Author Archive for Natalie

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: Roanoke: The Lost Colony


Roanoke, by Jane Yolen, offers an interesting and fun way for students to look at the story of the lost colony of Roanoke.

This book offers factual information about the lost colony of Roanoke.  It begins with the settlement of the Roanoke colony and then focuses on John White and his journey back to England for more supplies for the colonists.  It includes this factual, non-fictional information, however it is written as if a young girl were being a detective in this situation.  She wants to learn more about the lost colony because she wants to try to figure out what happened to it.  It opens…

“When I grow up I want to be a detective, just like my dad.  He says I was born curious, and curiosity is the best tool a detective can have.”

Each page also has an insert of a piece of notebook paper, which are supposed to be the young girl’s notes, as well as sticky notes that have vocabulary and definitions on them. For example,

“Colony/colonists: a group of settlers in a new country, still subjects of their mother country”

At the end of the book, the young girl gives five examples of the most common theories of what happened to the lost colony.  They also offer good questions that would be asked if students were trying to test the theories (these make for good discussion questions!)

Curriculum Connections:
This book is good for helping students understand the hardships and uncertainties of life during the early colonial period.  It also presents a mysterious topic that may be interesting for them to further investigate.

Additional Resources:

  1. This is a link to a lesson plan for the lost colony of Roanoke.  It is a multi-day lesson plan that involves working with interactive internet sources for a deeper understanding.
  2. JamesQuest is a website that includes a multitude of activities and tasks for students to work on that allow for a fun and deep rooted understanding of what life was like in the early colonial period.
  3. This is a link to a website of maps of the lost colony of Roanoke.

General Information:
Book: Roanoke: The Lost Colony
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Roger Roth
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN#: 0689823215

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: America: A Patriotic Primer


America: A Patriotic Primer is written by Lynne Cheney.  This book gives a great over-sweep of American history by going through each letter of the alphabet and giving a word or phrase for each letter.
This book begins with “A” is for America and continues through all 26 letters of the alphabet.  The book introduces a variety of topics as it contains information about different people, places,and  abstract ideals and values.
Here is what it said for the letter “F”:

“F is for Freedom and the flag that we fly”

It then continues to have an excerpt from the “Pledge of Allegiance” as well as a diagram on how to fold a flag.
I would recommend this book for the students to look through because there is a lot for the students to look at; not only is there the central letter and a depiction, there are quotes around the outside, different maps, pictures with labels, etc.  It would be good for the students to look at on their own time.

Curriculum Connections
This book is probably most suitable for younger primary grades such as K-2.  It is a good basic introduction of several different documents, people, topics, etc and how they are related to America’ history.  This can be linked to VA SOL 1.10, and 1.20.

Additional Resources
1.  This is link to a similar type of “introduction o American history” as the America: A Patriotic Primer book.  Ben Franklin will take you through all the letters of the alphabet simply by just clicking.
2.  This website has several different categories in which students can “meet amazing Americas, jump back in time, and explore the states”
3.  Here is a list of topics for lesson plans for all different ages and categories

General Information
Title: America: A Patriotic Primer
Author: Lynne Cheney
Illustrator: Robin Preiss Glasser
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Publication #: May 2002
Page: 40 Pages
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN #: 0689851928

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty


The book How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty, written by Nathan Zimelman, provides and fun and kid friendly introduction into the topic of economics.

This book is extremely fun and witty as it introduces the some of the basic ideas of economics through the use of expenses and profits.  The book chronicles a second grade class and their attempts to raise enough money to go on a class field trip to the statue of liberty.  The students try to raise money through several ways (many that could be deemed ‘childhood pastimes’) including lemonade stands, dog walking, candy sales, baby sitting, and car washing.  The book goes through the expenses and profits for each one of these ‘fundraisers’.  For example…

“Profit:  Our candy sale profit was seven and a half dollars which Geraldine Arthur’s mother gave us after her first beaming bite.  We are getting closer to the Statue of Liberty.”

However, even through all of their attempts to collect this money, the real reason for their profits comes unexpectedly at the end.

Curriculum Connection
I think this book would be suitable for a read aloud in grades 1-3, and for individual reading in 3-4.  The sentences are a bit long and take some focus in order to comprehend what is going on.
This book gives an excellent introduction into the basic ideas of economics.  It deals with earning money, saving it, expenses, and profits.  It also discusses the idea of failure (there are a few cases in which the students don’t earn any money).
This book can also be tied to a math lesson, if you wanted to include numbers and had the students add the expenses and profits while following along with the book.

Additional Resources:
This website, Econopolis, offers several fun games and quizzes for children to play while learning about different economic topics
Here is a list of different economic books that can be used in the classroom (with suggestions for each grade)
3. This website has a variety of different economics posters that are a colorful, fun, and helpful way to help students remember the different vocabulary terms.

General Information:
How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty
Author: Nathan Zimelman
Illustrator: Bill Slavin
Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN #: 0807534315

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Atlantic


Atlantic, by G. Brian Karas, is a colorful, fun ,and informing children’s book about the Atlantic Ocean.

This book begins by explaining that the Atlantic Ocean stretches from North America to Europe and Africa and continues to discuss its different characteristics.  It goes on to explain that all the bodies of water in the world (Pacific, Arctic, Antarctic, and Indian Oceans) are all connected:

My water doesn’t stay in just one place
It travels from continent to continent
So that iceberg floating past someone’s window one day
will sometime find itself lapping at your toes on a warm, sandy beach

It also discusses the impact of the sun and the moon as well as a brief mention of the work of explorers and scientists.  The last page of the book give several different facts about the Atlantic Ocean to end the story.

Curriculum Connections
The students will get an introduction into how water flows throughout the world.  They will have a look at the ocean environments and what is going on within them; what effects them, what lives inside of them, where they flow, etc.  (This connects to VA SOL 3.9 and can be extended to 5.6)

Additional Resources
1. This link from Science Up Close offers an interactive diagram on the water cycle that can be used in conjunction with this book.
2. This activity allows students to learn about conserving water.  The students will visit different websites and learn about water conservation
3. This is a full lesson plan that works through the concept of the water cycle.

General Information
Book: Atlantic
Author: G. Brian Karas
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: March 2004
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: 2-5
ISBN: 0142400270

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning


How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer is a creative and colorful biography of the life of Benjamin Franklin.
As the story begins, Schanzer runs through all of the different inventions and innovations that Franklin created in his life starting with his childhood.  The inventions pile up and the reader begins to realize how much Ben Franklin did for society from inventing bifocals to the Franklin Stove and the musical armonica.
The book then focuses on how Franklin played with electricity and introduces the reader into the famous experiment involving the kite and the key.  Schanzer captures the moment by saying

“Just as Ben and WIlliam were about to give up, the hair on that wet kite sting began to rise up and stand at attention.  Ben put his knuckle near the key and YIKES!!!!  Out jumped a bright sprk of genuine electricity!  Real Lightning had traveled all the way down the kite string!  Ben had stolen electric fire out of the heavens and proven that he was right.”

As the book finishes up it goes on to say how the results of Franklin’s experiment effected everyday society and prevented homes and ships from frequent fires.

Curriculum Connections
The students will work towards an understanding of electricity, electrical currents, light, and conductors. (SOL 4.3)  Since this is a biography, this can also be tied into a history lesson plan.

Additional Resources
1.  This is an introductory activity where students will learn the use of electricty and learn about its dangers.
2.  This activity about electricity will help the students play with different materials and learn which ones conduct electrical charges.
3.  This is an activity based on light pollution.  It will help kids underatand how to reduce pollution in relation to electricity.

General Information
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning
Author/Illustrator: Rosalyn Schanzer
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 2002
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN: 0688169937

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Tree of Life


The Tree of Life by Peter Sís offers an interesting portrayal of Charles Darwin’s life as a scientist. This book begins with a very good introduction.  It begins,

“Charles Darwin opens his eyes for the first time!  He has no idea that he will (a) start a revolution when he grows up, (b) sail around the world on a five-year voyage, (c) spend many years studying nature, and (d) write a book that will change the world.  Luckily, he is unaware that (e) not everyone will see things his way, and that (f) he himself will have doubts about revealing his grand conclusions.  Here is his story.”

This book is written in an unconventional way in which the text is not in paragraph form.  The different facts, statistics, and information on in the book are dispersed in different areas of each page.  It offers a look inside (an distinguishes between) Darwin’s ‘public life’, ‘private life’, and ‘secret life.’  It also gives a pretty detailed summary of his five year journey around the world in which he studied and recorded data about different animals (with a strong focus on South America).  There are several illustrations in the book- a few of the pages are fully covered with different species that Darwin studied on his voyage.  There are also several diagrams and maps that help further explain Darwin’s findings.  His personal life is also one of the larger aspects of the book and is illustrated throughout it.

Curriculum Connections
SOL 5.1 (e) data are collected, recorded, and reported using appropriate graphical representation6.1 (a)- observations are made involving fine discrimination between similar objects and organisms 6.1 (b)- a classification system is developed based on multiple attributes.

Additional Resources 

  • Students can participate in a lab in which they will look at a variety of birds from all around the world.  They will be able to draw comparisons and differences from the birds after this lab.
  • Students can recreate Darwin’s experience by writing their own Darwin Diary.   The students will record observations of plants, animals, and organisms in their ecosystem.
  • The students can participate in an activity in which they learn about the adaptations of camels. Continuing with Darwin’s idea of evolution, it is important to note adaptations in certain animals around the world!

Book: The Tree of Life
Author/Illustrator: Peter Sís
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Publication Date: October 2003
Pages: 40 pages
Grade Range: 5-6
ISBN: 0744598702