Posted on Leave a comment

How to Make a Picture File and Why it’s an Important Teaching Tool by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A picture file is a file box filled with beautiful photos that represent anything you are teaching about. These beautifully mounted photos are ideal visual aids to accompany and enhance the supplemental workbooks offered on this website. Whether it’s turtles, tortoises, snakes, tropical birds, tropical trees and foliage, flowers, or people, colorful visual aids will give children an authentic look at what they are studying. Instead of relying on drawings and cartoons, it’s important that students see realistic photos of what they are learning about.

colorful cover of children's educational workbook all about the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, turquoise color with polka dots, with image of rattlesnake and a list of the 46 workbook pages

In my teaching experience with elementary, middle, and high school students, every time I had a lesson to teach, I was able to pull out several pictures related to that subject for my students to see what I was talking about. Propping them up on the chalk tray of your white board works well, or create a bulletin board with them.

A person will remember 10% of what s/he has heard, 60% of what s/he’s heard and written down, and  90% of what s/he’s heard, written down, seen, and done.

This means that adding visual aids and practice (students taking notes) to what I verbally taught, enhanced my teaching and the students’ learning. My students remembered the information. Every age group benefits from visual aids.

It took me about two months to cut out and mount 200 pictures. Once I got started, it was hard not to get carried away! Two hundred pictures sounds like a lot, but it’s very easy to surpass that number.

Materials needed:

  1. Tagboard. 200 sheets of 9” x 12” white tagboard are available at school supply stores and art stores.
  2. Rubber cement. A large can of rubber cement. NOTE: Elmer’s glue, homemade paste, staples, and tape will not do for this project. Rubber cement doesn’t ripple and warp the pictures as it dries. It’s also neat to work with since it rolls right off your hands. Spray adhesive works also, but it makes cloudy fumes. When using rubber cement, always work in a well-ventilated area. Leave the doors and windows open in the room you’re working in, or take your work out to a sun-sheltered porch.
  3. Donated magazines, outdated calendars, posters, and travel brochures. I got grocery bags full of magazines from neighbors willing to part with them for a good cause. Other good sources are thrift stores and used book stores. Photos of animals and plants can be found in science magazines, National Geographic, and Smithsonian. Photos of household items can be found in home and architectural magazines. Photos of plants, flowers, and trees are in garden and landscape magazines.

What to look for:

Look for large, clean, clear, colorful photographs in the following categories. These are just suggestions. You might choose to limit your search to just one subject matter such as birds or reptiles.

  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Insects
  • People
  • Everyday personal and household items
  • Modes of transportation
  • Furniture
  • Landscapes
  • Bodies of water
  • National symbols of the U.S. and other countries
  • Sports
  • Flowers and trees
  • Wild animals
  • Domestic animals
  • Art such as the Old Masters
  • Mosaics
  • Pottery
  • Sculpture
  • Architecture
  • Perspective/line
  • Color

Directions:

  1. Carefully tear the photos out of the magazines.
  2. Using a pair of paper scissors, neatly trim the edges of the pictures, leaving a sixteenth-inch white border whenever possible.
  3. Use a paper cutter if necessary to get the straightest edge possible.
  4. Clear off a wide, flat space in your house such as the kitchen or dining room table.
  5. Cover the entire table top with a thick layer of newspapers. This is so the top layers can be rolled up and removed to continually reveal a clean working surface throughout the mounting process.
  6. Turn the trimmed photos over and brush rubber cement over the entire backside of the picture. Rubber cement dries quickly, so work quickly.
  7. Turn the picture over and carefully lay it on the sheet of tagboard. Leave a wider margin of white tagboard at the bottom edge than at the top, just as if you were framing the photograph. Not all photos will have a white margin because they will fill the entire tagboard space, and that’s okay.
  8. Use one hand to hold the photo in place and the outside edge of your other hand to spread the picture down and force any excess rubber cement out from under the photo. The great thing about rubber cement is that as it dries, it rolls up into gummy balls that easily come off the tagboard and leave no residue or marks.
  9. Work all the bubbles out from under the photo. Use a straight pin to prick any bubbles that refuse to be worked out.
  10. If rubber cement gets on the photo itself, leave it there until it completely dries, then use your clean, dry finger and a light touch to carefully roll the dried, rubbery adhesive off the photo.
  11. Lay the finished pictures on a flat surface to dry. Leave them there for a couple of days. If you stack the finished pictures right away, they’ll bond to one another, and you’ll never be able to pull them apart without ruining them.
  12. Finally, store the finished photos in a plastic, portable storage box with a lid that has a handle (available at office supply stores). This will keep your pictures portable, dust free, and looking like new for many years.

You can also use these pictures to decorate your classroom, create bulletin boards, and as creative writing prompts.

LYRIC POWER PUBLISHING offers 23  affordable, comprehensive, supplemental Workbooks for Teachers, Tutors and Home-Schooling Parents. Each WORKBOOK has a theme and can include pages for reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary and math, along with Venn-Diagrams, life-cycles, fact sheets, coloring pages, puzzles, connect-the-dots, word searches, mazes, label-the-parts, cut-and-paste, true or false, fill-in-the-blanks, match the pictures, greater than/less than, count-and-classify and graphing.

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
The Rock Cycle cut and paste project in this lesson comes from this workbook. It also includes work pages on rock collecting.
Posted on Leave a comment

The Importance of Waiting for Your Student to Answer by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Setting: Forest, misty background. A man stands at white board with pointer stick. A child sits on tree trucnk looking at drawings on whiteboard.

Just about every speaker, from motivational speakers to teachers of all kinds, to parents, and just about everyone who can talk, answers her own question within two seconds of asking it.

Trouble is, the person hearing the question can’t answer it that quickly without knowing what the speaker knows. The hearer’s mind is working to form an answer when, suddenly, his thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the answer.

 Believe it or not, their mind tells them to forget trying. This lowers the hearer’s self-esteem and makes them believe they’re a failure. So why ask questions in the first place? Why not just give information and erroneously believe the hearer is absorbing and understanding every word you’re saying?

Because we want people to think. We want children to think. And thinkers need time to formulate an answer. WAIT after you ask your child a question. WAIT several seconds. Be patient. Be kind. And don’t stare at her like she’s on the hot seat. Besides letting her come up with the answer, you’re helping improve her self-esteem and sense of importance in the family or the classroom.  

So, next time, wait at least five seconds before offering an answer to your child. After all, involving the child in the learning process is what helps them understand and make connections to the rest of life’s big questions.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive supplemental Workbooks and Activity Sheets,  such as these:

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
The Rock Cycle cut and paste project in this lesson comes from this workbook. It also includes work pages on rock collecting.

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

Posted on Leave a comment

A Simple Geography Lesson for Grades K-4 Using “My Book About Directions” by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

a green and white book cover with an image of a Compass RoseThis lesson should be limited to 10-15 minutes for children in grades K-2, and no longer than 20 minutes for children in grades 3-4. Attention span plays a big role in this as does interest level.

  1. To teach a short but powerful geography lesson, begin with introducing the day’s lesson. What do you want your students to learn?
  2. Start with the topic: Correctly locate and identify islands in the Caribbean.
  3. Tell your students what they’re going to be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson. “In this lesson, I want you to correctly locate four islands: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands.”
  4. Point out these islands on a large classroom map, and write the names of the islands on the white board.
  5. Then hand each child a map from My Book About Directions and ask them to raise their hands when they have found each island.
  6. Next, ask students to color only those four islands on the black, gray, and white map.
  7. Finally, hand out blank sheets of white paper and ask children to choose one of the four islands to draw and label correctly.

From Anderson and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy (formerly Bloom’s Taxonomy):

  1. Remembering: (Recognizing and recalling facts) Given a brief discussion and a map, children will locate and identify islands in the Caribbean.
  2. Applying: (Applying the facts, rules, concepts, and ideas) Given a brief discussion and shown examples, children will color a map showing size comparisons of the islands in the Caribbean.
  3. Creating: (Combining parts to make a new whole) Each child will draw and color their favorite island and write three lines (or verbalize) why they like that island.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Build a Satisfying Essay By Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

This is a 5-paragraph essay with 3 main ideas, a format that can be used in any essay form.

An image of the layers of a hamburger, used to illustrate the five parts of an effective essay

The Introductory Paragraph includes: The Topic Sentence. Write a sentence explaining what you’re going to write about.

In the three body paragraphs, state the main ideas with details.

Conclusion Paragraph:

  1. Restates what you just wrote about.
  2. Write your opinions or feelings about the content of your essay. Include a sentence about why you wrote the essay: what was the significance of the subject?

TYPES OF ESSAYS:

Narrative essays tell a story with details in chronological order.

Descriptive essays describe details of a person, place, or thing.

Expository essays list facts or explain a process.

Persuasive essays express an opinion about an issue.

All students need to learn how to write essays as they progress through school, and how to write them well by the time they get to college.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Connect a Classroom Study of Rattlesnakes to Real-Life Experiences by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

For use with:

My Book About the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

My Book of Rattlesnakes in the United States

Both books are available for purchase on this website.

A children's book cover, turquoise with polka dots, with image of western diamondback rattlesnake and list of included supplemental educational worksheets
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake Workbook

After a study of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake in all the following areas: Geography, History, Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, Science, Academic Art, and Music, take your students outside the classroom to connect the concepts to real-world experiences.

How to prepare your students for a trip to the zoo:

Geography asks WHERE:

  • Let students work together to:
    • locate the zoo on a city map
    • draw a path from their school or home to the zoo
    • hand out copies of the zoo’s map (free from the zoo which will mail you enough maps for students to use one in a group of four kids).

History asks WHEN and WHAT:

  • When was the zoo created?
    • Modern zoos began in England with London’s Regent’s Park Zoo in the 1820s because it was founded with a scientific purpose. But putting animals on display for the public to see dates back to ancient times.
  • What is at the zoo?
    • Use the zoo maps to locate the different areas within the zoo.
    • Ask students to make a list of the animal exhibits.
    • Ask students to locate the reptile exhibit.

Continue reading How to Connect a Classroom Study of Rattlesnakes to Real-Life Experiences by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Teach a 10-15 Minute Lesson by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Daily lessons for children, especially very young children, should be limited to 10-15 minutes each. Attention span plays a big role in this, as does interest level. To teach a short, but powerful lesson, begin with introducing the day’s lesson. What do you want your child/ren to learn?

First, choose a topic: Tell your student/s what they’re going to be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson. For example, Correctly label the parts of a turtle.

A black and white illustration of a freshwater turtle with its body parts labeled
From the 24-page workbook My Book About Freshwater Turtles

Tell: “In this lesson, I want you to cut out the names of the parts of a freshwater turtle and correctly paste them in the spaces on the page with a picture of a turtle.”

Model: Show them a perfect example of the finished product, one you’ve done yourself. Give them time to study your model.

Ask: “What do I want you to do?” or ask them to finish this question: “I want you to do what?” Don’t simply ask if they understand. Kids will just say yes because they know that’s what you want them to say.

A black and white illustration of a freshwater turtle, with arrows pointing to the turtle body parts

From the 24-page workbook My Book About Freshwater Turtles

Engage: Give them the worksheet, scissors, and glue stick. Older students may want to help them, but the older kids usually end up doing the project for the younger ones to help the little ones feel successful. In reality, this does just the opposite for the younger child, so give a different task to the older students while younger kids complete the assignment you gave them.

Check for understanding: Ask your child/ren to explain, in their own words, what they did. Ask them to point to and read the parts of a turtle aloud to you. After this, let them color in the picture of the turtle.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

Posted on Leave a comment

Why Having Your Students Read Aloud is a Good Idea by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.
~William Butler Yeats.

Boys dressed in white shirts sitting in a row. One boy holds a microphone and speaks into it
A child enjoying reading in front of an audience.

Reading aloud can be used to:

  • improve reading comprehension.
  • promote listening and speaking skills.
  • help with the revising and editing steps in the writing process.
  • Fourth grade is where school separates the strugglers from the readers. (researcher Jeanne Chall)

When students read their own essays aloud, they will catch typos, awkward sentences, word choice errors, and other mistakes they have made.

Having a student read someone else’s essay aloud will help the writer hear how their work sounds without getting caught up in the actual process of forming words and saying them aloud.

Reading to students who are auditory learners may help them better understand a text when they hear it rather than sitting and trying to read it on their own.

Listeners learn to track a speaker and follow along with different sentence structures. Listening to more than one reader, such as in Reader’s Theatre, is a good way to help students follow multiple readers in one setting.

Students who listen to teachers read aloud:

  • learn the proper way to pronounce words and phrases.
  • learn how to pause after a period or use inflection when asking a question.
  • hear key aspects of speaking such as tone, pacing, and proper word order.

Marilyn Buehrer is a teacher and creator of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive, fun, and engaging workbooks that bridge the summer gap between school years, stave off the overuse of electronics, and fill in those bored hours on the weekends.

Posted on Leave a comment

Good Teaching Includes Good Strategies and Sometimes Good Theater by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Two students watch a science teacher dissecting an animal in a tray on a table in a classroom

A science teacher shows a dissection to students.
Image by April Bryant from Pixabay 

Middle schoolers can be a handful and a very tough audience much of the time. They enter sixth grade just a few weeks out of elementary school. They are still young, sweet, naïve, and loving. But somewhere around the Christmas holidays, a change in them occurs. The boys begin to smell and their voices start to crack, the girls start their periods and the hormonal mood swings begin; in other words, puberty kicks into high gear. A school year that began as calm and routine, becomes a challenge when everyone returns to school in January. Fights break out among the boys, tears flow from the girls.

It’s almost as if the “terrible twos” have returned. “No, nope, not gonna do it,” becomes a daily answer to assignments. Teaching strategies must immediately shift, or the rest of the school year could become an uncontrollable nightmare. During a teacher’s practicum year, good mentor-teaching includes how to be flexible and to change to meet the demands of students morphing from children into fledgling young adults.

There are several strategies a teacher can use to accommodate this shift.

Know the shift will happen. This means a teacher can come back to the classroom in January ready to meet her students’ new physical and emotional needs. This might mean taking a stinky, unkempt boy aside for a short, private conversation about hygiene and the importance of showering every day, using antiperspirant, and letting him know his body changes are normal and natural. It might mean consoling a weepy girl in private, with a smile and encouraging words, and maybe a hug.

Call for back-up. In January, the teacher can and should begin to call on the school counselor, vice principal, and campus law enforcement officer when necessary. A classroom teacher needs outside help in middle school; she can’t meet the changing needs of her students by herself and continue to do her primary job of teaching the subject matter. I remember one year, in the spring, I broke up a sudden fight in my classroom between two boys. I stood between the boys, my left hand on the larger boy’s chest and my right hand on the phone as I called for “back-up” from the campus police officer.

Call a parent from the classroom. Calling a parent on a particular student who’s acting inappropriately, and doing so in front of the entire class, often throws the fear of God into all the students. Asking the offender to come to the phone so the parent can chew him/her out pours cold water on the student’s bad attitude and magically brings all the kids under control.

Invite a parent to visit the class and sit at the back of the room. This can help keep those kids in the back of the room calm and behaved, but this can sometimes backfire. During a show-and-tell time of student projects, I glanced at the parent only to catch her applying makeup to a few girls. A short line had formed. I let it go, but I never asked her back even though she asked to come back. Another time, when I enlisted the help of parents on a field trip to the big city, a mother-chaperone took her group to get tattoos. Real tattoos. It’s hard to keep up with 25-30 students, ten parents, a school office employee, and a school bus driver in the big city. But these were learning experiences.

Finally, tell stories, read aloud to your students, and unleash your sense of humor. This can, and most often will, diffuse sudden and unexpected, undesirable situations.

Here are some strategies I used as a teacher:

  • I always came to class prepared with some odd or interesting story to share from my own life. Kids really love hearing stories from a teacher’s own life. When I felt the students were getting restless during a lesson or quiet work time, I would sit in a chair in front of the class and quietly tell them, “I have a story to tell you.” That got their attention. They loved hearing my true stories. One story I shared, which they passed on to their families with great glee, occurred when I was a volunteer in the neo-natal critical unit at the Children’s Hospital. I was told to change the diapers on a newborn. When I saw the newborn, he was wearing a diaper, but I didn’t see any legs. I took a deep breath and braced myself to see a baby boy with no legs when I undid his diaper. To my surprise and delight, when I released his diaper…Bing! Bing!… out popped his two scrawny little, frog-like legs that had been carefully folded into the diaper to help comfort him. It wasn’t a long story, but it served its purpose. My students got stone silent and were riveted to every word as I told that true story with dramatic pauses. That short break got them quiet, refocused, and back to work.
  • As a way to encourage my students before having them work quietly on a writing project, I often read a few paragraphs or a chapter of my own writing aloud to them. Fact or fiction, they enjoyed it, and it helped them get started. Never underestimate the power of reading aloud. Everyone likes to be read to sometimes. It’s the reason there’s still evening news on television where a reporter reads news off a teleprompter to an audience. The same news is available online or in a newspaper, but being read to is still comforting for many of us.

I was never afraid to show my emotions:

  • I teared up at the sad parts.
  • I gushed over really good simile.
  • I let out a genuine laugh if what I read was truly that funny.
  • When a student said something honestly funny, I laughed out loud.  Kids like to know you appreciate their good, clean sense of humor, too.

Diversions are ideal ways to get students back on track emotionally, physically, or academically. It is so much easier to get a classroom under control with something unexpected and fun than to always use scolding and punishment as tactics. Here are some ways to break the monotony and boredom, and regain students’ cooperation:

  • Show a short science video in English class, e.g., the birth of a baby elephant, or a short history video in science class. It could tie in with the lesson, but being unpredictable means it doesn’t have to.
  • Teach your students how to weave construction paper placemats.
  • Surprise one of your serious students by calling on him or her to lead a lesson.
  • Occasionally, leave students with “to be continued.” Even if you forget about it the next day, they will remember and remind you to finish the story.
  • Ask a few students to come up to the front of the class to demonstrate a lesson, e.g., to illustrate the concept of zero being a placeholder.
  • Come to school one day with pink tips in your hair.
  • Break out in an old tune. I used to sing Janis Joplin’s “Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz….,” or all the verses to “Henry the Eighth.”
  • Play a fun game that gets kids up and moving to work out the wiggles.
  • Let teacher-led conversations take an off-ramp every now and then. It often leads to provocative discussions such as civil rights.

ALWAYS be your students’ leader. They want and need to know that you’re in charge and have everything under control.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

Posted on Leave a comment

A Teaching Example of Working Out from the Goal: From “My Book About Rocks” by Marilyn Buehrer

A light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
The Rock Cycle cut and paste project in this lesson comes from this workbook. It also includes work pages on rock collecting.

The Teacher’s Objective
“You Teach so They Can Learn”

Let’s say the goal of your next science lesson is to guide your students to where they can show you, through a demonstration, that they understand what you’ve just taught them. They’ll do this by estimating, comparing, and successfully completing the three cut-and-paste rock cycle project sheets.

A black and white graphic, a drawing of The Rock Cycle, with illustrations of the five types of rock

Teaching Objective One: Attention Grabber: Attract your students’ attention by leading off with a short (2-3 minute) anecdote, perhaps a personal story from your youth about a time when you went rock hunting or maybe a recent story in the news about rocks. This anecdote is meant to focus your students’ attention on you and what you’re going to say next.

Teaching Objective Two: State your Goal: Explain that the students are going to learn about the rock cycle.

Teaching Objective Three: Inform: Review pages 2-5 the sheet titled Three Kinds of Rocks from “My Book About Rocks.”

A black and white graphic of The Rock Cycle, with five squares and arrows showing the direction of The Rock Cycle. There are five types of rocks and the students must cut and paste the correct answers onto this worksheet.

Teaching Objective Four: Demonstrate: Show your students real examples of igneous rocks (pumice), sedimentary rocks (coal, sandstone), metamorphic rocks (slate), and sediments (sand). Pass around several examples of each rock so students can look at them closely and feel the difference of each rock. Finally, show the class finished project sheets of what is expected of them. Explain the steps involved: including cutting and pasting.

Teaching Objective Five: Assisted Child: Help the students successfully show you that they understand the concepts by cutting sheet one and pasting correctly onto sheet two themselves. Walk around the room to check for understanding.

A black and white graphic of The Rock Cycle, with five squares and arrows showing the direction of The Rock Cycle. There are five types of rocks and the students must cut and paste the correct answers onto this worksheet with blank squares.

Teaching Objective Six: Independent Child: Next, hand out a second copy of page one to each child and a copy of sheet three. Lead your students into a situation where they successfully show you that they understand the concept of the Rock Cycle by cutting and pasting onto sheet three. That’s your goal – to teach so your children can demonstrate to you that they understand the concept.

Teaching Objective Seven: Wrap-Up: Review with the class what they’ve done. Ask them to recap what they just learned to make sure they understood the concept.

The Students’ Objective
“They Learn so They Can Do”

The students’ objective – called the learning objective – is the hoped-for result of any lesson’s learning activities.

Learning Activity One: KNOWLEDGE: They know the lesson’s goal.

Learning Activity Two: COMPREHENSION: They understand how to correctly fill in the blanks.

Learning Objective Three: APPLICATION: They correctly filled in the blanks.

Connect with the Real World
Linking Learning to Life

There are several project sheets in this workbook “My Book About Rocks” designed specifically to take your students outdoors to conduct field work on rocks. Helping your children apply what they have learned to real life is called Conducting an Authentic Assessment. You are helping them make connections between classroom experience and real life, as well as keeping them in the higher learning levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.

Posted on Leave a comment

MAP READING SERIES PART THREE: Teaching a General Overview of a World Map by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Close up of side of head and hands of child drawing on a piece of paper on top of a school desk

A child drawing by Heinrich Hess from Pixabay 

When teaching kindergartners an overview of a world map, it’s important to give students enough time to look at the maps. Do not overwhelm them with challenges that are too numerous or complex. Tell students the following information, but do not expect them to memorize it or even remember it the first time they hear it. This is just a beginning overview. A kindergartner’s world is their own neighborhood.

Hand each kindergartner a world map. Explain: The world map displays a view of all the continents on Earth from space.

A world map shows:

  • Continents:
  • Countries
    • The continent of Africa has 54 countries.
    • The continent of Europe has 51 countries.
    • The continent of Asia has 50 countries.
    • The continent of North America has 23 countries.
    • The continent of Australia has 14 countries.
    • The continent of South America has 12 countries.
    • The continent of Antarctica has no country and no permanent inhabitants.
  • States
    • The United States has 50 individual states; 48 contiguous and 2 noncontiguous. Contiguous means that 48 states touch each other. The noncontiguous states that do not share borders are Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Cities
  • Towns
  • Oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, Artic, Indian, Southern Ocean

Ask kindergartners which continent they live on and point to North America.

Ask students why part of the map is blue? (It represents bodies of water.)

Collect the world maps.

Hand out maps of the United States.

The United States is a country on the North American continent.

There are 48 contiguous states and two noncontiguous states: Alaska and Hawaii.

The United States is included in the map of the world.

Help students locate their state on the map of the U.S.

Hand out maps of their state.

All states are included on the map of the United States.

Help students locate their city on the map.

Collect the maps of their state.

Hand each student a map of their city and explain:

All city maps are within the world map.

The city map zooms in on a particular area.

City maps are used to navigate from one place to another.

Your neighborhood is within the city map.

Collect the city maps.

Hand out blank sheets of drawing paper, pencils, and crayons. Start with a very basic map.

Ask students to draw a map of the classroom.

Ask students to add the playground.

Ask them to draw a route from the classroom to the playground.

What other places can go on your map?

Your house

Backyard

Park

Grocery store

Grandparents’ house

Best friends’ house

Collect the maps of the United States.

Encourage parents to:

Help their children draw rooms in their home.

Take a walk around the block with their children, looking for landmarks to include in a neighborhood map. Use simple shapes to draw and label objects such as furniture, playground equipment, and stop signs.

Talk about directions with their children: “Which way do we turn at this stop sign? Right or left?”

Put a map of their town on a wall in their home where children can easily access it and refer to it.

Draw a treasure map to a special object somewhere in the house or a particular room. Encourage children by using spatial language such as “It’s under a pillow” or “It’s inside a cabinet.”

Ask their children to draw an interesting new route from their house to a store or relative’s house across town. Then take that drive and ask the children if it was the best route, or a better route than the one they usually take and why. Did they get to see things they never usually get to see? Was it faster?

In this way, the overview we started with at the beginning of this lesson grows into teaching about place and direction in the child’s own home and neighborhood, giving them invaluable knowledge for day-to-day life.

A wonderful aid to map reading skills and the ability to find your place is Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive supplemental workbook My Book on Directions and Prepositions of Place.

Marilyn Buehrer was a public-school English teacher in Washington, California, and Arizona, a national motivational speaker and educator to home-schoolers for nearly a decade, as well as a workshop speaker at home school conventions nationwide and at public middle school consortia in Arizona.  She is the developer of Lyric Power Publishing’s comprehensive Workbooks and Activity Sheets.