Author Archive for Ryan

The Exciting World of Fractions (Instructional Resource Set)



This instructional resource set was developed to meet the criteria of Virginia Standard of Learning 2.3.  This number and number sense math Standard of Learning states that second grade students will identify the part of a set and/or region that represents fractions for one-half, one-third, one-fourth, one-eighth, and one-tenth, and write the corresponding fraction.  Although this instructional resource set was designed for a second grade unit on fractions, it can be adapted for first and third grades as well.

Below you will find information regarding the 5  books I thought were best to help kids understand this wacky world of fractions, as well as some great online resources for students that will allow them to further explore this topic.  This blog also contains additional resources for supporting instruction.  You will find songs, videos, links to websites, sample lesson plans, and more!  Check out each link and enjoy!

Text Annotations


Fraction Fun by David A. Adler and illustrated by Nancy Tobin contains colorful, fun, and informative illustrations all the while providing a clear and concise definition of what a fraction is – it is part of something else, part of a whole!  This book uses the whole pizzas and individual slices to demonstrate the different aspects of a fraction, namely the numerator and the denominator.  When you are using this book in a lesson or a unit, read it on a “Pizza Friday” when the kids can reference the examples first hand – and enjoy the yummy side of fractions!


Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by Rob Bolster directly corresponds to the portion of the SOL about fractions as part of a whole.  Bolster’s illustrations of pieces of apples throughout the book serve as a great model of a fraction in a real life setting.  The best part about this book, other than the fun elves found chopping up the apples, is the fact that it shows the fraction in number form as well as written out in a complete word.  I love that students will be able to see 1/2, relate it to the word “one-half” and understand what that concept means. 


Piece, Part, Portion by Scott Gifford and illustrated by Shmuel Thaler is a 3 for 1 book.  This book touches on fractions, decimals, and percents – a must-have for elementary classrooms!  The text and illustrations in Piece, Part, Portion, wonderfully demonstrate that each of those three mathematical ideas describes the same concept: they are all part of a larger whole.  This book also provides examples of how we use fractions in everyday life and just don’t realize it.  Ask your kids if they agree that one shoe is 1/2 of a pair of shoes.  If they are hesitant or resistant to that idea, flip through the book to show them the example in the text!  Although parts of this book may be better understood in a 3rd grade classroom, it still serves as a great instructional tool!


If you are wondering how to introduce fractions to your second grade class, look no further!  The expert teaching of Mrs. Prime, the friendly hippopotamus in the book Fraction Action by Loreen Leedy, serves as a great help!  Mrs. Prime teaches fractions to her class, a bubbly group of fun animals by cutting a sandwich in half, selling lemonade,  and using other real life applications of food, art, and everyday objects.  For a class of active kids, animal lovers, or students who want to learn fractions, this book is perfect!


The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins will make your students hungry for more information about fractions!  This cute book depicts a make-believe story about a mother, adorable referred to as Ma, who makes a dozen cookies for her two kids.  Ma’s kids are thrilled when they smell and see the cookies because they think they get to eat all twelve cookies.  As soon as the kids can share that thought, the doorbell rings and a friend comes over.  Ma offers cookies to all three of the kids, but, as soon as she puts the plate on the table, the doorbell rings again and more kids come over!  This pattern continues until there is one cookie left.  The kids decide to split the remaining cookie in half because they decide that is the most fair way to split up the treat.  Check out this mouth-watering book for more fun situations involving fractions!

Web Annotations – Let your students check out these interactive websites!

Fishy Fractions is a great interactive game with catchy music that centers around a pelican eating surprises out of the ocean in the shapes of fish, circles, and other objects.  Students will have to match fractions or pie graphs to the written name or the correct mathematical representation of a fraction.

This Red Fish Fraction Introduction video does a great job of slowly, accurately, and creatively introducing the basic parts of a fraction!  I would suggest students watch this short minute and thirty second clip at the beginning of their fraction unit.

This Jamaican Jam Session Cartoon video uses pie to explain that each part of a pie is part of a fraction.  Our fun eclectic singer explains that a fraction has a denominator that goes beneath the line and the denominator, in the case of this video, shows how many slices the whole pie contains.  Our friend goes further to explain that a fraction also has a numerator and the numerator goes about the line.  In the case of the Jamaican Jam Session video, the singer explains that the numerator represents the number of slices he has.  This mesmerizing video will have you singing about fractions all day!

Fraction Flags  is an online website that lets kids, especially artists, flourish and express their creativity.  Who ever said fractions couldn’t be fun to learn about?  This website allows kids to draw and design different flags using different combinations of halves and quarters.

The Naming Fractions interactive game shows pictures of different shaded shapes and lets the students fill in the numerator and denominator!  This game is a great way for students to see where they are in their knowledge of fractions.

Additional Resources – Teachers, check out these resources!

This Fraction Activity  online game can be used by students or teachers!  If you have access to a SmartBoard I would suggest using this game in the classroom as an introduction to fractions.  Each student can come up and insert numbers from a small bank of numbers to create a new fraction.  Students can choose to have their fractions represented by pizza, numbers of people, gallons of water, or a chocolate bar.  This is a great hands on activity to get the kids up and moving, and most importantly, understanding that fractions represent part of a portion or part of a whole.

This Cookie Fraction lesson plan is designed as an activity to follow the reading of The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins.  Not only does this lesson provide kids with a hand on experience to different fractions, namely halves, thirds, fourths, eights, and tenths, this lesson also fosters group work and cooperation.

Still hungry for more fractions?  This Fraction Pizza lesson plan can serve as a great follow up to a few of the previously mentioned books that incorporated pizza in their illustrations.  This lesson plan can also be great for teaching an introduction about adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators.

This M & M’s lesson plan  is designed to improve students’ understanding of fractions by using the tasty candy M & M’s.  In this lesson, students will sort their candy by color, and then write out, both long hand and numerically, the fraction that represents how many of their M & M’s are that color.  This lesson is a fun way to help students understand what fractions are and how to use them.

Teaching History With Children’s Literature: George Washington’s Teeth


George Washington’s Teeth is a fun book written by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora and illustrated by Brock Cole.  Chandra and Comora use poetry to explain the problems George Washington had with his teeth, they kept falling out! The book begins during the Revolutionary War when “British ships invaded every port in New York.”  (pg.8)  As George charges after the British soldiers, he feels something strange in his mouth, so he takes his handkerchief and spits out a tooth.  He fears his men would laugh at him if they saw the holes in his mouth from where his teeth used to be, so he sends a note to his dentist requesting his help when he returns home from leave.  The story goes on to explain how George Washington loses his teeth while he eats nuts, while he crosses the icy Delaware, during his cold winter stay at Valley Forge and even while he hid at Martha’s ball.  He did not even grin when he was elected President because he was afraid people would make fun of him.  This witty book reveals George Washington’s ingenuity because Washington ends up showing his dentist how to make false teeth.  The dentist used hippo tusk to carve a set of fake teeth for George Washington and Washington grinned ear to ear.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “George reached New York as British ships invaded every port.  Preparing for a fierce attack, his soldiers built a fort.” (pg. 7)
  • “Back at home George lost more teeth till he only had ten.  “Oh Martha dear,” George cried, “I fear I’ll never eat again.”.” (pg. 11)
  • “The dentist took strong hippo husk and carved a set to size- Each tooth secured with screws of gold that lit up George’s eyes.” (pg. 33)

Curriculum Connections:
George Washington’s Teeth
is an easy-read with wonderful illustrations to help students in  first grade learn some introductory information about the Revolutionary War and George Washington’s personal life . For first graders, students will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by describing key events and the roles of key individuals in the American Revolution with emphasis on George Washington.  (VA SOL USI.6) 

Additional Resources

  • This American History website offers a biography of important aspects of and people in George Washington’s life.
  • This fun website for teachers and kids offers blank coloring pages of George Washington, The American Flag, the state of Virginia and other important symbols of Washington’s life.
  • The George Washington Picture Gallery shows 18  pictures of events in Washington’s life with captions underneath each one that briefly explain the significance of the picture.

Book: George Washington’s Teeth
Author: Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora
Brock Cole
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: February 2003
Pages: 40 Pages
Grade Range: First Grade
ISBN: 978-0374325343

Teaching Civics With Chidren’s Literature: Woodrow, The White House Mouse


Woodrow, The White House Mouse written and illustrated by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes chronicles the presidency of Woodrow G. Washingtail.  The book follows President Washingtail and his family, First Lady Bess, and his children Truman, Franklin, Quentin, Kermit, Dolley, Millie, George and Art as they get to know the White House and the duties of  the President.  Woodrow, The White House Mouse explains  the duties of the president and the intricacies of The White House by using poetry on every page.  The illustrations in this adorable and cleverly written book highlight The State Room, The Oval Office, The East Room, The Red Room, The Green Room, and The Blue Room at Christmas.  The students will enjoy learning about the Departments of the Government and what it takes to pass a bill.  This is the perfect book for helping students understand the jobs and roles of the President and the different Departments of Government.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “So on a cold winter’s day, with the most solemn respect, two presidents swore to preserve and protect, our nation, our freedoms, out flag see it wave- our land of the free and our home of the brave.” (pg. 3)
  • “The President has a big job, you’ll agree- many places to go, many people to see.  In the great Oval Office, he does all his thinkin’- And Woodrow, they say, is as smart as Abe Lincoln!” (pg. 12)
  • “The President is required to study each “bill”, that Congress delivers from Capitol Hill.  If he signs it, a bill becomes law-it’s approved.  If he gives it a “veto,” it’s rejected, removed.” (pg. 29)

Curriculum Connections:
Woodrow, The White House Mouse
is an easy-read with wonderful illustrations to help students in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade to learn about civics. For kindergartners, this book will help them recognize the American flag and know  that the President is the leader of The United States. (VA SOL K.9)   First graders will recognize the symbols and traditional practices that honor and foster patriotism in the United States by identifying the American flag, and the Washington Monument. (VA SOL 1.1)  Second graders will explain the responsibilities of a good citizen, with emphasis on demonstrating self-discipline and self reliance, and practicing honesty and trustworthiness.  (VA SOL 2.10)  Woodrow, The White House Mouse will help third graders recognize the importance of government in the community, Virginia, and the United States of American by explaining that the basic purposes of government are to make laws, carry out laws, and decide if laws have been broken.  (VA SOL 3.10)  Furthermore, the book will help students explain the importance of the basic principles that form the foundation of a republican for of government by describing the individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and equality under the law.  (VA SOL 3.11)

Additional Resources

  • If you have access to a computer in your classroom, this slide show of concepts is a good way for students in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade to learn the basics about our government, specifically the Constitution, the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch.  You can also click on different categories and different age ranges for more information.
  • If you are looking for another great book to help your students understand more specific information like The Bill of Rights or The First Amendment, or political figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, then you should read The Bill Of Rights written by Norman Pearl.
  • Scholastic offers several links to websites all aimed at helping students understand different parts of government.  Scholastic offers links to every topic from Presidents (past and present), to first ladies, to constitutional rights.  My favorite link is Seven Roles of One President.

Book: Woodrow, The White House Mouse
Authors: Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Illustrators: Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Publisher: Vacation Spot Pub.; 2nd edition
Publication Date: November 1998
Pages: 32 Pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade
ISBN: 978-0963768896

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Buster


Buster, a book written by Denise Fleming, follows a dig named Buster through his quest to get away from the new family pet, a cat named Betty.  Not only is Buster afraid of cats, but he ruled the roost before Betty came along.  Buster had his own dishes with his name, a large grassy yard with a tall oak tree to nap under, a sandpit for taking dirt baths, an in-and-out flap on the back door, a basketful of toys, and a radio tuned to his favorite station.  However, Betty came along, she took over all of his private spaces and even changed his radio station, so Buster ran away from the house.  He spent the day at a nearby park but could not find his way back home after dark.  He searched for familiar clues or anything he would recognize, but found nothing until he saw Betty waving her paw.  He followed Betty all the way home and realized how nice she was after all.     Buster teaches students  the importance of looking for familiar landmarks when they are lost.  The students will enjoy following Buster as he ventures to and from the park.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “Not his usual park but a fine park with tall trees, a bubbling fountain, tubs of flowers, large grassy patches, and not a cat in sight.” (pg. 16)
  • “He looked up the street.  He looked down the street.  Nothing looked familiar.” (pg. 27)
  • “Buster ran out of the park, around two corners, over five streets, turned left, and ran up the block.” (pg. 37)

Curriculum Connections:
is an easy-read with wonderful illustrations to help students in kindergarten and first grade learn about geography. For kindergarten students, this book will help them use simple maps and globes to develop an awareness that a map is a drawing of a place to show where things are located, describe places referenced in stories and real-life situations, and to locate land and water features.  (VA SOL K.4)  For first graders, students will develop map skills by recognizing basic map symbols, including references to land, water, cities and globes.  (VA SOL 1.4) 

Additional Resources

  • This kindergarten map activity is great for teaching both kindergarten and first grade students to how look for familiar landmarks to help them know where they are.  You can use the school or the classroom as a reference point.
  • This Lesson Plan, geared towards first graders but easily adaptable for kindergartners, is a great resource for teachers giving an introductory lesson on maps.
  • This website offers a great idea for a lesson plan on mapping your school yard to help kids understand direction.

Book: Buster
Author: Denise Fleming
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: September 2003
Pages: 40 Pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten and First Grade
ISBN: 978-0805062793

Teaching Economics With Children’s Literature: The Hard-Times Jar


The Hard-Times Jar written by Ethel Footman Smothers and illustrated by John Holyfield explores the exciting ideas of economics by following the life of Emma Jean Turner and her family.  The Turner’s were migrant workers who had to follow the crops, so money was often difficult to come by in their house.  Emma’s mother, whom she referred to as “Mama”, created a jar that was called “the hard-times jar” to collect every little bit of change possible.  The hard-times jar was only supposed to be used in an emergency if the family runs out of something important before payday.  This colorful books explains  Emma’s desire to spend the money in the hard-times jar on a store-bought book.  The Hard-Times Jar teaches students  the importance of working hard for money and valuing the money they have.  The Hard-Times Jar also explains the idea of scarce resources and how those scarce resources can effect a family.  The students will enjoy following Emma as she leaves the family apple picking group, attends school, and eventually buys her first store-bought book.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “Mama’s hard-times jar lay tucked between blankets.  It was just about half full of loose change.  Solid nickels.  Rusty red pennies.  Thin Dimes.  And every now and then a fat quarter.” (pg. 5)
  • “There were lots of boys and girls just like Miss Miller had said.  But none were chocolate- brown like her.” (pg. 17)
  • “That’s what the hard-times jar is for.  For hard times.” (pg. 29)

Curriculum Connections:
The Hard-Times Jar
is an easy-read with wonderful illustrations to help students in second grade or third grade to learn about economics.  For second graders, this book will help students explain that scarcity requires people to make choices about producing and consuming goods. (VA SOL 2.9)  For third graders, this book will help students understand that because people and regions cannot produce everything they want, they specialize in what they do best and trade for the rest.  (VA SOL 3.8)

Additional Resources

  • This interactive poem is great for teaching students about scarcity and how people have to make choices because they cannot have everything they want.
  • This quiz provides some good questions for students so teachers can test students’ knowledge of the material.  The quiz is multiple choice and the majority of the questions test the students knowledge of vocabulary words and overall economics ideas.
  • This interactive activity from beacon Learning Center helps students learn the difference between goods and services and producers and consumers.

Book: The Hard-Times Jar
Author: Ethel Footman Smothers
Illustrator: John Holyfield
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: August 2003
Pages: 32 Pages
Grade Range: Second Grade and/or Third Grade
ISBN: 978-0374328528

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: On the Same Day in March


On The Same Day In March written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Frane Lessac offers a tour of the world’s weather.  This bright and colorful books explains  the changes of weather by taking the reader on a tour throughout the world.  On the Same Day in March teaches students about the weather cycle by explaining why the weather is different in every part of the world on the same day.  The illustrations in On the Same Day in March clearly depict how “in March, winter turns to spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer turns to fall in the Southern Hemisphere. The students will enjoy following the weather on “the same day in March” from the Arctic to Thailand to Antarctica!

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “In the Arctic polar bears ride on floes of ice, stalking seals, wishing fish, as the six-month sun begins to rise slowly in the arctic skies.” (pg. 1)
  • “What will the wind carry today? Clouds of blue-winged swallows, dust that hurts their eyes, rain from up the mountain, kites shaped like butterflies?” (pg. 13)
  • “Sunlight sparkles on the market.  Sunlight dazzles on the sand.” (pgs. 19 and 20)

Curriculum Connections:
On the Same Day in March
is an easy-read with wonderful illustrations for students in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade to learn about the exciting world of weather. For kindergarten students, this book will help them investigate and understand simple patterns in his or her daily life by examining weather observations.  (VA SOL K.8)  For first graders, students will investigate and understand the relationship of seasonal change and weather to the activities and life processes of plants and animals.  Key concepts include how temperature, light, and precipitation bring about changes in people’s dress, recreation, and work. (VA SOL 1.7)  For second graders, On the Same Day in March will help students investigate and understand basic types, changes, and patterns of weather. (VA SOL 2.6)  

Additional Resources

  • This WizKids website has great information for teachers, parents and students on different types of weather occurrences.
  • This Teaching Website provides lesson plans and activities for teachers to do with their class during a weather unit.
  • This fun weather website introduces several fun hands-on activities for kids.  (Click on the hurricane link, it’s my favorite!)

Book: One the Same Day in March
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Frane Lessac
Publisher: HarperFestival
Publication Date: December 2001
Pages: 40 Pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade
ISBN: 978-0064435284

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Who Eats What?


Who Eats What written by Patricia Lauber and illustrated by Holly Keller explores the intriguing world of the food chain.  This simple text explains  the intricacies of the food chain.  Who Eats What reinforces the understanding that all parts of the food chain are necessary to the success of the overall cycle.  The illustrations in Who Eats What clearly depict how “small fish are eaten by bigger fish, which are eaten by still bigger fish, which are eaten by even bigger fish.”  (pg. 23)   The book explores and explains why “food chains are found wherever life is found” by creating food webs in the sea, on land, and in the air.  (pg. 25)  The informative text as well as the colorful and exciting pictures make this a great book use when teaching about life processes and living systems.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “All food chains begin with green plants.  Green plants are the only living things that can make their own food.” (pg. 12)
  • “Most animals are part of several food chains.” (pg. 17)
  • “A change in one link is felt up and down that chain.  It is felt through the whole web.” (pg. 32)

Curriculum Connections:
Who Eats What
is a simple text with wonderful illustrations for children in  kindergarten and first grade to learn about the interdependent web of the food chain. For kindergarten students, this book will allow students to trace the entire food chain for one specific plant or animal.  Furthermore, Who Eats What demonstrates that living things change as they grow, and they need food, water and air to survive and that plants and animals live and die. (VA SOL K.6)  For first grade, Who Eats What is the perfect book to explain that plants have life needs and functional parts. (VA SOL 1.4)  

Additional Resources

  • This Enhanced Learning website has great basic information for teachers on trophic levels as well the grassland biome, the pond biome, and the ocean biome.  The website also offers 14 different types of worksheets that can be used as visual aids and well as assignments to  test the student’s overall mastery of the subject matter.
  • This Plant Activity Worksheet allows students to identify different parts of a plant and explain the function of those parts.  (A great teaching tool for VA SOL 1.4!)
  • This Science Teaching Idea Website offers over 50 resources for teaching life science to students in elementary grades.

Book: Who Eats What
Author: Patricia Lauber
Illustrator: Holly Keller
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 1994
Pages: 32 Pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten and First Grade
ISBN: 978-0064451307

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: What Makes A Magnet


What Makes A Magnet written by Franklin M. Branley and illustrated by True Kelley explores the exciting world of magnets.  This whimsical book explains what a magnet is, what types of materials magnets are attracted to and how to make a magnet.  What Makes A Magnet also explains how and why the “ends of a magnet are different” (pg. 18) and the Earth’s magnetic field. The book explores why “magnets are strongest at the poles” (pg. 19) by creating a fishing experiment which demonstrates that magnets attract things made of iron.  What Makes A Magnet explains how “magnetism is everywhere on this Earth of ours.  It goes through air and water, glass and walls, cardboard and tabletops.” (pg. 32)

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “A magnet picks up only things  that have a lot of iron in them.” (pg. 10)
  • “The Earth is a magnet because it contains a lot of iron.  The moon does not have as much iron, so it is not a magnet.  Your compass would not work on the moon.” (pg. 21)
  • “Like poles repel each other; unlike poles attract.” (pg. 27)

Curriculum Connections:
What Makes A Magnet
is a colorful, educational read-aloud for children in  kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. For kindergarten and first grade, this book will allow students to investigate and understand that magnets have an effect on some materials, make some things move without touching them, and have useful applications.  Furthermore, What Makes A Magnet demonstrates that moving objects exhibit different kinds of motion. (VA SOL K.3 and VA SOL 1.2)  For second grade, What Makes A Magnet is the perfect book to explain slightly more advanced ideas of the Earth’s magnetic field and the north and south poles of a magnet. Students will also be able to investigate and understand that natural and artificial magnets have certain characteristics and attract specific types of metals. (VA SOL 2.2)  

Additional Resources

  • TeAchnology is an online website that offers a wide range of introductory lessons to teachers about magnets, the magnetic field and other themes important to magnets and electricity.
  • This Core Lesson Plan helps teachers design experiments for kindergartners to aid in their understanding of the subject material and capture their attention.
  • What Makes A Magnet offers several activities throughout the text to help students understand the concepts of attraction/repulsion and the north pole/south pole of magnets.

Book: What Makes A Magnet
Author: Franklyn M. Branley
Illustrator: True Kelley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 1996
Pages: 32 Pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade
ISBN: 978-0060264413

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: A Hunt For Clues


A Hunt for Clues written by Anne Miranda and illustrated by Michele Noiset chronicles a young girl’s search for her her pet cat Puff.  The young girl, Mary Sue, solicits help from a boy named Burt and his dog True Blue who he claims “can hunt for clues.”  Mary Sue met Burt and True Blue in the park during her search for Puff, and the duo proved to be incredibly valuable.  True Blue used his sense of smell to sniff out clues about Puff’s whereabouts as Mary Sue and Burt identified each object and pieced together all the clues to find Puff.A Hunt for Clues can be used at the kindergarten level to aid in the student’s processing skills.  The student will have to follow the clues uncovered by True Blue, identify the objects, and attempt to understand why the found objects are important  to locating Puff’s whereabouts.

Curriculum Connections
A Hunt for Clues is connected to the K.1 Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic Standard of Learning that requires students to conduct investigations in which basic properties of objects are identified by direct observation.

Additional Resources

Book: A Hunt for Clues
Author: Anne Miranda
Illustrator: Michele Noiset
Publisher: Modern Curriculum Press
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 16
Grade Range: Pre-Kindergarten-Kindergarten
ISBN: 0-8136-2148-8