The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
About this book
Ms. Frizzle’s class has been studying the senses, but things don’t stay sensible for long! Ms. Frizzle has been rehearsing the class for a special teacher/parent presentation, but she has the wrong date. The new assistant principle, Mr. Wilde takes over the wheel of the Magic School Bus to get Ms. Frizzle back to school in time. Ms. Frizzle’s class goes along for the ride of their lives! When Mr. Wilde flips a little green switch, the bus goes all shrink-dinky, teenyweeny, and the adventure begins.
The bus zooms into the eye of a passing policeman, the ear of a child, the nose of a dog, onto Ms. Frizzle’s tongue, and into her skin! On the way the students learn facts about sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. In the end, the class and Ms. Frizzle make it to the performance in time, and Ms. Frizzle is given a special award—for the Most Field Trips ever!
Teaching the Book
Ms. Frizzle is back with another science-packed adventure on the Magic School Bus, full of sense—and nonsense—about the five senses! The book provides an opportunity to teach cause and-effect relationships, the difference between fantasy and fact, and the meaning of idioms. Activities engage students in experimenting with mystery sounds, making a log about their senses, and writing a science report for The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses.
Genre Focus: Fact or Fantasy?
Comprehension Focus: Cause & Effect
Language Focus: Multiple Meaning Words
Get Ready to Read
Fact or Fantasy?
Ask students what they know about Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus. Then ask what parts of the Magic School Bus books are facts . . . and what parts are fantasy. After defining and discussing fact and fantasy, ask students to decide which of the following statements are fact and which are fantasy.
- The black dot in the middle of your eye is called the pupil. Fact or fantasy? (Fact)
- A dog has a better sense of smell than a human. Fact or fantasy? (Fact)
- A school bus can shrink and travel through the human body. Fact or fantasy? (Fantasy)
- Seeing and hearing are the two most important senses for human beings. Fact or fantasy? (Fact)
- Students can swim around and run around inside a human brain. Fact or fantasy? (Fantasy)
Discuss the answers with students. Then remind them to watch for the facts as they read The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses.
Preview and Predict
Have students study the cover of The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses. Ask them to describe what they see and share what they think will happen in the book.
Ask students for the meaning of “it’s raining cats and dogs.” Explain that most people know that the phrase means that it is raining really hard. But someone who is just learning English might find it pretty confusing. An idiom is a phrase that means something else than the combined meaning of its individual words. There are a lot of idioms in the Magic School Bus books, and many of them make jokes. Pass out copies of Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards to students. Ask them to watch for the idioms as they read and try to figure out if there is a joke based on the idiom.
- come to your senses
- keep an eye on it
- say cheese
- have a nose for adventure
- it’s only chicken feed
- keep in touch
Words to Know
Revisit the text to find each of the idioms listed below. Discuss what the idiom means and then talk about how it is used in the book. In many cases, the idiom is used as a play on words, or pun, in the text. Ask students to look for other idioms while reading the book.
- come to your senses (p. 6)
- keep an eye on it (p. 10)
- say cheese (p. 14)
- have a nose for adventure (p. 29)
- it’s only chicken feed (p. 37)
- keep in touch (p. 48)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Project pages 6–7 on a whiteboard or screen and read aloud, modeling for students how to approach the different chunks of text on the page. Begin with the primary narrative text, then the dialogue balloons, then the reports on the side of the page. Draw students’ attention to the position, design, and typeface of the different kinds of text. Also help them figure out the order in which to read the different chunks of text and discuss how the illustrations and text are connected.
Encourage students to read the book with a partner to share questions and reactions.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they have finished the book. Write the question on chart paper or have students write it in their reading journals. Which sense is most important to you and why?
Cause and Effect Relationships
Explain to students that science books like The Magic School Bus are full of cause and effect relationships. A cause is the reason that something happens. An effect is the result of the cause. Recognizing cause and effect relationships helps readers understand the meaning of a text.
Print the graphic organizer Resource #2: Cause and Effect and model for students how to identify cause and effect. Project the page on a whiteboard or pass out copies to students. Explain how to identify the cause and effect in the “Frizzle Fact” on page 13 of the book.
Model: The text reads: “When the muscles of the iris tighten, the pupil gets smaller.” The reason that something happens is the muscles of the iris tighten. That’s the cause. The result of this cause is that the pupil gets smaller. That’s the effect. These two things have a cause and effect relationship.
Have students volunteer the rest of the cause and effect relationships listed on the organizer.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. Fact and Fantasy
Ask students to look again at pages 46 and 47. What is the topic of these pages? What are some of the things that are not true or “wrong with the book?” What is true about the book? (Sample answers: The topic of these pages is what is wrong or not true in the book. For example, a bus can’t tour a brain. The science facts are true.)
2. Cause and Effect
Find a cause and effect relationship in the report about your sense of balance on page 40. (Sample answers: Cause: hair cells in the canals in the inner ear send messages to your brain about your body’s movement. Effect: your brain tells your muscles to adjust so your body won’t fall.)
What does “make your eyes pop” mean? What made your eyes pop when reading the book? (Sample answers: The idiom means to surprise or amaze you. It made my eyes pop when the bus drove into Ms. Frizzle’s brain.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
Would you like to be in Ms. Frizzle’s class? Why or why not?
What is a place that makes your senses feel good? What is a place that makes your senses grossed out?
How are the Magic School Bus books different from most science books? Do you like the way this book mixes up fantasy and fact?
Content Area Connections
Challenge students to test their ability to identify sounds. Have several students be the “sound makers” and the rest of the students close their eyes. Then have the sound makers make sounds and see if everyone can guess what is making the sound. Example sounds include clapping hands, closing a book, crumpling up paper, stomping on the floor, shaking pennies, closing a stapler, and bouncing a ball. For more sound experiments, visit the Neuroscience for Kids website.
Sensory Word Game
Build students’ vocabulary and reinforce their understanding of the five senses by playing a game about words with sensory appeal. Read the following words and ask students to name the sense that it makes them think about. Word List: salty, roar, sparkling, slimy, squeak, perfume, yummy, scratchy, shadowy, buzz.
Humans aren’t the only ones with amazing senses; many animals far outdo us with their senses of sight, taste, hearing, smelling, and feeling. Ask students to record five fascinating statistics about animal senses found by visiting the Neuroscience for Kids website.
Encourage students to investigate color by learning about color wheels and how colors mix together. For a basic explanation of colors, students can visit Kidzone. For an interactive game about mixing colors, give students a chance to mix their own colors in the classroom by visiting Color With Leo. If possible, give students a chance to mix their own colors in the classroom.
Write a Science Report
Remind students that Ms. Frizzle’s class helps write The Magic School Bus books. Their reports are along the sides of the pages. Challenge students to add a science report about one of the five senses to the book. Examples include writing a report about how eyeglasses help vision or explaining how the loudness of sound is measured. Help students brainstorm topics about the five senses and provide them with resources, such as books, articles, and websites to use for research.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage them to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Tell them there is more than one right answer. Which sense is most important to you and why?
Five Senses Log
Ask students to keep a log of what they see, hear, taste, smell, and feel in two different environments. One environment should be inside and the other should be outside. Make copies of the printable Big Activity: Five Senses Log and distribute to students. Read the directions and answer questions to clarify the activity.
About the Author
Joanna Cole is the author of The Magic School Bus series. “I discovered in the fifth grade that I enjoyed explaining things and writing reports for school. I had a teacher who was a little like Ms. Frizzle. She loved her subject. Grade school was very important to me maybe that’s why I ended up writing books for children as an adult.
After graduating from college, I worked as an elementary school teacher, a librarian, a children’s book editor, and a writer. Writing is hard work, but it’s the greatest fun in the world.” Learn more about the best-selling Magic School Bus series at www.scholastic.com/magicschoolbus.
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