Author Archive for Nicole

Teaching History With Children’s Literature: How We Crossed the West


Using quotes from the explorers’ journals, Rosalyn Schanzer, writer and illustrator of How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark, brings to life the “hair-raising adventures and narrow escapes” of Lewis and Clark.

The journal excerpts and illustrations provide students with thrilling and intriguing accounts of the expedition.  It can be used as informative piece or expand on it by discussing how the Lewis and Clark expedition impacted America’s history.

“On October 24, 1804, we saw one of the Grand Chiefs of the Mandans out hunting.  With great cordiality we smoked the pipe.  Every day curious men, women, and children flocked down to see us.  These are the most friendly Indians inhabiting the Missouri.”

“The bear was so close that the men threw aside their guns and threw them into the river, though the bank was 20 feet high.  The animal plunged into the water a few feet behind the second man.”

Curriculum Connections
Use this book to discuss the Lewis and Clark expedition, westward expansion, American Indians, geography, and life sciences.  Themes in this book correlate with Virginia SOLs USI.1, USI.2, and USI.8.

Additional Resources .

Book: How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark
Author/ Illustrator:
Rosalyn Schanzer
National Geographic Society
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: 2-6
ISBN:   0792267265

Teaching Geography With Children’s Literature: I See A Kookaburra!


Let your students discover animals hiding in six different habitats around the world.  I See a Kookaburra!: Discovering Animal Habitats Around the World, coauthored by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, is a perfect way to engage your students in studying geography, environments, and animals.

Steve Jenkins beautifully illustrated this book using paper collage techniques.  The straightforward language entices students to continue reading to learn more about the animals they find hidden in each habitat.  The back of the book contains a world map pointing to the habitats and more detailed information on each habitat and animal.

“Scorching deserts and steamy rain forests, muddy ponds and salty oceans- animals are found almost every place on earth.”

“In the desert I see… a sharp-eyed kit fox leaving its burrow.”

Curriculum Connections
Use this book to discuss geography, life science, and habitats.  Themes in this book correlate with Virginia SOLs K.3-.5, 1.4-.5, 2.5, and 3.5.

Additional Resources

  • Steve Jenkins’s website includes information on his books, a video on how he makes them, on science, about him and more.
  • Teach this lesson to review ecosystems with your students.  You can vary it by having students label a map the locations of certain habitats.
  • Here are blank coloring pages for a map, a kookaburra, a hermit crab, a gila monster, a spider monkey, a serval, and a dragonfly.
  • Use this lesson to teach multiple strands including a geography section.  Scroll down the Armadillo Readers’ Choice Book List 2006-2007 page to the sixth book (I See a Kookaburra!) listed and click on the link.

Book: I See a Kookaburra!: Discovering Animal Habitats Around the World
Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: PreK-3
ISBN:    0618507647

Teaching Physical Science With Children’s Literature: My Light


Caldecott Honorary artist, Molly Bang, wrote and illustrated My Light to show the paths of energy on our earth.

With her illustrations and use of the sun as the source of energy, she makes this subject quite accessible to elementary students.  Her story demonstrates how the sun drives the natural processes (rain, wind, and plants) that are eventually converted into electricity to run our towns and cities.  The book includes a more in depth look at the types of energy on the last few pages.

“The wires hum!
Electricity flows, pulsing, pulsing, pulsing my energy out to your towns and cities.”

“Swish! Swoosh!
The  wind pushes blades of turbines round and round, spinning my energy to generators, which make electricity.
Electricity pours into copper wires and flows out to your towns and cities.”

Curriculum Connections
Use this book to facilitate lessons on how energy is passed from one source to another.  It is a great opener for discussions on electricity and circuitry.  Themes in this book correlate with Virginia SOLs 3.9, 4.3, 6.1 and 6.2.

Additional Resources

Book: My Light
Author/ Illustrator: Molly Bang
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 33 pages
Grade Range: 1-5
ISBN:  043948961X

Teaching Process Skills With Children’s Literature: Swimming with Hammerhead Sharks


Swimming with Hammerhead Sharks, written by Kenneth Mallory, is part of the Scientists in the Field Series.  As part of the New England Aquarium and NOVA’s IMAX movie project, the author describes his experiences with the documentary and interviews a marine biologist, Pete Klimley, about his investigations around hammerhead behavior and connections to their migration around seamounts.

Divided into nine informative sections, the book is full of large colored photographs, and inserts on the types of hammerhead sharks, on SCUBA gear, maps, El Nino, and the Cocos Islands.  Closely follow along as Peter Klimley and the author describe their adventures diving with sharks.

“When Pete realized these schooling scalloped hammerheads had little interest in him as a potential meal, he began to wonder why they were swimming in a school and why they had gathered at this particular undersea mountain.”

“Pete told me once he squeezed his six-foot-one-inch body into a scuba diving suit painted black and white with a fin on the back to resemble a killer whale.”

Curriculum Connections
This book is a great example of how one scientist through his observations of shark behavior and knowledge of the local area was able to answer his own questions with predictions and research.   Also, it demonstrates how he investigated, recorded data on the sharks and their environment which led to his conclusions about their behavior. Themes in this book correlate with Virginia SOLs 4.1, 4.5, 5.1, and 5.6.

Additional Resources

Book: Swimming with Hammerhead Sharks
Author: Kenneth Mallory
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: 4-8
ISBN: 0-618-05543-6

Second Grade Addition and Subtraction

Want to jazz up your 2nd grade math class?  Here are suggestions for addition and subtraction books, kid's websites and additional resources.  This blog covers addition and subtraction fact families to 20, finding sums, differences, solving one and two step problems and showing their inverse relationship.

Amazing Math Books!


The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang, illustrated by Harry Briggs

With clever riddles, your students will become clever math whizzes.  Illustrated riddles introduce strategies for solving a variety of addition and subtraction problems in using visual clues.  The answers to the riddles are in the back of the book.


George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora, illustrated by Brock Cole

A rollicking rhyme portrays George Washington’s lifelong struggle with bad teeth. A timeline taken from diary entries and other nonfiction sources follows.  Students can work on subtraction while learning about hygiene and history.


Shark Swimathon by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Lynne Cravath

Swimming subtraction is just a part of the fun when these sharks need to swim 75 laps by the end of the week to make it to the state swim camp.  Besides straight subtraction problems, they need to work together to meet their goal.


Math Fables Too by Greg Tang, illustrated by Taia Morley

While learning about animals and their habits, work on math fact families up to 10.  Greg Tang describes the animals' activities while showing addition facts.  He includes descriptions of sea horses, koalas, dolphins, chimpanzees and more!


Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton

A hilarious portrayal of what happens when hippos get together for a party.  It is a good presentation of addition and subtraction relationships.

Exciting websites for kids!

Ten Frame:

Students play a game with a ten frame and chips where they can choose to play "How many?" "Build," "Fill," "Add," and "Play All."  These games work on sums, differences, and recognizing numbers.

Math Curse Hidden Picture Game:

Everyone loves the book, Math Curse.  Students practice their addition and subtraction skills while trying to correctly answer the questions to reveal the hidden picture.

Two Player Math Adding:

Students play against each other while adding single and double digit sums.  A crazy looking mathematician narrates and scores are kept.

Ghost Blasters:

Students try to blast away ghosts while practicing sums up to 50.  You can change the sum which with they try to blast the ghost.  Great sound effects and animation.

Can you balance?

Virtual Unifix cubes sit on scale waiting to be balanced.  Students pick from the possible answers to add the correct amount to the unbalanced tray.  They can work on seeing what addend pairs equal the same sums.

Additional Teacher Resources:

Face Off!

Great addition practice for students to play together using manupulatives.  Downloadable directions and material templates included. Good game for a math center or to use during a lesson.

Need virtual manipulatives for your class room computers?

Download the Base Blocks, Base Block Addition, Base Block Subtraction, Diffy, and Number Line Arithmetic.  They are interactive and presented clearly.

More literature and lesson plan ideas!

Look at the suggestions for the books Ten Apples up on Top by Theo LeSieg and Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews.  Work on Ten Frames and Part-Part-Total. It’s practice for forming numbers and math sentences.

Runaway Math Puzzle!

Use this template to make your own cool math puzzle. It is set up like a crossword puzzle, but with addition or subtraction sentences.  The templates are midway down the page.