Field Trip to Volcano Island Activity

Promotional image for the book Field Trip to Volcano Island by John Hare.

Field Trip to Volcano Island Summary

Imagine going on a field trip to a volcanic island. What would you expect to find? If you joined the class in John Hare’s book, Field Trip to Volcano Island, you might see lava monsters!

The wordless story takes place in the future. A class leaves their floating, self-sustaining school on a helicopter. They make their way to Volcano Island.

Upon arrival, the class discovers a crater of boiling lava and an active geyser. One student finds beautiful flowers. He collects the flowers while trailing behind his classmates.

When a strong wind blows his flowers into the crater, the boy goes after them. He slides down into the volcano. He retrieves his flowers, but now he’s stuck.

The boy is alone at the bottom of the volcano. Or is he? Volcanic monsters appear. How will the boy save his beautiful flowers and get back to his classmates?

Field Trip to Volcano Island is an incredible, wordless adventure. It’s amazing how the gorgeous illustrations convey such an imaginative story. Readers will want to soak in every bit of this work of art. Fans of previous Field Trip books will love the last page. Here, we see the main characters from Field Trip to the Moon and Field Trip to the Ocean Deep.

Inside pages of the book Field Trip to Volcano Island by John Hare. In it, we see students dressed in fire safe outfits exploring a volcano.

Field Trip to Volcano Island Activity

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Create I.B.3. Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes generating products that illustrate learning.

Introduce Field Trip to Volcano Island as a wordless book. Ask learners what they already know about books without words. Discuss what it might take for an author to tell a story with illustrations.

Tell learners that you’ll read the book together twice. First, everyone will pay close attention to what the illustrations convey. Discuss the story after the first reading.

Next, map out the structure of the story while reading the story a second time. Record the structure on a dry erase board or chart paper.

Then, introduce Field Trip to the Moon and Field Trip to the Ocean Deep. Tell learners that you will read the books together. Their job is to notice if the books follow the same structure as Field Trip to Volcano Island.

Give learners an opportunity to brainstorm the next Field Trip book. Direct them to sketch out ideas using the same structure in John Hare’s books. Watch author/illustrator John Hare describe his sketching process to inspire learners.

More Fun

Click here to watch Field Trip to the Ocean Deep with music.

My Books

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I Do Not Like Yolanda Activities

I Do Not Like Yolanda Summary

When you read the title I Do Not Like Yolanda, you’re compelled to open the book. You’ll want to learn what’s up with Yolanda. But first, we meet Bianca.

Bianca loves everything about writing and sending letters. She cares about spelling and puts much thought into what she writes. She decorates her letters and envelopes with colorful pictures and adds interesting stamps.

There is one thing that Bianca does not like about writing and sending letters. She’s afraid of Yolanda, the post office clerk. Bianca makes assumptions about Yolanda while waiting in line. She decides that Yolanda doesn’t like people and wants to eat them. Bianca’s ideas about Yolanda make her afraid.

When Bianca gathers the courage to ask Yolanda for stamps, she also asks about her weekend. Bianca is surprised about what happens next. Instead of eating Bianca, Yolanda tells her all about a delicious meal she made. It turns out that Bianca had the wrong idea about Yolanda. The postal clerk was quite friendly and interesting!

Readers are going to love the suspenseful structure of this book. They’ll be captivated by the hints of Yolanda’s character as the story builds. The illustrations draw readers further into the story as they look for clues and watch Bianca’s anxiety grow.

The conclusion reminds readers that assumptions are not helpful.

This image captures a double-page spread in the book I Do Not Like Yolanda by Zoey Abbott. The images shows the protagonist,  Bianca, standing in line to mail a letter. She is crossing her arms, legs and fingers to bring her good luck before Yolanda checks her out.

I Don’t Like Yolanda Lesson Activity

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.2: Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reflecting and questioning assumptions and possible misconceptions.

By the end of this lesson activity, learners will understand the importance of questioning their assumptions about the people they meet.

Begin by reading I Don’t Like Yolanda by Zoey Abbott. Ask learners the following questions:

  • Why do you suppose Bianca imagined a scary version of the postal worker?
  • What made Bianca change her mind about the postal worker?

Next, introduce the story of Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña. Tell learners that while you read the story, their job is to watch how Milo makes assumptions about the people around him. Reflect on the story by asking the following questions:

  • How did Milo’s pictures of people change by the end of the story?
  • What caused Milo to change his thinking?

Invite learners to reflect on the lessons from both stories. Encourage learners to share how Bianca and Milo’s stories will help them the next time they make assumptions about people.

More Lesson Ideas

Wondering how to structure a letter and address an envelope? Check out the endpapers in I Do Not Like Yolanda. Here you’ll find letters written by Bianca to her friends and family. The letters are fun to read!

Want to learn more about the post office? Take a virtual field trip to the post office by watching Post Office Field Trip from PBS Learning Media.

To learn about postage stamps, visit Britannia Kids. Here you’ll find interesting information about the history and purpose of stamps.

Tundra, the publisher, has a tremendous amount of fun ideas that will work for any class schedule. Click here to access #TundraTime activities for I Do Not Like Yolanda.

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will receive a small percentage of your purchase at no cost to you.

The Little House of Hope

Image featuring the book The Little House of Hope by Terry Catsús Jennings and Raúl Colón.

Summary

The Little House of Hope begins with an immigrant family from Cuba looking for affordable housing in the United States. They settle on a place that has a funky smell. Donated furniture and keepsakes give the home a cozy feel.

Papi, Mami, Esperanza and Manolo work all day and into the night for a better life. They dedicate themselves to turning their home into a happy place to live and thrive. 

Unrest in Cuba causes family members to flee the country. Relatives move to America and stay with Esperanza’s family. They find refuge in the small home. Everyone contributes in some way to support the growing household. 

When Mami meets a family from Mexico in need of shelter, she invites them to live in their crowded house. Their place fills with determined people who are full of hope.

As house guests find their footing and leave, other move in to the house. The immigrants find “the little house of hope” a safe place to stay as they navigate a new country. When guests leave, Esperanza presents them with a decorated poster. Her name fills the poster in both Spanish and English. The sign reads “Esperanza” and “Hope.” 

The Little House of Hope provides a window into the lives of immigrants. We see the love, pride and support a family from Cuba offers to other immigrants. They work together to establish a better life in a new country.  

The illustrations by award winning artist Raúl Colón show a happy experience. Smiling people work together to make a beautiful life in America. Colón’s work emulates the pride and love the families feel for one another as they establish a new home.

Two pages from the book The Little House of Hope by Terry Catasús Jennings and Raúl Colón. The illustrations highlight an immigrant family working hard for a better life in America.
Image from Edelweiss

The Little House of Hope Lesson Activity

Author Terry Catasús Jennings wrote this book because of an injustice. When Jennings immigrated to America, a realtor refused to help her family find a home. The realtor stated that he never rented to Hispanics because many families live together and ruin properties. Jennings wrote The Little House of Hope because she is still angry about the racist comment. Her story, based on her immigrant experience, disrupts the realtor’s racist comment.

Lesson Objective

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Grow ll.D.3 Learners demonstrate empathy and equity in knowledge building within the global learning community by reflecting on their own place within the global learning community.

Objective: After reading about immigrants, learners will explain why it’s important to learn about different immigrant experiences.

Before Reading

  • Introduce the lesson by asking learners what they already know about immigrants. Record responses on chart paper.
  • Show the cover of The House of Hope. Ask learners what they can expect from reading the story.
  • Read the “Author’s Note” found on the copyright page. Ask learners to think of a time someone said something about them that wasn’t true. How did it make them feel? How did they react? Explain that people can use their anger to fuel positive change. Some do this by writing, like the author of The House of Hope.
  • Tell learners that as you read the story, their job is to consider what the author wants readers to know about the immigrants in her story.

After Reading

  • Ask learners what they learned about the immigrants in the story. Explain that they will learn about more immigrant experiences by visiting the Meet Young Immigrants page on the Scholastic website. Invite learners to read about the children and watch the videos.
  • Ask learners what they notice about the webpage. Explain that a great deal of work went into curating, designing and producing the webpage. Ask learners why Scholastic would dedicate that much work into creating the webpage about immigrant children. Give learners an opportunity to discuss their ideas.

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

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Saturday at the Food Pantry Lesson Activity

Promotional image for the picture book Saturday at the Food Pantry. The book is in the center of the image with images of fruits and vegetables surrounding the cover.

Saturday at the Food Pantry Summary

The story of Saturday at the Food Pantry begins in a kitchen. A smiling mother serves a bowl of chili to her daughter Molly. Molly is not happy about the meal. They’ve had the same chili every night for two weeks. There is very little food in the house. Molly’s mother explains that they’ll get groceries the next day at the food pantry. When Molly asks what a food pantry is, her mother explains that it’s a place for people who need food. “Everybody needs help sometimes,” she responds.

Molly goes to bed feeling hungry that night.

The next day, Molly and her mother wait in  a long line at the food pantry. Molly spots her classmate, Caitlin, and calls to her. Caitlin doesn’t respond. When Molly runs up to Caitlin to get her attention, Caitlin shies away. Caitlin tells Molly that she doesn’t want anyone to know that she needs help. This confuses Molly. Doesn’t everyone need help at times? 

This important story lets readers know that there is nothing wrong with getting help. Sometimes we need help, and other times, we can offer help. A note at the back of the book by Kate Maehr, Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, explains that people who receive help often give back when they can.

Author Diane O’Neill relied on food pantries and food stamps as a child. She wrote this story to let readers know that it’s okay to accept help. There’s plenty of food in this country, and children should not go hungry or feel upset about receiving assistance.

Double-page spread from the book Saturday at the Food Bank by Diane O'Neill. We see two girls, Molly and Caitlin, handing drown pictures to a woman in the food bank while Molly's mother signs in to begin shopping.

Saturday at the Food Pantry Lesson Activity

AASL Standards Framework for Learners Collaborate/Create III.B.1 Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by using a variety of communication tools and resources.

Introduce the story by asking learners what they already know about food pantries. Say, “While we read this story, I want you to collect information about food pantries. Notice what’s happening on the pages. See what the illustrator and the author want us to learn from the story.”

Questions Before Reading

Ask the following questions while reading:

  • “How do you suppose the girl on the cover feels about shopping at a food pantry? How do you know this?” (cover)
  • “How does Molly feel about eating chili again? How can you tell?” (pg. 1)
  • “Why do you think the mother stands straight and holds her chin up when she talks about needing help?”(pg. 3)
  • “What did you learn about food pantries on these pages? How does Molly feel about waiting in line for food?” (pgs. 6-7)
  • “Why do you suppose Caitlin doesn’t want anyone to know she needs help? Were you ever upset about needing help? Think about why that bothered you.” (pgs. 8-9) 
  • “How do you suppose Caitlin is feeling now? Why do you think that is?” (pgs. 12-13)
  • “What did you learn about food pantries on these pages?” (pgs. 14-21) 
  • “How did Molly and Caitlin help people?” (pg. 22)
  • “How does Caitlin feel now about visiting the food pantry? How do you know this?” (pgs. 24-25)

After Reading Saturday at the Food Pantry

Explain that many people make tough choices about spending money. With rising food and gas prices, some families need help.

Invite a representative from a local food pantry to visit your class. Share pictures or a video of the food pantry. Encourage learners to ask how they can help feed their community. Gather ideas and plan for a sustained effort throughout the year. It’s important for learners to invest in a long-term effort to make a real impact.

More Resources

Watch O’Neill read her story on Instagram. Elliot Gaskins, from No Kid Hungry, hosted the reading with Parents magazine.

To learn more about children’s books that foster change, check out the Parent’s Raising the Future Book Club.

Pair this story with Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki.

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will receive a small percentage of your purchase.

Soul Food Sunday

Promotional image for the book Soul Food Sunday. The book is surrounded by the ingredients to make macaroni and cheese.

Summary

When you think about family traditions, what comes to mind? Do you see food in your mental picture? In the book Soul Food Sunday, food brings the family together. Every Sunday, cars full of family members pull up to Granny’s house. Cousins, aunts and uncles unload groceries and games. The adults head to the kitchen and the outdoor grill, while the children settle into their games. 

The narrator of the story is Granny’s grandson. Granny decides he is old enough to learn how to make soul food. She teaches him how to shred cheese, clean greens, and prepare meat. His arms get tired, but he doesn’t complain. He’s excited to cook with Granny. 

When Granny takes a break, the narrator wants to keep working. He’s inspired to make his own recipe. He brews some tea with sugar, lemon and ice. His delicious tea adds sweetness to the Soul Food Sunday family tradition. 

The illustrations invite readers into a kitchen full of warmth and love. Vibrant colors show the joy of being together and celebrating a tradition. Everyone is happy as they prepare the family meal. 

Readers will want to try the delicious recipe for Mac ‘N’ Cheese that follows the story. The steps are easy for young readers to follow. A quote from Granny about seasoning guides readers as they cook.

The Author’s Note reveals a great story about how Bingham learned to cook. She made a series of phone calls to her granny while she cooked. When Granny gave Bingham a direction, she would hang up the phone and follow the steps. When Bingham was ready for the next direction, she would call Granny back to hear more. These series of phone calls continued until the end of the recipe.

Double-page spread of Soul Food Sunday. In this image, Granny is shredding cheese with her grandson.

Soul Food Sunday Lesson Activity

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.B.1 Learners adjust their awareness of the
global learning community by interacting with learners who reflect a range of perspectives.

Write the word “tradition” on chart paper. Ask learners what they know about the word “tradition.” Explain that you will read a story about a family tradition. Tell learners that while you read, their job is to notice how the narrator feels about the tradition.

Explain that after reading the book, learners will discuss a favorite tradition. It could be something they celebrate with their family or another family. Say, “We will have this discussion to learn more about each other. We will notice that even though our experiences are different, we still have things in common. This will help us expand our world view and build a strong learning community. One way we can learn more about each other is by sharing our traditions.” 

Read the story. Ask the following questions: 

“Why do you suppose the boy wanted to be in the kitchen rather than play with his cousins? What makes you say so? What is your favorite family tradition? This could be a tradition you celebrated at another family’s house.” 

Direct learners to illustrate or write about the tradition. Divide the class into groups. Invite learners to discuss their traditions. Encourage learners to notice similarities and differences with the traditions. 

As learners line up to leave, ask them to state one thing they learned from their discussions.

Enrich this lesson by reading Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali and Rahele Jomepour Bell. Discuss what happens when we learn more about each other.

Learn More

Watch Beyond the Book with Winsome Bingham and C.G. Esperanza on the Abrams Books YouTube channel to learn about the book. Discover how the story and illustrations developed. Hear how Esperanza illustrates projects that “change peoples perspectives and makes them see things in a different way” [14:25]. Bingham and Esperanza also discuss exciting new projects.

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will receive a small percentage of your purchase.

Our Skin: A First Conversation about race

Our Skin Summary

Young learners will have questions about race. Be ready to answer by grabbing a copy of Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race. This incredible resource, written by experts, will educate readers of all ages.

The board book opens with a note to adult readers. The authors, Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, explain the importance of answering questions about race. Ignoring these conversations will leave children to believe ideas and opinions that are wrong.

Our Skin opens with a diverse group of children looking at the reader. They seem to be listening to the narrator who says, “We all have skin. It comes in different colors!” A follow-up question asks, “What color is your skin?” The text structure continues with a statement followed by a question.

The narrator does a wonderful job explaining terms to young children. Readers will learn about melatonin and discover how the idea of race began.

Readers will explore the injustice of racism. They may even connect with the different racist scenarios presented in the book. The narrator explains that racism can happen on purpose or by mistake.

A call to action encourages readers to be brave. Children can say, “That’s not right!” when they see or hear something that is wrong. The narrator lists other ways learners can stop racism.

Notes at the back of the book help adult readers continue conversations about race. Here you’ll find information about diversity, stereotypes and activism.

I love the illustrations by Isabel Roxas. The images are large and clear, making this board book accessible for class read alouds.

This image shows two pages of the book Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race. The page on the left shows a girl of color playing football and a Black boy looking through a magnifying glass at a snail. The other page shows a white boy eating noodle soup and a boy of color eating  a croissant. The text says, "Skin color can't tell you much about what people are like, what they know, what foods they think are yummy, what their favorite books are, or even where they were born. Just by looking at someone, we can't tell who they are on the inside. But sometimes people try to anyway.

Our Skin Discussion

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think I.A.2 Learners display curiosity and initiative by recalling prior and background knowledge as context for new meaning.

Before Reading
  • Ask learners what they think they know about race.
  • Record questions they have about race on chart paper.
During Reading
  • Invite learners to answer the questions in the story. Explore skin color and identity.
After Reading

Ask learners to reflect on how their thinking changed. What did they learn by reading the book?

Record remaining questions for future conversations about race.

More Resources for Educators

Preorder a copy of Let’s Talk about Race in Storytimes by Jessica Anne Bratt. She is the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach at the Grand Rapids Public Library and facilitates workshops about race.

The book Start Here Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community by Liz Kleinrock is available now. Not to brag, but I have the book and enrolled in her 3 part webinar. Kleinrock is I learned about building a strong community where learners feel confident about themselves and appreciate learning from others. Watch Kleinrock take on a teachable moment about race in her fourth grade classroom.

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will receive a small percentage of your purchase.

Ten Beautiful Things

Change is hard. Finding beauty helps. Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Beth Griffin.

Summary

Life is always changing, and sometimes, change is hard. In Ten Beautiful Things, we learn how finding beauty in our surroundings can make things easier.

The story starts with an illustration on the title page. Here, we see a grandmother loading up her car with suitcases and a moving box. A little girl with a backpack and a stuffed animal sits on a box marked “stuff.” She looks sad about moving.

When the trip begins, Lily, the little girl, looks at a map to find her new home in Iowa. She is moving in with her grandmother. To help Lily feel better, Gram suggests they look for ten beautiful things while they travel. The first thing they witness is a gorgeous sunrise. This helps Lily feel better for a few moments, but then sadness creeps in again.

Staying in the game, Lily finds beauty in the wind turbines along the road. Then, she spots a colorful bird. Gram counts the sound of moving water from a creek to their list. Lily adds the rich smell of mud.

Appreciating beauty gives Lily moments of peace. But she still feels hollow and queasy.

When Gram turned onto the last road, a magnificent storm filled the sky. They marveled at the dark swirling clouds and bolts of lightning. The beautiful strength of nature filled Lily with awe. She also realize how grateful she was to have her grandmother.

When they pulled up to Gram’s house, Lily realized they only found nine beautiful things. Gram gives her a hug and tells her what the tenth thing is. I’ll leave it at that so I don’t spoil the ending for you.

What I love about this book is that Lily keeps looking for beauty even though it only gives her moments of peace. At the end of the story, Lily is still not all that happy. She recognizes that her new situation will not be easy, but she finds strength in the love from her grandmother.

Lesson Activity for Ten Beautiful Things

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Curate/Think IV.A.1 Learners act on an information need by determining the need to gather information.

Ask volunteers to share a time when they had to make a big change. How did they adapt to their new circumstances? Did someone help them feel better?

Discuss the strategy Gram used to help Lily. Explain that finding beauty in our surroundings can help us regulate our emotions. Tell learners that today, they will make a zine; or a small magazine. They will use the zine to jot down the beautiful things they see throughout their day. A zine is small enough to keep in pockets. This provides easy access to review things of beauty whenever they feel sad, anxious or overwhelmed.

Watch this video to learn how to make a zine without scissors, tape or staples:

More Books About Finding Beauty in Nature

Want to find more books that inspire readers to appreciate nature? Click here to find lesson ideas that will fill readers with awe.

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

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Keep Your Head Up

Blog banner featuring the cover of the book Keep Your Head Up by Aliya King Neil and Charly Palmer.

Summary

How do you turn your day around when it’s off to a bad start? In Keep Your Head Up, D. starts his day with a cloud over his head. He is in a bad mood. His alarm did not go off, and his favorite toothpaste is missing. Things aren’t any better at school. D. forgot his gym clothes, and he got stuck with the junky laptop. The cloud continues to hover above D.’s head.

D. keeps trying to turn things around. He recognizes his feelings, and uses positive self-talk to manage his emotions. D. hopes to turn things around if he gets the “Recycler” job. The “Recycler” can take long walks and check in with the principal. This job helps D. feel better. But someone else gets to be the “Recycler” for the day.

When paint gets on D.’s uniform, he’s had it. He has a meltdown. The teacher sends him to the principal’s office. Here, D. cools down under the gentle guidance of the principal and his parents. They remind D. that when days are crummy, all he can do is try to keep his head up.

The acrylic illustrations in this book add texture to D.’s feelings. Readers will notice the cloud that hangs over D.’s head. The cloud takes on different shapes and colors as D. runs into problems. A close up of D.’s “Bad Day” face will connect readers with their own reactions to anger.

Image of two pages in the picture book Keep Your Head Up by Aliya King Neil and Charly Palmer.

Keep Your Head Up Lesson Activity

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Think III.A.2 Learners identify collaborative opportunities by developing new understandings through engagement in a learning group.

What I love about Keep Your Head Up is that D. recognizes his feelings and has a few strategies to manage them. When he finally gives up trying to keep things together, he has a meltdown. The great thing about this story is that D. does not get in trouble for expressing his feelings. Instead, the principal and his parents answer his questions about how he can turn things around when he doesn’t feel like it.

Before reading the book, invite learners to think of a day when nothing went right. Ask how they felt when they had a bad day. How did they react to their circumstances?

Explain that you will read a story about a boy who is having a bad day. Say, “Let’s see how he recognizes and manages his emotions.”

After reading the story, discuss D.’s strategy for managing his emotions. Invite learners to describe a time when they had a bad day. How did they work through it?

Divide learners into groups. Explain that they will work together to create a “Things To Try When Having a Bad Day” poster. Start by looking at examples of infographics to get an idea of how to illustrate the posters. Point to great examples of visuals that attract readers. Then, invite learners to brainstorm and sketch some ideas. Hang posters up where learners can refer to them throughout the day.

I hope you’ll buy this book after watching author Aliya King Neil read Keep Your Head Up.

Take a look at a tweet by Aliya King Neil. In the post, we learn the story behind the book and meet D.!

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will receive a small percentage of your purchase.

The Circles All Around Us Lesson Activities

Animated image promoting the book The Circles All Around Us. The cover of the book is in the center of the frame. White circles surround the book.

Summary

If you need help making your way back into social circles, read The Circles All Around Us. This book reminds us how much better the world is when we include others in our lives.

The story opens up with a child drawing a circle. The child sits alone inside the shape. When family members want in on the space, a bigger circle includes everyone. Larger circles follow to accommodate more family members, friends and neighbors.

A double-page spread shows the child making the circle big enough to fit people from around the world. It’s mentioned that including people with different experiences can be hard at times. However, if you start from a place of love, “wonderful things can happen.”

The message in this story is a reminder of the importance of human connections. Life is so much more meaningful when we engage with different people. The narrator compares social circles to books. Think of how limiting life would be if we only had one book to read. This idea applies to the people we meet. Life is better when we make connections with many new and different people.

Double page spread from the book The Circles All Around Us. The illustrations show children and adults helping each other.

Lesson Activities

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.B.1 Learners adjust their awareness of the global learning community by interacting with a range of learners who reflect a range of perspectives.

Socktober is an event developed by the creators of The Circles All Around Us. They invite everyone to contact local homeless shelters and find out what they need. This call-to-action can inspire learners to collaborate on a service project.

After reading The Circles All Around Us, introduce Socktober. Visit the Homeless Shelter Directory to find the shelters in your area. Read about the different homeless shelters and discover their missions. Find out what they need. As a class, vote for a shelter to support.

Next, invite learners to work in groups to develop a service project plan. Use the Service Project Guides created by the iTeach team at Kennesaw State University. Allow groups to present their plans. Then, vote on a project to implement.

If a service project is too big right now, think about starting simple acts of kindness. Watch The Circles Show on YouTube for some ideas. Invite learners to brainstorm simple things they can do to make the world a better place. Direct learners to commit to one activity and develop a plan to make it happen.

The Hope for Families Center

This activity compelled me to make a donation to The Hope for Families Center in Vero Beach, Florida. They are looking for donations to their new Reading Resource Center. Donations will help buy new books for children. If you would like to help, here’s a link to page: https://www.hopeforfamiliescenter.org/donate.html

My Books

If you like the lesson ideas on this blog, you might want to check out my books!

I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will receive a small percentage of your purchase.

Saving American Beach

Promotional image of the book Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch. The book is centered in the image, with shells and garbage around it. The book is resting in sand.

Summary

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think I.A.1 Learners display curiosity and initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular topic.

What would compel you to give up everything and fight for justice? For opera singer MaVynee Betsch, it was saving American Beach.

When MaVynee was little, laws prevented Black people from swimming on many beaches. MaVynee’s grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, wanted to change this for his family. He purchased beach property and opened it for all to enjoy. Lewis named the oasis American Beach, and MaVynee loved spending time there.

MaVynne grew up and performed around the world as an opera singer. Her travel left little time to visit American Beach. She missed her childhood playground by the sea.

When MaVynne returned to American Beach, she was sad to see how much it changed. Nobody was taking care of the oceanfront property. Garbage littered the sand and water. Dilapidated cottages fell in disrepair. MaVynee wanted to change this. She cleaned the beach and made it her home.

Developers started appraising the property all around the beach. They wanted to build condominiums. MaVynee would not stand for that. She began a creative protest to grab people’s attention. She grew her hair into a long, thick rope and attached protest pins and shells to the braid.

When MaVynee found a captive audience, she talked about the history of the beach. She asked people to help her protect the spot. She wrote letters and spoke to lawmakers.

Her relentless work made a difference. A note from the author informs readers that American Beach is now protected. It is part of the National Park Service and the Florida Black Heritage Trail. American Beach is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Double-page spread of Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch. The illustration shows people playing on American Beach.

Lesson Activity

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think Learners display curiosity and initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular
topic.

Introduce the book by asking learners why people enjoy the beach. Explain that we are fortunate because there are people who help take care of the beach. Tell learners that you are going to read a story about a woman who dedicated her life to protect one beach. Say, “Let’s read and find out why it was so important for her to save American Beach.”

Ask the following questions while you read the story:

  • “After looking at the cover and reading the title, what questions do you have?” (cover)
  • “What questions do you have about American history after seeing the dividing rope in the water?” (pp. 3-4)
  • “What do you want to know about Mr. Abraham Lincoln Lewis?” (pp. 5-8)
  • “How does the ocean influence MaVynne’s career?” (pp. 9-12)
  • “What changes do you notice on the beach? Why do you suppose this happened?” (pp. 17-18)
  • “What do you suppose the author means when she writes that ‘MaVynne was saving more than a beach’?” (pp. 9-12)
  • “How do you suppose growing long hair helped MaVynee with her protest?” (pp. 28-30)
  • “Why do you think the author wrote this story? What questions do you have after reading the note from the author and illustrator?”

After reading the story, invite readers to share what they would like to investigate. Explore the American Beach Museum’s website to find answers to questions. Consider emailing the museum with a note of appreciation. Their work continues to inform people about the important history of American Beach.

Readers may also want to write to author Heidi Tyline King and illustrator Ekua Holmes for sharing this incredible piece of history with us.

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