Archive for the 'activities/experiments' Category

Instructional Resource Set: Geometry

This blog focuses on the Virginia Math SOL 3.14 that covers a portion of the geometry unit taught in the third grade.  Students will become familiar with plane and solid geometric figures and their specific characteristics.  You find included below several books that would be a good addition to this unit, some good websites that students can access to deepen their understanding of geometric shapes, and some resources that will be helpful to the classroom teacher.The following are excellent books to incorporate into the lessons on geometry:

  • The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns and illustrated by Gordon Silveria.  Burns creates a main character that is a friendly triangle that decides life would be better if he had more sides and angles.  He continually changes into new shapes, until he becomes very big and almost round.  He finally decides what will make him happy is to go back to being a triangle.
  • Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Remy Simard.  Murphy takes readers through the adventures of Captain Invincible and his space dog, Comet.  As they make their way back to earth, they ward off a meteor shower, poisonous gas cloud, a flying saucer, and a galactic beast with their multitude of space gadgets that are made out of solid geometric shapes.
  • Finding Shapes with Sebastian Pig and Friends at the Museum by Jill Anderson and illustrated by Amy Huntington. Sebastian and his friends are on a search in the museum to find art ideas that will help them decorate his new bedroom.  They find all kinds of artwork that includes plane and solid shapes. Anderson includes a nice graph of the shapes which includes a drawing, description, number of sides, and number of corners of each specific shape. Although this book is a bit on the juvenile side, it is still engaging and may be a good resource for the weaker readers in the class.
  • Sir Cumference and the First Round Table and Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone by Cindy Neuschwander and illustrated by Wayne Geehan.  These are two books in the series by Neuschwander that is set in the era of Camelot.  Sir Cumference is continually challenged with situations that require him and Lady Di of Ameter to use various skills.  During their adventures various geometric shapes are discovered in ordinary items around them, giving readers a good review of the characteristics of these shapes.
  • Geometry by Lucille Caron and Philip M. St. Jacques. Caron and St. Jacques walk the reader through a great deal of information about geometric shapes and vocabulary.  The information is clear and succinct, yet very informative.   Although this is not a literature book, I recommend it be included in the resource set because it is a good differentiation tool.  More advanced students who desire to dig deeper into the study of geometry may enjoy the challenge of this book, and students will find it to be an easy accessible resource book for any type of research on geometry in grades 3-5.

Students may enjoy utilizing the following sites throughout this study:

  • PBS Cyberchase On-line Tangram Games are quite user friendly. Students are on a page that displays a shape (i.e. a rabbit) which they are to create using the tangram pieces provided.  The game includes tools to rotate the pieces and move them into place.  This will be most helpful once the students have had exposure and experience working with actual tangram pieces.
  • Investigating the Concept of Triangle and the Properties of Polygons: Making Triangles is a site with interactive geoboards to help students identify simple geometric shapes, describe their properties, and develop spatial sense.
  • Polygons Around a Point is an on-line game that allows the student to use regular polygons to surround a point in a plane.  He/she will be able to make designs and decide how to best cover a surface by using regular polygons.
  • Tangrams on-line is another fun tangram puzzle site that allows students to choose various puzzles to solve with tangrams.
  • This on-line shapes matching memory game is a good level for students who are in the beginning stage of geometry and learning their plane shapes.

Teacher Resources:

  • MathSteps “Identifying and Classifying Polygons” is a good lesson plan with several pages of work that walks you through introducing and developing the concepts.
  • The Educator’s Reference Desk website offers a lesson on the beloved book by Marilyn Burns, The Greedy Triangle.  The lesson also incorporates the use of geoboards with the students, which is always a fun activity.
  • This lesson plan will have students act and think like architects as they team up to build their dream home with plane and solid shapes that they create.
  • Nancy Powell’s Web Pages have many good ideas for SmartBoards. This link is specifically to her geometry page, but you may want to look through the rest of her site for good ideas in other areas too!

Ancient Egypt

This post discusses resources for the second grade Virginia SOL 2.1. In this unit, students learn about the contributions that ancient Egypt has made to the modern world. Specifically, students study how Egypt helped to develop, and influenced, writing, architecture and a few inventions like paper, the 365 day calendar, and the clock. The following books, websites and extra resources are designed to fit this second grade curriculum, but are varied in difficulty so that they can be differentiated for many different levels of students.



I Wonder Why the Pyramids Were Built: And Other Questions About Ancient Egypt

By Miranda Smith

I Wonder Why the Pyramids Were Built: And Other Questions About Ancient Egypt is a useful resources as an introduction to ancient Egypt as it gives a general overview about the lives and practices of ancient Egyptians. It provides child friendly explanations about tricky subjects like embalmment and mummification while still being an overall funny and entertaining book because of the many “ancient Egypt” jokes. Enjoyable illustrations accompany the text so that students can see what typical Egyptians looked like, and how the landscape and architecture of the time appeared.






The Egyptian Cinderella

By Shirley Climo and illustrated by Ruth Heller

The Egyptian Cinderella tells the familiar Cinderella story with an ancient Egyptian twist. In this version, the Greek slave girl, Rhodopis, is saved from her plight by marrying the Pharaoh, with a little help from the Egyptian god Horus. Students will enjoy this story because they can relate it to what they already know about Cinderella and can compare the similarities and differences between the traditional fairy tale and this Egyptian version. While still being entertaining, this Cinderella story manages to inform students about every day Egyptian life, from the existence and roles of slaves and pharaohs to Egyptian mythology and religion.





Egyptian Life

By Miriam Stead

This book is an excellent classroom resource because it provides examples and descriptions of ancient Egyptian life based upon artifacts currently found in the British Museum. Therefore, this book is different from most books on ancient Egypt because it shows real photographs of real Egyptian objects. Egyptian Life discusses many aspects of the everyday ancient Egyptian experience such as food, family, society, clothing and religion. In this way, this book is a good starting point for students’ comparisons of their modern lives to the lives of ancient Egyptians.







Hieroglyphs from A to Z

By Peter Manuelian

Hieroglyphs from A to Z is similar to the traditional alphabet books, where each letter is given a page and a sentence using a word that begins with that letter, yet it is different in that the letters are also represented in Egyptian hieroglyphs and the sentences are about Egyptian topics. This book serves as a good introduction to the study of hieroglyphics because it provides a comparison between the letters that students are used to, and their ancient Egyptian counterparts. This book presents the ancient Egyptian writing system in an easy to understand format, and also shares a few facts about Egyptian life and mythology.





Ancient Egypt

By George Hart

Ancient Egypt, from the Eyewitness book series, is a virtual encyclopedia of Egyptian knowledge geared towards elementary aged students. This book combines illustrations, photographs and diagrams to explain tricky and interesting subjects like, what the inside of a pyramid looks like, why the ancient Egyptians dressed the way they do, and how the ancient Egyptians made paper. This book may use some vocabulary that is beyond the second grade level, so it may need to be used as a teacher-guided resource or as a tool for differentiation but it provides an expanse of knowledge on practically any topic that you can think of when it comes to ancient Egypt.


Mr. Ancient Egypt

This site, geared at upper elementary school students, explains topics like the gift of the Nile, the land of the dead, the pharaoh, the Rosetta Stone and Cleopatra. It provides detailed maps and clear explanations of why each of these topics is so important to any study of ancient Egypt. The wording might be a little hard for some second graders to understand, and the site is mostly text-based, so this would be a great site for a teacher-led Webquest or class activity where the teacher could guide students’ reading.

Kids Konnect Ancient Egypt

This site would be a wonderful resource for any class studying ancient Egypt since it provides a wealth of information about everything and anything Egypt related. It provides links to information on hieroglyphics, gods, mummies, the Nile, pharaohs, pyramids, Egyptian literature, art, history and more. Teachers and students could use this site to find anything that they might want to know about ancient Egypt, but again, this site may be difficult for second graders to navigate, because it is so expansive, so if students use this resource it should be guided by the teacher.

The British Museum-Ancient Egypt

This website is published by the British Museum’s Egyptology Department but is intended for an elementary audience. It has information about Egyptian life, geography, gods and goddesses, mummification, pharaohs, pyramids, time, trades and writing. This site would be especially useful in light of the SOL because of its explanations about the development of the clock and writing. Each topic contains a story and an exploration link, for example, in the temple section students can “explore” the inside of a temple. This site is easy to navigate so students could traverse it by themselves.

A to Z Kids Stuff- Ancient Egypt

This website acts as an introduction to the history and contributions of ancient Egypt. It discusses the different Egyptian kingdoms and their time periods, as well as Egyptian inventions and some brief information about prominent pharaohs. At the bottom of the page are listed fun activities that students could do to help them learn about ancient Egypt. Since this site is only one page long it would be an easy way for students to learn about ancient Egypt on their own.

 Children’s University of Manchester- Ancient Egypt

This website is produced by the University of Manchester as a child’s guide to ancient Egypt. It provides interactive activities that students can do online, like, explore ancient Egypt, Giza pyramid panorama, the Egyptian number system, writing in hieroglyphics, make a mummy and more. These activities have easy to understand directions and are fun ways to explain topics about ancient Egypt.

Other Resources

Why did the Egyptians build the tombs and pyramids? Movie

This movie, presented by BBC Learning Zone Class Clips, shows footage of the pyramids in Egypt and explains why the ancient Egyptians first began to develop the pyramids. It explains the different types of pyramids, which pharaohs preferred which type of pyramid and how Egyptians used the natural resources available to them to design and create the pyramids.

Southlands Elementary Ancient Egypt WebQuest

This WebQuest, produced by Southlands Elementary School, takes students on an internet tour of ancient Egypt to learn about topics like daily life, the sphinx, the Egyptian calendar, hieroglyphics, the pharaohs, the pyramids, the Rosetta Stone and mummification. This WebQuest would be a great review of a unit on Ancient Egypt; it uses clear directions and simple links to keep students from being confused or overwhelmed. The other unique thing about this WebQuest is that it asks students to develop their higher-level thinking by asking questions like “write down some differences between poor and rich Egyptians”, rather than simply asking all explicit questions.





The Ancient Egypt Pack: A Three Dimensional Celebration of Egyptian Mythology, Culture, Art, Life and Afterlife

By Christos Kondeatis

This book combines pull out activities and pop-up diagrams to explain the mysteries of ancient Egypt. There are board games, pop-up pyramids, an ancient Egyptian mask and many more interactive and tactile activities to keep students entertained while they are learning. This pack would be a great way to introduce students to a unit on ancient Egypt, or for use as a center activity, or just as something for the class to read together. It provides a lot of information in a very fun package.



Pyramids: 50 Hands on Activities to Experience Ancient Egypt

By Avery Hart

This book provides educators with many different activities for students to learn about ancient Egypt. There are activities about making mummies, designing Egyptian clothes, discovering what the ancient Egyptians ate, playing Egyptian games like tug of war, and more. This book encourages students to “think like Egyptians”, so they should complete the activities using resources and materials that the ancient Egyptians would have had, which adds a unique twist to simple games and projects. These activities are not just for fun, however, they are very educational and include a lot of factual information that students must understand in order to complete the activities, which makes for an excellent resource for both students and teachers alike.

Teaching Time

Introduction to the topic-

This entry covers the topic of telling time.  It focuses on VA SOL 2.12.  The student will tell and write time to the nearest 5 minutes, using analog and digital clock.  There are many great resources for teaching this subject to students, some are listed below.

Text annotations-

The Clock Struck One: A Time-telling Tale (Math Is Fun!) by: Trudy Harris


PreSchool-Grade 2€”A playful expansion of “Hickory, Dickory Dock,” this picture book centers around the concept of a cat chasing a mouse through the hours of a day. “Hickory dickory doo, the grandfather clock struck TWO./It woke the cat, who sprang from his mat,/hungry for mouse-tail stew,” and the race is on. Some of the rhyming verses are awkwardly constructed (“Hickory dickory date,/at EIGHT, they ran through the gate./The farmer’s son/said, ‘That looks fun./I’m coming too. So wait!'”). Expressive mixed-media illustrations display a gleeful mouse swinging on the clock chimes while a sleepy feline dozes on a nearby rug, and then highlight the ensuing chaos as other animals and people join the pursuit. The ending shows a very tired mouse and cat catching their breath as the clock strikes one in the morning. A thoughtful afterword offers a two-page explanation about the difference between digital and analog clocks and how to tell time, and challenges readers to find the various clocks featured in the illustrations (e.g., a cuckoo clock, a pocket watch, and a digital stove clock)- source

Telling Time With Big Mama Cat by:  Dan Harper


PreSchool-Grade 2-A feline claims, “Some people think cats don’t know much-but I, Big Mama Cat, know how to tell time. How else could I keep my busy day on schedule?” Readers quickly discover the irony in this assertion, as illustrations soon reveal that her busy day consists of napping, eating, or waiting to do one or the other. Her proprietary interest in the goings-on of her domain are manifest in her awareness of the humans’ schedule, from the morning rituals of baby feedings and the school bus to the family’s evening routine of dinner and a bedtime story. The simple, consistent arrangement of text and pictures on each page gently frames the humor and perfectly captures the everyday dramas of naptime and tea parties. Humor is furthered by visual details, including birds and mice of which the proud feline narrator seems completely unaware. Clocks showing the times noted in the text are clearly visible on every page and can be supplemented by a clock with moveable plastic hands that is part of the front cover. The tongue-in-cheek tone of the story and high-quality art are so engrossing, however, that the cover clock might be entirely ignored. Buy several copies; this combination is guaranteed to please those learning to tell time as well as their younger siblings.- source

Telling Time: How to Tell Time on Digital and Analog Clocks by:  Jules Older


Kindergarten-Grade 3-Beginning with a robust “TICK” and ending with an equally bold “TOCK,” Older acts as both an encouraging coach and cheerleader for youngsters learning about time. He defines the concept clearly, citing two meanings-when things happen and how long things take. After delving into how time can be broken down (from a second to a century), the author gets down to the nitty-gritty of telling time. He begins with the easier digital-clock face. Once that is thoroughly explained, he ponders the more difficult analog clock. Readers are taken through the process of reading it, and little tests are thrown in to keep students on track. Answers are given in the text, along with rewarding smiley faces. (“Yes! It’s seven-thirty. You deserve another smiley face!”) The cartoon illustrations, showing children and many, many types of clocks are colorful, plentiful, and inviting. A rather silly poem is appended to help readers remember how long things take: “Sixty seconds make a minute,/that’s a lot of seconds, innit?” Although a.m. and p.m. are discussed (“-breakfast is at six A.M., but supper is at six P.M.”) they are never really defined. Beyond these minuscule qualms, this jovial look at time and time telling is as handy as they come.- source

Clocks and More Clocks by:  Pat Hutchins


When the hall clock reads twenty minutes past four, the attic clock reads twenty-three minutes past four, the kitchen clock reads twenty-five minutes past four, and the bedroom clock reads twenty-six minutes past four, what should Mr. Higgins do? He can’t tell which of his clocks tells the right time. He is in for a real surprise when the Clockmaker shows him that they are all correct!- source

Pigs on A Blanket by: Amy Axelrod


Grade 1-2 Children who exercised their math skills with the effervescent porcine family in Axelrod’s Pigs Will Be Pigs (S & S, 1994) can pick up more practice adding, subtracting, and telling time as the portly clan visits the beach. The piglets are ready to go in no time, but the minutes march past as Mr. Pig tries to find a swimsuit that still fits (45 minutes), hunts for car keys (1 hour), gets a speeding ticket (13 minutes), stands in line at the concession stand (60 minutes), and insists they wait for lunch to digest (30 minutes, plus 20 more for the lemonade and brownies). At last it’s “Time to ride the waves!” But no, it’s 5:30, and the beach is closing. Animal characters in colorful summer dress cavort cheerfully through simple cartoon illustrations. The Pigs’ misadventure gets a recap in rebuses at the end, and an afterword poses a few word problems and a discussion of clock face features and digital equivalents.-  source

Web annotations-

This website has an online quiz for telling time.  Students should just click start to begin.  The student is told if their answer is correct or incorrect. If incorrect, the correct answer is stated.

This website contains an online activity with time word problems.  The word problems are related to activities that students might encounter at school.  Students must enter the correct time.  Includes a.m. and p.m.

In “Max’s Challenge”, students keep an online log  of the activities they do in one hour and how many minutes each activity takes.

For this online game, students must find all the clocks showing the time stated.  Self checker component is included!

This online activity allows students to enter a time on the digital clock and the face will move on the analog clock.  A great practice tool.

Additional resources

An online glossary of math terms.  Students can look up terms such as hour, minute, second and use the definitions to make time flashcards.  This flashcard maker could be used for students to type their definitions in.

A free online worksheet maker will allow teachers to make worksheets about time for use in their classroom.  The site will also generate an answer key.

This board game activity would be a great classroom center activity.  Game would be best for 2-4 players.

This site includes a list of  power point presentations for teachers to use when teaching telling time . Presentations include many pictorial example slides.

Teaching Sorting Skills in First Grade


 VA SOL 1.20 requires that the student sort and classify concrete objects according to one or more attributes, including size, color, shape, and thickness. This mathematical concept is stimulated by the student's exploration of their environment and most children begin to develop concepts related to sorting and patterns before they enter school. Recognition of similarities and differences as well as comparisons are essential components of children's mathematical development.  The focus of instruction at the primary level and the role of the teacher is to help students understand the classification process in which two or more attributes connect or differentiate sets.

The resources below are best used with students in the early elementary years, primarily first grade.


Text Annotations


Harriet’s Halloween Candy by Nancy Carlson.

This is great book to use when talking/introducing the concept of sorting. This book is a fun one to read and I’m sure that first graders would adore the story that Harriet has to tell. In this story, Harriet (a young puppy) learns the hard way that sharing her Halloween candy makes her feel much better than eating it all herself and that sorting the candy makes it easier to divvy up. This book would be great to read prior to conducting a sorting activity with candy (sorting Jellybeans or gummi bears is a popular sorting activity).


Sorting by Henry Arthur Pluckrose.

This book features colorful, vibrant photographs and clear concise text that is interactive with the reader. This book would be a great resource for a unit on sorting or to use as a review for a lesson on patterns. I would read this book aloud and show students each page. I would then reread the book although the second time I would ask students how they would sort the various items on each page.


Grandma's Button Box by Linda Williams Aber. This book was such a fun lovely story for first grade students learning about sorting. The book tells the story of a young girl, Kelly who accidently drops her grandmother's box of buttons over, scattering the buttons across the floor. Kelly and her cousins work furiously sorting the buttons, first by shape, then size, and finally by color in an effort to return the button box to the original condition their grandmother had it in. Ultimately the story reveals that the grandmother never had the buttons organized and she is quite grateful for the organization her grandkids bestowed upon the buttons. This is a great book to read prior to having students sort their own items by shape, size, and color, which is one of the games I used in my instructional resource set.


Sort It Out! By Barbara Mariconda.

A cute story about a pack rat who comes home with a cart full of stuff (a locket, a book, an umbrella, a pinecone, and many more random items) and is forced to sort it all out and put it away by his mother. The book describes the process Packy the rat used to sort all the items, including grouping things with like characteristics such as where they’re found, their color, shape, etc. The illustrations are really fun because they are brightly colored, large, and very clear and children of all ages will enjoy looking at each page.


The Button Box by Margarette S. Reid.

In this book a  young boy narrates and talks about the contents of a special box at his grandmother’s house. As it turns out the box is full of buttons his grandmother has collected year after year. Throughout the pages the boy describes and examines the various buttons, telling what he imagines and knows about them. As he does this he ultimately ends up sorting them by unique attributes thus making this book an excellent book to read during instruction about sorting. This book would be a nice prelude to an activity where students sort buttons by different attributes (round, square, two-hole, three hole, color, etc.).

Web Annotations:

Candy Sorting Game

This interactive game allows students to sort candy based on its shape. This game ties is nicely with lesson plans that incorporate the sorting of Halloween candy or other candies (jelly beans, M &Ms, or gummy bears). It is fun for students to play and gives audible directions which is nice and effective for first graders.

Online Attribute Blocks Game

Allows students to practice sorting attribute blocks by color, shape, and size. A checking features gives the student feedback about the answer before the student can move on to a new question.


A fun interactive game that gives clear concise directions to students. The directions include sorting items into the appropriate columns depending on specific characteristics (happy/sad, red/blue, big/small, etc.). Features big font and fun sound effects, which makes it fun for young students!

Size Sorting Game

A fun online game that has players choose which items are bigger and which are smaller while taking the player on a journey through an animal filled barnyard!

Sorting by Color!

A website with option for students to choose from. Each option links to a different online game that requires student's sort items by color.


Additional Resources

Sorting Ideas Webpage

A great website for sorting ideas and "real life" manipulatives that could be used for sorting activities.

Sorting Song

A website that features a fun song about sorting by size, color, and shape. Would be fun for kids to listen to and recite as they work with the concept of sorting.

Shape Sorter Online Activity

A really neat interactive shape sorter game that the teacher can set up for students to use. Allows the user to set up specifications for sorting by a number of attributes. Also has a venn diagram for comparing and contrasting purposes.

What doesn't belong activity?

A page about sorting sets and identifying what items don’t belong in a set.

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Touch It! Materials, Matter and You


“Touch it! is a lively and easy-to-understand first science book that explores materials-their color, shape, texture, size, mass, magnetism, and more.”

Touch it! Materials, Matter, and You written by Adrienne Mason and illustrated by Claudia Davila covers a lot of information on physical science, but breaks it down for the primary grade levels. It starts by explaining to the children that our world is filled with different types of materials, and talks about how you can see, feel, describe the different materials. There is also hands on activities throughout the book to help children gain a better understanding of the content. The pictures are very bright and colorful, and the author asks questions, such as, “In this picture, What kinds of textures do the objects and creatures in this farmyard have?” So, it allows the children to be active learners. This book goes on to talk about the mass of materials, magnetic materials, using materials, stretchy materials, and materials around us. Like I said, this book covers a lot of information, but each section has a brief description and a great hands on activity to go along with it. At the very end there is a special section for parents and teachers to find more activity ideas and information to help adults and teachers answer young learners’ questions.

Curriculum Connections

This book is great for your primary grade levels. It helps to teach children about materials, their properties, and their uses. The book gives you hands on activities you can use that go along with the information being talked about, or you could come up with some of your own activities to follow along with the information. For example, the section about texture, you can find objects for the students to feel and have them touch and describe how they feel, and them compare the different objects. Also, ask the students how the texture relates to how the object is used. (PS.1)  Another great idea to pull from this book is talking about floating materials. You can demostarte the buoyancy by placing different objects into a bowl of water in front the class, or let the children get into groups and do it on their own. This is a fun activity, and will keep the students attention. (PS.2)

Additional Resources

Why does a boat float? Here you will find a buoyancy activity for children. The kids get a chance to be hands on and find out on their own why boats float. It is a messy experiment, but the kids will love it!

Magnetic Experiments At this website, you will find several different magnetic experiments. I believe children need to be active learners, and these are great experiments the children can do to get a better understanding on magnets. Also, most of them are very simple and can be done in a short amount of time.

Physical Science Activities This is a great resource for teachers. There are crossword puzzles, printables, and other material for teachers to use in their classroom to review and learn about physical science.

General Information

Book: Touch It! Materials, Matter and You
Author: Adrienne Mason
Illustrator: Claudia Davila
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication date: 2005
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 1-5
ISBN: 1-55337-760-5

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Sound and Light


Introduction and Summary
Sound and Light by David Glover gives a great overview of what sound and light are and how we use them. This book provides a section for topics like: lightning and thunder, sound waves, feeling sound, making sound, making music, moving sound, bouncing sound, how do you hear?, light waves, light and shade, look in the mirror, amazing mirrors, bending light, how lenses work, how do you see?, and light of many colors.   For example, on the section about bouncing sound they talk about echoes by saying, “Echoes are louder when they hit a hard barrier, like the walls of a tunnel.  Soft materials, like carpets and drapes, absorb or soak up sound.  That’s why you will hear and echo in an empty room but will not in one that is full of furniture.”  For each topic discussed, there are experiments or projects that you can do at home.  There is an experiment that discusses color blindness in some people by using the colored dot “eye-spy” pictures.   This would really interest the children. Overall this is a great book that covers many specific topics and provides easy to read and understand explanations and experiments.

Curriculum Connections

Students can learn about sound waves, how they travel, vibrations, how music is made and heard, wavelengths, and overall how sound is transmitted through different materials like rope, straws, rubber bands, and even air (VA SOL 5.2 a,b,c).This book offers easy explanations of how sound waves work, are transmitted, and how we as humans hear them.  The other half of the book discusses light, light waves, light in mirrors, bending light, reflections, and seeing colors through a prism (VA SOL 5.3 a,c).  Again, there are some great experiments to go along with these topics like bending light and making you own rainbow with a mirror and dishwater.

Additional Resources
1. Sonic Speed Activity– This activity uses rulers and a paper towel tube to show how lightning and thunder actually occur at the same time even though it does not appear that way to us.  This is a cool experiment and gets students learning about what really happens during a thunderstorm.
2. History of Sound– This website would be great to provide background knowledge for teachers on the history of sound.  It starts in 1877 when Thomas Edison made the first machine that could record sound and goes until 1990. So, this website does not provide the most recent information (1990-current).
3. Light Vocabulary– This page offers a light vocabulary crossword puzzle.
4. Reflecting light– This is a worksheet that deals with reflecting light. It provides and activity for the students to complete and then asks follow up questions.

General Information
Sound and Light
Author- David Glover
Illustrator-Ben White (designer)
Publisher-Scholastic, INC.
 Publication Date-1993
 Grade Range- 4th-5th Grade

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus Gets All Dries Up


 The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Upwritten by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen is a fun and adventurous children’s book about survival in the desert.  The book starts off in Ms. Frizzle’s class, where things are not normal for long.  The students are making a diorama and observe that they are missing something important, animals that live in the desert! Carlos does not think that the cute little stuffed animals that they have put in the diorama will survive the hot, dry desert; and Phoebe is determined to prove him wrong.  She decided they are going to for a committee called S.A.D.S. (Students Against Desert Scarcity).  “Scarcity because food and water is hard to find in the desert.”  Surprising Arnold decides they should take a field trip and the next think you know, the students are boarding the Magic School Bus which turns into an airplane.  While the class is at the desert they learn what it would be like to be a Gila Monster, lizard with spikes, a rabbit, and a tortoise while comparing and contrasting the ways of survival. It does rain over night and in the morning there are beautiful flowers everywhere in the desert. Ms. Frizzle ends the field trip by saying “All things that live here have special features-adaptations-for survival.”

Curriculum Connections

This would be a great book to read aloud to the younger elementary school grades. A kindergarten teacher or first grade teacher can use this book to help teach and relate the book to scientific investigation, reasoning and logic (SOL: K.1 or 1.1) by observing the different attributes of surroundings, physical properties such as the mountains vs. the desert, predictions and conclusions.  If the children in the classroom have difficulty reading, they can looked at the detailed pictures and still understand a majority of the authors content.  This is a good book for teachers to stop and ask questions to the students about what they think will happen next, while they are using their processing skills.

Additional Resources

Scholastic has a web-site just for The Magic School Bus adventures. Teachers, parents and students can all find something to do! Teachers can find free engaging activities for their students.

All Kinds of Weather is a worksheet that can help students process what activity can go along with each season. Students can process the following as an example: the boys and the kite go along with the wind blowing. 

Preschool coloring pages of the desert can help to tie in the climate and what things can be found in the desert after reading the book, such as, cacti.

A to Z Teacher Stuff is a great resource for teachers.  It has free lesson plans, coloring activities, games, etc. for the classroom. There is a whole section on the desert and each grade is broken down into sections for easier findings.

Book: The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Up
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN: 0-590-50831-8

Teaching Physical Science Skills with Children's Literature: Squirts and Spurts Science Fun with Water


Squirts and Spurts Science Fun with Water was written by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Steve Haefele.  This author has written many books like this one focusing on all different areas of science.  In this particular book, Ms. Cobb, details different science experiments involving simple machines, water, air and oil to teach the reader about forces, pressure and motion.

A Balloon Water Shooter

Rubber is a material that is said to have a ‘memory.’  You can stretch a balloon and change its shape.  If you release it, the balloon snaps back to its original shape.  You stretch a balloon when you blow it up.  When you let go of the open end, the balloon shrinks, forcing out the air.  This same force can be used to shoot a jet of water.

Curriculum Connections
Due to the complexity of some of the experiments and the nature of the science learned, this book would be recommended for upper elementary students.  While a lot of the experiments are fun and the kids will love doing them, the actual learning about force, motion, and simple machines could be hindered if the audience is too young to understand these concepts as they relate to science.  This would result in a glorified playtime for them.  With regard to the Virginia SOLS the curriculum can be tied to 4.2 a, b, c, and d.

Additional Resources

  • Newton’s Third Law of Motion Students  Students will  experiment with balloons and send their balloons across the room by using various techniques.
  • Forces and Motion  Students will create different size parachutes and with an egg as its passenger.  The students will drop the egg from a distance of ten feet and hypothesize which eggs will land safely.
  • Daily Doings with Simple Machines  Students will make a hypothesis as to how many simple machines they use during a day.  Using the worksheet provided in this link, students will take the sheet home and record all activities they might do during the day using a simple machine.  Then the students will write about their results as compared to their hypothesis.

Book: Squirts and Spurts Science Fun with Water
Author: Vicki Cobb
Illustrator: Steve Haefele
Publisher: The Millbrook Press
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: 3-6
ISBN: 0-7613-1572-1

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Science Book of Water


Introduction and Summary
The Science Book of Water
by Neil Ardley is a book of experiments that help students understand some of the different properties of water, such as buoyancy, density, displacement, surface tension, evaporation, etc.  Ardley starts the book explaining what water is and how it is essential to life.  The experiments can be easily done in the classroom or at home because most households will have the supplies needed. Also, most of the experiments can be done in four to six simple steps. One experiment called “Floating and Sinking” shows how objects, such as marbles and modeling clay, will sink to the bottom of a bucket. However, if the modeling clay is shaped in the form of a boat, it will float because of the water it displaces. There are twelve other experiments in this book.

Curriculum Connections:

The Science Book of Water would be an excellent book for students in grades 2-4.  The experiments are perfect for teachers to use in order to get students engaged by making predictions about what will happen in the experiment.  Since the experiments are simple in nature and number of steps, students will be able to see how properties of water work thus improve their skills of observation.  Prior to each experiment, I would explain the design of the experiment and have the class make predictions about what would happen.  Then I would perform the experiment, or have the class perform it.  Once the experiment is done, I would have the class explain what they observed.  (VA SOL 2.1a,g,l; 3.1b,g; 4.1a,e,l)

Additional Resource:

Water and plants.  This site has hydroponic experiments for children in the classroom.

Water Vocabulary.  This site lists elementary school terms for water.

Water Play? A Lesson a Day!  This site has 31 water experiments for children.  Just scroll down to “Water Play? a Lesson a Day!”

Water Videos.  This site has 7 video experiments involving water’s skin and surface tension.

Book: The Science Book of Water
Author: Neil Ardley
Photographer: Clive Streeter
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date: 1991
Pages: 29 pages
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN: 0-15-200575-7