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Virginia Natives Program Resources

Recommended Reading:

Related imageThe Salamander Room by Anne Mazer illustrations by Steve Johnson
Grades: Preschool-2nd
Lexile Level: AD440L

Selected because: 
Stunning illustrations. A child finds a salamander and brings it home where an invisible parent asks life needs questions (where will it sleep, what will it eat?). With each response, more of the salamander's complex ecosystem ends up in the child's room until instead of a salamander being transported into a bedroom, the bed winds up in a forest.  

Suggested activities:
This guided reading plan from Achieve the Core culminates in a persuasive letter demonstrating understanding of habitat, though we recommend that the persuasive letter be about a wild animal native to Virginia instead of a pet as illustrated in the lesson example. The plan also includes a companion text set with suggested activities. Note: This is aligned with Common Core 1st grade skills, but can be easily scaffolded to 3rd grade reading and is recommended for use with English Language Learners.

Olinguito, From A to Z by Lulu Delacre
Grades: 2-3rd
Lexile Level: AD730L

Selected because
Bilingual (Spanish/English) alphabet book describes organisms and interactions of the cloud forest. Alliterative focus is on Spanish text. A glossary of organisms and additional information included at the end. *This is a favorite of Emily Ford

Suggested activities:
Superb teacher's guide (PDF) (with curriculum connection suggestions) and activity kit (PDF) available at the publisher's website
Observe and identify organisms in the school habitat. Create alliterative sentences for each organisms, translate into another language (work with school resources or a middle/high school language class for translation).

Next Time You See a Pill Bug 
by Emily Morgan
Grades: 3-6
Lexile Level: 900L

Selected because

Suggested activities:
This is part of the National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) "Next Time You See a..." series. Activities designed by NSTA include a "Pill Bug Anticipation Guide" (PDF) and "Pill Bug Checkpoint Lab" (PDF). We also recommend using this in conjunction with the following book, Hank's Big Day: The Story of a Bug, to allow students to compare fiction and nonfiction. 

Hank's Big Day: The Story of a Bug 
by Evan Kuhlman and Chuck Groenink
Grades: K-3
Lexile Level: AD550L

Selected because
The "bug's" eye view (if you read the non-fiction Next Time You See a Pill Bug, you know that Hank is an isopod, a type of non-insect arthropod also known as a terrestrial crustacean) challenges readers to view the world through the perspective of a tiny creature. Hank's adventures through the book include vivid verb and adjective choice, and interactions with multiple parts of the habitat. The primary human character is a strong, adventurous girl, and Hank's best friend.

Suggested activities:
We recommend using this in conjunction with the above book, Next Time You See a Pillbug, to allow students to compare fiction and nonfiction.