Author Archive for Meghan

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: If You Lived At The Time Of The Civil War


A different time…a different place…What if you were there?

If you lived at the time of the Civil War
-Would you have seen a battle?
-Did you continue to go to school?
-Was it hard to get food?

Each day, decisions are made that touch you.  Some you make, such as what you wear to school and eat for lunch.  Some are made by others, such as when your mother makes a dentist appointment for you.  You and your mother may not agree that you need to visit the dentist.  What you believe is call your “point of view.”
Having two different points of view does not mean that one person is all right and the other person all wrong.  But deciding what point of view will be used is hard.  Most problems can be solved by talking and each person giving in on some things.  This is called a “compromise.”
However, there are times in history when a compromise cannot easily be reached.  People look at the same questions about life and their answers are different.  This book is about one of those times when different point of view led to war.
It was a war that divided the nation.  People had to decide whether to support the North of the South.
The war has been called the brothers’ war because families fought both sides.  It also has been called the children’s crusade because children as young as nine years old were part of it.  It touched the lives of all who lived through it no matter what their age or where they lived.  It changed life in the United States forever.  It is known as the Civil War. (pg.6-7)

If You Lived At The Time Of The Civil War by Kay Moore and illustrated by Anni Matsick is a book about what is was like to live at the time of the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.  It tells about life in the North, or Union side of the war, and in the South, or Confederate side.

Curriculum Connections

If You Lived At The Time Of The Civil War can be read when introducing the causes, major events and effects of the Civil War (SOL USI.9).

Additional Resources

1) The Civil War for Kids is a website that Mrs. Huber’s students at Pocantico Hills School in Sleepy Hollow, New York composed about what they learned about the Civil War.

2) This is a civil war PowerPoint that a teacher from Mountain View Elementary School in Harrisonburg, Virginia made.

3) This civil war timeline breaksdown the events by year.

Book:  If You Lived At The Time Of The Civil War
Author:  Kay Moore
Illustrator:  Anni Matsick
Publisher:  Scholastic
Publication Date:  1994
Pages:  64
Grade Level:  3-6
ISBN:   0-590-45422-6

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: If A Bus Could Talk


 If A Bus Could Talk:  The Story of Rosa Parks written and illustrated by Faith Riggold is a book about the story of Rosa Parks and her act of courage during the Civil Rights Movement.

Marcie, on her way to school, finds herself on a driverless bus occupied by a group of unfamiliar passengers who don’t seem to notice she’s there.  A disembodied voice tells her that this used to be the Cleveland Avenue bus but is now the Rosa Parks bus, and then launches into an account of the woman’s life. The author recounts the dramatic events triggered by Parks’ refusal to give up her seat: the Montgomery bus boycott; the leadership, persecution, and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Supreme Court decision to ban bus segregation; and public recognition of the woman who started it all.  The story ends when Parks herself enters the bus for a birthday celebration with the passengers who are now revealed as personages from her history.

Excerpt:  This morning a strange-looking bus pulled up at my stop.  It didn’t look anything like my usual bus, but it was on time and I didn’t want to be late for school, so I decided to take it.  The door opened and a voice called out, “Step on up, young lady.”  I got on thinking, I’ll ask the driver which bus this is. (pg.1)

Curriculum Connections

Rosa Parks was an important figure during the Civil Rights Movement.  This book can be used when teaching civics (SOL 2.10), which states that the student will explain the responsibilities of a good citizen, with emphasis on describing actions that can improve the community.

Additional Resources

1. This is a video of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

2. Little Rock 9 were the first African Americans to attend Little Rock’s Central High.  This article is about these courageous African American kids who broke the race barrier at Little Rock High School.

3.  Time for Kids is a site with a time line of events that have occurred as part of the Civil Rights Movement.

Book:  If A Bus Could Talk:  The Story of Rosa Parks
Author:  Faith Ringgold
Illustrator:  Faith Ringgold
Publisher:  Aladdin
Publication Date:  2003
Pages:  32
Grade Range:  PreK-3
ISBN:  0-689-85676-8

Writing Geography with Children’s Literature:…If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad


A different time…a different place…What if you were there?

If you travled on the Underground Railroad
-Where was the safest place to go?
-Would you use a disguise when you ran?
-What would you do when you were free?

 …If You Traveled on The Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Larry Johnson is a book introducing the Underground Railroad, the system of escape routes, safe houses, and individuals who assisted slaves on their journey to freedom.

Curriculum Connections

This book can be presented when talking about the roles of enslaved African Americans during the Civil War (SOL VS.7).

Additional Resources

1. This is a brief biography on Harriet Tubman.

2. Check out this book about Harriet Tubman, A Woman of Courage.

3. This is a map of the Underground Railroad routes.

Book:  …If You Traveled on The Underground Railroad
Author:  Ellen Levine
Illustrator:  Larry Johnson
Publisher:  Scholastic Paperbacks
Publication Date:  1993
Pages:  64
Grade Level:  3-6
ISBN:  0-590-45156-1

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Beloved Dearly



The Beloved Dearly written by Doug Cooney and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi is a book about a boy names Ernie who can always in of a way to make money.  Most of the ideas he dream up get him interviews with the school principal, however.  Or serious ultimatums from his father, like the latest one—any more get-rich-quick schemes and Ernie will be grounded.  This is a threat Ernie takes seriously.   So he keeps his father in the dark about his newest entrepreneurial endeavor.

Ernie is a twelve-year-old tycoon, always on the lookout for a fast buck.  This time he stumbles onto a money-making bonanza:  pet funerals.  He hires Dusty to decorate the burial boxes and Tony to dig the holes, but his prize find is Swimming Pool, a tomboy who delivers a crying jag not to be missed.  Business goes through the roof-until Ernie loses Swimming Pool over a raise and the whole venture unravels.  Here is a rollicking, fun spirited novel about friendship, loos, business-and how we learn to express our feelings.

Curriculum Connections

This book could be used as a reference when teaching SOL 3.9 which states that students will identify examples of making and economic choice and will explain the idea of opportunity cost(what is given up when making a choice).

Additional Resources

1.  Learn more about the author, Doug Cooney and some of his other books.

2.  The Pickle Patch Bathtub is a lesson plan used to teach the concept of opportunity cost.

3. This site defines opportunity cost and has questions and activities to help teach the concept.

Book:  The Beloved Dearly
Author:  Doug Cooney
Illustrator:  Toni DiTerlizzi
Publisher:  Aladdin
Publication Date:  2003
Pages:  192
Grade Range:3-6
ISBN:  0-689-83127-7

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs


If food dropped like rain from the sky, wouldn’t it be marvelous!  Or would it?  It could, after all, be messy.  And you’s have no choice.  What if you didn’t like what fell?  Or what if too much came?  have you ever thought of what is might be like to be squashed flat by a pancake?

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs   written by Judi Barrett and drawn by Ron Barrett is a book about the tiny town of Chewandswallow. 

 It was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast lunch and dinner.  It never rained rain, snowed snow, or blew just wind.  It rained things like soup and juice.  It snowed things like mashed potatoes.  And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers.

Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse.  The food got larger and larger and so did the portions.  Chewandswallow was plagued by damaging floods and storms of huge food.  The town was a mess and the people feared for their lives.

Something had to be done, and in a hurry.


“Across the ocean, over lots of huge bumpy mountains, across three hot deserts, and one smaller ocean……there lay the tiny town of Chewandswallow”. (pg 6-7)

Whatever the weather served, that was what they ate. (pg 9)

For lunch onde day, franfurters, already in their rolls, blew in from the northwest at abou five miles an hour. (pg. 14)

Curriculum Connections

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs could be used in a lesson when students are invesitgating and understanding the basic types, changes, and patterns of weather (SOL 2.6).

Additional Resources

1. This movie trailer is of the 2009 movie Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.

2. This lesson includes three different activities reflecting on the book Cloudy With a Change of Meatballs.

3. This is an activity where students can Make it Rain.

Book:  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Author:  Judi Barrett
Illustrator:  Ron Barrett
Publisher:  Atheneum
Publication Date:  August 1, 1978
Pages:  32
Grade Range:  PreK-3
ISBN:  978-0689306471

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor


The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor   by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen is a book about Miss Frizzle’s class doing a project on the ocean and learning about the kinds of animals and plants that live there.  Of course, a class trip is in her plan book. Those familiar with the inimitable school bus and its previous fantastical journeys are in for another treat; those who are not are in for a wild introduction.  With her usual dash and aplomb, the teacher gathers her students, they board the bus, and off they go on an adventuresome trip to the ocean floor.  All listen as she informs them about the geologic strata they pass, the flora and fauna at the various depths, the unique interdependence of the undersea world, and in turn, how its survival depends upon humankind’s actions on land. 


1.  “We are now pasing over the continental shelf” (pg. 12).

2.  “Many kinds of fish swim in large groups called schools” (pg.13).

3.  “A coral reef makes a good home for many ocean plants and animals” (pg.24).

Curriculum Connections

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor is a book for for children ages 4 to 8.  It relates to students investigating and understanding that environments support a diversity of plants and animals that share limited resources (VA SOL 3.6).

Additional Resources 

1.  This website  is a list of other books by Joanna Cole.

2.  CanTeach is a site with songs and poems about others in and around the ocean.

3.  This word search  is an activity about animals that live in the ocean.

Book:  The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor
Author:  Joanna Cole
Illustrator:  Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Publication date:  1994
Pages:  32
Grade Range:  PreK-3
ISBN:  978-0590414319

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Forces and Motion


Forces and Motion  by Alvin Silverstein, Virginia Silverstein, and Laura Silverstein Nunn, is a book introducing readers to contact forces, forces at work, simple machines, motion and gravity, etc.

When you are sitting still in a chair, what forces are at work?  What happens if you tilt the chair on its back legs, or if ten people sit on your lap?  How do the forces change?  It is easy to see forces at work in a football game or at a theme park, but forces and motion happen in your daily life all the time without you even realizing it.  Well-known science writers Alvin and Virginia Silverstein and Laura Silverstein Nunn explain different types of forces, how forces and simple machines work, the laws of motion, an dhow the laws act in different substances.  The authors also reveal current research on forces and motion, showing ways that scientists and engineers are using this knowledge to improve almost every part of our modern lives. Here are a few excerpts.

1. Are you ready to kick the game-winning field goal?  the football player asks himself.  He swings his leg back and kicks the ball with tremendous force, sending it flying way up in the air.  The ball twists and turns until finally the referee throws his arms up and yells:  “It’s good!”  Without that hard, forceful kick made my the football player, the ball might now have reached its target.  Forces at work keep the action going in a football game. (pg. 4)

2. Many people do not like working.  But work is more than having a job, doing your chores, or getting your homework done.  In science, work has a very specific meaning.  Work is what happens when a force makes an object move.  Work is done when you sit down, lift weights, dance, or kick a soccer ball. (pg. 30)

Curriculum Connections
Forces and Motion
is an attractive and inviting book with full-color photographs and diagrams for children in  third and forth grade. For third grade, this book will allow students to investigate and understand simple machines and their uses (VA SOL 3.2).    For fourth grade, Forces and Motion will allow students to investigate and understand characteristics and interaction of moving objects (VA SOL 4.2).

Additional Sources

  1. An Invisible Force is a book student can read and follow the quest to understand the laws of motion and gravity.
  2. This website has various activities the students can conduct to understand force, matter, energy, and motion.
  3. This lesson plan introduces simple machines and how we see and use them in everyday life.

Book: Forces and Motion
Author: Alvin Silverstein, Virginia Silverstein, and Laura Silverstein Nunn
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 112
Grade Range: 4-8
ISBN: 978-0-8225-7514-6

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: When Is A Planet Not A Planet? The Story of Pluto


My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas.

A silly sentence, yet schoolchildren have memorized it for years, because it helps them remember the planets in our solar system.  The first letter of every word stands for a planet, in the order of how close it is to the Sun.  My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas.  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.  Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun, and tiny Pluto is the farthest away.  That is, until recently.

When Is a Planet Not a Planet?  The Story of Pluto by Elaine Scott is a book about scientist who have argued for years over the answer to this question.  Central to their debate has been Pluto, the tiny orb circling the Sun at the outermost reaches of our solar system.  Then on August 24th, 2006, a group of astronomers made a big announcement:  Pluto could no longer be considered a planet.

This fascinating book explains in simple terms how advancements in technology have changed our understanding of the universe and exactly how and why the number of planets in our solar system went from nine to eight.

Curriculum Connections
When Is a Planet Not a Planet? is a book suitable for 5th graders learning the history of the planets and what astronomers believed to be true in reguards to the planets.  This book compliments Virginia SOL  5.1-understanding the nature of science.

Additional Resources

  1. This lesson plan ask students to find out the process how paleontologists locate, excavate, and study dinosaurs.
  2. This experiment is an activity teaching students how a windmill works.
  3. This overview gives information about the orbits, sizes, and classification of the planets in the solar system.

Book: When Is a Planet Not a Planet?  The Story of Pluto
Author: Elaine Scott
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 38
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN:  978-0-618-89832-9