For Educators

Curriculum Guides - Chapter Books:



- Have students make wish books. Include sketches & clippings from catalogs and magazines. 

-Make memory boxes for the current school year.

Hound Heaven


- Have students clip pictures of dogs to tape or hang on the ceiling of the classroom.

Animal study: retired greyhound racing dogs.

Geographic study: West Virginia.


- Death of a pet.

The Summer of the Great Divide


- Have students write about mentally-disabled people.

Farm study.

Vietnam War and 1969 study.


- Divorce.

A Stone's Throw from Paradise


- Have students write about where they would go if they could fly.

Amish life study.

Pennsylvania study.



Curriculum Guides - Picture Books:


Have students write songs about bees, using buzzing sound.

Perhaps a real beekeeper could visit the classroom, demonstrating tools and clothing.

Have students make beekeeper’s hats with mesh to cover faces.

Bee study. Bring piece of honeycomb and/or hive to school.

Honey study. How is honey processed? Discuss different honey products.

Have snacks with honey.


- Notice how artist used honey-colored paints for the illustrations in the book.

- Notice how author used poetic language in the book. 

- Notice how language and pictures give a springtime-like feeling to the readers.

- What have students learned from their grandfathers?

- Do we really need to be afraid of bees?

A Christmas Star

Make yarn angels and strings of popcorn.

Have a mitten tree in the classroom.

Bring deer antlers to classroom & decorate with mittens.

Depression-era study. Have elderly visitor speak to students about times gone by.


- How were Christmases different back then?

- Do we really need lots of gifts to be happy?

- How else could a family decorate their sleigh?

- Could students imagine their own pets decorated with antlers?

- Do they know of any churches that allow real animals inside for Christmas Eve?

Barn Savers

Have students write about parents’ jobs, using first-person style of the book, imagining themselves at work for a day with Mom or Dad. What would they eat for lunch? How would they dress? Would they have to get up early? Would it be a very long day?

Have a Barn Savers Day: students dress in old work clothes and pack their lunches in kettles. Bring barn-saving tools to school: crowbars, sledgehammer, rope. Write poems about tools. Have students wear plastic hardhats while writing the poems. Sit on stacks of wood to eat lunch.

Bring weather vane to school, and discuss the history & uses. Make weather vane.

Bring pieces of scrap wood to school & have students paint pictures of barns on them.

Recycling study. Discuss value of saving & reuse versus waste & land filling.

Barn & farm study. Point out that the white barn on the book’s endpapers is really the author’s grandmother’s barn. Have students write about barns they’ve known. Point out that the truck in the paintings is really the author’s husband’s work truck. What if the students’ fathers’ trucks were in a book? Have them write about it.

Under New York

Have students draw pictures of what may be under their city/town/home.

Have students draw pictures of things above ground in their town, duplicating the artist’s style of top and bottom drawings.

Have students write "Under My Town."

Write about what might happen if an alligator lived underground beneath their homes.

Write about how circus elephants might enter their towns.

Have a "New York City Day," with students bringing souvenirs, etc. for sharing. Eat a typical NYC food, such as lox and bagels. Play jazz music. Watch a video set in NYC, such as "Home Alone." Read Under New York and other books about the city.


- Talk about subways. How many students have ridden on the subway? Same for taxicabs, horse-drawn carriages, tour buses. 

- Discuss the ethnic areas of New York City. How multicultural is the student’s town?

- How many students have visited New York City? Discuss the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Broadway.

- How does water, light, and heat get to the students’ homes?

-What else might be Under New York that the author doesn’t include in the book? (Perhaps rats?! Homeless people?)

Winter Shoes for Shadow Horse

Take a horseshoe to school. Have students trace it and write about horses.

Write poems about the sounds horses make when running on various surfaces: concrete, grass, dirt, water.

Perhaps have a farrier visit the school, or better yet, take a field trip to watch a horse being shoed. Bring a farrier’s tools to school.

Have students imagine horses wearing human shoes, then draw pictures. Write about how a horse might walk in sneakers, high heels, boots, etc.


- Notice how the artist used the light of the forge and the moon. 

- Do the students think that it hurts the horses when they are being shoed?

- Do they think that the horse is uncomfortable in new shoes?

- What if the students were allowed to shoe a horse? Would they be afraid?  

Word Search (Stuff that Linda Oatman High likes to write about):