March is here and I have the perfect book to recommend at the beginning of the new month: On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather by Marilyn Singer. This book is a fabulous way to help children understand that on any given day, people around the world experience different weather depending on their location. It also features a circular plot, in which the book starts and ends in the same way (or in this case, in the same geographical location).
My daughters both liked reading On the Same Day in March. While at the public library, we even found its companion book by Marilyn Singer titled Nine O’Clock Lullaby. Despite the word “lullaby” in the title, it is not a babyish book. It has a similar premiss to On the Same Day in March, but focuses on how time changes depending on a person’s location in the world. Our family read both books multiple times and found them very helpful for introducing basic concepts of geography, weather and time.
Best Ages: kindergarten – 2nd grade
- Look at the illustrated map before the story begins. Point out where you live on the map.
- After reading, ask your child which country he/she would like to visit, and why. Also ask which type of weather your child prefers.
- Make a simple and fun weather chart craft using a paper plate. Then use it each day this week to describe the weather.
- Write the name of 5 locations featured in the story on small slips of paper. Place in a basket. After reading the book, ask for student volunteers to choose a slip of paper. As a class, help that student locate the place on a world map or globe.
- Set up learning stations with activities targeted for a selection of countries featured in the book. Activities can include books, travel guides, popular items imported/exported from the country, coloring pages, music or video clips. Or simplify and create learning centers for one country out of the book that interests you or corresponds to your curriculum. (For example, highlight Argentina with 4 centers: this free handout for Tradition Day, a colorful buildings art collage center with color print-outs of Argentine streets, a screening of this 2-minute film and a soccer center with this fun coloring page and some soccer-themed items.)
- Track the weather for the month of March in your classroom. Integrate into your morning circle, daily work or science class. Check out this free daily weather chart or this free monthly handout.
Sometimes we can travel to a new place in a book, even with our little ones! Reading books about other countries or sites can help you introduce geography and culture to young children. Here are 3 travel board books that our family has enjoyed reading this winter:
Baby Yosemite by Katherine Brumage
My husband is from Southern California and we have visited Yosemite before – it is stunning! This book has lovely photographs of wildlife in their natural habitats as found in this popular and well-known national park. The text is straightforward for young readers.
W is for Wombat: My First Australian Word Book by Bronwyn Bancroft
Want to go down under? Your child will love the vibrant, bold paintings as you practice the alphabet and learn a bit about Australia. This book contains some unusual new animals and plant life to capture your interest, too.
London: A Book of Opposites by Ashley Evanson
Our whole family enjoyed reading this book together. Many popular tourist attractions are included with the added bonus of learning opposites such as sunny and rainy, old and new, under and over. Great starting point to practice opposites with toddlers or preschoolers.
Best Ages: 0-3 years
The Galapagos Islands are recognized since 1978 by the United Nations as a World Heritage location. Located off the coast of Ecuador (and officially a part of that country), the Galapagos are a source of endless learning opportunities in geography, natural science and marine biology.
Kick off learning in any of those areas by reading aloud the picture book We’re Sailing to Galapagos: A Week in the Pacific, written by first grade teacher Laurie Krebs. This book has lyrical text with a tercet that repeats through the book:
We’re sailing to Galapagos, Galapagos, Galapagos.
We’re sailing to Galapagos.
I wonder who we’ll see.
The seven days of the week are also given, with a different animal discovered each day of visiting the Galapagos Islands. Collage illustrations add flavor to the discoveries readers make as they “travel” to Galapagos. Additional information is provided at the end of the book on the history and geology of Galapagos, a brief biography of scientist Charles Darwin and additional details on the animals identified in the story.
Here’s another post on a fantastic island book!
Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade
- Help your child locate the Galapagos Islands on a world map. How far is that from where you live? Talk about how you would be able to get to Galapagos: walk, drive, take a boat or fly in an airplane?
- Talk about the days of your week. What will your family and/or child be doing each day this week? If desired, print off a copy of this chart with the days of the week and write or draw in the activities your child does each day this week.
- Practice the days of the week with a fun song! (If the video images are too juvenile for your child’s age, just use the song.)
- Using a globe or a world map, ask for a volunteer to find South America, Ecuador or the Pacific Ocean (depending on age of your students and prior knowledge). Then point out the Galapagos Islands. Discuss which types of transportation you can use to reach an island.
- Make a bulletin board with printed photos of animals from the Galapagos Islands and facts if desired.
- Invite a student from an older grade to come in the classroom and read the tercet of the book with you. Or print off the final line of the tercet (I wonder who we’ll see) and practice it with students. Then ask them to say it aloud each time you read the tercet for audience participation. 🙂
For about two years, my husband and I had delightful neighbors from the island of Curacao, a small island just north of Venezuela. They are native Papiamentu speakers (which they describe as a somewhat antiquated version of Dutch) and some of the most welcoming, warm people we have had the pleasure of knowing. And naturally, I thought of them when my children and I recently read the colorful book Island in the Sun by Harry Belafonte and Lord Burgess.
The book Island in the Sun contains the lyrics of Harry Belafonte’s song of the same title, released in 1957. Belafonte was born in Harlem, NY, with parents who were born in Jamaica. The beautiful imagery of the lyrics remind us all that we have a homeland, a place in our hearts that is dear to us. My children enjoyed seeing the bight colors and hearing the rhythmic language as we read this book aloud together. I liked the rich vocabulary and the cultural insight the text and illustrations provide of Caribbean culture.
Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade
- Ask your child what an island is. Make sure he/she understands it is land completely surrounded by water and explain that people use boats or bridges to get on and off islands. Then use blue construction paper and tan, orange, yellow or white to cut out an island and glue on the blue “water.” Decorate and add to the picture as you like to give your child a more concrete image of what an island is.
- After reading Island in the Sun, look through the illustrations and talk about the things that you do on a regular basis in your community. Are there more similarities or differences between where you live and the island described in the book?
- Harry Belafonte, co-author of this book and the artist who performs the original song, is of Jamaican descent. Show students where Jamaica is on a world map and check for understanding of the geographical term “island.”
- Give students pieces of blue construction paper and tan, orange, yellow or white papers to cut out an island and glue on the blue “water.” Allow them to decorate and add to the picture as they create a concrete image of an island.
- Go back through the pictures in the book and ask what your students would like to do if they visited this island (ride on a boat, dance to drums, visit the market, fish, etc.). Ask what people enjoy doing in the geographic area you live and during different seasons, if applicable.
- Follow the title link to play the song Island in the Sun as performed by Harry Belafonte on black and white television. Ask students what they thought of the song – was it slow or fast? How did they feel when they listened to it? Did they like it? Why or why not?