August 21
K - 6
Holiday & School Celebration

Every fall, monarch butterflies in North America travel south for the winter. Unable to survive in cold temperatures, monarch butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains travel to forests in Calfornia and those east of the Rockies travel to Mexico.

 

After exploring the way that monarch butterflies react to the change of seasons, have students complete an inquiry study to examine other ways that animals (and humans) change because of the seasons. Remember that changes are not limited to moving from one geographic area to another. Some animals stay in the same area, but change physically.

Using the ReadWriteThink Printing Press, invite students to develop and publish a class anthology of animal changes or a "survival guide" to show how animals face the change of seasons.

 

Monarch butterflies begin their migration in the fall.

This website developed by the University of Kansas Entomology Program tracks the migration of monarch butterflies and includes links to a variety of related educational resources.

 

This Science Museum of Minnesota site invites students and families to join in on an investigation of the migration of the butterflies.

 

This page from the University of Kentucky Entomology Department offers images and information about the monarch butterfly.

 

Part of the Journey North project, this page follows the spring migration of monarchs each year and allows students to report monarch sightings. Also offered are lessons, questions and answers, and additional information about monarchs.

 

February 23
3 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Samuel Pepys was born in London on February 23, 1633. Though he was an important government official, Pepys is primarily known for the detailed diary that he maintained for 10 years. Much of what we know today about day-to-day life in 17th century London comes from his diary. In it, Pepys describes with great detail and compassion the Great Fire of London, the plague that beset Europe, and the coronation of Charles II.

One of the most interesting aspects of Pepys' diary is that we can read about the details of this person's life and then make assumptions about life in general for the people of that time period.

Ask students to write diary entries that recap everything they did the day before. They should write about what they ate, the clothes they wore, activities they did, and so on, making their diary entries as detailed and descriptive as possible. Then, have each student switch diary entries with another student, who will read the entry as if he or she were living a hundred years from now. Direct students to underline words and phrases that describe what life must have been like for teenagers in the year 2013.

As a class, brainstorm a list of defining characteristics of life in the early 21st century, and ask students to write paragraphs that summarize these details.

Older students can read a section of Pepys' diary and write paragraphs to summarize life in the 17th century.

Diarist Samuel Pepys was born.

This site contains a biography of Pepys, numerous pictures of him, and excerpts from his diary.

 

This site from National Public Radio offers a series of "radio diaries," in which people of various backgrounds document events of their lives. Students can listen to several of the broadcasts and access information about how to create their own radio diaries.

 

This site contains hundreds of excellent resources associated with Anne Frank, one of the most famous and widely taught diarists.

 

September 29
9 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

In June 1829, the British Parliament established Greater London's Metropolitan Police, popularly known as "bobbies." Scotland Yard, the site of their first headquarters, opened on September 29, 1829, and eventually became the official name of the force.

Visit Scotland Yard's Crime Prevention Page and check out pages with advice on such topics as driving, mobile phones, and personal safety. Explore the resources on the Scotland Yard site and ask students to compare the advice given to London's citizens to the advice and tips available from your local police department. Ask students to hypothesize the reasons for the differences that they see-are the differences due to the different laws in the different countries, or something else?

After learning about Scotland Yard, encourage students to read fiction, such as the books listed in the text section below, in which Scotland Yard is featured. Students can use the interactive Mystery Cube to analyze the mystery book they read or to plan their own mystery story. More tips are available for the Mystery Cube.

Scotland Yard was established this day in 1829.

In the history section of the Scotland Yard site, students can read about the establishment of one of the world's most well-known police departments.

This collection of stories from Scotland Yard includes details on famous cases. Be sure to review the collection to find stories that are appropriate for your students.

Part of the Crime, Punishment and Protest through Time collection, this question-and-answer style site provides details on such topics as why citizens originally opposed the founding of Scotland Yard.

August 13
3 - 8
Historical Figure & Event

Gutenburg invented the printing press, but William Caxton was the first person to use a printing press to print books in English. Caxton printed over 100 different titles, including every work in English literature available at the time.

 

Have your students consider how the printing press affects their world by completing a printing inventory. Ask students to spend a day writing down everything they use that has been printed, such as books, pamphlets, even cereal boxes. The next day, compare the lists and develop a "super" list of all the printed materials that you and your students interact with. Once the list is complete, invite students to discuss the impact that printing has on their lives and to project the changes that may occur as computers enable people to share information digitally rather than in print.

 

The first English printer, William Caxton, was born on this day in 1422.

This site features a Free Activities page where students can learn about bookmaking in different cultures and find instructions to help them make their own books. The site also provides pages for teachers and families.

 

The BBC offers a brief biography of Caxton and links to related resources.

 

One of Caxton's most famous publications is his editions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. This site includes video images of the rare books as well as historical information about Caxton and printing.

 

May 01
K - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

Get Caught Reading is a nationwide public service campaign launched by the Association of American Publishers to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. May is officially Get Caught Reading month, but the celebration lasts throughout the year. Get Caught Reading is supported by hundreds of celebrities, including LL Cool J, Dylan and Cole Sprouse, and the newest addition, Olivia the Pig.

Celebrate Get Caught Reading Month with a reading-related service project. Try one of these activities with your students:

  • Plan an intergenerational reading day. Invite seniors to visit your school, or arrange a trip for your students to a local senior center. Have students select books to read to adults, and invite adults to share a favorite story with students. Extend an ongoing invitation to guest readers, perhaps on a monthly basis.

  • Organize a book drive to collect new or nearly new books to supplement your classroom or school library, or to donate to families or a local children's hospital.

Be sure to have a camera on hand to "catch your students reading" on film throughout the month. You can also have students organize a community "Get Caught Reading" campaign by taking photos of members of their families and community figures (firefighters, grocers, local police officers, etc.) caught reading, and creating a school display.

May is Get Caught Reading Month!

The Get Caught Reading website offers resources for teachers, librarians, and kids. Look for literacy fact sheets, artwork, and information on getting involved.

The Northwest Territories Literacy Council offers this reproducible guide to Get Caught Reading. Included are ideas for promoting this and other literacy programs, as well as reproducible bookmarks and posters.

Reading Connects offers this page, filled with suggestions for promoting reading at school.

KidsReads.com helps kids select books that appeal to them by offering kid-friendly reviews and information about children's books and authors. The information is searchable by author, series, and special features. The companion site Teenreads.com focuses on young adult literature.

December 16
7 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Over two hundred years ago, a group of activist colonists disguised themselves as Native Americans and dumped tea into the Boston Harbor.

"High Tea in Boston Harbor" was the headline of the Boston Gazette.

After reading the headline of the Boston Gazette aloud (above), ask your students to create a political cartoon for this event. Political cartoonists demonstrate a particular point of view in their cartoons. Students may decide to create their cartoons from the perspective of one of the colonists, King George III, or a fish in the Boston Harbor!

Invite students to use the interactive Comic Creator to create their political cartoons and then have students share their cartoons with the class. Ask the class to identify the cartoonist's point of view. Visit the Comic Creator tool page for more information about this tool.  

Make copies of the student-generated political cartoons and distribute them to small groups of students. Have each group of students work collaboratively to develop higher-level response questions for the political cartoons.

The Boston Tea Party took place in 1773.

Primary students will enjoy this resource created by fifth-grade students.

 

Presented by PBS, this educational website chronicles the American Revolution. To assess learning, ask your students to play "The Road to Revolution," an interactive game about the revolution.

 

At this page on the Kidport Reference Library website, students can learn about the events leading to the Boston Tea Party and access links to related information.

 

March 30
3 - 12
Author & Text

Anna Sewell's novel about a horse named Black Beauty touched a responsive chord in readers of many ages when it was first published in 1877. It remains a classic novel, one that speaks to contemporary readers as well.

In Black Beauty, Anna Sewell tackled one of the contemporary issues of her time, the cruel treatment of horses, many of them abused by their owners. Her work made readers aware of the need for laws to protect animals from harsh and abusive treatment.

After exploring the cruelty to animals in Sewell's novel, extend the discussion to current events. Divide students into pairs or small groups and ask them to conduct some research into the use of animals in testing drugs, cosmetics, and other products. Be sure to have online as well as traditional print resources available. Student groups should compile and present the information for and against using animals to test various substances.

Black Beauty author Anna Sewell was born in 1820.

Penguin Group publishing offers this biography of Sewell. Students can read about her childhood, her love of horses, and her gift for writing.

This site provides a biography of both Anna Sewell and her mother. They were both writers of juvenile fiction.

Project Gutenberg makes available downloadable versions of Sewell's classic text.

The ASPSCA offers this informational website for children. Students can access information about adopted pets, alternatives to dissection, animal-safe science projects, and more.

May 27
3 - 12
Author & Text

Rachel Carson, born on May 27, 1907, loved nature and had a lifelong desire to protect the environment. She was aware of the dangers of DDT and other chemicals and tried to educate the public through articles, pamphlets, and books. Her book Silent Spring warned about the poisons that were everywhere and heightened environmental awareness in people throughout the world.

Introduce your students to Rachel Carson by having a discussion about how chemicals can affect the environment. Show students a picture of a bald eagle and ask them if they have ever heard of DDT. DDT was a pesticide responsible for the decline of eagles in North America from more than half a million in 1872 to only 417 breeding pairs in 1973. At this point, either read a book about Rachel Carson to your class or have them find information about her on the websites listed below. After learning about Rachel Carson, invite students to choose one of these follow-up activities:

On this day in 1907, Rachel Carson was born.

This website is "devoted to the life and legacy of Rachel Carson." It includes her biography, many primary documents, and excellent links.

After learning how DDT affected the eagle population, read about the U.S. laws that now protect eagles. Information about the recovery of bald eagles is also provided on this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site.

Learn about the decline of eagles and their recovery on this PBS Nature website. Visitors can view beautiful photographs and meet various members of the eagle family.

This page provides context and excerpts from Silent Spring. Rachel Carson's classic text has been called one of the most important works of the 20th century.

April 12
K - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

April 12 is known as D.E.A.R Day! D.E.A.R. stands for "Drop Everything and Read," a national month-long celebration of reading designed to remind folks of all ages to make reading a priority activity in their lives. It is also Beverly Cleary’s birthday! D.E.A.R. programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, since she first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

Today is the birthday of author Beverly Cleary, who brought to life the characters of Ramona and older sister Beezus. On this day, D.E.A.R Day, families are encouraged to take at least 30 minutes to put aside all distractions and enjoy books together. Get together with other readers, find someone to read to, or even just read alone. Here are some additional ideas:

Family Read Aloud

With this tip, learn a few simple read-aloud strategies that can sharpen a child's emerging reading skills and help you have fun together with a good book.

Journaling

This lesson encourages children to explore authentic reasons for writing by writing messages to their family in a family message journal.

Retell Stories

Tell me about it in your own words! If students can paraphrase the information they have read, then you—and they—can be confident that they understand it.

Drop Everything!

Don’t think that means that the celebration is only allowed during this month, though. It’s encouraged all year long!

Today is D.E.A.R. Day!

This website has reading lists, activity ideas, digital assets, and other resources on D.E.A.R.

Reading Rockets shares resources about Beverly Cleary and D.E.A.R.

Drop Everything and Read suggestions from the International Literacy Association

December 25
7 - 12
Author & Text

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol as a "potboiler," or an inferior work done purely for quick profit. Unfortunately, while the book was an instant success and remains one of his best-known works, Dickens made little profit because people purchased pirated editions. There were no copyright laws at that time in England.

Chances are, your students have either seen or will be seeing a production of A Christmas Carol in December. What a perfect time for a collaborative project for middle school and primary students!

Have a middle school English class or the drama club write a script for A Christmas Carol on a level that primary students can read and perform. Involve students in home and career classes to create the costumes and scenery for the production. Invite film students to record the performance and have computer students create a website showcasing photographs from the project.

A Christmas Carol was the first book transmitted over radio!

This online resource from PBS provides information about the life and career of Dickens.

 

Since 2002, Stanford University has encouraged community reading and discussion of Dickens' novels through the serial release of his major works. Biographical and historical context information is included with each serial publication.

 

This webpage includes hundreds of links to primary and secondary documents on various aspects of Dickens' life and work.

 

This page from The Victorian Web provides extensive links to Dickens' biography, chronology, a list of works, an introduction, and other relevant essays.