Author Archive for Danielle R

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Don’t Know Much About the Solar System



Don’t Know Much About the Solar System, written by  Kenneth C. Davis and illustrated by Pedro Martin, is an informative children’s book filled with interesting facts and cartoonlike pictures.  Motivated middle and upper elementary students might read this book from cover to cover while others might choose to explore only the pages that are most interesting to them.   Each two-page spread contains a title and then several related questions.  Each question is followed by an answer and explanation.  Some of the questions and answers are humorous.  The pages are generally lighthearted but factual.  Topics covered include galaxies, solar system, gravity, planets, stars, meteors, space exploration, and an introduction to a few of the scientists who have contributed to our space knowledge.

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used to teach about the solar system and the planets in Fourth Grade (SOL 4.7).  The pictures show the orbits of the planets in the solar system.  Most of the planets are described within a two-page spread complete with illustrations.

Additional Resources

For audio learners, listen to the planet rap song.

Allow students to explore kid friendly websites for additional solar system facts.

Create a solar system simulation in your classroom.

General Information

Book:  Don’t Know Much About the Solar System
Author:  Kenneth C. Davis
Illustrator:  Pedro Martin
Publisher:  Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date:  2001
Pages:  47
Grade Range:  3rd-6th
ISBN:  0-439-43852-7

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Fluffy and Baron



“Four weeks later, there were ducklings!  Fluffy wanted Baron to be the first one to meet them.”

 Fluffy and Baron, written and illustrated by Laura Rankin, is a delightful story about the friendship shared between a farm dog named Baron and a duckling named Fluffy.  Fluffy and Baron enjoy games together in the pond and in the field.  They share meals together and sleep together.  As the year progresses and the seasons change, Fluffy grows up and joins the wild ducks in the pond.  Baron is lonely.  When the wild ducks fly away, Fluffy stays but she cannot play with Baron yet.  She must tend to her new nest of nine eggs.

 This is a charming book that shows the life cycle of ducks in relation to the seasons.  The back of the book gives detailed information about the life of Mallards and Pekins.  The author’s note introduces the reader to concepts such as domesticated, wild, migratory habits, and incubation periods.

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used in the classroom to introduce students to living and nonliving things (K.6) and to study the basic needs of animals (K.7, 1.5, 2.4, 3.4).  The relationship between Fluffy and Baron and the relationship between Fluffy and the wild ducks can begin a discussion about interdependence.  Teachers can use this book to introduce a science unit on ducks and expand teaching to include songs, poetry, art, and continued life science studies.

Additional Resources

The Child Fun website has songs and poems about ducks.

For in-depth research on the life cycle of ducks and migration habits, go to Ducks Unlimited.

Enchanted Learning has plenty of ideas for creating your own cross-curricular duck theme for early elementary students.

 General Information

Book:  Fluffy and Baron
Author:  Laura Rankin
Illustrator:  Laura Rankin
Publisher:  Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  2006
Pages:  29
Grade Range:  K-3rd
ISBN:  978-0-545-23833-5

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Magnets


“Bring a magnet close to a steel spoon.  The magnet pulls the spoon.  This pull is called magnetic force.”

Magnets, written by Peter Riley and illustrated by Franklin Watts, is a practical, hands-on book that can teach students the basics about magnets.  The images depict young students experimenting with magnets and the text explains exactly what is pictured.  A first or second grade student might read this book on his own.  All lower elementary students would benefit from the way this book explains magnets.  Terms are explained plainly within the text and a glossary is also located in the back.

The book is written with questions for students to ponder throughout the text.  The answers are listed in the back of the book.  There is a teacher suggestion page in the front and resources listed in the back for continued learning about magnets.  Concepts covered include magnetic force, magnetic and non-magnetic materials, and the magnetic poles.

Curriculum Connections

This book introduces students to experiments with magnets.  Students can see that magnets have a pull on some objects and not on others (K.3).  It briefly mentions some practical uses of magnets.  I would use this book as an introduction to magnets and then give the students an opportunity to experiment with magnets.

Additional Resources

Teachers can utilize an entire unit of lesson plans on teaching about magnets in kindergarten.

For an animated movie on magnets, check out the BrainPOP website.

For songs about magnets, go to Songs for Teaching.

General Information

Book:  Magnets
Author:  Peter Riley
Illustrator:  Franklin Watts
Publisher:  Gareth Stevens Publishing
Publication Date:  2002
Pages:  31
Grade Range:  K-2nd
ISBN:  0-8368-3250-7

Teaching Processing Skills with Children’s Literature: Cook-A-Doodle-Doo!



Cook-A-Doodle-Doo!, written by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel and illustrated by Janet Stevens, is a charming picture book about a hen who decides to make a strawberry shortcake.  She finds the recipe and some of her animal friends try to help.   The only problem is…her friends know nothing about cooking.  They try to bring her a flower instead of baking flour.  Iguana tries to measure the flour with a ruler and Turtle tries to beat the eggs with a bat.  Hen explains everything the animals need to know and the shortcake turns out beautifully.  Hen teaches about measuring properly with the right tools and following directions.

 The side notes on several pages show measuring equivalents such as 1 stick butter=1 cup=8 tablespoons.  It explains the use of dry measuring cups versus liquid measuring cups and other cooking terms. The recipe is written on the last page for readers to try at home.

 Curriculum Connections

This book can be used to introduce students to proper measuring techniques and tools.  It also shows the importance of following directions or working in sequence.  This book is funny and can be enjoyed by any elementary student.  Teachers can use the book before going over the rules or directions for a science experiment.  Students can practice measuring the ingredients like the animals did or even try the whole recipe.  This book would also be useful in math while teaching fractions and measurement conversions.  Teachers can use this book as an introduction to any of the elementary scientific investigation, reasoning, and logic skills.

Additional Resources

 For more ideas on teaching processing skills, read the first edition of Science in School.

For ways to encourage the teaching of  science processing skills at home, try this handbook written for parents.

Use recipes for a valuable math lesson.

See the Susan Stevens Crummel website for more ways to use this book in the classroom.

General Information

Book:  Cook-Doodle-Do!
Author:  Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
Illustrator:  Janet Stevens
Publisher:  Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date:  1999
Pages:  46
Grade Range:  K-5
ISBN:  0-15-201924-3


Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Arthur’s Pet Business


Arthur’s Pet Business, written and illustrated by Marc Brown, is an interesting and fun book that teaches about responsibility and about earning money.  Arthur needs to show his parents that he is responsible enough to own a puppy.  He decides to start a pet sitting business.  When people start calling his number off the fliers he posted around town, Arthur gets very busy taking care of several different animals.  He has no time to play.  Arthur’s biggest responsibility is Perky, a moody dog, that stays with Arthur for a week while the owner is out of town.  In the end, Arthur earns $10 and a new puppy.

Children will see the value of working hard for what they want.  They will also see that taking care of pets requires hard work.  After reading this book, children should be encouraged to think of jobs they can do to earn money.  This book can also lead into discussions about spending and saving.  Young entrepreneurs everywhere will want to start a profitable business just like Arthur.

Curriculum Connections
This book can easily be used to begin economics discussions in grades K-5th.  The students will see people work to earn money (K.7b), the difference between goods and services (1.7), and making choices (1.8).  Using Arthur as an example, students can be encouraged to make their own business plans with consideration of resources available (2.9) and the use of barter versus money (2.8).  The students can make a plan for how they will save up for something they want (1.9).

Additional Resources

  • Click on this website for handouts to reinforce economic terms such as goods, services, needs, and wants.
  • For a great economics field trip, go to the Children’s Museum of Richmond.  Economics activities include the grocery store center, the bank, and participation in a mock market activity if arranged ahead of time for your group.  The website is nicely arranged to show which VA SOLs can be covered during your trip.
  • Consider this lesson plan on profit using Arthur’s Pet Business or use these catchy economics songs for vocabulary reinforcement.

Book:  Arthur’s Pet Business
Author:  Marc Brown
Illustrator:  Marc Brown
Publisher:  Little, Brown, and Company
Publication Date:  1990
Pages:  30
Grade Range:  K-5th
ISBN:  0-316-11316-6

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Timbuktu


Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Timbuktu, written by Larry Brook and illustrated by Ray Webb, is an informative book that gives children facts and illustrations about life in Timbuktu.  The book begins with an overview of the history of Timbuktu and leads the reader through the different eras in Timbuktu’s history.  The reader can learn about the roles of men, women, and children in Timbuktu.  The pictures show the layout of the city, life in the desert, and people at the local markets.  The maps show how Timbuktu became a great meeting place for trading goods as a result of its strategic location between trade routes and its proximity to the Niger River.  Timbuktu was once a thriving city in Mali with schools, universities, hotels, mosques, and a booming trade market.  Recently, the city and its people have suffered greatly as a result of war and increasingly drier conditions.  The final pages show life today in Timbuktu.

Curriculum Connections
This book is a great reference for  teaching students about the early West African empire of Mali (VA SOL 3.2).  It shows students the importance of trade and introduces the reader to the different people groups that have populated Timbuktu throughout time.  Although the book is too wordy for younger elementary students, teachers can summarize the words and show the descriptive illustrations.  Each two-page spread begins with a title, so teachers can easily choose which pages are most relevant to their audiences.  Older elementary students can use this book to provide information for a report on Timbuktu but may find some of the names of the leaders, people groups, and places to be a challenge to read.

Additional Resources

Book:  Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Timbuktu
Author:  Larry Brook
Illustrator:  Ray Webb
Publisher:  Runestone Press
Publication Date:  1999
Pages:  64
Grade Range:  2nd-6th
ISBN:  0-8225-3215-8

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: America is…


“And America is old towns with old names, and new towns yet to be, that tell our history, then and now.  It is a nation where fifty states meet, where we are all one.”

Beautifully illustrated by Stacey Schuett and poetically written by Louise Borden, America Is is a patriotic children’s book that examines America’s birth, its people, and its land.  Borden exposes young children to the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star-Spangled Banner in this book.  She gives a brief explanation of the symbols on the American flag.  There is a map of the fifty states and illustrations of the various types of people that are called Americans.  Children will learn that America began with its native people and now includes all the people that have later joined this great country.

Curriculum Connections
Children throughout grades K-3rd would enjoy this book.  It is a good overview of geographical regions in the United States and touches on some economics with the mention of the various jobs that Americans hold (K.6).  Children will sense the value we place on freedom here in the United States.  The pictures show the American flag (K.9).  It celebrates the diversity of the people of 50 states united by a common belief in freedom (1.12c).

Additional Resources

Book:  America is…
Author:  Louise Borden
Illustrator:  Stacey Schuett
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderryBooks
Publication Date:  2002
Pages:  37
Grade Range:  K-3rd
ISBN:  0-689-83900-6

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: Where Do I Live?

where do i live image

In the book , Where Do I Live?,  written by Neil Chesanow and illustrated by Ann Iosa, the reader goes on an adventure that starts in his bedroom and leads into the great universe.   Chesanow expands on the reader’s concept of the world by moving outside of the bedroom to the house to the neighborhood to the state and eventually into outer space.  With the turn of a page, the reader can get a bird’s eye view of the world around him.  I especially like the way Chesanow starts the reader with what he can see everyday, like his bedroom, his house, and his street.  Then Chesanow takes the reader higher to view the neighborhood, city, state, country and world.  Making the connection of each smaller part to the larger world should help kids see how maps and the globe represent real images on Earth.  The words start basic and the pictures are clear.  “You live on a special piece of land.  Do you know what land is?  It’s the stuff you walk on.  It’s the ground.”   New words for kindergarten or 1st grade students might be neighborhood, city, suburb, country, state, continent, solar system, galaxy, and universe.  After taking the reader into outer space, Chesanow guides the reader slowly back to home, making a perfect review of the concepts just introduced.

Curriculum Connections
This book is ideal for grades K-1st with the introduction of map concepts and vocabulary such as country, state, and continent.  This book shows how each person is part of a neighborhood, city, state, and world all at the same time.

Where Do I Live? can be used to introduce students to maps, a round Earth, and land.  The book shows maps representing large land masses and objects from above.  Readers will be able to see where they live compared to where people from other states, countries, and continents live (VA SOLs K.4, K.5, and 1.4).

Additional Resources

  • The song Where Do I Live? and other geography songs can be used to reiterate the concepts of maps, regions, and communities that were introduced in the book as well as to teach other map terminology.
  • For hands on fun, have students try out their own map drawing skills.
  • The website for free world maps and US maps provides individual paper maps for students to color and label.

Book:  Where Do I Live?
Author:  Neil Chesanow
Illustrator:  Ann Iosa
Publisher:  Barron’s Educational Series
Publication Date:  1995
Pages:  48
Grades: K-1
ISBN: 0-8120-6541-7