First Friday Freebie: Lending a Helping Hand

Each year as September 11 nears, I begin thinking about the best ways to honor this day, to help people’s sacrifices never be forgotten. For young students who did not live through this day in 2001, it can have little, if any, meaning, but all children can understand the importance of lending others a helping hand. So that has become my focus for this year.

One creative way to help students begin to see the positive effects even seemingly small acts of kindness can have on others is through a study of the life of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. Born September 26, 1774, his legacy lives on centuries later and can be explored through texts and resources like these:

Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg

 

Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh

 

Johnny Appleseed by Jodie Shepherd

Johnny Appleseed Enchanted Learning activities

Johnny Appleseed biography

 

Seeing Johnny Appleseed’s impact on the world can help inspire your students to make a difference in the lives of those around them. Even small deeds can make a difference… just like planting one apple seed at a time.

Using this month’s freebie, the Helping Hands activity, students can share ways they plan to use their hands to help others.

helping hands

 

Need more inspiration? Here are ten other stories that show the power of a helping hand:

Always Copycub by Richard Edwards

A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams

A Frog Thing by Eric Drachman

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord

The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern and Marni Backer

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

New York’s Bravest by Mary Pope Osborne

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and Noah Jones

The Three Questions by Jon Muth

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Picture Book 10 for 10: My Top Ten Favorite Books About Community

I am excited to participate in this year’s Picture Book 10 for 10 hosted by Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Cathy Mere of Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community.

Here’s my list of ten books to share with students as you work to build and strengthen your classroom community throughout the year:

1.

One of my new favorite picture books is Because You Are My Teacher written by Sherry North and illustrated by Marcellus Hall. Throughout this story, the students experience wondrous adventures together as they learn about the world – a learning community at its finest.

2.

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelusky, & Lane Smith also helps to reinforce the idea of community and its importance in our learning as students and teachers work together to meet their goals.

3.

Each time I read the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, I am inspired by Alice’s dedication to her dreams and her quest to make the world more beautiful. She learns the meaning and value of community in her travels and at home.


4.

The Mitten by Jan Brett is a fun reminder that community members need to share and look out for one another.

5.

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord is another book that helps students focus on the idea of what a community is. In this story it takes a village to succeed, through cooperation and each person using his/her unique abilities and resources.

6.

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes illustrates what can happen when there are problems in communities as well as what can happen when those differences are resolved. Communities are strongest when everyone feels valued.

7.

Nora the Nonapus, written and illustrated by fifth-grade students of Estes Hills Elementary in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, provides some unique insights into the feelings various members in our community may have. It covers the insecurities and embarrassment that often come from being “different,” how bullying hurts others, and the bravery it takes to stand up and do what is right.

8.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is another favorite. In this story, community is created as a young boy takes time to listen and learn about the people around him, building friendships and sharing memories along the way.

9.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is another story that illustrates the importance of sharing our skills and talents with those around us. Just like snowflakes, we are all different. Bentley’s community (and the world!) was blessed by his love of snowflakes through the research and pictures he shared.

10.

The Impossible Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers is a favorite book to share around President’s Day. However, its message is fitting during any time of year. It’s important to remember those missing from our communities. Communication is key to keeping those bonds strong.

And there you have it, my (current) top ten, which I am sure will change the next time I discover a new favorite book. 🙂

What stories do you like to share with your students to help the community building process in your classroom?

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!

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:

Grandparents’ Day

I was so blessed to grow up around my grandparents. They all played important roles in my life, and I would not be who I am today without their love and encouragement and the many lessons they shared along the way.

Needless to say, I’ve always been delighted when Grandparent’s Day rolls around each year. It gives me another opportunity to let my grandparents know just how much I appreciate having them in my life.

At the school where I used to teach, we had a “Grandparent’s Day” of our own a little later in the fall. It was a day for students to invite their grandparents (biological or “adopted”) to school for the morning to share what we’d been up to in the classroom and have some special one-on-one time as they engaged together in a learning activity and ate lunch. Each year I also worked in some type of discussion about the differences between the experiences of the students and their grandparents in areas like education, communication, transportation, or technology. My students were fascinated by the changes that had occurred over the past few decades… and sometimes the grandparents made amazing discoveries of their own when they saw what and how their grandchildren were learning.

* * *

The following books are ones I have enjoyed reading with my students as we shared about our own experiences with our grandparents. These stories provide opportunities for meaningful class discussions about how grandparents influence our lives, what we can learn from them, how their lives differ from ours, the types of challenges they face, and the importance of having and sharing memories.

Tom by Tomie dePaola

 

Big Mama’s by Donald Crews

 

dear juno by Soyung Pak

 

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman

 

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

 

Lighthouse: A Story of Remembrance by Robert Munsch

 

“I Remember!” Cried Grandma Pinky by Jan Wahl

 

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

 

Grandpa’s Teeth by Rod Clement

* * *

Looking for some ways for your students to learn more about how things have changed during their grandparents’ life times? Visit the following sites to learn more about the inventions, discoveries, and advances over the years:

National Museum of American History interactive timeline – view iconic artifacts that illustrate key events in our country’s history

Key Moments in Consumer Electronics: A Timeline – from Pong in 1972 to the iPad in 2010

NASA’s Apollo Program vs. The Future of American Human Spaceflight

American History Timeline

 

Activity Ideas:

Working with their grandparents or researching on their own, students can

  • Compare and contrast two time periods and complete a graphic organizer like this.
  • Create a timeline to show some significant historical and personal events from their grandparent’s childhood to today.
  • Write a narrative to share a family story.
  • Put together a memory box of items that bring family events to mind.
  • Write a letter to a grandparent.

Agriculture All Around

Although the corn mazes and hay rides have ended here in the valley and the season of rain (and possibly snow!) is upon us, it is never too late to learn more about the agriculture that sustains our nation.

My American Farm invites you to take a journey with them to learn more about this industry and help build agricultural awareness and understanding through education. This interactive site provides a variety of resources for educators and fun learning activities for kids of all ages.

 

To learn more about these topics, you and your students may also want to check out the following books:

From Seed to Plant, by Gail Gibbons

How Plants Grow, by Angela Royston

 

George Washington Carver: Ingenious Inventor, by Nathan Olson

 

Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin, by Jessica Gunderson

 

Louis Pasteur and Pasteurization, by Jennifer Fandel

 

Additional books and resources about agriculture can be found here:

Sustainable Agricultural Resources for Teachers, K-12

Farm Bureau Arkansas: Ag in the Classroom

Better World Books: Agriculture

Happy Fall!

It’s time to celebrate the season of colorful leaves, ripened pumpkins, hot spiced cider, bonfires, rain puddles, and so much more…

Here are a few resources to help bring the magic of autumn into your classroom:

A is for Autumn, by Robert Maass

 

Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic, by Steven Schnur

Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Morteza E. Sohi     (I love this book!)

 

Every Autumn Comes the Bear, by Jim Arnosky

 

Time to Sleep, by Denise Fleming

 

Education World: Autumn Lesson Ideas

The Teachers Corner: Fall Activities and Lesson Plans

The Teacher’s Guide: Fall Lesson Plans and Ideas