Author Archive for Patrick D

Shaking It Up: Earthquakes!

Even though we may not feel it, the ground beneath us is in almost constant motion.  There are hundreds of earthquakes each year; however, many are not felt or occur far away from civilization.  Tectonic plates move along fault lines creating earthquakes which in turn form the landscape of our planet.  This constant changing of the earth’s crust is examined in VA Science SOL 5.7.  Although earthquakes are often considered dangerous and scary events to be taken very seriously, the scientific concepts discussed in the materials that follow give students an insight into the earth in which they inhabit.

A Project Guide to Earthquakes
Written by Claire O’Neal

Inside A Project Guide to Earthquakes, you will find thirteen experiments that elementary aged students will enjoy.  This book is targeted for upper elementary students and guides their interests in the science of earthquakes through hands-on activities.  It is a newer book (10/2010) and would be a good resource for teachers to use as they explore geology in the classroom.

Earthquake Games
Written by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvador, Illustrated by Christina C. Blatt

This book is best used for upper elementary and middle school students.  Included in the book are many activities that engage the student in learning about the awesome power of earthquakes.  This is a great book to use for both earthquake and volcano experiments.  Activities presented in Earthquake Games need to be supervised by an adult, and adult assistance may be needed to decipher some of the confusing page layout.  Solid information on geology, earthquakes, and volcanoes is given in this book and the games, experiments, and activities really enhance students’ interest in these topics.

Hands-on Science Projects
Written by Chris Oxlade

This is yet another very practical, experiment laden book for teachers and students to learn about not only earthquakes but many other geological and meteorological phenomena.  With a target age range of 9-12 years-old, this collection of over 50 experiments gives students a great resource from which to activate their knowledge of these subjects.  By having students interact with the scientific concepts presented, the experiments and activities in this book help teachers reach the full range of learning styles.  Also, by preforming the projects themselves, students can take ownership in their learning.

Earthquakes with Max Axiom
Written by Katherine Krohn, Illustrated by Tod Smith and Al Milgrom

This graphic novel will draw students into scientific concepts with its action-packed drawings and fast-paced action.  Earthquakes is included in a series of graphic novels centered around the main character, Max Axiom.  Again targeted at upper elementary, this book gives plenty of statistics, important events, and interesting facts about the topic while still staying with it’s comic-book like style.  The Max Axiom series is a great resource for students who are below level, struggle with, or are uninterested in reading.

…If you Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake
Written by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Pat Grant Porter

  This book was written to give students insight into what life would have been like before, after, and during one of the largest earthquakes ever.  Along with wonderful illustrations for visual learners, this book can either be read aloud to students or students themselves can easily read and comprehend the content.  A great cross-curricular learning resource, this book encompasses science, sociology, history while building on reading skills.  Students are placed into the disaster through vivid linguistic imagery and given questions and answers that help children get a visualization of what it may have been like to be involved in the earthquake.

Earthquakes for Kids

This website is presented by the United States Geological Survey and contains links to student focused activities, games, and facts.  The site can be navigated by either teacher or student and contains resources for both as well.  Due to the amount of information contained within the links, this tool would be best used by having the teacher guide the student step-by-step through a process that would be most beneficial to the scope of learning.  However, the site can also be used by the student alone in spare time to explore areas of interest that may lead to furthering knowledge.

Weather Wiz Kids

Perfect website for older elementary students to navigate. Earthquake information, science, terminology, and images bring to life the concepts involved in earthquakes.  There are also plenty of other links to further information on each section so that students can get more in depth knowledge on a particular interest.  While the site is directed towards children, teachers can benefit from the lesson plan links offered at the bottom of the page and other topics linked on the left column.

Dragonfly TV

Dragonfly TV is a production of PBS Kids that is geared towards involving kids in the knowledge through videos, games, and other interactive resources.  This particular link leads the teacher and/or the student to a video in which two young girls discuss earthquakes where they live.  Along with factually laden information given by peers, this video shows the girls preforming actual science as well.  Although the video is a little lengthy for the classroom, the other links on the page will give teachers more great resources to interact students with the concept of earthquakes.

Earthquakes 101

A short video (about 2 1/2 minutes long), made by National Geographic (a well recognized institution) gives students vivid images and plenty of factual information.  Although the tone of the video is a bit serious and focuses on the severity and destructive nature of earthquakes, it is a good introduction to the concepts and science behind earthquakes.  The imagery shown in the video will enhance visual learners ability to grasp the geological concepts presented.

Kid Scoop Special Report: Earthquake in Haiti 

  This website gives students a current event experience with earthquakes.  There are several other resources on this site to accompany the actual story of what happened including ways kids can help raise money and awareness.  Hopefully the links and suggestions on this site will further a student’s knowledge, understanding, and questioning about the topic of earthquakes as well as the human condition/social awareness.

Plate Tectonics Activity

An interactive model of the different ways tectonic plates move, this will help students visualize the effects of earth movement.  By actually moving the the earth themselves, students are much more interactively involved in the scientific concept of plate tectonics.  Also, this activity gives students an idea of the spacial-relations involved with earthquakes by appealing to their senses of touch, sight, and using motor skills/hand-eye coordination.

Earthquake Legends Throughout the World 

From the California Department of Conservation, the California Geological Survey has put together a list of legends that explain the phenomena of earthquakes.  This multicultural list can be used as a cross-curricular tool tying the earth science unit of earthquakes and plate tectonics to the telling of legends and myths in the english department.  Also, there is the multicultural connection that can be made with students who have family connections to one or more of these legends.

California Real Time Earthquakes

What a cool resource!  This map shows a real time map of earthquakes in California, perhaps the most active state in the country.  Students can see the amount and frequency of earthquakes throughout the state and can click on the individual quake to find out more information about each specific occurrence.

Shaken! Earthquake Rocks Central Virginia

This report gives students a localized notion of earthquakes.  Although the information contained within the report is well above elementary level reading and comprehension, this resource is still a useful tool for teachers.  There are good maps for students to explore and some of the information will help to teach about plate tectonics.  By using information that is local to Virginia students, their interest will be piqued and perhaps students will develop more questions from which the teacher could build the learning process around.

Jackie Robinson


As the first African-American player in the major leagues of baseball, Jackie’s actions helped to bring about other opportunities for African-Americans.  (SOL 2.11)  The resources given below will help a 2nd grade student learn about the life and times of Jackie Robinson.  There are sources that highlight his career and its milestones, and others that focus on what Jackie Robinson meant to the civil rights movement.  Through his accomplishments on the field and his strides to improve the lives of African-Americans in all walks of life, Jackie Robinson can be seen through these resources to be a very influential individual in American history.

Scholastic News Video
This video takes place on Jackie Robinson Day at Citi Field in New York and is an event for children.  There are several interviews in which children learn about Jackie’s contribution to not only baseball but civil rights as a whole.  People who are interviewed give their views on Jackie Robinson as a person and enunciate the ways in which he influenced others.

Jackie Robinson Game Footage
This video gives students a primary source of Jackie Robinson’s game-day exploits.  Along with seeing his prowess as a baseball player, there is also a song that regales Jackie’s accomplishments and shows his influence into popular culture.  Students will have a better understanding of the time period Jackie Robinson lived in and what the atmosphere of a baseball game was like during that era.

Jackie Robinson Biography
This biographical site gives kids a ton of information about Jackie Robinson’s career and firsts as an African-American baseball player.  There is a timeline on which his career highlights are put in chronological order.  There is another timeline that enumerates special events in the life of Jackie Robinson.  There are also links near the top of the page to a photo gallery and a video of Jackie Robinson’s last public appearance.

Jackie Robinson At Bat Craft
Crayola provides directions at this site on how to build a three dimensional paper replica of Jackie Robinson.  Included in the craft are several aspects of the time period surrounding Jackie Robinson’s baseball playing days.  This craft is meant to be a commemoration of the first African-American to play professional baseball.

Jackie Robinson on Britannica Kids
Here, Jackie Robinson’s life and career are laid out as an encyclopedia entry.  Facts are given that begin with his birth date and place and continue through to his death.  Included are facts about his playing career and contributions to society based on his work for civil rights.  An extremely helpful aspect of this web page is an interactive dictionary provided by Merriam-Webster.  if a child does not understand or recognize a word used in the encyclopedia entry, double-clicking on the word will open a small window in which the word is defined as in a dictionary.

Testing the Ice
Written by Sharon Robinson and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This true life story is written by Jackie Robinson’s daughter and includes paintings to enhance the action of the book.  Upon retirement, Jackie Robinson moves his family to Connecticut where his children play with other kids in and around the nearby lake.  Jackie curiously does not go near the lake because, unbeknownst to his family, he does not know how to swim.  After making the rule that the children cannot go onto the frozen lake in the winter without having an adult first check its stability he finds himself faced with a dilemma.  He musters up his courage and, as a metaphor to his career, Jackie walks out to the middle of the frozen pond and okays it for the children.


Time For Kids
Written by Editors of Time for Kids and Denise Lewis Patrick
This reading offers a detailed biography of the first African-American baseball player to play professional baseball, describing the hardships and racial barriers he had to overcome to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  This is an easy read to older kids and gives great information when read to younger children.  The text informs readers about complex issues, such as segregation, while remaining relevant to grades 2-4.  Also included in this reading are pictures from the Time-Life collection that depict Jackie Robinson’s career.

Time For Kids Website
As an add on to the above reading, this website gives teachers an additional resource to pull activities from.  Included in this site are open ended questions, vocabulary words, journal questions, and extended readings.  This is a educator focused site and has links to many other educational opportunities for teachers.

Picture Book
Written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Robert Casilla
Recounts the life and career of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues.  Easily read text is complimented by full and double page water color paintings.  There are images from his childhood, his days as a collegiate athlete, as a major leaguer, and finally includes his contributions to civic equality.  This book is a good introduction to the life of Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson
This is a website for young children to navigate.  It includes simple, basic facts of Jackie’s life, a timeline of important events, and other facts.  With large writing and only one or two links, this website is set up for young elementary school children to use.

Stealing Home
Written by Burleigh and illustrated by Mike Wimmer
In 1955, during the World Series, Jackie Robinson did the impossible: stole home.  This book recants this legend in great detail, using extremely vivid imagery through very descriptive writing.  Along with the elegantly described story, there are biographical boxes throughout the book to add background information.  Oil Paintings enhance the story and are presented on each two page spread.  Potentially, this book can be read to or with a wide range of children; the facts included in the baseball card style boxes are good for older readers and  the pictures with the main story can be read to younger children.

News for You
A short read, this page allows students to get the information fast.  Important facts are given about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, but the main purpose is to help the child relate to the feeling of exclusion.  A vocabulary word bank is given as is an open ended question at the end of the reading.  This reading is targeted at younger elementary aged students.

He Led the Way
Written by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Robert Casilla
This book is a biographical depiction of Jackie Robinson’s life that is written to be read by children.  It is a level 2 in the All Aboard Reading series and includes smaller words and sentences that enable young readers.  There is a mixture of paintings and pictures that go along with the words to assist children in reading He Led the Way.  While learning valuable reading skills and practicing phonetic concepts, children acquire knowledge about Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson, A Black Hero
Within this website are a lesson plan, quiz, and a list of the academic standards per state.  This particular lesson plan was written for a Catholic elementary school, but can be used in the public domain as well.