Author Archive for Melissa K.

James Madison

James Madison, a Virginian, was the fourth president of the United States and is known as the “father of the Constitution.” James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is named after him. The resources listed below would be helpful for students and teachers when studying the life and contributions of James Madison, which is part of VA SOL VS.6 (b).

Book Sources:

Below are some good books that can either be read to children, or that students can read on their own. These would be useful for supplemental information about James Madison. 

James Madison father Father of the Constitution: A Story about James Madison, by Barbara Mitchell.This book is part of the Creative Minds Biography collection, and follows James Madison’s life. It discusses his politics and beliefs in easy-to-read chapters. The book follows James Madison’s journey from the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and finally his terms as the fourth president of the United States.

Dolley Madison Saves History, by Roger Smalley. This book focuses on Dolley Madison and her relationship with husband James Madison, as well as her contributions to history. It is presented in a comic book type format, making it interesting and easy to follow for children. The illustrations are engaging and present an exciting story.

Fourth Pres James Madison: Our Fourth President, by Ann Graham Gaines.  This book discusses James Madison’s leadership and involvement in the writing of the Constitution. The information is presented in chapters with many illustrations and photographs, as well as a time line of events and a glossary.

Childhoods of the Presidents: James Madison, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. This book describes the early life of James Madison, including his family background, schooling, and life in Virginia. The story ends with his rise to become President. The book includes a glossary and a chronological outline of events.

James and Dolly A Picture Book   of Dolley and James Madison, by David A. Adler and Michael S. Adler. Illustrated by Ronald Himler.  This beautifully illustrated book describes James and Dolley Madison, both of their lives before meeting, their life together, and James Madison’s presidency. The end of the book includes a list of important dates, author’s notes, and source notes.

Web Sources for Students:

Below is a list of web sources that children can use to enhance their information and learning experience about James Madison. 

James Madison Timeline: This link, from Apples For the Teacher, allows students to quickly reference important dates relating to James Madison and his presidency. This could be useful if a student is working on a project or research paper about James Madison.

James Madison Coloring Pages: This link, also from Apples for the Teacher, includes several coloring and activity pages relating to James Madison.  There are also ideas on how to use these coloring pages for a literacy activity.

Montpelier: This is the website for Montpelier, which was James and Dolley Madison’s home. Students can go to this site to look at images and  learn about Madison’s home. This could provide great supplemental information for students wanting to explore deeper into the history of James Madison.

Liberty Archive on James Madison: This website, from Liberty Kids, allows children to select a president and view additional information. In addition to Presidents, there are a wide variety of topics students can select under the “who, what, and where” section of the website.

Encyclopedia Britannica:  From Encyclopedia Britannica’s website, this link offers a great deal of information about James Madison, including images. There is also an outline of Madison’s presidential cabinet, and suggestions for further reading.

Resources for Teachers: 

Below is a list of resources for teachers, which include lesson ideas and resources for additional information regarding James Madison. 

American Presidents Life Portraits: Here is a lesson idea about American Presidents.  This lesson allows students to learn about any U.S. President, and view video clips from C-SPAN’s American Presidents website. Students will learn about the duties of the President and his cabinet, and learn about current and past events of significance.

President Bingo: This lesson, from, would be great for a review of the U.S. Presidents.  Students play a game of Bingo, matching facts to the correct president.

Constitution Day Lesson Ideas: Here are several lesson plan ideas to discuss the Constitution.  Constitution Day is September 17, but these lessons would also be useful when discussing James Madison and his role in the creation of the Constitution. Included ideas are a read-aloud, creating a classroom Constitution, and a Reader’s Theater activity.

James Madison Lesson Idea: From Instructorweb. com, here is a lesson plan idea about James Madison.  This lesson focuses on reading comprehension, and offers a downloadable passage about James Madison for students to read, and then answer questions about. This would be a good way to integrate information about James Madison into a literacy activity.

Weather and Seasonal Changes

The topic covered here is weather and seasonal changes. Content to be covered includes the changes and extremes in weather, how weather influences human and animal activity, identification of common weather phenomena, and seasonal changes and how they influence human and animal activity (VA Science SOL 2.6, 2.7). The resources in this post are directed at second grade students.

Below are some books that can either be read to students, or provided for students to read, as a supplement to weather and seasonal changes lessons.

rainfrogs.jpg  Can it Really Rain Frogs? The World’s Strangest Weather Events, by Spencer Christian and Antonia Felix.Illustrated by Abe Blashko and Jessica Wolk-Stanley. This book provides information about interesting and strange weather occurrences. It covers topics such as thunder and lightening, winds, clouds, rain, and how animals respond to weather. There are also experiment examples that could be used in class.

The Nature and Science of Spring, by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor.  This book is part of the Exploring the Science of Nature series. This book completely focuses on Spring, and covers topics such as melting ice, spring rains, buds and flowers, lengthening days, and animal reactions, such as coming out of hibernation. This book has fantastic photography, and also includes a glossary and example activities and suggestions of other books to read on this topic.

winter.jpg  The Nature and Science of Winter, by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor. This is another book in the Exploring the Science of Nature series, focusing on Winter. This book covers topics such as snow, ice, dormant buds, insects and cold-blooded animal habits during winter, and winter flowers. More great photographs here, as well as activity examples, additional books to read, and a glossary.

The Nature and Science of Summer, by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor. Also part of the Exploring the Science of Nature series. This book focuses on Summer, and includes topics such as dew, droughts, summer scents and colors, and animal behaviors. Excellent photography, as well as example activities, a glossary, and list of related books to read.

seasons.gif  Seasons, by Paul P. and Diane M. Sipiera. This book gives a detailed look at the Earth’s four seasons. Topics covered include understanding the time, what makes a season, changes during seasons, and seasons on other planets. The book has many photographs and diagrams, and also includes a section suggesting additional books and online resources and organizations to check out for more information.

Web Resources:

Below are some great websites for kids to visit to enhance their learning on this topic.

Fossweb Air and Weather Module. Here students can play a game relating to seasonal weather changes. They will select appropriate clothing for an animated bear based on the temperature displayed on the thermometer.

Primary Games: The Four Seasons. Here, students can select one a season and select from a variety of crafts, coloring pages, and games. Examples include mazes, matching games, word search, and puzzles.

Sheppard Software: The Seasons-Games and Activities for Kids. This website also allows children to select a season and choose from a variety of activities, including matching games, seek and finds, and coloring pages.  There is also a computerized paint program that allows students to paint season-related images however they choose, and print them to display.

Earth TV. This website has streaming video of various locations around the world.  I thought it could be valuable and interesting to show students video of a place that would be experiencing the opposite season that we are currently in. For example, you could show students video of Australia or New Zealand and have students observe how their weather is different from ours.

The Weather Channel Kids. This is a branch of the Weather Channel’s website, aimed specifically at kids. Students can get local forecasts, learn about weather careers, visit an online glossary and encyclopedia about weather, and play a variety of games. Games include jigsaw puzzles, mazes, seek and finds, and word search. There is also a portion of the website where students can watch a video clip on hurricanes.

Resources for Teachers:

Below are some additional teacher resources.

Scholastic: Haystack Lesson Plan. Here is a neat lesson plan idea that allow students to see changes grass goes through as the seasons change.

Scholastic: Printables.  Here is a Four Seasons activity printable. This activity asks that students circle the appropriate season based on a short statement, such as “leaves turn red, orange, and yellow” or “some animals hibernate.”

Earthquake Activity from Here is a neat activity that shows students how earth moves and can damage buildings during an earthquake. A pan of Jell-O (made ahead of class) is used, and the pan is tapped to demonstrate an earthquake. Sugar cubes are used to represent buildings. Students can see how the Jello-O shakes and moves when tapped, and see what happens to the sugar cube buildings. Students can have the Jello-O as a treat once activity is finished!

Four Seasons Lesson Plan Idea, from the Lesson Plan Page.  This activity involves reading students a story about the four seasons, and then having them sort pictures representing the seasons. Students will then use the images to make a foldable.