Wildlife Conservation

You’d be hard pressed to find something that can catch a child’s eye faster than animals, especially kindergarteners and first graders (but, really, who doesn’t like animals?), and using animals can be an effective way to introduce your students to larger issues including, wildlife conservation, volunteering, and environmentalism. I’m excited to suggest some great materials that are available at the library for you to consider incorporating into your lesson plans.

 Nonfiction Picture Books

Leopard & Silkie



Leopard & Silkie

by Brenda Peterson, photographs by Robin Lindsey

Leopard is an irresistible seal pup born and growing up on the Salish Sea shores in Seattle, Washington. His mother has to leave him alone during the day to look for food and to swim, and that’s when the curiosity of humans can endanger Leopard’s life. Fortunately, he has at least two things working in his favor. First, there is Miles – a young (kid) volunteer for Seal Sitters (Marine Mammal Stranding Network (MMSN)), an all-volunteer organization, that looks after vulnerable young seals by seal sitting and also educates the public about the human dangers to young seal pups. Second, Leopard meets Silkie, a seal pup that has been on her own for a while, and she helps him figure out how to do things for himself. Lindsey’s wonderful photographs create a connection with the text that bring the story to life. The book also includes an Author’s Note with additional information and a bibliography with supplementary resources. Find out more about Leopard & Silkie and MMSN here.

Supplemental classroom activities:

  • Discuss experiences with wildlife (i.e., have you ever found a baby bird, squirrel, etc. that looked like its parent left it on its own? What did you do? What happened?)
  • Create stories/drawings about what happened to Leopard & Silkie after the book.
  • Use a map of the United States to identify the locations where seals live (i.e., Seattle, Washington; Baja & San Francisco, California, etc.), as well as the names of the oceans where they swim.


 Saving Yasha

by Lia Kvatum, photographs by National Geographic Young Explorer Liya Pokrovskaya

Yasha is an orphaned moon bear in the Russian wilderness. With the help of two scientists, concerned about the endangered species, and two more orphaned moon bear cubs, Yasha learns the skills he will need to live on his own. Pokrovskaya’s vivid, colorful photographs bring the bears up close and personal. The book also includes a note from the scientists and additional resource materials.



Supplemental classroom activities:

  • Discuss the differences/similarities between the moon bears and the seals, i.e., how they cope on their own, where they live, etc.
  • The scientists spent 2,000 hours reintroducing Yasha back into the wild – how long is that in days, weeks, months, etc.?

 Additional materials:

Nonfiction Picture Books

Picture Books

Nonfiction Readers

 If you need assistance locating additional materials or have any questions, please contact Susan Carlton at scarlton@skokielibrary.info.

Thank you for stopping by, and stay tuned for Wildlife Conservation Part 2!

Posted under Books & Reading, Curriculum Resources, School, Teachers

Illustrated Fiction – Selections for Black History Month

With longer story lines, more challenging vocabulary, and amazing illustrations, the picture book titles we call  illustrated fiction work well  as part of a curriculum unit for students in the middle grades or junior high.  This month I’ve selected several stories that can be used to supplement curriculum for Black History month celebrated in February. In an effort to offer more context for these illustrated fiction titles, I’ve also included links to videos about the famous African American people and events featured in the stories.

 Almost to Freedom by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson is a captivating account told from the point of view of an enslaved child’s beloved rag doll of escape from slavery via the Underground Railroad. Suspenseful and poignant it is a story of hope and resilience.

  Freedom on the Menu: the Greensboro Sit-ins by Carole Boston Weatherford is told from viewpoint of a little girl whose older brother and sister join the NAACP and participate in the lunch counter sit-ins during the seven month protest.
 Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andera Davis Pinkney combines poetic verse in the rhythm of the blues with riveting artwork to tell the story of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. It makes for an amazing read aloud and effectively communicates the grim determination of the 40,000 participants in the 13–month–long boycott.

 Looking for more illustrated fiction titles? To search our illustrated fiction collection, enter illustrated fiction in the keyword search box of our catalog, then limit your search by clicking on Community Tags on the left side of the page. Questions? Contact Susan Carlton at scarlton@skokielibrary.info

Posted under Books & Reading, Curriculum Resources, School, Teachers

TeachingBooks.net – Book and Author Resources for Your Classroom

Are you “in the know” about this terrific resource?

TeachingBooks.net is an online collection of K–12 book and author resources to help you discuss and integrate books throughout your classroom curriculum. It also supports the Common Core Standards for E.L.A. and Literacy. You can access the collection from school or home on the Skokie Public Library website. TeachingBooks includes:

Original movies of authors and illustrators;

Audio excerpts of professional book readings;

Discussion guides for thousands of titles; and

Multimedia materials to help connect children and young adults to books.YouTube Preview Image

Posted under Books & Reading, Curriculum Resources, School, Teachers

Put a Little Zip into Your Science Lessons

Do you have students who just don’t seem all that interested in science, but really love sports? Score! Sports Science Projects a series for students in 6th – 10th grades includes Slam Dunk!: Science Projects with Basketball by Robert Gardner and Dennis Shortelle. Experiments from this resource are a great way to demonstrate how science and sports go hand in hand.

 Or perhaps you have a few budding detectives in your 3rd – 6th grade classroom that are interested in forensic science? An experiment from the  Who Dunnit: Forensics Science Experiements which includes Who Can Solve the Crime?: Science Projects Using Detective Skills by Robert Gardner might be right up their alley.


 If you’re looking for some fresh ideas for teaching your students about some of the basics – air, energy, simple machines – collections like the True Book series for students in 1st – 3rd grades contain effective, simple experiments that capture a student’s interest while communicating the learning point. These books have glossaries to help students understand new terminology and website recommendations for further reading. Some of the websites are great resources for older students, too. In Salvatore Tocci’s Experiments with Simple Machines, he recommends The Boston Museum of Science website which lets students explore Leonardo da Vinci’s work with machines performed over five hundred years ago! Students can also learn more about six simple machines when they check out The Franklin Institute website and click on the links for each type of machine.

With the implementation of the Common Core Standards, information texts have come to the forefront. Science in particular is being emphasized in elementary education standards. We have lots of books to enrich your science lesson plans with intriguing, hands–on projects.

If you have questions or would like some assistance locating other great science experiment titles, contact Susan Carlton at scarlton@skokielibrary.info. If you have a resource or an experiment you’d like to share with other Skokie teachers, click Add Comments.

Posted under Curriculum Resources, School, Teachers

Come Visit Us at Kids’ Books We Love

Kids’ Books We Love is back in business. We’ve been busy updating the database so that it’s easier to use and a great resource if you’re searching for titles that are similar to a particular type of book, for a genre, for works by a specific author, for award winning books or for books targeting a grade level.

Reviews are written by Youth Services staff and are designed to provide basic details about the book – genre, grade level, and awards received as well as a hook for readers – something that will reel them in and interest them in reading the book. Kids’ Books We Love doesn’t replace our Library catalog. It’s a reader’s advisory tool – one of many ways to connect students with books they will enjoy and keep them reading. It’s also another tool for teachers searching for just the right book for a read aloud in the classroom or for a particular curriculum unit.

Check it out and post a comment if you have any questions or suggestions for making this an even better resource for you and your students.

Posted under Books & Reading, Curriculum Resources, Library, Teachers

Coming Soon! Brandon Mull Visits Skokie Public Library

This is a program fantasy fans won’t want to miss! Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series is coming to Skokie Public Library on Tuesday, March 27th at 7:00 p.m. We hope you’ll encourage your students to register to attend this free program and also plan to attend yourself to learn more about this popular author.

Mull is well known for his action packed stories and the first title in the Fablehaven series was a 2011 Rebecca Caudill nominee. While the Fablehaven series is considered most appropriate for a middle school audience, his new series, Beyonders, targets students in grades 4 – 7. Visit Mull’s website and find trailers for both the Fablehaven series and the Beyonders trilogy. Also included on the website is a Teacher’s Guide for Fablehaven and videos featuring Mull in which he talks about the writing process and offers tips for young writers.

Register for this program online or by calling the Youth Services Desk (847–324–3149).

Posted under Books & Reading, Curriculum Resources, Library, Teachers

Brrrrr! Winter in Your Classroom

In the midst of winter here are some ways to explore the season with your students.

 “Winter comes out in a fog when you talk. It’s naked branches, rock salt on the sidewalks, needles of ice slicing through the glow of streetlights and headlights. Winter is crunchy sounds when you walk, wet wool, puddles leaking around your boots on the clean hall floor. It’s your jacket zipper catching the front of your shirt and staying stuck no matter how you try to wiggle it loose. Winter is crackling fires, first run shows on TV, hot cocoa with marshmallows melting on top. It’s going outside without getting mosquito bites and without worrying about bears. Sometimes winter is dull, slippery, gray, boring.”  


So begins Exploring Winter by Sandra Markle, a science teacher and author of books, workbooks and articles on science topics. As you can tell from this brief excerpt she has a lyrical command of English that helps make this nonfiction book about winter a delight to read. There are instructions for building a snow shelter, stories about how animals make it through the winter, instructions for identifying animal tracks, and lots, lots more.

Perhaps you’re in the market for a craft to round out a winter lesson plan. Crafts to Make in the Winter by Kathy Ross has some really creative ideas. Try making ice skaters to race across the floor, large animal tracks for students to tie on their feet and walk through the snow, or lacy snowflakes. Perhaps your students could make bird feeders using the instructions in Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner and then learn more about the most common feeder visitors from Lerner’s descriptions. If you love poetry like I do, consider reading aloud some of Jane Yolen’s poems from Snow, Snow. Have students memorize some of the many short poems to “carry” with them all winter long.


Posted under Books & Reading, Curriculum Resources, School, Teachers

Classroom Connections – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mine eyes have seen the glory,

The sunlit path is there.

Let us not stay and wallow

In the valley of despair.

The crooked places will be made straight.

The rough places will be made plain.

We’ll sit at the table of brotherhood

Free from injustice and pain.

These words are taken from Let Freedom Ring: A Ballad of Martin Luther King Jr. written by Myra Cohn Livingston and using quotes from King’s speeches and sermons. It is one of several fine resources to consider using in the classroom as we prepare to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

If you are looking for a different way to introduce Dr. King’s life and work, you might want to take a look at Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Story of a Dream by June Behrens. It is a short two–act play with 14 different roles, allowing 4th or 5th grade students to “tell” the story. Or, you might want to read aloud As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson which describes a remarkable friendship between King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who worked together to achieve a common cause. Finally, for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade Doreen Rappaport’s book Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an inspiring introduction to King’s life illustrated with stunning collage art.

These are only a few of the many, many resources about Martin Luther King Jr. Do you have a favorite you can share? How have you used it in your classroom? Post your recommendations and ideas here for others to read.


Posted under Books & Reading, Curriculum Resources, School, Teachers

Hot Classroom Reads – Join Us and Learn More!

Join our seasoned, knowledgeable Youth Services librarians at the Skokie Public Library for an afternoon filled with great books for your 5th – 8th grade students– avid and reluctant readers alike.

This program is for teachers, homeschoolers, and tutors of students. CPDU credits will be offered. For adults only.

Registration is required and begins November 1. Register online at our website or telephone the Youth Services Desk at 847-324-3149.

November 30, 2011

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Posted under Books & Reading, Events & Programs, Library, Teachers

Hot Resources for Cool Curriculum-Black History Month

Just recently I took some time to view portions of two of the many videos available in the collection, American History in Video, thinking that I might find some interesting resource material for use during Black History Month.  American History in Video provides the largest and richest collection of video available online for the study of American history. The collection allows students and researchers to analyze historical events, and their presentation over time, through commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and important documentaries. American History in Video was named a Library Journal 2009 Best Reference, in addition to being named as Booklist Editors’ Choice: Reference Sources 2009 winner. You can access it from our website using your teacher library card number.

The 8 minute Universal Newsreel from August 29, 1963 shows events during the march on Washington D.C. in stark black and white footage. I could see the hundreds of thousands of people crammed onto the mall and hear the words of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Showing this news clip to your entire class by using a SmartBoard or a projector puts students in that moment in time. You might also want to pair it with a picture book for older readers such as, I Have a Dream, which presents the eloquent speech in its entirety as seen through the eyes of 15 African American artists who have won the Coretta Scott King Award or received a Coretta Scott King honor book designation.

Another possibility for classroom use is a longer video, American in the 20th Century: The Civil Rights Movement, Reconstruction to Redemption (Media Rich Communications) which puts the civil rights movement in historical context and is  appropriate for middle school students. Consider pairing this video with Freedom Walkers; The Story of the Mongomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman. This ALA Notable Book for Children combines an attractive photo-essay design with writing that allows the reader to almost experience the events so compellingly described. Another photo-essay, Reaching for Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge, winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award as well as the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and a National Book Award Finalist documents the role children played in the movement’s progress and eventual success.

Posted under Audio-Visual, Books & Reading, Databases, Teachers