Over the River and Through the Woods

Want to learn more about the history of transportation in America? Visit the National Museum of American History’s exhibit America on the Move. You’ll find a timeline of the various modes of transportation used over the years and information about the changes these brought to our cities and economy. You can also browse the Smithsonian’s collection and continue your exploration with “tours” through the various themes related to transportation.

The interactive games “Drive Through Time” and “Where’s Everyone Going?” add unique opportunities to further explore modes of transportation, connect your new knowledge to historical settings, and learn more about the changes that transportation has brought about in the United States.


Looking for more info? Check out these books:

Illustrated Timeline of Transportation, by Kremena Spengler


Transportation Then and Now, by Robin Nelson

The Transcontinental Railroad, by John Perritano


Straphanging in the USA: Trolleys and Subways in American Life, by Martin W. Sandler


From the Model T to Hybrid Cars: How Transportation Has Changed, by Jennifer Boothroyd

Giving Thanks

Although many years have passed since the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, you can still “journey back” and take a glimpse at this experience thanks to Scholastic’s site The First Thanksgiving. Virtual tours, videos, slideshows, games, activities, and printables await!

Looking for more? View the Smithsonian’s collection of images Thanksgiving in North America: From Local Harvests to National Holiday. Learn more about the holiday from some Native  American perspectives. And check out the resources I wrote about here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Changing the World… one courageous act at a time

On November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges first took the courageous walk to her new school. I wonder if that six-year-old girl had any idea of the historical importance of her actions that day?
Over the past fifty-two years, our country has continually changed and grown, but we still face issues of rights and problems with bullying. Much can still be learned from a brave girl’s actions and the legacy Ruby Bridges Hall continues to leave today. Your students can learn more about her life and involvements here and in the following books:

Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges, by Ruby Bridges

The True Story Of Ruby Bridges, by Robert Coles

.   .   .

Last spring, some 4th graders at a local elementary school were inspired by Ruby Bridges’ life and decided to write letters to thank her for her courage. Read more about their story here and see some of their letters here, here, and here.

What would you say to Ruby if you wrote her a letter?


extension activities:

  • Create a timeline of Ruby’s life. Check out the following timelines for inspiration or to check the accuracy of your own: brief visual timeline and a detailed timeline.
  • Listen to an interview with Ruby Bridges Hall (PBS, 1997) and then view a print of Norman Rockwell’s 1964 painting “The Problem We All Live With.” What details did the artist use to show fear of the new law? What details did the artist use to illustrate bravery? Draw/paint your own picture to illustrate how you stand up for what you believe.
  • Write a letter to someone who has inspired you.
  • Learn more about the Civil Rights Movement with the following texts:

A Taste of Colored Water, by Matt Faulkner

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport


additional resources:

Honoring All Who Serve(d)

With the presidential election tomorrow and Veterans Day fast approaching, I have decided to share some of my favorite patriotic alphabetic books. These can provide unique opportunities to help your students learn more about the United States as well as focus their attention on those who have and currently do serve our country.

Maybe your students will be inspired to create their own ABC book – a fun way for learners of all ages to dive in and learn more about topics that interest them.

A is for America: An American Alphabet, by Devin Scillian

America: A Patriotic Primer, by Lynne Cheney

A is for America, by Tanya Lee Stone

H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet, by Devin Scillian

additional resources: