September 13
3 - 6
Author & Text

Roald Dahl was born in Wales on September 13th, 1916. His first book for children, The Gremlins, was written in 1943. Following this, Dahl went on to write several of the most popular children's stories of the 20th century, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. Several of Dahl's stories, including these, have been made into motion pictures. He died in 1990.

Have students adapt a Roald Dahl story to picture book format. Read a Roald Dahl story that has been adapted to film (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda) Then show students the film. Have students use the Interactive Venn Diagram or Mobile App to compare and contrast the two versions, focusing on the images in the movie:

  • How were the two experiences different? Similar?
  • How did the images in the movie affect the story? Your enjoyment of the story?
  • What are the benefits of reading a story? Of watching a film?
  • How is the story in the movie different? Why do you think this is so?

Then have students create original picture book versions of the story. Afterwards, have students share their books and then add them to the classroom library.

Roald Dahl was born on this day in 1916.

This site offers news, contests, quizzes, activity ideas, and more to help readers around the world celebrate Roald Dahl Day on his birthday.

Roald Dahl's official site features a biography, photo gallery, author interview, online activities, and more.

The BBC Wales provides this audio interview with Roald Dahl’s relatives and related biographical information.

This site offers activites, suggestions, and ideas for celebrating Roald Dahl Month all September long!

April 29
8 - 12
Author & Text

Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana on this day in 1947. His upbringing in the racially charged South and his tour in Vietnam in the 1970s prove to be the focal point of much of his poetry. Pieces from his war collection Dien Cai Dau, a Vietnamese term for American soldiers, meaning "crazy," are widely taught and include examples of vivid and devastating imagery. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Komunyakaa currently teaches creative writing at Princeton University.

Yusef Komunyakaa's poetry can be used in many ways in the classroom. One essential poetic element that can be closely examined in his work is imagery.

  • As you read aloud (or listen to, if you have the technology) the poem "Camouflaging the Chimera," ask students to underline words and phrases that create vivid pictures in their minds.
  • Have students rewrite one or two lines of the poem so that they are free from details. For example, the line, "We hugged bamboo & leaned against a breeze off the river" could be rewritten, as "We sat next to the river. There was a breeze." Then, in pairs, ask students to reread the poem with their changes. What has changed? What is lost?
  • Next, have students write down another line of the poem that is particularly effective. Collect their papers and redistribute one to each student. Have each student attempt to draw the image on a large piece of paper and explain its effect. Ask, "Why did the author include that line? What was he hoping to get the reader to feel?"
  • Display pictures and explanations in the classroom.
Poet Yusef Komunyakaa was born in 1947.

This website contains several of Komunyakaa's poems with audio recordings, a brief biography, and links to articles on his work.

 

Biographical material and online poems, including one audio file, are available on this Poetry Exhibit from the Academy of American Poets.

 

This extensive list of Web resources includes historical data, documentary coverage, references in popular culture, and more.

June 14
5 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

President Woodrow Wilson signed the law that proclaimed June 14 each year to be celebrated as the national holiday of Flag Day. Every year since 1916, this day has been a day of patriotic celebration.

Share with your students the songs from Patriotic Melodies from the Performing Arts Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress. Ask your students to consider how America, Americans, and the flag are represented in the various songs and to hypothesize about the reasons for the differences that they notice. With 27 songs to choose from, each student can work on a separate song or small groups can tackle several songs. The songs range from well-known tunes such as "When Johnny Came Marching Home" and "You're a Grand Old Flag" to more obscure songs like the "Library of Congress March."

June 14 is Flag Day in the U.S.

This Library of Congress site includes historical background, photos, and artwork that explain how the flag and Flag Day came into being. Have students write their own stories about their personal interaction with the flag, or have them interview members of their family or community and write their stories.

 

The American Flag Foundation encourages all Americans to "pause for the pledge" at 7:00 p.m. on Flag Day. This site includes information on the program and a collection of educational resources including flag Q&A, flag etiquette and retiring, and information on the Pledge.

 

This site provides historical information about the U.S. flag, as well as images of each of the official versions of the flag throughout America's history. The site also features a variety of patriotic writings, including poems, essays, letters, and songs.

 

From the Verizon Literacy Network, this interactive activity includes 25 hidden flags for users to find, along with an interesting fact about the flag at each location.

November 18
3 - 8
Historical Figure & Event

On November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse made his movie debut in Steamboat Willie, one of the earliest animated cartoons. This seven-minute film, directed by Walt Disney, was the first to combine animation technology with synchronized sound. From this short film, based on a cartoon drawing, Disney created one of the largest media empires in the world.

Steamboat Willie was one of the earliest animated cartoons, a medium that grew from comic strips and Sunday funnies into a multimillion-dollar business. Invite your students to experiment with cartoon and comic strip drawings by collaborating to create a short, humorous story, with at least one main character that performs an action. When students have completed the short sequence, have them use the Comic Creator or this online tool to make a flipbook.

Students choose one background and repeat it multiple times as they draw their characters' actions from one frame to the next. When they've completed each sequence of drawings, they print out the pages, cut the frames, and staple them together to create a flipbook. By stapling all the pages together in one corner or along one side, students are able to flip the pages of the book quickly, simulating animation. Students can also use the Flipbook Tool to create their product. Allow students to share their flipbooks with their classmates. Teams can also experiment with adding vocals in the background to synchronize with the images.

Mickey Mouse appeared in his first animated feature.

This page features a short clip of the 1928 cartoon that launched Mickey's career.

This website offers something for students of all ages. Students will enjoy film clips, interviews with Walt Disney, a comprehensive biography of his life, photographs with audio for kids, and special exhibits.

This site offers extensive information for teachers about animation history, animation techniques, and teaching animation in the classroom.

This Library of Congress site includes 21 animated films and 2 fragments, which were produced from 1900 to 1921. Compare the animation in these early films to that in Steamboat Willie as well as that in current cartoons. Be sure to preview the films for their appropriateness for your students.

October 01
1 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

National Bullying Prevention Month was created by PACER in 2006 with a one-week event which has now evolved into a month-long effort that encourages everyone to take an active role in the bullying prevention movement.  Efforts are focused on encouraging both personal and community responsibility to prevent bullying. During this month, communities are urged to address the problem of bullying through media campaigns, classroom activities, workshops, and other special events.

 

Promote school-wide awareness of bullying issues by sponsoring a poster contest. First, complete one of the lessons below and review information learned about bullying and the roles of bystanders and victims. Divide the class into three groups, and have each group create a poster representing the role of the bully, the victim, or bystanders to educate other classes about bullying issues. Then, advertise a poster-making contest to other classes, asking students to create posters that illustrate ways each student in the school can help stop bullying and make the school environment safer.

  • Invite entrants to use any medium they wish to create their posters, including pencil, crayon, paint, or even an interactive medium such as the ReadWriteThink Printing Press (flyer format).

  • Ask other classroom teachers, the school counselor, and the art teacher to help in judging the posters. Be sure to communicate your judging criteria as part of the contest.

Include a reproduction of the winning poster in the school newsletter or website, or feature the poster in the library, cafeteria, or main office.

 

Get ready for National Bullying Prevention Month!

McGruff.org provides resources for adults and children looking to stop bullying and educate others about bullying issues. Look for comics, a kids' poll, parent articles, and more.

This resource, from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, offers fun games, webisodes, and other resources designed to teach children about bullying prevention.

This site provides information about bullying and offers tips for preventing bullying and providing help both to victims and to students who engage in bullying behavior.

The Meet Kelly Bear website provides this teacher's guide with strategies for teaching about bullying.

The goals of this site/center are to engage and educate communities nationwide to address bullying through creative, relevant and interactive resources.

In support of Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is providing resources for families, teens, educators, clinicians, mental health professionals, and law enforcement personnel on how to recognize, deal with, and prevent bullying.

February 11
1 - 5
Author & Text

Jane Yolen has written more than 170 books for children and adults. Her books, ranging in topic and theme from animal picture books to books about the Holocaust, have won many awards over the years. Yolen has been called "America's Hans Christian Andersen."

Jane Yolen and her family are avid bird watchers. Yolen's love of birds and nature is conveyed in many of her books. For example, Owl Moon, The Bird of Time, Bird Watch, Off We Go, and The Originals would be good books to read when starting a unit on animals.

After students read one of Yolen's books, have them retell the story in the form of a puppet show. (The Caldecott Award-winner Owl Moon motivated second-grade students to create dioramas that can be used as a model.) Students can then research animals in the book and document their findings with the Animal Study interactive tool. As a follow-up activity, take your students on a nature walk. Upon returning to class, have students create watercolor paintings of the animals they saw.

For older students, consider exploring some of the themes in Yolen's books for young adults, such as The Devil's Arithmetic or Armageddon Summer.

Jane Yolen was born in 1939.

This site is an excellent resource for learning more about Yolen. It includes a biography, a comprehensive list of Yolen's books, and separate sections for kids, teachers, and writers.

 

The University of Rochester Libraries website offers this transcript of a lengthy interview with Yolen, focusing primarily on her work with Arthurian legend.

 

In this online workshop from Scholastic, Yolen guides students through the process of writing myths. The author provides information on writing strategies and a few warm-up activities.

 

Jane Yolan's online journal offers a glimpse into her life and how it informs her work.

August 26
5 - 8
Historical Figure & Event

Proposed on June 4, 1919, it took more than a year for the 48 states to ratify the 19th Amendment, which became law when the Secretary of State announced the completion of the ratification process on August 26, 1920, officially giving women in the U.S. the right to vote.

 

Six months before the 19th Amendment established women's right to vote in the United States, the League of Women Voters was founded to help women become responsible voters. Today, the League of Women Voters works toward helping American citizens be active, involved participants in the political system—from voting to campaigning to taking a position on current issues.

Invite a representative from the local chapter of the League to talk to your students about voting rights and what they can do to be active in politics, even if they are not old enough to vote yet. Use the ReadWriteThink lessons Vote For Me! Developing, Writing, and Evaluating Persuasive Speeches and Voting! What's It All About? to explore voting with younger students.

 

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote in 1920.

Compare voting rights in the United States to voting rights around the world. Students may be shocked to find that in some countries women are still not permitted to vote!

 

In addition to historical documents related to the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment, this Library of Congress site includes texts, photos, political cartoons, and lesson plans.

 

This PBS website on civil rights includes a special feature for kids on "Women and the Vote."

 

This website offers information about Women's Rights National Historical Park, which is located in Seneca Falls, the home of many important sites in the history of women's rights in the U.S.

 

September 23
9 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

On September 23, 1957, police officers had to be stationed around the Central High School campus to ensure the safety of the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine African American students who were to attend the school and, thus, break the color barrier. The right to an equal education was granted to all African American students by the United States Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Begin by viewing some of the footage from the actual event (you can access some of the footage at the PBS website). Ask students to jot down the thoughts and feelings they think might have been going on in the minds and hearts of the Little Rock Nine. Have students use these notes as the basis for a bio-poem that might have been written by one of the African American students on that historic day.

An alternative activity might be to show students portions of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that reunited the Little Rock Nine with some of the classmates who threatened and taunted them upon their arrival at Central High School. After viewing each segment, ask students to summarize their reactions to what they have seen and heard on the program. Were they surprised by anything they observed? If so, what surprised them and why?

Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was integrated in 1957.

This site celebrates the 50th anniversary of the integration of Central High School. Links to the historic event are provided, including links to information about the nine African American students who attended the school.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for the integration of Central High School, NPR compiled an extensive collection of resources, including interviews with Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

This Teaching Tolerance page includes resources that focus on primary documents from Brown v. the Board of Education, poetry, arts, and critical thinking. Additional links at the end connect to photographs and more classroom resources.

PBS offers a section on Southern School Desegregation as part of its Eyes on the Prize: American Civil Rights Movement feature.

January 01
3 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Annie Moore, a 15-year-old girl from Ireland, became the first person to enter Ellis Island on New Year's Day, 1892. In the 62 years that Ellis Island served as the entry point to the United States, over 12 million people were processed through the immigration station. Ellis Island was closed on November 12, 1954. Part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument since 1965, the buildings were restored after decades of disuse and reopened as a museum in 1990.

Take your students on an interactive tour of Ellis Island. Scholastic provides a tour, including audio, video, and photographic resources.

Allow students plenty of time to explore the tour and the resources provided there, supplementing the information with additional resources from the Web Links section below. Be sure to listen to the audio stories of immigrants included in most stages of the tour. Invite students to interview an immigrant in your town to collect his or her story. Students can publish the stories they collect online and read stories published by other students.

To show how children who did come through Ellis Island felt, you might share books such as The Memory Coat (Scholastic, 1999) and Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story (Troll Communications, 2001). Based on what they've learned through their exploration of Ellis Island online, their interview with a local immigrant, and in the available texts, have students assume the persona of someone who has just landed on Ellis Island and write a diary entry about his or her experiences. Collect the entries into a class anthology that shows students' understanding of the feelings of people coming to the U.S. for the first time.

Annie Moore becomes the first immigrant to enter Ellis Island in 1892.

This Library of Congress site from the America's Story collection explores the arrival of 15-year-old Annie Moore, the first person to enter the U.S. through the gates of Ellis Island.

This site includes historical information on the role that Ellis Island played in the lives of the more than 12 million people who immigrated to the United States over the course of the 62 years.

Ellis Island comes to life in this interactive tour featuring audio, photographic, and video files. This site is part of a Scholastic collection titled Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today.

September 08
K - 12
Literacy-Related Event

International Literacy Day (ILD), celebrated annually on September 8, shines a spotlight on global literacy needs. On ILD (and every day), advocate for a literate world, support literacy educators and leaders, and celebrate the power of literacy.

International Literacy Day is celebrated annually and is designed to focus attention on literacy issues. The International Literact Association estimates that 780 million adults, nearly two-thirds of whom are women, do not know how to read and write. They also estimate that 94—115 million children worldwide do not have access to education. International Literacy Day is just one way groups can strive to increase literacy around the world.

This year, International Literacy Day (8 September) will be celebrated across the world under the theme of 'Literacy in a digital world'. On 7 and 8 September, 2017 a special two-day event will be organized at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, with the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.

Invite students to think about how they access literacy in a digital world.

Celebrate International Literacy Day!

ILA supports International Literacy Day and the countless activities that take place worldwide. Visit for an archive of resources.

This year, International Literacy Day (8 September) will be celebrated across the world under the theme of 'Literacy in a digital world'.