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Tails, Tales, Adventures, Oh, My!

A collage of 12 colorful children's book covers

 

Welcome to Lyric Power Publishing, where we believe children’s books should be educational and entertaining. Our illustrations are unusual in the children’s book marketplace: They are vivid—to attract the reader to both the written word and the fascinating world of science. Science is interesting and fun when presented in delightful rhymes or engaging adventures,  No dry text books here! But don’t think these stories are only for children. Our fan mail indicates adults enjoy them equally and have also gained new knowledge.

We may be a small publisher, but we have a mighty mission:  Science education should not be boring! To that end, in addition to our fun, science-based books in print, we have developed our own activity sheets and bundled them into 12 to 47-page study-units. Our affordable, printable activity sheets, workbooks, flannel-boards and standups for Grades K-5 provide creative and fun opportunities to learn about ecology, reptiles, birds, mammals, habitats, predators and prey, plants, rocks, maps and directions. They include coloring pages and lessons on anatomy, life-cycles, crossword puzzles, cut-and-paste, word searches, spelling, vocabulary, math, and story-writing, and more.

Wouldn’t your children rather count iguanas or bats than apples and oranges? Our workbooks can be viewed at the Workbooks tab and are downloaded to be printed and used as many times as you’d like.

We hope you will enjoy all there is to see on the Lyric Power Publishing website. You can meet our authors and illustrators under the Home tab and see our books at the Our Books tab.

Thank you for joining us as we discuss our work and our insights on this blog, Tails, Tales, Adventures, Oh, My! If you’d like to receive our updates in your email, use the subscription box in the right column of any page but the Home page. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at iginspired@gmail.com.

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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.

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Imaging with Poetry by Elaine A. Powers, Author

An image of a typed poem, with the letters in the shape of the subject of the poem: the X of the roadrunner's footprint and how it confuses any evil spirits that are following.

I enjoy writing the rhymes for my picture books. I believe the flow of the language enhances the reading experience. Besides, rhyming makes science more fun. My illustrators create incredible images to complete the package.  Recently, I was selecting poems for an anthology.  I couldn’t use the text from  an entire picture book, so I was selecting stanzas that could stand alone.

In one of the craft workshops, I learned about positioning the words to enhance the poem’s content.

For my poem about the X-shape of roadrunners’ feet, I decided to try to paint an image with the words. 

What do you think? Does this make the rhyming more fun?

A colorful image of the orange setting sun, clouds and rainbows, along with roadrunner "spirits" chasing the roadrunner of the American Southwest, who gets away because his footprint is directionless.
The rhyming verses and vibrant images of Don’t Make Me Fly capture the reader’s interest and make learning about science interesting and fun.

Elaine A. Powers is the author of science-based children’s books. The “Don’t” Series includes Don’t Make Me Fly, about the Roadrunner, a favorite siting of those residing in the American Southwest.

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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.

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Are You Wearing Green on March Seventeen? It Must Be Green Iguana Day! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

An illustration of a green iguana on a tan beach, with a small part blue sky. Words: March 17! Everyone must be celebrating Green Iguana Day!
“Everyone’s wearing green! It’s GOT to be Green Iguana Day!” says Dudley Dewlap.

Have you noticed that at this time of year, people celebrate a mid-March holiday by wearing green clothes, hanging green decorations, and eating green foods and drinking green beer? They must be celebrating Green iguana Day! 

Dudley Dewlap, a green iguana (of course!) explains all about Green Iguana Day, on Curtis curly-tail’s YouTube Channel.

To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see our 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas.

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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.

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MAP READING SERIES PART TWO: Preparing to Teach a General Overview of a World Map by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

White crinkled paper with the world's continents drawn in turquoise blue ink
Map of the World by Yuri_B on Pixabay

To teach a general overview of a world map, the materials needed by the students are:

  • Globe (compare/contrast to a world map)
  • Maps (world, North American continent, United States, state, and city)
  • Blank sheets of drawing paper
  • Pencils and crayons

The classroom Bulletin Board should have these maps:

  • the world
  • the North American continent
  • the United States
  • their state
  • their city
  • a compass rose labeled with the cardinal directions.

Add the following vocabulary words and definitions to the bulletin board:

  • Map: a drawing that tells you about a place.
  • Legend or Key: explains what the symbols of the map stand for.
  • Symbol: small drawings on a map that indicate what is in that place.
  • Landmark: something that is easy to find like a mountain or building.
  • Route: a path or road that you will travel.
  • Compass Rose: a symbol that always shows north and most often also includes south, east, and west.
  • Globe: the Earth represented on a sphere.
  • Cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.
  • Contiguous: sharing boundaries. The 48 states are contiguous.

Part Three will give the teaching instructions.

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.

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.

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MAP READING SERIES PART ONE: Reading Maps Helps Children in Academics by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

By the end of kindergarten, children should have a solid understanding of neighborhood or city maps as well as world maps and continents. Kindergartners can learn map legends and directions through hands-on activities and games.

map of Europe with countries outlined in different colors

Understanding, according to Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy:Ability to demonstrate understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating the main idea.

  • Map reading is a foundational skill like reading and basic math.
  • Map reading helps students improve problem-solving and reasoning skills.
  • Maps support spatial thinking by helping children visualize where objects, places, cities, and countries are in relation to one another. Spatial skills are what allow us to picture the locations of objects, their shapes, their relations to each other, and the paths they take as they move.
  • Map reading helps children learn to calculate distances between two places.
  • It helps them formulate the easiest and fastest routes between two or more places.
  • Map reading builds students’ self-sufficiency and confidence in their ability to formulate solutions.
  • Map study helps students learn about a country’s landforms, bodies of water, natural resources, and climate.
  • Map study helps students learn about symbols and tools of maps, such as the compass rose, key, and titles that help distinguish one map from another.
  • Map study of old and new maps helps students see changes in maps due to wars, politics, and internal conflict. Students can learn about U.S. History by studying maps from the colonial period to the post-Civil War era. Students can also see how Europe has changed several times during the last century as areas gained independence or became part of another country.
  • Map skills can help students improve their math skills by graphing average temperature and rainfall amounts from physical maps.
  • Map skills can help students organize and classify data which is a useful skill for any academic subject.

Map reading is a vital skill for every student, and learning to read them can begin early on.

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.

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

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My Interior Decorator is a Tortoise! by Elaine A Powers Author

Because tortoises are free-roamers, they help with designing interior décor. Their specialty seems to be rearranging.

My desk chair is on wheels, a very practical design for me.  However, sometimes I’m typing on my laptop when I feel the chair moving away from the table.  Myrtle Red-foot Tortoise has put her head underneath the wheel frame and is pushing. She’s strong enough to move the chair with me on it! If I’m not sitting on the chair, I see it moving across the room.

A Red-foot tortoise pushing a desk chair on wheels away from table
Myrtle Red-foot tortoise can push my wheeled chair even when I’m in it!

And it’s not just my chair that moves. The iguana enclosure in the front room is also on wheels. I find Calliope rolled across the room.  She probably enjoys the change of scenery.

The red-foots are reasonably sized tortoises. Sulcata or African spur-thighed tortoises (Geochelone sulcate) like Duke tend to fall on the large side of the scale.  He’s currently 120+ lbs. The impressive spurs on Duke’s forearms are used for protection, but also for digging through hard ground to create underground dens. Those spurs are also very effective in digging through dry wall, doors, and pretty much anything he wants to get through. Sulcatas can dig dens that are 30 feet long and 20 feet deep.

Looking down at a 120 lb Sulcata Tortoise that takes up the whole bathtub
Duke is so big (over 120 lbs), he takes up the whole tub!

Duke lives in the reptile room along with iguanas housed in wire enclosures.  I have put the enclosures on wheels so Duke can roll them around as opposed to knocking them over. People wonder why the stuff in the room is arranged as it is – because that’s the way Duke wants it.  He has created his own den areas and even cleared a basking spot.

A silver-colored metal plate is installed across the bottom of a red-brown wooden door (to keep a Sulcata tortoise from digging through the door)
Metal panel placed across bottom of door. So far, Duke hasn’t dug through it.

I love the adventures (and the occasional mystery or two!) and wouldn’t have it any other way.

LPP NOTE: Because Myrtle’s name rhymes with turtle, she was often called Myrtle the Turtle. One day, she asked Elaine to write a book about the difference between turtles and tortoises. The result is a favorite rhyming book of little ones, Don’t Call Me Turtle! Did you know there are at least ten differences between them?

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60 Tried and True Iguana Foods by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A list of iguana foods, showing a salad illustration, an iguana and the list of vegetables and fruits

Ever since I operated a reptile rescue center, I’ve had a good number of iguanas. Over ninety percent of newly purchased iguanas die within the first year, so their good health is very important to me. Fresh Vegetables and fruits are important to their survival.

I use a potato peeler to make long slices of zucchini and carrots and chop the other veggies into small pieces.

Above is a list of basic vegetable and fruits and the special treats that can be given on an occasional basis.

Their basic salad in the morning includes Collard Greens, Red Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Carrots, and Bananas or Grapes.

To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see our 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas.