Author Archive for William

First Grade Math: Number and Number Sense

Here are some books that can assist with the instruction of numbers and number sense.  All of them are easy to read and provide excellent images to help students obtain a better understanding of numbers and their relation to place value.


One Hundred Hungry Ants  written by Elinor J. Pinczes and illustrated by Bonnie Mackan is a story about one-hundred ants on their way to eat the food at a picnic.  While traveling to the picnic one ant decides they will get there much faster if they divide into two rows of fifty.  After walking for a short time the ant decides they should divide into four rows of twenty-five then five rows of twenty and finally ten rows of ten.  This book is a good resource for a lesson introducing base-10 blocks


Greater Estimations  by Bruce Goldstone is a picture book that asks students to estimate how many items are in each picture.  The beginning of the book shows rubber duck in groups of ten and all the ducks lined up in a row of one-hundred. This book also uses popcorn kernels and groups of sky divers to give students a better understanding of number sense.


Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag is a story about a man who ventures out into the countryside to find a cat for his wife.  Once there he finds hundreds and thousands of cats and decides to bring them all home.  The cats get to his house and start to fight over which one of them is the prettiest and after all the fighting only one cat is left.  This book is perfect for showing students how big and small numbers can be and the language is very easy to read.


More M&M’s Math written by Barbara Barbieri McGrath and illustrated by Roger Glass asks students to drop the candies out of their bag and use a graph to count the number of each color they have.  This book is excellent for teaching ordinal numbers.


Sir Cumference and All The King’s Tens written by Cindy Neuschwander and illustrated by Wayne Geehan is a story about Sir Cumference and his wife Lady Di preparing to have a surprise birthday party for King Arthur.  But things get out of hand when so many guests show up that they have trouble counting them all.  They decide to make the guests stand in rows and columns to make the guests easier to count.  The guests are then placed in tents with each tent representing a place value.  This is a great book to read to students before a lesson on place value.

Websites for Kids

Hacker’s Numbers is a interactive online game that challenges students to make larger numbers than Hacker.  The student must place a number in the hundreds, tens and ones.  This game is allows students to practice place value.

The Cats in Line is an online activity that asks students to identify the ordinal number of the orange cat in a line of gray cats.  This site is good for helping students gain an understanding of ordinal numbers and their relation to a set of objects.

The “Less Than” Lake Maze is a game that challenges students to help a monster cross a lake by jumping from one numbered stone to another stone with a lower number on it.  If the students move to a larger number the monster falls in the lake.

Guess the Number is a game where the students can pick a number range (i.e. one to fifty) and then guess which number the computer has selected.  With each turn the computer tells the student higher or lower and then provides a smaller range.  The object of the game is to see how many turns it takes the student to guess the right number.

Enter Your Number is and interactive online math activity that allows students to enter any number then want that then have the computer tell them the place values of the numbers within the number.  This site also has the option of generating a number for the student to challenge them.

Additional Resources

Bring It is an awesome online resource to support instruction for teaching one-to-one correspondence and other early elementary math skills such as addition, subtraction and even skip counting.  This activity also offers a two player mode for students working in teams.

Estimation Exploration is an offline activity that asks student to estimate the amount of items in a jar or other container.  This activity assists students with gaining number sense and uses physical objects such as shells, jelly beans or foam balls.

Counting Votes is another offline activity where the teacher asks students to help him/her create a list of vegetables on a large piece of paper.  Then using small cups and counter chips the students get to vote for which vegetables are their favorites.  The teacher writes the number of votes next to each vegetable and the students get to count their total number of votes for each vegetable.

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World



10 Things I Can Do To Help My World  is written by Melanie Walsh and is a fantastic resource for teaching students about resources and conservation.  Each page of this book provides a message about conservation such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth will save eighteen glasses of water.  This book reminds students to unplug the television when they are not using it and to sort their recycling.  A great aspect of 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World is it’s simplicity because each of the ten actions it discusses and be easily performed by children.  Perhaps the greatest element of the book is that it is made from one hundred percent recycled material.

Curriculum Connections
This book is perfect for teaching students about how limited resources require people to make choices about producing and consuming goods and services.(2.9)  It can be used as an opener to a lesson about recycling or to explain the ecological responsibilities we have to our planet.  10 Things I Can Do To Help My World instructs students about the effect their actions can have on the world and how to make that effect more eco-friendly.

Additional Resources

  • Recycling this is the EPA website on recycling.
  • Origami Garbage Bin this site provides instructions on how to make a newspaper garbage bin fold-able.
  • Why We Recycle this is a lesson plan about recycling but it requires the user to sign up for a free trial.

Book: 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World
Author: Melanie Walsh
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 20
Grade Range: 1-3
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4144-3

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Excavating The Past, Ancient Rome



Ancient Rome is a book written by Fiona MacDonald that is part of the excavating the past series of children’s books.  This book explores archeological excavations of Romans sites from Scotland to North Africa.  It highlights Roman architecture such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum and also discusses the cultural contributions Romans made to the world.  Ancient Rome is filled with colorful pictures of all the important Roman sites and provides plenty of details about each location.  Throughout the book there are words that are written in bold type and included in a glossary in the back of the book.

Curriculum Connections
Ancient Rome can be used to introduce a lesson on the contributions ancient Rome made to the world in terms of architecture, daily life and sports.(3.1)  This is a wonderful book to use to instruct students on the impact the Romans had and continue to have.  Ancient Rome has a large amount of text so it is not appropriate for younger grades but this book can be a great resource for the upper elementary grades.

Additional Resources

  • Three-dimensional model of the Pantheon this lesson plan provides information on Hadrian and how to make a model of the Pantheon.
  • Roman roads this is an information sheet on how the Romans built their roads.
  • The Colosseum this is a free download of a 3-D model of the Colosseum as it appeared during the Roman Empire.

Book: Ancient Rome
Author: Fiona MacDonald
Publisher: Heinemann Library
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 48
Grade Range: 3-6
ISBN: 1-4034-4838-8

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: President’s Day



President’s Day written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell is a good book for teaching students about why we have a day dedicated to our former presidents and the contributions they made to our country.  It highlights the lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.  This book follows the activities of a class as they prepare for a school assembly about President’s Day and provides ideas for class projects about the subject.

Curriculum Connections
President’s Day provides insight into why George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were important to the development of America (2.11). This book also illustrates a classroom model of the voting process and how it works (2.10b).  President’s Day is very easy to read and does not have a large amount of text.  It can be used to reinforce the values on which our country was founded and provides insight into past struggles.

Additional Resources

Book: President’s Day
Author: Anne Rockwell
Illustrator: Lizzy Rockwell
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 17
Grade Range: 1-3
ISBN: 0-06-050194-4

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: We’re Riding on a Caravan


We’re Riding on a Caravan is written by Laurie Krebs and illustrated by Helen Cann.  This book chronicles the journey a family makes along the silk road in China.  As the family travels from Xi’an to Kashgar over the course of a year they make many stops to trade in places such Lanzhou and Turpan.  Throughout their travels the family trades silk for the many items they are going to need to survive their passage on the silk road.  The final pages of the book provide the reader with a map of the silk road, a story about the origins of silk and brief history of the silk road.

Curriculum Connections

We’re Riding on a Caravan is a great book to teach students about how far people used to have to travel to get the goods they needed and desired.  This book can be used to reinforce a lesson about maps (K.4) and understanding the relationship between the environment and the culture of ancient China (2.4).  It can also be used has an opener to lessons about about American journeys similar to the silk road such as the Oregon trail.

Additional Resources 

  • The Silk Road Project this site offers some interactive curriculum and music from the silk road
  • Map of the Silk Road clear and easy to read map of the silk road.
  • Making silk this site offers a detailed description about the making and history of silk and how it has not changed for hundreds of years.

Book: We’re Riding on a Caravan
Author: Laurie Krebs
Illustrator: Helen Cann
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 28 pages
Grade Range: 1-3
ISBN: 1-84148-343-5

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights



Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights is a story written by Debbie S. Miller and illustrated by Jon Van Zyle.  Miller, a resident of Fairbanks, chronicles the seasonal changes that occur throughout the Alaskan wilderness.  The book starts and begins on June 21st, the summer solstice, and provides descriptions of how the animals that live in Alaska survive in the quickly changing environment.  With each page the author provides how many hours of daylight Fairbanks receives and the sunrise and sunset times for the 21st of each month.  Some of the animals that are included in the book are the bear, wolf, moose, rabbit and sandhill crane.  The important role the sun plays in the ecosystem of Alaska is highlighted throughout the book.  The aurora borealis are mentioned but there is also another phenomenon that is discussed that may not be as popular as the northern lights. That phenomenon is known as sun dogs, sun dogs are refracted light halos that form in ice crystals of cirrus clouds and are easily seen during the day.  This book is easy to read yet provides a wealth of information about the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Curriculum Connections
Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights is appropriate for instruction in a number of different lessons and activities. It can be used in the instruction of weather observations.(K.9a) The sun as a source of energy and warm, seasonal changes and how they affect animals.(1.6a)  Weather phenomena and the motions of the Earth and sun.(2.7a)  Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights is an excellent book to explain that the length of a day or night is closely related to your location on our planet.

Additional Resources

  • Fog in a Jar this activity is easy and related to weather and can be used to teach students about the atmopshere.
  • Cloudscapes this lesson plan is about the four types of clouds and allows students to make clouds using cotton balls.
  • Digital model of Earth rotating around the sun, this can be used to explain why the days in Alaska are so much longer in the summer and why the nights are long in the winter.

Book: Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights
Author: Debbie S. Miller
Illustrator: Jon Van Zyle
Publisher: Walker Publishing Company
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 28
Grade Range: 1-4
ISBN: 0-8027-9636-2

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: In the Trees, Honey Bees



 In the Trees, Honey Bees written by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Cris Arbo is an amazingly illustrated story about the jobs of honey bees and their interaction with the surrounding environment.  In the Trees, Honey Bees offers explanations of the different roles of honey bees such as worker, drone and queen.  One of the best aspects of this book are the illustrations, they are detailed and offer the reader a glimpse inside the hives of honey bees.  The last two pages of the book present a more elaborate account of the honey bee both inside the hive, and out.

Curriculum Connections

 There are numerous different lessons for which In the Trees, Honey Bees can be used.  It can be used for instruction on habitat, animal life cycles and behavioral adaptations to environment.(2.4a)  This book is appropriate for many different grade levels.  It provides students with an example of how animals rely on their environment to survive.(1.5a)  It would be perfect for a lesson on conserving resources and our own relationship with the environment.

Additional Resources

  • Tales from the Hive, this is a great PBS site about the anatomy of a honey bee hive and it also explains how bees dance.
  • The National Honey Board, this website has some great free downloads and a teacher’s guide for sale at a discounted rate for educators.
  • Honey Bee Lesson Plan, detailed lesson plan that discusses honey bee biology, pollination, pheromones and the “waggle” dance.

Book: In the Trees, Honey Bees
Author: Lori Mortensen
Illustrator: Cris Arbo
Publisher: Dawn Publications
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 29
Grade Range: 1-3
ISBN: 978-1-58469-114-3

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Springs



Introduction and Summary:

 Springs by David Glover is an easy to read book that explains of functions of many different types of springs. The book is filled with many pictures and illustrations and every other page provides a “fact file” about springs. This book offers clear definitions for compression and tension. It highlights the use of springs in doors, beds, chairs, locks, umbrellas, pens, scales, bicycles and even staplers.

 Curriculum Connections:

 This book can be used as a starting point to a lesson on simple machines and how they function. Perhaps by first asking students how many springs they think might be in their classroom. It is a good resource in reference to SOL 3.2(b) types of simple machines and 3.2(d) examples of simple and compound machines found in the the school, home, and work environments. It is appropriate for demonstrating how simple machines are everywhere and that people use them every day. The book also provides a glossary of terms on the last page.

Additional Resources:

How Springs Work: website that explains how springs work, what they are made from and what they are used for.

Simple Machines Lesson Plan: lesson plan that briefly discusses Leonardo da Vinci and his use of simple machines.

Simple Machines Activity: in this activity students have to decide which simple machines to use to try to repair a house.

General Information:
Book: Springs
Author: David Glover
Publisher: Rigby Interactive Library
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 24
Grade Range: 3-4
ISBN: 1-4034-0060-1

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Frog Scientist


The Frog Scientist is written by Pamela Turner with photographs by Andy Comins. This book follows Dr. Tyrone Hayes through his investigation of the effects of pesticides on frogs. It is filled with many photos of different species of frogs and provides a detailed description of Dr. Hayes’ experiment with wild leopard frogs. The back of the book contains useful information such as a glossary of scientific terms, pictures of featured frogs and toads as well as helpful websites.

Curriculum Connections
The Frog Scientist is perfect for 5th graders learning data collection and analysis (SOL 5.1.h).  This book can also be used to explain the development of frogs and as an opening to a larger lesson on the effects humans have on the environment. This book has a large amount of text so it is not recommended for younger grades.

Additional Resources

Book: The Frog Scientist
Author: Pamela S. Turner
Photographer: Andy Comins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 58 pages
Grade Range: 5-6
ISBN: 978-0-618-71716-3