Archive for the 'resource links' Category

Teaching Fractions in 3rd Grade

The topic chosen is Fractions, built with a 3rd grade class in mind.

Text Annotations

Full House: An Invitation to Fractions

Dayle Ann Dodds (Author), Abby Carter (Illustrator)

A fun introduction to fractions, good for reading to younger students, with lots of repetition so students can join in with the text.  A story about a woman running an inn, which teaches about fractions in how she divides the rooms and desert for her guests.

Polar bear math : learning about fractions from Klondike and Snow by Ann Whitehead and Cindy Bickel.

Polar Bear Math follows two cubs, Klondike and Snow, who grow up in the Denver Zoo, all the while using their lives as material for lessons about fractions. For every page of story about the bear cubs there is a page containing a math lesson.  The lessons, vary from simple fraction, numerators and denominators, and comparing births. A lot of the lessons deal with the polar bear's growth rates, and mixing their formula with milk.

Apple fractions by Jerry Pallotta ; illustrated by Rob Bolster.

Apple fractions is a book that takes the time honored tradition of teaching with fractions and uses something as healthy as an apple instead of m&ms or jolly ranchers.  In the book, a group of elves show the readers how to divide apples into halves, thirds, fourths, etc.  At the same time, it teaches about different types of apples (golden delicious, granny smith, and so on).  The book is better served as an introduction to fractions than anything, as it will be too simple for higher level fraction users.

Funny & fabulous fraction stories : 30 reproducible math tales and problems to reinforce important fraction skills by Dan Greenberg.

Funny and Fabulous Fraction Stories is a great book for, as the subtitle says, reinforcing fraction skills.  Each page has a humorous introduction followed by either word problems or simple equations. Much of the book is a built as a workbook, but the contents can be used for students working with fractions for the first time as well as older students who need review and enrichment.

Hershey’s milk chocolate bar fractions book by Jerry Pallotta ; illustrated by Robert Bolster.

A good book for not only introducing fractions, but also for dealing with addition and subtraction.  It is good for beginners, but can also be easily adapted for use with older children by including mixed numbers, writing fractions in
simplest form, and even decimals/percentages.  And in case chocolate bars are too much candy or are melting, the book includes a cutout for manipulation.


Concentration – A game of memory, for one or two players, where you have to match different depictions of numbers.  There are different levels to choose from, one of which is fractions.  Match numbers, shapes, fractions, or multiplication facts to equivalent representations. The game can be used to practice facts by using the clear pane mode, or for an added challenge, play the game with the windows closed.

Melvin's Make a Match – A game of matching visual fraction models with their numerical counterparts.  The player chooses two potion bottles and Melvin the wizard lets them know if they got it right or not.   There is a hint button that guides students how to play, instead of giving them clues about the right answer.

Pizza Party – A 10 question, single player online multiple choice game that uses the classic "pizza pie" model for visualizing fractions.  Even though it is likely that this model is not the best for representing fractions, it is still ubiquitously used in the class as well as SOL tests.  So this game is a good review for visualizing fractions that's Soccer Shootout – A two player, competitive fraction quiz based on taking "shots on goal" by solving fraction addition and subtraction problems with like and unlike numerators and denominators.  The answers given need to be reduced to the simplest possible fraction or the answer is marked as incorrect.

Additional Resources

Fraction Webquest –  Created by Kim Daniels, Julia Johnson, and Caitlin Haney

A webquest that invites students to act as mayor of a small town, helping the citizens solve their problems using fractions.  There are 4 specific tasks in the webquest, which would be best done over two or three days.

Fractions – SMARTboard Activity by N. Dickson.  A 12 page SMART Notebook Lesson that contains various types of fraction practice for beginning learners of fractions (grades 1-3).   Requires SMARTboard and corresponding software.

Equivalent Fractions Video – a short (3:41) video lesson discussing equivalent fractions.  Requires Audio.  A great resource for review, or makeup (for instance if a student is absent when equivalent fractions are introduced).

Fractions PowerPoint – by Lucy Rodriguez – A 13 page powerpoint lesson that explains fractions using various models (including fraction strips, number lines, etc.  Also contains links to different activities.  Note – There are, among other things, two fraction powerpoints on the link below.  Choose the one by Rodriguez.

Fractions Basics Proper Improper Mixed Math Learning Upgrade

A cute, short (1:35) video that goes with an equally cute reggae song about fractions, which teaches about numerators, denominators, and the difference between Proper and Improper Fractions.

Counting Money: Second Grade

Throughout the elementary grades, students learn to work with and manage money. In second grade, the relevant money concepts are addressed in Standard of Learning 2.11. In this SOL, students should learn to count and compare a collection of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies whose total is $2.00 or less. Along with that, students should understand that different coin combinations can be used to make equal amounts. They should also learn about the correct usage of money symbols throughout this unit.



The Penny Pot by Stuart Murphy, Illustrated by Lynn Cravath

In The Penny Pot, the students are getting their faces painted at the school fair and Jessie wants to join in on the fun. She has a problem though – it costs 50 cents to get your face painted, and she only has 39 cents! At the table, there is a penny pot where students put their extra change, so Jessie waits and counts the extra change until she has enough money to get her face painted. This is a great book to help students visualize counting money. The pictures of the coins are authentic looking and will translate well to classroom activities with money.


The Big Buck Adventure by Shelley Gill and Deborah Tobola, Illustrated by Grace Lin

In The Big Buck Adventure, a young girl receives a dollar allowance from her dad and is dropped off at a store with hopes to spend her new money. The book explores several different ways that she could spend her money. Each combination of items is described in poem form and the pictures show the objects clearly marked with price tags. This is an effective way for students to see the use of money and prices in real life.


Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Ray Cruz

Alexander's grandparents gave him a dollar last Sunday, and he quickly realizes that he can spend that dollar in many different ways! The book Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday is a great way to show students how money that is spent is subtracted from the total amount. There are several fantastic lesson plans to go along with this book.


Pigs Will be Pigs by Amy Axelrod, Illustrated by Sharon McGinley

 After finishing off all of their groceries, Mr.Pig, Mrs.Pig, and their two piglets are still hungry but their piggy bank is empty – how will they be able to buy more food? They decide to hunt for their money around the house. Readers of Pigs Will Be Pigs are invited to count along as the pigs find money throughout the rooms of the house. In the end, the money is totaled and the pig family travels to a Mexican restaurant to eat. This book is fitting to the SOL because the students are able to watch the totals change as money is added, as well as look at the menu at the restaurant to see how it is spent.


How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty by Nathan Zimelman, Illustrated by Bill Slavin

 Students at Newton Barnaby School are on a mission – to fund a field trip to the Statue of Liberty. The second grade students in How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty embark on all sorts of projects to raise money – lemonade stand, car wash, candy sale, etc. As readers, students are able to follow the second grade class' journey and help total the money that the class is raising.


  • In the Dollar Store Game, students are told that they are buying different items from the dollar store – everything is a dollar or less! They are given an item that they need to pay for, and then using the variety of coins on the lefthand side, they must drag the correct amount to the cashier at the bottom of the screen.
  • In the Counting Money game, students are presented with a line of coins, including quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. As quick as they can, they must count the coins, add up the value, and type it into the box. They can then check their own answers by clicking on the "Check" button.
  • The game Piggy Bank is another way to reinforce students understanding that different coin combinations can be used to make equal values. Students are given a certain monetary amount and then as coins are dropped into a grid, students click on the coins they want to use to make that amount.
  • In this lunch food game, students are given a menu with different food items. They are then told how much a certain item is and must drag the right amount of money, in coin form, to the checkout in order to pay for their food.
  • In this interactive coin game, the students are given a money total at the top of screen. They then must drag a combination of coins to the top of the chute. As the coins roll down the chute into the jar, the students can watch the value increase until they have made the correct amount.

Additional Resources

  • This literature site details specific ways to integrate childrens books into math lessons, and more specifically into the study of money in the lower elementary grades. The site gives 8 examples of books related to money and then provides activities and ideas for lessons to go along with those books.
  • Money Money is a set of 11 lesson plans that essentially outlines the unit of exploring coins and money in the second grade. The lessons focus on the objectives that students will be able to identify coins, coin values, and the concept that equal amounts can be reached through different coin combinations. It includes a variety of types of lessons, many that are based on children's literature and that are very interactive.
  • The game Clean Up the Money uses a 24-space game board, which the players fill in with 6 nickels, 6 pennies, 6 dimes, and 6 quarters. Then they roll two dice to get an ordered pair. Whatever coin is on that ordered pair, they take and put in a pile. At the end of the game, the students must count their money to find a winner. The great thing about this game is that students will get lots of different coin combinations and it is a great way to integrate ordered pairs into another math concept.
  • The U.S. Mint website is chock full of lesson plans and information regarding coins, the history of money, and how money has changed over time. The lesson plans are sorted both by grade and by subject, and there are some great 2nd grade ones about counting money and making different combinations of coins.

Fraction Action



Students in third and fourth grade begin to explore the use of fractions in mathematics.  Students will recognize the numerator and the denominator, and understand how to compare different fractions. In third grade, the focus will be on fractions with “like” denominators, and they will move on to “un-like” denominators in fourth grade. Students will add and subtract fractions with denominators up to 12, and learn how to simplify fractions, as well as recognize equivalent fractions

Text Sources


Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta

This is a great book for students just learning to recognize and comprehend fractions. Pallotta uses an apple cut up by tiny elves to show halves, thirds, fourths, etc. Students see the differentsizes of fractions in a common and recognizable object, an apple. Though it may not be possible to do in a classroom, it is a great hands-on experience to have students cut an apple (with adult supervision) to match the fractions in the book.


Working with Fractions by David A. Adler

This is a wonderful book to read to a class to learn about different fraction concepts. The brilliant illustrations will keep students interested as fractions are thoroughly discussed. Adler does not only use concrete objects like a cake or pizza, but also includes situations such as music chairs: if you are playing musical chairs with 7 people, and 5 people sit down, then 5/7 of the children are sitting down. The book discusses the way fractions can be found everywhere.


Fraction Fun by David A. Adler

Fraction Fun is a great introductory book. Adler includes equivalent fractions and even adding fractions. Adler includes hands on activities, and his illustrations put students at ease with the new math. Students will compare fractions and see how fractions be equal, less than, or greater than other fractions.


Whole-y Cow: Fractions are Fun by Taryn Souders

This book keeps students engaged without realizing how much they’re learning. Silly illustrations fill the pages, as well as math riddles. Students will try to help the cow figure out math problems, and will discover a love for math along the way. This story can be read to children as young as five, but older students will still enjoy working on the math problems inside.


Give me Half! by Stuart J. Murphy

Murphy’s story is great for any students who’ve ever tried to share food with their siblings or friends. Following a brother and sister as they try to share their snacks, students are introduced to different fractions (because no one wants to split evenly!) They learn about equivalent fractions, and are introduced to the word “divide.” Murphy shows some equations such as: 1/2 + 1/2 = 1.

Web Sources

Identifying Fractions

This is a simple online activity for students who are just starting to learn fractions. Set up as an interactive quiz, the site shows students a bar with a portion colored in. Students will type in the correct fraction, and click ok. If they are correct, the quiz will move on to a new example. If they are incorrect, they will be told that their response was “too big” or “too small.” On the bottom of the page, it gives students instructions, as well as a brief overview of fractions. It identifies the numerator and denominator, and shows how to type the fraction into the quiz.


Balloon Pop Math

This fun site sets up fractions as a game. Balloons come onto the screen, and each balloon has a fraction and a model on it. Students must pop the balloon in order from smallest to greatest. This is a great opportunity to think on their feet.  The site is very easy to use, and the game has three levels, so students can be challenged if they are ready.

Comparing Fractions

This sight helps students practice the greater than, less than, and equal sign. Students must compare fractions and use multiple choice answers to decide if the fractions are equivalent or not. The site uses small fractions, and is very easy for students to understand. This could be used as an assessment, a homework assignment, or practice.


Fun with Fractions and Decimals

This is a fun start for students who are transitioning from fractions to decimals. Set up like the classic board game Shoots and Ladders, students must use multiple choice answers to convert a fraction into decimal form. If they get the answer right, they can “roll the dice” and move on the board. Just like shoots and ladders, they might move up a later, or risk sliding down a shoot. It’s an exciting and interactive way for students to practice math. It can even be used as partner game.

Kids and Cookies

One of my personal favorite resources for kids. This game allows students to pick how many cookies to have, and how many friends. Then, they must divide the cookies evenly between friends. The cookies do not always split up evenly, so students have cookie cutters with various fraction bars to cut the cookies up. It surprisingly involves a lot of critical thinking, as students have to decide how many cookies it is necessary to cut up. It allows the student a lot of freedom as they practice fractions.

Teacher Resources

Funny and Fabulous Fraction Stories by Dan Greenberg

This book is full of math stories and problems that students will love. The reproducibles are perfect for students in third or fourth grade who are learning to recognize fractions and use them in equations. There are worksheets, stories, and lessons for teachers to use with their class. The book is an incredible resource for teachers of many grades.


Pizza Fraction Fun Game

A great game to have in the classroom. There are seven games included in this set, all involving the introduction of fractions. It can be used for many different levels and skills. It is a great way to use such a recognizable thing like pizza without having to bring food into the classroom.

Fraction Tiles

This is a staple need for every math classroom. Fraction tiles are great to have because students can move them around and compare their physical sizes as they do math problems including fractions.  fraction_strips.jpg

Fraction Pie Puzzles

Another great activity for teachers to have available in their classroom. These puzzles have four circles that can be filled in with any pie slices – the trick is to use the correct fractions. Students will need to understand equivalent fractions, and they can practice their addition as they predict which fractions will complete the puzzle.

Introducing Division


This post includes a variety of resources (books, websites, lesson plans, games, printables, etc.) that can be used to introduce basic division concepts to students and aid them in committing the basic division facts (dividends to 144) to memory. The target grade level is third grade since these skills are first introduced at this level.  However, many of these resources could and perhaps should be used at the fourth and fifth grade levels to reinforce basic division skills, which are the basis for so many other higher-level math concepts.


The Great Divide, written by Dayle Ann Dodds and illustrated by Tracy Mitchell: Using a cross-country race as a plot line, Dodds demonstrates how dividing by two decreases the contenders in the race to the finish.  Eighty contestants start out on bikes in ten groups of eight but when half pop tires, only forty continue.  Forty becomes twenty, twenty becomes ten, and ten becomes five, at which point one contestant has to stop with a rock in her shoe and only four move on.  Though the plot is minimal, a surprise ending, likable characters, and fun illustrations keep children engaged while getting the mathematical concepts across.

Divide and Ride, written by Stuart Murphy and illustrated by George Ulrich: Murphy's book introduces division as eleven children sort themselves into smaller groups in order to go on different rides at a carnival.  Mathematical vocabulary such as "per", "divide", and "left over" is used throughout to introduce the concepts of "groups of", "sets of", and remainders.  The children in the story are racially diverse and even young children can relate to the idea of going to an amusement park and begin to see the patterns that emerge as the book continues.

How Hungry Are You, written by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen and illustrated by Amy Walrod: In the same vein as Pat Hutchins classic, The Doorbell Rang, Napoli and Tchen's book is a great introduction to simple division and the difficulties that can arise when sharing.  A rabbit and a frog decide to have a picnic.  Along the way, they meet up with a variety of other creatures who share in the food (creating the need to redivide) and contribute more food.  The story presents a great opportunity for reader's theater as the entire tale is told through dialogue of the various characters identified by rebus-like headshots at the beginning of each line.

A Remainder of One, written by Elinor J. Pinczes and illustrated by Bonnie MacKain: An army of 25 insects line up in multiple arrays in an attempt to create a formation that doesn't leave anyone out.  Rhyming text and simple illustrations combine to present the basis for a clear understanding of remainders and the use of arrays in division problems.

One Hungry Cat, written by Joanne Rocklin and Marilyn Burns and illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy: A hungry cat bakes 12 cookies and invites over two friends to share them, but each time he divides the cookies into equal shares, he gets hungry, gobbles them up, and has to bake something else. Throughout the story, subtle math problems arise.   For example, how does one divide eight cookies onto three plates, or cut a square cake into three equal pieces? Answers to the problems are presented in the back of the book along with suggested activities for reinforcing the math lesson.  The cartoon illustrations add to the fun and kids will enjoy the slapstick while they figure out the math.


Everybody Wins, written by Sheila Bruce and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye:  When Oscar and Emmy both contribute box tops for a contest and agree to split the prize of 100 frozen pizzas, they learn valuable lessons about how to divide and the costs and rewards of friendship.  As the book continues, so does the sharing as friends practice dividing other things among their classmates.  Additional activities to support the lessons in the book are listed on the inside back cover.

Division, written by Sheila Cato and illustrated by Sami Sweeten: Less of a story and more of a straight up math lesson, this book effectively uses authentic math problems to teach division.  A group of ethnically diverse children present a series of division problems using everyday examples that get progressively more difficult.  Equations are used to reflect the original word problem and the explanations are thorough and concise, building on prior knowledge.  Boxed areas provide further information and offer more practice equations, while colorful cartoons break up the text and illustrate the answers.

The Doorbell Rang, written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins: Pat Hutchins uses a dozen cookies to illustrate the partitive model of division as more and more children have to share the same batch of cookies. Two children are delighted when their mother bakes a tray of a dozen cookies and they find that by dividing them equally each can have six. But the doorbell rings repeatedly, friends arrive and the cookies must be re-divided again and again. When each child's share is down to one, a surprise visit from Grandma brings dozens more cookies for the elated multiracial children to share.

17 Kings and 42 Elephants, written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy: As 17 kings and 42 elephants make their way through the jungle, they encounter a variety of animals from crocodiles and tigers to hippopotomums and baboonsters.  Though the book has no formal plot and uses words both sensible and nonsensical, it holds great appeal to children because of the rollicking rhymes, joyous adventure, and beautiful illustrations.  From a mathematical perspective, the book can be used as a springboard for a division problem with remainders as students figure out how many elephants each king has if the kings share the elephants equally.

One Hundred Hungry Ants, written by Elinor J. Pinces and illustrated by Bonnie MacKain:  Rhymed verse is used to tell this whimsical story of 100 hungry ants setting out in one long line for a picnic.  When the littlest ant announces that the line is moving too slowly and suggests 2 lines of 50, followed by 4 lines of 25, 5 lines of 20, and 10 lines of 10 to speed things up.  By the time the ants reach the picnic, the food is all gone but students will have gained valuable background knowledge about both multiplication and division.


Divider Machine: Students attempt to answer basic division facts and obtain a score of 100 without making any mistakes by selecting the appropriate level of difficulty.

Division Derby: Choose from a series of racecar themed multiplication and division games for single or multi-players focused on basic facts.

Flashcards: Students can use this site to generate their own division flashcards by entering the highest level of quotients they are interested in working with.  The site also has a variety of division games for students to choose from to support their learning process.

Math Magician: Great site for building automaticity with basic division facts.  Answer 20 division facts in a minute or less and earn a certificate.

Mystery at the Peculiar Zoo: Students read and use the clues in a poem along with multiplication and division skills to figure out how many animals were stolen by the Zoo Bandit.  If you like this story, additional mysteries are available through this scholastic site as well.


Basic Division Facts Differentiated Learning Pack: This Scholastic resource, while worksheet driven, does provide a good opportunity for differentiating activities for students who are reading below, on, or above grade level.

Lesson Idea for Introducing Division: In this activity, students are placed in groups of five or six and provided with 30 pieces of dry pasta and a paper plate for each child.  Students are asked to share the pasta equally and talk about their results.

Dividing with Bricks: This worksheet is a simple way to support the development of division concepts while children divide sets of bricks (or any cubes) into towers.

All About Division Smartboard Lesson: This Smartboard Lesson provides an introduction to the math concept of division and provides students with the opportunity to practice dividing by 3's, 4's. and 5's.



The common meaning of the word hibernate is the state that an animal sleeps for the entire winter, to protect themselves and help themselves survive when the temperatures are cold and food is hard to find.  There are several forms of hibernation and examples of animals that hibernate are bears, frogs, and groundhogs.  The concept on hibernation is covered in SOL 1.7, 2.5, 2.7, and 3.4.

Animals Hibernating:  How Animals Survive Extreme Conditions, by Pamel Hickman

This fun and informational book defines the two groups of hibernators:  true hibernators and deep sleeper. The true hibernators save energy during winter by greatly lowering their body temperature and breathing and heart rates (chipmunks) Some true hibernators include such as insects, toads, snakes, whose bodies partly freeze and then thaw again in the spring.  The deep sleepers such skunks and raccoons, go into a deep sleep for several weeks or months during winter-their breathing and heard rate drops but their body temperature lowers only slightly. In addition, this book provides activities to find out how our heart rate compares to bats and why maple syrup is like a hibernating frog.

What Do Animals Do in the Winter? How Animals Survive the Cold, By Melvin and Gilda Berger

This child’s book describes how groundhogs hibernate in the winter by sleeping for six months in nests found inside tunnels.  Also, this book describes how bats hibernate in caves by hanging upside down.

Extreme Animals:  The Toughest Creatures on Earth, by Nicola Davies

This book on page 19 describes the hummingbird as a “truly tough” creature on Earth because it lets their body temperature drop 35 to 55 degree F below normal.  The hummingbird does this every night to save on food.  Also, bats are “truly tough” too, because live off their own body fat until spring – so bats hibernate and let their bodies get really cold.  In addition on page 20, there is a description of the “frogsicles”- instead of hibernating the wood frogs  freeze and become brittle as glass, but they are not dead.

Every Autumn Comes the Bear, by Jim Arnosky

This colorful children’s book describes how a bear comes every autumn and prepares to hibernate for the winter, the other animals know what to expect from the bear.

Bear on the Train, by Julie Lawson

This book tell the story of a bear up jumps on a train car, eats grain, and falls a sleep during the snow the wind, and the rain.  A boy named Jeffrey sees the bear come into the small town and shouts at him to get off the train.  Jeffrey sees the bear for several months during the winter and the bear remains asleep.  It is not until the spring that the bear smells something different, open his eyes, and gets off the train.

Children website on hibernation.  This kids website give a definition of true hibernation and gives examples of animals that hibernate and a description of each. This kids website defines torpor shortened sleep time and provides five examples of animals that sleep and eat to survive in the winter.  This childrens website provides a memory games that after pairs of hibernating animals are matched, a picture of an animal that hibernates will appear.

This website provides a story about “sleeping through a dark cold winter” and talks about “true hibernation.  The websites talks about animals about such as dormouse, hedgehogs, pet tortoise, frog and newts.

This website provides a detailed kids friendly description of hibernation, with links to the animals that hibernate.  Also, this website provides additional links regarding the subject of hibernation.

Resources for teachers.  Excellent resource for teacher and includes links to website on activities regarding hibernation.  Website shares easy songs, poems, and provides links to fun and educational websites for kids. This website provides fun finger plays, songs, and activities to do with children, including an idea for a hibernation celebration.  Also, a link to the Booklet – Hibernation theme folder for Grade 1.  This teacher resource provides a lot of information and in a link to books and activities on hibernation.  This website provides hibernation theme ideas including books, songs, finger play, art and crafts. This website discusses “How do animals spend the winter?” Website goes detailed information regarding on hibernation and “How do animals know it is time to hibernate” and a corresponding project to with the class.

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.

Economics Ideas: Human Resources

In elementary school, students are learn about human, natural, and capital resources as part of their economics unit. These resources are closely related to the student’s study of goods and services. Human resources are defined as people who work to provide services or to produce goods.



Abuela’s Weave is a story that follows Esperanza and her Abuela as they work hard on their weaving to prepare goods to sell in the village. They live in a small, market town in Guatemala and must provide for their family with the money that they make. This story is a great way to illustrate the process of producing a good and how the end result plays out.


The book How Santa Got His Job follows Santa from the beginning of his career, to his final job as the Santa Claus we know today. It begins with him as a chimney sweeper, and details his journey from job to job, as he learns many different skills that eventually lead to him becoming Santa Claus. For example, he works at the post office to learn about delivering packages, he works at the zoo, where he falls in love with reindeer, and so on. This is a great book to illustrate how different types of human resources require very specific skills, many of which are learned skills.


Human resources typically are working to provide a service or create a product. In this book, students can explore how one good (in this case, a book) goes through many different stages of production and requires lots of human resources. The author, Aliki, has provided two different levels of text. The big text is very basic and follows the simple story line, while the smaller text is much more detailed and describes the finer points of book production. This would be a great way to use the book for various ages or to differentiate a classroom.


Eric Carle uses his whimsical collage-style illustration to tell the story of Walter the baker in this book. Walter is the main baker for the Duke and Duchess of his home town and his specialty is his sweet rolls. When he gets to asked to make a type of roll that the sun can shine through three times, he must rush to meet the challenge. The story follows his journey of producing the new type of roll, which in turn illustrates how a human resource (the baker) uses specific skills to produce a product.


All of Charlie’s friends and family tell him that he needs a new cloak. He is a poor shepherd so he cannot afford to buy himself a new one – he decides instead to make one! The story follows his production of a beautiful new red cloak, from shearing his sheep to weaving and dying the cloth to sewing the actual cloak. The idea that specific skills are required to make various products is reiterated for students in this book.


1. In this website, students can explore different jobs and what those jobs entail. It also helps students understand that different human resources play different roles in our community.

2. In this matching game, the students must match the human resource with their role in the community. It is an interesting way for students to explore the different skills required for jobs.\

3. This site is a huge database of jobs that are sorted by skill and interest. Students can go to the site, choose a subject area or area of interest, and then the site guides them through many different career options. This could be part of a fun webquest!

4. This is another matching game, but this time the students must explore which human resource pairs up with which capital resource.

5. Here is a webquest that allows students not only to explore human resources, but also the concepts of natural resources, capital resources, and goods and services. In the end, students create a simple product and must present and advertise it to the class.

Additional Resources

1. This is a great lesson plan based on the book The Tortilla Factory by Gary Paulsen. The lesson reviews capital, natural, and human resources and includes a fun craft.

2. Another great lesson plan, this activity takes students through the process of making crayons. Crayons are something that all kids love and can relate to, and it’s a process that they may not know about. The lesson focuses on how resources are used in the crayon production.

3. This upper elementary lesson plan helps students explore different jobs and what those jobs entail. As they read about different jobs around the community, they begin to understand how specific the skills are for each human resource in our community.

4. For lower elementary students, this lesson plan is a great way to familiarize them with the concepts of natural, capital, and human resources. The lesson plan focuses on a very well known story – The Three Little Pigs!


Harriet Tubman




Harriet Tubman was an incredible part of American History. She led a challenging life, but was still strong enough to rescue around 300 slaves from captivity. Her strength and courage remain an inspiration, even to this day. Students will learn about her childhood, and her work with the underground railroad and the Union Army. Students will connect her life and experiences to the events that were occurring in American history at that time.


Text Sources

Who was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough

This book is recommended for students ages nine through twelve, though it would be appropriate to read aloud to younger students as well. Who was Harriet Tubman is a wonderful story that gives students the history of this incredible woman. McDonough details Tubman’s life as a slave, then a worker of the Underground Railroad, and later as a nurse. The book gives a history of the time period in which Tubman lived, letting students understand the context of her story. McDonough has also written “Who was…” books about Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Anne Frank, and many other historical figures. This book, and author, are highly recommended for classroom learning.


Harriet Tubman by Kem Knapp Sawyer

This book gives students a first look at reading historical biographies. This book, also recommended for students ages nine through twelve, is very factual, though it includes interesting illustrations, photographs, and notes.  It includes a history of her life in slavery, but also of her incredible contributions to society after the war ended. This book is strongly recommended for students doing an assignment for their class.


Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling

 Freedom train will be loved by students of all ages, whether as a read-aloud or a solo read. Written as historical fiction story, students will become engrossed in the fascinating life led by Harriet Tubman. The story details her life as a life and discussed the conditions that she lives in her entire childhood and early adult years. While it does not focus a lot on the history of the country during this time period, it gives students a very real idea of what it would have been like to be working in the Underground Railroad. This real life story includes enough suspense to capture even reluctant readers.

 A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David A. Adlertubmangroupbybarnweb.jpg

This picture book is better suited for students of lower reading levels. Its beautiful illustrations in addition to short sentences detailing the important aspects of Tubman’s life give students are brief overview of the subject. Though it won’t give readers an incredibly detailed account of her life, it is perfect for students who are just beginning on the subject of slavery, and the civil war. Without overwhelming beginning readers with too many words and facts, it outlines this important historical figure’s life. Adler’s book is a great jumping off point for students.

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder (Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)

One of my favorite books as a child, Minty is a beautiful historical fiction book about the early life of Harriet Tubman. Coupled with gorgeous watercolor paintings by Pinkney, the story gives real feeling to young Harriet’s difficult life. Young readers will be entranced by her story, as she moves from working in the house to out in the fields, and they will be fascinated by Harriet’s father’s guidance on living in the wilderness. As Harriet plans her eventual escape from slavery, students will find themselves learning about the life the slaves led nearly 200 years ago.

 Web Sources


 America’s Story from America’s Library

A kid friendly website with information and graphics about many historical figures, including Harriet Tubman. Students can read the intro with basic facts, or they can explore deeper, depending on how far the teacher wants them to research. This site is easy to use and to navigate. Its bright colors and pictures will keep students entertained and focused as they research. None of the stories are particularly long, and they use appropriate vocabulary for elementary students. This website is funded by the Library of Congress.

 Harriet Tubman Biography

 This site is recommended to fourth through sixth grade students. A sidebar offers links to a biography, time-line, photos, and other resources concerning Harriet Tubman and the history of America during her life. This site gives a very factual and detailed account of her life. One fascinating aspect is the list of some of the people who Harriet helped escape from slavery. The site gives names of the rescued slaves as well as the dates of their escapes. Students have the option of looking at a brief outline, focusing on her family life, or learning about “Tubman’s civil war.” This is perfect for a research project; it is easy to read and to navigate.


The Underground Railroad

This interactive site gives students a chance to really be connected with the plight of escaping slaves. Set up similar to a “choose your own adventure book” students are able to choose where they want to go as the escape with Harriet Tubman. Small paragraphs, accompanied by photographs and illustrations, describe each scenario to the students. At one point, they must choose to approach a house, or to hide in the woods. Later, they must choose to cross an icy river or stay back and risked being exposed to slave hunters. As they “travel,” the site describes the cities and historical figures that they meet.

Harriet Tubman Biography: TFK Challenge

This site gives a short quiz about Harriet Tubman. In eight questions, the quiz covers the basics of Harriet’s life. This quiz could be used either before teaching the unit to see where students are, or after the unit as a quiz or a study device. Students have the opportunity to retake the quiz of they don’t get all the answers; they are shown which questions were answered incorrectly, but not given the correct answer so they can go back and try again.harriet-tubman-sarah-bradford_a.jpg

Pathways to Freedom

This is another interactive site perfect for students learning about Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad. This site takes students through the life of Harriet Tubman before she escapes from slavery. By scrolling over certain objects in the pictures, students learn more about her family life, and gather clues that will help when they try to escape.

Teacher Resources


Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

This website can be used after students read the story Minty. This site has about 6 activities recommended to use during and after the story is read. It suggests activities such as songs, map games, and interviews. Students will love these follow up activities because the story is so fascinating.

Lesson Plan: Harriet Tubman

This link will bring you to a full lesson plan created by Bruce Helgeson for fourth and fifth grade students.  It details a mini unit for teachers, including a background, objectives, references, and assessments. Teachers might not need to use all of the activities, or they may enjoy exploring all the different ideas for their students.

Harriet Tubman: printout/quiz

 This link brings teachers to a print out and questions for students. The printout gives students a short history of Harriet Tubman, explaining why she is an important historical figure. It is followed by comprehension questions, which teachers could give as a quiz or included with the printout. This is a perfect activity for students to practice their reading and comprehension skills. It could be used as a partner project as well.

 On the Road to Freedom: Lesson Plan

 This lesson plan gives suggestions of many books to read to the class for this unit. It also suggests many discussion questions and further exploration activities for students. After reading these books (or any other preferred books) students will use critical thinking to to explore ideas such as; what was the most important event in Harriet’s life? How did she feel when she heard that slavery was abolished?



Robert E. Lee


This blog provides teachers with a wealth of resources to draw from as they delve into the strategic brilliance and leadership of Robert E. Leea pivotal player in the Civil war. Children come face to face with E. Lee as they tackle the Civil War component of SOL USI.9d). As you journey through the realm of information that this website has to offer open your minds to the endless opportunities that you as a teacher have in teaching this content to your children in an exciting and fun way. Gone are the days where history has to be boring. It is all about how you present the information to your children.

Text Annotations

The Picture Book of Robert E. Lee by David Adler 51sqe0vmpal_sl500_aa300_.jpg

Through the use of great pictures this book presents the stories of war along with numerous quotes that will help its readers understand our history. It explains the Civil War so that it is easy for the kids to understand. Alder did a wonderful job of displaying the war and allowing children to understand the concept on a very neutral level while also outlining his life. In doing this he helps children really visualize the order of events.

Robert E. Lee: Brave Leader by Rae Bains 51b7wc6n1kl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa300_sh20_ou01_.jpg

This book traces the life of the highly respected Confederate general, with an emphasis on his difficult boyhood in Virginia. It presents the content in an interesting manner and encourages its readers to love history.

Promise Quilt by Candace Ransom 51st6dm25yl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa300_sh20_ou01_.jpg

This picture book is told from the point of view of a Virginia girl, Addie, during the Civil War. When her father leaves the family farm to be General Robert E. Lee’s guide, Addie finds ways to remember him–even when he does not return at the end of the war. The author’s note describes the issues of slavery and states’ rights that divided the northern and southern states and that led to the war.

Robert E. Lee, young Confederate (Childhood of famous Americans) by Helen Albee Monsell  books.jpeg

These classics have been praised by adults, parents and teachers alike. They bring the biography of Robert E. Lee to life in an inspiring, believing way, sweeping young children right into history.

Robert E. Lee: Southern Hero of the Civil War by Mona Kerby 9780894907821.gif

This biography describes the life of the famous Confederate general who fought for Virginia during the the Civil War. It provides children with all the information they need to know about this figure in a clear and concise manner.

Web Annotations

  1. Seize the Night– Is a website that provides background information on Robert E. Lee, and describes his accomplishments and ventures as a leader. It doesn't just provide information of Lee's leadership but the conspiracy theories of other leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and J.F. Kennedy as well as a wealth of information on other military leaders allowing discussions to be sparked on how Robert E. Lee's accomplishments compare to other  well renown military leaders.
  2. Video on Robert E.Lee– This video walks you through Robert E. Lee’s journey as a confederate. These are facts that our children need to know and so by displaying them in a visual and auditory context it helps children learn their history in a more exciting way.
  3. Powerpoint tutorials– This website walks children through the "how to" of creating a powerpoint. The idea behind this website is that you get your children to make their own powerpoint on the information that they have learned about Robert E. Lee in a learning style that helped them learn the content.
  4. Games– This website provides teachers with a variety of games that they can use to incorporate the information on Robert E. Lee. Learning history doesn't have to be boring when you can provide your children with all these games to play. Encourage them to create their own game to learn the content.
  5. Jeapardy game– By clicking on the icon, Government and Civil War, you will be taken to a jeopardy game that encompasses many social studies questions on a variety of topics including questions on Robert E. Lee. It is a fun way to test your children’s knowledge after the unit.

Additional Resources for teachers

  1. DVD on Robert E. Lee– Another way to make sure that your children are retaining information about important players in the civil war. This dvd could serve as a refresher after a lesson on Robert E. Lee and his role in the war. The biography traces the life and accomplishments of U.S. Civil War general Robert E. Lee – the son of Revolutionary War hero “Light Horse” Lee — who led the ailing Confederacy through a lengthy period of survival long after its last resources were seemingly tapped.
  2. Arlington National Cemetery– The Arlington National Cemetery if close to your school could be an excellent place to take your children for a field trip. The estate has a fascinating history that is tied to the families of George Washington, Robert E. Lee and events of the Civil War. But even if you cannot personally attend this site with your children you can point them in the direction of this website allowing them to explore their own history in a fun and interactive way.
  3. NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive– Provides archive information that were attached to Robert E. Lee's Confederate career.
  4. Robert E. Lee– provides a wealth of information from powerpoint presentations, to lesson plans and online games to help children interact with their confederate forefather in an interesting and fun way.
  5. Lesson plan– A well planned lesson that introduces Robert E. Lee and the pivotal role he played in the confederate war.
  6. Thinkquest– It provides a timeline, an all about Lee and Letters by Lee. It presents a wealth of information in a structured way for children to share with their friends.

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry was born in Hanover County, Virginia in 1736. He was a huge part of America's struggle from British rule to self-government.Patrick Henry was a lawyer, patriot, orator, and helped form every aspect of  founding of America. His most notable attribute was his speech in which he said, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

Books For Children


Written by Jesse Jarnow

This book features six chapters on Patrick Henry. It gives a brief overview of his life and gives a very detailed account of his Liberty speech.  I like that the book features a glossary and an index for children to use.


Written by David A. Adler and Illustrated by John and Alexandra Wallner

This book would appeal to younger readers. I liked the way that it told the story of Patrick Henry, but was illustrated in a cartoon like way. The pictures are very detailed and children would truly enjoy the artwork. There was an easy to follow timeline in the back of the book that the children would find helpful.


Written by Stuart Kallen

This book was by far the best for children because it was broken into many small parts. It would be a great resource for children who are writing a book report or just need a little more knowledge about Patrick Henry.


Written by Ann Heinrichs

This is a great resource for children. This book contains actual pictures of important documents like, The Constitution, and The Virginia and Kentucky Resolution.  This book also shows how Patrick Henry’s contributions directly helped

Patrick Henry

Written and Illustrated by Rod Espinosa

Espinosa takes a spin  on telling history. He tells Patrick Henry’s story by using a comic strip making Patrick Henry into a real0life super hero. I enjoyed his fun take on telling the story. I also liked that he included a map of the territories, timeline, and further reading sections in the back of the book.

Web Sites For Children

Liberty Kids

This site has a short biography of Patrick Henry and has some Revolutionary Games as well.

Listen to Patrick Henry’s Speech

Richard Schumann interprets the character of Patrick Henry for The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Listen as he re-creates Patrick Henry’s powerful words spoken March 23, 1775 at St. John’s Henrico Parish Church in Richmond.

Color Mr. Henry

This page takes children to an interactive coloring page.


This timeline outlines important dates during the Revolutionary War.

Revolutionary War

This page explains how the war got started and what Patrick Henry’s contributions were.

Resources For Teachers

American Revolution

Liberty Speech

Lesson Plan: Essay

Patrick Henry