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from diapers to deconstruction


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Living History in Plimoth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For one of American history units, I framed our travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts and our visit to Plimoth Plantation’s museum with literature about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. This list includes stories about the Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving, but I’ve also strived to move beyond the ubiquitous narratives; in particular, I wanted to emphasize the rich cultural tradition of the Wampanoag people before colonialism and the continuation of that tradition through the present day. This list includes descriptions of the Mayflower voyage; details about the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving; and history, legends, biographies, and contemporary accounts of the Wampanoag. These selections highlight the complexity of living history.

  1. Across the Wide dark Sea: The Mayflower Journey by Jean Van Leeuwen and Thomas B. Allen
  2. The Children of the Morning Light: Wampanoag Tales by Manitonquat and Mary F. Arquette
  3. Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition by Russell Peters and John Madama
  4. Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear: Stories from Native North America by Joseph Bruchac
  5. If You Lived at the Time of Squanto by Anne Kamma and Pamela Johnson
  6. If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma and Bert Dodson
  7. The Mayflower by Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac
  8. Native Peoples of the Northeast by Barbara Linde
  9. North American Indian by David Murdoch
  10. On the Mayflower by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  11. People of the Breaking Day by Marcia Sewall
  12. The People Shall Continue by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves
  13. Pilgrims: Fact Tracker by Mary Pope Osborne Natalie Pope Boyce and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Susan E. Goodman
  15. The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern and Elroy Freem
  16. The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving from A to Z by Laura Crawford and Judith Hierstein
  17. Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  18. Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  19. Spotlight on Native Americans: Wampanoag by Joseph Stanley
  20. Squanto: 1585?-1622 by Arlene Hirschfelder
  21. Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac and Greg Shed
  22. The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross and Carolyn Croll
  23. Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall
  24. Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  25. The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh and Helen Sewell
  26. Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson and Matt Faulkner
  27. This is the Feast by Diane Shore and Megan Lloyd
  28. Thunder from the Clear Sky by Marcia Sewall
  29. The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Susan Gaber
  30. Wampanoag by Barbara Gray-Kanatiiosh
  31. The Wampanoag: The People of the First Light by Janet Riehecky
  32. The Wampanoag and Their History by Natalie M. Rosinsky
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Wabi Sabi: A Japanese List

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My younger daughter says her favorite thing about our unit study of Japan was the rice, providing further confirmation that we’re in it for the food. We did go out for Japanese food during this study, practicing with chopsticks and sampling sushi. My older daughter says she loved learning about all the different festivals and holidays in Japan, and these books certainly cover those topics as well. They also fell in love with Totoro in their introduction to anime. As you can see, this list does what I strive to do with all of our place-based unit studies: get a sense of the culture through history, folklore, fairy tales, contemporary accounts, food, music, crafts, and geography. This list showed us loyal animals, origami, wise rulers, everyday families, and, yes, rice. It’s the next best thing to travel!

  1. All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Willamarie Moore and Kazumi Wilds
  2. Chibi: A True Story from Japan by Barbara Brenner, Julia Takaya, and June Otani
  3. Cooking the Japanese Way by Reiko Weston
  4. Color Crayola’s Japanese Flag and Map
  5. The Culture and Crafts of Japan by Miriam Coleman
  6. Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan
  7. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  8. The Emperor’s Plum Tree by Michelle Nikly and Elizabeth Shub
  9. Erika-San by Allen Say
  10. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Pamela Turner and Yan Nascimbene
  11. I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi
  12. Watch Families of Japan
  13. The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent
  14. Japan by C.I.A.’s World Factbook
  15. Japan: Tradition, Culture, and Daily Life by Michael Centore
  16. Japanse Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! by Betty Reynolds
  17. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade and Yoshisuke Kurosaki
  18. Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
  19. My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown and Aya Padrón
  20. My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe
  21. Watch My Neighbor Totoro
  22. Night of the Ninjas by Mary Pope Osborne
  23. Ninjas and Samurai by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Bryce
  24. Make an Origami Crane
  25. Watch Ponyo
  26. The Real Princess Diaries by Grace Norwich
  27. Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan by Eric Kimmel and Mordicai Gerstein
  28. Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young
  29. The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb IIjima and Paige Billin-Frye
  30. Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds


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Colonial Times

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It was easy to get carried away with our unit study of colonial times because the resources listed below helped us to explore nearly every aspect of that historical era. We made colonial crafts, recreated recipes of the times, and visited historical sites to capture the feeling of the American colonies. This list emphasizes the daily life as well as the big issues of the day so we can see the ways that the micro- and macro-levels of history converge. And while we didn’t talk about it with quite that language, it came up conceptually—until we got distracted again by conversations about colonial bathrooms.

  1. Watch “Ben and Me” on Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales, Volume 3
  2. Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos, Discovered, Edited, and Illustrated by Robert Lawson
  3. The Blacksmith by Bobbie Kalman
  4. The Cold, Hard facts about Science and Medicine in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  5. Colonial Times from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
  6. Watch clips from “Colonial Williamsburg”
  7. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Doctor by Laurie Krebs
  8. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Glassblower by J. L. Branse
  9. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Indigo Planter by Laurie Krebs
  10. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Innkeeper by Kathy Wilmore
  11. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Lighthouse Keeper by Laurie Krebs
  12. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Miller by Laurie Krebs
  13. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Printer by Kathy Wilmore
  14. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Sailmaker by Laurie Krebs
  15. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Schoolteacher by Kathy Wilmore
  16. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Shipwright by Laurie Krebs
  17. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Wigmaker by Kathy Wilmore
  18. The Dish on Food and Farming in Colonial America by Anika Fajardo
  19. The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies: The Disgusting Details about Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  20. Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd
  21. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall
  22. Hasty Pudding, Johnnycakes, and Other Good Stuff: Cooking in Colonial America by Loretta Frances Ichord and Jan Davy Elis
  23. If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern and Brinton Turkle
  24. If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days by Barbara Brenner and Jenny Williams
  25. Inventors and Inventions in Colonial America by Charlie
  26. Journey to Monticello: Traveling in Colonial Times by James E. Knight
  27. The Milliner by Niki Walker, Bobbie Kalman, and Barbara Bedell
  28. Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen and Michael J. Deraney
  29. The New Americans: Colonial Times (1620-1689) by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro
  30. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and Barbara Cooney
  31. The Real Story about Government and Politics in Colonial America by Kristine Carlson Asselin
  32. The Real Story on the Weapons and Battles of Colonial America by Kristine Carlson Asselin
  33. The Scoop on Clothes, Homes, and Daily Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth Raum
  34. The Scoop on School and Work in Colonial America by Bonnie Hinman
  35. When I Was Built by Jennifer Thermes


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Whatever the Weather

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My kids particularly liked Bel the Weather Girl from this list, and I appreciate her book’s efforts to inform while demystifying weather events that often seem scary. The resources below are largely practical, with the definitions of key weather terms, the science behind the storms, and the strategies for reading the weather and staying safe. All our talk about forecasting and storms also brought up some interesting points—like the way meteorology gives us so much critical data to live our daily lives in ways that weren’t possible before advanced forecasting. It’s easy to take all this information for granted, but our list helped us understand a little more of the complex science of weather and its effects on our lives every day.

  1. Boy, Were We Wrong about the Weather! by Kathleen Kudlinski and Sebastià Serra
  2. Everything Weather by Kathy Furgang and Tim Samaras
  3. Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn Branley and True Kelley
  4. The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting by Mark Breen and Kathleen Friestad
  5. Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today? All about Weather by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz
  6. On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather by Marilyn Singer and Frané Lessac
  7. A Party for Clouds: Thunderstorms by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla
  8. Raindrops on a Roller Coaster: Hail by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla
  9. The Sky Stirs Up Trouble: Tornadoes by Belinda Jensen and Renée Kurilla
  10. Spinning Wind and Water: Hurricanes by Belinda Jensen and Renée
  11. Watch Tell Me Why: Water & Weather
  12. The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow and Margaret Bloy Graham
  13. W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet by Pat Michaels and Melanie Rose
  14. Weather by Seymour Simon
  15. Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons
  16. What Will the Weather Be? by Lynda DeWitt and Carolyn Croll


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When Irish Eyes Are Reading

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For our study of Ireland, we listened to a lot of toe-tapping tunes and fancied finding wee folk all over. As with all of our place-based units, there’s a mixture here of folklore and history. We made connections to our own family background and our region’s Irish influences, not to mention finding a new bread recipe we love. I got to share one of my favorite childhood movies with my girls and found a new and enchanting film for us all. Our exploration of The Emerald Isle was filled with wonder, but the real magic, as always, is in the journey-by-book.

  1. Brigid’s Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan and Helen Cann
  2. Watch Darby O’Gill and the Little People
  3. Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco
  4. Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman and Kelly Murphy
  5. Great Irish Legends for Children by Yvonne Carroll and Robin Lawrie
  6. “Ireland” by CIA World Factbook
  7. Color the flags of Ireland and Northern Ireland by Crayola
  8. The Irish Cinderlad by Shirley Climo and Loretta Krupinski
  9. Irish Fairy Tales edited by Philip Smith
  10. Bake Irish Soda Bread
  11. Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie dePaola
  12. Leprechaun in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  13. Leprechauns and Irish Folklore by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Bryce, and Sal Murdocca
  14. The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole
  15. Leprechauns on the Loose: An Adventure in Ireland by Disney’s Small World Library
  16. The Long March: The Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
  17. O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott
  18. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
  19. The Prince of Ireland and the Three Magic Stallions by Bryce Milligan and Preston McDaniels
  20. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Celtic Crossroads
  21. Listen to Putumayo Presents: Women of the World, Celtic
  22. S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet by Eve Bunting and Matt Faulkner
  23. Watch The Secret of Kells
  24. This is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek
  25. Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk: An Irish Tale by Gerald McDermott
  26. Viking Ships at Sunrise by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca


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The Beauty of the Body

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For this unit study, we explored the human body and its many systems. We looked at lots of pictures of the amazing internal workings of our bodies and learned how each system does its job to keep us healthy and strong. Technically speaking, the books on this list fall under health and science, but it’s hard not to classify them as art as well given the beauty of the human body. We gained new appreciation for each word read, each heartbeat, each breath as we learned about our brains and our hearts and our lungs, and everything in between.

  1. Body Sense, Body Nonsense by Seymour Simon and Dennis Kendrick
  2. Bones: Our Skeletal System by Seymour Simon
  3. Boy, Were We Wrong about the Human Body! by Kathleen Kudlinski and Debbie Tilley
  4. The Brain: Our Nervous System by Seymour Simon
  5. A Drop of Blood by Paul Showers and Don Madden
  6. Ears are for Hearing by Paul Showers and Holly Keller
  7. The Everything Kids’ Human Body Book by Sheri Amsel
  8. Eyes and Ears by Seymour Simon
  9. Germs Make Me Sick! by Melvin Berger and Marylin Hafner
  10. The Heart: Our Circulatory System by Seymour Simon
  11. The Human Body by Seymour Simon
  12. Watch DK’s Human Machine
  13. Infographics: Human Body by Peter Grundy
  14. Inside Your Outside: All about the Human Body by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz
  15. It’s Not the Stork: A Book about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends by Robie Harris and Michael Emberley *Note that this book is particularly graphic*
  16. Lungs: Your Respiratory System by Seymour Simon
  17. The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
  18. The Magic School Bus Presents: The Human Body by Tom Jackson and Carolyn Bracken
  19. Me and My Amazing Body by Joan Sweeney and Annette Cable
  20. Muscles: Our Muscular System by Seymour Simon
  21. My Amazing Body: A First Look at Health and Fitness by Pat Thomas
  22. My Body Is Private by Linda Walvoord Girand and Rodney Pate
  23. Watch Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about that: Oh, the Skin We Are In!
  24. Oh, the Things You Can Do that Are Good for You! All about Staying Healthy by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz
  25. Professor I.Q. Explores the Brain by Seymour Simon and Dennis Kendrick
  26. See Inside Your Body by Katie Daynes and Colin King
  27. The Skeleton and Muscular System by Carol Ballard and Steve Parker
  28. The Skeleton Inside You by Philip Balestrino and True Kelley
  29. What Happens to a Hamburger by Paul Showers and Anne Rockwell
  30. Your Skin and Mine by Paul Showers and Kathleen Kuchera


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Here Be Dragons

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Both of my children adore stories about mythical creatures; it’s part of their inheritance, right along with their dimples. Few such beasts are as impressive and breathtaking as dragons, and the list here showcases those creatures’ cunning as well as their sillier sides. These stories cross cultures to show different perspectives on dragons, who don’t always breathe fire and sometimes intertwine with saints’ tales. I will note that, despite my four-year-old’s love of dragons, I put few films on this list because of the intense images that so many of those movies contain. We stuck mostly to text, instead, where we relied on our imaginations, aided by timeless tales and exquisite illustrations, to bring these beasts to life.

  1. Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  2. Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca
  3. The Dragons Are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky and Peter Sis
  4. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri
  5. The Dragon Snatcher by M. P. Robertson
  6. The Egg by M. P. Robertson
  7. Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
  8. How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
  9. Watch How to Train Your Dragon
  10. Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn and Kelly Murphy
  11. Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang and Chong Chang
  12. King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bentley and Helen Oxenbury
  13. The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola
  14. Me and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki
  15. Merlin and the Dragons by Jane Yolen and Li Ming
  16. No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Jean Pendziwol and Martine Gourbault
  17. Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el and Tim Bowers
  18. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko
  19. The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer and Lisa McGue
  20. Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman
  21. The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash and Lynn Munsinger
  22. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent
  23. Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen and Derek Anderson
  24. Where’s the Dragon? by Richard Hook and Jason Hook