Author Archive for Stephanie

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: Ballots for Belva


How many men in 1884 do you think would vote for a woman for president? Keep in mind that women didn’t even have the right to vote at this time.  None? Maybe a few? Meet Belva Lockwood – the very first woman to run for President.  Not only did Belva run for president against Grover Cleveland and James Blaine, she got votes!!! Belva received 4,711 votes from men who thought she should be president and these were only the votes that were actually tallied.  Many of the votes cast for Belva were simply thrown out, or given to another candidate as was the case in New York.  Belva received 1,336 votes in New York, all of which were given to Grover Cleveland who won the state of New York by only 1,149 votes.

Belva didn’t win the presidency, but she commanded the attention of so many people who, in turn, heard her important message about the importance of equal rights for women.  Ballots for Belva, The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency, by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, describes Belva briefly as a little girl with the dream and conviction that she could and would move mountains in her life.  She was 1 of only 2 women to complete the coursework at the law school The National University Law School and she personally demanded the diploma to which she was entitled from Ulysses S. Grant.

Belva Lockwood is an excellent female figure to incorporate into classroom curriculum and can also help students begin to understand that big changes in social-norm and politics can often take a very long time.  Belva was fighting for women’s rights in the 1880’s yet women didn’t even receive the right to vote until the 1920’s, almost 40 years later.

Curriculum Connections
Ballots for Belva would be a great way to introduce the beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement mentioned in the SOL USII.4.

Additional Resources

  • On Google Books, I found a book written in 1883 called, Fifty Years’ Recollections with Observations and Reflections on Historical events Giving Sketches of Eminent Citizens, Their Lives and Public Service, by Jeriah Bonham.  It includes a brief summary of her accomplishments up until 1883 – prior to her run for the presidency.  She was already considered a noteworthy citizen with great accomplishments before she managed to get on the ballots for the presidential election.
  • Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen provides a plethora of lesson ideas to go along with Ballots for Belva, and they are all free to download off her website.
  • BrainPop has a whole section on their site devoted to women’s suffrage rights.  This would be a great way to incorporate technology into the lessons.

Book: Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency
Author: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Illustrator: Courtney A. Martin
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2008
Pages: 32 Pages
Grade Range: 3-6
ISBN-13: 978-0810971103

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show


Have you ever been playing with your friends and all of the sudden someone shouts out, “Lets put on a talent show!!!” as loud as they can?  Well, that is exactly what happens in,  The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show, by Laurie Keller.  The rest of what follows in the colorful pages is the chaos that always emerges with the production of a talent show, only the performers are the various states of the United States of America.

Each state has their specialty or they team up with other states to come up with a killers act.  For example, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and New York form the band The New States on the Block and got the whole audience of states on their feet.

On every page there are so many fun and interesting things to read because Laurie Keller doesn’t include just one state on each page, instead in the background there are things going on with other states or states commenting on what other states are doing.  These little side note quips make the book so much fun to read.

Also, on the inside of both the front and back cover all of the states abbreviations are listed as well as when that state was adopted into the union officially.  There is a map at the beginning and the end of this book that shows the students exactly where the states are in the US Also, the fact that each state remains in its true state shape while they are performing in the talent show will help the students remember what the state look like and where it fits in with the rest of the states.

Curriculum Connections

The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show, would be a fun way to help reinforce some of the basic skills of geography learned in SOL 1.4 c & d.  The reader can point out Virginia and make sure students focus on its shape and placement in relation to the other states and as well as the overall shape of the United States.

Additional Resources

  • The prequel to this book is The Scrambled States of America, and would be a good book to pair with The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show.
  • Here is a link to a unit lesson on geography that sends “Travel Pals (beanie babies)” all across the country to visit as many states as possible before they return home at the end of the year.  It sounds challenging to implement but also like the rewards would be awesome.
  • A card/board game is available based on the original book The Scrambled States of America, but it would still be fun every for kids who had only read the Talent Show version.
  • This site has a variety of different geography games based on the USA, including recognition/knowledge of states, capitals, rivers, and more.

Book: The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show
Author: Laurie Keller
Illustrator: Laurie Keller
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: August 2008
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2-5
ISBN: 978-0805079975

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Cocoa Ice


Cocoa Ice tells the story of two little girls, each living in completely different parts of the world, whose daily activities directly impact the other.  The first little girl lives in Santo Domingo and helps her family grow and harvest chocolate for a living.  The second little girl lives in Maine, way up north, and helps her family (or rather watches her uncle) harvest ice from the river every winter.

The second little girl’s Uncle rides in a schooner to the island where it is always summer and brings back chocolate in exchange for the ice they harvested in the very cold winter.

It is clear that each of the little girls are fascinated by the process of creating chocolate or harvesting ice and even more fascinated by the faraway land that receives the chocolate or ice they work so hard for.

Curriculum Connections
Cocoa Ice introduces several concepts from the SOLs: 2.7 – describe natural, human, and capital resources, 2.8 – distinguish between use of barter and use of money, 2.9 – explain scarcity (limited resources), and 3.8 – recognize that people and regions cannot produce everything they want and therefore must trade for the rest.

Additional Resources

  • The International Monetary Fund has an interactive trading game available on its website. It allows the player to buy and sell various goods and choose their buying or selling price based on current economic conditions.
  • This lesson plan, called Tortilla Factory, focuses on the various types of resources (human, capital, natural, intermediate).
  • Here is a link to a pdf of a comic strip story called Wishes and Rainbows, by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  It is designed to help illustrate the issues of scarcity.

Book: Cocoa Ice
Author: Diana Appelbaum
Illustrator: Holly Meade
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: September 2007
Pages: 56 Pages
Grade Range: 3-5

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Leaf Man


Where does the Leaf Man go when he blows? Do you know?

So begins the beautifully written and illustrated book by Lois Ehlert, Leaf Man.  Leaf Man is not a complex tale, but it’s vivid images of colorful fall leaves make it impossible not to enjoy.  The details leap towards the reader with each turn of the page – take special notice of the ever-changing rolling landscape.  Leaf Man visits different farm animals and the gardens of fall, which are ripe with pumpkins, winter squash, and cabbage to name a few.

Curriculum Connections

Leaf Man is a perfect way to introduce leaf classifying into a kindergarten classroom (SOL K.8b).  Inside the cover, Ehlert has provided names for the dozens of different types of leaves he used throughout the book.  The teacher could begin the lesson will a read aloud of Leaf Man, and follow up by providing each student a copy of a page from the book.  The student could then work in groups to count or sort the different types of leaves present on their pages.  Advanced students could label their leaves, and those students who still have some trouble reading can work with the teacher on classifying verbally, which will help ensure these students don’t fall behind on leaf identification and classifying.

Additional Resources

  • This lesson plan found on Scholastic’s website, provides the idea for a leaf finding expedition for the students.
  • Make your own Leaf Man! Explore the plethora of Fall related links on this page as well.
  • Check out Harcourt’s website for Ehlert’s Leaf Man.  It includes a large array of resources including:

Book: Leaf Man
Author: Lois Ehlert
Illustrator: Lois Ehlert
Publisher: Harcourt
Publication Date: September 2005
Pages: 40
Grade Range:  K-2
ISBN: 978-0152053048

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: The Carrot Seed


Plants are growing everywhere you look…everywhere!!! It can be a little bit overwhelming for a kid to learn that it all grows the same way.  The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss and pictures by Crockett Johnson (author and illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon) is a endearingly simple tale of a little boy who wants to grow something on his own.

Everyone (his brother, his mother, and his father too!!) keeps telling him the carrot seed he planted won’t come up.

His mother said, “I’m afraid it won’t come up.”
His father said, “I’m afraid it won’t come up.”
And his big brother said, “It won’t come up.”

But this did not discourage the little boy. Each day he sprinkled the seed with water and carefully pulled up any weeds who tried to stake their claim.  The carrot seed still did not come up.  Day after day he was discouraged by those around him but he held on to his confidence that it would come up.  One day…it did! Just like he knew it would.

Curriculum Connections

This book would be a great way to introduce the SOLs K.6a, 1.4a, & 1.4b.  It introduces students to what I think is one of the hardest things to understand about plants – they don’t grow overnight!  This book will help kids to understand if the little seeds they plant don’t show up for a week or two OR if maybe their best friend’s seed has popped through the soil but theirs has not yet arrived.

Additional Resources

  • Follow the links on this blog Heads, Shoulders, Knees and All That to find a beautiful musical reading of The Carrot Seed. :)
  • Here are several age appropriate lessons designed specifically with The Carrot Seed in mind.
  • Scholastic provides instructions on how to create a Seed Museum after introducing the concept of seeds using The Carrot Seed.
  • Although it seems a bit outdated the illustrator, Crockett Johnson’s website is fun to explore and probably holds several other gems like The Carrot Seed.

Book: The Carrot Seed
Author: Ruth Krauss
Illustrator: Crockett Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 2004 (Originally published in 1945)
Pages: 32
Grade Range:  K-2
ISBN: 978-0064432108

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: The Periodic Table: Elements with Style!


The periodic table??? Are you kidding me?  I never in a million years would have told someone I thought the periodic table could  be interesting, much less FUN!  The Periodic Table, Elements with Style! created by Basher and written by Adrian Dingle does the impossible, it makes you want to keep flipping through the pages to learn more about the different characters in the periodic table.
The book opens with a colorfully illustrated periodic table which is SO much more appealing than the standard, extremely drab periodic table, see for yourself!

Standard Periodic Table:


(Image courtesy of:

Each element has its own personal style, personality, and first person explanation of their properties.  The colorful illustrations and unique approach make each element identifiable and memorable in a way that could never be accomplished in a traditional approach.

Curriculum Connections
According to the SOL’s students won’t really start focusing on the elements at this level until 5th grade and therefore this would be an excellent addition to the lessons surrounding SOL 5.4 which covers key concepts about atoms, elements, molecules, and compounds.  However, I believe this would be a great book to have available to younger students even as early as 2nd and 3rd grade.  The illustrations and the easy flow of the first-person narrative would be great for a student who has an advanced interest in science or is simply a little bit ahead of some of their classmates.

Additional Resources

  • For really advanced students, they can try their hand at this Element Hangman.
  • This lesson plan from gives instructions for created WANTED posters for a specific element.  This would work well in conjunction with The Periodic Table, Elements with Style! since each element already has a distinct attitude.
  • The Hobby Shop provides a way for students to explore and experiment a little bit on their own.

Book: The Periodic Table, Elements with Style!
Author: Adrian Dingle
Illustrator: Created by Basher
Publisher: Kingfisher
Publication Date: May 23,2007
Pages: 128
Grade Range: 3 -College :)
ISBN: 978-0753460856

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Look! Look! Look!


Look! Look! Look! written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace with Linda K. Friedlaender, is a fun, potentially interactive book that highlights creative methods of observation..  A simple picture viewed from the various perspectives of each mouse (Kiki, Kat, and Alexander) results in several different demonstrations of those observations through the use of colors, shapes, and creativity.

Kiki, Kat, and Alexander, three curious mice, borrow a postcard of a portrait from the 1600’s that arrived for The Bigley’s.  They find all sorts of new things in the portrait by working together and listening to each others ideas.

“Look through my viewing frame,” said Alexander. “Look at her hand!”
“Look what I see!” said Kiki.  “Jewels!”
“Look here!” said Kat.  “I see patterns.” (Wallace, p. 7-9).

Alexander sees lines and shapes in the portrait and uses markers and an easel to draw them for Kiki and Kat.  Kiki and Kat both take turns adding to the drawing the different shapes they noticed themselves.  Using different shapes and lines to create the lady helped Kat to notice yet another way of creative the portrait.

Kiki, Kat, and Alexander continue to find new ways to view and create the lady until The Bigley’s arrive back home and they have to return the postcard.

The book has a wonderful illustrated glossary in the back that defines the concepts presented in the book, such as color, lines, patterns…etc.  It also includes instructions on how to create your own postcard which would be an excellent way to incorporated the book into a meaningful activity.

Curriculum Connections
This book and its possible related activities relate wonderfully to the K.1 SOL which states that, Students will conduct observations by (a) using direct observation, (b)  observations re made from various perspectives, (c) observations are described pictorially as well as verbally.

Additional Resources

  • Nancy Elizabeth Wallace provides instructions on her website on how to create the viewing frame used in the story.  Students could create these, decorate them if preferred and then hold them up to things they find/observe in their own classroom.
  • The website teAchnology provides observation worksheets that help introduce the concept of observation.  This may be a good follow-up challenge to add an interactive activity to a lesson about observation.
  • This game helps kids learn how to recognize and complete patterns.  More games are available here.

Book: Look! Look! Look!
Author/Illustrator: Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Collaborator: Linda K. Friedlaender
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children
Publication Date: March 2006
Pages: 40 Pages
Grade Range: K-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-7614-5282-9