Posts Tagged homeschool

Mini-Museums for Middle Grade Favorites

Hello, fans of Middle Grade! I hope the school year is running smoothly for your students, your readers, or your own kids, whether they are learning in-person, remotely, independently, or in a hybrid or homeschool environment. While online learning and the use of technology are certainly helpful in this time of Covid, I know my own kids sometimes grow weary of screens and keyboards in their current environments. So I wanted to share a fun and engaging reading activity that can work equally well in both the home and classroom: A Mini-Museum display based on a great Middle Grade read.

As a teacher, librarian, or homeschooling parent, you can pose this idea before readers start or finish a book, or encourage readers to choose a favorite story with which they are already familiar. The Mini-Museum employs reading, writing, and creative/critical thinking skills, and culminates in a hands-on and 3-D product. You can include teamwork and presentation/delivery skills if you choose. The steps are simple and the supplies minimal—and the search for objects gets a reader out of his or her chair and away from the screen.

Step One – After (or while) reading a novel, the reader lists notable and important physical objects mentioned in the book that have some significant relevance and/or symbolic value to the plot, characters, theme, point-of-view, or setting. Eight to ten objects make a nice-sized museum collection, but the suggested or required number would be determined by your readers’ abilities, your environment, your time, and the book choice.

Step Two – Readers gather household, three-dimensional objects that are the real thing, a replica, or a constructed facsimile of each object on his or her list.

Step Three – Readers choose and prepare a display space. This can be a shelf, tabletop, or windowsill in the classroom, or a table or empty corner at home. Use cardboard boxes, recyclables, or piles of books to create museum stands and exhibit spaces. A variety of sizes and levels makes the overall look of the display more interesting and easier to see. Readers can cover these items with plain fabric or paper for a clean “museum look.”

Step Four – Readers fill the museum with their objects. Objects of greatest significance get the choicest spots in the display.

Step Five – Readers write brief descriptive captions to display near each object, like you’d see in a real museum. These can include the object name, the date of use (setting of book), the materials that form the object, and a few sentences on the object’s significance to one or more story elements in the book. Mount the typed and printed (or handwritten) captions on folded index cards and place each free-standing description near its object.

Step Six –Optional share and tell with the class! Thanks to smart phones and cameras, most readers can find a way to show their display distantly to their teacher and classmates.

If you’ve read or taught the excellent Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper, you’ll recognize how these real objects make great representations of the novel’s important character and plot points:

  • Notebook (Stella uses one to practice writing late at night.)
  • Cigar box (Stella keeps her collection of inspirational newspaper articles in one.)
  • An edition of the Star Sentinel (This is the newspaper Stella creates.)
  • Small, unmarked bottle (Stella buys medicine for her sick brother Jojo.)
  • Clean rags torn into strips (Stella tends to her mother’s snakebite.)

Students can manufacture some objects when necessary, like Stella’s original newspaper the Star Sentinel, which she types on a donated typewriter. A description for the torn rags might be something like: “Extra wound dressings, circa early 1930s; wool and cotton. Stella uses dressings like these to help treat her mother’s snakebite. When she finds Mama unconscious in the woods, Stella brings water, whiskey, and dressings to clean and wrap the wound. Mama survives in part due to Stella’s quick actions.”

Benefits of a Mini-Museum Display:

  • It’s highly flexible with strong potential for individualization.
  • Visual-spatial learners will enjoy creating the display space.
  • Readers can work in groups or independently, depending on their situation and capabilities.

Thanks for reading and sharing this idea! Enjoy the holidays, keep safe, and stay well.

STEM Tuesday – Diseases and Pandemics — Book List

From the first sneeze to the last wheeze, these books explore diseases and the scientists who study them.

 

All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander; illus by Vivien Mildenberger

When Antony van Leeuwenhoek read a book showing plants and insects as seen through a microscope, he decided to build his own. Antony is considered the “father of microbiology” and his work with microscopes laid the foundation for (100 years later) understanding that microscopic germs were responsible for disease.

 

 

Science Comics: Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield by Falynn Koch

Imagine Jules Verne meets Miss Frizzle. In this book, a scientist uses interactive technology to communicate with bubonic plague and yellow fever germs. Readers learn how bacteria and viruses invade our bodies, elude our defenses, and how immunity works. There’s a good explanation of vaccinations and virus mutation (why we need a flu shot every year…).

 

 

Outbreak: Disease Detectives at Work by Mark P. Friedlander, Jr.

What happens when a strange new illness affects entire swaths of people all at once? You call on the “disease detectives” – epidemiologists – to investigate. In this book you’ll learn about the history of plagues, ancient and modern, as well as how epidemiologists study diseases such as Lyme disease, SARS, and AIDS. This book has already been updated twice; I predict in another couple years we’ll see a newer edition that includes Covid-19.

 

Outbreak! Plagues That Changed History by Bryn Barnard

Here’s an extensive evaluation of the causes and human reactions and interactions (from the 1300’s to the present) to bubonic plague, smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, tuberculosis, and the 1918 influenza pandemic. This book examines how these diseases changed societies and what it will ultimately take to eliminate cholera worldwide. It also looks at how wealth, bias, and prejudice continue to affect governmental reactions to microbial evolution.

 

 

Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence by Richard Platt, illus by John Kelly

In an ironic twist, a lab-coated rat, Professor Ratticus, and his cockroach and mosquito assistants lead the reader through a comprehensive look at diseases and epidemics. Comic-like illustrations (like war rooms mapping the spread of germs) and a browseable nonfiction format combine with entertaining graphics, facts, and history to provide a great overview of the world’s worst epidemics and illnesses.

 

Bubonic Plague & Yellow Fever

 

The Horror of the Bubonic Plague (Deadly History series) by Claire Throp

This book provides a concise overview of the history of bubonic plague from the Sixth century to present. Readers learn about causes and cures and some historical context. Some things will sound familiar: the use of quarantine and lockdowns, wearing masks and protective clothing, peddling fake cures, and suffering economic losses. It ends with mention of where plague still exists, but forgets to include the U.S.

 

 

The Plague (Deadliest Diseases of All Time) by Lawrence Andrews

Andrews provides a straightforward examination of the origin of the bubonic plague, methods of transmission, historic effect around the world, and its continued existence. He explains why the plague still affects 1,000 to 2,000 people a year, including within the U.S., and the race to limit its spread and find a way to eliminate the disease.

 

 

Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow

Written as a gripping medical “who-done-it,” this book introduces the ‘phantom killer” and explores the earliest plague pandemics through 1722. When this menace resurfaces in China, India, and Honolulu in the late 1890’s and then San Francisco in 1900, scientists scramble to identify the cause and find a cure, public health officials fight to finish it, and politicians hurry to hide it. This fascinating tale of how the plague settled into American and continues to infect a handful of people each year, includes a “frequently asked questions” section, timeline, and author’s note.

 

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

This book dramatically examines another “invisible stalker.” Using both first-hand witness and medical accounts, newspaper clippings, and contemporary images, it follows yellow fever’s arrival and spread throughout Philadelphia. Detailing the social, political, and medical conditions and struggles to combat this disease, this book examines the changes that the plague brought to modern medicine and the fear that it could reappear.

 

Typhoid Fever 

 

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

This book is not for the squeamish – but if you don’t wash your hands after using the toilet and eat cookies that fell to the floor (5-second rule!) then you should be OK. Mary Mallon cooked for some of the wealthiest families in New York and was well- known for her hand-cranked ice cream topped with fresh fruit. Somehow, her families came down with typhoid fever. George Soper was the epidemic detective on the hunt to find the person making people sick. At the center of it all the question of civil rights and asymptomatic carriers.

 

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary, by Gail Jarrow

When typhoid fever breaks out in New York, medical detective George Soper traces the outbreak to Mary Mallon. His job: to prevent her from infecting others. But Mary refuses to comply with quarantine and other medical directives. After all, she isn’t sick. So she continues cooking and passing on the disease. Questions of personal freedom versus public health are once again relevant as we deliberate quarantines, lockdowns, and contact tracing.

 

Flu Pandemic

 

Influenza: How the Flu Changed History, by Barbara Krasner

In 1918, people didn’t know the exact cause of the flu. But they knew the germs spread through the air. Some families sealed up their windows, and public health officials ordered people to wear masks. From initial outbreak to development of a vaccine to future epidemics, this book provides a good overview of the flu.

 

 

The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Core Events of a Worldwide Outbreak (What Went Wrong?) by John Joseph Micklos Jr.

Tracking the spread and undulation of the three waves of the 1918 Flu, from March 1918 to June 1919, this book explores the potential causes, actions that facilitated its expansion (such as WWI, armistice celebrations, and soldier’s returns), and lack of a cure that resulted in over 40 million deaths worldwide. Published in 2016, one of the critical thinking questions at the end asks how well the world may be prepared for another flu pandemic.

 

Fever Year- The Killer Flu of 1918 : A Tragedy in Three Acts by Brown, Don

Presented in a graphic novel format, this book tracks the course of the 1918 flu from Camp Funston, Kansas around the world. Many images look eerily familiar – empty streets and masks. A very accessible examination of the politics and science involved in battling the spread and ultimate containment of this flu. Additionally, it comments on current scientist’s desire to discover why this flu was so deadly, by recreating it.

 

 


STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

 

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. A long line of ants marching across the kitchen counter inspired her first article for kids. When not writing, she’s committing acts of citizen science in the garden. She blogs about science for kids and families at archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com.

 

 

Maria Marshall is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She’s been a judge for the Cybils Awards from 2017 to present. Her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2017-2018, 2016, and 2014-2015 anthologies. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com/blog.

 

STEM Tuesday — Sustainable Living– Book List

 

Let’s jump into books this month that help us keep our bodies and our environment healthy. This list includes books on feeding our hungry planet, gardening projects that you can do at home, and why our federal protections are important to our food safety. 

Let’s Eat: Sustainable Food for a Hungry Planet by Kimberley Veness

Readers will take a look at the impact of pesticides, fertilizers, food chains, and commercial fishing on our food and environment.

The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book: Fun Projects For All Seasons by Kari Cornell, photographs by Jennifer S. Larson

Why rely on others for your fruits and veggies? This book provides readers with easy projects to jumpstart your own gardening.

The Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in our Food and Drugs by Gail Jarrow

“Revolting and riveting” is how Kirkus described this book that takes a look at why we need protections and regulations in the food industry.

Recycled Science: Bring Out Your Science Genius with Soda Bottles, Potato Chip Bags, and More Unexpected Stuff by Tammy Enz and Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

This title shows you how to put your waste to work with ideas to recycle common household items and learn science while you are at it.

Ours to Share: Coexisting in a Crowded World by Kari Jones

What does a growing population mean to our planet? Jones explains the impact of overpopulation on humans, animals, and the environment.

We are all Greta: Be Inspired by Greta Thunbert to Save the World by Valentina Giannella, illustrated by Manuela Marazzi

Greta Thunberg’s global mission to save our planet from climate change can inspire us all. Delve into data and discover what that you can take action with this book by Valentina Giannella.

Start Now! You Can Make a Difference by Chelsea Clinton

Who better than First Daughter Chelsea Clinton to show young readers how they can make a difference in the world? This is a great resource for young activists.

Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought by Christy Mihaly and Sue Heavenrich

Can we alter the way we eat to solve the problem of hunger in the world? Authors Mihaly and Heavenrich offer a compelling look at facing the global hunger crisis by eating weeds, wild plants, and bugs.


Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also served as Regional Advisor Emeritus of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2020 international title about farm and food is THE FARM THAT FEEDS US: A Year In The Life Of An Organic Farm. Visit her at www.nancycastaldo.com. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. The Sibert Honor author of Sea Otter Heroes, Newman has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, and a Eureka! Gold Medal from the California Reading Association for Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com. Stay tuned for her upcoming Planet Ocean – spring 2021.