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Take a Lit-Trip with Number the Stars

Take a Lit-Trip with Number the Stars

I came across a wonderful discovery, Google Lit Trips! 

This site is amazing to expand the background knowledge of a novel and to add a whole new dimension to the book. From the Google Lit Trip site:

What is a Google Lit Trip?

Lit Trips are downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. Along the way, placemarks with pop-up windows contain “just in time” resources including relevant media, thought-provoking discussion starters, and links to supplementary information about “real world” references in that portion of the story. The focus is on creating engaging and relevant literary experiences for students.

It is free to use for individual educators and classroom teachers. There is an option to sign up for a multi-user registration to use within a classroom. All you’ll need on your computer is to download Google Earth. The Google Lit Trip “Getting Started” page explains all you need to do.

One of the available titles for a Google Lit Trip is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

This Google Lit Trip maps the journey Annemarie and her family takes between Denmark and Sweden to help their Jewish friends escape the Nazis.

Along the way, you can make a stop and read about the location. This information can tie into the story and/or add background information to the reader to enhance the story using photos, videos, Google Earth visuals, and descriptive information.

If you are using my Number the Stars Novel Study, I highly recommend you check out this accompanying Lit Trip to enhance the learning and enjoyment of the novel for your students.

I can’t sing the praises of this Lit Trip highly enough. It is such a fantastic addition to using this novel in the classroom.

Number the Stars

Number the Stars

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a wonderful historical fiction novel to use along with a study of the Holocaust. Number the Stars is the 1990 winner of the Newbery Medal for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

From the Back Cover: 
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think about life before the war. But it’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching in their town.

The Nazi’s won’t stop. The Jews of Denmark are being “relocated”, so Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be a part of the family.

Then Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission. Somehow she must find the strength and courage to save her best friend’s life. There’s no turning back now.



This novel study gives students a historical peek into WWII Europe and the lives of those that feared the Nazis and those that tried to help. It is a way to get your students looking through the eyes of another to help understand the atrocities of the Holocaust.



This novel study contains both a printable and a Google Drive format to use in the paperless classroom.


Could you be a Real Life Flat Stanley?

Could you be a Real Life Flat Stanley?

In the book Flat Stanley, Stanley was mailed to California instead of going by train or plane in order to save money. This idea seems hilarious and crazy, and a wild stretch of the author’s imagination, but did you know that back in 1913-1914 it was legal to send children through the mail? There are some cases of “real life Flat Stanley’s” in the United States Postal history.

In 1913 the U.S. Post Office introduced a Parcel Post service for Americans to send larger packages through the Post Office. Before this time all you could send was a normal letter. This was great for businesses and farmers but a few people took advantage of it to ship their children! On January 26, 1913, the New York Times reported that a mail carrier in Batavia, Ohio, delivered a baby “mailed” by his parents to his grandmother who lived about a mile away:

Vernon O. Lytle, mail carrier on rural route No. 5, is the first man to accept and deliver under parcel post conditions a live baby. The baby, a boy weighing 10-3/4 pounds, just within the 11-pound weight limit, is the child of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beagle of Glen Este. The boy was well wrapped and ready for “mailing” when the carrier received him to-day. Mr. Lytle delivered the boy safely at the address on the card attached, that of the boy’s grandmother, Mrs. Louis Beagle, who lives about a mile distant. The postage was fifteen cents and the parcel was insured for $50.
*From The New York Times. “Baby Boy by Parcel Post.” 26 January 1913


Learn more about this crazy, but true story in this addition to my Flat Stanley novel unit, Could you Be a Real Life Flat Stanley?”. It is included with the full Flat Stanley Novel Unit, or available alone. It includes a reading informational article detailing the longer, complete version of this interesting factoid of our postal history as well as a math and writing follow up activity where the student will work to determine the cost to deliver themselves to a travel destination via mail, car, train, or plane! Crazy, fun, and educational all in one!


Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, is a fun book that is wonderful to use in the classroom. The activities that can be branched off this book across the curriculum are numerous. The book asks the reader to suspend reality and go along for the ride. Students really have a fun time reading Flat Stanley and participating in the extension activities.

Completing the Flat Stanley project with your class can be a really fun learning experience. Each student will create his or her own personalized flat character (usually named after themselves). They will ask a relative or friend that lives in a different place to take their character on an adventure and report back. Most of the helpers really get into the fun and make it really fun for the student to share their results. All three of my kids have sent their flat selves with Grandpa on golf vacations. Grandpa had a lot of fun with his Flat Grandkids and posed for numerous pictures. My kids were able to share their Flat adventures with their class.

The Last Holiday Concert

The Last Holiday Concert

An entertaining and thought-provoking book to use in the classroom during the holidays is The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements!

From the Back Cover: 
For Hart Evans, being the most popular kid in sixth grade has its advantages. Kids look up to him, and all the teachers let him get away with anything — all the teachers except the chorus director, Mr. Meinert. When Hart’s errant rubber band hits Mr. Meinert on the neck during chorus practice, it’s the last straw for the chorus director, who’s just learned he’s about to lose his job due to budget cuts. So he tells the class they can produce the big holiday concert on their own. Or not. It’s all up to them. And who gets elected to run the show? The popular Mr. Hart Evans. 

Hart soon discovers there’s a big difference between popularity and leadership, and to his surprise, discovers something else as well — it’s really important to him that this be the best holiday concert ever, and even more important, that it not be the last.



The Last Holiday Concert is a great book to help students develop greater empathy for their teachers and the challenges they face. It also helps students see that things aren’t always as easy as they seem and problems may not always have simple solutions.




Work this fantastic, classic children’s novel into your classroom during this holiday season. You and your students will not be sorry!

The Playful World of Mr. Popper’s Penguins

The Playful World of Mr. Popper’s Penguins

One of the favorite novel units that I did during the year was Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater!

Mr. Popper spends most the year painting or papering walls for the people of Stillwater. He gets to take a break during the winter and explore his real passion, the Antarctic–at least in books! Mr. Popper resigns himself to this quiet life until one day a mysterious package arrives from his favorite Antarctic explorer, Admiral Drake! Pretty soon the Poppers have a house full of penguins, an ice rink in the basement, and an ever-increasing bill for raw fish and canned shrimp. Mr. Popper comes up with a creative and hilarious way to pay the bills! The book is chock full of hilarious situations that make kids laugh and their imaginations soar!

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a fun read and I highly recommend it for classroom or home use!


The Season for Gratitude

The Season for Gratitude

Miss Giraffe’s Class had a link up a couple years ago devoted to what TpT has brought to our lives. It’s worth sharing again as we draw on this season of gratitude.


One of my favorite things to do as a teacher was to create and teach novel studies. I loved to spark that interest in real, whole books in my students, many reluctant readers who didn’t have ready access to chapter books.



After the birth of my second child, way back in 2003, I came up with the idea of attempting to sell my novel units on eBay. My goal was to make enough to pay the preschool tuition for my oldest son ($75 month). I was shocked and so pleased that people actually started to buy them. With that interest, The Teaching Bank was born. Over the years I was able to grow and expand to a couple different websites. With my preschool tuition covered my goals grew, save for a family trip, save for Lasik surgery, be able to provide money for extracurricular costs for my kids, etc. These things were all a blessing and I am so grateful for the small success I had.

In June 2010, all that changed when I found I discovered the site at the (website for planning for Disney trips and just to talk with others who love Disney) of all places. Someone mentioned TpT as being a great place for retired teachers to sell their no longer needed classroom materials. This sparked my interest so I checked it out. TpT gave me a platform to sell my units in a downloadable format instead of burning to a CD and shipping as I had always done. I uploaded my work and the buyers followed.

Of course, I am thankful to TpT for the monetary contributions to my family, but an even more important thing, has come out of it, professional pride and a feeling of worth, that I thought were gone for me forever. I was forced to leave the classroom due to a rare auto-immune hearing loss that had progressed. I truly enjoyed teaching and even though I loved to be home with my kids, I missed the feeling of productivity and contribution that a professional life brings. TpT came into my life at the same time my kids were in school full-time so I was able to devote much more time and in return I have been given such a sense of purpose and pride that even though I am no longer in the classroom on a day to day basis, I am still touching the lives of students all over the world with materials that I created. I have been able to work in the education field creating products that I have a passion for despite my hearing loss, and TpT has given me the platform to do that for which I am grateful.