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Archive for the tag “Social Studies”

“Famous Americans” Multimedia Bibliography

By Sarah Traugott

This is a multi-media bibliography for elementary school social studies teachers.

The concept behind this bibliography project is to provide interesting electronic and written resources for an elementary school classroom that may be investigating “famous” Americans as a part of their curricular studies.  The Texas Essential Knowledge (TEKS) for social studies at this level expresses the goals for this unit as follows:

1.1 The student understands how historical figures helped to shape our community, state, and nation. The student is expected to:

(A)  identify contributions of historical figures such as Sam Houston and Abraham Lincoln who have influenced the community, state, and nation;
(B)  identify historic figures such as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison who have exhibited a love of individualism and inventiveness; and
(C)  compare the similarities and differences among the lives and activities of historical figures who have influenced the community, state, and nation.

Therefore, in an effort to provide academically appropriate and relevant information, I reviewed several links to websites that discuss various points in our nations history.  I have decided to categorize my findings into six sub-headings on Texas History, Women’s History and Black History, Colonial History, World History, and US Political and Presidential History.

Texas History

Texas Beyond History—http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/

Created by the Texas State Archeology Department and the Department of Anthropology at the Texas State University, this site is dedicated to interpreting and sharing the results of archeological and historical research on the cultural heritage of Texas with the citizens of Texas and the world.  They imagine themselves as an on line museum with six special exhibits to express the story of Texas from its very early beginnings.  The site also provides lesson plans for teachers as well as a games and learning page for students.

Texas State Capitol—http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/tspb.htm

While the State Capitol is a favorite destination for all Texas students at some point in their school career, it is also an interesting and informative on line destination.  The website offers a great deal of information on the history of the Capitol as well as an on line virtual tour, an on line gallery and links to historic documents that not only discuss the history of Texas, but provide visual evidence of the actors in that history.

Texas Independence–http://www.txindependence.org/

This visually appealing and historically specific website offers a good deal of detail on Texas history at the time of the battle for Texas independence.  It specifically addresses the role of Washington on the Brazos as the birthplace of Texas democracy.  But it includes the timeline of independence, a movie about Texas independence, links to primary source documents, teacher resources, and a 3-D game about the revolution. Read more…

Families Text Set (Multimedia Bibliography)

Multimedia Bibliography: Families

by Angela Barratt


I set out to create a bibliography for kids to learn about different types of families.  I soon found, however, that aside from picture books there is precious little out there (and even some picture book topics could use expansion).  I hope someday to see better resources for kids (and maybe even help create them?) but for now I have created a guide for adults (parents, teachers, librarians, etc.) to use when teaching children about families.  The bibliography is divided by family type; so if, for example, you are doing a week on adoption you could simply reference that section.  I have tried to be inclusive but it is sometimes difficult to define family types and there is not always good information about them.  The sections I have created are: General Family Diversity, Adoptive/Foster Families, Same-sex Parent Families,  Grandparents as Guardians, and Single Parents, Divorced and Blended Families.  The Web Intro of each section introduces the topic for the adult, while the other resources can be moderated by the adult for use with children.  The resources for kids are most appropriate for grades 1-5, though certain listings may not appeal to the oldest or youngest.

General Family Diversity

Web Intro

Provides an overview of many types of families, including statistics.

Discusses different forms families may take and makes suggestions as to how to talk to kids about them.  While aimed at parents, this is a very useful tool for educators as well.  Presents activities that could be done in the classroom or library.

Coloring Pages

  • Willhoite, Michael. 1991. Families: a coloring book. Boston, Mass: Alyson Wonderland.

There do not seem to exist coloring pages about diverse families online, but this somewhat elusive picture book seems like a great alternative.   It depicts traditional, modern, multi-generational and multi-cultural families as well as same-gender parents.  It was ahead of its time, and I am guessing that’s why it went out of print.  It is still available online through used book retailers for less than $10; my suggestion would be to make copies of the pages for use in the classroom or library.

Picture Books

  • Parr, Todd. 2003. The family book. New York: Little, Brown.

Brightly colored illustrations celebrates the fact that “there are lots of different ways to be a family.”  Depicts families with variations in size, color, parents (gender and number), noise level, eating habits and more but emphasizes that all are families and they still have a lot in common.

  • Moulton, Mark Kimball, and Karen Hillard Couch. 2000. One enchanted evening. Delafield, WI: Lang Books.

Queen Spider and Sir Fieldmouse fall in love at the Annual Midsummer Eve Dance.  The rhyming verse and charming illustrations ask: “why question the happiness true love doth bring?” This is not specifically about one of the types of families, but it does emphasize that love can surprise you and that real love can exist between very different people.


  • Rule, Jim. 1994. “A family is what you make it” in Share this world. Lake Forest, CA: PNO Tuna.

Rule’s song celebrates family differences, stating that he used to believe a family was the stereotypical mom, dad and 2.3 kids but now realizes that that is not the only kind of family.  The album was well reviewed in SLJ: “add this one to your collection.”  Unfortunately unavailable through youtube or other free sites, but available for purchase as CD or digital download on Songs for Teaching website.


• Chasnoff, Debra, Ariella J. Ben-Dov, and Fawn Yacker. 2000. That’s a family! San Francisco, Calif: Women’s Educational Media.

Kids talk about their families in this 35-minute documentary.  Stories include single-parent, mixed race, grandparent guardian and adoptive families as well as same-gender parents and divorced parents.  The online trailer would be great in class as well.  DVD available for purchase as institutional or individual; institutional comes with licenses, discussion and teaching guide.

Web Resource

• Nemours. “Feelings.” KidsHealth. Last modified 2011.

The “My Home and Family” section contains articles like “Living with a Single Parent,” “Living with Grandparents,” “Living with Stepparents,” “Being Adopted” and “Foster Families.” Not an exhaustive resource (contains nothing about same-sex parents), but very informative and reviewed by medical doctors and PhDs.  The articles are written so that any kid could read them, and provide an understanding overview of the topics. Read more…

Multi-media bibliography on The Great Depression

The purpose of this project is to compile a bibliography of materials related to the Great Depression, including the New Deal and the Dust Bowl. I believe that history is best taught by utilizing a variety of media, including print, film, and audio, including fiction and non-fiction elements. Elementary and middle school history teachers would benefit the most from this collection, as the intended audience is ten to twelve year olds. However, I also believe a public library could use this collection as it would help students with research projects or those simply interested in history. It was difficult to find material on this subject that was directed toward the specified age group, so teachers should be advised to review all content before using it in the classroom, as each teacher and school will have their own standards by which to judge the appropriateness of the content.

Fiction books:

Moss, Marissa. Rose’s Journal: The Story of a Girl in the Great Depression. San Diego: Silver Whistle/Harcourt, 2001. Print.

Though Rose is a fictional character, Moss creates a highly educational and factual book about the Great Depression centered on her. Written in journal form and packed with photographs, doodles, and comics, this book easily captures young readers attentions. Rose’s Journal is filled with pop culture and contemporary news, as well as a realistic account of rural farm life.

Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997. Print.

When Billie Jo was born, her father hoped for a boy. When he realized she was a girl, he took little notice of her. She eventually wins over his affections by helping with the farming and daily work. When her mother becomes pregnant again, they all wish for a boy to fill the family. However, when the drought strikes and the earth dries up, Billie Jo must learn how to cope with tragedy. Written in beautiful free-verse form, Hesse has created a sad, but realistic view of life during the Dust Bowl.

Non-Fiction Books:

Freedman, Russell. Children of the Great Depression. New York: Clarion Books, 2005. Print.

“His prose is straightforward and easily comprehensible, making sense of even the complexities of the stock-market crash. The use of primary sources is outstanding. This is a book told by chorus, featuring the voices of those who endured the Depression, and is embellished with black-and-white photos by such luminaries as Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, and Russell Lee. Eight chapters cover the causes of the Great Depression, schooling, work life, migrant work, the lives of children who rode the rails, entertainment, and the economic resurgence of the early ’40s.” – School Library Journal

Nardo, Don. Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression. Mankato, MN: Compass Point Books, 2011. Print.

“Occasionally, a single photograph becomes the emblematic image that defines an era, and this quality series tells the stories of four of those iconic pictures. Each book places its subject photo in historical context, profiles the photographer, describes the conditions under which it was taken, and analyzes both its immediate and its continuing impact. The texts include ample background information and details and are enhanced by large photos and sidebars. These books will help students understand the influence of the individual images and the eras they epitomize, making them strong choices.” – School Library Journal

Marrin, Albert. Years of dust: the story of the Dust Bowl. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2009. Print.

An overview of the Dust Bowl, starting with the history of the great plains and covering the events leading up to the dust storms. Plentiful pictures, sidebars, and maps help grab readers’ attentions. Read more…

Day of the Dead Multimedia Bibliography

by Julia Casas

Day of the Dead Art / Photo Credit: Craig Allen

Day of the Dead Art – Craig Allen 

This collection of print and non-print materials is meant to introduce children to the Mexican celebration known as the Day of the Dead. Also known as Día de los Muertos, this celebration takes place on November 1st and November 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. This holiday can be traced back all the way to the Aztecs and is now celebrated all over the world and in many cultures.

The Day of the Dead is a time for families to gather and celebrate their loved ones who have died. Mexican culture has a different view on death and chooses to celebrate it. During this celebration, families will visit the gravesides of loved ones or build altars in their memory. The dead are honored with their favorite foods and other offerings.

These materials are meant for use in the classroom and can be used to expand the holdings of a school library. The intended age group for these materials is for children between the ages of 8 and 10. These resources are intended to introduce children to Mexican folk culture and the Day of the Dead. Children who have had limited exposure to the Day of the Dead will learn the history of the holiday. Children will also learn how people celebrate the Day of the Dead and the activities here will give children the chance to take part in the festivities themselves.  I have compiled resources from several different mediums — books, videos, PDFs, and DIYs. Several of these resources were found using ALSCs Great Websites for Kids and others were found through educational institutions.



* Ancona, George. Pablo Remembers: The Fiesta of the Day of the Dead. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1993. Print.

“Around the time of our Halloween, people in Mexico are preparing for their own celebration, the Fiesta of the Day of the Dead. During this three-day celebration, families go to great lengths to honor the spirits of their deceased relatives. Ancona personalizes his photo-essay by introducing young Pablo, who lost his grandmother two years earlier, and shows how the boy and his family will celebrate this special day. Among the holiday traditions are skulls spun from sugar, special bread, altars inviting the spirits to return to a household, bells, fireworks, and visits from relatives. Kids not familiar with the tradition will no doubt find it fascinating; and for Mexican children living in the U.S., the book can be an important link to their heritage. Unfortunately, the holiday’s origins are best explained in the author’s note that appears at the end of the book, which most kids will probably skip. It’s too bad that the information couldn’t have been incorporated into the text; still, the book is handsomely designed, and the color photos are intriguing. Both the English and the well-translated Spanish edition should find an audience.” — Ilene Cooper (From Booklist)


* Barragan, Elisa Garcia. “Jose Guadalupe Posada: About This Artist.” MoMA.org. Oxford University Press, 2009. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

Jose Guadalupe Posada was a Mexican artist who died in the early1900s. His illustrations and cartoon work have greatly influenced many Latin American artists and cartoonists. His satirical cartoons were celebrated for their political subject matter. Posada liked to use calacas, or skeletons, to portray his subjects and his work has come to be associated with Day of the Dead. Calacas are often shown laughing or smiling which is meant to remind us not to mourn or fear death too much. MoMA keeps several of Posada’s works in their permanent collection. They can be viewed online along with a short biography of the artist.

* “Dia De Los Muertos.” Azcentral. The Arizona Republic, 2009. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

The Arizona Republic is the main news source for Phoenix and surrounding cities. Azcentral, together with Kathy Cano-Murillo, a blogger and crafter of Chicano-pop art, have created a resource to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Some links are area-specific, like events and happenings around Arizona, but other information can be adapted for classrooms anywhere. There are several wonderful craft ideas, such as how to create a matchbook shrine or papercut flowers. There is also a handy glossary of terms in English and Spanish and several education guides for teachers. Also included is a link to a photo album depicting art exhibits, altars, traditional mexican folk dances, and Day of the Dead sculptures. This site can be used to generate craft ideas or to show students how other people have celebrated the holiday.

* Pomade, Rita. “Mexican Lithographer Jose Guadalupe Posada: Past and Present.” MexConnext, 2006. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

This look at the past and present of the great artist, Jose Guadalupe Posada, provides great information about the artist and his influence. Posada mastered the craft of lithography while he was young and by 1895 he was highly skilled at engraving in metal and etching in zinc. At this time, Posada was the only one working in these mediums; it was actually Posada who introduced these techniques to Mexico. This article would be a good companion to MoMA’s website, which includes images. The text may be a bit advanced for some readers, but it could be read before class by the teacher and then presented to the students in an easier to digest form. Quotes from the article could also be picked out and used as part of a display or included on an information sheet. Read more…

Abraham Lincoln Text Set

The UT libraries have a LOT of youth resources (especially non-fiction) about Honest Abe!  This makes our 16th president the perfect first subject for a text set made out of our items.  Of course, this list of materials is not exhaustive, but this is a good jumping off point for learning bout Abe Lincoln.  If you know of other great materials for this set, please share them in the comments!

This text set is aimed at 3rd graders.


Grace’s Letter to Lincoln, Connie Roop


True Stories about Abraham Lincoln, Ruth Belov Gross

Abraham Lincoln, George Washington: Young Presidents, Augusta Stevenson (this book is long, but excerpts may be appropriate).

“Abe Lincoln’s Cabin” Scholastic News, February 2008, Vol. 64, Issue 6.  Found in Searchasaurus  (use the PDF full text).

A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln, David Adler

Un Libro Ilustrado Sobre Abraham Lincoln, David Adler


Our Holidays in Poetry, Mildred Harrington

News Articles

“President’s Day Dilemma” from Time for Kids (also available in MasterFile Premier)

“Document on Display” from Time For Kids

Primary Sources

The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln, Illustrated by Michael McCurdy

AV Resources

Video: “Lincoln The Leader” from Scholastic News

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