Author Archive for Lauren M.

Teaching Basic Addition and Subtraction in First Grade

I have created this list to help teachers who are teaching basic addition and subtraction facts. This will help assist students to learn the basic fact families up to 18 ( Virginia Standard of Learning 1.5 and 1.6)

Text Annotations:



Chrysanthemum  by Kevin Henkes is book about a younger girl who is going to school and discovers that her name is too long. She had always loved her name but now with all of her classmates mocking her, she decides that she needs a shorter name. Although the book does not directly use addition and subtraction, as the teacher you can uses this book to jump start and activity of adding up all of the letters in your student’s names. It also teaches a lesson on being nice to others and acceptance.


What’s New at the Zoo? An Animal Adding Adventure by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Joan Waites is book that counts and adds up the several different animals at the zoo. The illustrations are watercolor paintings and are really great. This book is a great introduction to basic skills. I like how the book also uses a lot of rhyming patterns which is important for young readers. There is also a section in the back of the book with educator notes and ideas for lessons


Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst and Illustrated by Ray Cruz is a book about Alexander and how he looses all of his money. It makes the connection of subtraction and can also introduce the concept of spending money and how you can have to make decisions. This book is part of the series that talks about Alexander and his adventures. I really enjoy how real the book is and how easy Alexander is to relate to. There are plenty of ways that you can use this book while teaching subtraction such as subtracting the money as he spends it but do that without using the decimals.


Domino Addition by Lynette Long, PhD is a great piece of literature to introduce dominoes to the class. Each page walks through a set of dominoes and adds them up to 12.  The photographs in the book are vivid and could be clearly seen if being read to the class. This book is great to introduce basic addition and subtraction. It helps children understand how fact families work and gives a visual for the visual learners in your class. This book will keep students actively engaged with the questions they ask.


12 Ways to Get to 11 by Eve Merriam and Illustrated by Bernie Karlin is a small book that uses several items to establish how the students add to 11. “Out of the magician’s hat: four banners, five rabbits, a pitcher of water, and a bouquet of flowers”; or, “Go past four corners and two traffic lights, then past the house with two chimneys and the garage with two cars and a bicycle. Now look, you’re at Eleventh Street” ‘ The book has a lot of great illustrations. The text would be great way to introduce number stories and have students make their own number stories.  The author has written the book to allow for good class discussion.

Web Annotation:

Alien Addition Game is  a fun game that helps students review basic addition facts. The game is noisy so students would need headphones if playing at a center. The game provides good practice in the commutative principal. It is also great because it a fast-paced games and is something that boys would like because it blowing up space ships.

Funbrain Math Baseball is a game that helps with addition facts. I like this game because it has 4 levels so that it can be changed depending on the skill of the student. The website has several other games and also some worksheets that go along with the addition game.

The ArithmAttack is a game for kids where you can decide if you would like to  be test on either addition or subtraction. It also has division for the more advanced students. The player can select the highest number that can be added or subtracted and the lowest number as well. Each problem allows the student 60 seconds to answer and if you get it wrong, the site provides the correct answer.

Adding Bricks is a game that uses bricks to guide the players in addition. There are pictures of each brick and it also has the addition problem set up vertically. The game does not give the correct answer but it does have the visual of the bricks  that a student can count.  The game is loud so headphones would be needed if a students were using during centers or in the classroom.

Subtraction Magician is a subtraction game that the player can select the degree of difficulty. The game allows 1 minute for 20 questions. There are 2 different ” mixes”. This game is a great way to review subtraction without using standard flashcards. It is a fun game and helps students work quickly to insure that they are memorizing the fact families.

Additional Resources:

Math and Literature is a website with lists of several pieces of literature that could be used during math and have elements of language arts. The website tells the importance of reading and using reading in cross-curricular ways. Using reading can help develop language skills and vocabulary associated with math.

Math Activity Worksheets is a website that has themed worksheets for addition and subtraction. There are several different worksheets and some other math skill other than addition and subtraction. The website is set up by grade level and features what are grade level appropriate activities and worksheets.

Mrs. McGowan’s Fact Family is a page on Mrs. McGowan’s website that allows her to share her classroom ideas. The Fact Family page explains how she teaches the concept of fact families in addition and subtraction. The site gives alternate webpages and activities for explaining addition and subtraction. Mrs. McGowan also includes the importance of the  connection of literature in math.

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today?


Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today? by Tish Rabe and Illustrated by Aristides Ruiz is a book from The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library. This series is written in the style of Dr. Seuss and provides an educational resource with fun rhymes. I enjoyed this book because it reminds me of the Dr. Seuss classics I read as child but also provides the student with difficult vocabulary but is presented in an exciting way. The book walks through the different types of weather and provides reasons that we need to know what the weather is going to be. The story goes on to explain how we can look at nature for clues on how the weather may be. ” A pine cone can forecast the weather. Here’s why. It’s closed when it’s wet. Opened up when it’s dry. Here is a fact that we cannot explain. Frogs croak a lot more when its going to rain.”  I enjoy all of the illustrations and the Seuss made up places like Groogle and Gret  At the end of the book, there is a glossary with definitions that are kid friendly and there is also a list of books that could be used to further knowledge on weather.

Curriculum Connections
The book explains the different types of weather that occurs and also explains why it is important to record and measure weather. There is also some explanation on how to read a weather map. (SOL 2.6 a, b, c and 4.6 a).  The author also explains what tools are used in determining weather. (SOL 4.6b)

Additional Resources:
The “Weather Dude” is a page by Nick Walker who is a meteorologist with The Weather Channel. His site features explanations on the different types of weather and also has a song to go with each type of weather. Each song provides lyrics and the audio. The songs are catchy and fun to sing too. This could be a fun way to learn about weather.
jetStream- An Online School for Weather is a site provided by the National Weather Service. The site feature background on most weather phenomenons that would be valuable for the teacher and also provides ideas for lesson plans and activities.  The site does not only talk about weather, it talks about the ocean and its features.
Mrs.Herbic’s Kindergarten is a great tool for kindergarten teachers with ideas for teaching basic weather and great activities for the students to do. She has lots to offer on her website and it is divided into themes by month. I picked the Spring/Weather page and it is filled with detail photos and ideas for reading. She suggests a big book about weather and provides an idea for a foldable on spring. I like that everything has a picture and you see the students actually doing the activities.
The Weather is a great resource for teaching ELL students about weather and the terms associate with weather. This site has printable flashcards and links to several sites that will assist in the teaching of students that are unfamiliar with the English language. I like how the site is divided into sections and provides easy ways to find what a teacher may be looking for.

General Information
Book: Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today?
Author: Tish Rabe
Illustrator: Aristides Ruiz
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 45


Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Animal Habitats


 Michelle Kramer’s Animal Habitats is an early reader concept book on animal habitats and features great photographs by National Geographic. The book walks through and explains what habitat is and what animals need to survive in their habitats. After explaining the importance of an animal’s habitat each the next several pages are dedicated to the different types of habitats. Each habitat has highlighted vocabulary for that specific habitat. The book also introduces several animals that small children may not have seen or heard of before; perhaps peaking the interest of those animal lovers.  Each page about the separate habitat begins similarly and will help in the development of early reading skills.  ” Sandy deserts are hot and dry places. Many animals live in this habitat. What helps them survive?” After the question is asked on each section about the habitat there are several boxes answering the questions.  ” Fennec foxes dig holes underground to find shelter from the hot sun. The skink eats insects that lives in the desert. These camels are at an oasis. An oasis is a place in the desert that has water.” Even if the child is not reading on their own, the pictures are great and fill the pages.

Curriculum Connections
This book is a great resource when instructing students on Life Science and more specifically different habitats that animals live in. This book is filled with vocabulary and several animals associated with different habitats. National Geographic also features a page specifically for the teacher in the front cover of the book connecting the books major themes and key concepts that are learned. It also provides customized instruction for English Language Learner that will help a teacher meet their specific needs. (SOL 1.5 a, b, c)

Additional Resources
Frog Life Cycle is a page that shows an example of a simple craft to made showing the cycle of frogs. I think that students would enjoy making the project and still get an understand of the life cycle that frogs go through. The page also has free printable templates to complete the project. The directions are easy to follow and seem simple enough for the young students.
Animal Life Cycles is a page that has a detailed unit plan on animal life cycles. Not all of the activities would fit into the SOL curriculum but many of the ideas can be adapted and made to fit. This is also a great site because it give cross-curricular connections to art and language arts.
Studying the Life Cycle of Butterflies is a great lesson planning page from Scholastic. It provides background, vocabulary and activities for students that are associated with the life cycle of butterflies. The page also provides a list of supplemental reading for the children.

General Information
Book: Animal Habitats
Author: Michelle Kramer
Publisher:National Geographic School Publishing
Publication Date:2006
Grade Range: Pre-K to 2nd grade

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Properties


Introduction and Summary:
Properties by DeltaScienceReaders is a beginning reader book that is set up in the style of a textbook but in a much small version. The first page is the table of contents and asks the student to “Think about…” and then list out: matter, properties, solid, liquid, gas. There is also a section on “People in science”. This section talks about geologists and explains what a geologist does. I liked this because the geologist pictured is a woman and in science there are few female scientists shown in books. The book explains everything in kid language and has a lot of great pictures. When discussing properties, there is a page that asks the student to identify on the page what objects are soft and what objects are hard? A teacher could take similar pictures and create a worksheet with matching. The book goes on to explain magnets and then asks the student which of the photographs would a magnet attract. When explaining liquids, solids and gases, the book explains that
“All liquids flow. Some liquids are easy to pour. Some are hard to pour. Some things float on liquids. Some things sink in liquids.” I like how the book puts keywords and terms in bold and at the end of the book there is a glossary of terms.

Curriculum Connections:
This book covers K.3 a and b, K.4 a,b, c, d and K.5a and c.  The introduces magnets and magnetism(K.3a andb).  This book would be great at the end or beginning of the unit on magnets. The book also introduces comparisons of color, shapes, textures, sizes and weight. (K.4a-d). The book explains the phases that water goes through and introduces the concept that some things float and some things sink.

Additional Resources:
Ms. Lee’s Kindergarten Experiments with Science
is a great website for teaching Liquids and Solids to young students. The site has what experiments she conducted in her class and how to do them. It also has pictures of the kids doing the experiments.
is an experiment found on The Franklin Institute website. It is a step by step on how to conduct an experiment in classifying objects such as buttons, leaves and peanuts in their shells. It suggests using peanuts but because of allergies, teachers may have to find some other object to classify.
Changing State is an interactive activity on changing liquids to solids and gas. It is something that a student could see on a projection screen and it asks questions at each step. It would be too hard for some younger students to read on their own but they would be able to tell what everything is by the pictures.
Blue Goo is an experiment on the National Geographic website using water, cornstarch and blue food coloring. It explains the experiments and even prompts teachers to ask about before and after doing the experiment.

General Information:
Book: Properties
Author: DeltaScienceReaders
Publisher: Delta Education
Publication Date: 2003
Grade Range:Kindergarten through 1st grade
ISBN: 1-59242-251-9



Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Something Special For Me


Something Special For Me written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams is a second story in a series about Rosa and her family. In the story, Rosa, her mother and grandmother have a jar of change that they save for something special. In the first story, they saved and bought a chair that they all sit in. This story opens with they all still use the chair and the jar is starting to fill up because they are still saving up for something special.  Rosa’s mother decides that the jar is going to go towards buying Rosa a special birthday gift.  “Mama and I got dressed fast and Grandma changed the money into dollar bills. As we went out the door, she hollered after us, ‘Rosa, you buy something real nice’. The story follows Rosa through the decision of finding her special gift. I like how the story shows that she can only get one thing special and that they had to really save for her to be able to get that special gift. In these days and times, kids get a lot and have a lot. I think this story will help students of any age to appreciate the things they have and the hard work that went towards getting that item. Rosa took a lot of time and thought very carefully in selecting her gift.”Next morning, I was sure I had chose exactly right. Through the door I could see our chair. I could see our big jar with just one dime in it for good luck. Grandma and Mama were making breakfast in the kitchen. And right beside my bed was my own accordion waiting for me to make songs come out of it.”  Rosa teaches the reader a valuable lesson on making choices and the value of money. I think that this book and the rest of the books in the series are great for students in teaching economic ideas. This author also has the book available in Spanish.

Curriculum Connections
This book teaches students about not being able to have everything they want and how people have to work hard to make money to buy things that they want ( SOL K.7 a,b; 1.8; 1.9). These concepts are hard for some students to understand because they do get everything they want. I think it could teach understanding and appreciation for those students.

Additional Resources

  • Saving money is a concept that even adults struggle with. I found this site and it is part of the American Bankers Association. It has a lot of creative ideas on how to teach the concept of money and savings. These are important ideas to teach in our current world filled with debt.
  • The Money Instructor  has several ideas for teaching money and has a lot of cross-curricular ideas such as a reading passage and math worksheets. The site lists several different ideas that could be used in the classroom or could be used by parents teaching the concept of money. The site has lots of activities for all ages.
  • Scholastic has an abundance of lesson plans on making choices and the value of money. The lesson I found specifically is for 4 or 5th graders and students have to use addition and subtraction. The students have to learn about budgeting and Scholastic includes a mini-magazine explaining the concept.

Book: Something Special For Me
Author: Vera B. Williams
Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher
Publication Date: 1983
Pages: 32
Grade Range: Pre-Kindergarten to Third Grade

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Life and Times in Ancient Greece


Life and Times in Ancient Greece was written and edited by Andrew Charman. Illustrations are by Inklink Firenze. The book is a journey through life in Ancient Greece. One of the first pages is a table of contents which has the areas of interest divided into organized categories. I thought this would be helpful in the classroom, if the teacher wanted to just make a reference to one specific thing instead of reading the entire book. The section on clothing was one that I found interesting. There are detailed descriptions of the types of clothing for both men and women. The illustrations are great and would give the reader an accurate portrait of Ancient Greek fashion.  ” Greek women wore their chitons to their ankles and dyed them bright colors such as red, green or purple.” this is just an example of the wealth of facts that this book gives out. The book features a foldout map of Ancient Greece that has great pictures and gives the student a better of idea of the location of Ancient Greece. The map is also removable so if the teacher would like they could hang it in a classroom. The book also features a mini-quiz in the back of the book. Some of the questions could be taken a made into a fun trivia game at the end of the unit.  This book would be great for the older reader to read on their own but the pictures are so great that even children in kindergarten through second grade may be interested in having it read to them. The author also has other books on different ancient civilizations. This book and series would be a great addition to any classroom library.

Curriculum Connections
Life and Times in Ancient Greece would help a great book to help introduce Greece. It would fulfill 3.4a,b and c of the Ancient Greece portion of the SOL. The book could be a great tool for the students to refer to if asked to do a project on a specific aspect of daily life in Greece. This book could also be helpful to high school students in world history who are studying ancient civilizations because of all the facts in the book.

Additional Resources

  • Ancient Greece for Kids is a great website that could be used in the classroom in a center for the students to explore and learn more about Ancient Greece. The website also has information about other ancient civilizations like Rome. This would be great in a compare and contrast Ancient Greece to Ancient Rome activity.
  • Mr.Donn has been a resource that I have come across a lot for Social Studies. The page on Ancient Greece offers a lot of information and some lesson plan ideas. This would be a great resource to build a teacher’s background knowledge.
  • The BBC offers a page about Ancient Greece that would be another useful classroom center website. The page also has a link to another website specifically for teachers with lesson ideas. It is nice because it is in bold font asking “Are you a Teacher?”
  • Historylink102 is great website that has information on everything that is required in the teaching of the ancient civilizations in 3rd grade. Along with Ancient Greece there are links to several other ancient civilizations that could be helpful when comparing all of them before a major test or project. There is also a section on art that could be nice to show students different pieces of ancient art that are not in their textbooks.

Book: Life and Times in Ancient Greece
Author: Andrew Charman
Illustrator: Inklink Firenze
Publisher: Kingfisher
Publication Year:2007
Pages: 31
Grade Range: 2nd to 8th grades

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Know and Follow Rules


Introduction and Summary:
 Know and Follow Rules  was written by  Cheri J. Meiners, M. Ed. and illustrated by Meredith Johnson. The story takes place in a typical classroom. The narrator is explaining how in school there are rules and the rules must be followed. This book would be an excellent book for the beginning of the school year for younger students to introduce or re-introduce rules in school.  The opening line of the story is ” I go to school with my friends . We have rules to help us know what to do.”  I like this line because I think that children have such a negative connotation associated with rules because the rules are only brought up when the rules are broken. The explanations of rules in this book are great because they are simple enough for children who are in the younger grades. The book could also be read to children who are not even at school age  as an introduction to the structure of school. The book covers all the major rules in school like listening, following directions, keeping hand and feet to yourself, and sharing. The page about keeping your hands and feet to yourself has a great picture of the class in the lunch line and it shows not only the boys and girls keeping their hands and feet to themselves but it shows a good line. The book is short but gets the point across about how important rules are. The last four pages of the book is a guide for adults to help reinforce Know and Follow Rules. It gives some suggestions of lesson plans and provides a page by page guide for class discussion.  There is even a game suggestion called ” What’s the Rule?”. In the game, students help make up the classroom rules and then are given scenarios of student following and not following the rules. Student are to identify what rule is being followed or broken.

Curriculum Connections:
This book covers all of the K.8 SOLs for Civics. The one book cover all eight of the points that need to be taught in civics. Know and Follow Rules also can be incorporated into the first grade curriculum because it covers SOL 1.10 a,b,d,e and f. The book stresses all of the points of being a good citizen by following the rules and that you are responsible for your actions. These are valuable lessons that each student needs to understand.

Additional Resources :
Mrs. Levine’s Pre-K Pages has a specific page of rules and discipline. She has given great ideas on introducing rules and has provided several books to order on the topic. It says its for Pre-K but it would be helpful in kindergarten and first grade for the student who are still getting used to the structure of school and rules.

PBS Kids  has section for parents and teachers. I went visited the Arthur section and under life skills there are several activities that are on the topic of sharing and rule following. There are also episodes that coordinate with each topic and some have books that go with the topic.

How to Be a Good Citizen is a great lesson plan on how to teach citizenship. The site gives great definitions and there is link to download the entire lesson.The lesson is somewhat on track with SOLs but could be easily adjusted. It is great start if you are having a hard time coming up with ideas.

 General Information:
Book: Know and Follow Rules
Author: Cheri J. Meiners
Illustrator: Meredith Johnson
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
Publication Dates: 2005
Pages: 35
Grade Range: ages 4-8

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Maps Getting From Here To There


Maps Getting From Here To There  by Harvey Weiss explores maps in 10 small chapters. The introduction begins by showing how simple a map can be and expanding out into the more complex maps. The explanation of directions is awesome. It is in chapter 1 titled, “Which Way?”.  ” One of the most important things a map can do is help you get where you want to go.”.  As a student, I always want to know why I am learning something and this was a perfect explanation of the importance of map skills. In this chapter it also goes on to explain the location and significance of the compass rose.

The author breaks down the book into chapters explaining the different types of maps and the how each part of maps are important. In the chapter on topographical maps, the author introduces the vocabulary in a logical way that relates to how it is used in reading the map. This would be a great way to introduce the vocabulary in a simplified matter instead of straight definition writing.  Chapter 5 , “All Those Lines”, talks about longitude and latitude and provide excellent explanations on how those work.  ” The horizontal lines are called latitudes, and the vertical lines are called longitudes. The purpose of these lines is to help locate places on the surface of the earth.”  The last few pages of the book provide the reader with a step by step way to making their own map. Overall, this book is great and could be used for both younger and older students.

Curriculum Connections
This book could be used as great introduction to different concepts of maps. In first grade (SOL 1.4a,b and c , 1.5 and 1.6),  students need a basic understand of map symbols and cardinal directions. The beginning of the book focuses on these skills and would provide a teacher with another way of presenting the information. In second and third grades, ( SOL 2.5a and b and 2.6 ; 3.5a, b and e and 3.6), students begin actually plotting and using the maps more in depth. This book could serve as review of basic map skills and then introduce the harder concepts of maps. The book even has some crossover into the US history (US I.8a and b) with the discussion of Lewis and Clark and their exploration and mapping of America.  The language used in the book is simple enough for a first grader to understand and would still hold the attention of an older student.

Additional Resources

  • National Geographic provides several ideas for lesson plans from K-12 in the subject of geography.
  • This page provides a lesson on Orienteering , which makes map reading into a game.
  • Mr.Donn’s Page provide several ideas for lessons on map skills and even provides games for children to play online.

Book: Maps Getting From Here To There
Harvey Weiss
Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date:
Grade Range:
9-12 year old reading level