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.

January 08
3 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Elvis is known throughout the world as the "King of Rock 'n' Roll." Over one billion of his records have been sold. Elvis starred in 31 feature films as an actor, gave over 1,100 concert performances, and received numerous awards. Graceland, Elvis Presley's home, is the most famous home in America after the White House, attracting over 600,000 visitors every year. In 1970, Elvis went to the White House to offer his assistance to then-President Nixon in the nation's war on drugs.

Invite your students to tour the National Archives exhibit When Elvis Met Nixon, where they can read the five-page letter that Presley personally delivered to the White House, the story of the famous meeting (with accompanying photos), the agenda for the meeting, and the thank-you letter Elvis wrote to the President after the visit. 

After reading these primary documents, younger students can discuss the reasons Elvis wanted to meet the President; then, they can explore what would happen if a contemporary recording artist were to meet with the President today. Referring to the agenda for Elvis's meeting, have students work collaboratively to create an agenda for a contemporary artist. Have them use the interactive ReadWriteThink Letter Generator to write a letter to the artist suggesting a meeting with the President to discuss the problem of drugs, racism, violence, or another contemporary issue. More tips are available for use with the Letter Generator. 

Older students might explore the various ironies of the meeting in a discussion of Nixon's political motivations for agreeing to the meeting and Elvis's interest in being made a "Federal Agent at Large" who would fight drug abuse and the Communist threat.

On this day in 1935, Elvis Presley was born.

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, you and your students can browse over 600 pages of information that the federal government collected in relation to Elvis Presley. Pair this site with exploration of the Fensch book in the Texts section to introduce students to the process by which primary documents become fodder for research!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's online Elvis exhibit describes his career and the artifacts included in the original exhibit. Be sure to see the biographical page on this 1986 inductee.

This PBS Culture Shock resource offers information about the controversy over Elvis's early television appearances on the Milton Berle Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Tonight Show.

June 19
5 - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

Juneteenth is a celebration of the day in 1865 that word of Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves, made its way to the state of Texas. The celebration name is a combination of "June" and "Nineteenth"—the day that the celebration takes place.

Juneteenth has grown into a heritage-centered event that focuses on family, community, education, and achievement—but its origins are still very important. How does the historical background of the day, as a celebration of freedom for the slaves of Texas, compare to other important celebrations of freedom in the United States?

Invite your students to compare Juneteenth celebrations to Fourth of July celebrations, using the Venn Diagram. What events take place on the two days? What do people do? How are the events described in the media? When students notice differences between the celebrations, ask them to hypothesize about the reasons. Conclude the discussion by asking students what conclusions they can draw about the ways that people celebrate and define freedom in the U.S.

Celebrate Juneteenth!

Want to see what the original Emancipation Proclamation looked like? Visit the National Archives and Records Administration site, which includes historical background and photographs of the document.

 

This site explores the origins and history of the holiday, along with how to celebrate it in the workplace, community, and home.

 

This Library of Congress "America's Story" site explains the background and local celebrations of the emancipation in Texas.

 

Here is a list of books to introduce the holiday's stories and traditions to the youngest readers.

September 21
K - 12
Holiday & School Celebration

The United Nations has declared September 21 as the International Day of Peace. In a message commemorating the Day in 1995, Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali stated that "the world, once more, cries out for peace. And for the economic and social development that peace alone can assure... Let us keep our goal clear and simple... Let us work for peace."

For middle and high school students:

  • Have students brainstorm a list of conflicts that are happening around the world: Israel-Palestine, Iraq, etc.
  • Ask students to generate a list of reasons why people fight: religion, economics, etc.
  • Have students form groups and assign each group one reason from the list they generated above. In groups, students should discuss and be ready to present possible solutions that could address the causes. It is important to emphasize that students are not trying to solve a particular world crisis, but rather are trying to identify solutions that can work in general (education, tolerance, debt relief, etc.).
  • The groups could then create posters that promote their particular solution. See the lesson plan Designing Effective Poster Presentations for tips and ideas on making posters. For elementary-age students, follow the same process as above, but instead of looking at the world, ask students to focus on conflicts, reasons, and solutions in their school.
Today is the International Day of Peace.

This site contains a number of links to other websites dealing with ways to become active in promoting peace around the world and in the local communities.

This site, part of the United Nations Cyberschool Bus, contains five curricular units that focus on ecology, tolerance, critical thinking, social justice, and global citizenship.

Read about the outstanding people who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on the official site for the award. The site includes biographies, lectures, and additional information for all the award winners as well as educational material.

December 17
3 - 6
Historical Figure & Event

Wilbur and Orville Wright's landmark flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, was the realization of their dream of powered human flight. Although their historic achievement lasted only 12 seconds, it continues to symbolize—even after more than 100 years—human determination, imagination, creativity, and invention.

The anniversary of the Wright brothers' amazing flight offers a great opportunity for a highly motivational learning experience. After your students learn about the Wright brothers, have an anniversary party to showcase their creative work. Remember to include a cake in the shape of an airplane!

In addition, the following activities for elementary school students can be used as extensions to the lesson plans listed below:

  • Students can create a multimedia timeline presentation on the lives of the Wright brothers or on aviation over the last 100 years.

  • Ask students to compare the Wright Flyer, which Wilbur and Orville flew, with the planes we have today. Have them imagine what airplanes will be like 100 years from now and design or illustrate a future model.

 

The Wright brothers made their phenomenal flight!

This website provides information about the Wright brothers' development of the first powered aircraft; included are interactive experiments, an electronic field trip, and information on the restoration of the Wright Flyer.

 

The Franklin Institute provides an excellent multimedia resource for students interested in learning more about the Wright brothers and seeing film clips of early flights.

 

This page from Scholastic celebrates 100 years of flight with a biography of the Wright brothers, information on how they invented their plane, and an activity that walks you through making some of the decisions you'd have to make to build your own plane.

 

NASA provides this site for kids, which includes information about the history of flight, how flight works, and how jet engines work. Also included is an interactive game about the Wright brothers.

 

January 11
3 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Amelia Earhart was born in 1897. Once she began flying in 1921, she quickly set numerous women's altitude, speed, and distance records. On this day in 1935, Earhart became the first person-male OR female-to fly solo from Hawaii to California. On June 1, 1937, Earhart began her last journey: to fly around the world. After successfully flying 22,000 miles, she failed to arrive at a scheduled stop on Howland Island in the Pacific. No trace of her or her plane has ever been found.

Heroes come in many shapes, sizes, situations, and packages. A hero to one person is not necessarily a hero to another. This day in history provides a chance for students to explore the definition of a hero. Have students ask at least three people (one who is their age, one who is younger, and one who is older) these questions:

  • Who is someone you identify as a hero?
  • Why do you think that person is a hero?

Once they've gathered their interview answers, ask students to share them with the class. Have them explore, as a class, the characteristics that are repeated and the reasons for any commonalities found in the results. Additionally, ask students to note anything particularly unusual in the responses. Then, use the interactive Venn diagram to create a classroom Venn diagram with three circles, each identifying one of the most common characteristics of a hero. Finally, have students place each of the heroes' names on the appropriate place in the Venn diagram.

When everyone has had a chance to share their findings, students can create posters that include pictures of their own heroes and words that describe the qualities that make each one heroic.

Amelia Earhart completed her solo flight from Honolulu to Oakland in 1935.

This Library of Congress page includes photographs, a brief biographical sketch, and links to additional stories abut Amelia Earhart.

This page, part of the Women Who Changed History section of the Scholastic website, provides a teacher's guide and student activities related to Amelia Earhart.

This site invites people around the world to publicly celebrate their heroes through images, video, and text.

September 04
5 - 12
Historical Figure & Event

Prior to Google, Web search engines ranked search results according to the number of times a key word appeared on a page. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin revolutionized the Internet search process by ranking pages based on the number of other pages to which they are linked. Since incorporating in 1998, Google has grown in popularity as a preferred Internet search engine and information application provider. In 2006, the verb "google" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Working with your librarian/school media specialist, engage students in an overview of developments in information/reference search technology. Guide students in an exploration of the following search tools (or others that provide a similar sense of contrast and development):

  • card catalog
  • Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
  • library Web site
  • Google or other search engines

After students have had a chance to become familiar with the different search technologies, lead a discussion about the purposes, benefits, and disadvantages of each.

Encourage students to think beyond the notion that the newest technology is always the best. Remind them, for example, that information they find through an online search may not have the same credibility as something they might have found through the library card catalog. Or point out that while an online search engine may offer faster, more refined results, it may be keeping track of what you searched for without your full knowledge or permission.

Google was formally incorporated this week in 1998.

Part of Google's official site, this timeline covers the company's lifespan from 1995 to the present, including thorough links to more recent developments in Google services. The timeline also lists the April Fool's Day jokes for which Google has become famous.

This frequently-updated blog includes information about new developments at Google, as well as innovative ways to use Google tools for work or leisure activities. Here you can also find links to other blogs about web technologies and blogs written by Google staff.

Offering an extensive history of search engines, this site puts Google in perspective as one of the industry leaders in the market. The site also includes an extensive list of links for further reading and exploration on the topic.

November 20
1 - 12
Author & Text

Children's favorite Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was published on this day in 1974. While Silverstein's rhymes may have been simple and catchy, his complex and thoughtful themes stick with his readers long after childhood. Silverstein was also a songwriter of such hits as "A Boy Named Sue" and "The Cover of The Rolling Stone."

Everyone remembers Shel Silverstein. Ask seniors in high school who their favorite poet is and half will give his name. This activity can begin for middle and high school students by asking them what they remember about Silverstein. For lower grade levels, introduce them to a short verse of his poetry like the one below, and ask them for their general impressions: If you had a giraffe . . . and he stretched another half . . . you would have a giraffe and a half . . . One quality of Silverstein's work is that even though it is often fantastical, it tends to be quite visual. Ask students to draw what they imagine when they read such lines as "If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire" or "Some whatifs crawled inside my ear."

After students have presented their drawings, ask them to write a line or two of their own that continues the passage and matches the flow and style of Silverstein's work. Then have students paraphrase the author's purpose in writing the poem. This is where they will find that though the words of a Silverstein poem are easy enough, the ideas are often difficult to communicate.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was published in 1974.

This entry from the Academy of American Poets includes a biography, bibliography, and samples of Silverstein's poetry.

This site includes resources related to Silverstein's poetry for parents and teachers, as well as an area "For Kids Only!"

This site includes an easy-to-read biography of the author and analysis of his work.

HarperCollins, publisher of Silverstein's books, offers a guide to using Silverstein's poetry in the classroom. The guide includes printable sheets for students.

February 12
3 - 6
Author & Text

Judy Blume has written books for all ages. Her books have received close to 100 awards and have been translated into 20 languages. Judy Blume continues to write books that delight all ages.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a perfect read-aloud. Students will enjoy listening to the adventures of Farley Drexel, a.k.a. Fudge. When you finish reading the book, ask your students what they thought was the funniest part of the story. Invite students to work individually or with a partner to create cartoons of the scenes they liked most. They can use the Comic Strip Planning Sheet to get started. If students have computer access, have them use the Comic Creator to create their strips. Visit the Comic Creator page for more information about using this tool in the classroom. This activity can be done with any of Blume's humorous stories.

Judy Blume was born in 1938.

This is Blume's official website. Students can read her biography, view photos, watch a video about her latest book, learn some writing tips, and more!

 

This resource from Scholastic includes a biography of Blume, an interview with her, and a list of her books.

 

This ARTSEDGE guide is used before and after a Kennedy Center performance of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. It includes activities that can easily be adapted for classroom use without attendance at a performance.

 

A panel of authors discuss their favorite Blume books, how they related to the universal challenges and horrors of growing up that Blume put on the page, and her impact on their work.

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.