Extension and Engagement Extension and Engagement

Grade 3

Share these activities with your students before, during, or after the module to build engagement and invite interest in module texts and to extend students’ interest in the module topics and themes after reading.




Text(s): Emma’s Rug by Allen Say

Performance Arts: Song

  • Create a song that tells about something that happens to Emma and how she feels about it. Include details from the story in your song.

  • Share your song with your classmates.

Text(s): A River of Words by Jen Bryant

Content Areas: The Science of Creativity

William Carlos Williams wrote poetry all his life—from the time he was a young child. Even as a busy doctor, William Carlos Williams never stopped creating poems and would often write late into the night. Have you ever wondered how and why people are creative? Scientists collect information and facts about topics to help us understand them better. Some scientists use polls to gather information about human behavior.

  • Poll family and friends about what helps them be creative.

  • Find the three most common answers and share them with the class.

Text(s): When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

Social Justice: Group Discussion

Marian Anderson’s voice captured the attention of Americans across all cultures at a time when African American performers were usually limited to African American audiences. Today, singing for social justice is very common in popular music. Is it important to agree with a performer’s ideas, or does music convey meaning separately from its message?

  • Work in a small group to explore your thoughts about the question.

  • Develop a group position.

  • Explain your position to the class, and be ready to answer questions.

Text(s): Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

Field Trip: Abstract Art Exploration

Jackson Pollock’s most famous paintings were abstract. Go on a field trip to learn more about abstract art. You can visit a museum in person with your class, family, or a trusted adult. You can take an online field trip by searching for images of abstract art (Have an adult help you find images that are right for third graders.)

  • Find paintings by Jackson Pollock and other abstract artists. Ask yourself: How is Pollock’s art like that of other abstract artists? How is it different?

  • Then share with the class a few facts or details that you discovered about abstract art.

Visual Expression: Drip Painting

Jackson Pollock made his most famous paintings by dripping or pouring paint onto canvas.

  • Spend some time looking at several of these paintings in the book and/or online.

  • Then use chart paper and paint to create your own drip painting.

Text(s): All Module Texts

Across the Module: Cultural/Community Connection

Two central messages in the texts of this module are that creativity comes from inside each of us and that it is expressed in different ways.

  • Think about ways that people are creative in your home culture or community.

  • Share an example, such as a food, a kind of art, a poem, or a dance.




Text(s): All Module Texts

NOTE: This extension activity requires advance teacher preparation described below.

Teaching Extension: Bulletin Board

Make a large bulletin board depicting the ocean and the seashore for module 2, tier 3 words. For Amos and Boris, use the bulletin board to support understanding of ocean- and whale-related terminology.

  • Each day of the module, add new words to the bulletin board by creating and labeling a drawing for each word. For example, you might draw and label pictures of surf and high tide.

  • Encourage students to use the bulletin board to review the words.

Text(s): Titanic: The Disaster that Shocked the World! by Mark Dubowski

Verbal Expression: Journal Entry

The author of Titanic clearly describes the crew’s brave efforts to set up the lifeboats and save as many people as possible.

  • Write a journal entry from the point of view of one of the passengers as you wait for a lifeboat.

  • Read your journal entry to the class, as if you are a survivor sharing your experience.

Teaching Extension: Build Background Knowledge

Share this video, which shows the interiors of the Titanic in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class sections. The video is unnarrated but provides a good visual of what the interior of the ship was like.

Text(s): Giant Squid by Mary M. Cerullo and Clyde F. E. Roper

Visual Expression: Saltwater Painting

In Giant Squid, you learned about the ocean ecosystem, or neighborhood, where the squid lives. Create a painting to show the squid in its ecosystem.

  • Mix warm water, salt, and food coloring to create different colors.

  • Use the colors to paint the ocean ecosystem.

  • Let the water dry to see how the salt remains in your painting!

  • Add a giant squid.

  • Share your painting with classmates, explaining how the giant squid interacts with elements of its environment.

Teaching Extension: Build Background Knowledge

Show students this clip narrated by Dr. Roper and showing squid in the aquarium and in the ocean.

Text(s): Amos and Boris by William Steig

Performance Arts: Talk Show Role-Play

Imagine that Amos from Amos and Boris has been invited onto a talk show to discuss his adventures. Work with a partner to role-play the talk show.

  • Decide who will be Amos and who will be the talk show host.

  • Brainstorm what the talk show host would ask Amos and what Amos would say.

  • Rehearse the role-play and then perform it for the class.

Verbal Expression: Bumper Stickers

Some people share thoughts by placing stickers on the rear bumper of their cars. That way people in the car behind can read the bumper sticker. With a partner, create a bumper sticker to share the central message of Boris and Amos.

  • Together decide on the central message of Boris and Amos.

  • Write the message on a large sticky note.

  • Share your sticky note (bumper sticker) with the class.

  • As a class decide which bumper sticker sayings best capture the central message of the story.

Text(s): Shark Attack! by Cathy East Dubowski

Content Areas: Science

Did you know that some parts of a shark are filled with fats and oil? Perform the following experiment to understand how the fats and oil help the shark stay afloat.

  • First, find two plastic bottles that are the same size.

  • Fill one with cooking oil and the other with water.

  • Then partly fill a tub or sink with water, and place both bottles in it.

Which bottle do you think will float? Which one do you think will sink?

Field Trip: Aquarium

Go on a field to learn more about sharks. You can visit an aquarium with your class, family, or a trusted adult. You can also take a virtual field trip by watching a short video on sharks. Search the Internet by “shark video for kids.”

  • Find out at least two facts about sharks that you didn’t know before.

  • Share them with your class. 

Text(s): Amos and Boris by William Steig + Giant Squid by Mary M. Cerullo and Clyde F. E. Roper + Shark Attack! by Cathy East Dubowski

Connecting Texts: Social Justice Fundraiser

You’ve read about several different animals that live in bodies of water. Water pollution is a serious problem for animals and for people whose jobs depend upon clean water. Work with classmates to help solve the problem of water pollution in your community.

  • Together research bodies of water in your community that are being impacted by pollution. You can use the Internet (search “water pollution in <name of your community, state>” or ask adults that work in the community’s government.

  • Brainstorm a fundraiser, or way to make money, for agencies that clean local bodies of water.

  • Plan and carry out the fundraiser with your classmates.

Text(s): All Module Texts

Across the Module: Interview

  • Review the selections in the module to think about the different kinds of obstacles that people or characters face.

  • Then choose a member of your family who has encountered obstacles.

  • Interview your family member to discover how he or she overcame those challenges.



All Module Texts

Teaching Extension: Social Sensitivity (Jim Crow, Racism)

Access and read tools to support teaching sensitive topics, such as:

Text(s): Coming to America by Betsy Maestro

Teaching Extension: Beringia Land Bridge

  • Display a picture of the Beringia land bridge showing how Asia was connected to what is now Alaska. Briefly explain how the world has changed by explaining the features of the Beringia land bridge map.

  • Explain that the image also shows how Asia and North America currently look. Point out that there is now water separating the continents.

  • TURN AND TALK: Ask: Can you walk from Asia to North America now? Why not? Using details in the map, how has our world changed? Have partners discuss.

Teaching Extension: Cause and Effect

Introduce the idea that events in history are connected. One event often causes another event, or makes it happen.

  • Ask: What happens when you touch a really hot pan? (You pull your hand back because it hurts.) Ask: What happens when you put an ice pack on your burn? (Your burn feels better.)

  • Explain that events that make other events happen are connected by cause and effect.

  • Write the following on the board or chart paper: Because you touched a really hot pan> you pull your hand away> because you got an ice pack>your burn feels better.

  • Explain that events in history are also sometimes connected by cause and effect. For example, because the ancient hunters crossed the Beringia land bridge, they made new homes in the Americas.

Teaching Extension: Introducing Ellis Island

Explain that from 1892 to 1954, Ellis Island was the gateway to the United States for about twelve million immigrants. Point out that many Americans have relatives who passed through Ellis Island as immigrants.

  • Show a picture of the Ellis Island Museum. Ask students why certain families might have a particular interest in visiting the museum (their relatives came through Ellis Island).

  • Show photos from the first stop on the Interactive Ellis Island Tour: “The Passage.”

  • READ AN IMAGE: As students read each image, ask: “What do you see? What do you think it means? How do you know?” Direct students to support their interpretations with information from the captions.

  • Explain that most passengers came in steerage class, which was the least expensive part of the ship. These passengers had to complete a series of steps at Ellis Island before they could stay in America.

  • READ AN IMAGE: Have students read the images for the second stop: “The Arrival.” Ask: What do you see? What do you think it means? How do you know?

  • Tell students that they can explore the other stops on the Interactive Ellis Island Tour in module 3 or on their own.

Text(s): How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading.

Teaching Extension: Escaping Danger

  • Tell students that How Many Days to America? tells about people from a country ruled by soldiers. They are in danger from their own soldiers. Explain that in countries ruled by soldiers, people can be in danger because of beliefs, identify, or for other reasons.

  • Explain that the people in this book come to America to seek asylum, which means a safe place to live. Point out that many immigrants have left their own countries and come to America for this reason.

  • Tell students that we never learn the name of the country or why the people are in danger. Ask students why the author might have decided not to include details like these. (There are many different countries where this problem could exist. She doesn’t want to cause problems for people who still live in that country.)

Performance Arts: Song

To comfort the family, the father sings a song. It is the same song he probably sings when the children go to sleep. He sings: “Sleep and dream, tomorrow comes/And we shall all be free.”

  • Make up a song you could sing to younger children so they would not be afraid.

  • Perform the song for the class.

Visual Expression: Collage

Create a collage to show the journey and how people feel during it.

  • Paint the boat in middle of the ocean.

  • Around the boat, include images that show the parts of the journey. You can draw the images or find some on the Internet.

  • Also include images that help show the characters’ feelings, such as sadness about leaving, relief at first, fears along the way, and thankfulness at the end.

  • Put the different images in the order that they fit with events in the story.

  • Include words from the story or ones you make up.

Here’s another way to do this activity:

  • Paint your boat on a separate piece of paper from the collage. Cut it out.

  • Move the boat across the collage as you tell classmates about each event and how the characters feel.

Text(s): Going Home by Eve Bunting

Content Areas: Social Studies

Every year, about two million migrant farm workers leave their home country to plant, harvest, and pack fruits, vegetables, and nuts in the United States. Work in a small group to find out more about migrant farm workers today.

Visual Expression: Drawings

The cover of the Going Home is made up of many small drawings that show details about life in Mexico. Imagine that you are drawing a cover for a book about a place you or a family member call home. It can be in this country or another country.

  • Decide what place you will describe in pictures.

  • Think of details you want to show about what life is like.

  • Make small drawings. Show only one or two things in each picture.

  • Use crayons or markers to add color.

Text(s): The Great Migration by Eloise Greenfield

Teaching Extension: Conditions for African Americans in the South

Explain that module 3 includes several oral histories of the Great Migration from Isabel Wilkerson’s book The Warmth of Other Suns. Wilkerson was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize, and she is a child of the Great Migration because her parents traveled from the South to Washington, DC.

  • Share an excerpt of an interview with Isabel Wilkerson 4:35–6:08.

  • As students listen, have them list conditions that made life difficult for African Americans in the South during segregation, such as the following:

    • separate windows at the post office

    • separate telephone booths

    • separate tellers at the bank

    • rules against black people and white people playing checkers together

  • Have students share their notes with the class.

Teaching Extension: Conditions for African Americans in the South and North

Explain that when African Americans in the Great Migration arrived in the North, they found many differences from the South.

Performance Arts: Interview

Eloise Greenfield uses poems to describe what it was like for African Americans to migrate from the South to the North between 1900 and 1930s. In some of the poems, a person is speaking, using the word I. Work with a partner to create an interview between a reporter and someone who has just made the journey.

  • Decide whether the person being interviewed is a boy, girl, man, or woman. You can invent a person or use someone from the book.

  • Think of questions to ask the person. Ask about different parts of the journey, starting with the decision to leave.

  • Together decide on the answers. Use details from the text to help you.

  • Decide who will be the interviewer and who will be interviewed.

  • Rehearse the interview.

  • Then perform the interview for the class.

Text(s): Ellis Island by Elaine Landau

Online Field Trip: Ellis Island

Take an interactive tour of Ellis Island with a small group. Use the link Interactive Ellis Island Tour or go to the website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/tour/index.htm 

  • Start with the third stop. Divide stops 3–10 among the students in your group.

  • Read the STORY and look at the PHOTOS for each of your stops on the tour.

  • Share what you learn with your group.

Community/Cultural Connections

For more than 50 years, immigrants arriving by ship entered the United States through Ellis Island. Ellis Island Foundation has a database with the names of these passengers.

  • Search for your last name on the Ellis Island database: https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/

  • Find out countries of origin for passengers with your last name.

  • If you have an ancestor who entered the United States through Ellis Island, look for that person’s name.

Share your findings with the class.

Text(s): All Module Texts

Across the Module: Role-Play Review

Imagine that you and a small group have been selected to create an anthology about immigration. You must choose three texts from module 3.

  • Review the texts in module 3. Think about what you learned about immigration from each one.

  • Choose the three texts that taught you the most and that you found most interesting.

  • Discuss choices as a group, and then take a vote to make a final decision.




Text(s): First Space Encyclopedia

Content Areas: Earth Science

In First Space Encyclopedia, pp. 60–61 about Earth provide an overview of the topic. You learn just enough to make you want to learn more. For example, on p. 61, the section “ Danger Zones” explains that volcanoes and earthquakes are common where Earth’s plates move against each other. In a small group, do research to learn more about the area called “The Ring of Fire” and about some events that have happened on it in the United States.

  • Search by “Ring of Fire” or visit sites such as these:



  • Use this site to find out whether the 20 largest earthquakes occurred in the Ring of Fire: https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/browse/largest-world.php 

  • Also use the Internet to find answers to these questions: What is the San Andreas Fault? What large earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have occurred in the United States? When and where did they happen?

  • Share your findings with the class.

Text(s): Planets by Elizabeth Carney

Content Areas: Space Science

The diagram on pages 10–11 of Planets shows the planets in relationship to the sun. Create a diorama of our solar system. Show which planets are closest to the sun. Show how they compare in size.

  • Turn a shoe box on its side, so that the open side faces you. The long side will become the top.

  • Gather construction paper, a scissors, markers, tape, and string. Use the string and tape to attach planets and the sun to the inside top of the box.

  • Color the inside of the box black.

  • Make cut-out circles for the sun and each planet. Make the sun the largest circle of all and Mercury the smallest. Look at the diagram to help you.

  • Color the circles. You may want to use red for Venus since it’s the hottest planet.

  • Hang the sun on one side of the box. Then hang the planets in order, showing how close they are to the sun. (Hint: You will attach Mercury next since it is nearest the sun.)

  • Share your diorama with the class.

Performance Arts: Movement

With a group, show what you’ve learned about where the planets are and how they move.

  • Decide who will be each planet and who will be the sun.

  • Stand in the right place compared to the other planets and the sun.

  • Take turns moving to show how your planet orbits.

Text(s): “Eyes on the Sky” by Charlotte Brusso

Content Areas: Mythology and Science

People have been observing the sky since ancient times, long before telescopes were invented. The ancient Greeks named stars and planets after figures from their myths, or stories. They named one cluster, the Pleiades, after the seven daughters of a mythological giant called Atlas. In “Eyes on the Sky,” you read how telescopes have allowed scientists since the time of Galileo to observe objects in the sky, such as the Pleiades, in greater detail.

  • Visit this site to see Galileo’s drawing of the Pleiades: http://galileo.rice.edu/lib/student_work/astronomy95/orionpleiades.html 

  • The large stars in Galileo’s drawing are the Pleiades, but there are only six stars, not seven. Scientists think that seven were once visible and that one had become extinct by Galileo’s time. Galileo also was able to see36 stars in the cluster.

  • Visit this site to find the stars as seen through the far more powerful Hubble telescope: http://www.pleiade.org/hubble_m45.html.

  • Compare the two images. Jot down your findings.

  • Search the Internet or visit this site to learn what scientists now know about the number of stars in this cluster: http://www.pleiade.org/pleiades_03.html

  • Share your findings with the class.

Content Areas: The Science of Sight

Telescopes help us see far away objects. Magnifying glasses help us see very small objects. Eyeglasses help people see objects at all distances. All of these tools use lenses. For a long time, lenses were made of glass. Now many are made of plastic. Make a water lens.

  • Use the directions at this website: www. Explainthatstuff.com/lenses.html

  • Start with a piece of newspaper or any paper with writing on it.

  • Put a piece of plastic over it, like from a grocery bag or a piece of plastic wrap.

  • Use an eye dropper or teaspoon to drop a tiny drop of water on top of the plastic.

  • Study the drop of water. It is shaped like most glass or plastic lenses, with a curved top edge and a flat bottom edge.]

  • What do the words behind the drop of water look like? How are they different from the words on the rest of the paper?

  • What happens if you move the plastic closer or farther from the words?

Text(s): Starry Messenger by Peter Sís

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading. Be sensitive in discussing ways Galileo challenged the Church as the topic may be upsetting for students with strong religious ties. See the routine on Teaching Sensitive Content in the Instructional Routines section.

Teaching Extension: Background

  • Share the following information with students:

    • Galileo lived more than three hundred years ago, from 1564 to 1642, in Italy. At that time, there was no electricity, and people used candles or oil lamps to read. People also did not have central heating or running water in their homes. Cities in Italy at that time had many beautiful buildings, especially for the rich or powerful; but these cities also had garbage in the streets and open sewers.

    • At that time, very little was known about germs and medicine. There were terrible diseases, such as the plague, and people did not understand the causes or know the cures.

    • The Church was the most important authority in all matters of life. It taught that Earth was the center of the universe.

    • Galileo made important discoveries about the solar system. Some of his discoveries challenged the Church’s teachings about Earth. This made the Church angry with him.

    • Galileo was one of the first scientists to use experiments to test his ideas. His inventions also allowed him to make more detailed observations about the world.

  • Share the following video to help students learn more about Galileo and his inventions:
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REUdlA44vuY 

Performance Arts: Monologue

According to Starry Messenger, Galileo enjoyed sharing his discoveries and entertaining others. Imagine that you are Galileo. Which discovery would you like to tell others about?

  • Search the Internet by “Galileo telescope discoveries,” or visit one of these sites:




  • Choose a discovery to share.

  • Describe your discovery. (Imagine that your classmates are people who lived in Galileo’s time.)

  • Use gestures and props, such as a notebook and telescope. (You can make a cylinder shape with paper and pretend that it is a telescope.)

Visual Expression: Cartoon Strip

Create a cartoon strip of events from Galileo’s life.

  • Decide which four or five events from Starry Messenger to include.

  • Make simple drawings, and include speech and thought balloons.

  • Share your cartoon strip with the class.

Text(s): Mae Jemison by Jodie Shepherd

Social Justice/Gender: Speech

According to the text, not many women were scientists when Mae Jemison was growing up. The first astronauts were also all men, and for many years, were all white men. Mae Jemison, however, loved science and was especially interested in astronomy.

  • Imagine that you are Mae Jemison. You have been asked to give a speech to inspire young women to be scientists.

  • In your speech, share your curiosity about the world and how it led you to study science. Explain the importance of science in your work life.

  • Practice your speech. Use body language and emphasis to show your enthusiasm.

  • Deliver your speech to the class.

Text(s): Moonshot by Brian Floca

Teaching Extension: Footage of Moon Landing

Point out the picture of people watching TV on p. 26 of Moonshot. Explain that people watched the rocket liftoff and the moonwalk on TV with great excitement. Help students understand that people had dreamed of such a moment since ancient times and that sending people to the moon and bringing them home safely was a huge technological achievement.

Content Areas: Rocket Science

Look at the rocket in the inside cover of Moonshot. The fins at the bottom of the rocket are an important feature of the design. They help keep the rocket on its intended flight path. Make your own rocket out of paper.

  • Gather these materials: paper, pencil, straw, tape.

  • Use this video to help you follow these steps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7RIgo-KTGs

    • Wrap the paper around the pencil.

    • Tape the paper, and remove the pencil.

    • Cut a few places near the top so you can squish the paper.

    • Make a cone by cutting a pie piece and twirling it around your finger. Tape it.

    • Attach the paper cone at the top. (See video)

    • Make 2 fins and attach them near the bottom. (See video)

Insert the straw inside and blow. IMPORTANT: The rocket can be sharp. Point it away from people. If you are inside, point it toward the ceiling.

Text(s): One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh

Performance Arts: Act Out a Scene

The author of One Giant Leap describes Armstrong’s and Aldrich’s time on the moon in great detail. Act out the scene, beginning with Armstrong crawling out of the hatch on p. 14 and ending with the astronauts’ return to the Eagle on p. 22.

  • Decide who will be Armstrong and who will be Aldrich.

  • Together review the text. Jot down what the astronauts do and say their moonwalk.

  • Practice acting out the scene. Remember to move as if you are wearing a helmet and spacesuit, and as if there is no gravity.

  • Perform the scene for the class.

Visual Expression: Model of Moon Surface

The inside cover of One Giant Leap shows a photo of the surface of the moon. You can see craters, or holes, made by meteors that hit the moon.

  • Watch this video to learn more about the moon’s surface: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iSZMv64wuU

  • Use clay or modeling dough to make a model of the surface. You can create a general impression or choose specific spots to show and label.

  • Share your model with the class.

Text(s): All Module Texts

Visual Expression: Page Design

In Starry Messenger, Peter Sís includes a large piece of art on each spread and one or two sentences of text. He also arranges other words in unusual ways. Create two interesting book pages.

  • Choose something you learned about space from one of the texts in this module.

  • Illustrate your topic with your own art, art from the Internet, or a combination.

  • Write one or two sentences to go with the text.

  • Add other information, and arrange the words in an unusual way.




All Module Texts

Teaching Extension: Beliefs About Dragons

To prepare for the texts in this module, share this information:

  • Dragons are mythical creatures that appear in ancient stories and art all over the world.

  • Ideas about dragons and descriptions of them vary greatly from culture to culture.

  • In Europe, dragons were pictured as giant fire-breathing monsters with wings and claws or as giant, slithering snakes. They were considered fierce and dangerous. Heroes in stories often went on quests to rescue people from a dragon or to fight the dragon for a treasure it was guarding.

  • In China and some other Eastern cultures, dragons were pictured with long serpent-like bodies and four legs. They sometimes had features of different animals but didn’t have wings.

  • These dragons were powerful but protective, and people prayed to them for luck and good weather

  • Scientists today think that the discovery of giant dinosaur bones and ancient people’s fear of being eaten by large animals may have led to beliefs in dragons.

  • Although most people no longer believe in dragons, they are still popular topics for literature and art. There are also still festivals for dragons in China and other places.

  • For more information, visit these websites:

Text(s): The Dragons Are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky

For the second activity, distribute strips of red construction paper and two dowels, unsharpened pencils, or chopsticks to each student. Print or have students print the outline drawings for the dragon parts. Students will also need glue and markers or crayons.

Verbal Expression: Poem

In many of the poems in this book, a dragon is the speaker. The dragons vary, and so do their poems.

  • Imagine that you are a dragon.

  • What kind of poem would you create? Would it be sad or proud? noisy or quiet? scary or gentle?

  • Decide whether you want to include rhyme in your poem.

  • Make up your poem, and practice saying it aloud.

  • Share your poem with the class.

Content Areas: Social Studies and Literature

The dragon art in the book is based on ideas about dragons from European legends. In Chinese legends, the dragons looked different. They were also powerful but not scary. In China, people prayed to these dragons for good weather or luck.

  • Visit this site to see Chinese dragon art: https://www.woojr.com/dragon-paper-craft/#comment-3511

  • Follow these steps to create a Chinese dragon puppet.

    • Print the dragon head and tail and color them. Cut them out.

    • Fold the red paper like an accordion to make the body.

    • Fold the head and tail in half around the body. (Look at the picture on the website to see how.)

    • Glue or tape the body parts together

    • Attach a stick to the head.

    • Attach another stick to the tail.

  • Hold a stick in each hand, and move the sticks to make your dragon look like it’s flying.

Text(s): The Dragons Are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky and My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Visual Expression: Collage

In The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, Peter Sis includes dragons that vary in size, color, shape, and even texture. One of the dragons is even a mechanical one. The dragon in My Father’s Dragon looks like a friendly zebra with wings.

  • Create a dragon from your imagination. Will your dragon look like a serpent or have wings? Will it breathe fire?

  • Use art materials such as cut out paper, yarn, and buttons.

Text(s): Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! by Kathleen Kudlinski

NOTE: If students are particularly interested in making fossils, visit this site for an activity to create realistic fossils: https://craftsbyamanda.com/coffee-ground-fossils/.

Visual/Verbal Expression: Cartoon

The author and illustrator share information about dinosaur discoveries in a funny way. Some of the illustrations are even cartoons. Work with a partner to create your own cartoon about dinosaurs.

  • Brainstorm ideas for the cartoon. Think about what information you want to share.

  • Decide who will do the drawing and who will write the words.

  • Use speech and/or thought balloons.

  • Share your cartoon with the class.

Content Areas: Science

Many scientists believe that birds developed over time from dinosaurs. One important clue was finding feathers in a dinosaur fossil since only birds have feathers.

  • Visit this site to learn the latest thinking on how bird feathers developed: https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/feathers-through-time/.

    • Click on the box that says “Launch Feathers Through Time.”

    • Use the arrows to get to the next page.

    • On each page, click different places to explore.

    • Don’t worry if you cannot read all the words. Just learn what you can.

  • Create a poster sharing your information.

  • Include information about possible functions of feathers in dinosaurs and in birds.

  • Add images, such as drawings, photos, real feathers, or feathers created out of art materials.

  • Share your poster with the class.

Visual Expression: Fossil Prints

The scientists based their thinking on the dinosaur fossils they found. As they found new clues, they changed their thinking.

  • Make a fossil print in clay or modeling dough that shows something you learned in the book. Press objects into the clay to leave a mark behind or use a stick to draw something in the clay.

  • Imagine that you are a scientist and you have just discovered the fossil. What is your thinking about dinosaurs based on the fossil?

  • Now imagine that the class is a group of scientists. Present the fossil and your thoughts to them.

Text(s): Dinosaur Detectives by Peter Chrisp

After students complete the first activity, explain that scientists do not know enough about dinosaurs to draw conclusions about dinosaur locations and migration patterns. They hope to find additional fossils that will provide more clues.

Content Areas: Geography

The book describes fossils that have been found on three continents: Europe, North America, and Africa. In fact, fossils have been found on the three other continents as well. Work with a small group to find out which dinosaur fossils were found on more than one continent.

  • Together visit a site such as this one: https://www.thoughtco.com/dinosaurs-by-continent-1093821

  • Have each student choose one or two continents to research. (In the end, your group should have a list for each of the seven continents.)

  • List the dinosaurs found on your continent (s).

  • Then compare your lists. Find out which dinosaur appears on more than one list.

Content Areas: Science

The sidebar on p. 27 explains that Darwin’s supporters hoped to find fossils that would prove his theory of evolution.  Work with a partner to create a slideshow explaining Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

Verbal Expression: Tongue Twister

The fossils that Mary Anning found at Lyme Regis, England made her famous. According to the text, the tongue twister She sells seashells on the sea shore may refer to Mary.

  • Create a tongue twister about dinosaur fossils and/or one of the scientists you learned about in the text.

  • Share your tongue twister with the class, first quickly and then more slowly.

  • Ask classmates to identify the sounds that you repeat at the beginning of words.

Text(s): You Can Be a Paleontologist! by Scott D. Sampson

Content Areas: Nature Table

According to the author, observing nature is the first step to becoming a paleontologist. Create a nature table with other members of the class.

  • Bring to class interesting rocks, plants, fossils, and insects.

  • You may find items on a nature walk, or you may already have a collection at home.

  • Label each item, using the Internet as needed. For example, you may want to identify the kind of sea animal that lived in a shell you found.

  • Place your items on the nature table, and learn about the items that your classmates brought.

Performance Arts: Mime

You Can Be a Paleontologist! describes the careful work that paleontologists do. Work in a small group to mime some of the things they do.

  • Together decide whether you will mime the steps for digging up fossils or the steps for removing fossils from the field.

  • Decide what each person in the group will do.

  • Perform your mime for the class. Challenge classmates to identify each task.

Text(s): My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Visual/Verbal Expression: Travel Brochure

Create a travel brochure for Wild Island.

  • Include drawings.

  • Include details about the landscape, plants, and animals.

  • You may want to include warnings for travelers as well.

Performance Arts: Act Out a New Scene

Work with a partner or small group to create an additional scene for the book and perform it.

  • Brainstorm another type of animal that Elmer might meet.

  • Together decide on another backpack item that would help Elmer escape.

  • Locate a backpack and the item, or make a drawing or model of the item.

  • Decide who will be Elmer and who will be the animal or animals.

  • Make sure each student has a part in the scene.

  • Rehearse the scene a few times.

  • Perform the scene for the class.