Author Archive for Sidney

Teaching History with Children's Literature: Kids Make History


Step back in time and help carry letters on the Pony Express, plant crops with Laura Ingalls, stow away on a whaling ship, and aid in the defense after the attack on Pearl Harbor — the possibilities are endless when you read  Kids Make History by Susan Buckley and Elspeth Leacock.  Each dynamic spread in this amazing book maps a factual account of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.  Trace these young people across space and time as they discover new worlds and create new lives.  Each story has been thoroughly researched and meticulously illustrated and includes hnundreds of visual and verbal facts.  Feel what it’s like to participate in history as you follow in the footsteps of the young men and women who lived it.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be an excellent american history resource that would foster personal connections to history. Teachers should consider using this book for engaging introductions to history lessons or to provide extensions for high ability students.  Students could use the book when creating reports or powerpoint presentations on numerous historical figures.  In the state of Virginia, this correlates to US 1.1 – making connections between the past and present; and interpreting ideas and events from different historical perspectives.

 Additional Resources
   *  Journey back in time with this awesome webquest
   *  Here’s another book from Buckley about 20 personal journeys to freedom.  
   *  Visit the Library of Congress for a visually engaging lesson plan.  
   *  Click here for a cross-curricular american history reading warmup.    

Book Title: Kids Make History
Authors: Susan Buckley Elspeth Leacock
Illustrator: Randy Jones
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 48
Grade Range: 4-6
ISBN: 978-0618223299

Teaching Civics With Children’s Literature: For Every Child


Of all the books published to celebrate the beginning of the new Millennium, For Every Child is one of the most important.  In November 1989, the United Nations formally adopted fifty-four principles that make up the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — from the right to a name and a nationality to the right to education and play and special protection for disabled children.  Encompassed in this book are fourteen of the most essential rights that have been carefully selected and retold in a simple, evocative text that every child can understand.  Each right is interpreted in an awesome, double page spread by a handful of famous artists, including American award winners Rachel Isadora and Jerry Pinkney.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be an excellent addition to any lesson plan on responsibilities and good citizenship.  In the state of Virginia, this would correspond to SOL 2.10, respecting and protecting the rights and property of others; describing actions that can improve the school and community; and practicing honesty and trustworthiness.

Additional Resources
   *  Check out this creative citizenship lesson.
   *  Learn about giving back to your community at Kids Care.  
   *  Another great civics link: Project Citizenship.  
   *  Activities for exploring the five themes of citizenship.

Book Title: For Every Child
Author: Caroline Castle
Illustrators: Jerry Pinkney, Rachel Isadora
Publisher: Phyllis Fogelman Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2001
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2-3
ISBN: 978-0803726505

Teaching Geography With Children’s Literature: The United States of America: A State-By-State Guide


The United States of America: A State-By-State Guide, writen and illustrated by Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson, is a richly-detailed guide to our fifty states.  Beautiful illustrations and intriguing facts about key points of interest make for an engaging read.  Whether you’re researching a school report or playing trivia games, this book offers tons of interesting facts about the history, geography, archaeology, and other marvels of each state.  Meticulously drawn and labeled maps are an added bonus.  The last two pages are devoted to beautifully-rendered drawings of each of the state flags. 

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a wonderful resource to use for writing reports or drawing maps of the fifty states.  Teachers could use it to formulate assessments to gauge students’ knowledge on a particular state or states.  It would be an awesome addition to any elementary classroom library.  In the state of Virginia, this correlates to SOL 3.6 – developing map skills; VS.2 – locating Virginia and its bordering states on a U. S. Map; and US 1.1 – analyzing and interpreting maps.

Additional Resources
   *  Check out this literature-based elementary geography lesson.
   *  Click here to embark on a mysterious treasure hunt.  
   *  Check out this interactive U. S. map to learn fun state facts. 
   *  Print out a blank map of the fifty states for assessment purposes here.   

Book: The United States of America: A State-By-State Guide
Authors: Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson
Illustrators: Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 64
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 978-0439827652

Teaching Economics With Children’s Literature: Ultimate Kids’ Money Book



The Ultimate Kids’ Money Book, written by Neal S. Godfrey, and illustrated by Randy Verougstraete, offers an exuberant approach to understanding the financial side of the economy.  Photographic collages and colorful drawings up the levels of interest and engagement.  Godfrey tells the story of money in a cheerful, understandable manner–from bartering to investing to opportunity cost.  Also, readers will learn more about America’s economic structure and the government’s economic role. Fun financial trivia is interspersed throughout, and word problems and matching games are included in each of the nine chapters as well as user-friendly design features like “Penny for your thoughts” and “Word bank” sidebars.

Curriculum Connections
This book would help students understand the financial aspects of the economy.  It also would be a handy math resource when learning about money.  In the state of Virginia, these topics correlate with Economics SOLs 2.8 and 2.9, dealing with bartering and scarcity as well as 3.9, which focuses on opportunity cost.  This book could also be used a a resource to aid in understanding Mathematics SOL 3.9 which covers counting money.

Additional Resources
   *  Click here for an economics lesson geared towards grades 3-5.
   *  Check out this video on play dough economics.  
   *  Check out this webpage to visit “Econopolis!”
   *  Assess student’s evidence of economic learning here.   

Book: Ultimate Kids’ Money Book
Author- Neal S. Godfrey
Illustrator: Randy Verougstraete
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 128
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: –978-0689814891

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Rain Forests and Reefs — A Kid’s-Eye View of the Tropics


Rain Forests & Reefs — A Kid’s-Eye View of the Tropics  by Caitlin Maynard, Thane Maynard, and Stan Rullman,  is an exuberant account of the adventures of eighteen teenage zoologists who travel to Belize one summer.  The young zoologists’ explorations are documented through vivid photographs, postcards, journal entries, and a running commentary on their extraordinary trip. Loaded with fascinating facts, this book is an original look at forest and ocean biodiversity told in an engaging style to which students will readily connect. 

Curriculum Connections
This book would be an excellent tool to illustrate real world connections in science, and could be especially helpful when tackling such topics as ecosystems, biodiversity, interdepenence, and endangered species.   All of these concepts relate to life science standards in grades 4 through 6.

Additional Resources

  • To access a 3D Demo on frogs click here.
  • You will find a cooperative lesson plan on endangered species here.
  • For interactive animal exploration, check out the National Science Foundation.
  • If you're looking for another awesome life science resource, try this book.

Book: Rain Forests & Reefs — A Kid’s-Eye View of the Tropics
Caitlin Maynard, Than Maynard, and Stand Rullman
Illustrator: Stan Rullman
Publisher: Franklin Watts: A Division of Grolier Publishing
Publication Date: 1996
Grade Range: 4-6

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature


Physics — Why Matter Matters by Dan Green is an engaging guide to deciphering the mysteries of physics.  Geared towards students in grades 2-6, this book introduces the elements of physics as wacky, cartoon-style characters, that are grouped in the following ways: “Old School” (mass, weight, density, etc.), “Hot Stuff” (energy, entropy, etc.), “Wave Gang” (sound, frequency, etc.), “Light Crew” (radio wave, microwave, etc.), “Atom Family” (proton, electron, etc.), “Nuclear Heavies” (radioactivity, alpha particle, etc.), and “Electric Cuties” (static electricity, electric current, etc.). Each  grouping starts with an introduction and every concept is given its own spread that shows the cartoon figure and describes its “personality.” The information is presented in an engaging, kid-friendly tone.  Along with the narrative, which is written in the first person from the concept’s point of view, other key facts are presented.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a wonderful “hook” to use in the “engage” phase of a learning cycle lesson.  Since abstract concepts of physics are introduced via cartoon characters, the book could also serve as a handy guide to writing and performing a scientific play.  Each student could perhaps take on the role of one physical concept/character.  These activities would foster greater retention of knowledge and allow students to forge connections to the material.  This book covers the following concepts: mass, weight, density, speed, acceleration, force, inertia, friction, gravity, energy, entropy, vacuum, radiation, water wave, sound, earthquake, frequency, and many more.  All these things relate to the Force, Motion. Energy, and Matter standards in grades 2 through 6.

Additional Resources

  • To access a powerpoint presentation on mass and weight click here.
  • You will find a hands-on lesson plan on mass here.
  • If you would like to explore more on your own, check out this website.
  • If you’re looking for another awesome science resource, try this book.

Book: Physics — Why Matter Matters
Author: Dan Green
Simon Basher
Publication Date:
April 29, 2008
Grade Range:

Teaching Process Skills With Children’s Literature: How Math Works


How Math Works, by Carol Vorderman, is an interesting guide to deciphering the mysteries of mathematics.  Geared towards students in grades 3-6, this book includes many hands-on experiments with clear, step-by-step instructions and colorful photographs.  A list of materials needed to create your own home laboratory is included as well.  Students will find experiments such as how to make a thermometer out of a plastic bottle and additional experiments with mass, weight, and volume.  Third graders studying simple machines can learn more about the connections between math and science on page 28 and make their own pulley on page 29.  This book is a wonderful resource for upper elementary students and would come in handy when creating science fair projects.

Curriculum Connections
This book includes a variety of experiments to provide a more concrete, tactile experience with abstract concepts such as measuring volume, mass, weight, temperature.  Along the way, students will be actually “doing” science by making predictions and observations, questioning, forming hypotheses, making inferences and conclusions, and sequencing natural events chronologicially.  When making a pulley, students are learning more about one type of simple machine, how it functions, what it is used for, and that forces cause changes in motion.  By using this book and performing its experiments on measurement, students will make estimations on length, mass and volume, measure accurately using basic tools, and develop an understanding of the nature of science and its connection to mathematics.  All these things relate to the Scientific Investigation, Reasoning and Logic standards in grades 3 through 6.

Additional Resources

  •  Information on simple machines resides here
  • To access an interesting lesson plan on volume, click here
  • Check out this website to create measurement worksheets. 
  • Here’s another book on math/science connections. 

Book: How Math Works
Carol Vorderman
Gurinder Purewall
Reader’s Digest
Publication Date:
Reprint edition – July 19, 1999
Grade Range: 3-6
ISBN: 978-0762102334