Archive for the 'thematic book list' Category

The Sun for 1st Grade

These students will understand basic relationships between the sun and earth.  They will learn that the sun is the source of energy and light and that it warms the land, air, and water.  Students will also be able to identify in which direction the sun rises and sets.  (VA SOL 1.6)


The Sun: Our Nearest Star
By:  Franklyn M. Branley and Edward Miller

006445202601lzzzzzzz.jpg This is a great educational book for younger children.  The pictures keep children interested and the content within is simple and informative.  There is information on the sun’s distance as well as energy that it provides.

The Sun is My Favorite Star
By: Frank Asch

sunfavorite.jpg This book follows the sun throughout the course of the day.  The narrator discusses the sun’s location and mentions how shadows form.  This book is also good for young children because the content is simple and the narrator is a young child as well.

The Sun
By: Seymour Simon

sunseymoursimon.jpg The best part about this book is the pictures.  These amazing detailed images give students the real thing and it provides them with more of an appreciation for how amazing the sun is compared to a drawing.

Sun Up, Sun Down
By: Gail Gibbons

gail.jpg This is a very simple book that provides basic information.  I would recommend using this book at the beginning of the lesson due to its simplicity.

Done in the Sun: Solar Projects for Children
By: Anne Hillerman
Illustrated by Mina Yamashita

donesun.jpeg This book is different from the others because it contains hands on activities for students regarding solar energy.  It is neat because these experiments and activities in the book can be completed in the classroom or at home.

Web Annotations

Astronomy For Kids
This website has animations and games designed for students.  They will be able to see the sun in relationship to the earth and moon.

Energy From The Sun
This website contains three different activities that students can do in class with simple materials.

Jobs of the Sun
This link contains instructions on how to create a chart to show how the sun provides different uses for us as people.

Solar Hot Dog Cooker
This link provides pictures and instructions on how to use the suns energy to create a solar oven to cook hot dogs with.

Resources for Teachers

Graphing Sunspot Cycles
A lesson plan examining Sunspot cycles

Sun Books
Instructions on how to make flip books on the earth and sun

Sun Photos
Compare and contrast pictures of the sun over different periods of time

First Grade Addition and Subtraction

This resource set is geared toward teaching first grade addition and subtraction. Students can use various manipulatives and activities to help students understand the concepts of addition and subtraction and recall basic facts up to 10.

Text Annotations

1. Domino Addition Author: Lynette Long Illustrator: Gioia Fiammenghi

This book clearly enforces the concept of addition using dominoes. Teachers can guide the entire class or students can work individually to compute basic addition facts using the illustrated dominos.

2. Elevator Magic Author: Stuart J. Murphy Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

This book uses common daily activity to teach basic subtraction skills. The main character takes a ride on an elevator to various locations, and as he makes stops, teachers can work with students to compute subtraction equations.

3. The Hershey's Kisses Addition Book Author: Jerry Pallotta Illustrator: Rob Bolster
This children's book introduces simple addition concepts using Hershey kisses and miniature clowns.

4. Animals Onboard Author: Stuart J. Murphy Illustrator: R. W. Alley

This rhyming picture book tells a story including five simple addition problems that teachers can do with their students as they read aloud.

5.  A Collection for Kate Author: Barbara deRubertis Illustrator: Gioia Fiammenghi

Collection week at school has snuck up on Kate, and she has nothing ready to share with her classmates. She watches her classmates share their collections and counts their items in hopes that she can find enough of something to share. This is a great interactive story to read aloud to your students.

Web Annotations

1. Math is Fun: This website provides lesson reinforcement for both addition and subtraction. Students are provided with extra explanation on these mathematical concepts with this interactive website.

2. Cool Math 4 Kids: This website provides both lesson reinforcement and basic fact practice for students.

3. This website provides students with the opportunity to practice basic addition skills. Write how many worms are on two leaves, and how many together!

4. This website provides students with the opportunity to practice basic addition facts. The sumstacker game asks students to drag dies from stack to stack until the sums of each stack equal the sums given.

5. This fun game is sure to catch and keep students’ attention! Addition Eaters and Subtraction Eaters are two games where you eat the addition (or subtraction) problems if the sum (difference) is a given number.

Additional Resources
1. Popcorn Addition– Students match pieces of popcorn with addition equations to the popcorn box with the correct number. Great for centers!
2. Addition & Subtraction FIle Folder Game– Students match addition and subtraction equation feathers to the correctly numbered turkey. Great for centers!
3. Fact Family Activity– Interactive activity for students to explore fact families. Students cut out fact family roof pieces to glue on their houses and write the corresponding addition and subtraction equations on the house.
4. Breaking Numbers Apart– This introductory addition lesson introduces students to the beginning addition concept of breaking apart one number into two pieces to create equations.

Teaching Fractions: Second Grade

I have chosen Fractions for my Instructional Resource Set. The following books, websites, activities, and resources can all be used to help children better understand the concept of Fractions in the Second Grade.  The resources I’m listing below could be used with other grades, but my focus was based on the VA SOL 2.3 (identifying parts of a set/whole, writing fractions, and comparing the unit of fractions).

Text Annotations

Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta and Illustrated by Rob Bolster

Jerry Pallotta introduces fractions using descriptions of a variety of apples. This book focuses on part of a whole, and is an interesting way to look at how to cut up apples and relate it to fractions. Throughout the book these little elves dressed as people help slice up and explain the fraction process. The pictures are fantastic because it is a fun and interesting way for children to see fractions. The little elves work hard to show the readers how fractions can be viewed, and they also include the written out word (for example, one-half) as well as the number form (for example, 1/2). This will help students be able to see how fractions can be written.

The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Fractions Book by Jerry Pallotta and Illustrated by Rob Bolster

What child doesn’t love chocolate? This book introduces fractions using Hershey’s Chocolate bars. This book is also written by Jerry Pallotta, and the book is written and set up almost exactly like Apple Fractions. He uses little painters as the fraction helpers throughout this book. There is also a written form and number form of each fraction. This really is important, because students can see the different ways fractions can be written. The book starts with one whole (1/1) chocolate bar, then the painters unwrap the Hershey bar count the individual pieces of the Hershey bar (12/12), and explain how that is the same as one whole (1/1). The painters then work together by breaking the bar into different fractions.

Polar Bear Math by Ann Whitehead Nagda and Cindy Bickel

At the Denver Zoo two baby polar bears were raised by the staff. This book is interesting because you can read it as a story (reading the right-hand pages), or read it as a math lesson (reading the left-hand pages) and also including the story as well. For this project, we are using the book for the story and to see how fractions were used while raising the bears. The book uses charts and recipes for bear milk to teach about fractions. While reading this story, using fraction strips with your students could allow for an interactive story telling.

Piece = Part = Portion by Scott Gifford Photographs by Shmuel Thaler

Scott Gifford describes fractions, decimals, and percents as a different way to describe the same thing- a piece, part, or portion of a larger whole. For this project, it is important to focus just on the fraction (piece) part of this book. You could later use the same book to introduce the other aspects of this book.  There are great visuals throughout this book. The pictures that explain the fraction are objects that students will be familiar with (for example, one shoe is 1/2 of a pair, one egg is 1/12 of a dozen eggs, and 1 piece of gum is 1/5 of a pack of gum). This is a great book to introduce parts of a whole.

Fraction Action by Loreen Leedy

In this book you will find a hippo (Mrs. Prime) who introduces fractions to her classroom of animal students.  Mrs. Prime gives her class real life examples of fractions using art, food, and other common objects. For example, cutting a tuna sandwich in HALF, and a lemonade sale that is one fourth off! This is a great book for children to see real life situations where fractions are needed.

Web Annotations
Designer Fractions (once you are on the site, click on the Designer Fractions link) Here you will find a interactive activity for students to futher explore fractions. They are in charge and get to decide which answer is correct, and even design their very own fractional figure on a triangle grid. This activity works great with a smartboard!

Who Wants Pizza? Again, the students are in charge here. This website has interactive activity pages, getting more complicated as you go on. The students start with a basic introduction of fractions, and have the chance to quiz themselves and move onto the next activity, depending on how they did on the current activity.

Make a Match Help Melvin the wizard put his bottles of potion back in order by correctly matching the equivalent fractions on the bottles. One bottle has a picture representation of a fraction, and the other bottle has the written fraction.

The Fractionator A video that allows your students to discover how fractions work by watching the Fractionator’s apprentice divide a banana with his laser finger. Determine the number of cuts necessary to divide an object into thirds, fourths and fifths. Since it is a video you can make it interactive by making a long strips of yellow paper to represent a banana for each student in your classroom, and have your students make the cuts along with the Fractionator’s apprentice.

Fraction Fun An interactive website on which students can practice parts of a whole. The students are given a pie and the student has to try and come up with the correct fraction. Try and get 10 right!

Additional Resources
Fraction Shapes: A Patter Block Activity Here you will find different activities that causes students to think. The activities connect fractions, art, writing, and technology.

Fun with Fractions: Unit Plan This unit consists of five lessons designed to help the students understand fractions when they are represented as a part of a region.

To Half or Half Not A lesson plan that uses slices of bread and geoboards as manipulatives, students explore several ways to divide a rectangle in half. Students engage in an activity where they try to outsmart an alien from the planet of Fractional who is coming to their class to take one-half of their candy.

Farming and Gardening: A Vegetable Garden  A lesson plan that Explores fractions as parts of a set to plan a vegetable garden. Decide how many plots in a grid need to be assigned to each vegetable.


Shaking It Up: Earthquakes!

Even though we may not feel it, the ground beneath us is in almost constant motion.  There are hundreds of earthquakes each year; however, many are not felt or occur far away from civilization.  Tectonic plates move along fault lines creating earthquakes which in turn form the landscape of our planet.  This constant changing of the earth’s crust is examined in VA Science SOL 5.7.  Although earthquakes are often considered dangerous and scary events to be taken very seriously, the scientific concepts discussed in the materials that follow give students an insight into the earth in which they inhabit.

A Project Guide to Earthquakes
Written by Claire O’Neal

Inside A Project Guide to Earthquakes, you will find thirteen experiments that elementary aged students will enjoy.  This book is targeted for upper elementary students and guides their interests in the science of earthquakes through hands-on activities.  It is a newer book (10/2010) and would be a good resource for teachers to use as they explore geology in the classroom.

Earthquake Games
Written by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvador, Illustrated by Christina C. Blatt

This book is best used for upper elementary and middle school students.  Included in the book are many activities that engage the student in learning about the awesome power of earthquakes.  This is a great book to use for both earthquake and volcano experiments.  Activities presented in Earthquake Games need to be supervised by an adult, and adult assistance may be needed to decipher some of the confusing page layout.  Solid information on geology, earthquakes, and volcanoes is given in this book and the games, experiments, and activities really enhance students’ interest in these topics.

Hands-on Science Projects
Written by Chris Oxlade

This is yet another very practical, experiment laden book for teachers and students to learn about not only earthquakes but many other geological and meteorological phenomena.  With a target age range of 9-12 years-old, this collection of over 50 experiments gives students a great resource from which to activate their knowledge of these subjects.  By having students interact with the scientific concepts presented, the experiments and activities in this book help teachers reach the full range of learning styles.  Also, by preforming the projects themselves, students can take ownership in their learning.

Earthquakes with Max Axiom
Written by Katherine Krohn, Illustrated by Tod Smith and Al Milgrom

This graphic novel will draw students into scientific concepts with its action-packed drawings and fast-paced action.  Earthquakes is included in a series of graphic novels centered around the main character, Max Axiom.  Again targeted at upper elementary, this book gives plenty of statistics, important events, and interesting facts about the topic while still staying with it’s comic-book like style.  The Max Axiom series is a great resource for students who are below level, struggle with, or are uninterested in reading.

…If you Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake
Written by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Pat Grant Porter

  This book was written to give students insight into what life would have been like before, after, and during one of the largest earthquakes ever.  Along with wonderful illustrations for visual learners, this book can either be read aloud to students or students themselves can easily read and comprehend the content.  A great cross-curricular learning resource, this book encompasses science, sociology, history while building on reading skills.  Students are placed into the disaster through vivid linguistic imagery and given questions and answers that help children get a visualization of what it may have been like to be involved in the earthquake.

Earthquakes for Kids

This website is presented by the United States Geological Survey and contains links to student focused activities, games, and facts.  The site can be navigated by either teacher or student and contains resources for both as well.  Due to the amount of information contained within the links, this tool would be best used by having the teacher guide the student step-by-step through a process that would be most beneficial to the scope of learning.  However, the site can also be used by the student alone in spare time to explore areas of interest that may lead to furthering knowledge.

Weather Wiz Kids

Perfect website for older elementary students to navigate. Earthquake information, science, terminology, and images bring to life the concepts involved in earthquakes.  There are also plenty of other links to further information on each section so that students can get more in depth knowledge on a particular interest.  While the site is directed towards children, teachers can benefit from the lesson plan links offered at the bottom of the page and other topics linked on the left column.

Dragonfly TV

Dragonfly TV is a production of PBS Kids that is geared towards involving kids in the knowledge through videos, games, and other interactive resources.  This particular link leads the teacher and/or the student to a video in which two young girls discuss earthquakes where they live.  Along with factually laden information given by peers, this video shows the girls preforming actual science as well.  Although the video is a little lengthy for the classroom, the other links on the page will give teachers more great resources to interact students with the concept of earthquakes.

Earthquakes 101

A short video (about 2 1/2 minutes long), made by National Geographic (a well recognized institution) gives students vivid images and plenty of factual information.  Although the tone of the video is a bit serious and focuses on the severity and destructive nature of earthquakes, it is a good introduction to the concepts and science behind earthquakes.  The imagery shown in the video will enhance visual learners ability to grasp the geological concepts presented.

Kid Scoop Special Report: Earthquake in Haiti 

  This website gives students a current event experience with earthquakes.  There are several other resources on this site to accompany the actual story of what happened including ways kids can help raise money and awareness.  Hopefully the links and suggestions on this site will further a student’s knowledge, understanding, and questioning about the topic of earthquakes as well as the human condition/social awareness.

Plate Tectonics Activity

An interactive model of the different ways tectonic plates move, this will help students visualize the effects of earth movement.  By actually moving the the earth themselves, students are much more interactively involved in the scientific concept of plate tectonics.  Also, this activity gives students an idea of the spacial-relations involved with earthquakes by appealing to their senses of touch, sight, and using motor skills/hand-eye coordination.

Earthquake Legends Throughout the World 

From the California Department of Conservation, the California Geological Survey has put together a list of legends that explain the phenomena of earthquakes.  This multicultural list can be used as a cross-curricular tool tying the earth science unit of earthquakes and plate tectonics to the telling of legends and myths in the english department.  Also, there is the multicultural connection that can be made with students who have family connections to one or more of these legends.

California Real Time Earthquakes

What a cool resource!  This map shows a real time map of earthquakes in California, perhaps the most active state in the country.  Students can see the amount and frequency of earthquakes throughout the state and can click on the individual quake to find out more information about each specific occurrence.

Shaken! Earthquake Rocks Central Virginia

This report gives students a localized notion of earthquakes.  Although the information contained within the report is well above elementary level reading and comprehension, this resource is still a useful tool for teachers.  There are good maps for students to explore and some of the information will help to teach about plate tectonics.  By using information that is local to Virginia students, their interest will be piqued and perhaps students will develop more questions from which the teacher could build the learning process around.

Learning About Plants

 All the books listed below are great resources teachers and readers can use in and out of the classroom to learn about the different parts of a plant. In these books, not only can you find important information, but ideas for projects. These books will be great to use while teaching Virginia Science Standards of Learning 4.4 a, b,  and c.

Plants (Make it Work Science) by Andrew Haslam, Claire Watts and Alexandra Parsons. Photographed by Jon Barnes

The book Plants takes an in depth look at how plants work. The great photographs illustrate the different activities and experiments that you can do at home or at school. Each activity has a list of supplies (most which are readily available), and clear, direct directions. From working with seeds to observing fruit decay, there are many unique and creative activities that will help students understand the different parts of the plant and how they work. The book defines what it means to be a scientist, what is botany, and how scientists collect data. It encourages children to conduct experiments using the scientific methods as well as record all their data. It also includes home made game instructions.

A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston Illustrated by Sylvia Long

A Seed Is Sleepy is a great book for young students who are learning about plants and how they grow. The author uses adjectives  to help describe certain plant characteristics (A seed is secretive,  A seed is thirsty… and hungry) Simple statements like these are easy for students to understand and even make connections to. The author also describes difficult terms with easy simple explanations. The illustrations are detailed and interesting and all the plants and seeds are labeled. Both the book and illustrations  do a good job demonstrating the variety of seeds, their colors, their sizes, and even the plants they grow into.

The Science Book of How things Grow by Neil Ardley

Similar to Plants (Make It Work Science), this book offers students various activities and experiments to perform easily at home or school. It explains each step carefully with step by step photographs and uses readily available materials. Each experiment provides a bit of background knowledge, the experiment, as well as a short description relating the experiment  and connecting it to the real world. For example, the activity “Root Power” experiments with the strength of roots by growing marigold seeds in an eggshell (as the plant grows, the roots break the egg shell). The author includes a photograph and description of a tree breaking through a cement sidewalk. This is the type of detail that helps build deeper understanding.

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of  a Garden by George Levenson and photographs by Shmuel Thaler
“The pumpkin seed makes the pumpkin plant, and the pumpkin plant makes pumpkins.” This story follows the life of a pumpkin, detailing each aspect of its life. In this book the pictures do most of the talking. Kids can see the seed in the flesh of the pumpkin, seeds being eaten as a snack, different types of seeds side by side, a seed being planted, the sprouts, and finally the seed in the soil with the roots spreading through the earth. Levenson narrates in easy to read sentences. As the garden of pumpkins grows, kids can see the large pumpkin leaves, the flowers, and even the insects the live along side the pumpkins. The pumpkin is finally ready to be made into a jack-o-lantern. Students can watch it slowly decay and return to the earth. Included in the back pages are instructions to grow your own pumpkin. I recommend this book to all young scientists especially for English Language Learners.

A Fruit Is A Suitcase For A Seed by Jean Richards, illustrated by Anca Harington

This book is a great introduction to seeds, plants, and fruits. Jean Richards compares fruits and seeds to suitcases, the seed being what is inside each fruit/suitcase. Readers can learn about what seeds are, how they travel, and different examples of fruits and seeds. The book includes colorful watercolor illustrations of seeds, fruits, and animals. This is a great book for beginning readers because it is simple and easy to comprehend.

Great links for kids

The Great Plant Escape Match the clue with the part of the plant

How Does Your Garden Grow? become a virtual gardener

Plant Word Search Find each word on the list

Plant Parts Match the plant parts with the correct definition

The Life Cycle of Plants Review games/activities

Links and resources for teachers

Parts of a Plant worksheet

Plants in Motion Time lapse movie and activities

From Seed to Plant Lesson plan

Plants and Seeds Lesson plan

Native Gardening Comprehensive guide to local plants

Counting on Number Sense

 Number sense is an intuitive feel for numbers and their relationships. Since number sense is something that develops over time, it is imperative that teachers provide students with a variety of materials and resources. Literature is a great way to  provide many different experiences with numbers.

Virginia Mathematics Standards of Learning: K.1- K.5, 1.1-1.6

Let’s Count Goats by Mem Fox Illustrated by Jan Thomas

Let’s Count Goats a charming, silly book about- you guessed it- counting  goats. This is Mem Fox’s latest book, and if you have never read any of her books, you will instantly be drawn in by the the rhythm, rhyme and humor of this book. What is special about this book is that it has many layers. The most important is that you wont find any numerals! Mem designed this book to be interactive, allowing the readers to practice one to one correspondence by calling out each goat by number. The reader then has to count goats when directed by the story. Another interesting aspect is that that the number of goats isn’t sequential. While a page might have 6 goats, the next page might have one goat. For example:

“Here we see a show off goat playing on the bars. (1)
But can we count the ROWDY goats careering round in cars? (4)”

In every page of the story, you find goats doing silly things: goats playing trumpets, playing with their toys, eating, drinking, and even a goat going under while another is going over. Simple tasks or events that kids can relate to.

The illustrations compliment the story very well. The use of bold brilliant colors are very eye catching and attractive, while the silly expressions on each goat’s face just adds to the humor of the story.

Since Mem believes that children should be read to as babies and even before they are born, I recommend this book to any child, in or not yet in school. This book is not only useful as a number sense book but can also be used in language arts when exploring poetry, rhythm, and rhyme.

My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Bill Grossman creatively weaves a story about a little girl who eats and eats and eats! While performing in a magic show, this little sister eats all sorts of creatures and things! Grossman creatively reinforces number sense in his writing by using a cumulative poem structure.

My little sister ate 3 ants.
She even ate their underpants.
She ate 2 snakes. She ate 1 hare.
We thought she’d throw up then and there.
But she didn’t.

As children read, they recount all the things she ate. Though she seems to consume these creatures effortlessly, by the end of the book, she is faced with her most challenging plate yet: 10 peas!

Count Your Way Through Iran by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Books like these are great for developing number sense but also to introduce students to different cultures. On the left pages you will find the numeral, the Arabic numeral, and the pronunciation. Under the number you find a short paragraph that correlates the number in some way to an aspect of Iranian culture, from the Two Towers of Silence, to the musical instrument tar, which has six strings! The beautiful watercolor illustrations are on the right. As teachers, it is important to pick books that are diverse and interesting. I recommend this book, and the companion books in the series.

This book is part of a series of “Count Your Way Through…” books which include China, IndiaRussia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Korea, Israel, Ireland, Africa, Brazil, Afghanistan, just to name a few. They are all written by Jim Haskins (and co-author).


Mouse By Mouse: a Counting Adventure by Julia Noonan

“One mouse sits alone and blue. Her friend joins her, that makes two.” One by one these cute little mice get together to have a tea party, play, rescue little mouse 5 who is stuck in a soda bottle, go swimming, and finally after spending the day together, ten little mice  all go to sleep. The illustrations are animated and fun; kids can count the mice who have their numbers labeled on the front of their colorful dresses or shirts, which keeps the readers engaged! This book helps develop one-to-one correspondence and stable order.

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

“You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.” This is the big problem for one little girl. She discovers that once she starts, she can’t stop! From calculating how much time she has to get ready for school, to figuring out how many slices of pizza she should eat at lunch, she can’t seem to look at anything with out it becoming a math problem. She believes her math teacher, Ms. Fibonacci has put a MATH CURSE on her! Fractions, addition, multiplication, distance, time, measurement, and so much more, this book explores different mathematical concepts in a fun, silly way. The book is also interactive. The authors pose different unsolved math problems that the reader can solve themselves. The illustrations are creative, and unique.

We All Went on Safari: a Counting Journey Through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns

This book follows a group of Maasai people as they travel through Tanzania, exploring and counting different animals that they find along the way. On each page, you can find beautiful watercolor illustrations, a numeral and the equivalent number of animals, along with the written Swahili number. In the back of the book you find information about the Maasai people and culture, a list of the different animals explored, and a list of number written in Swahili, the pronunciation, and the English translation. Additionally, you find color dots that you can practice counting on. Also included in the back is information about the country of Tanzania and a map with all the surrounding countries.

Games to help students with number sense

Big Count Bayou Count all the bayou critters and match with the right number

Rock Hopper Help Rock Hopper jump to the large rock using a number of jumps

Billy Bug Help billy eat his food by taking him to the right spot by using coordinates

The Number Game Read the number word and find the corresponding numeral

Fishy Count Count how many fish

Links for teachers

BBC Number Time  Printable worksheets (addition/subtraction, number ladders, number sequence, writing numbers, number stories)

Climb The Ladder Number sense activity (includes instructions, and templates)

Second Grade Locker Room  Number sense activity ideas (includes domino place value, paper plate relay and place value game)

The 100th day of School Unit Plan Ideas (include 2 lesson plans and related materials and resources)

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a national holiday that recognizes and honors men and women who have served to protect America and its freedom.  Students in the third grade will learn the significance of this day and the implications of having a republican or representative form of government that work to uphold the peoples’ rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The following teacher and student resources can be used to support lessons for Veterans Day or VA SOL 3.11.

Books and Literature

The Veterans Day Visitor

This heartfelt and moving story about Veterans Day is told through the lens of Emily’s Pop-Pop who volunteers to speak to her class about this important holiday.

America's White Table

Through the symbolic white table, Katie begins to understand the depths of the sacrifice that her uncle made in the Armed Forces.

H is for Honor

This book gives you a glimpse of all the military branches and military life as it takes you through the alphabet.  This book will not only teach students about veterans day and those who serve in the military, but can also be used to help students in their writing.

The Impossible Patriotism Project

The Impossible Patriotism Project helps readers and listeners capture the meaning of patriotism.  It helps students to see who the real patriots are as we are taken through Caleb’s struggles in finding meaning in his father’s absence.

Pepper's Purple Heart

Pepper’s Purple Heart is about a dog who gets hit by a car while his owner and best friend are playing a game.  Claire’s neighbor takes care of Pepper and gives him the purple heart that he received as a Marine in the Vietnam War.  This fun and informative book will help students understand Veterans Day.

Student Resources

Fun Facts-This site offers cool facts on veterans.

Games and Activities– This site offers games and activities for students.

Trivia– Students can test their knowledge of Veterans Day through interactive puzzles and quizzes.

Research tools– This site provides links to games, coloring pages, and background information for students to explore.

Newsarticle– This is a online news article on Veterans Day for students.

Teacher Resources

History and Background– This site provides the history and background of Veterans Day for teachers.

Lesson Plans– Teachers can find lesson ideas and examples of lesson plans for Veterans Day.

Teacher’s Guide– This link provides you with a complete and comprehensive guide to facts and activities for Veterans Day.

Poster Gallery–  Teacher’s can use this site to encourage students to create Veterans Day posters.

Worksheets–  Teachers can find free worksheets and activity pages for students.

Teaching Map Skills

(VA Geography 2.5, 2.6)

–    2.5  The student will develop map skills by: a) locating the equator, the seven continents, and the five oceans on maps and globes; b) locating selected rivers (James River, Mississppi River, Rio Grande, Huang He, and the Nile River, mountain ranges (Appalachian Mountains and Rocky Mountains), and lakes (Greak Lakes) in the United States and other countries
–    2.6  Students will develop map skills by constructing simple maps using title, map legend, and compass rose. Students will also learn the importance of having these map skills and how the skills can be used every day.

Text Annotations:

1.    Maps and Globes by Jack Knowlton, Illustrated by Harriet Barton:

– “Maps and Globes” is a beginners book that introduces younger students to different maps. The book stresses the importance of maps as well as where various countries, deserts, oceans, and moutains are on a map. This is book is great starting point for teachers and parents to use when it comes time to inform your student or child about basic map skills.
2.    Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney, Illustrated by Annette Cable:

“Me on the Map” is another great introduction into map skills. The book begins with a young girl creating a map of her room, house, street etc as a way to introduce that same idea just within states, countries, and the world. Joan Sweeney does a great job comparing different things that young children can identify with, to the bigger picture aspect of understanding maps.
3.    Where Do I Live? by Neil Chesanow:

This book uses colorful illustrations and easy words to explain to children where they live. The author starts with a child’s room, their home, neighborhood, town, state, and country; then the author moves out to Earth, the solar system, and the Milky Way. Then, the child is drawn back to a page of questions about the reaser’s own street, town, state etc. Another great book that provides a different approach to the use of maps and globes.
4.    Follow That Map! by Scot Ritchie:

This book tells a story about Sally and her friends playing in her backyard when they notice that both her dog and cat are missing. Sally and her friends are determined to find them so they set off on a journey through their neighborhood, park, zoo and eventually through the country and around the world. A unique aspect of this book compared to others is that any map-related information appears in bold type to notify students of it’s importance.
5.    There's a Map on My Lap by Tish Rabe, Illustrated by Aristides Ruiz:

A Cat in the Hat book informing students about map skills. This book is a great way to keep the attention of students because of the way the information is presented. The book introduces readers to different kinds of cities and states as well as topography, temperature, and terrain. Also things such as symbols, scales, and compasses are addressed.

Web Annotations:

Assorted Resources

Pond and Marsh Ecosystems

This blog post is a combination of different resources regarding the VA Science SOL 3.6 and 4.5 on ecosystems, specifically ponds and wetlands (marshes). The lesson(s) regarding this material should cover the following: what is an ecosystem? what kind of plants and animals live in ponds and marshes? how would you describe a pond? a marsh (wetland)? how do these plants and animals rely on each other for survival? how do these two ecosystems compare to other ecosystems? These are just some questions that should be covered when teaching this topic.

Below I have included some books, kid-friendly websites, and helpful resources for teachers that are all about pond and marsh ecosystems!


Look Closer: Pond Life by Barbara Taylor


This book has wonderful, huge photographs and the text is broken up into sections; perfect for 3rd and 4th graders. It discusses all of the different pond wildlife. It also describes what ponds are, but the book definitely focuses on the animals who call a pond their home.

Around the Pond: The Wild Wonder Series by Ann Cooper
Illustrated by Dorothy Emerling


This book is definitely a good book to use when introducing ponds as one of the many ecosystems. “Around the Pond” features beautiful pictures of the different animals that inhabit ponds and Cooper holds the attention of the reader through the use of not only great artwork, but also a treasure map! Very well written and easy to understand. Great for 3rd and 4th graders.

Ponds: Biomes and Ecosystems (Science Readers) by Yvonne Franklin


This book discusses the importance of ponds and the difference between ponds and other bodies of water. Franklin talks about the different plant and animal life that can be found in ponds and different cycles that occur in this ecosystem. A great book for younger readers- grades K-3.

Marvels in the Muck: Life in Salt Marshes by Doug Wechsler


This book discusses marshes and the different plants and animals who live there. The photographs are amazing and the text is very easy to understand. Wechsler talks about how important this ecosystem is and how many plants and animals depend on it for survival. It definitely a more challenging book and is targeted for grades 4th-6th.

Marshes and Swamps by Gail Gibbons


This book is a very easy read and targeted for ages 4-8. “Marshes and Swamps” would be a good book to use as an introduction to the lesson. Gibbons discusses the relationships between the plants and animals that call marshes and swamps home and discusses different ways that these “wetlands” can be protected and preserved. The pictures are done in watercolor.


Science Up Close: Pond Ecosystem Podcast
This short podcast provides an overview for students about ponds and how the animals and plants that live there rely on each other for survival. This is definitely a good site to use when introducing the material.

Pond Explorer
This is a great interactive website that provides the student with a few activities and information about each of the animals that inhabit ponds. For teachers,  there is a very cool hands-on experiment that is provided on the website and teachers’ notes are provided on each page of the site.

Salt Marsh Life
This website is great for students and provides them with a bunch of information about the pond as a habitat for many plants and animals. There are great photographs and the text is very easy to read/understand. You can even find where to visit a salt marsh by looking up where they are around the country.

American Field Guide
This website consists of a bunch of video clips of marshes, ponds, and other ecosystems all around the country. Students can watch these clips to learn more about the plants and animals in each of these environments.

Wet and Wild Wetlands Webquest
This is a great webquest for grade 3 and up! The students will learn all about the four types of wetlands: bogs, marshes, prairie potholes, and swamps. Groups of four take on different roles for the task: zoologist, botanist, land surveyor, and animal activist. These teams investigate physical characteristics of the ecosystems, plants and animals who live in these ecosystems, etc. Each of the different specialists have different roles and try and answer the questions that are provided.


Young Scientist’s Introduction to Wetlands
This is a 15-page print-out “book” about wetlands. Very helpful for both students and teachers when learning about ecosystems. Answers the important questions of: what is a wetland? what are the different types of wetlands? why are wetlands important? who and what lives in a wetland?

A Busy Pond Mini Book
Teachers print out this activity and students color and cut to make a mini book all about ponds and the plants and animals that live there.

A Pond Ecosystem: An Activity of Exploration
This is a lesson plan created by a teacher regarding the pond ecosystem. Within the lesson plan are six different “sessions” which include a bunch of different interactive games and fun activities. There is so much to choose from and great ideas!

Creating a Pond Habitat
This website offers a great idea: building your own pond inside or outside! Students will definitely like it if they are able to see a pond for themselves, especially if it belongs to the class. The website provides great ideas for creating your own pond. If your school does not have the resources to install a small outdoor “pond,”you can always just set one up in the classroom.

Animal Life Cycles

This topic introduces second graders to the exciting changes that can occur in a butterfly and frog’s life cycles. Through numerous activities children are guided through the process known as Metamorphosis and given the opportunity to become engaged with the material. They are able to learn about and physically see how frogs and butterflies undergo these transformations as they mature and grow in their environments (VA Science SOL 2.4). The material encourages them to interact with the content and in doing so provides them with a better understanding of the content knowledge.

Text Annotations

  1. Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop butterflies.jpgNic Bishop’s non-fiction narrative provides readers with a realistic visual aide into the stages of butterfly metamorphosis. He helps children understand the transformations a caterpillar undergoes to becoming a butterfly. It is an interactive, hands on book that parents can use to explore the realms of animal life cycles.
  2. From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman from-cateroillar-to-butterfly-300×241.jpgThis book dives into the stages of butterfly metamorphosis from a child’s perspective by asking the question, ” Where did the caterpillar go?” Heiligman creatively takes her readers through the transformation processes by asking and answering commonly asked children’s questions.
  3. From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer 9780064451239.jpgThis book uses attractive artwork to describe the two-year life cycle of the American Bullfrog. As a Stage One book “From Tadpole to Frog”  it uses simple sentences and concepts that are appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, and young children up to about 8 or 9 years of age.
  4. Frogs by Nic Bishop23660346jpg.jpgBishop uses captivating close up photographs of his characters to entice children into the wonders of a frog’s life cycle. But his book takes children beyond the visual perspective of metamorphosis as he provides his readers with a detailed description about how he went about capturing the photographs. This book leaves children longing for more.
  5. My, Oh My– A Butterfly! All about Butterflies by Tish Rabe51thfdmznzl_sx500_.jpgYou can not go wrong with any Cat in the Hat book, but this Butterfly book is excellent. It keeps kids engaged and excited about the life cycle of a butterfly. It is a great read for young children. Who wouldn’t want to learn about the butterfly life cycle after reading this book.

Web Annotations

  1. The life cycle of a frog– This website presents children with a guided tutorial through a frog’s life cycle. It encompasses an auditory step by step explanation of each stage in the cycle along with a visual representation of each stage, and so entices children to want learn the content. Children can learn this exciting content and have fun doing it.
  2. Animal life-cycles- This interactive game asks children to organize the pictures on the screen by dragging and dropping them into the correct order sequence for each animallife cycle. Once a child has dragged a picture into the box a detailed description of the stage appears to help them understand what is happening. If they correctly place the butterfly pictures in order they move onto a frog, a flower and then a tree’s cycle. They are rewarded for learning the life cycle sequences with more exciting information.
  3. Butterfly crossword- When a child clicks on a cross word box a question appears. The child has to type in the correct answer that fits into the box. This activity allows a child to apply all the information they have learnt about a butterfly into a fun and interactive activity.
  4. Fantastic Frog- This game asks children 10 general knowledge multiple choice questions about frogs. By asking questions like,  “What is the name of the biggest frog,” this website teaches children that learning can be both fun and rewarding. It changes the way the children perceive having knowledge as they can now pass on the fun facts they have learnt about frogs.
  5. Incomplete and complete metamorphosis- By clicking on the butterfly icon on the screen children can watch a movie describing a butterfly’s life-cycle. The movie goes through a step by step process of the different stages in the life-cycle providing it viewers with real life pictures of each process.

Additional Resources for Teachers

  1. Life processes and living things– This website provides teachers with a wealth of material on life processes. From worksheets to powerpoints this website has it all. It doesn’t matter what type of learners your children are because after being involved with the resources that this website has to offer they will know and love the content.
  2. Butterfly life cycle activity in the classroom–  This website provides teachers with three step by step craft instructions. It provides teachers with fun and interactive activities and crafts that will allow their children to grasp the content of a butterfly life cycle but explore their creative sides as they do it.
  3. Exploring Butterflies– This website provides teachers with butterfly lesson plans, print outs on the life cycle of the butterfly for children to fill in and writing activities that will allow the children to have fun as they learn the process of metamorphosis. The range of activities offered encourage all children, regardless of their learning styles to jump in and have fun with the material.
  4. Animal Lifecycle lesson plan– This lesson plan helps children compare and contrast the life cycles on different animals ( one being a frog). Groups of children are asked to analyze and observe the animals stages of development by watching them grow in an aquarium.
  5. Life cycles of frogs, dragon flies and dragon flies– This lesson plan allows children to become fully integrated in the stages of metamorphosis. Children are exposed to the differences and similarities of various animal life cycles as they observe the development and maturation processes of insects and frogs. Students are engage in reading, video and hands on activities that allows them to grasp the content on animal life cycles.