Author Archive for Sandy T

Whole Number Computation – Addition & Subtraction Basic Facts

This Instructional Resource Set includes resources that can be used to recall and practice basic addition facts with sums to 18 or less and the corresponding subtraction facts.  The focus of the resources is on a first grade level, but can easily be used for younger students who could benefit from accelerated lessons or for older students who need review or additional practice in addition and subtraction.

Five Best Books to Teach Addition or Subtraction Basic Facts


Domino Addition, written and illustrated by Lynette Long, Ph.D., is a wonderful book to incorporate into math lessons to supplement learning about dominoes and how they can be used to make learning math fun.

Learning to add is fun, especially when you use
Dominoes.  It's easy!  Let's learn how.

Dominoes have two halves.  Each half may have
zero, one, two, three, four, five, or six spots.

It is simple and clear in explaining how you can add the number of spots on each of the two halves of a domino.  The book includes a page for each addition fact family for numbers 0 to 12 in relation to the domino.  Each page contains illustrations of black dominoes with white spots on brightly colored backgrounds.  After reading the book to the class or small groups, students could use this book as a resource when working with dominoes.  The repetition of words allows the reader to focus on using pictorial representations to model addition and to use numeral equations and words to practice the concept of addition.


Elevator Magic, written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, is a fun way to practice subtraction while reading children's literature.  Ben meets his mom at work on the 10th floor, then they make several stops on the way down.

Next we have to drop off this package at
Speedway Delivery.  It's 3 floors down from here.

What floor should I push to go down just 3?

Now we're on 8.
3 floors down
8 – 3 = 5

Floor 5 is where Speedway Delivery should be.

Ben pushes the elevator buttons and uses a simplified “number line” to help understand and practice the concept of subtraction.  The book does a great job of illustrating how there is the need to use subtraction in a common daily activity.  The colorful illustrations support the concept in a fun way as they make magical stops along the way (real farm animals at Farm Bank and Trust, the noises and sights of a car race at Speedway Delivery, and an actual rock band playing at Hard Rock Candy Store).  The last two pages of the book include activities to have more fun with math concepts presented in the book.


As the town's residents open their shops in, How Many Bears? written by Cooper Edens and illustrated by Marjett Schille, the reader is invited to come inside and take a look.  The little animals have a challenge.  Can you figure it out:

How many Bears it takes to run the Bakery in Little Animal Town?

You'll visit that shop last, but each shop along the way has some clues
For you.  First count the animals who run each shop (only the real
Ones, don't be fooled), then read the clue on the opposite page.  The
Rest is up to you.

The reader has to use logical thinking and word problem solving skills to determine the answer to the question in the title of the book: How many bears?

In Little Animal Town…it takes four fewer Giraffes to run the Soda Fountain that it takes Bears to run the Bakery.

The reader can count the number of giraffes in the beautiful, brightly colored, detailed illustration of the Soda Fountain shop on the opposite page to begin to think through the word problem.  As you go through each page of the book, the information builds to allow the readers to find the final answer.  The book encourages practicing the skills of counting, addition, subtraction, and maybe even multiplication in a fun and challenging way.


Students can practice adding and subtracting as colorful ocean animals come and go in the coral reef of Sea Sums, written by Joy N. Hulme and illustrated by Carol Schwartz.  The author uses a rhyming, almost sing song story to introduce addition and subtraction concepts throughout the book.

Two triggerfish may choose to dine
On fresh-cracked crabs at suppertime.
If one eats three and one eats two
Five crabs will disappear from view€¦

3 crabs + 2 crabs = 5 crabs

The colorful ocean creatures look almost real in the vibrant illustrations that allow for many ways to incorporate teaching about the concepts of addition and subtraction.


Greg Tang accomplishes his mission to make math fun in the book, Math Fables:  Lessons That Count.  The book, written by Greg Tang and illustrated by Heather Cahoon, uses rhyming fables to encourage the reader to think about numbers in a creative and fun way.

Family Affair
3 turtles living in the woods
were always on the go.
One day they headed for a pond,
albeit very slow.

The youngest 1 soon raced ahead,
but accidentally tripped.
The other 2 caught up with him
and found that he had flipped!

They quickly grabbed him by the shell
and righted him once more.
All 3 agreed wholeheartedly,
"That's what a family's for!"

This book uses nice visual pictures along with simple addition math stories to allow for great practice in problem solving while having fun.

Five Best Web Sites for Kids for Addition or Subtraction Basic Facts

  • provides fun interactive math games such as the Math Lines Game to practice sums and fact families by destroying the moving line of balls by forming pairs that add up to 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10.  Learning Addition for Kids allows for online solving of addition equations using numerals and pictures of objects.
  • Arcademic Skill Builders provides a variety of interactive games for addition and subtraction.  Alien Addition provides practice adding numbers as invading spaceships with addition problems move down from the top of the screen toward a laser cannon.  Answers are placed in the cannon to "equalize" the invader with the correct answer.  Island Chase is a multi-player racing game for subtraction. How quickly the student correctly answers the subtraction problem determines how quickly the jet ski will go. The student with the fastest rate of correct answers will win the race. Hits and misses are recorded and displayed at the end of the game, along with the student's rate.
  • Fun 4 The Brain has fun math games such as Beach Rush Addition Platform where you solve basic addition equations and then you have to get Mr. Zupple through the crab infested beach or Pizza Pizzaz where you serve the pizza to the table with the correct sum and then you get to create your own pizza.
  • NCTM Illuminations provides math related activities based on grade levels and searchable by key words.  Some helpful interactive activities include Five Frame and Ten Frame for practice counting shapes placed in the familiar five frame and ten frame formats.  Another game is How Many Under the Shell where the user can select the number of bubbles to play with or chose random to let Okta the octopus pick for you.
  • Oswego City School District's Math Magician provides several fun interactive games.  Ghost Blasters II is a game for two players to compete to be the first one to blast ghosts who's sums add up to a specified number (0-99).

Four Additional Resources

  • Stuart J. Murphy, author of books such as Elevator Magic and Ready, Set, Hop!, has a wonderful, interactive website that includes information on each of his books.  Three activities are suggested to go along with each book.  There are also tips and information on Visual Learning, links to many articles, journals, discount opportunities for teachers, and so much more.
  • NCTM Illuminations provides a variety of wonderful resources such as activities, lessons, standards, and weblinks searchable by grade level and key words.  Lesson plans include searchable unit and lessons plans such as Let's Learn Those Facts which focuses on using the properties of addition to help learn addition facts and to master the addition tables.
  • Songs for Teaching encourages using music to promote learning and provides lyrics and links to many songs that can be purchased.  Songs are categorized by subject, including a long list of addition and subtraction songsAdding Doubles is one fun song to try and provides lyrics and suggested movements.
  • Math Is Fun is a great web site that provides many useful resources related to math.  It includes a description of the math concept of addition, interactive activities and games, an illustrated dictionary, puzzles and quizzes, and more.

Teaching Earth Science with Children's Literature: The Little House



Once upon a time
there was a Little House
way out in the country.
She was a pretty Little House
and she was strong and well built.

Virginia Lee Burton’s classic, The Little House, was the winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1943. The pretty Little House sat on a hill and watched the countryside around her.  The whimsical and detailed artwork and lyrical and nostalgic wording brings the Little House to life as she becomes the main character of this story of change over time.

She watched the sun rise in the morning
and she watched the sun set in the evening.
Day followed day,
each one a little different
from the one before€¦€¦.

We experience the changes of the sun, moon, and seasons, and the change of her surroundings as the lights of the city grow closer to the Little House.  Eventually a road is built in front of the house. This is followed by gasoline stations, roadside stands, and more little houses. " Everyone and everything moved much faster now than before."  Then the countryside was changed as apartments and tenement houses, schools, and stores began to spread over the land.  It became so crowded that she couldn't tell when Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter came.

Then one day the great-great-granddaughter of the man who built the Little House sees the house and remembers stories that her grandmother told about living in just such a house, far out in the country. When the great-great-granddaughter discovers that it is the same house, she arranges to have her moved out of the city, to a hill in the country.

Once again she could watch
The sun and moon and stars.
Once again she could watch
Spring and Summer
And Fall and Winter
Come and go.

Curriculum Connections

The Little House can be used to introduce and/or enhance many of the earth science Standards of Learning.  The students can observe the countryside slowly change with the seasons through both the words in the story and the wonderful pictures.  (VA SOL 1.7 & 2.7).  The book has a wonderful illustration of the cycle of the sun rising and setting in the sky that can illustrate the basic patterns and cycles occurring in nature, such as day and night.  Simple phases of the moon are also illustrated, including a simple calendar illustration of the moon cycles. (VA SOL 3.8a)  Earth Resources can be investigated as the story explores how human influences affected the area around the little house and connect that to animals & plant life that may have lived around the house and how they may have been affected by these changes. (VA SOL 3.10)

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: The Little House
Author/Illustrator: Virginia Lee Burton
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 1942
Pages: 44
Grade Range: PreK – 3
ISBN-10: 039525938X
ISBN-13: 978-0395259382

Teaching Life Science with Children's Literature: Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again


Winter's Tail: How One Dolphin Learned to Swim Again, told by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff, is a heartwarming book that chronicles the amazing true story of Winter, a three-month old Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin who lost her tail after becoming entangled in a crab trap.  The book contains the actual photographs as Winter was rescued from Mosquito Lagoon (near Cape Canaveral) by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.  She was then transported to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a rescue, rehab, and release stranding center for marine animals.

Winter's journey at Clearwater Marine Aquarium was not an easy one at first.  But Winter persevered and eventually was able to swim on her own.  The problem was her tail was so injured that it fell off.  Without her tail, she swished her tail stump from side to side like a fish, instead of the up-and-down tail action of a dolphin.  "Winter had taught herself an entirely new way to swim!"  But her trainers were concerned this would damage her backbone.  As Winter adapted to her new home & not having a tail, it became even more apparent that she needed to learn how to swim like a dolphin to avoid further injury and develop muscles properly.

Luckily Kevin Carroll, a premier creator of prostheses, heard about Winter's dilemma and believe he could help.  Working with a team of experts, and despite many obstacles, they were eventually able to create a new, innovative prosthetic tail for Winter.  This new tail helps to keep her backbone healthy and her body flexible.  It also resulted in these innovations crossing over to bring more advanced technology to prosthetics for humans.

The book goes on to say that Winter and her visitors seem to have a special connection…

From children who have prostheses, to veterans who lost a limb fighting in a war, to one little girl who didn't want to wear a hearing aid until she met Winter, people saw how Winter learned to adapt and are inspired by her story.

Beyond all expectations, Winter has thrived and has become an inspiration to the disabled and able-bodied alike.  Winter's inspiring story uses narrative writing and fantastic photographs to deliver an important message of hope, adaptation, friendship, and universal acceptance.

Curriculum Connections

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again can be used to introduce and/or enhance many of the life science Standards of Learning. Winter's ability to adapt to her new environment at the aquarium and to her prothetic tail can show the key concept of behavioral and structural adaptions when investigating how animals in an ecosystem interact with one another and the nonliving environment.   (VA SOL 4.5a)  Looking at how the crab trap placed in the water by humans caused the dolphin to become entangled and injured can be an example of possible negative influences of human activities on ecosystems. (VA SOL 4.5f)  Concepts of Winter's instinct and learned behavior can be explored.  (VA SOL 3.4b) The student can investigate the physical characteristics (body coverings, body shape, appendages, and methods of movement) of the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin and explore the importance of the dolphin's tail as an appendage that allows a dolphin to survive in the wild. (VA SOL 1.5b).

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again
Author: Jauliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff & Craig Hatkoff
Illustrator: n/a
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 40
Grade Range: PreK – 6
ISBN-10: 0545123356
ISBN-13: 978-0545123358

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Elephants Aloft


Elephants Aloft, written by Kathi Appelt and illustrated by Keith Baker, is a beautiful children's picture book that uses just one word on most pages to tell the story of the young Asian elephants' travels to visit their Auntie Rwanda in Africa.  Before the cover page, the book begins with a letter written to Rama and Raja from Auntie Rwanda,

Dear Rama and Raja,
I miss you!
Please come
for a visit.
Auntie Rwanda

The book cleverly and simply continues with one preposition word on each page.  It allows the beautiful illustrations, done in colorful acrylic, to tell the story of Rama and Raja's travels in a hot air balloon to see their Auntie Rwanda.  They get "In" the hot air balloon basket, then they fly "above" the Asian town, and "beside" one of the domes of the Taj Majal.  After they fly "through" the clouds, they go "between" the rock pillars, "behind" the waterfall, "across" the ocean, at night they float with balloons attached to their feet "below" the basket & the moon, in the morning they go "around" a snow capped mountain, the elephants go "under" the water in their basket as they bathe, "beyond" the rainbow, "over" an African village, "out" of the basket as they finally land their balloon, and "into the arms of Auntie Rwanda".  A simple concept beautifully done to clearly illustrate these positions words.  Young children and students will love to travel along with these adorable elephants as they learn position words.

Curriculum Connections

Elephants Aloft can be used to introduce and/or enhance the physical science standard of learning that states a student will investigate and understand that the position of an object can be described.  (VA SOL K.4e) It contains six of the position words contained within the VA SOL K.4e (over/under, in/out, and above/below) as well as several other position words.  The Kindergarten student will be able to "read" the pictures in order to describe one object in relation to another object and according to its motion.  While looking through the illustrations, the student can also describe the colors of the objects in the story.  (VA SOL K.4a)

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: Elephants Aloft
Author: Kathi Appelt
Illustrator: Keith Baker
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 36
Grade Range: PreK – 2
ISBN: 015225384X

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Digging Up Dinosaurs



Did you ever wonder how we know that dinosaurs existed?  How do we know what they were like, how big they were, what they ate?  Digging Up Dinosaurs, written and illustrated by Aliki, is a very interesting and fun story that allows students to discover how science helps us answer these and many more questions about dinosaurs.

Have you ever seen dinosaur skeletons in a museum?
I have.
I visit them all the time.

This is how the story begins as a little girl takes us through the dinosaur exhibit in a museum.  The beginning pages show more dinosaurs in the museum, and the crowds of people viewing them.  We get to experience what one may think and say while visiting dinosaurs in a  museum like this through the clever use of dialogue in balloons.  Then, the little girl goes on to very clearly explain how these dinosaur skeletons, that people did not even know existed until about 200 years ago, got into museums.  After explaining how and where dinosaur fossils were first found, she goes on to tell us about the team of experts that work together: paleontologist, geologist, draftsman, workers, photographer, and specialist.  She explains how they find the fossils, dig them out, safely transport, and study the fossils.

They compare the bones to other bones.
They compare them to the bones of other animals.
They try to figure out what size and shape the dinosaur was.
They try to figure out how the dinosaur stood and walked, and what it ate.

Then they put the skeletons together again inside museums, to look just like the dinosaurs of millions of years ago, "And many people can spend hours looking at them, the way I do.".

The illustrations are colorful and fun.  The dialogue in balloons make the story very funny and relatable, and the texts of extra information (that give the appearance of being written notes) are filled with interesting facts.  This is a great book to inspire future young scientists or even satisfy the curiosity of the inquisitive child who needs to understand how and where these "bones" came from.

Curriculum Connections

Digging Up Dinosaurs can be used to introduce and/or enhance many of the Standards of Learning for elementary students.  There are many process skill SOLs covered within this book.  The student can apply what is in the book to help understand scientific reasoning, logic and nature of science by planning and conducting investigations in which: observations are made from multiple positions to achieve different perspectives, as they first view, uncover, photograph, and display the fossils (VA SOL K.1b, 1.1b); simple tools are used to enhance observations as they excavate, preserve, and study the fossils (VA SOL 1.1d, 4.1c); a question, or in this case many questions, are developed from one or more observations of the fossils (VA SOL 1.1g, 2.1a), examining the dinosaur teeth is an example of inferences being made and conclusions drawn about what the dinosaur ate (VA SOL 3.1j, 4.1a, 5.1i).  It is simply a great illustration of the varied process skills used to explore something that was not ever even heard of until 200 years ago.

Additional Resources

  • National Geographic Xpeditions offers a great lesson plan called The Science of Digging Up Bones.  The lesson plan is geared towards Grades 6-8, but can be changed to accommodate younger grades.  This lesson has students trace the steps of a paleontologist from determining where to look for dinosaur fossils to studying the completed dinosaur skeleton for clues about the dinosaur’s behavior, diet, and anatomy.
  • Digging Up Bones A WebQuest of a Dinosaur Excavation is another fun lesson plan idea related directly to the book.  It is a hands on activity allowing the students to work as teams as the paleontologist, a worker, a draftsman, and a photographer in order to identify fossil models made by the teacher based on dinosaur teeth information at this Enchanted Learning website.  This site gives a little more detail to the same lesson plan.
  • To add a fun hook to a lesson plan that will have the kids laughing (and probably keep everyone singing the tune all day), have the students watch the I Am a Paleontologist video from the Here Comes Science album by They Might Be Giants.
  • TVO Kids has a fun online game called Dino Dig.  The student can be the paleontologist and use tools to uncover fossils.

General Information

Book: Digging Up Dinosaurs
Author: Aliki
Illustrator: Aliki
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 1988
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN-10: 0064450783
ISBN-13: 978-0064450782


Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Ox-Cart Man


In October he backed his ox into his cart
and he and his family filled it up
with everything they made or grew all year long
that was left over.

Thus begins the wonderfully simple Ox-Cart Man, written by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.  This story clearly tells the tale of an 18th century New England farming family as they pack up the goods the family produced and do not need for their own survival.  Using lyrical and repetitive language, the author lists the items the family produced.  Some of these items include:  a bag of wool he sheared from a sheep, a shawl his wife wove on a loom, mittens his daughter knit, birch brooms his son carved with a borrowed kitchen knife, the potatoes they dug from their garden (after he counts out what they will need to eat and seed), and a bag of goose feathers his children collected from the barnyard geese.   The man takes the goods to the market and sells everything including his ox cart, ox, yoke, and harness.  "With a pocket full of coins, he walked through Portsmouth Market" where the man takes the money to buy the things the family will need.  He buys an iron kettle, an embroidery needle for his daughter, a knife for his son, and wintergreen peppermint candies for the whole family.  When the man returns home the cycle continues as the family produces more goods.

and his daughter took her needle and began stitching.
and his son took his Barlow knife and started whittling.
and they cooked dinner in their new kettle.
and afterward everyone ate a wintergreen peppermint candy.

The story continues to list all of the things the family produces the next year, cleverly ending with

and geese squawked in the barnyard
dropping feathers as soft as clouds.

It is easy to understand why this book won the 1980 Caldecott Medal.  The illustrations are realistic and give a great feeling for the time period.  They do an excellent job of showing the story through the pictures.  A beginning reader could certainly use the pictures to tell the story and any reader could use them to visualize the life style and other things that are unfamiliar to many people today.

Curriculum Connections

The Ox-Cart Man can be used to introduce and/or enhance many of the Virginia Standards of Learning for elementary students.  Related to Economics, it clearly shows the goods the farming family produces and portrays them in the role of both producer and consumer (VA SOL 1.7).  It can be used to illustrate that people work to earn money to buy the things people want (VA SOL K.7b).  It is also a good example of how people cannot produce everything they want, so they specialize in what they do best and trade for the rest (VA SOL 3.8).  Some other curriculum connections related to social studies include being able to describe the past ((VA SOL K.2) and comparing the changes in community life over time (VA SOL 2.3).

Additional Resources

  • Reading Rainbow featured Ox-Cart Man on one of their episodes (episode #18).  It has provided teacher activities that offer many great topics for discussion, curriculum extension activities, classroom, and home activities.
  • KidsEcon Posters has a suggested lesson plan related to consumers to use along with the Ox-Cart Man under the Literature Connections section.
  • School Improvement in Maryland has lesson plans and activities related directly to this book and corresponding younger elementary school economics standards.
  • Progeny Press provides activities related to Ox-Cart Man including an As-you-read chart and vocabulary ideas.


General Information

Book: Ox-Cart Man
Author: Donald Hall
Illustrator: Barbara Cooney
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1979
Pages: 40
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN-10: 0140504419
ISBN-13: 978-0140504415

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children's Literature: Ancient Rome and Pompeii


Magic Tree House Research Guide #14: Ancient Rome and Pompeii: A Nonfiction Companion to Vacation Under the Volcano, written by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, illustrated by Sal Murdocca is an excellent way to supplement teaching Ancient Roman history.  It simply and clearly gives a basic overview of ancient Rome.  It has great attention to detail and provides many important facts that are pertinent to an elementary school student.  It does this in a way that is interesting and fun.  It is a companion research guide to Magic Tree House #13 Vacation Under the Volcano, but can certainly be read on its own.  It has many facts and descriptions about Roman life and culture.  The book begins with the legend of Romulus and Remus.  Then continues

The real story of ancient Rome is a bit different.  Rome was actually founded over 3,000 years ago.  Farmers and fishermen settled on hills near the river Tiber in what is now Italy.  These small hill settlements grew into a town.

It then goes on to describe how the ancient Roman government evolved over time, including clear descriptions of a republic as "a form of government where no one person has complete control".  Many of the important contributions of Roman architecture are also discussed.

Roman buildings often had strong, rounded arches and beautiful domes.  The Romans also built sturdy bridges, roads, and tunnels.

There are sections that describe the Colosseum and aqueducts and their uses and importance, including photographs of both.  Other information covered includes:  Roman military, roads, language, important people, Pompeii and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, a great description of daily life in ancient Rome, and more.

The book includes maps, drawings, photographs (of artwork, Roman sites, etc), Latin word meanings, and other bits of important and interesting information that would also be relevant to a student.  At the end, the authors list many different sources that can be used to do more research.  These included tips on how to properly do research from a book, museum research tips and particular exhibits, videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs, and internet resources.

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used to introduce and/or reinforce Third Grade Standards of Learning regarding Ancient Rome.  It clearly describes a Roman Republic form of government, architecture (including the Colosseum and aqueducts), and Roman art (including mosaics, sculptures and paintings).  (VA SOL 3.1)  A map in the book shows the vast borders of the Roman Empire surrounding the Mediterranean Sea in the third century.  It also describes the physical characteristics of Rome being next to a river and built on many hills.  It discusses that Romans were farmers, road builders, and traders.  (VA SOL 3.4)  Topics covered in this book can also lead to economics discussions related to ancient Roman culture (VA SOL 3.7 & 3.8).

Additional Resources

  • Kidipede – History and Science for Kids has a great article that clearly and simply provides information about the ancient Roman government, making connections to our government today.  Or you can find ideas on how to make a mosaic with your classroom.
  • Roman Empire has a lot of information including color photographs of Roman buildings (e.g. Colosseum, Pantheon, and aqueducts).  These are great primary sources to share with the students.
  • The BBC Learning has an excellent website to use as a way to integrate technology into learning about ancient Rome.  There are fun games, facts, and photographs.  There is also a link with teacher resources that includes worksheets, activities and videos.
  • Random House has the official Magic Tree House site with activities and information for all of the books in the Magic Tree House series.

General Information

Book: Magic Tree House Research Guide #14: Ancient Rome and Pompeii: A Nonfiction Companion to Vacation Under the Volcano
Author: Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce
Illustrator: Sal Murdocca
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 128
Grade Range: 2nd-5th
ISBN-10: 0375832203
ISBN-13: 978-0375832208


Teaching Civics with Children's Literature: A Picture Book of George Washington


A Picture Book of George Washington, written by David A. Adler, illustrated by John & Alexandra Wallner is a simple biography about George Washington.  It provides important facts and dates relevant to a student in the lower elementary grades.  It covers basic information about the "Father of Our Country" from his birth on February 22, 1732 in a simple Virginia farmhouse to his death in 1799.  It includes information about George as a young boy who "liked to fish and go boating" and "most of all liked to ride his horse".  Then it goes on to describe George in school and that "his favorite subject was arithmetic".  This helps children relate to the man who was so important to the founding of our country.  The book continues on through several parts of George's life including such events as leading Virginia soldiers against the French in the French and Indian War, marrying Martha Custis, and George being elected the first president of the United States of America in 1789.  The book ends perfectly with,

George Washington was a great leader.  He has been
called the "Father of Our Country."  It has been said that
George Washington was "First in war, first in peace and
first in the hearts of his countrymen."

The illustrations are colorful and engaging.  They are a good representation of what life would have looked like when George Washington was alive.  The student can get a visual idea of clothing, homes, hair styles, and transportation in the 1700s.  The end of the book includes an “Important Dates” time line that is a good overview of the main events in George Washington's life.

Curriculum Connections

This book is suitable for any age and would be a good addition to any Kindergarten to third grade classroom library.  It can be used to introduce or reinforce any lesson related to George Washington and/or President's Day.  It would be particularly useful in support of the Standard of Learning which states the student will identify George Washington, among others, as an American whose contributions improved the lives of other Americans.  (VA SOL 1.2, VA SOL 2.11, 3.11b)  The book also illustrates what things looked like in the past & how life was different when George Washington was alive.  This could lead to good discussions and comparisons of past and present.  (VA SOL K.2, 1.1, 2.3)  Or it can be used to recognize that history describes people of other times such as George Washington (VA SOL K.1a) or identify people honored by the holiday of Presidents’ Day. (VA SOL K.1b, 1.3)  This is a book the teacher can read aloud to the students and many beginning readers can also read independently.

Additional Resources

General Information

Book:  A Picture Book of George Washington
Author: David A. Adler
Illustrator: John & Alexandra Wallner
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: 1990
Pages: 32
Grade Range: PreK-3
ISBN-10: 0823408000
ISBN-13:  978-0823408009

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: From Kalamazoo to Timbuktu!


 Millie and Mike in Kalamazoo
Were restless and wondered what to do.

Said Millie to Mike, "I have a notion.
Let's pretend to cross the ocean."

This begins the exciting adventure as Millie and Mike use a map, a canoe in their back yard, and their imaginations to travel around the world.  What a great concept – its amazing what you can do with a map and your imagination!  From Kalamazoo to Timbuktu!, written by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Tanya Roitman is a fun way to introduce many aspects of geography, travel, other climates, locations, and cultures to children.  The author uses fun rhymes and some silly ideas to keep the children laughing and learning.  After beginning their "adventure" on a bicycle built for two, so they could pedal to Timbuktu, Millie and Mike proceed to use many fun and different means of transportation on their travels.  They travel on a bus, helicopter, canoe, whale's tail, sailboat, and a camel.  After Millie and Mike finally get to see the ancient, historical city of Timbuktu, they miss their parents and board a plane home to  Kalamazoo.

The illustrations in the book are colorful and fun.  There is a lot to learn just by "reading" the illustrations.  Some show aerial views of the places Millie and Mike visit. The children can see mountain roads, city skylines, the ocean, and a desert city from above.  Through the pictures the children can explore various surroundings and how they affect clothing, shelter, and transportation.  Even the inside covers can be utilized.  Both show a map of the world and track the route and modes of transportation Mike and Millie explored in their imaginations. The book is simple and fun.  It is a great tool to introduce many beginning concepts of geography.

Curriculum Connections
This book is suitable for any age, but specifically can be used to introduce and/or reinforce many of the Kindergarten and First Grade Standards of Learning.  For Kindergarten, the inside covers show a map of the world with a line showing the travel route of Mike and Millie.  After reading the book, show the children the same path using a globe to help them see the similarities and differences between looking on a map and on a globe.  (VA SOL K.4)  There are several illustrations showing an aerial view along their travels.  These can be compared to the illustrations showing a view from the ground. It can be used to describe how objects appear smaller from above. (VA SOL K.5)  For First Grade, the map of the world on the inside covers can be used to locate the shape and position of the United States.  (VA SOL  1.4c)  Various types of group activities can be done to describe the children's own community and how it is different from the places Millie and Mike visited.  The climate, physical surroundings, food, shelter, transportation can all be included in discussion.  (VA SOL 1.6)

Additional Resources

  • TeacherLINK Teacher Resources contains a Map Unit with many resources that can be geared towards Kindergarten or First Grade.  It includes lesson plans, activities, children's literature, and many other useful ideas.
  • World Atlas contains many versions of maps that can be printed and used for simple map activities such as coloring in the water and land, following the route that Millie and Mike traveled or locating the United States on a world map.
  • Map Adventures contains useful resources to teach map skills, including an activity sheet that can be used to explain a view from above.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Education Place contains many graph options including the Venn Diagram.  This can be used as a group or individual activity to compare locations, climate and physical surroundings found in the book.

Book: From Kalamazoo to Timbuktu!
Harriet Ziefert
Tanya Roitman
Blue Apple Books
Publication Date:
40 pages
Grade Range: