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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.

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What it Means to Connect the Concepts by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

Looking down on rocky mountains, gray pillars of stone, green pine trees
Stunning rock pillars in Switzerland Image by BlackPowder75 on Pixabay

Imparting information and seeing your child grasp it is one thing, but that knowledge will only take root when the information the child has learned is applied. Application is key. You can teach your child all day long about the mechanics of riding a bicycle, but until your child gets on the bike and rides it by himself, he will not completely understand what it means to ride a bike.

So how can you take classroom learning and successfully apply it to real life situations? By watching for everyday opportunities to link learning to life.

Turn everyday life experiences into practical teaching opportunities that your children will enjoy.

After teaching about rocks, take your children outdoors to look for rocks. You can do this as you work through the curriculum, but remember that everywhere you take your children, there’s an opportunity to review what you all learned about rocks in the classroom. The lake, a stream, the street, a playground: these are all places where rocks are found.

Take the time to collect a few rocks from each place, label them, and back in “the lab” (home or classroom), compare and contrast the rocks. How are the features of the rocks taken from the lake or a stream different from those collected from the street or road and playground? And don’t merely guess;  refer to previously taught materials when making assertions.

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 light blue and white book cover with an image of multi-colored river rocks
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The Top 6 Teaching Skills by Marilyn Buehrer, Teacher

A bright blue metallic background. Man in suit holds a plate. The word "Skills" appears and four symbols: tools, person, head with cogs, light bulb.

The following skills are necessary to be a great teacher:

Communication

  • Verbal and written, friendly body language, and the ability to really listen.

Critical Thinking

  • Ability to solve a variety of problems often under a tight deadline.
  • Ability to answer difficult questions on the spot, solve conflicts between students, revise lesson plans, and deal with issues among colleagues.
  • Knowing the appropriate resources to use to solve questions and conflicts quickly and effectively.

Organization

  • Juggling several tasks in a day, from teaching and attending meetings, to lesson planning and grading.
  • Keeping it all organized and in writing.

Passion

  • Being enthusiastic about whatever subject s/he is teaching. Students see that passion and become enthusiastic participants.

Patience

  • Demonstrating patience when dealing with difficult classroom situations, explaining concepts multiple times, and dealing with parents, colleagues, and administrators.
  • Handling situations with a calm, professional demeanor with careful attention to the challenge of the moment.
  • Emotional control and maturity can be learned and must be practiced.

Technical Skills

  • Teachers must understand the material they teach. Even teachers of very young children need significant expertise. It is not enough for a first-grade math teachers to know how to perform basic arithmetic; s/he must have a solid understanding of numbers and numeric relationships in order to be able to explain the material in a thorough and responsive way.

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.