Author Archive for Tricia

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: The Story of Jamestown


The Story of Jamestown, written by Eric Braun, is a book that is presented in a format similar to a comic book; for that reason it may be attractive to boys in the classroom.  It tells the story of the settlement of Jamestown, from the initial voyage that sailed from England in December, 1606 to the 1698 fire that destroyed the settlement.  It tells of their interaction with the Indians and their struggle to survive.

Curriculum Connections
This book can be used to support Virginia Studies SOL VS.3a/b, as it helps to explain the reasons for English colonization and how the geography influenced the decision to settle in Jamestown.

Additional Resources

  • This website is an interactive site that allows students to make choices about where and how they would settle if they had been on the first ships to arrive from England.
  • This National Geographic website offers an animated video of the voyage to Jamestown, and includes additional games the students can play to help reinforce the material they are learning about early Virginia history.
  • This website is quite interesting.  It provides a great deal of information about the Powhatan Village, the English Ships, and the James Fort. Students are given options of tabs to click on to open pages that give detailed information about fort life, gender roles, navigational tools, and many other aspects of this time period.  It also has photographs of artifacts and of the re-created settlements.

Book: The Story of Jamestown
Author: Eric Braun
Illustrators:  Steve Erwin, Keith Williams, and Charles Barnett III
Publisher: Capstone Press
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 3rd-5th
ISBN:  0-7368-4967-X

Sixth Grade Fraction Resources

I am doing my resource set for the fractions section of 6th grade mathematics.  I taught this area this past year but just by starting this assignment, I have more tools to work with then I did previously.  This is a difficult topic for students.  I hope to be able to get each student to a level of understanding with these resources, that I may not have been able to before.

Text Annotations

1.  The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book, by Jerry Pollatta, illustrated by Robert C. Bolster

This book is a great tool to get kids to recall information about fractions and works easily with an interactive lesson involving Hershey bars.

2. Funny and Fabulous Fraction Stories, by Dan Greenburg and Jared Lee

This book starts out around a third grade level but is a great review.  It is appropriate for struggling sixth graders and uses humor and fun to teach.  Readers work throughout the book and solve the problems while laughing.

3. Painless Fractions, by Alyece Cummings

A very simple and concisely written book for those struggling with fractions.  It goes step by step to try and conquer this topic that  many find painful.

4. Fabulous Fractions, by Lynette Long

This book gives some great fractions lessons either in fun stories or great interactive activities.  This would be a fantastic resource for teachers, not something to be read or done cover to cover with the students.  It covers pretty much every SOL dealing with fractions through middle school.

You can check out a chunk of it right now at Google Books.

5.  Piece = Part = Portion, by Scott Gifford, photography by Shmuel Thaler

This is a great book to entertain and pull the related concepts of fractions, decimals, and percents together.  This is a fairly simple idea but somewhat abstract and this helps students make the connections.  The easy to understand text and terrific picture examples from everyday life really bridge these ideas.

Web Annotations

1.  Tony Fraction’s Pizza Shop– This site is a game where kids make pizzas according to the order.  They have to fill the pizza with the correct portion of ingredients.  Often the fraction is out of the whole pizza but sometimes it is simplified and they have to figure out how many pieces they need to make it equivalent.

2.  Fresh baked fractions– This link takes you through finding different equivalent fractions.  You get four fractions and choose the one that is not equivalent.  You earn pieces of pie for each correct answer.  This is not timed but as kids get better at seeing/computing equivalent fractions you could add that as a component if there are multiple computers.

3.  Soccer Shoutout– This is a very simple game that focuses on multiplication of fractions.  It goes a little beyond the basic multiplication of fractions because the player has to reduce the answer to simplest form in order to score.  This is for those that understand basic multiplication, but need more practice with multiplying fractions and simplifying the answer.

4.  Who wants pizza?–  This site may seem simple but it is a great one for 6th graders.  It has 6 different sections that go from reviewing what fractions are to multiplying fractions.  The first four parts should be review for 6th graders but most likely a much needed review.  Then parts 5 and 6 take you through the new material they need to be learning.  This would be something that you could work through over a couple of days or even leave for a substitute since it really works through the topic and then gives practice problems.

5. Multiplying Fractions– This link is just one page and it is more of a drill/practice than a game.  You can modify the instructions by seeing how many they can get correct in a certain amount of time or see how many they can get correct before they miss one.  This is the multiplying fractions drill page

Additional Resources

1.  Another site you might want to use before they start this one is

This site helps to review fractions and multiplying fractions and could be used for remediation if a student is not ready for the drill page.

2.  This site has a couple of fraction card games that would be great for an independent center.  The rules/instructions could be printed and laminated for use anytime to practice adding fractions.

3.  This game is very similar to “war” with a standard deck of cards.  It has printable fraction cards that can be laminated and used with the instructions at a game center without a teacher.  This competitive game really works with comparing fractions and understanding what the fractions represent.

4.  Candy Fractions- This page gives you a real attention getter.  Almost all kids like chocolate and when you pull out a Hershey bar they really want to know why.  This activity would be a great pre-lesson to the m&m statistics activity.

5. Tutorials- go to the Virginia department of education link below, under the computation and estimation section,click on the two sections you see below, the links send you to the page and you have to scroll down to the section and click on these topics, on the VDOE page to get the videos

Fraction Concepts (Grades 6 & 7)

Dr. Ena Gross, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) professor of mathematics education, on the prerequisites students need for fraction computation.

Fraction Computation (Grade 6)

Dr. Ena Gross on one method sixth graders can use to approach multiple-choice fraction computation problems.

4th Grade Measurement


We know that measurement is a fundamental mathematical component.  As a teacher, it is our job to teach it well.  Below you will find a selection of books that are necessary for children to develop a clear understanding
of measurement. You will also find a selection of websites and resources useful for developing proficiency with basic measurement facts and concepts.  These materials provided are anticipated for fourth graders; however they can be modified for different grade levels if necessary.

Recommended Books:

book cover of   How Tall, How Short, How Far Away?   by  David A AdlerHow Tall, How Short, How FarAway? by David A. Adler and illustrated by Nancy Tobin is a book that introduces several measuring systems such as the Egyptian system, the customary (inch-pound system), and the metric system.  The book has some questions asking what units would you use to measure an object such as the length of a celery stick and other questions ask you to find the measurement such as the length of your block.

31pi13siy2l_sl500_aa180_.jpgHow Much, How Many, How Far, How Heavy, How Long, How Tall is 1000?  by Helen Nolan and illustrated by Tracy Walker is a book finding different ways to measure 1000.  How tall would a pile of 1000 acorns be? And if those acorns grew into 1,000 oak trees, how big would that forest be? As children learn about large numbers, counting becomes less practical and understanding these numbers becomes more and more important. In this playful and mathematically sound book, children will develop an understanding of how big, how small, how long and how tall 1,000 really is!

9780060848064.jpgMillions to Measure by David M. Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg is a book exploring the invention of length, weight, and volume measurements.   How tall is Moonbeam, the unicorn?  How long are the whiskers of Jello, the cat?  And just how heavy is that darling hog?  Tons and teaspoons and ounces and feet and yards and miles … what a headache!  With millions of things to measure, wouldn’t one standard system be simpler?  With another wave of the wand, Marvelosissimo, the Magician,  explains to you to the development of standard units of measure, and shows the simplicity of calculating length, height, weight, and volume using the metric system and introduces the world of metrics and makes it easy to understand the basic pattern of meters, liters, and grams.  And with Steven Kellogg’s playful and delightfully detailed illustrations, measuring has never been such a blast!

0805065725_large.jpgMeasuring Penny written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy is a book about a girl named Lisa who has an important homework assignment–to measure something in several different ways. She has to use standard units like inches and nonstandard units like paper clips to find out height, width, length, weight, volume, temperature, and time. Lisa decides to measure her dog, Penny, and finds out … Penny’s nose = 1 inch long, Penny’s tail = 1 dog biscuit long, Penny’s paw print = 3 centimeters wide … and that’s only the beginning! Lisa learns a lot about her dog and about measuring, and even has fun doing it.This clear and engaging concept book, delivered with a sense of humor, is certain to win over the most reluctant mathematician.

9780064467247.jpgRoom for Ripley by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Sylvie Wickstrom is a book introduce various units of liquid measure.  A boy named Carlos is getting a fish bowl ready for his new pet.  Carlos pours cups, pints and quarts of water into his fish bowl, getting ready for his new puppy, Ripley.  Readers can learn about capacity as they see just how much water it takes to make room for Ripley!

Recommended Websites:

Math Matching  – This is an activity of matching equivalent customary measures.  For example, 16 ounces is equivalent to 1 pound.  The matches will make a picture.

Can You Fill It – This is an activity involving filling up containers using three different sized pots.  The goal is to use to pick a combination of pots that fill the container with the fewest amount of pours without going over.

Harbour Measurements – This is an activity where you will need to help Molly load up the boat by choosing the correct parcel I ask for.  This is testing  estimating metric measures.

Bitesize Maths:Practice Postage Measurements – This is an activity where you have to find the length and weight of a parcel and then figure out from those measurements how much a postage stamp will cost using the chart.

Measuring Wangdoodles – This is an activity where you are to find the weight of each Wangdoodle using the information provided by the scales.  To be successful, you will have to make sure that the weight you assign to each Wangdoodle works on each scale.   This also introduces algebraic equations.

Additional Resources:

Cooking Measurement Equivalents

This side provides measuring equivalents for teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, pints, fluid ounces, and more. This page also includes the conversions for metric and U.S. systems of measurement.

A Maths Dictionary for Kids

This site provides a dictionary will all mathematical definitions and an example.  You just have to click on the letter that the work starts with and then click on he word.  For example for the word volume, you would click on the letter v and then click on the word volume.  You will then see the definition and an example.

Tree Measurement

This site is used to help understand vertical and horizontal measurement of large objects.

Kindergarten Addition and Subtraction


The topic I will be covering is Addition and Subtraction. The target grade will be Kindergarten, which is the grade that I plan to teach. The Standards of Learning this topic will cover is:

K.6 Math – The student will model adding and subtracting whole numbers, using up to 10 concrete objects.

Text Annotations
The following are some great books related to my topic of Addition and Subtraction. These are books that I will be able to read to or with my students in my Kindergarten classroom.

  1. Jack The Builder by Stuart J. Murphy Illustrated by Michael Rex. – This book covers counting on, which builds on a student’s ability to add. A little boy uses blocks to build a robot and adds the parts on one by one.
  2. Mall Mania by Stuart J. Murphy Illustrated by Renee Andriani. – This story takes place in a mall and practices addition strategies. In it, there is shopping, counting, and adding. The book uses elementary school students as the characters, which will help relate to the students when we read it.
  3. Elevator Magic by Stuart J. Murphy Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. – A little boy subtracts his way down an elevator while encountering some magical sights. Great way for kids to practice subtraction.
  4. Math for all Seasons by Greg Tang Illustrated by Harry Briggs. – This book has rhyming riddles. Kids can solve these by counting, or by using the author’s techniques. Kids can also develop great problem solving skills. It practices fun ways to add and subtract.
  5. Ten Terrible Dinosaurs written and illustrated by Paul Stickland. – This book is a fun and entertaining way for kids to count back and subtract. It starts off with ten dinosaurs and the interesting scenarios they experience taking one away at a time.

Web Annotations
The following is a list of websites pertinent to my topic of addition and subtraction. These websites include games students can play to practice what we are learning.

  1. Count Us In Practicing Addition – In this game, children have to put a certain amount of people on a bus to get the desired sum. It is a fun and interactive way to practice addition.
  2. Addition and Subtraction Kindergarten Webpage Adding Bricks – In this activity, students count the number of bricks the workers dump to find the sum.
  3. BBC Homepage The Little Animals Activity Center – Students take away the number of dots on one lady bug from another to practice finding the difference in a subtraction problem.
  4. Kidport Kindergarten How Many? – Students count the number of shapes to get the total number. This will help build on addition skills for young children.
  5. Pitara Kids Network Learning to Add and Subtract – Students will add or subtract the picture objects to find the correct sum or difference.

Additional Resources
The following are additional resources to help support instruction for this topic.

  1. The Blue Bean Game – This lesson idea comes from The goal of this game is to practice addition skills with kindergarten students. Large Lima beans will be colored two different colors on opposite sides. After they are colored, you are to place them in a cup, shake them up, and toss them out. The student will have a piece of paper with the appropriate color in correlation to the lima beans and color on their paper the colors of each lima bean they see. They will add the individual colors and get the appropriate sum.
  2. Subtraction Coloring Page – The template on this website has coloring pages that students can use to practice subtraction. Students this age love to color so I think it would be a great way to incorporate fun and math into one!
  3. Candy Corn Kindergarten Math Lesson Plan – This lesson generates ideas to use candy in correlation to students learning to subtract. It is instructed for Halloween but can be adapted to any holiday or can even be used generally. Kids love candy at all ages, so what other better way to show kids concepts for subtraction then by eating candy away!

Teaching Civics With Children’s Literature: Vote!


Elections, elections, elections have been the pressing news topics recently with the President Campaign just ending. What better way then to teach students about the importance of voting with the book Vote! by Eileen Christelow. The book does an outstanding job in explaining all about voting, the importance of it and how it actually works in children friendly language.

The book begins by using a town that is looking to elect a new major. The text follows the process of a campaign starting by explaining voting and ending with the inauguration of the new mayor, even adding in a recount. Christelow gives background information of the history of voting, registration process, different political parties. fundraising and how the ballots are counted:

If you want to vote, you need to register. Where? At your town office. Or you can download a registration form from the Internet or you might even find a both set up at a shopping mall or at a political rally (Page 17).

The colorful, comic like illustrations provide excellent support for the text and have relevant bubble captions. One of the most impressive aspect of the book is additional information included. It includes a vocabulary sheet in simple language, a timeline of voting rights, information on political parties and additional references. This book would be a great way to introduce your class to voting and all of the processes involved in a way that tailors to questions children would have or be unsure of. The book is simple, informative and a fun way for your class to learn about their civic duty and how every vote counts!

Curriculum Connections

This book would be a great way to introduce the civic duties of citizens they have as they get older such as voting. It talks about our responsibility to be active in voting as it impacts the schools, town and laws being made and how each person has a voice. In Virginia it would relate to the Standard of Learning for Civics, where students can explain the responsibility of being a good citizen by taking part in the voting process of classroom decision making (1.10 f, 2.10 b)

Additional Resources

Book: Vote!
 Eileen Christelow
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 48 pages
Grades: 1-3
ISBN: 0618247548

Teaching History with Children's Literature: Joe and the Skyscraper


Joe and the Skyscraper is the story of a little boy named, Joe Carbonelli, who guides the reader around the New York City and through different eras.  The character Joe focuses on the construction of the Empire State Building in New York.  Joe gave in-depth details about the construction process of the Empire State Building.  "The rivet was then pressed firmly from both sides with a pneumatic hammer (12)."  The book goes through several significant events that take place during the construction process.  Readers will also learn about the fascination that America had with skyscrapers during this moment in history.  The book mentions that men of different ages, ethnicity, and races worked on the gigantic structure.  At the end of the book, the last two pages compare the most famous structures around the world.  This gives the reader a visual of the size of the Empire State Building and other structures in the United States compared to those in other countries.

Dietrich Neumann does a great comparing the different shapes, sizes, and cultures that go into all of the architecture in New York City.  He uses photos of different landmarks throughout the city and a witty character named Joe to grab the attention of the reader.  The book goes from landmarks built in the early 1900s to more modern buildings in New York City. The history in this book really analyzes the culture behind the architecture.

Curriculum Connections
The student will learn about the history of architecture in New York City.  The students will be able to discuss the different tactics and significant instruments used to create a significant structure.  This book correlates directly with History SOLs 2.3.

Additional Activities

  • Try spelling with the Empire State Building and your students.
  • Try playing Jenga with your students and make the tower as tall as possible.

Book: Joe and the Skyscraper
Author/Illustrator: Dietrich Neumann
Publisher: Prestel Publishing
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 28 pages
Grades: 3-5
ISBN: 379132103

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Shall I Knit You a Hat?

Aspects of geography affect our lives every day.  It is likely that each day we get up and use the weather report to decide what to wear.  We may also base our decisions on what to eat and what kind of transportation we rely on due to our location and its climate.  For example, if it’s snowy, many people prefer hot chocolate to ice cold soda for refreshments. When vacationing in Alaska, most would rather stay in a warm lodge than a bamboo hut.  Kate Klise presents a similar theme in her story Shall I Knit You a Hat?

Klise’s Shall I Knit You a Hat? is a story that describes the importance of making decisions based on the way people live in their environment.  This story follows Mother Rabbit and Little Rabbit as they prepare for a blizzard that is coming on Christmas Eve.

 “It will start snowing on Christmas Eve and won’t stop until the snow reaches the tallest tips of your ears.”
“My ears?” asked Little Rabbit. “But that will be very cold.”
“You’re right, ” said Mother Rabbit. “Shall I knit you a hat to keep your ears warm?”

To ensure Little Rabbit will be secure in the storm, Mother Rabbit knits a hat that will perfectly fit Little Rabbit’s tall ears. Because Little Rabbit enjoys his hat so much, he suggests that he and his mother make more hats to help keep his friends warm too.  They visit the horse, the goose with the long neck, the stylish cat, the dog, and the deer with antlers to make measurements for their hat.  Little Rabbit and his mother stay up all night knitting and sewing each individual hat.  The next day, they decide to use a sled to deliver their presents in the market due to snow on the ground.  Just as they hand out the hats, snowflakes begin to fall from the sky!  Luckily, all the friends have their new hats for the weather!

 Just look how this clever hat keeps my head warm and dry,” said the horse.

Curriculum Connections
Shall I Knit You a Hat?
is a great book to introduce how location, climate, and physical surroundings affect the way people live (Virginia SOL 1.6).  The illustrations, by M. Sarah Klise, also serve as a great tool for teaching about geography. The scenery describes the location, displaying tall hills, full of snow with many snowflakes falling down. Due to the climate and the presence of snow, the main characters are shown dressed in warm hats.  Little Rabbit and Mother Rabbit also choose to use a sled as their form of transportation in the story.  Through these examples, it is clear their daily lives are affected by their location and climate.  It may be interesting to read another story that compares this winter setting to a warmer one and discuss how the clothing, forms of transportation, and weather are different in the stories

Additional Resources

  • For more books written by Kate Klise and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise, check out their website!
  • The Crayola website offers a great sewing craft that emphasizes the use of sewing in Shall I Knit You a Hat?  This activity, Love You ‘Sew’ Much Cards, also stresses the significance of gift giving.
  • Use this geography lesson plan to teach about Africa and how the weather affects the people who live there.  This lesson encourages students to question how geography affects their lives as well.

Book: Shall I Knit You a Hat? 
Kate Klise
Illustrator: M. Sarah Klise
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
Publication Date:
Pages: 32 pages

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars


Comets, Stars the Moon, and Mars is book of space paintings and poetry written and beautifully illustrated by artist, Douglas Florian. The book includes clever little poems about all eight planets, the sky, galaxies, and even a sad poem about how Pluto was demoted as a planet. This particular poem starts off as “Pluto was a planet. But now it doesn’t pass…” and goes on before concluding that Pluto was officially fired as a legitimate planet in out solar system. All the poems are easy to read and understand, making it a perfect book for kids to work on reading themselves. The scientific facts about the planets and space objects are neatly folded into the stanza, it never seems forced or cheesy. For example, one poem about black holes includes lines like, “some are small, some are quite wide. Gravity pulls, all things inside,” which subtly gives basic facts about black holes while still presenting a strong piece of poetry.Another helpful resource that the book offers is a glossary in the back with written paragraphs about each planet and space object mentioned in the poems. This is a great resource to help answer questions that arise while reading the poems as you introduce kids to the new topics. I really enjoy the paintings in the book that accompany each poem. I think the book can appeal to many kids because it combines both artistic and scientific thinking.

Curriculum Connections
The book can be used to get kids interested in science and the topic of the universe by letting them read about it in a non-traditional way, through poetry and art. It satisfies the Virginia SOL for earth science 4.7 by talking about sizing, positioning and mass make-up of the earth, moon and sun. I think it could be appropriate for any grade between 3rd and 6th to give kids an alternative and maybe more fun way of looking at earth science.

Additional Resources

  • For some extra detailed information and facts about the planets and the solar system, check out this site by NASA
  • Retreat back to a more traditional science book with this universe encyclopedia.
  • Have students illustrate their own astronomy terms with some ideas here, you could even add in a poetry workshop and have each student create their own poem defining the terms just like in the book.

Book: Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars
Douglas Florian
Harcourt Children’s Books
Publication Date:
56 pages
ISBN:  0152053727

Teaching Life Science With Children’s Literature: A Seed Is Sleepy


Have you ever looked for a informative yet unique approach to introducing seeds to your class? Dianna Hutts Aston and Silvia Long in A Seed Is Sleepy, provide an eloquently written and beautifully illustrated non-fiction book that you will want to purchase not only for your classroom but for your home  collection as well.

Ashton and Long present interesting facts about a vast array of different seeds, most of which children see around them everyday. The text is written in an poetic sounding way that flows very nicely and will keep your class or child interested. The authors also do a phenomenal job at simplifying related technical science terms such as “gymnosperms” or “dicots”.  Every two pages, is started by a one sentence teaser about that group of seeds such as “A seed is adventurous.” The larger cursive sentence is then followed by an explanation of the previous teaser given:

“Most seeds sleep through a season or two, waiting for the warmer temperatures of spring. But some take their time. Ten years might pass before the bright red-orange seed of the Texas mountain laurel shows its purple blooms” (Page 2).

As you turn each page, you are drawn to the intricate illustrations that seem to pop off the page. The book even provides a labeled diagram of a seed embryo in addition to identifying a countless number of other plants. Aston and Long even go into the process of how plants get their nutrients through the process of photosynthesis. This book will help introduce to your class to all the different types of seeds ranging from the ancient date palm seeds to the pumpkin seed.

Curriculum Connections
This book will provide students with an introduction to seeds and basic plant structures. The student will also begin to examine photosynthesis and all of the necessary components that need to be present in order for this process to occur.  In Virginia it can be used to explain the structure of typical plants, touch on the structures and processes involved in reproduction and the process of photosynthesis (Science Standard of Learning 4.4 a, b, c)

Additional Resources

Book: A Seed Is Sleepy
Author: Dianna Hutts Aston
Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 40 pages
ISBN: 0811855201

How’s Your Content Knowledge?

My students arrive in 75 minutes. On the first day of class we begin by with a scavenger hunt as both a means of introduction and a way for me to see how much they “know” about the curriculum they will one day teach. Here are the rules and the questions.
  1. Begin by reading the questions and writing in any answers you already know.
  2. Walk around the room and find someone to confirm your answers and/or provide answers you do not know. Have that person initial next to the question.
  3. Remember that one person may not supply more than two answers on your paper.
  4. Sit down as soon as your hunt is completed.
  • Define and give you an example of opportunity cost.
  • Name the "Father of the Constitution."
  • Name the most highly valued barter item in Colonial Virginia.
  • Tell you who Christopher Newport was.
  • Name two important figures in the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Name the five regions of Virginia.
  • Tell you the difference between latitude and longitude.
  • Name two things George Washington Carver was famous for.
  • Tell you about Werewocomoco.
  • Name the five oceans of the world.
  • Draw and name the parts of a light wave.
  • Name the components of soil.
  • Describe the difference between the waxing and waning phases of the moon.
  • Tell you the required components and products of photosynthesis.
  • Name the eight planets in order from the sun.
  • Tell you what a dichotomous key is.
  • Explain why it is hotter in the summer than in the winter.
  • Name four nonrenewable energy resources.
  • Tell you the difference between weathering and erosion.
  • Name the five kingdoms of classification.
  • Name the six types of simple machines.
How did you do? My students will be moaning and groaning, cheering every so often, and then wondering how they’ll ever learn/remember it all. We’ll spend the semester thinking about these topics and more, while we explore the best ways to teach them. You can be that books (and I don’t mean textbooks) will play some small role here. :)