## Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 3

Leap Year Idioms

Teachers, here is a FREE Leap Year worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy it! Here is the Answer Key.

This worksheet helps you teach students about idioms—a commonly assessed concept on state standardized tests. Have some Leap Year fun with idioms based on the word “leap” or “year.”

If you haven’t seen them already, check out Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1: Leap Year Reading and Writing

Part 2: “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day” reading comprehension and Leap Year Math

Posted in FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 1, 2016

## Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 2

Fun Reading Comprehension and Leap Year Math

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

Here is an enjoyable reading comprehension worksheet called “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day.” The passage and questions are indeed fun. What other worksheet challenges you to figure out what Pope Paul III and Ja Rule have in common? (Answer: they were both born on Leap Day.)

You and your students will enjoy learning about Leap Year luck (or lack thereof), Leap Year marriage proposals in Ireland, and the quandary posed by a Leap Year birthday in The Pirates of Penzance. The questions are all opinion based—and in my opinion, you shouldn’t grade them! Give students credit for completion, then go home and kick back to enjoy the rest of Leap Day.

Next is my fun “Was it a Leap Year?” worksheet that lets students apply their knowledge of divisibility by 4. Hints for determining divisibility by 4 are at the bottom of the page. The worksheet teaches a special case: century years. Because a revolution around the sun does not quite take 365.25 days, only century years divisible by 400 are Leap Years. The worksheet gives a student-friendly explanation and challenges them to determine if a century year was or wasn’t a Leap Year.  I also have provided an Answer Key as a separate download.

Don’t forget to download the other two worksheets in Free Leap Year Worksheets Part One.

Happy Leap Year!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 25, 2016

## Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

The first one is a reading comprehension worksheet about Leap Year.  It’s a good, basic introduction to the concept of Leap Year that is appropriate for third grade and up.

Next is a writing worksheet about how and why Julius Caesar created Leap Year and rearranged the calendar. To shake things up a little, this worksheet challenges students to write a newspaper article about the event. The article gives “notes” our fictitious reporter took at the press conference—in a handy who, what, where, when, why format.

Stay tuned for Free Leap Year Worksheets Part Two: Leap Year trivia reading comprehension and Leap Year math!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 19, 2016

“Ballad of Birmingham” is a famous poem about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 in which four girls were killed.   Of all the lessons I present in connection with the Civil Rights movement, this is the most emotional and memorable.

I recommend the book Free At Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle. A double-page spread shows pictures of the girls and explains about the bombing.  This book was developed as part of the “Teaching Tolerance” program at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

You can use materials from BalladofBirmingham.org to teach your students about the poem.  You will learn the story of the bombing, the story of the poem, and the story of the song.  I recommend that you read the poem with your students.  The song should be a separate experience, but it is one worth sharing.

Here is a video with the song and news footage.  I recommend that you view it yourself and decide if it is appropriate for your students.

You can also see a clip about the church bombing from the History Channel.  This explains the context of the bombing in a powerful, visual and concise way.  Again, view it yourself and decide if this is appropriate for your students.

**I discovered the poem “Ballad of Birmingham” as a child, when I won a Dr. Martin Luther King Day essay contest at the US Navy base in Naples, Italy.  There was a ceremony in honor of Dr. King.  I read my essay, but by far the most memorable part of the day was when my friend Keisha’s mom recited “Ballad of Birmingham.”  She ended by singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”   This powerful performance is one of my most cherished memories.

My essay compares Dr. King’s dream to the international community at the NATO base in Naples, Italy.  Read my essay at the About the Author section of my CoreyGreen.com website.

Ballad of Birmingham by Dudley Randall

“Mother dear, may I go downtown
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails
Aren’t good for a little child.”

“But, mother, I won’t be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free.”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
And sing in the children’s choir.”

She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair,
And bathed rose petal sweet,
And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
And white shoes on her feet.

The mother smiled to know her child
Was in the sacred place,
But that smile was the last smile
To come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion,
Her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
Calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick,
Then lifted out a shoe.
“O, here’s the shoe my baby wore,
But, baby, where are you?”

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Jan 11, 2016

## In Flanders Fields: a salute to veterans

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses…”

Now we call it Veterans Day, but it used to be known as Armistice Day, marking the cessation of hostilities on the western front on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

Veterans Day is the perfect time to share with your students the famous poem of World War I, “In Flanders Fields.”  This haunting poem vividly captures the scene at the Second Battle of Ypres.  It was written by Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician treating soliders at the battle.  He was particularly affected by the death of a young friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa.  Lt. Helmer was buried in the cemetery outside McCrae’s dressing station, and the doctor performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

Col. McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields” during one of his breaks.  Legend has it that he rejected the poem, but that a fellow officer sent it to be considered for publication.  The poem became hugely popular.  Canadian professor and humanitarian Moina Michael composed a poem inspired by “In Flanders Fields” and vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance of those who served in the war.  After the war, she taught a class of disabled veterans and pursued the idea of selling silk poppies to raise funds to assist disabled veterans.

You and your students will enjoy the picture book In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae.  This beautifully illustrated book tells the story far better than a blog post ever could.

Note: to understand the poem, students need to know that poppies are opiates that cause people to sleep.  Poppies, particularly blood-red poppies, have long been used as symbols of death and sleep.  In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead.  I describe an image that’s easy for children to understand—the Wicked Witch of the West casting poppies in the fields as Dorothy et.al. approached the Wizard of Oz.

Read on to enjoy this beautiful and haunting poem.

In Flanders Fields
by Col. John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Nov 9, 2015

## Constitution Day

Teach your students about the Constitution using FREE high-quality resources.  Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics.org has superb resources–whole units, complete with PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, teaching materials, and high-quality online games.  As usual, Scholastic has assembled an excellent collection of materials for all grade levels.

Another good site is National Archives Constitution Day resources.  This includes a simulation of the confusion and complexity delegates faced as they first met to create the Constitution.  The directions are ready-to-use, and all you need are envelopes and paperclips.  Curious?  Here’s the activity.

I hope you and your students enjoy Constitution Day.  To me, it’s the Beezus to Independence Day’s Ramona.   Like Beezus Quimby, Constitution Day is serious and focused.  Like Ramona, Independence Day is fun and playful.

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Sep 14, 2015

## FREE Presidents’ Day computer activity: the 7 hat challenge

Teachers, here is a wonderful, FREE computer lab activity for Presidents’ Day!  Your students will learn about the 7 hats a U.S. president wears and details about seven presidents.  This activity is appropriate for grades 3 and up.

This computer game-style activity comes from Scholastic, which of course has an assortment of Presidents’ Day activities.  The 7 Hat Challenge is my favorite by far.

Click here to play the game.  In order to succeed, your students must understand the 7 hats the President wears:

1. Chief of the Executive Branch
2. Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
4. Director of Foreign Policy
6. Guardian of the Economy

Students learn about seven U.S. presidents, from Washington to Obama.  Students will decide which hat the president was wearing when he made various decisions.

The game has two levels: Easy and Hard.  Easy is good for third graders–but older students will quickly realize that in the Easy game, each president wears only one hat.  Once the student guesses the hat through either knowledge or trial-and-error, it’s easy to answer the other questions about that president since the answer is the same.  Older students should play the Hard level, which gives many questions about each president and shows the many hats that president wore.

After your class plays the game, you can use a Scholastic 7 Hats worksheet as an assessment. Click here for the worksheet.

I highly recommend that you use the worksheet as an assessment.  Your students will be much more serious during the computer lab activity if they know that they will be quizzed on it later.  The worksheet is formatted just like the program, so it’s a quality assessment of the activity.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Feb 9, 2015

## FREE comprehension worksheet for the movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

Teachers, here is a FREE comprehension worksheet for use with the movie Felicity: an American Girl Adventure.  The worksheet follows the movie, so students can answer the questions as they watch.  The worksheet helps you hold students accountable for following and learning from this high-quality movie.

I highly recommend the movie for the elementary school and junior high classroom.  It’s an excellent, family-friendly and unobjectionable introduction to a unit on the American Revolution.  The movie is extremely high quality.  The script is top-notch, nicely melding sequences from the Felicity books into a cohesive story.  The acting is superb.  Felicity is played by Shailene Woodley.  When I saw this movie, I knew she’d be a star.  I wasn’t surprised when she was nominated for an Academy Award a few years later.  Then she scored the lead in the Divergent films.  Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden plays Felicity’s mother.

The movie has surprising depth.  There are strong themes of justice, loyalty and honor.  Students will be very interested in a subplot involving Ben, apprentice to Felicity’s father.  Ben wants to break his apprenticeship and fight with the Patriots.  When he runs away from home, he is pursued by bounty hunters.  Felicity helps Ben understand the importance of keeping one’s word.  Another tense subplot involves Felicity’s friend Elizabeth, whose family is fairly new to the colonies.  Elizabeth’s family are Loyalists, and her father is imprisoned by Patriots.  Felicity and her father help right this grievous wrong.

Death has always been a part of life, but it was a more prominent part of life in Felicity’s time.  The movie doesn’t shy from this topic.  Felicity loses her grandfather and very nearly loses her mother.  Woodley’s scenes here are made me sure this girl would be a star.  She makes you feel Felicity’s grief.

There is plenty of fun in Felicity: an American Girl Adventure.  Felicity tames a horse, botches charm lessons, and banters with her friends.  The movie strikes the perfect balance of action and reflection, excitement and danger, comedy and tragedy.  Your students will love the story, and it will help set up lessons on the American Revolution.  Outdoor scenes were shot in Colonial Williamsburg.  Your students will enjoy the special features, in which the young actresses take you on a tour.

This worksheet helps you justify the 85 minute run time of Felicity: an American Girl Adventure.  Students can answer the questions as the movie plays.  The questions are mostly at a basic comprehension level, so students can quickly jot down answers as they watch.  Theme-based questions are saved for the end.

The picture shows the Felicity movie, but I have linked to the four-movie set 4 Film Favorites: American Girl.  The original Felicity movie is quite expensive on Amazon, almost \$30.  However, the four-movie set is under \$10.  All four movies are excellent, and they each make a great introduction to curricular units on their respective eras:

Felicity Merriman, 1774:  a horse-loving girl caught between Patriot and Loyalist family and friends during the American Revolution

Samantha Parkington, 1904:  an orphan being raised by a wealthy family during the Victorian period

Kit Kittredge, 1934:  faces the hard times of the Great Depression

Molly McIntire, 1944: keeps the home fires burning during World War II

You might enjoy these other ClassAntics posts about American Girl:

American Girls and history class

American Girl Teaching Guides

Fun and Educational Games on the American Girl Website

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Advice Books from American Girl

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Oct 27, 2014

## Book review and teaching resources: George Washington’s Spy by Elvira Woodruff

AR points 6
Available at Amazon.com

George Washington’s Spy is the sequel to Elvira Woodruff’s George Washington’s Socks.   In both books, children from Nebraska time-travel to the American Revolution, where they encounter the harsh realities of war and hobnob with famous figures.  Click here for my FREE teaching guide/comprehension questions for George Washington’s Socks.  I highly recommend that novel as a classroom literature study.

George Washington’s Spy succeeds as a sequel.  It pushes the envelope while giving us more of what we enjoyed in the first book.  In this story, the five original characters, a boys’ adventure club and one boy’s little sister, are joined by two eleven-year-old girls.  All the kids time travel to Boston in 1776.  The children are quickly separated.  The boys end up with Patriots, and the protagonist embarks on the titular spy mission.  The girls are taken in by Loyalists.  The characters’ stories intersect as the spy mission becomes deeply entwined with the Loyalists’ household.

Compared to George Washington’s Socks, this story is fairly gritty.  In George Washington’s Socks, the characters encounter tough situations, most notably the death of a young soldier.  George Washington’s Spy takes it up  several notches, which I think puts it firmly in independent-reading territory.  The kids encounter a public flogging, death by tar and feather, medicinal bleeding, and near-death by bayonet.  Believe it or not, all this occurs within a relatively upbeat story, and none of it is described in the kind of colorful detail you would encounter in a novel for adults.  Nevertheless, I think that reading this book aloud or assigning it to the whole class could lead to parent complaints and upset students.

Teaching resources: Click here for Elvira Woodruff’s teaching guide for George Washington’s Spy.  It includes comprehension questions, ideas for class activities recipes, and more.  You could use many of the ideas in a teaching unit for George Washington’s Socks.  The sequel would make a good extension activity for children who want to delve more deeply into the American Revolution.

Posted in Academics,Book Reviews,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Sep 22, 2014

## FREE printable reading guide for George Washington’s Socks by Elvira Woodruff

George Washington’s Socks is an excellent choice for a literature study to support a social studies unit on the American Revolution.  In the novel, a mysterious rowboat transports five kids to the Battle of Trenton, where they experience the American Revolution firsthand.  The kids interact with Hessian soldiers, revolutionaries, and Washington himself.

AR points 6
Available at Amazon.com

I wrote a reading guide (teacher’s guide) that helps me keep the students accountable and make sure they are following the story.  I wrote a half-sheet comprehension worksheet for each chapter, so the kids can answer enough questions to show they understand without belaboring the book.  I hope you like the printable study guide.

Click for the FREE printable study guide for use with literature studies or units about George Washington’s Socks.

If you want something more involved than my FREE study guide, you can buy some at Amazon.com.

## American Girl Teaching Guides

The American Girl series is just wonderful for introducing elementary school students to history. For each era, there is an irrepressible character with many books, games, and often even a movie to hook students on that time period. Students comprehend history lessons more easily if they can relate them to the experiences of an American Girl.

Today, the American Girl Teaching Guides! These are high-quality materials, just like everything from this company. You will find printable worksheets, easy-to-teach lessons, and ideas for connecting the books to character lessons as well as academic content.

Example: the Kit teaching guide focus on the Great Depression, giving, and resourcefulness. Worksheets encourage students to relate to Kit’s experiences with the Depression, make judgment calls about giving, conserve today’s resources by applying the lessons of the Depression, and even create their own messages in hobo code.  The materials are very high quality, and the worksheets would have taken you a while to develop. Good, time-saving stuff!

Here are the teaching guides. Each link opens a file in pdf format.

Addy: Freedom, the Civil War, and Life After Slavery

Caroline: Patriotism, Heroism, and the War of 1812

Chrissa: Bullying and How to Stop It

Felicity: Loyalty, Independence, and the Revolutionary War

Josefina: Spanish Culture and the Settlement of the Southwest

Julie: Equality, the Environment, and Facing Change

Kaya: Native American Life and the Nez Perce Tribe

Kirsten: Pioneer Life, Cultural Differences, and Helping One Another

Kit: The Great Depression, Giving, and Resourcefulness

Lanie: Animal Habitats and Observing Birds and Butterflies

Marie-Grace and Cécile: Diversity, Community, and Point of View

McKenna: Self-Esteem, Goal Setting, and Encouraging Self & Others

Rebecca: Immigrants, Old Ways and New Ways, and Doing the Right Thing

Samantha: Innovation, Generosity, and Family

## FREE Worksheet Series: Learn How to Draw a Star

A National Board Certified Teacher shows that you can use scaffolding to make anything easier to learn—even drawing a five-point star. FREE printable worksheet series teaches kids how to draw a star.

Learning how to draw a star becomes an obsession for many students. Channel that energy with these FREE worksheets that help kids break it down. Who knows—if the kids learn how to draw a star quickly and efficiently, maybe they’ll get back to their seatwork! Click here for the FREE printable 4-page lesson on how to draw a star.

While the kids are drawing stars, why not teach them a little about astronomy?

Fun Facts About Stars/Fill in the Blank About Stars: These worksheets from KidsKnowIt.com are fun for students. They will enjoy learning interesting facts about stars. Note there are two answer pages.

Kids Astronomy: This site features fun lessons about astronomy, along with worksheets and free online astronomy games.

NASA’s StarChild: A Learning Center for Young Astronomers: This site features NASA’s lessons about astronomy. The Teacher’s Center features lesson plans and worksheets.

Posted in FREE Worksheets,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jan 7, 2013

## Remembering Norman Schwarzkopf and his work for children

America was saddened by the death of General Norman Schwarzkopf on December 27, 2012. As I read the obituaries and articles commemorating this remarkable man’s achievements, I was struck by how he wanted to be remembered as more than a military man. He preferred the affectionate moniker “The Bear” to the ubiquitous “Stormin’ Norman.” He supported many charities and always championed children.

General Schwarzkopf was a pillar of the Tampa community, where he lived out his retirement years and I lived out my teenage years. As tribute, I want to share some of my memories of him and the public elementary school that bears his name.

I come from a military family: both my parents and both my grandfathers were career Air Force. When my parents retired to Tampa, Florida, our whole family was excited to learn that not only would my younger brother and sister attend H. Norman Schwarzkopf Elementary School, but the man himself would be our neighbor.

General Schwarzkopf lived about a third of a mile away from us. He shared a back yard with my little sister’s best friend. When my sister’s best friend was a toddler, he used to slip through the fence to play with the dogs. The Schwarzkopfs knew he was afraid of helicopters, so they notified the family when one was expected.

A common sight in the neighborhood was General Schwarzkopf walking his dogs, Griz and Orso. I remember Orso in particular because we misheard “Orzo” and wondered why he’d name his dog after pasta. Turned out the dog was Orso, Italian for ‘bear.’ You can read about the indomitable spirit of Orso Schwarzkopf here.

Students at Schwarzkopf Elementary School were very proud of their mascot, a bear with four stars on his hat. When we lived in Tampa, General Schwarzkopf bought ice cream for all 1,000 Bears every year. It was the good kind that came in little cups with a wooden spoon that somehow enhanced the vanilla flavor.

Just before my sister entered third grade, she saw General Schwarzkopf at our neighborhood Fourth of July party. She tapped him on his elbow—as high as she could reach—and declared, “Hey, I’m one of your Bears!” General Schwarzkopf stopped what he was doing and kneeled so he could be close to eye level with my sister, then talked with her for a few moments. He cared deeply about the students at his school and he knew how excited they were whenever they saw him, whether at school or in the neighborhood.

Schwarzkopf Elementary School was important to me, because it was where I started learning how to be a teacher. I volunteered over a hundred hours there while I was in high school, as a math tutor and as a teacher’s helper at the Gifted Summer School. My parents supported the Secret Bear program, where voluntary cash donations helped to ensure all students could afford field trips, school pictures, yearbooks and other needs that might be financial stumbling blocks during the school year.

He founded Camp Boggy Creek with actor Paul Newman. The camp serves children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. General Schwarzkopf enjoyed interacting with the campers and seeing the camp succeed in its mission.

He founded the Norman Schwarzkopf Sporting Clays Classic, a tournament that draws world-class skeet shooters. The tournament raises money for the Children’s Home, a shelter for kids who have been abused or neglected.

He used his fame to raise public awareness of prostate cancer. He served as the national spokesman for Prostate Cancer Awareness Week and supported the National Prostate Cancer Coalition.

Fun fact: the “H” in H. Norman Schwarzkopf stands for “Herbert,” but my little sister thought it stood for “Hero.” She wanted to grow up and have a school named for her, with “H” before her name.

Posted in Academics by Corey Green @ Dec 31, 2012

## Fun and Educational Games on the American Girl Website

The American Girl series of books have been so helpful in my classrooms—whether I taught 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade. The books do a wonderful job of dramatizing eras in our country’s history, which helps students build a schema that helps them comprehend new content. (More simply, kids will understand a lesson about the Great Depression more easily if they read some books about Kit.)

Previously, I have written about the American Girl books and movies. Now, I want to extol the virtues of the American Girl online games.

There are games for all the American Girl characters. Some are mostly educational, others are mostly fun. All the games make students more interested in American Girl characters and books.

My best use of the American Girl online games was as an incentive for my American Girl challenge. I challenged my class to read at least one book about each of the historical characters. We set benchmarks with rewards: read 2 books and you can watch the Kit movie with the class, read 4 and we’ll watch the Felicity movie, etc.

Students who kept up also got to play the American Girl games during specially scheduled computer lab time. (Students who were behind on their reading sat in the back and read.) After one of those sessions, my students decided to get on board and do their reading so they could participate fully in the American Girl awesomeness.

Even the boys liked it! I take sexism out of it as much as I can. I tell the entire class that there is nothing like American Girl for boys, and so the girls owe it to the boys to not tease them about reading books about girls. That speech does the trick because the students understand that they have the power to create the environment they want to learn in.

Historical characters: this displays the game menus for all. Click on the girl whose era you want to teach.

Girl of the year: These are modern girls. Click on the girl for access to books, games, etc.

List of American Girls with links to their books:

Kaya 1764: a Native American Girl

Felicity Merriman , 1774: a horse-loving girl caught between Patriot and Loyalist family and friends during the American Revolution

Josefina Montoya , 1824: lives in New Mexico when it was part of Mexico

Kirsten Larson , 1854: a Swedish immigrant who settles in the Minnesota Territory

Addy Walker , 1864: a fugitive slave who escapes to Pennsylvania during the Civil War

Samantha Parkington , 1904: an orphan being raised by a wealthy family during the Victorian period

Rebecca Rubin , 1914: a Jewish girl growing up in the Lower East Side of New York City

Kit Kittredge , 1934: faces the hard times of the Great Depression

Molly McIntire , 1944: keeps the home fires burning during World War II

Julie Albright , 1974: A San Francisco girl facing the changes of the mid-1970s

Posted in Book Lists,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Dec 28, 2012

## Black & White – A Crystal Kite Award Winner

Black and White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor
by Larry Dane Brimner
AR book level 8.7/Point value: 4
Available at Amazon.com

Take your civil rights lessons beyond Dr. King with this insightful book about the conflict in Birmingham. Few things in life are black and white, but I don’t see any other way to spin the conflict between civil rights leader Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor. After reading about civil rights activists being bombed, jailed, attacked, and killed, I think your students will agree that Black & White is a fitting title.

I learned about Black & White at a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. Author Larry Dane Brimner received the prestigious Crystal Kite Award for this book. After hearing his acceptance speech and attending a breakout session on how he wrote the book, I knew I had to read it, review it, and most importantly, share it.

Black & White has plenty of photos that help the reader believe the incomprehensible events that occurred in Birmingham during the civil rights movement. Today’s students are at least one generation removed from the civil rights movement and they truly might not believe some of what happened.

Accelerated Reader classifies the book as the 8.7 reading level, and I have to agree. This book is perfect for middle school. Older elementary students may enjoy it, but the descriptions of the important legal battles may be difficult for them to understand.

If the book is too difficult for your students, you might want to read it yourself and then teach students from it. They can learn a lot by looking at the pictures and listening to you tell about Reverend Shuttlesworth and Bull Connor. Author Larry Dane Brimner shows how Reverend Shuttlesworth was able to use Bull Connor’s zeal against him, ultimately showing the country just how bad things were in Birmingham and paving the way for real change.

To me, the climax of Black & White is the children’s march. The world was horrified to see images of police dogs and fire hoses turned on the young demonstrators. Black & White coordinates well with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s documentary Mighty Times: The Children’s March. You can request a FREE teaching kit with lessons and the movie.

Here’s the link to the official teacher’s guide for Black & White.  Be sure to visit author Larry Dane Brimner’s site. You can learn about his books and find out how to book him for an author visit or professional conference.

Posted in Book Reviews,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Dec 3, 2012