Read Across America celebrates reading and encourages classroom activities that promote reading. My class has been learning about the 50 United States, so we are gong to experience a few US States this week with 5 picture books and activities.
Read Across America with NEA
The National Education Association (NEA) began Read Across America in 1998. Read Across America day is March 2nd and they celebrate National Reading Month all throughout March. Their website has fantastic resources to help you plan for this month and the whole year. They have ideas for promoting reading and enjoying books virtually with your classroom.
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Experience the States during Read Across America
As we start Read Across America, I thought I’d share my plans that let students experience a few US States through books and activities. Read Across America has a list of a book from each state. I was inspired by this to create my own short list (5 books) of books to share during the first week of March. My 3rd grade class is learning about the 50 United States. The students are doing state reports with each student choosing a separate state to study. This will be a great way to inspire them to experience traveling through the states by reading books. We will read these books and then have an activity to go along with it. I was looking for books that would give a feel of the place so that students could somewhat experience those states. One of my favorite things about reading is the way it can transport you to another time and place. Students can experience far away US states with these books and activities. With all of our quarantining and staying at home this last year, it’s a perfect time to experience new places — even if it’s just through a book.
Experience the US States with a Minnesota Book and Activity
I have quite a bit of family in Minnesota since both of my parents were born there. When I think of Minnesota, loons often come to mind. I can’t say that I remember seeing loons there on my childhood trips, but we did go to lakes a few times. This book is really focused on the actual loons and not so much the location, but you do experience the beauty and wildness of the lake. I love that it features photographs and the book was actually conceived by the photographer’s desire to share the photos. The poetic text is beautiful. I found a perfect (and easy!) craft at DLKT to pair with this book. Students use a collage technique to create a loon. The template is provided. The finished product looks beautiful!
Experience the US States with a Maine Book and Activity
This classic is on the NEA list also. It’s a Caldecott Honor Book. It was written by Robert McCloskey and is based on his family and set in the 50’s. Sal loses a tooth and wants to put it under her pillow and make a wish. She really loses it when she drops it in the sand and now it seems like she won’t get her wish. She talks to her dad about some of the animals that she’s seen that day and realizes that many of them don’t have teeth. How do they make wishes? She decides that the birds probably make a wish when they lose a feather. She finds a feather and saves it so she can make a wish. After they travel by boat to Buck’s Harbor, her wish comes true. Students can create a wish page with a feather and later in the day they will get chocolate ice cream cups! If your students are virtual, maybe they could choose another item (like a special rock) to make a wish.
Experience the US States with an Iowa Book and Activity
This is a fictionalized story of artist Grant Wood (of American Gothic fame). I like how it focuses on the farm lands and the special ties that we have to our families and where we grow up. This book and the illustrations give that feeling of experience a place, Iowa, and feeling like you are there. Students will love the story about Tillie the cow missing her friend, Grant, and of his return. Most of this story is imagined, but it is true that Woods tried to make it as an artist in Paris and later came back to Iowa. It was interesting reading the additional information in the back of the book to learn more about this author. You can find this book on Epic, which is free for teachers! Amy, at Beyond Roy G. Biv, has a wonderful art tutorial for creating a farm landscape. It will go great with this story.
Experience the US States with a New York Book and Activity
I love this type of book. Harlem Grown is written by Tony Hillery. It tells the story of Navaeh who has a haunted garden across from her school. It’s an old, abandoned lot that is full of junk. Mr. Tony comes to school and helps the kids start a garden there. They fail at their first attempt and make some changes to the garden to help it. It’s a great growth mindset story! Eventually the garden takes off and becomes a blessing to the community. It was shocking to read that this school is Harlem was surrounded by 55 fast food restaurants and 29 pharmacies, but not a single store for purchasing healthy foods. A similar story is Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. You can find that one on Epic. I’m sending the kids home with seeds today!
Experience the US States with a Hawaii Book and Activity
This is a fun book. Students will enjoy the “mystery” and will likely have their opinions of what has happened to the missing eggs. The author and illustrator both live in Hawaii. You can also find this book on Epic. We are going to paint eggs to go with this story. It might give the kids some ideas on how to decorate eggs for Easter if they usually decorate eggs at home. I liked the tips and ideas at Colorful Crafts. I have never heard of using skewers to hold the eggs while you paint. Have you tried that?
I hope that your students love experiencing the US States through books and activities with these 5 books. Read Across America is a good idea all year! I love sharing my favorite books with 3rd graders and with other teachers through the magic of technology. Let me know what books you are reading to your class this year for Read Across America. Have a great week!