Author Archive for Michael

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: That’s What Friends Are For


Thats What Friends Are For, written and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev, is a book that teaches a great lesson about compassion for your friends.  The book features a goat who wakes up excited for dinner with his friend pig that night.  When he looks out the window he sees his friend pig crying in his house.  He goes through a number of things that he could be crying about including having a pie stolen, his flowers ruined, his house flooded, and his shirt burned.  Goat is so worried he prepares for all of these possibilities and heads over to help pig out.  When he gets there his friend asks if he can help with dinner by slicing onions, and we find out that the onions were the reason pig was crying.  The story shows a great lesson on how to treat others with caring and compassion and can be extended for grades K through 3.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be good way tolook at VA SOL K.8 and 1.10 which focus on treating others with kindness.

Additional Resources

  • Lesson Plan Pages has an activity for students to make an autograph book for each student that is designed to focus on friendship among the classmates.
  • Merry Bee presents a list of extension activities that can be related to the book including crossover curriculum connections with science.
  • Can Teach provides a list of lyrics for songs based on friendship that can be used in young classrooms.

Book: Thats What Friends Are For
Author: Valeri Gorbacev
Valeri Gorbacev
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: June 2005
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: K-3

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George


Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? written by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Tomie dePaola looks at the life and reign of King George III up until the end of the American Revolution.  It does a good job of giving the King a more human aspect rather than only being portrayed  as the despot that is normally given to the students.  The book starts with the early life of King George and makes him to be a likeable character.  As it leads on into his later life some traits start to emerge that lead up to his role in the American Revolution.  The book also does a good job of looking at the American Revolution from the English perspective and would be good for students to see that there are differing viewpoints on the revolution.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be good way to look at VA SOL USI.6(b,c).

Additional Resources

  • Library Thinkquest provides a brief biography of King George III and his role in the American Revolution.
  • Boston Tea Party Ship is a website that shows some pictures and activities that are related to the Boston Tea Party.
  • Eyewitness to History gives a description of the Battle of Yorktown where Cornwallis surrenders to George Washington.

Book: Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?
Author: Jean Fritz
Tome dePaola
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: September 1996
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: 4-6

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Are We There Yet?


Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester is a book that chronicles the journey of a family around Australia.  The book begins with a map of Australia and the route that the family took around the country.  During the book, the family rides around the country in a camper.  The family travels to many different places and at each place some of the geological features are explained.  Each time they move to a different part of Australia it is represented on a small map of Australia on the top of the page.  At each stop the youngest child asks “are we there yet?”


Curriculum Connections
This book is a way to look at map skills, as well as how geographic features affect clothing, shelter, etc.  This matches to Virginia SOL’s 1.4 and 1.6.

Additional Resources

  • Nullabor Travel Guide has a website with some pictures of the Head of the Bight as well as whale watching that is mentioned in the book.
  • Penguin Publishing provides a number of lesson plans associated with Are We There Yet which touches on reading, science, and geography.
  • The Melbourne Tourist website looks at the Twelve Apostles which is a scenic rock formation that the family visits in the book.

Book: Are We There Yet?
Author and Illustrator: Alison Lester
Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Publication Date:
January 2005
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: 1-3

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Top Job


The Top Job, by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and illustrated by Robert Neubecker is a book that tells the story of a class who tells stories about what jobs their parents have.  The children start by telling of the amazing jobs their parents have, such as jewelers, astronomers, and NASCAR drivers.  One student tells her classmates that her father changes light bulbs.  After the students begin to laugh at her, she tells the story of how her father took her to help change a light bulb.  She tells that they went to New York City and changed the light bulb at the top of the Empire State Building.  The class loves the story and even wants to go with her next time.  This can be a great way to introuduce the idea of different jobs to kindergarten students, and then elaborate on some of the jobs they will learn to recognize.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be good way to teach children that there are many different jobs.  It works with VA Science SOL K.6.

Additional Resources

  • The official site of the Empire State Building allows the children to explore the building that is a major part of the story.
  • This pop-up game lets students match jobs to the task they perform.  It is a good way to review after they are taught the jobs.
  • Learning to Give provides a lesson plan that helps kids match jobs to the tasks that they perform.

Book: The Top Job
Author: Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Robert Neubecker
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date:
July 2007
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: K-1

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: I Face the Wind


I Face the Wind, by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Julia Gorton, is a book that explores wind and some of the properties about it.  The book starts with some explanations of wind and how it relates to you.  As the book continues there are a number of opportunities to engage students in discussion and question students.  There are also a few experiments such as a simple way to show that air has mass using two balloons and a hanger.  The book also looks at the basic science behind air, introducing children to the idea of a molecule.  This book would be good to introduce wind to 1st or 2nd graders.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be good way to introduce wind and the concept of air to younger students.  It also has elements such as the experiments that can be used for older students when looking at mass of gases and molecules. It is best suited for VA SOL 2.6.

Additional Resources

  • provideds a simple lesson plan that allows students to investigate wind, where it comes from, and how it affects objects.
  • Vicki Cobb’s website provides a number of experiments that can be found in her books.  They are simple activities that can easily be done by students with simple objects.
  • How Stuff Works provides an at home activity for kids that can be a simple way to see if wind direction has a pattern.  It requires little materials and only some short daily observations.

Book: I Face the Wind
Author: Vicki Cobb
Julia Gorton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 2003
Pages: 40 pages
Grade Range: 1-2

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: How Do Birds Find Their Way?


The migration of birds is something that has been studied for centuries and still is an amazing feat that we still don’t fully understand.  How Do Birds Find Their Way,written by Roma Gans and illustrated by Paul Mirocha, is a stage 2 Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book that explains in simple terms much of what we know today. The book begins by explaining some basics about birds and migration.  Throughout the rest of the book explains what is known about how birds know which way to go, where they go, how they get there, and how fast they get there.  Each questions is explored in simple terms easily understood by children.  The book is great for a read aloud as it contains great pictures and plenty of opportunities to pause and engage students in discussions.

Curriculum Connections
This book is great to teach children about migration among birds.   It would be useful for 3rd grade.  It works on VA SOL 3.4.

Additional Resources

  • Great Lakes Kids provides an online game that gives students an opportunity to see how long birds migrate in an interactive game.  It also gives some information on the birds involved in the game.
  • HowStuffWorks provides a project that can be assigned to your students or more appropriately as a group activity outside
  • Science and Technology for Canadians provides this video that looks at the migration patterns of birds as well as how the changing climate is affecting these patterns.

Book: How Do Birds Find Their Way?
Author: Roma Gans
Paul Mirocha
Publisher: Collins
Publication Date: January 1996
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: 3-4

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: The Science Book of Gravity


The Science Book of Gravity, written by Neil Ardley, explores the gravity with 12 hands on experiments that are great for in class work.  The book begins by explaing gravity and its significance to many things ranging from simple falling to how it holds the galaxies together.  After that the book gives 11 different experiments that can be carried out easily in the classroom.  For each experiment there are easy to follow pictures and instructions.  These experiements range from exploring how size is independent of speed on an inclined plane to exploring the center of balence on an irregular shape to how air pressure can prevent water leaks in a bottle.  Each experiment is accompanied by a short explanation as to why the experiment works.

Curriculum Connections
This book is designed to work with students on gravity, but also touches on some more advanced topics in science.   It would be useful for hands on experiments for 4-6 grade.  It works on VA SOL’s 4.2, 6.2, 6.8.

Additional Resources

  • Schoolhouse Rocks provides a nice introduction to gravity with a song and video.  These videos can be used to engage the students and provide practical ways gravity affects us in a fun way.
  • Science Netlinks provides some easy ways to introduce gravity using things you can find around the school yard.  It also has some ways to use gravity throughout a unit plan to keep the students engaged.
  • Your Weight on Other Worlds explores how gravity on different planets can affect how much you weigh.  It is a nice way to show that your weight is not a constant but a product of gravity.

Book: The Science Book of Gravity
Author/Illustrator: Neil Ardley
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Publication Date: September 1992
Pages: 28 pages
Grade Range: 4-6
ISBN-13: 978-0152006211

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Great Graph Contest


The Great Graph Contest written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy is a colorful children’s book that tells the story of a graph contest between two friends.  During the contest a salamander, Beezy, and a frog, Gonk, create different graphs using everday items such as cookies, bathing suits, and rocks while a third friend, Chester the snail, judges.  Each time one friend creates a graph, the other tries harder to make a better one.  Each graph is judged by creativity, correct math, and neatness showing children how everyday observations can be displayed as graphs.  At the end of the book there is a few pages that explain each how each graph was created as well as the type of graph.  The use of vivid pictures and unique items allow the children to see that making graphs can be fun and useful.

Curriculum Connections
This book is designed to work with students on both the introduction of graphs as well creating graphs from observed data.  This book can be introduced as young as Kindergarten to introduce tallying all the way up to 4th grade to explore more difficult graphs such as Venn Diagrams. It would be most appropriate for 1st and 2nd grade SOL’s:

  • 1.14: The student will investigate, identify, and describe various forms of data collection (e.g., recording daily temperature, lunch count, attendance, favorite ice cream), using tables, picture graphs, and object graphs.
  • 2.17: The student will use data from experiments to construct picture graphs, pictographs, and bar graphs.
  • 2.19: The student will analyze data displayed in picture graphs, pictographs, and bar graphs.

Additional Resources

  • Kids AOL Homework Help  provides a few activities to help children understand how to use and read graphs.  It provides an audio lesson plan that explains how a student can use graphs to show how she is both like and unlike her classmates, as well as quiz that tests childrens ability to read graphs.
  • Scholastic  provides a lesson plan that can be used to introduce graphs to kindergarten students that can be altered to work with older students as needed.
  • 1st Grade Templates provides templates for excel worksheets that students can use to experiment with graphs andcan also be used as whole class activities to create graphs from observed data.

Book: The Great Graph Contest
Loreen Leedy
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date:
September 2005
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: K-4
ISBN-13: 978-0823417100