July 2017 archive

The Secret Garden – Chapter 2 Mistress Mary Quite Contrary

Free Teaching Materials to use with The Secret Garden Chapter 2 Continue reading

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Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day

September 13, 2017

Have an exceptional Roald Day with some of these resources!

Resource #1

Download this free printable. Students will have a great time comparing the main characters of six of Dahl’s most famous books.

Comparing Roald Dahl CharactersResource #2

Register for a free party pack at the Dahl Day website. All you have to do is fill out a short registration form and you will be sent a link to download the pack. This website contains many great activities including lesson plans, recipes, and things to make.

Resource #3

Visit the Twinkle website to download printables to go with specific books as well as a great biography on Roald Dahl.

Resource #4

Check out Roald Dahl Day on the World Book Day Website. The site contains ways to use The BFG movie trailer in the classroom.

Resource #5

Have students draw characters from Roald Dahl books. Youtube has many videos depending on the books your students have read. Below is a sample.

Resource #6

Teacher’s Pet has 42 downloadable resources for students. These include fact cards and a timeline of Roald Dahl as well as displays for specific books.


Resource #7

Are you looking for a full novel study for one of Roald Dahl’s books? Here are six you may wish to check out.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book UnitCharlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Witches Book UnitThe Witches

James and the Giant Peach Book UnitJames and the Giant Peach

Matilda Book UnitMatilda

The BFG Book UnitThe BFG

Fantastic Mr. Fox Book UnitFantastic Mr. Fox

Gay Miller




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The Secret Garden – Chapter 1 There is No One Left

Free Teaching Materials to use with The Secret Garden Chapter 1 Continue reading

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The Secret Garden — Free Book Unit

Free Book Unit for The Secret Garden

The Announcement

I’m excited to announce that each Monday over the next 27 weeks; The Secret Garden Book Unit will be featured in weekly blog posts. Because many schools are going digital, I have made some changes to this unit. The weekly blog posts are student-friendly. Continue reading

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The People of Sparks Teaching Ideas

The People of Sparks

In The People of Sparks, the sequel to The City of Ember, the Emberites leave their cave home. After journeying for a couple of days, they come to a village called Sparks. Here they find a group of people who although aren’t openly hostile are certainly not welcoming. The two groups of people must learn to get along. Meanwhile Lina takes off in search of her dream city.

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau is a must read novel for all lovers of The City of Ember.

Teaching Ideas for the Book

Resources on the Web


Once the Emberites come to Sparks, the community is divided in two. The people in Sparks do not wish to give up their vital resources. They fear their winter supplies will be too low. The Emberites have no concept of winter. They cannot understand why the villagers are being stingy. The villagers provide the refugees with only the bare essentials for living. Over time the quantity and quality of the food provided reduces. Eventually, the Spark’s leaders vote to stop having the Emberites in their homes for dinner.

Communication is low. Hostility grows between the two sets of people. The Emberites learn they will be ejected from the village in the middle of winter. Negative feelings escalate. Petty exchanges of revenge take place. Finally the groups are at war. Ben brings out the ‘Terrible Weapon.’ The machine gun explodes. This creates a threatening fire. 

Discussion Questions

  • How does greed effect the community?
  • By what means does the community support itself? Is raising food a problem?
  • How does the community govern itself?
  • Why is communication vital?
  • How does Sparks compare to other communities in literature?


Refugees are people who has been forced to leave a country because of war or for religious or political reasons. Most leave their homeland because they fear their safety. Estimates show that at least 60 million people were displaced in 2015.

Another reason for fleeing a region is global climate change. Water and food are scare in some parts of the world. Have students compare the Emberites to a group of refugees in today’s world.

Resources for Further Study

Discussion on the Effects of War

The reader learns that the Builders took a group of people underground to prevent the race from completely dying. Four wars and plague had nearly destroyed the population. What effects does war have?

Here is a little information to get you started:

Revolutionary War Statistics

Small Pox

George Washington had all his forces vaccinated for small pox. After this the death rate by this disease decreased from 17% to 1%.

Causalities of the Revolutionary War

Battle Casualties 6,824
Americans Wounded 8,445
Deaths from Disease approximately 10,000
Died in British Prisons 8,500
Americans Captured 18,152
Casualties from Battle and Disease 24,000

 The People of Sparks Book Unit

The People of Sparks Free Book Unit SamplesIf you would like to try out The People of Sparks Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples including:

  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Constructive Response Question – Squencing
  • Activities and Discussion for Chapters 1-2
  • Story Mapping
  • English – Lesson 1 – Understanding Sentences


The People of Sparks Book Unit contains vocabulary, comprehension, constructive response writing, and skill practice are all included.

Gay Miller

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ECHO Book Activities


Pam Muñoz Ryan, author of Esperanza Rising, writes another hit novel with Echo. The book tells four stories weaved together by a magical harmonica.

The book begins and ends with three fairy-tale princesses and a lost boy named Otto. Otto wanders into the woods during a game of hide-and-seek. There he meets three princesses. He is surprised because they are in the book he has been reading. Otto begins to read the book to the princesses. He soon discovers the end of his book he is reading is blank. The princesses tell Otto he must write the ending. They also give him a magical harmonica with instructions to pass it along when the time is right.

Part 1

One day twelve-year-old Fredrich finds the magical harmonica in an abandoned storage room at his uncle’s harmonica factory. Fredrich lives in Germany during Hitler’s control. Fredrich stands out from the other youth because a large birthmark covers his face. Also, his behavior disturbs his peers. Fredrich hears music inside his head. He waves his arms conducting an orchestra that he only he can see and hear. Can the magical harmonica keep Fredrich’s family together in a time when Hitler is sending undesirables away?

Part 2

Eleven-year-old Mike Flannery lives in the Bishop’s Home for Friendless and Destitute Children in Pennsylvania during the depths of the Great Depression. The wealthy Mrs. Sturbridge wishes to adopt an orphan. Because of their musical talent, Mike and his younger brother, Frankie, are taken to her home for a visit. Mike learns that Mrs. Sturbridge will only adopt one orphan. Mike tries to figure out a way to support himself, so Frankie can be the one adopted. One day Mike sees the magical harmonica in the window of a drug store. He purchases the harmonica hoping that he can become good enough at playing it to earn a spot in a traveling harmonica band for boys. Will the magic be enough to help Mike and Frankie out of their difficult situation?

Part 3

Finally Ivy Lopez comes into possession of the harmonica. Her family moves to a migrant farm in Orange County, California. Her father takes a job as overseer for the Yamamoto’s farm. Because the Yamamotos are a Japanese-American family, they have been sent to an internment camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Will the harmonica help Ivy from the discrimination her family deals with by working for the Yamamotos?

What do the three stories have in common besides the harmonica? What does the fairy tale have to do with the rest of the novel? Read ECHO to answer these questions.

Teaching Ideas for the Book

Interview Pam Muñoz Ryan

Compare and Contrast Activities

Because ECHO is four-books-in-one, it is perfect to teach students compare and contrast skills. This free set of organizers do not include specific questions or titles, so they may be used many ways.

Students can compare and contrast different characters, settings or plots within the book ECHO. They can also compare and contrast different books written by Pam Muñoz Ryan. For example, Esperanza Rising and Part 3 of ECHO both center around migrant workers. Students can even use some of the organizers to compare fictional stories to their nonfictional counterpart.  

Free Compare and Contrast Organizers

 ECHO Book Unit

If you would like to try out the ECHO Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples including:

  • Vocabulary Practice for the Prologue
  • Comprehension Questions for the Prologue 
  • Constructive Response Question – The Chants
  • Constructive Response Question – Setting
  • Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks LikeEcho Book Unit

ECHO Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities. Vocabulary, comprehension, constructive response writing, and skill practice are all included.

Gay Miller


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Hoot by Carl Hiaasen Activities

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Roy Eberhardt teams with Beatrice and her brother, Mullet Fingers. They wish to stop the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House Corporation from building a pancake house on a vacant lot. The lot has become home to a group of endangered burrowing owls. The three scheme to prevent the corporation from bulldozing the owls’ home. Read the touching and hilarious novel Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. 

Teaching Ideas for the Book

Compare the Movie to the Book

This free printable contains organizers to help students compare the book to the movie.

Comparing Books to Movies

Hoot on the Web

Owl Bag

Owl Treat Bag - Simple easy craft to use with the book Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.This idea came from Sweet and Living Simple. You will find step-by-step instructions on her site.

Owl Crafts





 Hoot Book Unit

If you would like to try out the Hoot Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples including:

  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Constructive Response Question – Setting
  • Constructive Response Question – Characters
  • Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks Like


Hoot Book Unit

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen Book Unit contains vocabulary, comprehension, constructive response writing, and skill practice.

Gay Miller

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