Monthly Archive for August, 2009

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Millions to Measure


Millions to Measure, written by David M. Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg, is an interactive picture book that is sure to keep the attention of school-aged children as they go on a journey toward understanding measurment.

Summary: In this book, Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician takes four children on a journey to see how people measured many years ago and how measurement has evolved over time. The ways that people measured distance, size, weight, and volume were inefficient because there was not a constant source of measurement that could be applied to all people and things around the world. Eventually, standards of measurement were created so that everything could be measured using the same source of measurement. Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician introduces the way that people measure length, distance, weight and volume, as well as the differences between the metric system and standard English system.

“Many people believe that the United States will eventually join the rest of the world and measure only in the metric system. But you don’t have to wait until then, because you already know how!”

The usage and understanding of the metric system is promoted in this book, which is beneficial as the entire world becomes more scientifically and mathematically driven.

Curriculum Connections: This would be a great book for grade two studying SOL 2.1: Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic. Within this SOL students should understand the usage and terminology of both the metric and standard systems of measurement. This book could be used as an introduction to a lesson involving the observation and investigation of various items using the two systems of measurement. This will allow practice with the terminology and sources of measurement that will be used throughout the year during scientific activities and experiments.

 Additional Resources:

  • Create a Measuring Lab where you create separate areas for students to measure items for Distance, Weight, and Volume. Students can work in teams of two: one can measure and the other can record the measurement.

  • This worksheet asks students to record the temperature shown in the drawing of a given thermometer. They then are to draw a red line at a temperature of their choice and draw something that they would do at this temperature.

  • Interactive bulletin board idea: students are to find items that are one inch in length to be displayed on a bulletin board; the board will also display a question of the day and prize can be given to those students who answer correctly. There is also a corresponding worksheet for students to measure seven of their favorite items in their rooms.

  • This worksheet is based on the book Millions to Measure and allows students to use their own innovative source of measurement to measure various items. They are then asked how they would measure other various items using the units of measurement.

General Information:

Book: Millions to Measure

Author: David M. Schwartz

Illustrator: Steven Kellogg

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: 2003

Pages: 40

Grade Range: K-3 (ages 4-8)

ISBN: 0688129161

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Wow!: The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read about the Five Senses


Wow!: The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read about the Five Senses, written by Trudee Romanek and illustrated by Rose Cowles, is a non-fiction reader full of fun facts and lessons about the five senses that can be enjoyed by a wide range of elementary students. This is the seventh book in the “Mysterious You” series, which keeps kids entertained by including fun pictures and diagrams with simple kid-friendly experiments, and lots of facts scattered throughout it (perfect for children who don’t want to read a book from front to back in one sitting!) 

Wow! is split into seven sections, and explains how the brain works to help people experience sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. Each section includes an explanation of how the senses work, why they work that way, fun stories about a scientific experiment or invention based on a sense (e.g. a pair of talking glasses invented by a 15 year-old in 1998 to help the visually impaired), a “You Try It” experiment, and plenty more interesting facts. One fun fact mentions that a gourmet dinner shouldn’t be wasted on a chicken because “you have thousands of taste buds that let you taste food. The average chicken has just 24” (p. 21).  Finally, an important aspect of learning about the senses is how they all work together. The last section of the book describes that the senses are designed to compliment each other. “You combine the information from your senses every moment that you’re awake. Turn off the volume during a scary movie or close your eyes on a roller-coaster ride, and you might be surprised at the difference” (p. 38).

Curriculum Connections

This book might be hard for younger elementary students to read on their own, but it provides a lot of great information and experiments that teachers can share and use with the lower grades.  Wow! is a perfect book to keep on the bookshelves of upper-elementary classrooms because the material is easy for older children to flip through and stay interested in, and the “You Try It” experiments can fit well into lessons about scientific investigation. Specific SOLs that this book could correlate to include:

K.2 (a) five senses and corresponding sensing organs

1.1 The student will conduct investigations in which (a) differences in physical properties are observed using the senses; and (b) simple tools are used to enhances observations

2.1 The student will conduct investigations in which (a) observations is differentiated from personal interpretation, and conclusions are drawn based on observations

3.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which (a) predictions and observations are made

4.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which (b) hypotheses are formulated based on cause-and-effect relationships

Additional Resources

BrainPOP is an animated, curriculum-based website that offers student videos and activities for many standard-based lessons.  This interactive lesson includes the senses.

This word search can help with vocabulary words related to the senses.

The Five Senses Lab is a good science exploration for early elementary students to help better familiarize them with their own senses and how they can make the world around them seem more “real”.

General Information

  • Book: Wow!: The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read about the Five Senses
  • Author: Trudee Romanek
  • Illustrator: Rose Cowles
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2004
  • Grade Range: K – 6
  • ISBN-10: 1553376307
  • Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Millions to Measure


    Have you ever wondered how many human feet it takes to measure one foot? Or even pondered how many stones it would take to weigh a hog? From the literal sense of measuring one object one foot at a time to the meaning of the metric system today, Millions to Measure explains the history of the metric and system and how it works.  Written by David M. Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg, Millions to Measure brings the world of measurement to life with full color, mystery, and wonder. The illustrations help introduce and capture an excellent representation of distance/length, mass/weight, and volume.

    In the book, Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician takes children on a magical quest through time to discover the fantastic world of measurement.  Children learn that the metric system is based on “tens, hundreds, and thousands.”  Children are also shown that even a creature as small as an ant or a flea can be measured in millimeters. Millions to Measure proves to be a wonderful way to incorporate the metric system into a hidden world of magic.

    Curriculum Connections
    Millions to Measure includes a cleaver explanation of the metric system in a way that children can relate to and understand.  The book covers volume, distance, and weight.  Throughout the book, children are drawn in by the comic strips, vibrant colors, and action filled pages.  Millions to Measure may be used in a classroom setting to to incorporate the basic measurement system into  a lesson.  For example, children would be able to have a literal sense of terms such as feet and inches.  The book also includes a detailed history behind the meaning of measurement.  Millions to Measure is perfect for a classroom setting because it incorporates more than the average children’s readings.

    The SOL’s that most closely connect to Millions to Measure are:1.1-Length, mass, and volume are measured using standard and nonstandard units  2.1-Length, volume, mass and temperature measurements are made in metric units and standard English units 3.1 -Volume is measured to the milliliter and liter; length is measured to the nearest centimeter; mass is measured to the nearest gramThe reading covers a general basis for a traditional process skills lesson.  It averages in the range of grades by allowing the teacher to either focus on the metric system in terms of simple measurement, for example with stones, to an actual scale of measurement, for example a ruler.

    Additional Resources 

    • Measuring Marvels-This link includes a lesson plan based on the book Millions to Measure and also includes an activity sheet for students to complete (Student Activity Sheet).
    • Creating One-This website contains an activity book for not only a child’s learning , but also for their enjoyment as well.  It allows children to learn about the metric system in an enjoyable fashion.
    • Million metric system-This provides information for other materials relating to measurement that may be used in a classroom setting.  The information is updated weekly and provides an excellent outreach for similar activity books and materials.

    Book: Millions to Measure
    Author: David M. Schwartz
    Illustrator: Steven Kellogg
    Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher
    Publication Date: March 2003
    Pages: 40 pages
    Grade Range: 1-5
    ISBN: 978-0688129163

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Look! Look! Look!


    Look! Look! Look! written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace with Linda K. Friedlaender, is a fun, potentially interactive book that highlights creative methods of observation..  A simple picture viewed from the various perspectives of each mouse (Kiki, Kat, and Alexander) results in several different demonstrations of those observations through the use of colors, shapes, and creativity.

    Kiki, Kat, and Alexander, three curious mice, borrow a postcard of a portrait from the 1600’s that arrived for The Bigley’s.  They find all sorts of new things in the portrait by working together and listening to each others ideas.

    “Look through my viewing frame,” said Alexander. “Look at her hand!”
    “Look what I see!” said Kiki.  “Jewels!”
    “Look here!” said Kat.  “I see patterns.” (Wallace, p. 7-9).

    Alexander sees lines and shapes in the portrait and uses markers and an easel to draw them for Kiki and Kat.  Kiki and Kat both take turns adding to the drawing the different shapes they noticed themselves.  Using different shapes and lines to create the lady helped Kat to notice yet another way of creative the portrait.

    Kiki, Kat, and Alexander continue to find new ways to view and create the lady until The Bigley’s arrive back home and they have to return the postcard.

    The book has a wonderful illustrated glossary in the back that defines the concepts presented in the book, such as color, lines, patterns…etc.  It also includes instructions on how to create your own postcard which would be an excellent way to incorporated the book into a meaningful activity.

    Curriculum Connections
    This book and its possible related activities relate wonderfully to the K.1 SOL which states that, Students will conduct observations by (a) using direct observation, (b)  observations re made from various perspectives, (c) observations are described pictorially as well as verbally.

    Additional Resources

    • Nancy Elizabeth Wallace provides instructions on her website on how to create the viewing frame used in the story.  Students could create these, decorate them if preferred and then hold them up to things they find/observe in their own classroom.
    • The website teAchnology provides observation worksheets that help introduce the concept of observation.  This may be a good follow-up challenge to add an interactive activity to a lesson about observation.
    • This game helps kids learn how to recognize and complete patterns.  More games are available here.

    Book: Look! Look! Look!
    Author/Illustrator: Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
    Collaborator: Linda K. Friedlaender
    Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children
    Publication Date: March 2006
    Pages: 40 Pages
    Grade Range: K-2
    ISBN-13: 978-0-7614-5282-9

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: A Hunt For Clues


    A Hunt for Clues written by Anne Miranda and illustrated by Michele Noiset chronicles a young girl’s search for her her pet cat Puff.  The young girl, Mary Sue, solicits help from a boy named Burt and his dog True Blue who he claims “can hunt for clues.”  Mary Sue met Burt and True Blue in the park during her search for Puff, and the duo proved to be incredibly valuable.  True Blue used his sense of smell to sniff out clues about Puff’s whereabouts as Mary Sue and Burt identified each object and pieced together all the clues to find Puff.A Hunt for Clues can be used at the kindergarten level to aid in the student’s processing skills.  The student will have to follow the clues uncovered by True Blue, identify the objects, and attempt to understand why the found objects are important  to locating Puff’s whereabouts.

    Curriculum Connections
    A Hunt for Clues is connected to the K.1 Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic Standard of Learning that requires students to conduct investigations in which basic properties of objects are identified by direct observation.

    Additional Resources

    Book: A Hunt for Clues
    Author: Anne Miranda
    Illustrator: Michele Noiset
    Publisher: Modern Curriculum Press
    Publication Date: 1996
    Pages: 16
    Grade Range: Pre-Kindergarten-Kindergarten
    ISBN: 0-8136-2148-8

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Seven Blind Mice


    Students learning about their five senses for the first time will love Seven Blind Mice, written and illustrated by Ed Young.  This colorful picture book employs a simple storyline to show readers how important our senses are to our everyday lives.

    The story begins when seven blind mice are surprised to find a new object by their home.  One by one, the mice use their other senses in an attempt to identify this new object, and each mouse becomes convinced that he has solved the mystery correctly.  “One day,” Young writes, “seven blind mice were surprised to find a strange Something by their pond.  ‘What is it?’ they cried, and they all ran home.  On Monday, Red Mouse went first to find out.  ‘It’s a pillar,’ he said.  No one believed him.”  The text continues in a similar fashion until each mouse has guessed what this new Something is.  Only readers are able to tell why the mice have different opinions, but the wonderful illustrations do a great job of camoflauging the actual object (an elephant!) until the end of the story.

    Curriculum Connections
    Seven Blind Mice is a great book for initiating discussion about the five senses in a kindergarten classroom.    Children must stop and think about how being blind would affect their perception and must also consider the lesson on the last page of the book: “Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole.”  The mice learn that perception is dependent on many things, and students should think about how each of their senses allows them to learn different things about the world around them.  The book might be used to satisfy SOL K.2 by encouraging students to think about how using their senses can help them to identify objects in their environment.

    Additional Resources

    Book: Seven Blind Mice
    Author: Ed Young
    Illustrator: Ed Young
    Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
    Publication Date: June 2002
    Pages:  40
    Grade Range: K-3
    ISBN: 0698118952

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Great Graph Contest


    The Great Graph Contest written and illustrated by Loreen Leedy is a colorful children’s book that tells the story of a graph contest between two friends.  During the contest a salamander, Beezy, and a frog, Gonk, create different graphs using everday items such as cookies, bathing suits, and rocks while a third friend, Chester the snail, judges.  Each time one friend creates a graph, the other tries harder to make a better one.  Each graph is judged by creativity, correct math, and neatness showing children how everyday observations can be displayed as graphs.  At the end of the book there is a few pages that explain each how each graph was created as well as the type of graph.  The use of vivid pictures and unique items allow the children to see that making graphs can be fun and useful.

    Curriculum Connections
    This book is designed to work with students on both the introduction of graphs as well creating graphs from observed data.  This book can be introduced as young as Kindergarten to introduce tallying all the way up to 4th grade to explore more difficult graphs such as Venn Diagrams. It would be most appropriate for 1st and 2nd grade SOL’s:

    • 1.14: The student will investigate, identify, and describe various forms of data collection (e.g., recording daily temperature, lunch count, attendance, favorite ice cream), using tables, picture graphs, and object graphs.
    • 2.17: The student will use data from experiments to construct picture graphs, pictographs, and bar graphs.
    • 2.19: The student will analyze data displayed in picture graphs, pictographs, and bar graphs.

    Additional Resources

    • Kids AOL Homework Help  provides a few activities to help children understand how to use and read graphs.  It provides an audio lesson plan that explains how a student can use graphs to show how she is both like and unlike her classmates, as well as quiz that tests childrens ability to read graphs.
    • Scholastic  provides a lesson plan that can be used to introduce graphs to kindergarten students that can be altered to work with older students as needed.
    • 1st Grade Templates provides templates for excel worksheets that students can use to experiment with graphs andcan also be used as whole class activities to create graphs from observed data.

    Book: The Great Graph Contest
    Loreen Leedy
    Publisher: Holiday House
    Publication Date:
    September 2005
    Pages: 32 pages
    Grade Range: K-4
    ISBN-13: 978-0823417100

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition


    The Magic School Bus series, written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen’s, has been helping children learn about different spheres of education curriculum for years. This specific book, focusing on a science fair expedition, gives the students in wacky, Ms. Frizzle’s class different ideas for science fair project topics by studying the scientific method and famous scientists throughout the ages.

    This colorful and wild story, about a teacher who takes her students on crazy adventures, describes science as asking questions and testing ideas, as explored by studying and “interacting” with different, famous scientists throughout history. The students meet and learn about, through easily understood language conversations, the specific achievements and contributions of such scientists as Galileo, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, and Albert Einstein, and how they came to make such discoveries using the scientific process. By using specific famous examples, and relating them to the scientific method and scientific process skills, the students in the class were able to learn about scientific concepts, questions, and discoveries. The students begin their journey in a science museum exploring different topics for a science fair project and continue by traveling through the ages, meeting different scientific characters and finding out how and why they made their discoveries. Each page of the story offers side-information that is helpful for the students. For example, when the students meet and talk with Galileo, side assignments are shown, describing how Galileo was able to make his discoveries in relation to the basic ideas about science and the scientific method:

    ‘How Scientists Work’ by Keesha.

    They observe nature (Galileo looked at Jupiter).

    They gather evidence (Galileo saw that Jupiter moved and it had moons).

    They use logical thinking (Galileo connected the facts he had learned).

    The pages of this book are colorful and filled with illustrations that help students understand basic science concepts. Aside from the main storyline of the book, conversations and interactions between characters are offered which help students understand facts and ideas in a more simple dialogue. The “Gallery of Scientists” provides the basic premise of the book; teaching students that science is all about asking questions and testing ideas.

     Curriculum Connections
    This book is great for helping students understand the basic definitions of science and the scientific method, through the exploration of specific case studies and biographies of famous scientists. The students will learn to plan experiments, formulating hypothesis and drawing conclusions (SOL 3.1 (c)(j)), as well as making observations and predictions, based on cause-and-effect relationships (SOL 4.1 (a)(b))  This book is also an important resource for students to find ideas for science projects and research topics.

    Additional Resources

    • This quiz provides an interactive assessment to test children’s knowledge about the scientific method. The quiz compiles 10 different questions about the scientific method, with correct answers and detailed explanations given for each question.
    • This lesson plan is directed for grades 5-8, yet can be modified to fit younger grade levels. The lesson plan aims to teach students about the scientific method and different processes in science. Students will use their imaginations and creativity to role play the different parts to many of science’s life processes, using the specific steps of the scientific method, and then watch as other students in the class “perform” their specific process.
    • This activity/worksheet could be used as a single lesson, or as an ongoing research project/ book report for students learning about a specific scientist. The template provided helps children complete a “Bio of a Famous Scientist.” The students will choose a scientist and learn biographical information, such as why they were famous, how they made the world a better place, and a word to sum up the specific scientist.
    • This game is an interactive matching game. Students will match each square term of the scientific method with it’s correct definition.

    Book: The Magic School Bus and the Science Fair Expedition
    Author: Joanna Cole
    Illustrator: Bruce Degen
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Publication Date: 2006
    Pages: 48
    Grade Range: 2-4
    ISBN: 0-590-10824-7

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Hands Can


    Hands Can
    written by Cheryl Willis Hudson and photographs taken by John-Francis Bourke is a rhyming children’s book that teaches children to learn with a hands-on approach. This book uses bright and colorful photos of children using their own hands to do many different things from waving “to say hello” to touching “things high and low”. Every page is a different color with a different child in each photo showing the reader that hands can say “I love you” as well as “tie a shoe”.

    Curriculum Connection
    This book should be introduced at the kindergarten level when helping children understand their five senses and also when introducing the physical properties of an object. Teachers could introduce this book when discussing SOL’s K.2 and K.4.  This book is an excellent source for children to look at things that they can differentiate between textures using their senses.

    Additional Resources

    • Clapping Games – This website introduces teachers to a number of different songs that can be sang while the children learn to clap to the rhythm.
    • Healthy Hands – An effective website for teachers that want to teach their children how to wash their hands effectively.
    • Hands On – A website generated that helps teachers come up with different ideas on how to teach science which allows kids to be hands on.

    Book: Hands Can
    Author: Cheryl Willis Hudson
    Illustrator/Photographer: John-Francis Bourke
    Publisher: Candlewick Press
    Publication Date: 2003
    Pages: 26
    Grade Range: K-1
    ISBN: 0-7636-1667-2

    Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Rare Treasure


    Rare Treasure Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries written and illustrated by Don Brown is a brief biography of her life and a small window into the field of paleontology.

    The story begins by letting the reader know that Mary was born in 1799 to a very poor family living in an English port town.  Her father taught her and her brother how to look for fossils at the nearby beach.  A fascination that started as a hobby became her life’s work at the age of 20.  Although she was able to sell the treasures she found, she remained quite poor.  “In 1823, Mary discovered her first complete fossil of a plesiosaur…a nine-foot-long creature.”  She went on to make many more important discoveries before she died in 1847, at the age of 48.

    Curriculum ConnectionsRare Treasure Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries could be used as an introduction into the science of paleontology.  Students could learn about the simple tools used in her research (SOL 1.1b) and how and why their findings are arranged and classified (SOL 1.1c), utilizing measurement to the nearest centimeter (SOL 3.1e).  Building on that, students could learn how two or more attributes are used to classify their findings (SOL 2.1c), then, how the data from those findings are gathered, charted and graphed (SOL 3.1g). 

    Additional Resources:

    • “Smithsonian Education” offers a lesson plan, activity, and worksheet to help students understand how an archaeologist does his/her job, as well as how to make and record observations in this field of study.  This directly relates common practices between archaeologists and paleontologists.  
    • “Discovery Education” offers a lesson plan, activities, and worksheets to help students understand the concept of scientific theory through the examination of information and artifacts related to dinosaurs, and how evidence helps to support a scientific theory.  
    • This interactive website allows students to independently utilize the computer to reinforce their understanding of paleontology through a simulated dig site, general information, and videos of students working an actual dig site.  

    Book: Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries
    Author/Illustrator:  Don Brown
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    Publication Date:  2003
    Pages:  32 pages
    Grade Range:  K – 3

    ISBN: 9780618310814