Archive for the 'poetry' Category

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: Animals Animals



“Every insect(ant, fly, bee)

Is divided into three:

One head, one chest, one stomach part.

Some have brains,

All have a heart.” – Dorothy Aldis


Filled with full page illustrations by the famous writer/ illustrator Eric Carle and animal poems from famous names such as Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Emily Dickenson, and others, Animals Animals is the ultimate resource for elementary school teachers.  Some poems, geared towards younger audiences, are silly anecdotes on familiar animals such as Benjamin Franklin’s short poem The Butterfly:”What is a Butterfly? At best, he’s but a caterpillar fully dressed.”

Others delve into some of the more exotic animals and behaviors such as Arnold Sundgaard’s poem The Duck Billed Platypus:


“The duck billed platypus isn’t easy to imagine,
of all the earthly creatures he is most unique,
lays eggs like a bird but suckles like an animal,
and swims like a fish at the bottom of the creek.”


Each of these wonderful poems and illustration addresses different animals around the world both great and small, normal and unique, tame and wild, and silly and terrifying. Teacher’s will love using this book as an introduction to animals of all kinds or to use the animal index in the back to add to animal study one by one. Each subject is listed in alphabetical order in the back as well as by first line of each poem so you can always find just what you are looking for!


Curriculum Connections

As well as being a perfect introduction to poems and rhyme, Animals Animals is the ultimate teachers guide to animals, environment, life processes, and behaviors. Kindergarten and first grade students will learn about animals and their basic needs as well as certain physical characteristics which make each animal unique. Some of the characteristics discussed in various poems include body coverings, body shape, appendages, and method of movement (VA SOL K.6, 1.5). Older students through fourth grade will learn the difference between wild and tame, make a distinction between land and water dwelling animals, discuss the various methods animals have for finding and storing food and shelter, and learn how different animals raise their young (VA SOL 3.4).

Additional Resources

  • Kinderart provides a fun and hands-on art activity in which students will research an animal and create an Eric Carle like tissue paper collage.
  • Enchanted Learning provides printable worksheets in which students can draw and compare two animals from Eric Carle’s story. Questions include comparing size, speed, color, and weight.
  • Proteacher provides a lesson plan in which students can use what they know about an animal to write an informational poems like authors from the book.

 General Information

  • Book:  Animals Animals

  • Arranged by/ Illustrated by:  Eric Carle

  • Publisher: Puffin Books

  • Publication Date:1989

  • Pages: 90

  • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade

  • ISBN:9780698118553

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: America is…


“And America is old towns with old names, and new towns yet to be, that tell our history, then and now.  It is a nation where fifty states meet, where we are all one.”

Beautifully illustrated by Stacey Schuett and poetically written by Louise Borden, America Is is a patriotic children’s book that examines America’s birth, its people, and its land.  Borden exposes young children to the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star-Spangled Banner in this book.  She gives a brief explanation of the symbols on the American flag.  There is a map of the fifty states and illustrations of the various types of people that are called Americans.  Children will learn that America began with its native people and now includes all the people that have later joined this great country.

Curriculum Connections
Children throughout grades K-3rd would enjoy this book.  It is a good overview of geographical regions in the United States and touches on some economics with the mention of the various jobs that Americans hold (K.6).  Children will sense the value we place on freedom here in the United States.  The pictures show the American flag (K.9).  It celebrates the diversity of the people of 50 states united by a common belief in freedom (1.12c).

Additional Resources

Book:  America is…
Author:  Louise Borden
Illustrator:  Stacey Schuett
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderryBooks
Publication Date:  2002
Pages:  37
Grade Range:  K-3rd
ISBN:  0-689-83900-6

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Our White House


Our White House: Looking In Looking Out, is an anthology that is a beautiful compilation of 108 renowned authors and illustrators. It was created in association with the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance (NCBLA) and the Office of First Lady Laura Bush.  This book offers its readers stories, poetry and artwork that spans Amerian history from within the walls of The White House and its many residents, who, of course, were Persidents!  This is truly a very special book, with the literary and art works donated, and all royalties going to support the NCBLA as it promotes literacy, libraries and the arts.

Curriculum Connections:  Our White House: Looking In Looking Out is a wonderful book for teaching various civics and history lessons. Civics SOLs K.9, 2.11, 3.11. History SOLs K.1. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3.

Additional Resources:
This website allows children to read about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in a hands-on, child-friendly manner.  It offers basic information about both Presidents, and has additional resources that could be used on lesson about these specific Presidents.

This website provides instruction and information on how to write a letter to the President of the United States.  This would be a fun and interesting activity associated with this book and/or President’s Day activities.

This website offers several printable booklets for various ages from easy reader levels to a bit more advanced.  There are booklets for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  They include basic information about each President and allow for coloring in the pictures on each page.

General Information:
: Our White House: Looking In Looking Out
Author: 108 Authors and Illustrators
Illustrator: Various
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages:  256
Grade Range: K – 6
ISBN:  978-0-7636-2067-7

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States


My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is a collection of 50 poems combined with beautiful art that together create a portrait of the United States. The states are broken down according to their specific region, and a map and facts about each state precede the poems that describe them. The beautiful illustrations and fun poems are sure to keep the attention of students!

It’s here our U.S. Presidents
are sworn into command;
where the courtly U.S. Capitol
and the stately White House stand.”
(excerpt from Washington D.C. by Rebecca Kai Dotlich)

Curriculum Connections
My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States is a great book for teaching the different states and regions of the United States. It covers the Virginia Social Studies SOL 1.4d, which involves the identification of the United States and Virginia on maps and globes. Teachers can also integrate English into a geography lesson plan by asking students to create their own poems about where they live.

Additional Resources

  • This is an excellent 10-day unit map skills lesson plan. Essential knowledge includes:
    Symbols and cardinal directions are used to show where objects and places are located on maps and globes.
    The United States and Virginia can be identified by their physical shapes on maps and globes.
    The locations of the capital cities of Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia are identified by specific symbols.
  • Using this worksheet, students can practice their map-making skills as well as the identification and usage of the cardinal directions.
  • ThisPowerPoint is a great teaching resource for identifying the United States and Virginia on maps and globes.
  • Watch the My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States Reading Rainbow episode, and have students compare and contrast the girl from rural Montana and the boy from New York City. As a class, complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the lives of the two children.

Book: My America
Author: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrator: Stephen Alcorn
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: 2000
Grade Range: 1-5
ISBN: 0-689-81247-7

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: A World of Wonders


Geography can be an overwhelming subject to teach. Don’t be alarmed! J.Patrick Lewis’s book of poetry, A World of Wonders, illustrated by Alison Jay, covers a wide variety of geographical concepts through different types of poems that your students will love!

The book opens with an acrostic poem about Christopher Columbus’ discovery in 1492, and takes readers on a voyage all over the world. With fun and engaging illustrations, Lewis writes poems about Marco Polo, Aurora Borealis, the difference between longitude and latitude, the poles, and the five oceans, only to name a few. One of my favorite pages is full of 6 City Riddles, where students must guess where in the world they would be given the clues. I love the riddle for Sydney, Australia: “Where are you if…You see a modern opera house? Come visit here and bring your spouse–Or y’r mate, if you may. Enjoy a barbie shrimp! G’day!” The book concludes with a poem which encourages children to take care of their world, an essential topic to tie into a geography lesson: “Make the Earth your companion. Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do. Let the Sky paint her beauty–she is always watching over you.”

Curriculum Connections

This book could be used in many different areas of geography, and across a number of different grades. Since the topics from poem to poem are so different from each other, I would suggest reading applicable poems at the start of a geography lesson. For example, when beginning a lesson on the five oceans, share with students the poem “Oceans Five.” A World of Wonders could be applied to SOL 2.5, where students must locate the equator, 7 continents and 5 oceans, and 3.5, which further studies the continents, oceans, and the equator, as well as studying the regions discovered by different explorers. Lewis’ book could also be applied to some of the SOLs for Virginia Studies, such as USI.2, which covers different geographic regions of North America, and water features of the United States. The World Geography SOL WG.4 could be taught through this book as well, because it challenges students to analyze and locate physical, economic and cultural characteristics of the world regions.

Additional Resources

  • Allow your students to explore countries all over the world on National Geographic’s kid-friendly site.
  • Play this Message in a Bottle game to teach your students about longitude and latitude.
  • Where in the World? is a great webquest to use in your classroom, where students collect information of a world region to write a postcard home to the states.

General Information
Book: A World of Wonders
Author: J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrator: Alison Jay
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2-4

Teaching Geography with Children's Literature: Earthshake (Poems from the Ground Up)


The book Earthshake, poems from the ground up, is an accumulation of several poems that are related to the earth.

This book is a fun and interesting way to look at the earth.  Some of the poems are just short little phrases while other ones are about a page long.  The topics span from the earth’s crust, to continents, to wind and fire.  They all have witty, fun names too including “Wyoming Layer Cake”, “Instructions for the Earth’s Dishwasher”, and “Earth Charged in Meteor’s Fiery Death.”  The different titles for the poems make it fun and exciting for the students to read.  It offers a different perspective on how to look at the earth as well.

Curriculum Connection
This book would not me limited to any particular grade considering it is such a general overview and offers such a small introduction to each topic.  It would probably fit well with 1st through 3rd grade.

Additional Resources:
This book has such a wide range of topics that it would be easy to make an international connection.  This website offers information on numerous countries all around the world.
2. This link provides a connection to a science activity that deals with a meteorite
3. This is a helpful website that offers several different maps of countries, towns, cities, and more

General Information:
Earthshake (Poems from the Ground Up)
Author: Lisa Westberg Peters
Illustrator: Cathie Felstead
Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 4-8
ISBN #: 0060292652

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Toad by the Road


Toad by the Road, written by Joanne Ryder and illustrated by Maggie Kneen, is a fun way to introduce students to the life of toads.  The books is compiled of several poems about toads.  Depending on what the topic of the poem is, there is a corresponding fact about toads at the bottom of the page.  The poems are also written in seasonal order (starting with spring and going in chronological order until it is spring again).
An example of one of the poems:

“In the rain
Others hide,
But I’m
Quite pleased
To sit outside
In a little
Mossy rut-
Eyes open,
Mouth shut.
Here I drink
The rain within,
Clear drops
Through my skin”

The book has several great poems, like this one, that provide for a nonfictional but fun way to discuss habits and life cycles of a particular amphibians.

Curriculum Connections
This book will fit in great for a fourth grade curriculum.  The students will be focused on understanding different life cycles, habitats, behavioral adaptations, and ecosystems.

Additional Resources
1.  This website offers a lesson plan complete with activities on the distinguishing the difference between frogs and toads.
2.  This website is full of different worksheets, activities, quizzes, and just fun facts about all different kinds of amphibians.
3.  Enchanted Learning gives several different reproducables on frogs and other amphibians which would be helpful in the classroom.

General Information:
Book: Toad by the Road
Author: Joanne Ryder
Illustrator: Maggie Kneen
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Publication Date: April 2007
Pages: 40 pages
Grade range: 3-4 grades
ISBN: 080507354X

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: This is the Tree


This is the Tree, written by Miriam Moss and illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway,  is a prose poem that centers around the ancient baobab tree in Africa. Each three line stanza starts out with the phrase, “This is the tree,” and explains the importance of the baobab tree to the ecological system around it.  The short stanzas on each page make this book a great read-along for young readers, and the water-color-like artwork is a beautiful way to show children how vital the tree is to the wildlife it supports.  In addition to teaching kids about the African habitat, the book can be used to aid reading lessons which focus on poetry and poetic devices like metaphors and personification.

“This is the tree with the huge rounded belly,
  all lacy with shadows
  in a sea of new grass.

 This is the tree that the tribespeople visit
 to cut bark, spilling insects
 on read beaten earth.”

After the story is finished, the final two pages of the book provide more trivia-like facts about the Baobab tree. This is the Tree does a fabulous job of combining science and reading in a poetic way, and would be a great staple peice of children’s literature in any classroom or home library.

Curriculum Connections:
This is the tree provides a combination of the teaching of reading along with an understanding of the life needs of animals and people (VA SOLs 1.5). The book’s illustrations help show students the physical adaptations animals make, such as gathering food and finding shelter, in order to survive (VA SOLs 3.4).

Additional Resources:
The book’s author, Miriam Moss, has her own website which provides detailed descriptions of all her other children’s books. Many are written in the same style as This is the Tree, and also give great lessons on wildlife and other subjects.

To find out more information about the Baobab tree, there are many websites, like this one, that give a lot of great facts about the actual tree and the importance of it to the life surrounding. 

The National Geographic For Kids website would be a excellent resource for students to do more research about the animals mentioned in This is the Tree.

General Information:

  • Book: This is the Tree
  • Author: Miriam Moss
  • Illustrator: Adrienne Kennaway
  • Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
  • Publication Date: March 2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Grade Range: K – 4
  • ISBN-10: 1929132778

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Who Sank the Boat?


Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen is a short, repetitive, and slightly rhyming story that helps children learn about sinking and floating, as well as making assumptions and hypotheses.  Who Sank the Boat? begins with several barnyard animals who decide that they would like to go for a short row in a boat, and follows them as they try to fit all the animals in the boat without it tipping over.

“Was it the cow who almost fell in, when she tilted the boat and made such a din?  No, it wasn’t the cow who almost fell in.  Do you know who sank the boat?

The story continues as the smaller animals begin to enter the boat, and the it gets lower in the water.

“Was it the pig as fat as butter, who stepped in at the side and caused a great flutter?  No, it wasn’t the pig as fat as butter.  Do you know who sank the boat?

The end has a surprise twist, that very few readers are likely to predict.

“Was it the little mouse, the last to get in, who was the lightest of all?  Could it be him? You DO know who sank the boat.”

This book teaches that something’s ability to float or sink can depend on the removal or addition of even a very small item, such as a mouse, as well as where items are placed inside a boat to keep the weight evenly distributed to help balance the boat.

Curriculum Connections:

This book can help children become familiar with water and its properties, and is able to support some materials, ie: allowing them to float, and its inability to support others, ie: sinking.  Through follow up lessons and assignments this book also assists students in understanding that water and its properties can be observed, tested, and recorded, as is reflected in VA Science SOL K.5c.

Additional Resources:

The Science NetLinks site has a good lesson plan involving an online sinking and floating activity as well as using aluminum foil to make miniature boats to practice making them float and sink.

The Athens State University website reccommends using this book to connect to measuring scales and units such as a pound, and figuring out which things are likely to weigh more and less than a pound.

The SEDL website has a good lesson plan for helping students make predictions about which objects will float or sink, as well as help them record data in graphic organizers.

General Resources:
Who Sank the Boat?
Author/Illustrator: Pamela Allen
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: 
April 16, 1996
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: Kindergarten1st