Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Map Skills, a Brain Break, and a Journey

So today I had my real first brain break of the summer.  It was nice.  I slept in and lounged all day with a book.  (Then, I went shopping for shorts because only one pair fit.  Got to love hypothyroid and a slow metabolism.  But that is another story.  I am going to focus on the more fun part of my day).

After enjoying my brain break, I figured I should return to the world of blogging for a bit.  So I know I will be sharing Social Studies and Science texts with you each week, but I may not stick to the Tuesday/Thursday schedule.  If I'm honest, Tuesday/Thursday will always be Wednesday/Friday.  So I might as well just plan on sharing but not limit myself to a specific day. I do want to try to stick with sharing my writing inspiration on Wednesdays for the consistency if you decide to use this feature in your classroom.

This week I am combining my Social Studies text recommendations and my writing inspiration in one post. For the next couple weeks, I want to focus my Social Studies texts on geography and map skills. I did some research Monday and checked out tons of books yesterday at the library.

Social Studies Texts

Text 1: Are We There Yet, Daddy? by Virginia Walters
The AR level for this book is 2.2. This story is written in rhyme and describes a boy's 100 mile journey to Grandma's house with his father. Every 10 miles he asks "Are we there yet, Daddy?"  His dad's constant response is to look at the map.  The book describes everything he sees in the 100 miles and has different pictures of maps to show the journey's progress along with what he sees at each moment. What I like about this book is that I think it helps illustrate the point that maps show real places.  I think it can be difficult for students to understand that we can use maps to show one place from multiple perspectives. I would pair this book with my second recommendation.

Text 2: Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney
This story is very simple, but is shows all the ways one place can be mapped: a girl's room, her street, her town, her state, her country, the globe, etc.  I can't tell you how many fifth graders have no clue what the difference between a city, state, and country are. So this is a story I plan to read even with 4th and 5th graders.  I would follow this up by having students draw a map of their room, their street, maybe their journey to school.  Then, you could follow that up by studying maps of the state and country. Before students can really jump into studying history, they need these foundations of perspective, geography, and map skills. One of my goals the next week is to work on some map skills activities to share.

Writing Inspiration: A Journey

My writing inspiration for this week is inspired by this idea of geography and map skills. 

Poem: You could easily use my first text suggestion as your poetry for the week as the book is written in rhyme.  You could always have students write their own poem about a journey they have taken and pair it with drawing a map of that journey. Or even consider describing a journey a character in a book took and drawing a map.

Another obvious poem suggestion would be The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.  I have actually shared this poem before, but it is one of my favorites so I will probably use it more than once a year in my own classroom. This poem lends itself to such great imagery and discussion.

Quote:  I liked this quote because I think we all live such busy lives it is easy to be so caught up in everything we are trying to achieve.  Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the moment - the process.  I also find it a great reminder as a teacher to remember that for students it is about teaching them a thinking process and not about creating a final product.

Picture:  Last year I went to Napa with my mom and got to take a hot air balloon ride.  This is one of the pictures I took.  This to me is full of such great writing potential it does not need much explanation. The sky is the limit!

Tomorrow morning, I am going on my own little mini-journey to see my dad for the day in Houston, equipped with young adult books on CD from the library. (I finally am going to read listen to Gregor the Overlander.)  I hope you have a wonderful Thursday.  I am going to try that whole scheduling a post thing for tomorrow, so let's see how that works. :)


  1. I hadn't heard of your first book choice. Look great for my map unit! Amazon here I come.
    The Meek Moose

  2. I love Me on the Map, but haven't heard of your first choice, Are We There Yet Daddy! I am going to pin that so I remember it for SS. Thanks April!
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  3. Wow April! I'm continually reminded by teacher blogs how small the world really is. I went on my first hot air balloon ride today near Napa and saw that same balloon. It was really weird seeing this post of yours. I had to add pics to the bottom of my post for you to see. How funny!

    Surfing to Success

  4. Thank ou For Sharing this Informativce Post with Us. Hope you keep it up in future also by providing informative post.This Post is very much handy.Best of Luck & Cheers.
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