficient designs that are collages made up of the states make this book more visually appealing than many map books.

Curriculum Connections

Puzzle Maps U.S.A. is a super resource to introduce simple maps and help students develop an awareness that a map is a drawing of a place that shows where things are located (SOL K.4a).  It also promotes students with identifying the shapes of the United States and Virginia on maps (SOL 1.4c).  A students’ scientific reasoning and logic is utilized while reading this book.  Observations of the different states are made from multiple positions that allow the students to achieve a variety of perspectives (Science SOL 1.1b).  Lastly, math skills, specifically geometry, are used when reading Puzzle Maps U.S.A. because the author manipulates the States into images of familiar objects throughout the book.

Additional Resources

  • Puzzled States is an online activity that gives students a chance to sharpen their geography skills by clicking and dragging each state to its proper place onto a map of the U.S.A.  The students will collect facts about each state while performing the activity.
  • A worksheet that has the outline of the state of Virginia.  Students can color the state to get familiar with the shape of Virginia.
  • A booklet that students construct made of printables.  These printables promote map skills by allowing students to color, cut, and paste different maps of the United States and Virginia.

General Information

Book: Puzzle Maps U.S.A.
Author: Nancy L. Clouse
Illustrator: Nancy L. Clouse
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
Publisher Date: 1994
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 1-4
ISBN: 0805035974

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: When Will It Be Spring?


When Will It Be Spring?, written and illustrated by Catherine Walters is a story of a young cub, Alfie, that is in hibernation with Mother Bear.  He is so excited for spring that he does not sleep, instead he keeps asking his mother how he will know when it is spring.  She describes to the young cub what to expect from the season, for example, “when the butterflies float by looking for new flowers, then it will be spring”, and orders him to go back to sleep.  Alfie continues to misinterpret the winter patterns until Spring finally arrives.

Curriculum Connections
This book can assist teachers with the introduction of understanding basic patterns and cycles that occur in nature and how those patterns such as seasonal changes affect animal’s behavior and life cycles (SOL 2.7a, 3.8a,b).  Another way this book can assist teachers is by starting discussions about how adaptations allow animals to respond to their environment, specifically hibernation (SOL 3.4a,b).  Lastly, this book is a great example of how natural events are sequenced chronologically (SOL 3.1d).

Additional Resources

  • Worksheet that states what animals do during the different seasons.  The student must match which animal belongs with which characteristic.
  • “A Black Bear’s Year” activity is an interactive activity for the computer where there are eight sentences that describe the life of a black bear in every season.  The student must drag the correct word to make the sentence correct.
  • An interactive webpage that allows the student to move the cursor over the pictures of all four seasons.  In each picture, descriptions pop up that give examples of how different animals are affected by that season.

 Book: When Will It Be Spring?
Author: Catherine Walters
Illustrator: Catherine Walters
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-3

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Dolphin


Dolphin by Robert A. Morris, illustrated by Mamoru Funai, is an informative nonfiction book that takes the reader on a journey through the life cycle of a dolphin.  It starts off by introducing the reader to a female dolphin, a cow, that is about to have a baby.  Then you follow along with the baby dolphin, a calf, as he goes through his cycle of life.  You observe what he eats as a young calf as well as when he gets older.  The dolphin shows another aspect of his life by protecting himself after encountering enemies such as sharks and whales.  While traveling along the life cycle with the baby dolphin, the reader is exposed to vocabulary words as well as the characteristics that classify a dolphin as a mammal.  The following excerpt from the book is an example of this, “Dolphins are mammals.  They must breathe air.  The new baby must breathe air soon, or he will drown.”  Dolphin is a great resource for teaching the life cycle to young readers.

Curriculum Connections
Dolphin will help students to gain an understanding of how animals undergo a series of orderly changes.  It specifically investigates the animal’s life cycle (SOL 2.4a).  It also investigates the basic needs and life processes of animals by showing how they change as they grow and their needs to survive (SOL K.7a,c).  Lastly, this book is a great resource to show how animals have certain distinguishing characteristics that allow them to be classified accordingly (SOL 1.5c).

Additional Resources

  • Life cycle worksheet. This worksheet shows the 3 stages of the (simple) life cycle of a shark.
  • A webquest that allows students to investigate, observe and record the life cycle phases of many different animals.
  • An online mini slide show that allows students to view an object and decide if it is living or non-living according to its characteristics.

Book: Dolphin
Author: Robert A. Morris
Mamoru Funai
Publication Date:
Grade Range:

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Who Said Red?


Who Said Red?, written by Mary Serfozo and illustrated by Keiko Narahashi, is a story where a young boy has lost his red kite.  He and his sister frolic through the countryside landscape looking for his kite while exploring different objects and their colors.  Along the way the sister tries to distract the brother by asking him if he really means another color instead of red.  “A pickle green, A big frog green, A leaf, a tree, a green bean green.  Did you say green?”  The brother is insistent that he said red.  After their journey through color identification, the boy finds his kite and shows his sister that he meant red.

Curriculum Connections
This book will assist in teaching students physical science by investigating the physical properties of an object, specifically the colors of objects. (SOL K.4a)  Who Said Red? also helps students with understanding that sets of objects can be separated into groups based on a physical characteristics. (SOL 1.1c)  Lastly, students can explore this book while developing their sensory descriptors by seeing how common objects are described. (SOL K.2b)

Additional Resources

  • Color The Rainbow is an online story that teaches the colors of the rainbow by relating each color to a familiar object.
  • Rainbow Cards Color Game is a game that is played with flashcards.  These flashcards have black and white images on them and the students are to name the color that the object should be.
  • A printable booklet that has different items that are red.  There is a page that has a black and white object the students are to color in red.  On the last page they are required to draw and color a picture of their own red object.

General Information
Book: Who Said Red?
Author:Mary Serfozo
Illustrator:Keiko Narahashi
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN: 0689715927

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Science Fair Bunnies


Introduction and Summary
Clyde and Rosemary are best friends and partners for their science fair project in Science Fair Bunnies, written by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by Marylin Hafner.  The only problem is that their plants have died that they were using for their experiment.  Not knowing what to do, Clyde suddenly gets an idea when he feels his loose tooth over breakfast.  He calls and asks Rosemary if she would like to do an experiment using their teeth.  The only catch is that no one can decide if they want to use their tooth for “science or the Tooth Fairy”. In the end Clyde and Rosemary both choose science.  Their choice pays off because their project wins a blue ribbon.  Clyde explained to the Tooth Fairy in a dream “We did it for science”.  The next day he had a shiny coin and his tooth under his pillow.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a great source to teach students scientific reasoning, logic, and science by performing investigations.  During these investigations, predictions are made based on observations. (SOL 1.1h) These observations are recorded as data, analyzed, and communicated orally with graphs, pictures, numbers, and written statements. (SOL 1.1i) The book also describes and gives a great example of a simple experiment that is conducted to answer questions. (SOL 1.1j)

Additional Resources

Book: Science Fair Bunnies
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Illustrator: Marylin Hafner
Publisher: Candlewick
Publisher Date: 2000
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 1-3
ISBN: 0763607290