Educational Materials

I’ve written before about creating educational materials that can be used with Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator.  I thought some of you might be interested in the process. Many writers of children’s books come from among the ranks of teachers and librarians; they certainly know how to create educational materials. Those of us who came to this business via other paths have some things to learn.

Creating the coloring page was easy — Richard had already done a nice (electronic) pen drawing of a snail and I used Adobe’s Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat to size it right and to add labels for the parts. During some school visits, I project the coloring page with labeled parts while the students color and label the parts on their coloring pages.

The second set of educational materials was different. I created three different sets of classroom activities: Introduction to Snails, Using Photographs to Prompt Story Writing, and Telling Stories Through Photographs: Write Your Own Caption Activity.

The first step in the process was to look at the curriculum. I chose to look at Mississippi’s since, at least initially, most of my visits will be close to home. In most states, the k-12 curriculum is available online. I reviewed the objectives in science, language arts, and visual arts.

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator meets science curriculum objectives in all elementary grades, but it is a particularly good match in first and second grades when students learn to identify living things that are indigenous to Mississippi, discover that plants are a food source for living organisms, and begin learning about the food chain.

For example, here are the relevant competencies and objectives for first grade:

1. Explore the basic patterns of living systems. (L)
c. Observe and sequence the life cycles of plants, insects, and animals.

2. Investigate the diversity of living things. (L, P)
a. Classify plants and animals according to external features (scales, feathers, fur, etc.).
b. Identify plants and animals indigenous to Mississippi.
c. Compare plants and animals in Mississippi with those found in the jungle, desert and arctic regions.

Introduction to Snails outlines some activities students can do with snails in the classroom to meet these teaching objectives.

Using Photographs to Prompt Story Writing and Telling Stories Through Photographs: Write Your Own Caption Activity are activities that address competencies in language arts. In particular,

2. The student will apply strategies and skills to comprehend, respond to, interpret, or evaluate a variety of texts of increasing length, difficulty, and complexity.

For the third set of educational materials, I set up an account with an online puzzle creator to create a crossword puzzle and two word searches: one for first graders and one for third graders.

All of these are available as downloadable pdfs on my website. Click on About Sarah and click on Educational Materials.

I hope you will let me know what you think about these educational materials — especially you teachers and moms out there who decide to use them with your students or children.

4 Responses to Educational Materials

  • Diana Black says:

    Thanks, Sarah, for sharing so much valuable information!

  • admin says:

    I am glad you found it useful. Sarah

  • Irene Latham says:

    Hi Sarah – I’m so happy I finally got around to reading this post… good tips for those of us who want to incorporate our books with the school curriculum. I especially love the accuracy of your coloring page and the photo story starter exercise. Looks like you are having fun! Thanks for sharing.

  • admin says:

    I am, indeed, having fun. I’m glad you found the post useful. I hope to be able to share feedback from teachers who use the activities.

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