Author Archive for sf7wv

Fraction Action



Students in third and fourth grade begin to explore the use of fractions in mathematics.  Students will recognize the numerator and the denominator, and understand how to compare different fractions. In third grade, the focus will be on fractions with “like” denominators, and they will move on to “un-like” denominators in fourth grade. Students will add and subtract fractions with denominators up to 12, and learn how to simplify fractions, as well as recognize equivalent fractions

Text Sources


Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta

This is a great book for students just learning to recognize and comprehend fractions. Pallotta uses an apple cut up by tiny elves to show halves, thirds, fourths, etc. Students see the differentsizes of fractions in a common and recognizable object, an apple. Though it may not be possible to do in a classroom, it is a great hands-on experience to have students cut an apple (with adult supervision) to match the fractions in the book.


Working with Fractions by David A. Adler

This is a wonderful book to read to a class to learn about different fraction concepts. The brilliant illustrations will keep students interested as fractions are thoroughly discussed. Adler does not only use concrete objects like a cake or pizza, but also includes situations such as music chairs: if you are playing musical chairs with 7 people, and 5 people sit down, then 5/7 of the children are sitting down. The book discusses the way fractions can be found everywhere.


Fraction Fun by David A. Adler

Fraction Fun is a great introductory book. Adler includes equivalent fractions and even adding fractions. Adler includes hands on activities, and his illustrations put students at ease with the new math. Students will compare fractions and see how fractions be equal, less than, or greater than other fractions.


Whole-y Cow: Fractions are Fun by Taryn Souders

This book keeps students engaged without realizing how much they’re learning. Silly illustrations fill the pages, as well as math riddles. Students will try to help the cow figure out math problems, and will discover a love for math along the way. This story can be read to children as young as five, but older students will still enjoy working on the math problems inside.


Give me Half! by Stuart J. Murphy

Murphy’s story is great for any students who’ve ever tried to share food with their siblings or friends. Following a brother and sister as they try to share their snacks, students are introduced to different fractions (because no one wants to split evenly!) They learn about equivalent fractions, and are introduced to the word “divide.” Murphy shows some equations such as: 1/2 + 1/2 = 1.

Web Sources

Identifying Fractions

This is a simple online activity for students who are just starting to learn fractions. Set up as an interactive quiz, the site shows students a bar with a portion colored in. Students will type in the correct fraction, and click ok. If they are correct, the quiz will move on to a new example. If they are incorrect, they will be told that their response was “too big” or “too small.” On the bottom of the page, it gives students instructions, as well as a brief overview of fractions. It identifies the numerator and denominator, and shows how to type the fraction into the quiz.


Balloon Pop Math

This fun site sets up fractions as a game. Balloons come onto the screen, and each balloon has a fraction and a model on it. Students must pop the balloon in order from smallest to greatest. This is a great opportunity to think on their feet.  The site is very easy to use, and the game has three levels, so students can be challenged if they are ready.

Comparing Fractions

This sight helps students practice the greater than, less than, and equal sign. Students must compare fractions and use multiple choice answers to decide if the fractions are equivalent or not. The site uses small fractions, and is very easy for students to understand. This could be used as an assessment, a homework assignment, or practice.


Fun with Fractions and Decimals

This is a fun start for students who are transitioning from fractions to decimals. Set up like the classic board game Shoots and Ladders, students must use multiple choice answers to convert a fraction into decimal form. If they get the answer right, they can “roll the dice” and move on the board. Just like shoots and ladders, they might move up a later, or risk sliding down a shoot. It’s an exciting and interactive way for students to practice math. It can even be used as partner game.

Kids and Cookies

One of my personal favorite resources for kids. This game allows students to pick how many cookies to have, and how many friends. Then, they must divide the cookies evenly between friends. The cookies do not always split up evenly, so students have cookie cutters with various fraction bars to cut the cookies up. It surprisingly involves a lot of critical thinking, as students have to decide how many cookies it is necessary to cut up. It allows the student a lot of freedom as they practice fractions.

Teacher Resources

Funny and Fabulous Fraction Stories by Dan Greenberg

This book is full of math stories and problems that students will love. The reproducibles are perfect for students in third or fourth grade who are learning to recognize fractions and use them in equations. There are worksheets, stories, and lessons for teachers to use with their class. The book is an incredible resource for teachers of many grades.


Pizza Fraction Fun Game

A great game to have in the classroom. There are seven games included in this set, all involving the introduction of fractions. It can be used for many different levels and skills. It is a great way to use such a recognizable thing like pizza without having to bring food into the classroom.

Fraction Tiles

This is a staple need for every math classroom. Fraction tiles are great to have because students can move them around and compare their physical sizes as they do math problems including fractions.  fraction_strips.jpg

Fraction Pie Puzzles

Another great activity for teachers to have available in their classroom. These puzzles have four circles that can be filled in with any pie slices – the trick is to use the correct fractions. Students will need to understand equivalent fractions, and they can practice their addition as they predict which fractions will complete the puzzle.

Harriet Tubman




Harriet Tubman was an incredible part of American History. She led a challenging life, but was still strong enough to rescue around 300 slaves from captivity. Her strength and courage remain an inspiration, even to this day. Students will learn about her childhood, and her work with the underground railroad and the Union Army. Students will connect her life and experiences to the events that were occurring in American history at that time.


Text Sources

Who was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough

This book is recommended for students ages nine through twelve, though it would be appropriate to read aloud to younger students as well. Who was Harriet Tubman is a wonderful story that gives students the history of this incredible woman. McDonough details Tubman’s life as a slave, then a worker of the Underground Railroad, and later as a nurse. The book gives a history of the time period in which Tubman lived, letting students understand the context of her story. McDonough has also written “Who was…” books about Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Anne Frank, and many other historical figures. This book, and author, are highly recommended for classroom learning.


Harriet Tubman by Kem Knapp Sawyer

This book gives students a first look at reading historical biographies. This book, also recommended for students ages nine through twelve, is very factual, though it includes interesting illustrations, photographs, and notes.  It includes a history of her life in slavery, but also of her incredible contributions to society after the war ended. This book is strongly recommended for students doing an assignment for their class.


Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling

 Freedom train will be loved by students of all ages, whether as a read-aloud or a solo read. Written as historical fiction story, students will become engrossed in the fascinating life led by Harriet Tubman. The story details her life as a life and discussed the conditions that she lives in her entire childhood and early adult years. While it does not focus a lot on the history of the country during this time period, it gives students a very real idea of what it would have been like to be working in the Underground Railroad. This real life story includes enough suspense to capture even reluctant readers.

 A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David A. Adlertubmangroupbybarnweb.jpg

This picture book is better suited for students of lower reading levels. Its beautiful illustrations in addition to short sentences detailing the important aspects of Tubman’s life give students are brief overview of the subject. Though it won’t give readers an incredibly detailed account of her life, it is perfect for students who are just beginning on the subject of slavery, and the civil war. Without overwhelming beginning readers with too many words and facts, it outlines this important historical figure’s life. Adler’s book is a great jumping off point for students.

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder (Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)

One of my favorite books as a child, Minty is a beautiful historical fiction book about the early life of Harriet Tubman. Coupled with gorgeous watercolor paintings by Pinkney, the story gives real feeling to young Harriet’s difficult life. Young readers will be entranced by her story, as she moves from working in the house to out in the fields, and they will be fascinated by Harriet’s father’s guidance on living in the wilderness. As Harriet plans her eventual escape from slavery, students will find themselves learning about the life the slaves led nearly 200 years ago.

 Web Sources


 America’s Story from America’s Library

A kid friendly website with information and graphics about many historical figures, including Harriet Tubman. Students can read the intro with basic facts, or they can explore deeper, depending on how far the teacher wants them to research. This site is easy to use and to navigate. Its bright colors and pictures will keep students entertained and focused as they research. None of the stories are particularly long, and they use appropriate vocabulary for elementary students. This website is funded by the Library of Congress.

 Harriet Tubman Biography

 This site is recommended to fourth through sixth grade students. A sidebar offers links to a biography, time-line, photos, and other resources concerning Harriet Tubman and the history of America during her life. This site gives a very factual and detailed account of her life. One fascinating aspect is the list of some of the people who Harriet helped escape from slavery. The site gives names of the rescued slaves as well as the dates of their escapes. Students have the option of looking at a brief outline, focusing on her family life, or learning about “Tubman’s civil war.” This is perfect for a research project; it is easy to read and to navigate.


The Underground Railroad

This interactive site gives students a chance to really be connected with the plight of escaping slaves. Set up similar to a “choose your own adventure book” students are able to choose where they want to go as the escape with Harriet Tubman. Small paragraphs, accompanied by photographs and illustrations, describe each scenario to the students. At one point, they must choose to approach a house, or to hide in the woods. Later, they must choose to cross an icy river or stay back and risked being exposed to slave hunters. As they “travel,” the site describes the cities and historical figures that they meet.

Harriet Tubman Biography: TFK Challenge

This site gives a short quiz about Harriet Tubman. In eight questions, the quiz covers the basics of Harriet’s life. This quiz could be used either before teaching the unit to see where students are, or after the unit as a quiz or a study device. Students have the opportunity to retake the quiz of they don’t get all the answers; they are shown which questions were answered incorrectly, but not given the correct answer so they can go back and try again.harriet-tubman-sarah-bradford_a.jpg

Pathways to Freedom

This is another interactive site perfect for students learning about Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad. This site takes students through the life of Harriet Tubman before she escapes from slavery. By scrolling over certain objects in the pictures, students learn more about her family life, and gather clues that will help when they try to escape.

Teacher Resources


Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

This website can be used after students read the story Minty. This site has about 6 activities recommended to use during and after the story is read. It suggests activities such as songs, map games, and interviews. Students will love these follow up activities because the story is so fascinating.

Lesson Plan: Harriet Tubman

This link will bring you to a full lesson plan created by Bruce Helgeson for fourth and fifth grade students.  It details a mini unit for teachers, including a background, objectives, references, and assessments. Teachers might not need to use all of the activities, or they may enjoy exploring all the different ideas for their students.

Harriet Tubman: printout/quiz

 This link brings teachers to a print out and questions for students. The printout gives students a short history of Harriet Tubman, explaining why she is an important historical figure. It is followed by comprehension questions, which teachers could give as a quiz or included with the printout. This is a perfect activity for students to practice their reading and comprehension skills. It could be used as a partner project as well.

 On the Road to Freedom: Lesson Plan

 This lesson plan gives suggestions of many books to read to the class for this unit. It also suggests many discussion questions and further exploration activities for students. After reading these books (or any other preferred books) students will use critical thinking to to explore ideas such as; what was the most important event in Harriet’s life? How did she feel when she heard that slavery was abolished?



The Solar System



The topic of space can be interesting and even thrilling when presented in the correct manner. In the fourth grade students are learning about our solar system. They will learn about the planets that revolve around the sun, including their order, size, and properties. They will also study the relationships between the sun, the earth, and the moon. The most important vocabulary terms for this SOL (4.7) are revolution and rotation.


Our Solar System by Seymour Simon


Seymour Simon is an award winning author who worked with the Smithsonian Institution to create a newly revised book on space. Our Solar System is the perfect introductory book for students as they begin learning about space. The book is filled with gorgeous pictures taken from space. They images will captivate the young audience and intrigue them, pushing them to learn further. Each of the 8 planets receives a brief introduction. While this book does not give incredibly detailed lessons on the planets, it piques students’ curiosity.

 Earth: Our Planet in Space by Seymour Simon


Another book by Seymour Simon, Earth: Our Planet in Space explores our Earth, Sun and Moon. As students study the planets, they will inevitably question “why isn’t there life on other planets.” This book delves into the unique position of our earth in space, and the reasons why we can survive here, why there is day and night, and much more. Stunning photography keeps students interested as they read the information.

The Moon by Seymour Simon


Introductory facts about our moon are set off by newly colored photographs (the first edition from 1984 was black and white). Students will enjoy learning new things about the moon. This book is a perfect way to start a lesson. It’s easy to read alone or with a friend before delving into a classroom discussion.

 Footprints on the Moon by Alexandra Siy


Filled with humorous quotes from astronauts, and interesting accounts from previous apollo missions, Footprints on the Moon gives students their first introduction to space exploration. It gives students a brief history of rocketry, and inspires the idea that there is still so much to discover about our universe.

 Uranus – the Seventh Planet by Michael D. Cole


Uranus – the Seventh Planet is part of a series that explores every planet in our solar system. Each book takes students through the features, sizes and moons of each planet. Close up pictures gives students a sense of the magnitude, beauty, and mystery that surround the planets.

 Teacher Resources

Think of fun lessons and hands on activities to use as you explore space with you class. This site offers lesson plans for activities that will get students directly involved. On the left side-bar, click on any of the outer space subjects that you want to focus on for the class.

 This resource lets you explore each planet.  It gives teachers a brief overview of the planets, with fun facts and important details to share with the class. The website is perfect for a quick review before creating or teaching a lesson.

Another resource shows teachers how to make homemade craters with their class.  This is a great activity for fourth graders; they can get a little messy, while still understanding the “impact” that craters make, and utilizing their math skills.

This resource gives teacher’s ideas for livening up the classroom. It features lesson ideas, as well as fun activities and projects to do as a class.

Resources for Kids


Discover what will be in tonight’s sky.  A short video clip will show students where they can find certain constellations and planets in the sky. The video will be relevant for whatever date they view it on.

Students will love competing in the Moon Olympics.  This game shows students how gravity effects our lives. In a silly and fun way, students can discover what sports would be like in space.

Students can complete this puzzle to show that they know the order and location of the planets in our solar system.

This memory/matching game asks students to match the picture of an object with its vocabulary term.

This interactive website gives student the basic important facts about each of the 9 planets (it includes Pluto) and our sun. The resource is easy to read, interesting, and animated to keep the students focused.