Monthly Archive for September, 2010

Economics: Needs and Wants

Everyone has wants.  However, students need to realize that people can not have everything they want.   Choices have to be made.  Some choices are made based on our basic needs, which include food, clothing, and shelter.  The following books are intended to be used in a kindergarten or first grade classroom. (SOL K.7a, 1.8)

Text annotation:

The Bag I'm Taking to Grandma's

The Bag I’m Taking to Grandma’s written by Shirley Neitzel and illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker is one of the best books I read that illustrates the difference between needs and wants.  In this story a young boy is packing his bag to spend the night with his grandmother.  He packs so many of his favorite toys that the bag breaks when his mother picks it up.  While trying to sort through all the items the boy has packed the mother asks “Is this flashlight something you really need?”  She also tells him that he needs to “choose one car. You can’t take them all.”  Students should easily relate to this story as most have probably had to pack a bag for a vacation or sleepover.  The story is written and illustrated so that while reading the text a picture is inserted to represent the word, allowing non readers to follow along and participate.

A Chair for my mother

The book A Chair for My Mother written by Vera B. Williams is full of economic lessons.  The story is told by a young girl that lives with her mother and grandmother.  After a fire destroyed everything they had, neighbors donated many items to help refurbish their new apartment.  Even after the generosity of the neighbors, the family still lacked a comfortable chair to sit in and the money to buy one.  The family works together to collect and save their change in a jar until it is full enough to go buy a new chair.

How much is that doggie in the window?

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?, based on the words and music of Bob Merrill, is a story retold and illustrated by Iza Trapani.  The story starts with a young boy who hopes to buy a dog.  Unfortunately, he does not have enough money.  He decides to sell lemonade to earn enough money for the dog.  However, it rains and he does not sell any.  Then his younger sister gets hurt and to help her feel better he buys her a frozen yogurt.  He then proceeds to buy something for his mother and father that he thinks they need.  That is why a week later he has even less money than he started with.  He is saddened when he goes to the pet shop to visit the dog only to find that it has been sold.  When he gets home there is a surprise waiting for him.

if you give a pig a pancake

The story If You Give a Pig A Pancake by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond is more about wants then needs.  In this cleverly written story “If you give a pig a pancake, she’ll want some syrup to go with it,” is just the start of many things the pig will want. This story circles around from the beginning of wanting syrup, a bath with bubbles, and many other things to building a tree house and finally wanting pancakes with syrup at the end. The pictures are colorful and depict the chaos that follows the pig and all her wants.

jam & jelly by holly & nellie

Jam & Jelly by Holly & Nellie is a heartwarming story written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen.  Holly and her family live in northern Michigan “where the winter wind lays hold of you and the snow falls until everything is like a sheet of white paper.”  Holly’s mother, Nellie, realizes that Holly will need a new winter coat.  If Holly does not get a coat, then she will have to stay inside all winter and miss school.  Holly and her mother work hard all summer picking wild strawberries, Juneberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries to make jams and jellies to sell on the side of the road.  Winter comes and Holly gets a coat, but what keeps her the warmest is all the pleasant memories from the summer.  The illustrations are wonderfully done with vibrant colors and realistic people and countryside scenes.

Web sites:

The Council for Economic Education has a few lessons and interactive tools for k-3.  At the bottom of the lesson titled “Toys for Me: A Lesson in Choice, in the Resources section, is an interactive game called Health Wants vs. Fun Wants.  The student will determine if items such as water, a bike, medicine, a kite, a house, and a doll are health wants or fun wants by clicking and dragging the items to the appropriate box. (SOL K.7a)

Most schools have a subscription to Kidspiration, if not then there is a 30 day free trial period.  Within the Social Studies section, there is a graphic organizer where students can click and drag different pictures to put in the “needs” and “wants” boxes. (SOL K.7a)Kidspiration Wants and Needs activity.

Students that have a  Webkinz account may not realize it but they are making decisions based on needs and wants when they play.  Once you adopt your pet, you are given a room (shelter) for them.  You are then responsible for earning KinzCash to buy items for your pet.  If you do not feed it and take it to the vet occasionally, then it gets very sick.  With your KinzCash you may purchase clothes, toys and items for the house. (SOL K.7)

Suffolk Teaching Activities & Resources (STAR) website has two interactive games for students.  The first one is the “Wants and Needs Sort,” a game created in Excel.  The second game is “Wants and Needs,” an interactive Power Point activity.  This second game may be best done as a class.

Teacher resources:

The Council for Economic Education has a few lessons and interactive tools for teaching economics in the k-3 classroom.   In the lesson “Toys for Me: A Lesson in Choice”  there is a story poem that can be read to the class and discussion questions to go along with it.  The poem is about a girl named Scarcity who wants many things.  Her mother tells her that she must choose one because it is “this OR that” not “this AND that.”  If Scarcity can not choose one or the other then she will get nothing.  The lessons on this site cover SOL’s K.7, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, and 2.9.

Suffolk Teaching Activities & Resources (STAR) website has several lessons and activities for SOL K.7.  It is also a great resource for just about any SOL.

Putting lesson content to song is a good way to reach many students.  The Kid’s Econ Poster site has two songs about wants (SOL k.7a).  The first one is called Be Careful of what you want and the other is the Wanting Song.”  These songs are sung to the tune of familiar children songs.  There are many other songs on this site that tackle other economic lessons.

The Junior Achievement organization has a fantastic program designed for first graders that covers several economic concepts and map skills (K.5, K. 6, K.7, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9).  A business professional would come into the classroom for 30 minutes for five weeks to cover the content.

  • Books

To find books that correlate to the lesson topic there are two sites that are helpful.  The first is from Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences and it will list the top five books for your economic topic.  The other site is called Connections: Connecting books to the Virginia SOLs.  

Jackie Robinson


As the first African-American player in the major leagues of baseball, Jackie’s actions helped to bring about other opportunities for African-Americans.  (SOL 2.11)  The resources given below will help a 2nd grade student learn about the life and times of Jackie Robinson.  There are sources that highlight his career and its milestones, and others that focus on what Jackie Robinson meant to the civil rights movement.  Through his accomplishments on the field and his strides to improve the lives of African-Americans in all walks of life, Jackie Robinson can be seen through these resources to be a very influential individual in American history.

Scholastic News Video
This video takes place on Jackie Robinson Day at Citi Field in New York and is an event for children.  There are several interviews in which children learn about Jackie’s contribution to not only baseball but civil rights as a whole.  People who are interviewed give their views on Jackie Robinson as a person and enunciate the ways in which he influenced others.

Jackie Robinson Game Footage
This video gives students a primary source of Jackie Robinson’s game-day exploits.  Along with seeing his prowess as a baseball player, there is also a song that regales Jackie’s accomplishments and shows his influence into popular culture.  Students will have a better understanding of the time period Jackie Robinson lived in and what the atmosphere of a baseball game was like during that era.

Jackie Robinson Biography
This biographical site gives kids a ton of information about Jackie Robinson’s career and firsts as an African-American baseball player.  There is a timeline on which his career highlights are put in chronological order.  There is another timeline that enumerates special events in the life of Jackie Robinson.  There are also links near the top of the page to a photo gallery and a video of Jackie Robinson’s last public appearance.

Jackie Robinson At Bat Craft
Crayola provides directions at this site on how to build a three dimensional paper replica of Jackie Robinson.  Included in the craft are several aspects of the time period surrounding Jackie Robinson’s baseball playing days.  This craft is meant to be a commemoration of the first African-American to play professional baseball.

Jackie Robinson on Britannica Kids
Here, Jackie Robinson’s life and career are laid out as an encyclopedia entry.  Facts are given that begin with his birth date and place and continue through to his death.  Included are facts about his playing career and contributions to society based on his work for civil rights.  An extremely helpful aspect of this web page is an interactive dictionary provided by Merriam-Webster.  if a child does not understand or recognize a word used in the encyclopedia entry, double-clicking on the word will open a small window in which the word is defined as in a dictionary.

Testing the Ice
Written by Sharon Robinson and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This true life story is written by Jackie Robinson’s daughter and includes paintings to enhance the action of the book.  Upon retirement, Jackie Robinson moves his family to Connecticut where his children play with other kids in and around the nearby lake.  Jackie curiously does not go near the lake because, unbeknownst to his family, he does not know how to swim.  After making the rule that the children cannot go onto the frozen lake in the winter without having an adult first check its stability he finds himself faced with a dilemma.  He musters up his courage and, as a metaphor to his career, Jackie walks out to the middle of the frozen pond and okays it for the children.


Time For Kids
Written by Editors of Time for Kids and Denise Lewis Patrick
This reading offers a detailed biography of the first African-American baseball player to play professional baseball, describing the hardships and racial barriers he had to overcome to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  This is an easy read to older kids and gives great information when read to younger children.  The text informs readers about complex issues, such as segregation, while remaining relevant to grades 2-4.  Also included in this reading are pictures from the Time-Life collection that depict Jackie Robinson’s career.

Time For Kids Website
As an add on to the above reading, this website gives teachers an additional resource to pull activities from.  Included in this site are open ended questions, vocabulary words, journal questions, and extended readings.  This is a educator focused site and has links to many other educational opportunities for teachers.

Picture Book
Written by David A. Adler and illustrated by Robert Casilla
Recounts the life and career of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues.  Easily read text is complimented by full and double page water color paintings.  There are images from his childhood, his days as a collegiate athlete, as a major leaguer, and finally includes his contributions to civic equality.  This book is a good introduction to the life of Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson
This is a website for young children to navigate.  It includes simple, basic facts of Jackie’s life, a timeline of important events, and other facts.  With large writing and only one or two links, this website is set up for young elementary school children to use.

Stealing Home
Written by Burleigh and illustrated by Mike Wimmer
In 1955, during the World Series, Jackie Robinson did the impossible: stole home.  This book recants this legend in great detail, using extremely vivid imagery through very descriptive writing.  Along with the elegantly described story, there are biographical boxes throughout the book to add background information.  Oil Paintings enhance the story and are presented on each two page spread.  Potentially, this book can be read to or with a wide range of children; the facts included in the baseball card style boxes are good for older readers and  the pictures with the main story can be read to younger children.

News for You
A short read, this page allows students to get the information fast.  Important facts are given about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, but the main purpose is to help the child relate to the feeling of exclusion.  A vocabulary word bank is given as is an open ended question at the end of the reading.  This reading is targeted at younger elementary aged students.

He Led the Way
Written by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Robert Casilla
This book is a biographical depiction of Jackie Robinson’s life that is written to be read by children.  It is a level 2 in the All Aboard Reading series and includes smaller words and sentences that enable young readers.  There is a mixture of paintings and pictures that go along with the words to assist children in reading He Led the Way.  While learning valuable reading skills and practicing phonetic concepts, children acquire knowledge about Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson, A Black Hero
Within this website are a lesson plan, quiz, and a list of the academic standards per state.  This particular lesson plan was written for a Catholic elementary school, but can be used in the public domain as well.

Teaching Children about Ancient China

In second grade, students study ancient civilizations. One of these civilizations is ancient China. Students learn about the architecture, inventions, and written language of China (SOL 2.1). The resources provided below will activate background knowledge, support instruction, and capture student interest.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China
Retold by Ai-Ling Louie and Illustrated by Ed Young

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China can serve as a cross-curricular connection. While students study ancient China in Social Studies, they can read Chinese literature in Language Arts. You can compare this original version of Cinderella with the modern-day version or interpretations from other cultures. Yeh-Shen tells the story of a beautiful and kind young girl who is forced to serve her stepmother. Yeh-Shen’s only friend is a goldfish. One day, Yeh-Shen’s stepmother cooks the fish for dinner. A distraught Yeh-Shen saves the fish’s bones, which contain an ancient spirit. On the night of the spring festival, the ancient spirit gives Yeh-Shen an intricate evening gown and a pair of gold slippers. The spirit states that she earned these gifts through her kindness to others. That night Yeh-Shen attends the festival and loses a golden slipper. The story concludes when the king returns Yeh-Shen’s slipper and marries her shortly afterward.

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China

Written by Joanna Cole and Illustrated by Bruce Degen

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China uses the fictional story of Ms. Frizzle’s field trip in ancient China to teach students about ancient Chinese culture. The top two thirds of the page are dedicated to Ms. Frizzle’s story as she and her class travel back in time. As they travel through China, the students learn about Chinese writing as well as the art of silk making. Meanwhile, the students are also searching for a way to travel back home in time for a Chinese New Year celebration. Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China includes the written story as well as detailed illustrations and speech bubbles. This comic book style contrasts with the lower third of the page. In this section, the author describes ancient Chinese culture. She explains how to make Chinese silk, identifies Chinese inventions, illustrates the process for growing rice, and includes additional facts about Chinese culture. Ms. Frizzle’s field trip allows students to explore ancient China through a story that combines relevant facts with entertaining fiction.

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet
Written by Carol Crane and Illustrated by Zong-Zhou Wang

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet examines Chinese culture in alphabetical order. A four line rhyming poem is written for each letter. For example, the page dedicated to the letter G contains a poem about the Great Wall of China as well as a large illustration. In the margin the author includes additional facts about the Great Wall. The entire book follows this model. The poems outline the essential knowledge while the sidebars contain supplementary information. D is for Dancing Dragon allows you to differentiate based on reading level. Students who need more support can learn the essential knowledge through reading the poems and studying the illustrations. Meanwhile, students who need to be challenged can read the more difficult sidebars. This book provides a close look at twenty-six aspects of Chinese culture in a manner that is accessible and entertaining for all learners.

Ancient Civilizations: China
Written by Dolores Gassós and Illustrated by Estudi Toni Inglés

Ancient Civilizations: China is arranged like a student encyclopedia. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of Chinese culture. These topics range from ancient Chinese inventions to Chinese architecture. The chapters contain a brief description of the topic, multiple illustrations, informative captions, and vocabulary definitions. This book is an ideal resource for student research. Using Ancient Civilizations: China students will develop an understanding of their research topic, visualize essential features of that subject, as well as define vocabulary words related to their assignment.

You are in Ancient China
Written by Ivan Minnis

You are in Ancient China is a great tool to build students’ background knowledge about ancient China. The combination of detailed photographs and student-friendly text make this a valuable resource for students in the lower elementary grades. Through reading this book, students will explore the daily life and customs of the Han Dynasty. Notable sections in this book include descriptions of Chinese cities, the use of Chinese characters, ancient Chinese art, and science and technology from China. Since this book is divided into topics, students can elect to read the entire text or specific sections. This versatility lends the book to a variety of uses. For instance, students can read this book in order to gain broad knowledge about ancient China or read sections of this book in order to research a specific topic. You are in Ancient China allows students to visualize and comprehend the unique culture of ancient China.

Additional Student Resources:

  • The Great Wall of China: Learn more amazing facts about the Great Wall of China
  • Review Cards: Print these review cards to study the differences between ancient China and ancient Egypt
  • Tangram Puzzle: Can you complete the seven pieces of cleverness?
  • Fun Facts About China: Do you know who invented ice cream? To learn more fun facts about China, click here
  • Terra Cotta Army: Uncover the Terra Cotta Army and learn about their exciting history

Additional Teacher Resources:

  • Ancient Chinese Book: Teach students why the Chinese characters are written vertically by making ancient Chinese scrolls
  • Paper-Making Project for Kids: Experience the process of Chinese paper-making with this hands-on craft
  • Folktales from China: Connect Language Arts and Social Studies with these ancient Chinese folktales
  • Learning About Ancient China: Use this webquest with your students to teach about Chinese writing, the Great Wall of China, and the Chinese calendar

Learning about Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks made history by simply and courageously refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. During a time of public, educational, and social segregation, Rosa Parks was one of many who paved the way for equal freedoms and rights in our country today. The Civil rights movement helped to bring change, creating laws that made sure that all citizens had the same rights no matter their race. (United States History II9.a) By reading about her accomplishments, children can understand that just one person can make a big change.

Listed below are some books based on Rosa Parks that illustrate her life and accomplishments.


Rosa by Nikki Giovanni. Illustrated by Bryan Collier

At home with her family, Rosa Parks gets ready to start her day. She doesn’t know yet that the choices she will make will unleash a chain of events that spark a boycott and fuel a movement. After working all day, sewing Sunday suits and blouses, Rosa heads home. She finds a place to sit, but not before long, she is being yelled at by the bus driver to move but Rosa refuses to move.

Excerpt: “She thought about her mother and her grandmother and knew they would want her to be strong. She had not sought this moment but was ready for it. When a policeman bent down to ask her: Auntie, are you going to move?” all the strength of all the people joined in her. Rosa Parks said no.”

Seeing what has just happened inspires people to act and not before long, a great leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. is standing before the masses gathering people to protest peacefully.

The illustrations colorful, created with a variety of materials and beautiful to look at.

This Caldecott Honor book.


Back of The Bus by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Riding in the back of the bus with his Mama, a little boy plays with his marble. When the marble slips away, it is Rosa Parks who rolls it back to him. She is smiling and sitting towards the front of the bus. As the bus gets crowded, it comes to a stop, and he overhears some yelling. His mama hushes him. He can hear the bus driver threaten to call the police. Sitting there waiting, he plays with his marble. His mama scolds him to put it away, so he hides it in his pocket. He gets the feeling that something is wrong. The little boy knows Rosa Parks doesn’t belong there but she refuses to move. As the police take Rosa Parks away, everyone is watching out the window…..

This story is written from a little boy’s perspective. This unique point of view can help children make connections to their own feelings and interpretations. It has colorful illustrations that help set the mood and tone of this book.

BOYCOTT BLUES: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation.

Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation. By Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Dog Tired, the story teller, sings the Boycott Blues.


This story begins with shoes.

This story is all for true.

This story walks. And walks. And walks.

To the blues.

Dog Tired narrates Rosa Park’s story: While she is sitting in the bus, Jim Crow, “with his bony wings”, comes to “peck, peck, peck” but Rosa Parks wont get up. (In this story, Jim Crow becomes a character- a bird that pecks and pecks trying to keep people segregated.) She refuses to move. That night, Martin Luther King Jr. tells the gathered crowds that they will peacefully fight for justice and boycott the buses. From then on people walked, some rode taxis, and rode bikes, but they wouldn’t ride the bus. Not until the Supreme Court got rid of Jim Crow.

The author weaves the blues in and throughout the story.

 IF A BUS COULD TALK: The Story of Rosa Parks.

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks. By Faith Ringgold

Marcie, a young girl, on her way to school, gets on an unusual bus. As she sits down a voice calls out to tell her that seat is reserved! Alarmed, she isn’t sure where the voice is coming from- soon enough- she realizes it is the bus! The bus Tells Marcie about Rosa Park’s life, her family, and her life as a young girl. Rosa grows up, gets married, and works as a seamstress. On her way home after work, she gets on a bus, and when she is asked to get up from her seat, she refuses. She is taken to jail, but her actions have inspired many to boycott the buses. The bus continues to narrate Rosa parks life. The bus pulls up and stops at Rosa Parks Boulevard. Suddenly Rosa Parks gets on the bus! Inside, she greets the riders on the bus and together they celebrate Rosa’s birthday. Marcie finally arrives at school ready to share her story with her class.


A Picture Book of Rosa Parks by David Adler. Illustrated by Robert Casilla

Davis Adler recounts Rosa Parks life and upbringing in this children’s biography. Adler recounts her upbringing, growing up under Jim Crow,  going to a segregated school, and living in a community where the Ku Klux Klan made their presence known. The author recounts her heroic actions and accomplishments.

This is a great book for any young student to use for fact gathering or even a reference for a paper. There are colorful illustrations on every page to help guide students through the text.

Great Resources for Kids

Kids Konnect

A brief summary of Rosa Parks life. Includes links to videos and images.

Stand Up For Your Rights /PBSkids

Learn more about Civil Rights Movement. Explore games, audio interviews, and images.

Martin Luther King Jr

Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. You can find games, coloring pages and other activities.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Explore different biographies, read newspaper articles, explore a time line and read first hand accounts.

Biography Channel

Watch some great videos about Rosa Parks life.

Great Resources for Teachers

Taking A Stand With Rosa Parks Lesson Plan

A lesson designed to help students learn about people who shaped history by reading their biographies and researching the age in which they lived.

Scholastic for Teachers

Resource site with biography and vocabulary words.

Mr. Donn’s Lesson Plans

The stories  are designed for students to read and respond to through discussion. Lesson plan extends and involves writing. This is geared towards older students, but the stories can be read to younger students.

Scholastic for Teachers 

Here you can find list of books, activities, and free printables.

Teaching Ancient Greece


The Ancient Greeks were one of the two groups of people who made significant contribution to society in terms of architecture, government, and sports. The Ancient Greeks have influenced the lives of people today. Books that I chose start of with photographs of ancient buildings, artifacts to get students interested and excellent information for teaching about Ancient Greece. Then, I chose two books about Olympic Games. One book is fiction and one is non-fiction.  Children are granted with a thorough understanding of Greece’s background so as to see how the concept of the Olympic games originated within this magical culture of gods and goddesses. I also chose one book about Athenian democracy and one about Parthenon, one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.

All of these books would be most appropriate when teaching Ancient Greece to third grade students. (SOL 3.1)

Selection of Books:

“You are in Ancient Greece”

You are in Ancient Greece, written by Ivan Minnis, is filled with photographs of ancient buildings, artifacts and excellent information for teaching about Ancient Greece. There is no particular illustrator because all of the images are photographs. The book aims to put students in the civilizations hundreds and thousands of years ago by teaching them from the perspective of what their education, food gathering, entertainment and other aspects were like during those times. Each page has headings such as “A Greek City” and “Growing Up” which gives organization to the plentiful information. Important vocabulary works are in bold and there are portions of a page devoted to “finding out about”a topic. This visually separates the information from the student which may help recognize the information as interesting facts.

This website can be used by teachers to gain background knowledge or by children to see Ancient Greece in a more creative and understandable way.

“Adventures in Ancient Greece”

The book Adventures in Ancient Greece was written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Bill Slavin. The story is about a set of twins and their younger sister who want to see the Olympic Games in the future. They stop by Jullian T. Pettigrew’s Travel Agency and inform him of their wishes and he hands them a book. Once they open the book, the three of them are transported back to Ancient Greece. Once there, they see all of the culture, arts, customs of Greece and of course the Olympic Games. They have a lot of adventures in ancient Greece while they read from this book to get the information about what they are witnessing.

This online activity tests the students’ knowledge on how well they know the sports the ancient Olympians competed in.

“Ancient Greece and the Olympics”

Ancient Greece and the Olympics, written by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, illustrated by Sal Murdocca, is part of the infamous Magic Tree House Series that aims to realistically take children on a voyage through ancient history. This particular journey to Greece begins with an introduction to the country’s history and its people, then moves to the country’s religion, its daily life and its culture. All of these integral elements serve as the foundation for the major focus of this book. Children are granted with a thorough understanding of Greece’s background so as to see how the concept of the Olympic games originated within this magical culture of gods and goddesses.

This kid friendly website offers simple summaries, interactive activities, fun facts, and quizzes for children all about Ancient Greece.

With this website, children can learn about the Ancient Greek influence on the English language as they “Go for the Gold” in the Olympic Games.

This site presents teachers with a mini-unit on the Olympics in the Ancient Greece. Each day is planned out as students meet the Olympians, prepare for various Olympic games, experience the traditional “Opening and Closing Procession” and so much more.

“Cleisthenes: Founder of Athenian Democracy”

Cleisthenes: Founder of Athenian Democracy, written by Sarah Parton, illustrated by Athenian professor is about the development of a democratic form of government in Ancient Athens that was arguably one of the most important occurrences in the history of mankind. Cleisthenes is often attributed the tag of “the founder of Athenian democracy”.  This book highlights that Cleisthenes reformed the Athenian political system so that the state was no longer ruled by a small group of wealthy landowners and aristocrats, and so that ordinary citizens enjoyed more rights and could participate in making important decisions.

This website has great notes for teachers about Athenian democracy. Vocabulary is highlighted which would make it easier for teachers to see what new vocabulary words students need to learn. Also, if the teacher is not familiar with the Athenian democracy this would be a great website to get the background knowledge.


The Parthenon written by Lynn Curlee and illustrated by Lynn Curlee explores the tremendous history behind one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. The Parthenon was ravaged by the early Christians, occupied by the Turks, and looted by the British. Wars were fought all around it. Plato and Socrates, Phidias and Pericles contemplated philosophy, art, drama, and democracy on its steps. Today its proud, ruined columns stand high above the city of Athens, Greece, the last sentinels of what’s often considered to be the most important architectural achievement in the world. The Parthenon is without rival in regard to its beauty, purity of design, and tumultuous history.

This website has great ideas about doing big projects with students. After studying about the Parthenon, students can make their own Parthenon. It could be an individual project or it could be a group project.

This website would benefit both teachers and students because it has a lot of information about Ancient Greece. All of the information is categorized and it gives both teachers and students a chance to get the background knowledge, explore what they have learned and it also gives them a challenge which is an activity where they have to apply what you have learned.

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.