Archive for the 'Virginia history' Category

Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States and the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. The Virginian was an integral part of the American Revolution (SOL VS.5b, USI.6c) and the establishment of the new American nation (SOL VS.6b). Jefferson was an advocate for liberty and his contributions can not only be seen in the aforementioned Declaration of Independence but also in the Virginia’s Statue for Religious Freedom. The resources listed below are helpful in the study of Thomas Jefferson and his contributions to our history.

 Book Resources for Teachers and Students:



Thomas Jefferson by Jacqueline Ching is great biography on the third President’s life. This book is filled with archival photographs and great facts about Thomas Jefferson to help introduce students to his life and important accomplishments. The book covers everything from Jefferson’s childhood to his involvement in the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. The pictures alone make this book a must read for students and adults studying Thomas Jefferson.



Did you know that Thomas Jefferson resigned as the governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary War? Thomas Jefferson by Carol H. Behrman and Martha Cosgrove contains great facts, like the one above, about the author of the Declaration of Independence. This 112 page hardcover is a comprehensive look into Jefferson’s life, having each chapter represent a theme and time within his lifetime. Many pages contain “It’s a Fact” boxes that contain uncommonly known facts at Thomas Jefferson. This book is great supplement in the study of one of our nation’s founding fathers.



 Thomas Jefferson by Cheryl Harness, published by the National Geographic Society, highlights the many sides of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s life and accomplishments are highlighted in this 48 page book. Quotations are embedded in the text along side mixed-media illustrations to help promote a full understanding of our third President. A few highlights are Jefferson’s part in the Revolutionary War and his controversial use of slaves. This book is a good introduction to the author of the Declaration of Independence.



 John Adams had to push Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. The Virginian refused at first, but then went on to author one of the most important documents in our nation’s history. Who was Thomas Jefferson?  by Dennis Fradin and illustrated by John O’Brien and Nancy Harrison investigates the life of Thomas Jefferson while providing interesting facts like the one above. The author does a great job covering Jefferson’s life, both personal and public. The book also provides a side-by-side time-line of Thomas Jefferson’s life and world history events of the time. Who was Thomas Jefferson is a great resource of information on the famous Virginian. 



 Thomas Jefferson: A Life of Patriotism by Ann-Marie Kishel is a great introduction for students on the life of Thomas Jefferson. Each page as an appropriate amount of text was well as good pictures to help in the understanding of Jefferson and his accomplishments. The author touches on the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and Jefferson’s Presidency and includes a important index of main concepts.This book would be great for independent reading and exploration of Thomas Jefferson.


Website Resources for Students:

Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence 

This website is a great resource for students studying Thomas Jefferson and the American Revolution. The website is broken up into sections relating to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolution. Sections are devoted to such aspects as the Graff House where Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson’s Constitution for the State of Virginia. Pictures and fast facts are provided in each section. The text may be slightly advanced but with teacher guidance this website can be a great resource of students .

A Day in the Life of Thomas Jefferson 

This site provides a great look into a typical day for Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Pictures of Monticello as well as pictures of some of Jefferson’s personal items such as his “traveling calculator” accompany information about Jefferson’s daily life. This website is great for independent discoveries as well as guided instruction.

Thomas Jefferson

 This website offers fun facts about our third President in a colorful, easy to read format. Facts include what pets Jefferson had as well as a list of all the offices Jefferson held. This site would be great for a fact hunt for students.

 Liberty Archive: Thomas Jefferson

The Liberty Archive: Thomas Jefferson is a kid-friendly site that provides quick, interesting facts about Thomas Jefferson. The site is colorful and has a fun feel to it. There are also links to John Adams and the Declaration of Independence. The site provides information on how Jefferson and Adams disagreed as to who would write the Declaration and why it was decided on Jefferson as the author.

 Thomas Jefferson: Student Encyclopedia

This site is a great information on Thomas Jefferson, his life, and his accomplishments (both public and private). The sight delivers small paragraphs of information at a time by letting the student push the next button when ready for the next paragraph of information. The information is segmented into themes of Jefferson’s life.

Additional Teacher Resources:

Thomas Jefferson

This educational website provides information on Thomas Jefferson as well as a list of resources. These resources include a Thomas Jefferson word scramble, a Jefferson worksheet, and Jefferson crossword puzzle. The last resource is a printable Thomas Jefferson multiple choice test.

Image Gallery: Thomas Jefferson

This Monticello in the Classroom website offers a range of images pertaining to Thomas Jefferson, his works, and Monticello.  Each image, once clicked on, has a description and facts underneath. An example of an image in this gallery is the original copy of the Declaration of Independence.

 Thomas Jefferson

This website, from the Us History site, includes great information on Thomas Jefferson as well as offers lesson plans and primary resources.  Each link to either the lesson plans or the primary resources have annotations that provide an overview of each link.

 President Thomas Jefferson

President Thomas Jefferson is explored through activities, lesson plans, and games in the great website for instructors. The site includes Jefferson coloring pages, a Jefferson time-line, as well as a Thomas Jefferson interactive word-find. This is site is a great place for teachers to get some ideas when teaching about our third President.

 PBS-Thomas Jefferson

This is a great educational website when studying Thomas Jefferson. The information may be a little advanced for elementary students, but for teachers this is an invaluable site. The site includes a link to teaching tips on Jefferson as well as student study sheets.

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

Patriotic Symbols

 America the Beautiful: Patriotic Symbols


This blog post provides several book reviews, websites that students can access, and additional teacher resources. The material that is found within the links provided can be used with grades ranging from kindergarten to third grade. The various stories and websites cover the material and concepts related to the Virginia standards of learning (VA SOL K.8, K.9, 1.11). Through these links students will generate an understanding of what a symbol is and be able to recognize symbols that are important to the United States of America. Students will also analyze the Pledge of Allegiance and understand why we recite it every morning in school.


The Bald Eagle (American Symbols)

The Bald Eagle

By: Norman Pearl and Illustrated by: Matthew Skeens

The bald eagle is one of the strongest symbols of freedom and strength of our nation. This book tells the story of how the eagle became an American symbol over 200 years ago. Children are invited to take a journey with Bill the bird keeper as he shows them how the bird lives and how it became a patriotic symbol of the United States.

L is for Libery

By: Wendy Cheyette Lewison and Illustrated by: Laura Freeman Hines

In this book, children will learn about a symbol that stands in the New York harbor. They will learn how the Statue of Liberty has welcomed people from near and far for centuries. This is a great book to read with younger children as it uses simple language and bold illustrations. Children will learn about the history and the freedom the Statue of Liberty stands for and how they can celebrate it.

Red, White, and Blue: The Story of the American Flag

By: John Herman and Illustrated by: Robin Roraback

This story traces children’s minds back to the very beginings of the American flag. Children will learn about who created the flag and how it came into being. Children will also be able to learn and observe the many changes that the flag has gone through over the years. Lastly, children will gain an understanding of the American flag and its importance as a symbol for our country.

The Pledge of Allegiance

By: Scholastic Inc.

This book illustrates the text of the Pledge of Allegiance through bold pictures of American landscapes, monuments, and flags. Children are educated on the meaning of the pledge, its history, and additional information about the American flag. Children will be able to gain a better understanding of the words they pledge every morning. At the end of the book, children are asked to reflect back on what they have learned and think about the question, “What do you feel when you say the Pledge of Allegiance?”

The Washington Monument

By: Kristin L. Nelson

This book introduces children to one of the most remarkable patriotic landmarks in our nation: the Washington Monument. Children will learn basic facts about the monument such as: how long it took to build, who was behind the planning of the monument, and what troubles the workers faced. Through fun text and captivating pictures, children are able to become consumed in the book after page 1. They will aslo find answers to other interesting questions such as: why the monument was built to honor George Washington, what the 50 flags that circle the monument stand for, and why the monument was built with two different colors of marble.

Web Sites for KIDS

Printable Symbols of the United States

This site provides children with a variety of different pictures of patriotic symbols of the United States. Children can pick from a wide range of pictures from the bald eagle to the Washington Monument. After clicking on the picture they wish to color, an enlarged picture will appear on the screen. The children use an interactice crayon where they are able to use a variety of colors to complete their picture. This site can be a great way for the students to test their knowledge of the American flag and its colors. After finishing their picture, if the students have access to a printer they will be able to print it out once they have finished.

America in Pictures Webquest

This webquest has been designed for first grade level students. The students are instructed that they will be making a four page picture book about American symbols. On each picture page there must be a picture and one sentence telling what the symbol is. Students are provided with various links to websites where they will discover more information about the Statue of Liberty, the American flag, Uncle Sam, and the Bald Eagle. After going to each of the websites, the students will have enough information to create their picture book. This webquest provides step by step instructions and examples of what they need to do along the way.

The American Bald Eagle

This site provides children with several other facts they may not have come across yet in learning about the bald eagle. The site introduces the students to the concept of endangered species. Children can also explore the topic of the bald eagle even more as they learn about where it gets its name, what the old English word means, where you can find bald eagles, and the general appearance of the bird. At the bottom of the page, children are presented with various printout pictures of bald eagles that they can color.

The Flag that inspired the National Anthem

At this site, children are exposed to brief summaries of information pertaining to the war, the flag, and the anthem. After each brief summary, the child will be prompted to answer a question about the information they just read. The child will answer a series of questions and will recieve a star for each correct answer. Their goal is to collect as many stars as they can.

US Army Corps of Engineers

Children can visit this site daily to check for live images of bald eagles. The company that runs the site has a live video camera that is placed in an area where eagles are constantly spotted. Live pictures are posted to the website, and many times people can see an eagle in the picture.

Teacher Resources

Construction Paper Flag

This link provides a first grade lesson plan that correlates with the VA SOL 1.11. During this lesson, students will learn vocabulary that is inidicative of American symbols. Students will learn the tradition of the Pledge of Allegiance and how to be patriotic by showing respect. Students will create the United States flag and generate a better understanding of the what stars and stripes stand for.

U.S. Symbols Unit Test (VA SOL 1.11)

This website provides a complete unit test for VA SOL 1.11. The test is 15 questions and in the style of multiple choice. Students will be tested on the various symbols pertaining to United States and the meaning behind each symbol along with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pledge of Allegiance Decoded

This site interprets the language in the Pledge of Allegiance. Some younger students may have trouble understanding words such as allegiance, indivisible, republic, nation, and justice. By going through the pledge word for word, the students will be able to do more than just recite the pledge; they will undrstanding the meaning of why they do.

Patriotic Symbols

This site provides teachers with information and pictures covering all of the patriotic symbols. Teachers can click on a certain symbol and they will be presented with pictures and facts pertaining to that symbol. After clicking on the symbol, there are also links provided at the bottom of the page for a quiz on the symbol, coloring sheets, or more related links.

James Madison

James Madison, a Virginian, was the fourth president of the United States and is known as the “father of the Constitution.” James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is named after him. The resources listed below would be helpful for students and teachers when studying the life and contributions of James Madison, which is part of VA SOL VS.6 (b).

Book Sources:

Below are some good books that can either be read to children, or that students can read on their own. These would be useful for supplemental information about James Madison. 

James Madison father Father of the Constitution: A Story about James Madison, by Barbara Mitchell.This book is part of the Creative Minds Biography collection, and follows James Madison’s life. It discusses his politics and beliefs in easy-to-read chapters. The book follows James Madison’s journey from the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and finally his terms as the fourth president of the United States.

Dolley Madison Saves History, by Roger Smalley. This book focuses on Dolley Madison and her relationship with husband James Madison, as well as her contributions to history. It is presented in a comic book type format, making it interesting and easy to follow for children. The illustrations are engaging and present an exciting story.

Fourth Pres James Madison: Our Fourth President, by Ann Graham Gaines.  This book discusses James Madison’s leadership and involvement in the writing of the Constitution. The information is presented in chapters with many illustrations and photographs, as well as a time line of events and a glossary.

Childhoods of the Presidents: James Madison, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. This book describes the early life of James Madison, including his family background, schooling, and life in Virginia. The story ends with his rise to become President. The book includes a glossary and a chronological outline of events.

James and Dolly A Picture Book   of Dolley and James Madison, by David A. Adler and Michael S. Adler. Illustrated by Ronald Himler.  This beautifully illustrated book describes James and Dolley Madison, both of their lives before meeting, their life together, and James Madison’s presidency. The end of the book includes a list of important dates, author’s notes, and source notes.

Web Sources for Students:

Below is a list of web sources that children can use to enhance their information and learning experience about James Madison. 

James Madison Timeline: This link, from Apples For the Teacher, allows students to quickly reference important dates relating to James Madison and his presidency. This could be useful if a student is working on a project or research paper about James Madison.

James Madison Coloring Pages: This link, also from Apples for the Teacher, includes several coloring and activity pages relating to James Madison.  There are also ideas on how to use these coloring pages for a literacy activity.

Montpelier: This is the website for Montpelier, which was James and Dolley Madison’s home. Students can go to this site to look at images and  learn about Madison’s home. This could provide great supplemental information for students wanting to explore deeper into the history of James Madison.

Liberty Archive on James Madison: This website, from Liberty Kids, allows children to select a president and view additional information. In addition to Presidents, there are a wide variety of topics students can select under the “who, what, and where” section of the website.

Encyclopedia Britannica:  From Encyclopedia Britannica’s website, this link offers a great deal of information about James Madison, including images. There is also an outline of Madison’s presidential cabinet, and suggestions for further reading.

Resources for Teachers: 

Below is a list of resources for teachers, which include lesson ideas and resources for additional information regarding James Madison. 

American Presidents Life Portraits: Here is a lesson idea about American Presidents.  This lesson allows students to learn about any U.S. President, and view video clips from C-SPAN’s American Presidents website. Students will learn about the duties of the President and his cabinet, and learn about current and past events of significance.

President Bingo: This lesson, from, would be great for a review of the U.S. Presidents.  Students play a game of Bingo, matching facts to the correct president.

Constitution Day Lesson Ideas: Here are several lesson plan ideas to discuss the Constitution.  Constitution Day is September 17, but these lessons would also be useful when discussing James Madison and his role in the creation of the Constitution. Included ideas are a read-aloud, creating a classroom Constitution, and a Reader’s Theater activity.

James Madison Lesson Idea: From Instructorweb. com, here is a lesson plan idea about James Madison.  This lesson focuses on reading comprehension, and offers a downloadable passage about James Madison for students to read, and then answer questions about. This would be a good way to integrate information about James Madison into a literacy activity.

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: Christopher Newport

  Captain Christopher Newport

Captain Christopher Newport (1561-1617) was a major figure is the Virginia Company’s voyage to the New World and the establishment of England’s first permanent settlement there. Previously, Captain Newport was a successful sailor with Sir Frances Drake, seized fortunes from the Spanish and Portuguese as a privateer for Queen Elizabeth I, where he lost his arm. As the Admiral of the voyage to establish Jamestown, Newport lead the three ships to the New World choosing the site to establish the settlement. He lead the initial explorations for King James, and established peaceful relations with Chief Powhatan. Newport then kept Jamestown alive during their crucial adjustment period, where all other settlers had died, out before by going on four resupply voyages. During the last of these missions, where the ship SeaVenture became shipwrecked in a hurricane in Bermuda, Newport arranged the 150 colonists on board to reconstruct two ships so they could continue on to provide Jamestown the much needed provisions.

Curriculum Connections
The study of the leader Captain Christopher Newport connects to Virginia Studies SOL VS.2 & 3,as he played an integral role in the establishment of Jamestown.

Literary Resources:

The Jamestown Journey

The Jamestown Journey by Bentley Boyd is an easy and captivating read for students in comic book style. Using humor and clever illustrations this graphic novel will engage even the most reluctant readers. This book highlights Christopher Newport’s adventures before leading the voyage to plant Jamestown, comparing him to a pirate! It also gives an overview of the reasons Jamestown was financed- to find gold, how John Smith never really married Pocahontas, and how the colony traded tobacco leaves in place of coins.

 The Adventures of Young Sam Collier

Surviving Jamestown: The Adventures of Sam Collier  written by Gail Langer Karkowski and illustrated by Paul Casale is a great historical fiction book who’s main character is the apprentice to John Smith. Following Sam’s adventures students can learn about the voyage to Jamestown, Captain Newport and his role in choosing and replenishing supplies for the settlement, and much more about the events that took place. This book also includes great full page pencil illustrations. As this book is appropriate for grades 5-7 it may be appropriate for a group of good readers who need a challenge, for less advanced readers this may be best presented as a group read aloud.

Captain Christopher Newport

Captain Christopher Newport by . Bryant Nichols, a great resource for all the facts and detail about Christopher Newport’s life including his early years as a sailor and a privateer, leading the initial Jamestown voyage and his heroic Sea Venture rescue. This book navigates all his adventures, showing how he was such and integral part of expanding the English empire not only to the New World but to Persia and India, as well as all over the world. As a true leader of men Christopher Newport is highlighted, as he is so often downplayed in Jamestown history.Excerpts of this book could be used to show more detail about the captain, bringing him more to life in the minds of the students.

The Story of Jamestown

The Story of Jamestown by Eric Braun is a good graphic novel on Jamestown giving a good overview of the topic. This book could be used at the beginning of the unit. The class could create a KWL chart and then read this book on their own to wet their appetites on what Jamestown was all about and what events took place. This book shows Captain Newport’s role in founding Jamestown which can be discussed  as you go more in depth in the unit.

Blood on the River

Blood on the River: Jamestown 1607  by Elisa Carbone  is another great historical fiction novel about Sam Collier the page assigned to Captain John Smith. His account of the events leading to the settlement of Jamestown and of its early struggle for survival accurately depict in great detail an overview of everything the students need to know. Captain Newport’s character, a voice of reason,is the leader of the voyage and choosing the site, and then later returning with provisions and a dose of sanity when everything seems to be going to pieces. This is great book for independent reading during language arts, a great way to expand the study of Jamestown across subjects.

Web Resources:

Interactive Jamestown fort map and the Powhatan village of Werowocomoco map.

From the National Geographic website, this interactive map is full of interesting facts about the colonists as well as the native indians. Kids can explore with a magnifying glass and then click on certain areas to learn more with videos and other resources that give more facts and details.

The Jamestown Adventure

Students get to be the captain of the Jamestown voyage by choosing the site of the settlement,who will be forced to do labor, what crops to plant, how to interact with the natives and more. At the end of the game they are scored on how well they did in several different criteria  with an explanation on what we know now, and what choices the Jamestown settlers made that cost them many lives.

 Jamestown Rags to Riches

This game allows students to answer multiple choice questions, seeing how far they can make it to 1,000,000, in Who Wants to be a Millionaire-style. This is a great quiz/test review game.

Jamestown 400: Explore Jamestown

Students can click on different tabs to explore aspects of the Jamestown Settlement each of which has audio telling them about the voyage, the James Fort, the Indian village, the Chesapeake bay. Featuring maps and visually attractive, interactive features, this is a great site for students to explore on their own.

Virtual Jamestown

This site includes tons of info on Jamestown including primary documents, virtual panoramas, and time lines. A great place to explore more in depth on what the town, structures and area was like, the sequence of events and what the official documents sounded like.

Additional Resources:

Historic Jamestowne, the archeological site that  is jointly administered by APVA Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service, provides lesson plan ideas for educators. These lesson, meant to be in conjunction with a tour of the site, are useful whether you make it in or not.

“You Shall Do Your Best Endeavor”

Students will read and interpret an original document instruction the settlers on what type of site they should choose for the colony. In small groups the students will read the document and then answer questions based on what they gleaned from it.

“Finding the James Fort”

The students will read original documents and discuss how archaeologists were able to find the exact location of the Jamestown Fort and why the exact location was left out on original maps of the area.

Lorri Glover Lecture on the Sea Venture

Clips can be shown of Lori Glover talking about Christopher Newport’s role in saving the shipwrecked Sea Venture, delivering the goods to the colonists who may have died out with out these provisions.

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Promise Quilt


The Promise Quilt, written by Candice F. Ransom and illustrated by Ellen Beier, takes place in the rural South during the Civil War. When Addie loses her father to the war, her mother stuggles to feed the family and Addie’s dreams of attending school have to be put on hold. When the war was over, the school had no money to purchase books for the children and was going to close down. Addie’s mother has a brilliant idea to earn money: she stitches a quilt to auction off for money in town. There is one problem: there is not enough material to finish the quilt. Addie makes the difficult decision to  surrender her father’s red shirt that she loves to the quilt. Although she lost her beloved memory of her father, she was able to afford to get books for the school.

Curriculum Connections
This story is a good introduction to the idea of making decisions and the opportunity cost associated with choice. There is also an example of using money in smart ways. Addie finds one of her father’s silver coins and instead of spending it carelessly or saving it as a memory she chooses to buy seed that will feed her family. Addie learns the lesson that she can’t have everything she wants.
SOLs: K.7,  1.8,  2.9

Additional Resources
Incorporate this story in a math lesson!

Book: The Promise Quilt
Candice F. Ransom
Ellen Beier
Walker & Company
Publication Date:
Grade Range:

Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: This Land is Your Land


“This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York island, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”

Every child in the United States should know this time honored folk song by Woody Guthrie. Put to paintings by Kathy Jakobsen and with a forward by Pete Seeger, This Land is Your Land can be used to introduce all ages to topics in US History, Geography, and Economics. Jakobsen depicts the land and livelihoods of people all over the United States. Landscapes, cityscapes and landmarks are conveniently captioned and quotes from Guthrie and other famous poems and people about important US events and hardships are included on each page. This book also includes a 3 page fold-out picture map of the United States which depicts people all over the country and their cultures.

Appropriate at any age, this book is a wonderful addition to the classroom. Younger children will appreciate the sing-song fluidity of the words and will learn about the US and it’s people and places without even knowing it. In the last few pages, Pete Seeger pays tribute to Woody Guthrie and includes a short biography with pictures of Guthrie and his life and quotes from his songs. For this reason, this book can be used for older grades and ages as an author study. This book also touches on more complex world issues such as economy, class, and race which are important issues discussed in upper grades. This book is quick, easy to read, and versatile; it can be incorporated into any social science lesson!

“This world is your world and my world. Take it easy, but take it.”

Curriculum Connections

This classic picture book would be suitable for any age but relates specifically to the kindergarten and first grade students Standards of Learning as an introduction to geography. For kindergarten, this book provides a basic introduction to basic map skills and land masses as well as people in real life situations. For first grade, this book can be used to reinforce map skills and land masses and can be used as an introduction to diverse cultures and lifestyles and the location of landmarks and states.

Virginia Kindergarten Standards of Learning: Geography: K.3, K.4, K.5; Virginia First Grade Standards of Learning: Geography: 1.6.

Additional Resources

  • The Official Woody Guthrie website– features information about the author, lyrics to his songs, and original artwork. Site also includes information about events and exhibits as well as a “Teacher’s Curriculum” tab with graphic organizers and curriculum ideas for elementary and high school subjects.
  • National Institutes of Health, Department of Health & Human Services kids pages– feature the lyrics and a sound clip of the whole song “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. Play the song while you read or let the children listen to the song afterwards to reinforce geography learned from the book.
  • USA Geography- Interactive Maps – provides links to interactive maps that include state names, state capitals, and US landscapes. Some of the vocabulary may be a little harder for younger children, without an adult to help, but this source would be essential in mapping out Guthrie’s song and some of the landmarks from the book.
  • A landform activity -would be a wonderful corresponding activity if the vocabulary is discussed before the book is read and examples of each are pointed out while reading.

General Information

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: O is for Old Dominion


O is for Old Dominion was written by Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrated by Troy Howell. This book is an excellent resource for teachers that are introducing children to Virginia’s history. Pamela Duncan Edwards does an extraordinary job discussing everything from the Arlington National Cemetery to the magnificent Monticello to Zachary Taylor. She discusses Virginia history in a simple alphabetical manner that even the youngest of readers can understand. Troy Howell also does an excellent job painting Virginia’s history in a vivid and lifelike manner. The child will turn each page to discover something new and exciting about the great state of Virginia. Pamela Duncan Edward also includes an easy to read yet challenging quiz at the end of the alphabet.

Curriculum Connection
Teachers that are introducing students to Virginia history in the first grade (VA SOL History 1.2) would use this book as an excellent reference to the many great individuals that were born in the great state of Virginia. When children are discussing the social and economic contributions (VA SOL VS.9d) of many great Virginians, this book could be used as an excellent resource for finding out more information on these individuals.

Additional Resources

  • Virginia Trivia Quiz is an interesting and fun trivia game asking children questions about Virginia in a very user-friendly manner.
  • Battleship is simple yet challenging game of Battleship where when the child guesses the right square then they must answer a question about Virginia history to receive an official “hit”.
  • Matching is a simple game that challenges the students to guess the right definitions of Virginia terms.


Book: O is for Old Dominion
Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrator: Troy Howell
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 36
Grade Range: 1-5
ISBN-10: 1585361615
ISBN-13: 978-1585361618

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: The Story of Jamestown


The Story of Jamestown is a great “comic book” style book on the settling of Jamestown. It is written by Eric Braun and illustrated by Steve Erwin, Keith Williams and Charles Barnett III. The illustrations are wonderful which rich colors and  full of action; sure to keep students’ attention!

It’s divided into four chapters; In Honor of Our King, John Smith and the Indians, A Struggle to Survive, and The End of Jamestown. Each scene has a caption explaining what is going on such as “Smith found tribes along the James River willing to trade. He quickly learned some of their language.” Along with the description there are call-outs showing the characters speaking.

In the back of the book there is a glossary, index, and list of Internet sites and more books on Jamestown.

Curriculum Connections: This book could be used as a fun introduction to the unit on Jamestown. VS.3. Students would also like to read this on their own so it would be a good book for the class library. It talks about reasons for English colonization, describes hardships faced by settlers of Jamestown, and interactions between English settlers and the native peoples including the contributions of Powhatan to the survival of the settlers.

Additional Resources:

  • Virtual Jamestown has a bunch of lesson plans. It also has interactive maps!

  • This National Geographic website has a great video for kids. The video also displays what the narrator is saying so it is a good opportunity for help with fluency.

  • This website allows students to make decisions on colonizing America.

  • Here you can set up a possible field trip to Jamestown.

General Information
Book: The Story of Jamestown
Author: Eric Braun
Illustrators: Steven Erwin, Keith Williams and Charles Barnett III
Publisher: Capstone Press
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 32
Grade range: 3-5
ISBN: 9780736862103

Teaching History with Children’s Literature: …If You Lived in WILLIAMSBURG in COLONIAL DAYS



…If You Lived in WILLIAMSBURG in COLONIAL DAYS by Barbara Brenner is an informational book which describes the everyday life of colonists living in Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.   This story is set up in a Question and Answer format, beginning with an introduction.  While this book could be read straight through, it has a table of contents at the beginning listing the highlighted questions in the book, so that if a child wanted the answer to a question without having to read the entire book, they could easily find the answer.  Each page has a question about colonial life in Williamsburg at the top, and a page or two of description answering the question and describing life in the colony.  The questions are very accessible, and can help children relate to the colonists, by asking questions like “Did girls and boys learn the same things?” to help them see the differences between today’s experiences and the children of Colonial Williamsburg.  The book also asks questions highlighting important facts and vocabulary, such as:

“Who shopped in Market Square?  Housewives came to buy groceries.  Slaves came to shop for their masters.  Sometimes, a few Pamunkey Indians would show up with pottery to sell… Occasionally black people were brought to Market Square for a terricle reason – to be sold at auction as if they were horses or cows.  Inagine how you would have felt, seeing your father or moher bought by a stranger.  You would have known that you were likely to be separated from your family, perhaps forever.”

Curriculum Connections:

This book can be used to support Virginia Studies SOL VS.4e, as it helps to describe colonial life in Virginia.  By showing some of the colonial norms, such as the clothes the colonists wore, where they lived, and the types of food they grew and ate, students can begin to see the differences between life then and life now.

Additional Resources:

Library Thinkquest provides a variety of online games and activities for children to explore Colonial times further.

The Colonial Williamsburg website provides games, activities, as well as information for parents and teachers about visiting Williamsburg.

PBS provides a lesson idea that helps students “translate” Colonial English to Modern Day English to help them understand the differences between the two languages.

General Information:
Author:  Barbara Brenner
Illustrator:  Jenny Williams
Grade Range:  4-6
Pages:  80
Publisher:  Scholastic Paperbacks
Publication Date:  October 1, 2000
ISBN-13:  978-0590929226