Archive for the 'environment' Category

Resources of Virginia

Resources of Virginia

This blog contains information about useful books, online activities, and relevant materials for teaching about Virginia’s natural resources.  Although Virginia Science SOL 4.8 explicitly references this content, the material overlaps with many elementary grades and SOLS.  The texts and websites, however, were chosen for students between grades 3-5.  If anyone has knowledge of texts, activities, or teacher materials that they believe would be helpful to my readers please comment at the bottom of the post.

Text Annotations 

Virginia Facts and Symbols
by Bill McAuliffe


“Easy-to-read text covers major state symbols such as the state flag, seal, bird, tree, flower, animal, and more.  A “Fast Facts” section highlights the state’s capital city, largest city, physical size, population, natural resources, farm products, and primary manufactured goods.  Generally, a map or photo faces a right hand page of information written in short paragraphs.  Photos are current and simple, featuring the animal, flower, or famous building, with a modest caption.  The series has been updated to reflect new census data but otherwise duplicates the earlier editions.  A concluding page features three “Places to Visit,” to give readers a sense of what features or sites the state is proud of or known for (Williamsburg, Luray Caverns, and the Mariners’ Museum).  In the end matter, other factual nonfiction books are recommended, a glossary rounds up five or six specialized words, an omnibus website managed by the publisher gives access to further facts, and a very short index is included.  The series encourages report writers to locate information quickly and the layout makes comparisons among states easy.  This book is a good beginning resource for highlighting a state and its features.” — Review from Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database

Buy it here

Dogwoods: The Genus Cornus
by Paul Cappiello


This title is a great source of information for Virginia’s state flower — the dogwood. The book features the best photographs of dogwoods that one can find.  Too dense and technical for the elementary reader; nonetheless, many sections can be used for reading aloud.  The included glossary is a great guide for horticulture-related vocabulary.

 Buy it here

By Patrick Merrick


Patrick Merrick’s book provides students with superb photos and pertinent information for the Virginia state bird.

“K-Gr 3-Children will flock to these attractive titles.  Brilliant, full-color close-ups, many from the National Audubon Collection, appear on every spread and are accompanied by interesting and useful facts.  The information goes beyond common knowledge, covering the birds’ life cycles from birth to maturity.  The photos provide a larger-than-life scale so that it is possible to see minute details of birds in the nest, feeding their young, and in their natural habitats.  The large font and wide margins make these books easy to read. – Kim Donius, Alfred-Almond Central School, Almond, NY.” — taken from

Buy it here

Good Night Virginia
by Adam Gamble


This book covers a vast array of topics, particularly in regard to Virginia’s resources and geography.  Additionally, information is blended seemlessly into the illustrations. Adam Gamble writes with simple sentences which are easy to comprehend, yet full of useful facts.  A great resource for your classroom– highly recommended!

Buy it here

Virginia Geography
by Bentley Boyd


 Written in the style of a comic book, Bentley Boyd’s work is accessible to the young reader.  Do not let the brevity of the work fool you; this work is full of information regarding the resources of Virginia.  Students will learn while reading; however, they will be enjoying themselves too much to realize.

Buy it here

Web Annotations (for Students!)

What Is a Watershed?
Watch how watersheds are formed! 

This website gives a easily comprehended explanation and illustration of how a watershed is formed.  For students who struggle to learn without visualization, this website will prove invaluable for VA Science SOL 4.8.  The students will enjoy watching the virtual formation of a watershed.

Digging For Words
Play here

A fun crossword activity for students.  The words are all related to minerals, rocks, and ores and the activity acts as a prefect supplement (i.e., a fun homework assignment) for a lesson on soil and/or rocks.

Discover How Rocks are Formed
Watch here!

The website has illustrations showing how rocks are formed over long periods of time.  Easier to understand than a textbook, and certainly more fun!

Virginia Trivia-Online Quiz, Attempt the quiz

Sporcle is an online website which allows users to generate their own quizzes.  The particular quiz linked above is focused on Virginia trivia.  Although the quiz is not devoted solely to Virginia’s resources, it nonetheless includes questions about the state’s geography, animals, plants, water resources, forestry, and more.  The site is kid-friendly, interactive, easy-to-use, and free.

Dumptown Game
Play the game

The game, created by the EPA, allows players to see how small changes in lifestyle can make huge differences in our society.  As Dumptown’s new City Manager it is your job to allocate available resources (such as recycle bins) to cut down on the trash accumulating in the city.  For students who enjoy playing video games, this online game will provide a lot of fun and learning.

 Additional Resources (for Teachers!)

Greener Loudoun


This website, written by a native of Loudoun County, VA, includes numerous articles on how we can live in a more environmentally conscious manner (and why we should).  Whenever he is unable to write on a topic he finds pertinent, he links to some other credible site which does.  What makes this website so valuable is the fact that it is written by a citizen of Virginia — all of the articles focus on the impact of climate change on a local level.  Climate science is difficult even for experts to understand; therefore, it is all the more impressive that this site enables its readers to understand the effects of a changing climate with a Virginia-centric bias.  I would highly recommend teachers to skim this website for local examples to use within their lessons — it will make the material more applicable to students.

Rockingham County Public Schools

This school’s website provides a wealth of resources for teaching VA Science SOL 4.8.  Of particular interest are the interactive smartboard activities which can be downloaded and used in your classroom.

 Virginia Department of Environmental Quality 

A dense, informative website with lots of data about Virginia’s forest.  For up-to-date statistics and easy-to-comprehend charts it is impossible to beat this source.  Of course, the information will need to be adapted to an elementary level.

Also, check out the VA DEQ’s guide to minerals and energy resources.

Virginia Native Plant Society 


The Virginia Native Plant Society provides conservation policies and easy to use brochures.  I recommend contacting the society to set up a visit to the University of Virginia’s Blandy Experimental Farm located in north-western Virginia — a fun, free, and informative trip for students.  (Everyone within reasonable proximity should visit the balloon festival at Blandy in October of every year.  There are massive amounts of activities for young students and excellent regional food tasting for adults.)

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in the Classroom

The following resources are appropriate to begin teaching first graders to become conscientious environmental advocates (Virginia Science SOL 1.8).  These resources, including pertinent literature and websites for both students and educators, help highlight the potential consequences of poor environmental stewardship and the positive impact that all students can have if they reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Relevant Children’s Literature:


   Michael Recycle

Michael Recycle 
Written by Ellie Bethel
Illustrated by Alexandra Colombo

“There once was a town
Called Abberdoo-Rimey,
Where garbage was left
To grow rotten and slimy.”

So begins the story of a garbage heap of a town that is saved by the surprising presence of a child super hero- Michael Recycle.  Entertaining as well as educational, the presence of Michael, a young boy, as the town’s savior empowers children to believe that they too have the ability to affect a change.  In that vein, the end of the book lists several green strategies everyone can implement.  For example, “Quick and Clean!  Take shorter showers… unless you are really, really smelly.”


Pollution?  No Problem!
Written and Illustrated by David Morichon

Albert believes his invention will make his life easier… that is until it begins seeping a purple goo.  Albert and his friend Henry spend the rest of the book trying to get rid of the goo, but to no avail. Albert tries everything, from burying the goo down deep, to sending it into outer space, but the goo always finds its way back to earth.  The boys quickly learn that when you throw something away, it does not just disappear.  Albert’s journey is a great lead into a discussion about where our garbage goes when we throw it away (a landfill) and the consequences of the improper disposal of trash.


The Tin Forest
Written by Helen Ward
Illustrated by Wayne Anderson

An old man lives alone in the midst of a garbage heap. He dreams of jungles and living animals to keep him company, and finally one day slowly begins to create the jungle of his dreams with the garbage and tin surrounding him.  His tin forest attracts the attention of a real bird, who brings a friend, and a seed.  Slowly, the tin forest makes way for a real wilderness.

A story about imagination and the power of dreaming, The Tin Forest is also a great jumping off point to talk about the power of restoration.  Considered by some to be the fourth “R”, to restore is to take something and bring it back to life.  The old man sees the potential beneath the trash, and his effort restores life to his surroundings.


The Lorax
Written and Illustrated by Dr. Seuss

The Once-ler cuts down all of the Truffula trees, destroying the habitat of such fanciful animals as the Brown Bar-Ba-Loots, Humming Fish, and Swomee Swans.  The Lorax continually tries to “speak for the trees” but is ignored by the Once-ler until it is too late.  All of the animals are forced to travel away, leaving only the Once-ler to preach this cautionary tale about irresponsibly taking with no thought to the environmental consequences.

For more resources on teaching The Lorax, visit Lorax Project.


Recycle Every Day!
Written and Illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Minna is a young rabbit who is excited to enter a contest at school to create a recycling poster.  The winning poster will be put in the Community Recycling Calendar!  Minna can not decide what to make her poster about, and as she looks around for inspiration, is surprised by all of the little things that her family does everyday to make a difference.  All of these small things add up to make a big difference, causing Minna to create the poster, “Re-re-remember.  Re-re-recycle Every Day!” Using found and recycled objects to create the art for the book, Nancy Wallace shows the students how important it is to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle at every possible opportunity.

Relevant Websites for Students

Michael, Michael, Go Recycle!

I would recommend this fun, age appropriate game as part of a center rotation after a whole class reading and discussion of Michael Recycle.  Although the game is not affiliated with the book, it is a nice extension about appropriate waste disposal, and the positive impact that every student can have on the environment.

The game is a maze, in which the student fights against the clock to collect 10 pieces of litter and then place them in the proper disposal receptacles. Very fun and user friendly!

It’s Not All Garbage!

A very neat quiz, testing students knowledge of how they can dispose of trash, without throwing it away.  There are 30 items, ranging from leaves to a rocking chair, that students must decide to either recycle, compost, give to charity, or put in the trash.  At the end of the quiz, the students are told what answers they did not get correct, and are given the opportunity to try again.

Recycling Zone

Hopefully students will be inspired by the message behind the RRR unit, and will take some of their new found passion home with them.  This website has fun activities that students and parents can do together to begin being more earth friendly at home.  Examples of initiatives are composting and creating recycled paper.

Video of the Lorax

Twenty-five minutes in length, this animated movie of the Dr. Seuss classic incorporates songs (whose lyrics are also written by Dr. Seuss) into the original story line.  An engaging way to show the impactful story in another format, perhaps as a center rotation.

Green Games

The Green Family is all about taking care of the environment.   Watch their informative episodes, or click on this link to play games that reinforce their environmental message! “Lights Out” reminds us to turn the lights out when we leave a room, and “Thrifty Threads” allows you to redesign old clothes to give to charity.

 Helpful Resources for Educators

Recycle City

Before it became Recycle City, it was a disastrously dirty town known as Dumptown.  In order to clean up Dumptown, you need to research several clean up options, and choose the most efficient and cost effective ones to clean up the town.  While the language in this game is far beyond a first grade level, it would be a fun whole class activity to look at each of the options, and discuss the impacts on the town.   The students will enjoy seeing the town clean up before their very eyes as their decisions affect positive change.

Garbage: How Can My Community Reduce Waste?

This website is extremely informative and user friendly, giving background on the nature and disposal of all types of waste, from hazardous waste, to sewage and solid waste.  The website also shows a global prospective, and the importance of sustainability for the future.  This website would be especially helpful to look at before reading and discussing Pollution? No Problem! with a class.

Old CD Case Frames

A fun way to show students first hand the possibilities of reusing.  Ask parents to send in any old CD cases, and you have an earth friendly, and inexpensive project, perhaps for Mother’s or Father’s Day.

Recycle Zone For Teachers

Full of lesson plans and printables to help teach recycling, this website is very easy to navigate and has a wealth of knowledge for educators teaching this unit.

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Earthquakes


“The earth beneath our feet usually feels solid and firm. Yet a million times each year-an average of once every thirty seconds-somewhere around the world the ground shakes and sways. We call this an earthquake.”

Earthquakes written by Seymour Simon is a great nonfiction book for children. The pictures alone can make a statement. They are so powerful, that even younger children could look at this book and realize how serious Earthquakes really are. The book starts by explaining what an earthquake is, and how and why they occur. There are picture graphs throughout the book to help children get a better view on where earthquake zones are, where plates in the earth’s crust are, and also where earthquakes have already occurred. Seymour Simon also explains how scientists predict earthquakes, and how much damage they can inflict. I think this book is perfect for young readers, because the pictures will draw them into the book and interest them. Like I said, the pictures are very powerful, and any child flipping through this book will want to know how the damaged in the pictures happened.

Curriculum Connections

Earthquakes by Seymour Simon is a perfect book when introducing severe weather conditions to your class. (VA SOL ES 13.c) The book can be used as a read aloud, picture walk, or just in your classroom library. The pictures alone are extremely powerful, and the children will want to read about what happened. There is plenty of information in this book to get a basic understanding on how, why, and where earthquakes happen. It also allows children to see how scientists predict earthquakes. (VA SOL ES 13.b) I think this book is so powerful that it might influence children to want to make a difference, or maybe see themselves as scientists in the future.

Additional Resources

Become a geophysicist…a geo What? Here children get the chance to see what needs to be done to become a earthquake scientist. There is information on what you need to do in high school, college, where you would go for graduate school, and the types of jobs you would have. This is a far stretch for younger children, but it allows them to see how they can make a difference, and also allows them to see themselves as a scientist.

Latest Quakes This website allows you to see where the latest earthquakes took place, and how powerful they were. There is a link that says, “Past 8-30 days of earthquakes” so the children can go to this site and see how frequent earthquakes really are.

Earthquake Photo Collection Nothing is more effective than a picture. The children get a chance to really see how powerful earthquakes really are by looking through this website. This website could also be a resource for the teacher, to print off pictures to use in his/her lesson plans.

Book: Earthquakes
Author: Seymour Simon
Publisher: Collins
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-5
ISBN: 0-06-087715-4

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Animals in the Wild


Animals in the Wild written by Joanne Ryder and illustrated by Lisa Bonforte is a story about the animals living in the wild, and how they survive the four seasons. The story starts by explaining where all the animals are during the cold winter days. Some animals spend their winter sleeping, and not waking up til Spring. Other animals live underground but come up to find nuts, and seeds they had hidden in the fall. The birds have gone south for warmer weather, and will return in the Spring. Once the days grow longer and warmer the animals of the wild start to wake up and come out of their homes. All the animals stay busy finding food for their babies, and building new homes. There are great pictures to show you where the animals are living, and what their homes look like. Once summer rolls around all the animals go to the ponds or streams to get their water. The story does a great job explaining what each animals eats and how they survive the four seasons.

Curriculum Connections

Animals in the Wild is a great book when introducing Life Science to younger students. The story follows the pattern of the seasons, and explains how animals survive. I would use this book in the younger grades of elementary, and read it aloud to the class. The pictures are great for the students to look at, and the story is exciting. After reading this book the students will have a better understanding of the basic needs of animals. They will understand that animals need to hibernate during the winter, or fly to warmer weather. The students will have a better understanding on how animals hunt for food and hide from their prey. (VA SOL LS 4.b) Overall, I would suggest this book to any classroom because the pictures are great and the children will have a better understanding on how animals survive in the wild.

Additional Resources

WILD about Educators After taking the Project WILD workshop, I learned a lot of the resources they offer for educators. At this website you will find plenty of helpful information and different activities you can bring into your classroom.

Growing up WILD This link from project WILD is focused on young children. It allows our younger children the chance to interact with nature and build on their sense of wonder.

How do animals spend their winter? Here you will find information for teachers and students. There are activities, and also a kid friendly “I Can Read” section that breaks down the information so younger students can understand.

Book: Animals in the Wild
Author: Joanne Ryder
Illustrator: Lisa Bonforte
Publisher: Western Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication Date: 1987
Pages: 23
Grade Range: K-4
ISBN: 0-307-68271-4

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: S is for Save the Planet


S is for Save the Planet, written by Brad Herzog and illustrated by Linda Holt Ayriss, is a How-to-be Green Alphabet that sparks students’ enthusiasm for saving our environment. Published in 2009, S is for Save the Planet includes up-to-date information on the biggest problems facing our environment and the simplest ways that we can help!  The beautiful illustrations not only depict the beauty in the environment, but also students in action. Displaying students who are completing these environmentally friendly acts makes each task seem more feasible. The short, rhyming poem accompanying each letter of the alphabet is perfect for younger readers, while the side excerpts explore the topic in greater detail. The two paragraphs chock full of factual information are great resources for the curious student or the advanced reader. Students will absolutely love this book and hopefully share the new strategies they learn with their families and friends!

Curriculum Connections
Although this book is very much environmentally-focused it is still largely connected to Life Science. The effect of human interaction in ecosystems including human land use and ecosystem stability is a major topic within Life Science. Since populations within ecosystems are interdependent, these disturbances have a ripple effect on the environment. (LS.12b,d,e) General factors that decrease population sizes and the effects of climate change on communities, populations, and organisms are all environmental issues addressed in this book. (LS.11c)  

Additional Resources

  • There is a 27 page teacher’s guide available full of vocabulary, pictures, and all kinds of fun, relative activities including lab experiments! This guide also includes a lot of creative and meaningful writing prompts to challenge students.  Xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that conserves water, is just one of the many new topics students can explore.
  • This fun interactive site offers a treasure hunt, recycle game, cool videos, and new articles for kids all introduced by Otis the otter!
  • The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources brings us EEK! (Environmental Education for Kids) Students can research animals in the Critter Corner, discover the history of maple syrup in Nature Notes,  and test their knowledge with riddles of the month. EEK! even provides descriptions of careers in the environmental industry!

General Information 

Book: S is for Save the Planet
Author: Brad Herzog
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 36
Grade Range: 3-6
ISBN: 1-58536-428-2

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Who Lives in An Alligator Hole?

Who Lives in an Alligator Hole

"What do you know about alligators?"  After reading the nonfiction picture book, Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell, readers will have learned facts about alligators, their history, wetland habitat, and their impact on the unique ecosystem they inhabit.  During the dry season in Florida’s wetlands, alligators create gator holes by digging in damp muck and thrashing about to shove the thick muck away.  “Soon a wide hole fills with water a few feet deep.  Then a lot starts to happen in the gator hole,”  as numerous species of animals are drawn to the watering hole. The author explains that scientists consider alligators to be a “keystone species” because of their importance to the other plants and animals in their habitat.  Next the author traces the dramatic impact that humans have had on the American Alligator who came close to extinction thirty years ago and what has been done to save them.  Today, “[t]he American alligator is one of the world’s most successful stories of a species saved from extinction just in time”.  Readers are asked to think of ways to save the Chinese alligator who continues to be endangered.  The illustrations are simple and work well to support the text.  The book ends with an activity designed to help students understand why other animals are dependent on the alligator hole for water and a page of “Gator Facts” that don’t fit elsewhere in the story.  This book is yet another successful introduction to basic science concepts from the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out About Science Series.

Curriculum Connections

Like most of the books in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out About Science series, this book addresses several themes from the standard elementary science curriculum.  The book is best used to teach living systems and the interdependence of living organisms with their living and nonliving surroundings and the ways that habitats change over time (2.5, 3.5, and 4.5), particularly in water-related environments (3.6, 3.9, and 6.7d).  But the book can also be used to teach about the impact that natural events and human influences can have on a species or habitat (K.9a, 3.10a-b, and 6.9d).

Additional Resources

  • American Alligator – National Geographic Kids– This site includes a number of facts and supporting information about the American Alligator and its habitat, video footage of the reptile in his natural setting, and a map of the areas where he lives.
  • Endangered Species Program – Kids Can Help – This site for kids from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service includes a number of ideas for kids to help conserve rare, threatened and endangered species and their habitats.
  • Lesson Plan on Endangered Species – This lesson plan is a good extension activity to use when talking about the impact of human intervention on ecosystems and endangered species. It could even be adapted to the Chinese Alligator mentioned in the book.
  • Mini-Ecosystems Lesson Plan – This lesson plan is written with a third grade classroom in mind.  Students make small-scale environments and describe the interactions between living and nonliving things in their environments.

Book: Who Lives in an Alligator Hole?
Author: Anne Rockwell
Illustrator: Lizzy Rockwell
Publisher: Collins
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 40
Grade Range: PreK-3
ISBN: 006445200X

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: A River Ran Wild



Introduction and Summary

A River Ran Wild, written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry, tells the story of the Nashua river in New England.  Children opening the book will see a map of New England in the 1500’s on one side and another map of New England in the 1900’s focusing on the states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts which is where the Nashua flowed.  The “Nash-a-way” got it’s name from the native American tribe Nashau who settled on it seven thousand years ago.  Cherry points out that the Nash-a-way river and it’s surroundings gave the Nashua people everything they needed in life.  “The Nashua people saw a rhythm in their lives and in the seasons.  The river, land, and forest provided all that they needed.”  In the early sixteen hundreds, the white settlers of New England began to settle by the river which they named the Nashua.  They built sawmills that used the river’s current for power and dams to make millponds to store water.  The white settlers cut down the forest and used the lumber to build houses and furniture.  During the industrial revolution, the river was used for paper mills and other factories where all of the waste was dumped into the river.  In a short amount of time, the river was clogged with pulp, dyes, chemicals, and plastics.  The river smelled and all of it’s wildlife, and the wildlife that used it as a resource, “grew sick from this pollution.”  In the end, a descendant of the Nashua people known as Oweana and Marion Stoddart formed a committee to stop polluting the Nashua river.  In the 1960’s, they finally succeeded.  Now the Nashua has been cleared of it’s pollution and the wildlife has returned to it.  “We, too, have settled by this river.  Pebbles shine up through clear water.”

The illustrations in this book are beautiful and most of the pages with print have miniature illustrations of objects and historical events that were a part of people’s lives through time, such as clay pots, bows and arrows, and wooden bowls during the native American settlements through airplanes, automobiles and the Vietnam war in the late twentieth century.

Curriculum Connections

The book opens with a map showing where the Nashua river is located.   This book would be great for Kindergarten through second grade.  The student would see the shape of the northeast part of the United States to include New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island (VA SOL 1.4 c) and will be able to locate land and water features. (VA SOL K.4 c)  Students will also learn about how two different cultures of people affect their immediate surroundings.  The Nashua community took only what they needed from the river and the surrounding environment for food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and recreation.  The white settlers polluted the river thus limiting it as a natural resource.  Through the effort of the community, people were able to bring life back to the river so it could be e resource again. (VA SOL 1.6 and 2.4 d)

Additional Resources is a website that contains maps and geography classroom activities as well as lesson plans for elementary school students.

United States Geography, including Capitals, States, and Landscapes can be found at the Sheppard Software website.  This site has fun and free games children can play.

K Bears has a great site for world geography.  An animated bear will take children on a tour of the world.

General Information

Book: A River Ran Wild
Author: Lynne Cherry
Illustrator: Lynne Cherry
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K-2nd
ISBN: 0-15-200542-0


Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Saguaro Moon


        “Planet Scouts is a club for kids who like to study nature.
We always keep a nature journal. I started this new
journal to record all the desert life I discover.
I bring it with me whenever I go exploring!”

Explore Arizona’s Sonoran Desert through Megan’s journal in Saguaro Moon: A Desert Journal, written and illustrated by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini. While being quite kid-friendly, Saguaro Moon also offers a ton of great facts about many desert animals and plants. This book is full of lots of scientific names, measurements, and beautiful watercolor paintings.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a valuable tool in introducing students to scientific journals. In Megan’s journal, she classifies the organisms she comes across in the desert initially by common name, scientific name, and size/length using two different units of measurement (5.1 b,c) Sometimes Megan makes Fact Cards in her journal about a plant or animals’ habitat, diet, range, measurements, and tips on how to interact with them (5.1d, 6.1c)  She will point out the slight differences between closely-related species (6.1a), and she even clears up some common misconceptions. What a great way to introduce students to scientific observation and classification!

Additional Resources

  • Planet Scouts! You can become a Planet Scout too! Learn how to keep your own journal and read about the adventures of other Planet Scouts. The Mission of the Planet Scouts is to bring literature, art and environmental science together in a way that encourages direct, meaningful interaction between people and their natural surroundings.
  • Saguaro Cactus Seek and Find! Discover cool facts while comparing the plants, animals, and people of the Sonoran Desert with those of the Central Australian Deserts.
  • Explore the Desert ThinkQuest! Learn about the geography of deserts, animal adaptations, characteristics of desert plants, and the future of the deserts! You can even take a quiz to test your knowledge.

General Information

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds


The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen tells the story of Ms. Frizzle’s class planting their own garden. All the students are working together to make their garden as beautiful as they can, because photographers are coming to take pictures of their garden and they believe they are going to become famous. Phoebe was one student who was not as excited as the rest. She is new to this school and she had left her beautiful plant at her old school. Ms. Frizzle was not worried because she knew that Phoebe’s plant was only a quick field trip away. So, away the students went on their field trip to get Phoebe’s flower. The students all piled onto the bus, and before they knew it they were on their way, except they were flying. The bus had turned into a  little ladybug flying down onto one of Phoebe’s plants. As the story goes on the students get to explore the plant, and even go inside! They learn where their beautiful plants come from, and how they grow. By the end of the story, Phobe and her class made it back to school just in time for the photographers to take pictures of their garden, and Phoebe’s old teacher was waiting for her with a pot of her beautiful flowers to add her garden at her new school!

Curriculum Connections

This is a great book to read aloud to your class. I would reccommend reading this book to a lower elementary grade when introducing plants and seeds. The students in this book use their process skills to learn where our beautiful plants come from and how plants grow. This book will teach students how to use their senses to observe differences in physical properties, such as the plants and seeds. (1.1) I think this would be a great book to have in your classroom for read alouds or for students to observe the pictures. The students in the book talk about what they are learning as the story goes on, and this will show my students how they are using their process skills to learn about plants.

Additional Resources

Science in School Here is a website for teachers to go and learn about the basic process skills to teach to students. There are age specific activities, and appropriate lessons.

Plant Life Cycle This is an interactive website for children to go on and learn about plant life cycle. The children can put their processing skills to the test at this website. There are video clips and parts of plants you can click on to learn more about it. Overall, this is a great website teachers can use in their classroom when children are learning about plant life cycle and incorporate processing skills along the way.

Scientific Process Skills This is a detailed explanation on what scientific process skills consists of and how to teach it. It is focused on the kindergarden level and explains what should be taught and how to go about doing so. You can find great information at this website that you can bring into your own classroom.

Book: The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: 1995
Pages: 28
Grade Range: K-5
ISBN: 0-590-22296-1

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Giving Tree


The Giving Tree, written by Shel Silverstein, is about a little boy who would visit the same apple tree every day. On his visits he would play games, eat the apples and swing from the tree. As the boy grew older the boy left the tree alone. Until one day the boy finally visited the tree and asked the tree how he could make money. The tree told him to take the apples off the branches and sell them in the city. The boy continued to barely come visit, but when he did he always asked for something in return, until one day the tree had nothing to give.

Curriculum Connections
This book can teach children the art of giving and how to make a profit. The tree gave everything to the boy from her apples, to her branches and eventually her own trunk. The book also showed that the boy would be able to make a profit off the trees apples by selling them in the city. As a result the ending proved that the value of friendship can take you a long way. ( 2.7) Students will be able to understand what natural resources are from the tree giving away its branches and tree trunk to the boy. (2.9) The boy had to make a choice by using the trees apples to make a profit.

Additional Sources

Book: The Giving Tree
Author:  Shel Silverstein
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 50 pages
Grade Range: Recommended K-2
ISBN: 780060 58751