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Here are some projects that you can do after reading my books. Most of the them use materials easily found at home or at school. Go to My Books to find more information about the books.
For a PDF of a list of links to projects presented at IRA, April 2012, click here.
Using a photo of an animal for inspiration, you can use different parts of speech to create a vivid description of the animal and its environment. Each successive line adds an element, ultimately creating a pyramid "poem".
Line 1. Name of animalLine 2. Adjective + animal Line 3. Adjective + color + animal Line 4. Adjective + color + animal + verb Line 5. Adjective + color + animal + verb + adverb Line 6. Adjective + color + animal + verb + adverb + where animal lives Line 7. Simile: (Name of animal) looks like.......... Line 8. Personification: If I were a (name of animal) I would..........
To download these directions and a sample "poem", click here.
What kind of bird would you be, if you could fly? Here's how you can make your own wingspan measuring tape. Cut a piece of heavy paper (such as cardstock) in 1.5 inch strips. You will need eleven strips, each eleven inches long. Connect the strips with tape. (Strapping tape is the best, but any tape will do.) You will have now have a strip 121 inches long. Make a list of the wingspans of various birds. Then, using a yardstick or measuring tape, mark the tape to show the width of each bird's wingspan. Here are some of wingspans on my tape: emperor penguin, 32 inches; peregrine falcon, 3.5 feet; red-tailed hawk, 4.5 feet; flamingo, 5 feet; turkey vulture, 6 feet; golden eagle, 7 feet; bald eagle, 8 feet; California condor, 9.5 feet. You can add the wingspans of any birds you like. You will need two people to hold the ends of your tape. Then you can measure your wingspan. When you are not using the tape, it folds up like an accordion.
Do you think melting icebergs raise the sea level? Do this experiment and find out.You will need: a glass bowl, water, ruler, ice cubes 1. Pour water into the bowl until it is about half full. Use the ruler to measure the height of the water. 2. Add the ice cubes. Measure the water level again. How much did it rise? Each ice cube is like a tiny iceberg. 3. Set the bowl in a warm place until all the ice is melted. Measure the water level again. What happened? (Remember that water increases in volume when it freezes.)
In your class or school you could also have a bookmark contest to celebrate Book Week or National Library Week.
Hop into reading with a kangaroo bookmark. Click here. for a printable outline of a kangaroo that you can color and cut out and use as a bookmark in your favorite book To make your kangaroo bookmark stand up by itself, bend the tail backward and the feet forward.
Like many authors, I find that school and library visits are one of the best ways to promote my books. They also put me in touch with my audience and give me a chance to talk with teachers and librarians to find out how my books are being used in the classroom. The most successful visits are those where the children are familiar with my books before I come. Recently, I visited a school where the librarian had devised a clever project to encourage the children to read my books. It was a Book Fact Scavenger Hunt, created by one classroom and then played by another. To make the "clues" each child chose a book, found a fact and turned it into a question. Here are some samples:
In the book A Panda's World, how many countries outside of China have pandas in zoos?
In the book Ostriches and Other Flightless Birds, why do ostriches eat small pebbles?
In the book A Killer Whale's World, who is the leader of the pod?
In the book House Sparrows Everywhere, what do restaurants put on their roofs to discourage sparrows from roosting?
In the book Giraffe, how much does the giraffe's heart weigh?
The librarian then typed a list of all the questions, made several copies of the list in a copy machine, and cut the paper so each question was a separate slip of paper. All the questions were put into a paper bag. Children picked out one question at a time and competed to see who could answer the most questions during the library period. By the day of my author visit, the children at the school were experts in books by Caroline Arnold!
Cut strips of paper 1 inch wide and 8 1/2 inches long. When you finish reading a book, write the name of the book on a strip of paper. Glue or tape the ends of the strip together to make a circle. Do this with every book you read, connecting the circles to make a chain. This is a good class or family project.
Read Too Hot? Too Cold? In this activity you can test how well dark and light colors absorb the sun's heat. You will need: Two rocks (about the size of your fist), white paint, black paint, a paintbrush. Paint one rock white and the other rock black. Put both rocks in the sun and wait for one hour. Then feel the rocks. Which rock feels warmer? The white rock reflects the sun's rays and stays cool. The black rock soaks up the sun's rays and becomes warm. To stay cool on a hot day, would you wear a dark shirt or a light one?
Read Too Hot? Too Cold?. This experiment is a simple demonstration comparing the length of time it takes for objects of two different sizes to cool down in your refrigerator. You will need: 2 household thermometers, 4 washcloths, rubber bands, paper and pencil, a clock. Look at the thermometers and write down the room temperature. Wrap one thermometer in one washcloth and fasten it with rubber bands. Wrap the other thermometer in three washcloths and fasten with rubber bands. Put both thermometers in a refrigerator for five minutes. Then take them out, unwrap them, and look at the temperature on each thermometer. Which one cooled off the most?
Cut out and color a chick popping out of its egg. Click here. for a printable outline of a chick that you can color and cut out and Click here. for a printable outline of the egg.
Read Hatching Butterflies in Room 6.To do this project you will need: A paper plate; 4 types of pasta: bulgar for eggs; ziti for the caterpillars; shells for the chrysalis; and bowties for the butterflies; Glue; Markers, paint or crayons
Directions:Make an X across the paper plate to divide it into four sections. Label each section with a butterfly stage: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly Glue the appropriate pasta in each section. Draw or paint leaves. Color the pasta if desired.
This project is good for 4-8 year olds.
Paint your own paper butterfly wings making the colors match on each side..
You will need: scissors, 2 paper plates, ruler, pen, brad.
1. Cut the rim off one paper plate to make a flat circle.
2. Use the ruler and pen to divide the circle into 24 equal pie-shaped sections. Start by dividing the circle into quarters and divide these in half to make eighths. Then divide each of these into three smaller sections.
3. Write “London, Greenwich Mean Time” in one of the sections. Then, continuing clockwise find a city in each succeeding time zone and write the name in the following sections.
4. Place the circle with the city names on top of the other paper plate. Fasten them in the center with the brad.
5. On the rim of the plate, above the section that says “London,” write “12:00 Midnight.” Continue in a clockwise fashion writing 1:00 am, 2:00 am, 3:00 am, and so on, above each pie section, until you come back to “12:00 midnight.”
6. Look at the time on the rim above the time zone where you live. That is what the time is when it is 12:00 midnight in London. When you rotate the circle so that the time on the rim is your current time, the other pie sections will tell you what time it is in other cities in the world...
Read A Zebra's World, Zebra, or African Animals. To do this project you will need: White paper, black and green construction paper, scissors, glue Print the zebra outline (link below) on white paper. Cut it out. Cut strips of black paper ½ inch wide and about 3 ½ inches long. Glue black stripes onto zebra shape. Cut to fit if necessary. Glue finished zebra onto a piece of green construction paper.
This project is good for 3-7 year olds. For a printable outline of a zebra and directions for the project click here .
Read The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World for fifty different projects about the world we live in. For printable directions for the contour potato project click here .
Read Super Swimmers: Whales, Dolphins, and Other Mammals of the SeaGray whales, humpback whales, and other large whales do not have teeth. Instead, their mouths are filled with hundreds of long, hard plates called baleen. With this project you will learn how the hairy edges of the baleen help whales to catch tiny pieces of food to eat. You will need a dishpan, water, a large comb and about a half cup of uncooked rice. Put water in the dishpan until it is about half full. Pour in the rice. Dip the comb in the water and use it to scoop up pieces of rice. In the same way, the hairy edges of baleen are like a giant comb, or net, that catches krill and other tiny animals in the ocean.
a. Write a sequel to the story in typical tall tale form. Your main character should be larger-than-life, or superhuman. Exaggeration is the major element in a tall tale.Or, perform a play (in person or with puppets) of the story.
b. Read The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers. The story tells us that the Hodag helped to get rid of the lumberjack's mean boss. Keeping in mind that the Hodag was a kind creature, ask students to infer just how the Hodag got rid of Olee's boss. They can write their idea on a strip of paper and/or illustrate what they think might have happened to him. Display the various responses around the room.
c. Make your own mixed up animal and draw a picture of it:My mixed up animal has the head of a ________________________, the feet of a _________________________, the back of a ________________________, and the tail of a ______________________. It is as big as a __________________________. Its favorite food is _______________________. Its name is _____________________________. This is what it looks like.
Click here to print a pattern and directions to make a model of the Taj Mahal. This project works best if you can print the pattern on heavy paper or cardstock.
Read A Penguin's World. Use white lunch size bags for the penguin's body. Cut out black construction paper for wings and a circle for head. Add cut out eyes and beak to head. Glue head to bottom of bag and wings to sides of bag.
Read A Panda's World. For this project you will need a white paper plate, cotton balls, black and white tissue paper. Glue cotton balls to the paper plate for the panda's furry face. Crumple white tissue paper for the panda's snout and glue on. Crumple black paper for the ears and eye rings and mouth and glue on. Use small cotton balls for the center of the eyes.
Cut out the snake along the line, poke a hole in the snake's head, put a string through it and hang the snake from hanger or a dowel. Decorate and add forked tongue if desired.Click here for a printable picture of this project.
Read Giant Sea Reptiles of the Dinosaur Age, Pterosaurs: Flying Reptiles of the Dinosaur Age or Dinosaurs With Feathers. Make a time line of the history of the earth and show when dinosaurs,pterosaurs and giant sea reptiles lived. (Use a roll of shelf paper or draw the time line with chalk on the playground. If one inch equals a million years you will need about 20 feet to go back to the beginning of dinosaurs.)
Write a story about what you would do if you had a dinosaur, pterosaur, or giant sea reptile as a pet. Where would you keep it? What would it eat?
Use clay models or paper cutouts for dinosaurs and create a miniature, three-dimensional scene of a museum exhibit.
The Earth's crust is made of many layers of rock and dirt. They build up over millions of years. In some places, where a hill has been cut along the side of a road, you can see some of the layers. The Grand Canyon is another place to see how the Earth was formed. You can make an "Earth Sandwich" to learn about the layers of the Earth. Each part represents a part of the Earth's crust. When you cut the sandwich in half, it will be like digging through the layers of the Earth. To make your sandwich, you will need:pumpernickel bread for coal, rye bread for sandstone, white bread for limestone, peanut butter for dirt, jelly for oil or tar, raisins for boulders, and pretzel sticks for fossil bones
Read about camels in African Animals or Camel and make a notesheet of what you have learned. Draw a picture of a camel on a piece of paper and cut it out. Trace the outline of the camel with a crayon onto a piece of very coarse sandpaper. Use crayons to fill in the outline and draw other desert plants and animals. Place the sandpaper on a board or heavy piece of cardboard face up. Put a piece of wax paper on top of the sandpaper. Then put a piece of brown paper (shopping bag cut open) on top of the wax paper. Iron the sandpaper illustration with the heated iron so that some of the crayon beneath begins to melt into the sandpaper. The heat creates an unusual effect on the illustration. Cooled pictures may be hung for display. Students may post their note sheets beside the illustrations. (Adapted from Internet School Library Media Center)
Make a poster showing why a particular animal is endangered and what people can do to help.
Choose a theme such as zoo animals, desert animals, sea life, etc. and create a scene inside a shoebox. Or, glue pictures of animals to heavy paper, cut them out and hang them from a dowel to make a mobile. Or, glue pictures of animals onto heavy paper to make a collage.
Read a book and look for facts beginning with each letter of the alphabet (e.g., Cheetahs live in Africa. A cheetah's coat has black spots that measure 1-2 inches across. By the age of three weeks, the cubs can walk, etc.) Illustrate each fact on a separate page and connect the pages either to make a book or a mural. This is a good project to do in small groups.
Alike--they are both mammals, they live in Africa and they have spots. Different--one is a meat eater and the other eats plants.
Read "A Walk On The Great Barrier Reef" or "A Walk By The Seashore" before going on a trip to the seashore. Or, use shells and sand to make a seashore in the classroom.
Use blue paint or blue paper on the bottom of the box for the background and add pictures of sharks and other sea life. Or make fish drawings with crayon and then paint over them with thin blue watercolor (crayon resist technique.)
Animals of:Africa: African Animals, Giraffe, Zebra, Hippo, Cheetah, Ostriches, Snake
Read Children of the Settlement Houses.
Holiday parties were always a high point of the year at settlement houses. They were a time when everyone from the neighborhood could enjoy being together. In the 1950's, when I was growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I always looked forward to the children's Christmas party at the Northeast Neighborhood House. The auditorium was filled with fragrant evergreens and colorful decorations. We played games, sang songs and watched the drama club put on a play. One year I was an actor and played the part of the littlest angel! At the end of the party each child always received a small gift and a popcorn ball wrapped in colored paper. I still remember their sweet and crunchy taste. Here's how you can make your own popcorn balls.
POPCORN BALLS>: Put ½ stick of butter or margerine, 6 cups of miniature marshmallows, and one 3-ounce box flavored gelatin in a microwave safe bowl and melt in microwave oven. (About two minutes. Check and continue melting if necessary.) Stir to mix. Pour over 12 cups popcorn. ( Optional, add ½ to 1 cup salted peanuts) Stir gently until evenly coated; butter your hands and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic wrap to store. Makes 16-20 medium size popcorn balls.
Make a list of all the things one must do to take care of a pet. Or, visit an animal shelter. Or,invite an animal control officer to visit the classroom. Or, write stories about pets you have or would like to have.
Make sections for fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. List animals that are extinct and animals that are alive today.
Write a paragraph or have a discussion about how your life would be different without metal or wheels (or modern conveniences like electricity and telephones!). Or, make a chart to show what was going on in other parts of the world 1000 years ago when people were living at Mesa Verde or 2000 years ago when people were living at Teotihuacan.
Make daily observations of house sparrows in your neighborhood or on the playground of your school. Make a chart to record your observations.
Read Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland's Prehistoric Village of Skara Brae. Find out how people lived in northern Europe 5000 years ago in the Neolithic, or New Stone Age.
1. We learn how people lived long ago by looking at what they threw away. Archeologists at Skara Brae studied the trash piles, or middens, surrounding the village to find out what kinds of food people ate and what kinds of tools and household objects they used.
Project: Empty your waste baskets at home and make a list of the contents. Exchange your list with another student and try to draw conclusions about the people who threw away those objects.
2. We learn how people lived long ago by finding out how they died and how they treated their dead.
Project: Visit a local graveyard--preferably one that goes back more than one hundred years. What do the inscriptions on the gravestones tell you about the people who are buried there? What can you conclude about the people and their families from the size and placement of the grave markers. What else does the cemetery tell you about the community?
3. In every community, both ancient and modern, the places where people live have to meet basic human needs. Houses provide warmth, shelter from the weather, protection from danger, places to store and cook food and places for people to meet.
Project: Compare your house or apartment to a house at Skara Brae. How are they the same? How are they different?
These projects can also be done in conjunction with the following books:The Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde, City of the Gods: Mexico's Ancient City of Teotihuacan, Stories in Stone: Rock Art Pictures By Early Americans, Easter Island: Giant Stone Statues Tell of a Rich and Tragic Past.
There are many kinds of dried beans and peas. Usually, these are cooked and used in soups or hot dishes. But you can also plant them and watch them grow. Only dried beans will grow. Any bean that has been cooked will not grow.
You will need a glass jar or clear plastic cup. Line it with a piece of damp paper towel. Put beans between the towel and the glass. Fill the inside with potting soil. Keep the dirt and towel moist and warm. In a few days you will see your beans begin to grow. The root will grow down, and the sprout will grow up. Soon leaves will develop from the sprouts. The roots grow longer each day. Measure them each day to see how fast they grow.
You can try growing the seeds of some fresh vegetables too. The seeds inside fresh beans and peas, cucumbers, and squashes will grow if you dry them out first. These will grow best if planted outside.
Many herbs and spices are seeds. You might find caraway, cardomom, celery, anise, mustard, sesame, or poppy seeds on your spice shelf. Try planting some of them to see if they will grow. You can fill an egg carton with potting soil and plant a different kind of seed in each cup. Use a craft stick to label each section. Then you will know which plant is which when the seeds grow. When a plant is about as tall as a matchstick, it should be transplanted to a larger container.
If you have a pet bird or a birdfeeder for wild birds, you can try growing birdseed. Plant your birdseed in a pot filled with potting soil. Sunflower seeds, if planted outdoors, will grow into plants much taller than you are.
Here is another way you can watch your birdseed sprout. Fill a shallow tray or the top of an egg carton with vermiculite. (You can get this at a garden store.) Sprinkle it with birdseed, and water it. Then cover it with plastic wrap. This keeps the moisture inside so the seeds won’t dry out. In a few days you will see your seeds begin to sprout. Then remove the plastic.
Each seed has food inside it for a new plant to grow. But after a few days the plant uses that up. Then it needs to get nutrients from the soil so it can make its own food with sunlight and the chlorophyll in its leaves. When your birdseed plants are the size of a matchstick, transplant them into a pot with dirt or into your garden outside.
Did you know that the pits inside peaches and avocados are seeds? Most pits take a long time to sprout. The hard outer covering must split or rot away before the seed inside can grow. An avocado pit takes two to six weeks to sprout. But when it does grow, it makes a beautiful houseplant.
First wash the pit, and remove any bits of avocado. Then poke three toothpicks into the side of the pit, and place the seed on the top of a glass or jar filled with water. The round end of the pit should be down, and the pointed end should face up. Be sure than there is always some water covering the bottom of the pit.
As the pit begins to grow, it will split. When th stem is about six inches long, cut off the top half. Then, when new leaves have formed and the root is thick, plant it in a large pot (about ten inches across). Keep it watered, and it should grow into a beautiful plant.
The seeds of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits also grow into nice houseplants. Plant them in potting soil, and place on a sunny windowsill. You can start several seeds in one pot, but when they grow, there will be room for only one plant. Then the plants are matchstick size, choose the strongest one and pull out the others. This is called thinning. Gardeners thin so that their plants have plenty of room to grow.
Cut off the leaves of the carrot, leaving about an inch of the carrot on it. Place this in a shallow dish of water, and wait for a few days. Soon you will see new leaves growing out of the top. You will see roots growing out of the bottom. You may want to transplant your carrot into a pot full of soil.
Next time your family is having fresh pineapple, cut off the top two inches before you serve the rest. Keep the leaves attached. Scoop away the soft fruit around the hard core and then let your pineapple top dry for a day or two. Then cut off some of the lowest leaves. Then the inside of the pineapple is dry, plant it in a pot will with sandy soil. Cover the pineapple with soil so that only the leaves show. Keep it wet until the new leaves grow. Pineapples grow best in a sunny place.
Butterfly eggs are tiny—not much bigger than a grain of salt! Caterpillars are tiny too. A magnifying glass helps students get a close-look. The students can document their observations by drawing a diagram and writing a short description.
It is not hard to raise painted lady butterflies at home or in the classroom. Most people begin with caterpillars. There are a number of sources on the internet where you can order painted lady caterpillars. The tiny caterpillars come in a plastic cup with a supply of food and directions for care. It usually takes about three weeks for the caterpillars to grow, form chrysalises, and transform into butterflies. If you find a painted lady caterpillar on a plant outdoors, you may be able to watch it grow and transform into a butterfly if you put it in a container and feed it fresh leaves every day. (Painted lady caterpillars prefer thistle or hollyhock leaves.) The butterfly will emerge about 8-10 days after it forms a chrysalis.
The events of the story in BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6 occur in chronological order. You can use these events to create a time line, beginning with the eggs (Day 1) and ending with the release of the butterflies in the school garden. Alternatively, if you raise your own butterflies, you can document the day by day development of the caterpillars and butterflies in the squares of a calendar.
For a printable (PDF) reading guide for Wiggle and Waggle, activity pages, party games and recipes, reading list and the music for Wiggle and Waggle's gardening song, click HERE .
To sing along with Wiggle and Waggle and watch a short video on YouTube, click HERE.
Using found objects–ranging from sticks, to buttons, to pop-tabs from drink cans–you can form the shape of a butterfly on photo paper and then exposed the paper to the sun. When the paper is developed and the shape of the butterfly is revealed against a background of blue.
You can turn an outline of your hands into pictures of lively birds. Use a pencil or marker to trace around your hand on a sheet of paper. Does it look a little bit like a bird? The thumb becomes the bird’s head and the splayed out fingers the wings and tail. Add eyes and color the feathers.
When my children were small we lived in a 150 year old farmhouse in upstate New York. The lack of insulation made the house difficult to keep warm, so on cold winter days cooking projects were always popular. ABC pretzels were a favorite recipe. My daughter and son loved to squish the flour and water between their fingers as they kneaded the dough. Then they tore off chunks, rolled them into strips, and bent them into letters. Even my three year old, with a little help, could form the M, A, T, T of his name. After they were cooked he proudly ate them one at a time, saving the M for last. Now I make ABC pretzels with my grandchildren. (These pretzels resemble the soft Philadelphia style pretzels that you can eat with mustard.) Here's the recipe:
1 ½ cups water, 1 package dry yeast, 4 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 egg beaten slightly with 1 tablespoon of water, coarse (Kosher) salt
Dissolve yeast in the water. Mix together flour, sugar and salt. With a large spoon work flour mixture into yeast mixture in a large bowl. When about 3 cups of flour have been worked in, begin to knead mixture on counter while working in the remaining flour.
Divide the dough into 18-24 parts. Shape dough into letters and place on greased cookie sheets. “Paint” with egg-water mixture and sprinkle with salt.
Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F.
Break away 1/4 of the pointed end of an egg shell, and empty the contents. Draw a face on the shell using felt pens, then fill the shell with moist soil and plant chives or wheat seed. Make a stand from a cardboard egg carton. Place the egg head in the stand. Water lightly each day. When the seeds sprout, your egghead will have "hair"!
Materials needed: Cardboard egg carton, eggs, felt pens, soil, chives or wheat seed.