1 | Reading Road Trip

Standard Met: McREL Geography Standard 2 (Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment)

What You Need: Map of the United States, marker, postcard templates
What to Do: Carolyn Duffy, a teacher at Nutter Fort Intermediate in West Virginia, challenges her students to cross-country reading. She posts a map of the United States and locates their town on the map. (You can use a traditional political map or a satellite map from Google Maps.) “For every five minutes the kids read, we draw an inch of a line across the map so that they’re literally ‘reading across America.’” Duffy counts minutes that are spent reading in class and at home.

To up the challenge, invite families to complete reading logs for any time parents, siblings, and other family members spend reading during the week as well. Translate those minutes to the map to take an even longer reading road trip.

As you read across the map, students can “visit” states, landmarks, national parks, and tourist destinations. Each student can create a postcard for their favorite place visited on the journey and add it to the map.

2 | Skype Across America

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1; SL.3

What You Need: Computer with Internet access, projector with screen, Skype account
What to Do: Shawna Ford, the librarian at Curtis Elementary School in Weatherford, Texas, arranged Skype visits with classes in other schools for Read Across America. Her students shared books with local high schoolers as well as students at schools in Maryland, Oklahoma, and Illinois. They also did some “Mystery Skyping”—students had to guess the geographic location of their virtual guest class by asking questions that required only “yes” or “no” answers.

Ford and her students connected with authors as well. “I was amazed at the number of authors who Skyped with us throughout that week,” Ford sa ys, “and by the times we live in, where we can connect with people all over the country and share our love of books and reading.” Ford reached out to authors ahead of time via Twitter, but you can find authors who Skype for free at bit.ly/skype_free.

3 | Goldfish Crackers

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4; 2.MD.D.10

What You Need: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss; individual packets of colored goldfish-shaped crackers; graph paper; document camera and screen or whiteboard
What to Do: After reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, open an individual packet of colored goldfish-shaped crackers. Using a document camera, model for the class how to group the fish by color. Then transfer the number of each color to a bar graph on a piece of graph paper. Give students their own packets of crackers, and have them do the same. Compare and analyze the results.

For a tech twist, display a bar graph on your interactive whiteboard. Use images of real fish that represent the same colors as the crackers, such as a crimson snapper, a purple tang, and that old orange standby, the goldfish.

4 | Best Foot Forward

Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.A.2; 2.MD.A.4

What You Need: The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, foot-shaped foam cutouts
What to Do: April Larremore’s students at Sallye Moore Elementary in Grand Prairie, Texas, take Dr. Seuss’s birthday lying down. Larremore buys colorful foot-long, foot-shaped foam cutouts to let students experiment with length. After reading The Foot Book, they take turns lying on the floor and measuring one another from head to toe, then record heights on a class graph. Suggest that students round to the nearest foot, or challenge them to use simple fractions in their final numbers. Extend learning by asking questions like: How much taller is the tallest student than the shortest? How tall would the class be if everyone were stacked head to foot? How many students would it take to cover the length of the classroom?

5 | Frizzle Fun

Standards Met: McREL Science Standards  (varies by topic)

What You Need: Books from The Magic School Bus series, printed color images of objects related to your science units, paper to make “passport” booklets
What to Do: Read Across America isn’t just about Dr. Seuss. At Glen Forest Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, Adrienne DeSantis and her second-grade team dress up as variations of Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus series. “Each teacher focuses on a different unit that we teach (weather, fractions, et cetera), then matches her own Ms. Frizzle dress theme to the unit,” says DeSantis.

Have students rotate from one class to the other for theme-related books and activities. Each time students arrive in a room with a new Ms. Frizzle, have them guess what they will learn by the clues on her outfit. At the end of each rotation, students can record a fact they learned in their Magic School Bus “passport” booklets to reflect on later.

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