Archive for the 'nonfiction' Category

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

The following resources are relevant when teaching about Ulysses S. Grant and his contributions to the United States of America (VA SOL United States History to 1865 USI.9 d).  He was a war hero during the Civil War, leading the Union Army in victory over Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army.  He would go onto become the 18th President of the United States, serving from 1869 until 1877.

Relevant Children’s Literature


Ulysses S. Grant: Union General and U.S. President
Written by Brenda Haugen

Ms. Haugen does an excellent job of detailing the life of Ulysses S. Grant in this biography.  Aimed at young adults this book is suitable for strong elementary readers; the lack of illustrations and detailed writing style will deter young/inexperienced readers.  Nonetheless, the work does a terrific job of giving the audience a strong foundation of knowledge about the life of Mr. Grant both in regards to his time in the military as well as his two terms as President.  Perhaps the most valuable segment of the book is the detailed, easy-to-follow time line which can be used in any classroom teaching VA SOL USI.9 d.


Ulysses S. Grant: Eighteenth President 1869-1877 (Getting to Know the US Presidents)
Written and Illustrated by Mike Venezia

Venezia’s mixture of lively text and humorous illustrations makes his book a must-read for the young learner.  Aimed at the upper elementary grade levels (ages 9-12) Venezia does not shy away from Grant’s alcoholism and corrupt Presidental cabinet; however, he treats both situations with respect and sensitivity.  Parents and teachers should not be alarmed by this books subject manner, Venezia does an excellent job of keeping his work mature yet interesting.  This book is the most effective work available for teaching children about Ulysses S. Grant — it details all the courageous actions he undertook to help his country while at the same time not turning a blind eye to the imperfections of the man.


Ulysses S. Grant (Let Freedom Ring Series)
Written by Susan Gregson

Susan Gregson has written an informative biography of General Grant, suitable for ages 9-12.  To insure accuracy Ms. Gregson consulted one of today’s most prominent Grant scholars, John Y. Simon, during the writing and editing of the work.  What this book does better than the other works available is provide many photographs of Grant.  Evidence shows that when a child is shown a picture of someone they can relate to them better than if they merely read or see cartoons portraying that same person.  The value of actual photographs is immense; they allow children to see the actual man and, consequently, make President Grant seem more like an actual person — it allows the children to relate to the man.  Moreover, teachers can use the photographs provided in a primary source activity.


Ulysses S. Grant (Profiles of the Presidents)
Written by Jean Kinney Williams

Ms. Williams work is one of the more detailed biographies available for young readers.  When compared with similar works, this one is more detailed and covers a greater variety of information.  Nonetheless, the book is easy to follow in large part because of the inclusion of a glossary, index, fast facts about Grant, and a parallel time line of world events.  Teachers should take advantage of the well-written glossary when teaching students vocabulary.


Ulysses S. Grant (Presidential Leaders Series)
Written by Kate Havelin

This work is interesting because it focuses more on Grant’s failures than his successes.   The tone of the book, however, is not pessimistic but rather manages to be uplifting.  Ms. Havelin details how Grant had to constantly overcome his failings before finding immense success on the battlefield and in politics. Unlike many books on Grant, this particular one does address his alcoholism.  But like Mr. Venezia’s work above, Ms. Havelin addresses the issue with maturity and understanding.  What is unique to Ms. Havelin’s work is that she does defend President Grant to a great extent, arguing the rumors about his rampant overuse of alcohol (particularly during his presidency) has been greatly exaggerated.

Relevant Websites for Students

 USA 4 Kids

This website provides students with some fast facts about the president (ex., where was he born, where did he die, who did he marry, what political party was he a member of) while also including a brief, but comprehensive biography.  This website is valuable because of its brevity, which will make it approachable to students.  When given a book of over 100 pages many children panic; however, this website provides a lot of information in a short amount of reading.  I would encourage teachers to have their students read this website for homework, perhaps assigning a fill-in-the-blank sheet to go alongside. Also, teachers could use the brief biography provided as a template for interactive note taking.

Grant the Artist

One of Grant’s lesser known attributes was his artistic talents — this website shows a few of Grant’s paintings. Teachers could also pull this website up during class and show the paintings on a projector.  I would encourage students to view this website because it shows a different side of the man they will be studying.  It is important to recognize that there is more to Grant than his time as General and then later as President.  Some may argue this is irrelevant to the SOLs; however, students will benefit from knowing the President in a more complex manner.   It will help them think deeper on Bloom’s taxonomy, one of the ultimate goals of education.

 President Ulysses S. Grant Word Search Puzzle

This word search does a great job of incorporating important vocabulary. Teachers can make the activity even more worthwhile by having students explain why each word is in the word search (for example, when the student finds Methodist they would have to explain Grant’s religious beliefs).  Students are bombarded with lots of reading, particularly in the social sciences, so this activity provides a fun alternative.

The Political Machine

The Political Machine 2008 is an award-winning videogame which allows the player to create a politician (or choose from a real one) and run for the office of President.  There is a fee of $9.95 to download the game but for those parents who can afford the cost, the game is remarkable.  Students will learn the tasks and responsibilities of the President, but chances are they will be having too much fun to notice. Additionally, the studio behind the game has included facts and lessons about every President, including Grant.  Learning cannot stop at 3:00 when school ends — it must continue at home.  The Political Machine will make children want to learn.   I can speak personally on the matter because my 12-year old brother cannot stop raving about the game.  It amazes me how much he picks up from the game (for example, when he learned that I was researching President Grant he asked me, “Did you know he was born in Ohio? Or that is what the game said…”).  The game is rated E10+, meaning suitable for ages 10 and up.

Ulysses S. Grant Game

This quiz is too difficult for use within a classroom; however, for students truly interested in Grant this quiz offers a great place to learn interesting trivia.  In a diverse classroom with a variety of different skill levels, this game could be offered to advanced students who have already grasped the basic material and want to learn more.  Also, a teacher could challenge his students to go home and take the quiz once alone and see how they did and then to ask for help from their parents and see if they could do better.

Helpful Resources for Educators

Ulysses S. Grant Timeline (Simple)
Ulysses S. Grant Timeline (Advanced)

I have linked two separate timelines above.  The first, labeled simple, can be modified and made into a great homework assignment: print out the timeline, white-out over a few of the important Grant entries, make copies, and then have the students fill in what is missing.  To make the assignment easier, leave the dates and provide a word bank if necessary.

The second, by PBS,  is much more thorough and could be assigned as a reading assignment.

Facts About Ulysses S. Grant
More Facts About Ulysses S. Grant

These websites contain a wealth of interesting trivia about Grant.  As a teacher you could use a fact to begin or continue a lesson in a more captivating manner.  Instead of saying, “Okay, now we are going to learn about Ulysses S. Grant,” you could say, “Did anyone here know that former President Ulysses S. Grant was actually born named Hiram Ulysses Grant but he did not like the initials H.U.G.?”  Fun facts will help keep the students interested and engaged.

Background for Teachers

For teachers who do now know much about President Grant, the linked article is comprehensive, relatively brief, and will give the reader a good foundation of knowledge.  It is important when teaching Grant to understand the controversy surrounding the man, particularly his alleged alcoholism and well-cited corruption, in case parents are worried how you will approach teaching these facets of his life and career.

Teaching Economics Through Children’s Literature: Pennies for Elephants

pennies for elephants


Pennies for Elephants written and illustrated by Lita Judge is a wonderful tale based on a true story of how the children of Boston came together to save three very special circus elephants.  A brother and sister duo unite to raise $6000 to save the elephants, which in 1914 is no small task.  They ask all the children in Boston to donate their pennies, but they only have two months to save them.  Soon children from all along the east coast are donating their pennies to keep these three circus elephants at the Boston zoo.

This heartwarming story teaches children the importance and satisfaction of saving money.  The illustration and newspaper clippings make the book unique while bring the audience into the time period of the book.  This book introduces children to the important ideas of economics and emphases saving, using a topic that all children love, the circus.

Curriculum Connections

This heartwarming story is more that just a book about keeping beloved elephants in Boston.  It introduces kids to saving, opportunity cost, and interdependence.  The children of Boston are left with tough choices about how to use the little money they have (1.8, 1.9, 3.9).  Saving their pennies is the only way that the elephants can stay (2.8).

Additional Resources

  • Kids’ Turn Central this site provides information for kids about the importance of saving and investing money.  It also tells of the possible benefits and losses that can occur and explains complicated economics concepts in terms that older children can understand.
  • Economy for Kids provides information about the current state of the economy for both children and teachers.  Provides a dictionary for economic terms for kids. lesson plans , and links to what the government is doing in this economic rough spot.
  • Econopolis provides games and activities for students just starting to learn about economics.  It covers areas such as supply and demand,  producers and consumers, and goods and services.

 General Information

  • Book: Pennies for Elephants
  • Written by/ Illustrated by: Lita Judge
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • Publication Date:2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade
  • ISBN:142311390X

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 Ancient Civilizations With Children’s Literature: 500 Things You Should Know About History


Introduction and Summary:

This book is a great resource for students who need help with learning specific concepts about Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Egypt, whether it is out of curiosity or for a paper or project.  The book has great illustrations and hundreds of pages about almost anything anyone would like to know about these civilizations.  Examples include pages on Sparta, The Olympics, and city-states for Ancient Greece, Roman style, Roman armies, and prayers and sacrifices for Ancient Rome, and royalty, mummies, and tombs and temples in Ancient Egypt.  Students can learn a lot from the pictures (both illustrated and real) and the text in this book full of information.

Curriculum Connections:

This resource would go well with SOL 3.1, which has a purpose of explaining that Ancient Greece has influenced many things we have today, from governments to sports.  It would also go well with a unit on Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt.

Additional Resources:

This website is a great resource for students to build upon knowledge about Ancient Greece and is an easy way for them to discover more with links to different subjects involving Ancient Greece, including literature, people, and mythology.

Under “Lesson Plan” on this page, there are a lot of great ideas to get kids thinking about Ancient Rome, Greece, or Egypt.  For example, students can write a diary entry from the perspective of a person living in one of these times or from the perspective of a god or goddess, or a reader’s theater can be created where students act out important events relating to a certain god or goddess.

This is a whole list of great video clips to further explain Ancient Greece to students.


General Information:

Book:   500 Things You Should Know About History

Author: Miles Kelly

Illustrator: Joe Jones, Sally Lace, Louisa Leitao, Elaine Wilkinson

Publisher: Sandy Creek

Publication Date: 2009

Pages: 224

Grade Range: 3-5

ISBN: 13 978-1-4351-1980-2

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome



Introduction and Summary:

Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome  written by Jonathan Stroud and illustrated by Inklink Firenze and Kevin Maddison is a fascinating book about what life was like in ancient Rome written in the form of a travel guide.  If you were traveling back in time, and needed to know what to do in Rome, this book is a must.  Stroud covers many topics such as, what to wear, food and drink, shopping, accommodations, and the baths.  For entertainment, he discusses the theater, Circus Maximus, and the Colosseum.  There is a fold out map in the back of the guide as well as an index and “Souvenir quiz.”  Each of the chapters contains a great deal of detailed information with illustrations, and contains a “Sightseers’ Tip.”  Examples are “Watch out!  The steam baths are heated by air from underground furnaces, so the floor tiles are very hot.  You might want to wear sandals to protect your feet,” (p. 16) and “try to buy some fresh honey from one of the estate’s beehives.  It’s the only way to sweeten your food.” (p.26)  Stroud does a great job explaining the caste system of ancient Rome.  The vast majority of Rome’s inhabitants were poor and/or bound to slavery while some citizen’s were very rich.  He gives examples of what you can do in the city if you are rich compared to if you are poor.  The rich managed to keep the masses happy by paying the poor people’s fees in order to gain popularity.  These fees were for using the baths which “are an essential part of life in Rome.” (p.16)  The rich also payed for fees for entry to the theatre, the Circus Maximus, and the Colosseum.  One million people lived in ancient Rome during the emperor Hadrian’s reign.  One big surprise was that the emperor had to import grain from Africa in order to feed all of the people.  Stroud also speaks of the famous aqueducts that supplied Rome with over 40 million gallons of water every day. (p.26)

Curriculum Connections:

Emperors had absolute power at this time according to Stroud.  However, Magistrate’s were officially elected to public posts by Rome’s citizens.  “Wealthy young men follow political careers, as lawyers, magistrates, and finally, as the governors of far-flung regions of the empire.” (p. 28)  Teachers can make comparison’s between Rome’s and our political processes of today. (VA SOL 3.1)  Student’s will also find that the Roman citizen’s liked to be entertained as much as we do.  Men performed as actors on stage.  Some of the plays were pretty brutal.  In some tragedies, real-life criminals would be executed on stage.  At Circus Maximus, chariot races would take place and there would be many wrecks, much like today’s car races.  At the Colosseum, two men would fight to the death with sword’s and armor.  This would be similar to today’s boxing and mixed martial arts fighting.  There was also gambling.  (VA SOL 3.1)  The Roman’s were very advanced as far as their architecture to meet their environmental needs.  They had sidewalks so that people did not have to walk in the mud and sewage in the streets and they built aqueducts to transport millions of gallon of water into the cities daily. (VA SOL 3.4c)  The fold-out map at the end of the book showed where the famous Roman landmarks were in the city, as well as the huge expanse of the empire throughout Europe and North Africa.  (VA SOL 3.4a)

Additional Resources:

Roman Games — This website has several games and activities for elementary students to learn more about the Roman Empire.

Roman Roles — This website talks about the roles of Roman men, woman and children in ancient times.  There is also an activity at the end.

The Roman Empire is a site geared especially for kids.  There are several activities, maps, and time periods children can explore.

Roman Gods and Goddesses— Children can learn about ancient Roman religion by learning about the gods and goddesses the Romans worshiped.

General Information:

Book: Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Illustrator: Inklink Firenze and Kevin Maddison (not available)
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 32
Grade Ranges: 3rd & 4th
ISBN: 0-7534-5235-9

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: The Bug Scientists

bug scientists

The Bug Scientists
, written by Donna M. Jackson, takes a different approach by teaching students about insects but also about the men and women who study them in different ways. The book introduces us to insects and their attributes (body parts, survival methods), as well as a few different ways humans study bugs or use them in their study of other things.  For instance, we meet a forensic entomologist who uses maggots to solve murders.  Your 3rd – 6th graders will love some of the “gross” pictures and details, as well as the section on “amazing insects” at the end.

Curriculum Connections
The Bug Scientists
is a great way to teach children about insects in a way that acknowledges their initial reactions but tells a compelling story that bugs are wonderful and interesting creatures . The photos are big enough for classes to see during oral reading, and detailed enough for students to study on their own. This book is for grades 3-6, and it can be a good resource for learning about living systems, the insect class, and the invertebrate phylum.

Additional Resources

  • Students can learn more about classifying insects at, a bug bio site.
  • The students can learn more about the growth of butterflies here, which gives directions for insect science project experiment to determine how temperature affects the growth of butterflies.
  • This site has some good Q&A you can use with students when teaching about insects

Book: Bug Scientists
Donna M. Jackson
Publication Date:
48 pages
Grade Range:

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Butterflies and Moths


Butterflies and Moths, written by Nic Bishop. This book provides basic information about moths and butterflies.  The book goes on to discuss facts about the insects appearance and habits. For example Moths have fatter bodies, covered with furry hairs. One can tell a moth from a butterfly by the antennae on the moths head. The book then goes on to discuss the life cycle of a butterfly and moth. First it begins with an egg, then the caterpillar crawls out, and lastly the caterpillar wanders to a safe place into a pupa. This book is great for K-4 graders because of the colorful illustrations and detailed facts about butterflies and moths.

Cirrculum Connections

 Butterflies and Moths is a great way to teach children the four stages of the butterfly. The illustrations are bright and colorful for students to look at. This book is for K-4 graders because of the basic facts that are provided about the insects. K.1g)The four stages of the butterfly allows the students to observe and record the result of each stage. 2.4a) and 2.4b) Allows the teacher to teach about the butterflies life cycle and habits.

Additional Resources

 Colorful Art Butterfly– In this activity students cut off part of an egg cartoon then the students can paint the carton any color they want. This activity is great for students who have read a book about caterpillars.

Life Cycle of a Butterfly– Students will identify the four stages of a butterflies life cycle

The Ugly Caterpillar– This program features four different reading leavels. This program is great for guide reading


Book: Butterflies and Moths
Author: Nic Bishop
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: K-4
3082 01039 0721

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: I Pledge Allegiance



Introduction and Summary

I Pledge Allegiance by June Swanson with illustrations by Rick Hanson is a fantastic book that teaches the history of the Pledge of Allegiance since it was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892.  School children actually played a part in why the Pledge of Allegiance was written.  To celebrate the 400 year anniversary of Columbus discovering America, Francis Bellamy and James Upham (two men from the children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion) requested that American children collect flags to be raised in their classrooms to celebrate what would become Columbus Day.  Together, these children would say something to honor the flag.  That is why Bellamy wrote the very first pledge.  The original version was “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands–one nation indivisible–with liberty and justice for all.” (p.14)  The book then defines the words allegiance, Republic, nation, indivisible, liberty and justice so that all school children would know what the pledge meant.  The book goes on to talk about how the United States was changing such as, states that were being added, technological advances like the automobile and the Wright Brothers historical flight, and the wars that we fought.  As the nation changed, so did the pledge adding new phrases such as, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,” and “one nation under God” which was added due to Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address. (p.36)  In 1923 it was decided that every one who said the pledge should put their right hand over their hearts. (p.29)  Though many children say it today in our schools, the book points out that no one can force anyone to say it.

Curriculum Connections

This book tells about how school children were a part of the history of what is now a traditional practice that honors and fosters patriotism in the United States. (VA SOL 1.11)  It also provides the history of the pledge since it’s inception in 1892. (VA SOL 1.11 b)  Children will also learn about historical events that happened in the United States, and how Abraham Lincoln had a direct affect on the Pledge of Allegiance. (VA SOL 2.11)

Additional Resources

The Pledge of Allegiance in Schools is a website that lists famous court cases that have involved the Pledge of Allegiance and also discusses the religious implications because of the term “under God.”

Historic Documents is a website that not only gives a brief history of the Pledge of Allegiance, but also lists several other historical documents in United States History such as, The aforementioned Gettysburg Address, Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, etc.

USA Flag Site is a website that gives a history of the American flag.  Also contains images of the bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty.

Flag Picture Gallery is a website that shows the many different versions of the American flag.

General Information

Book: I Pledge Allegiance
Author: June Swanson (website link not available)
Rick Hanson
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2nd-4th
ISBN: 0-87614-393-1


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Curriculum Connections

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

Additional Resources

General Information

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