Think You Know all About California History? Surprise!

Could Southern California have been split off to join the Confederacy during the early part of California's history? Almost!  That's just one surprising fact I learned on my recent road trip with my kids to explore the history of California (and do some sightseeing!).  Since my youngest son is about to start the fourth grade here in California, I wanted to make sure he learned about and saw some important places in California (the fourth-grade history curriculum in California focuses only on California's history).  

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

Road Trip to Northern California

We drove to Northern California up Highway 101, which is the original path the Spanish established as El Camino Real (The Royal Road).  It was along this path that the Spanish, early in California's history, built 21 missions and four Presidios (forts).  Our first stop was the San Luis Obispo Mission which was Founded by Father Junípero Serra in 1772 as the fifth mission.  Learning about the Spanish Mission Era is an essential part of the curriculum in fourth grade.

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

For us, this was the sixth Spanish mission we have visited.  If you ever visit California, I highly recommend visiting at least one of the missions, including the missions at San Juan Capistrano and Santa Barbara.  They offer a detailed look into life before statehood while the Spanish colonized Alta California.  

Here's another surprising fact about California history.  Who was the President who signed the document to return the missions back to the Catholic Church?  After México became the ruler of Alta California, the missions were either abandoned or sold off.  Believe it or not, it was Abraham Lincoln!  Yes, after California achieved statehood and fought on the side of the Union during the Civil War, Lincoln wanted to actually visit California but was assassinated before he got the chance.  In one of the last documents he signed before his death, he upheld the 1855 decision by the US Land Commission to return the missions to the Catholic Church.

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

Capital of Spanish California

Monterey, located on the bay by the same name, was discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542.  He and other early California explorers mapped California for later expeditions.  Father Serra actually established a mission and presidio in Monterey.  The mission was moved to Carmel, but the Presidio stayed.  Monterey was also the capital of Mexican Alta California.  

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

Of course, you can't go to Monterey without visiting the world famous aquarium!  Monterey Bay was important to the Spanish, and later the Russians who started building forts and outposts in California.  Why were the Russians in Alta California?  Sea otter furs!  That is one reason the sea otter almost became extinct in California.  But with the help of the aquarium, their numbers are roaring back! We also visited Cannery Row made famous by the California Pulitzer Prize winner, John Steinbeck, who was born in nearby Salinas, California.  

San Francisco or Boomtown, California!

Did you know that after gold was discovered in California in 1848, San Francisco (originally called Yerba Buena by the Spanish), went from about 800 people in 1847 to 25,000 in 1849!  Talk about unrestricted growth.  But San Francisco has also played many other roles in California History. Did you know that San Francisco is home to the Ellis Island of the west coast?  Yes!  Angel Island, now a California State Park, was the place immigrants from China and many other nations passed through to a new life in the United States.  

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

San Francisco is also home to one the four Presidios the Spanish built to control Alta California.  The Presidio is now a national park with lots to see.  Though we didn't visit The Presidio on this visit, we did go to Chinatown, climb all they up Coit Tower and took a bay cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge.  By the way, the Spanish did NOT discover San Francisco Bay during the explorer period, but two hundred years later during the colonization period. Why? Fog of course!  The entrance to the bay was shrouded by fog each time the Spanish initially sailed by it.

California State Capital and Capitol

It was now time to head northwest towards Gold Country and the capital of California, Sacramento.  We stayed in nearby Folsom, which is about 20 minutes east of Sacramento.  This is where I learned something new about California History.

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

During a tour of the State Capitol Building, our tour guide had many interesting stories not only about the building but about early California History.  It seems that after California became a state, the two California senators (Gwin and Broderick) who served California before the Civil War, were on opposite sides of the slavery issue!  It had gotten to the point, in which Senator Gwin, who was pro-slavery and a southern sympathizer, thought it a good idea to split the state between the north and the south.  The north would continue as a free state, while the south would allow slavery.  Of course, it never came to fruition though it was surprising to me that this was even considered!  If that doesn't surprise you, then did you know the other Senator from California, Senator Broderick was killed in a duel with the California Chief Justice, David Terry!

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

In the State Capitol Building, we were also given a tour of both the Assembly and Senator rooms.  They are completely different.  Surprisingly, they are modeled after the British Parliament.  The State Assembly room is green like the House of Commons, while the State Senate room is red like the House of Lords.  Also, the State Assembly is wired for the digital age with microphones, laptops and electronic voting screens.  The State Senate is a little more formal and does not have an electronic voting screen nor buttons for voting.  A State Assembly Person votes by touching a button on their desk which immediately shows up on the electronic voting screen.  A State Senator still has to vote with Yay or No and someone records the votes.   

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

In the State Assembly room hangs a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, who was very popular in California which helped elect him to the presidency.  In the State Senate room, hangs a picture of George Washington (a copy of a famous portrait and the oldest painting hanging in the Capitol building.  There's also a very interesting portrait of Governor Brown.  It is a state law that every California Governor must have his portrait painted after leaving office.  All the portraits hang in the building.  By modern times, the governors broke from tradition, including Governor Brown.  The tour guide said it took five sitting of three hours each for the artist, Don Bachardy, to get this expression.

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

By the way, here's another surprising fact about California's move to be split to support slavery.  One of California's earliest governors, John Bigler, later became a Southern sympathizer.  California's deepest lake was named in his honor while he served as governor for two terms.  But with his support for slavery and the South, Lake Bigler was erased from history and renamed Lake Tahoe. Surprise!

The California Gold Rush!

It's 1848 and gold is discovered in California (which had not attained statehood yet until 1850) near Sutter's Mill on the American River.  This area is about 45 minutes east of Sacramento up in the hills in what is the town of Coloma.   Coloma is not a Spanish name but was named after a southern Maidu village.   The Maidu were one of California's earliest inhabitants.

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

You can not talk about the Gold Rush without talking about the impact on California's Indians.  When the Spanish arrived in 1542, California was home to about 300,000 California Indians living very differently from each other.  California is divided into four regions:  Coastal, Central Valley, Mountain and Desert Regions.  Based on the region, California's Native Americans lived off the land and its resources.  California's Indians were for the most part hunters and gatherers, except for the desert tribes who were also farmers. 

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

When the Spanish began building the missions, they used Indian labor.  It was very much slave labor. The Spanish Mission Era and the Mexican Rancho Era (the time in which México owned California) contributed to the demise of 100,000 California Native Americans.  However, it was the Gold Rush that triggered a genocide of California's Tribes.  

In the first two years of the Gold Rush, over 100,000 California Indians were killed.  The survivors fought back and tried to hang on but with over 100,000 settlers and gold seekers, there was little chance of surviving.  

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

"A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct." - California Governor Peter H. Burnett, January 1851.

If these are the official words of our elected officials, I believe that we teachers who teach about California History must present these historical facts to our students.  The Gold Rush always invokes a feeling of excitement, but it must also be presented as something more serious for the original inhabitants of California. 

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

In Coloma is located California's Marshall Gold Discovery Site State Park. There you will see a replica of the sawmill James Marshall was building for John Sutter.  There are lots of other buildings and artifacts that show who came to find the gold:  there's a Chinese Store, the Chilean Mill, and the Mexican arrastre.  Most people think the mining was done with panning.  Not true.  Hydraulic mining was used in which a high-pressure hose literally tore off mountain tops (can you say strip mining). 

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

If you ever go to see this site, don't forget to see the Blacksmith. He will show you his skills and explain how blacksmithing was done back in the Gold Rush days.

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

California's Symbols

Finally, one of the most important details I pointed out to my soon to be fourth grader was California's symbols.  From the Golden Poppy to the Roman goddess Minerva, symbols of the state were all over the State Capitol building.  The symbols on the state seal represent all of the histories of California.  Fourth graders learn all about California's symbols as they learn about its history.  

California History is an amazing and sad story all at once.  Read about my road trip to Northern California to explore California's History from the original inhabitants to the Gold Rush.

Check out this Digital Interactive Notebook for Google Slides that helps students research the most iconic of California's symbols.

The Digital Interactive Notebook for Google Slides is composed of 20 slides.  Students research using the web and video links embedded on the slides.  Students learn when the symbol was adopted, what it symbolizes and interesting facts about the symbols.  They also have an opportunity to write an opinion piece of which symbol best represents California.

If you're interested in more California History, follow my Pinterest Board,

Summer's Here! Reflect, Relax and Most of all Enjoy!

If you're like me, you just ended another school year.  It's now time to relax, reflect and enjoy this time off.  But wait, let's make one thing clear.  For those of you who don't know, public school teachers ARE NOT PAID during the summer.  It is NOT paid time off.  We just do not work.  Since we don't work, we don't get paid.  Now, that that's out of the way, let's do some reflecting.

Time to Reflect.  What Worked, What Didn't?

This has been my second full year teaching in a 1:1 classroom.  I learned a lot that first year, which made the second year much easier.  This year, students were able to do a lot more with the technology.  I continued to make and use Interactive Digital Notebooks for Google Slides.  The students learned a great deal about America's landmark and symbols and animal adaptations to name a few.  I also started using, which is a wonderful way to integrate visual media and note-taking and answering questions using videos.  This next year, I'm fine tuning what I did and will probably add some more paperless resources to go along with our curriculum

The thorn in the side has been writing instruction.  Though I believe I was effective in teaching the students the three genres that they needed to master (expository/explanatory, narrative and opinion), I felt the students actually became confused between the genres.  It was hard to get them out of writing in one genre into another.  They would use writing structures particular to one genre to write in another genre (such as including facts but no opinions or not writing from a narrator perspective when writing narrative).  So next year, I plan to make several anchor charts so students can clearly see structural differences between genre types. I also want to experiment with genre to genre writing in which a student takes a piece of writing written in one genre and transforms it into another type. For example, writing a fairy tale type story and turning it into an opinion piece.


Last year my boys and I did not get to travel anywhere for a vacation.  This year we are planning to take a trip up to Northern California (we live in Southern California).  We will be driving to San Luis Obispo then heading over to Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to drive up to Big Sur and see some California Redwoods!  From there we will drive to Monterrey, California.  There we will, of course, visit the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.

Then we will head north to San Francisco.  In the City by the Bay, we will ride cable cars, visit Ghiradelli's and Fisherman's Wharf, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the San Francisco Presidio and Golden Gate Park.

Our next stop is the state Capital, Sacramento.  We hope to take a tour of the state house while also taking a day trip over to Coloma and Placerville to see Sutter's Mill, where gold was discovered.  From there it's back home.

Relax and do Some Window Shopping!  So Many Updates!!!

If you haven't visited my Teachers Pay Teachers store recently, please do.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at all the updates to my resources.  Over 25 resources have been updated.  Some have been major, while some just needed a face-lift.  Click on THIS LINK to see all the updates, or click individually below.

Here are some highlights of the English Language Arts resources updates:

  1. Hot Seat!  Major update with a whole new look.  I've added character description printables for each of the characters included (20 fairy tale characters).  Each Hot Seat character card has more information and instructions for use are included.
  2. 4 Character Trait Activities. Major update with a whole new look.  The Character Trait Printables have been expanded and included activities such as Photo Booth, Play Date, Character Text Chat, and Riddle Me This!
  3. Point of View Comparisons PowerPoint. Major update with a whole new look.  Expanded with photos and new sound effects. The included printables have also been expanded with new activities to examine point of view.
  4. Point of View Examining Perspectives.  Major update with a whole new look.  Added more printables and non-color versions of posters.  Also added comparing and contrasting printables.
  5. All of the ELA games have now been updated to include non-color versions for non-color printing.  They've also gotten a whole new "wooden game board" look!

Here are some highlights of the Math resources updates:

  1. Multiplication Tic-Tac-Toe.  Big update with updated look.  Also added some more resources such as QR codes to help your students master those multiplication facts.
  2. The Concept of Multiplication PowerPoint.  Major update with all new look expanded lessons and an added lesson using number lines to multiply.  Lots more printables added!
  3. Geometry Games and Area and Perimeter Games.  These math games have been updated with non-color versions for easier printing as well as, a whole new "wooden game board" look.

Plan Ahead for Next Year!

If you're a teacher, you're already planning for next year.  Take a look at these resources for Back to School.  I developed these resources as not only fun activities to get to know the students, but also as a way to gauge student abilities at the beginning of the year. Can students cut? Color? Follow directions? Listen to a story and retell it?  Write a description of themselves?  With these resources which have undergone updates and expansion, you'll get this and more!

The Diary of a Back to School Kid is a book students make during the first week of school.  They fill it with the rules, procedures, ideas, and some memories.  There's even a parent page for parents to ask questions.  I like having the students make this book because it helps them remember all the information given to them at the beginning of the year.  Use it as a resource all year long!

A Fine, Fine School Literature Support Pages is a companion pack designed to support the introduction and teaching of the Common Core Standards for Literature. This is a funny story of how a principal keeps adding days to the school year until the students have to come every day of the year!  The printables help the students identify the central message of the story, infer answers to some questions about the story, analyze the main characters and more.

I use the Back to School iPortraits as a get-to-know-you activity during those first weeks of school. Students get to know each other better using the student's character traits.  Each student has to identify a positive, negative and neutral character traits about himself/herself.  Students also draw a selfie portrait.  The template has the appearance of a tablet and can make a great project to send home, leave out at Back to School Night or even an Open House project.  This resource has been significantly expanded to now include more tablet templates such as, Who's That Cute Baby, 
Put Yourself in the Spotlight, If My Life Were a Movie and My Favorite Vacation Book to name a few.

Enjoy Your Break!

Summer is a time for teachers to recharge and reflect.  I've planned some exciting blog posts this summer so please do come back and check for updates.  Follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store for updates on new resources that are added as well as, updates to existing resources.  Have a great summer!

Fun End of the Year School Activities

The end of the school year approaches, and it's now time to celebrate and have fun!  State testing on the Smarter Balanced Assessment is complete.  Grading work is complete. Report cards are finished and printed.  The end of the year awards are ready to be handed out. Desks are cleaned out. Textbooks returned.  Bulletin boards cleared.  Materials packed and put away.  What's left to do when you have 6 more days of school left? It's time to have fun!

Over the years, our end of year activities have evolved, and we reward our third graders with many fun activities for all their hard work during the year.

Here's a breakdown of our end of the year activities:

  • Field Trip to San Juan Capistrano Mission
  • Game Day
  • Field Day
  • Pizza Party Picnic and Yearbook Signing
  • Movie and Popcorn


For the past four years, we have raised enough through fundraisers to take the entire third grade to the San Juan Capistrano Mission in San Juan Capistrano.  Instead of a school bus, we take the Metrolink train!  There is a train station about 5 minutes from the school.  The students and parents meet us at the train station.  From there, we board the train for a one hour ride to the San Juan Capistrano train station.  Once there, we walk about 3 blocks to the mission.

We spend the entire day at the mission and do not return home until 5:00 pm!  During our visit, we take a docent tour, watch an amazing assembly on Native Americans and participate in an adobe brick making activity!  We also have pizza and chips for lunch, ordered from the local Dominos Pizza.


The next day is Game Day!  During the entire morning, students play games with their classmates. Initially, we asked the students to bring a board game from home.  I also had some board games that I would put out as well as, dominoes and puzzles.  But then we made it even better because for the last two years we've also let students bring electronic games from home!  This year we also let the students use the Chromebooks to play online games.  I set up a unique Google Classroom with links to kid-friendly sites with online games.

If you do this, make sure the students understand that they can only play games that do NOT require an internet connection.  This is because we can not add their devices to our network.  So any App or game used must be a stand-alone App.  Also, we do not allow students to bring cell phones as one of the devices (we don't want them accessing cell service to download Apps or take phone calls!).  They may only bring tablets and DS2 type devices.  They may play alone or share with a friend.  At recess time and lunch times and after Game Day is over, the students leave their devices on my desk with a sticky note with their name on it.  That way, they are secured and kept safe.


Since there are usually three third grade classes, we have three to four activities for the students to participate in during Field Day.  The activities really depend on what P. E. equipment is available.  My school is fortunate in that we have itinerant P. E. teachers who come to our school weekly.  So we have lots of cool P. E. equipment including hockey sticks, cones, portable goalie nets, all kinds of balls, jump ropes, and even more.

The students rotate between the three to four activities during the morning.  One teacher supervises each activity area.  Depending on the weather (it can be June Gloom cloudy or scorching hot in SoCal), we play all morning until recess.


Even though we are an elementary school, we do have a yearbook.  So each year, we have a pizza picnic out on the lawn outside our classrooms.  The students bring blankets and their cameras.  Instead of eating in the cafeteria that day, we provide them with a picnic of pizza, chips, and juice.   After lunch, they now have time to take pictures and have their yearbook signed by their friends.  Those who do not have a yearbook, have made a memory book that their friends can sign.


It's the last day of school.  We watch a movie and have some popcorn.  I pick the movie and it is usually WALL-E.  Why that movie?  Because I also teach a unit called "The Future" which is all about the students' future.  What will life be like in 2035?  I show them how technology has progressed from the first phones to cell phones.  How quickly the world is changing.  We talk about what kinds of jobs they may hold in the future (robots will be taking over a lot of them!).  This movie has a timely message about protecting our planet (WE MUST NOT WITHDRAW FROM THE CLIMATE TREATY!!!), and the overreliance on technology.

What are your end of the year activities? Share them in the comments!

Fun Times! Watch Out! Shark Sighting at my School!

A Great White Shark was spotted at my school recently!  We recently had an interactive science assembly at my school sponsored by our PTO.  The Aquarium of the Pacific, located in Long Beach, California, brought their mobile assembly to the delight of our students.

The assembly was done in two parts.  The first part was an assembly in our multipurpose room in which we met some marine biologists who recounted their scientific exploration trip around the Pacific Ocean. The presentation focused on animal adaptations, which was perfect for my third graders who had learned that back at the beginning of the year.  The biologists visited Alaska and Palau, before returning to California.  The students were shown videos of the animals encountered on the trips, including the walrus.

But wait, they brought a walrus with them! Not really, it was an inflatable walrus. But first, the students had to guess which animal it was from the clues the biologists gave.  The biologist gave adaptation clues until the students guessed it was the walrus.  Then, they inflated the walrus.  It is actually life size, and those animals are huge!

When the biologists returned to California, more studying of California's ocean coastal animals, including the Great White Shark.  Did you know these animals have a sixth sense?  The inflatable Great White was also life size!

The second part of the experience was a 20-minute activity touching tide pool sea creatures brought on their mobile tide pool truck.  It is a specially designed vehicle that holds tide pool tanks, keeping them oxygenated with moving water that simulates a tide pool.

Students went in in groups of four to dip their hands in the water and touch starfish, anemones and even baby sharks!

You can find out more about their 

More Amazing and Inspiring Children's Literature Books

As we approach Mother's Day, I wanted to share some books that showcase some amazing and inspiring women.  Women that lead the way or pioneered the way to inspire girls and women to live up to their potential and to dream big.  I've used these wonderful children's books as read alouds to for a unit on Women's Suffrage and Rights.

When I speak to students, it's obvious that they have no clue how restricted, controlled and demeaned women and girls were until about the 1970s.  Did you know that before the 1970s, a woman could not get a credit card on her own?  We've come a long way, but there are still wage disparities, glass ceilings and push backs.  I feel it is important to let those girls sitting in our classrooms how fortunate we all are that these courageous women fought for a woman's right to an education.  And it's important that the battle continues!

Susan B. Anthony.  By Dona Herwick.

This is the perfect, short biography to introduce students to the probably the most influential woman of her time and maybe the most influential American woman of all.  Susan B. Anthony was a Quaker, and this book explains in very accessible language the philosophy of the Quakers and how it influenced Susan B. Anthony's outlook on life.  Her parents taught her all people are created equal and that every adult should have the right to vote.

What I really enjoyed about this book, is that it details Susan B. Anthony's early life as a child and young woman.  As a Quaker, she believed in hard work and simple living.  Did you know she had to bake 21 loaves a day for her family?  It's an eye-opener for kids who don't know about life without all the modern conveniences we have today.  Life, in general, was harder back then, but it was even worse for women because they had little to no options to life outside of being married and having many, many children.  The book is non-fiction and has many photographs and illustrations.  A timeline is included.  Susan B. Anthony changed the world, and this book is an excellent starting point for young children to learn about her life.

Bloomers by Rhoda Blumberg.

I think most girls looking at this book would think that the dresses worn by women back in the 19th century look like princess's gowns.  They were anything but!  Before reading this book to my class, I show them some pictures of a corset, petticoats and those long heavy dresses.  I ask them how much do they think it all weighs together?  Did you know that it weighed about 25 - 30 pounds!  Imagine trying to clean, care for children and cook with 30 pounds added to you!  Now you know what women had to endure back in the 19th century and before.

This book is about Amelia Bloomer, the woman who invented the bloomers (pants worn with a short dress).  Of course, wearing bloomers, as they were soon to be called, was very improper for a proper lady.  She even got Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her cousin,  to wear bloomers for a time.  But Amelia did more than just invent the bloomers, she was editor of The Lily, a journal that at first promoted temperance but later expanded with the writings of Elizabeth Cady Stanton to promote equality for women.

Marching with Aunt Susan. By Claire Rudolf Murphy

This story is based on the true story of Bessie Keith Pond who lived in California.  Did you know that California granted women the right to vote in 1911?  This story though was from the first campaign to give women suffrage in California in 1895.  It details how Bessie met Susan B. Anthony, who had come to California to campaign on behalf of the women.  The author states that she researched about women's suffrage in the Western states and came across Bessie's journals, letters and newspaper articles by her suffragist aunt, Mary McHenry Keith.  Bessie lived from 1886 - 1955.

I believe that one aspect of the Women's Suffrage movement that is apparently overlooked is the pushback these women faced. Many of these girls and women suffered violence at the hands of men.  This book gives one example, but I also show my students real life examples of what happened to the protesters outside the Wilson White House and the Pennsylvania Ave Parade and March.  This book also has a short biography of Susan B. Anthony, a timeline of Suffrage History and photographs of newspaper articles about the Suffrage Movement.

Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride.  By Pam Muñoz Ryan

I had no idea that Eleanor Roosevelt had a student pilot's license!  This book is also based on a real story of the night Amelia Earhart took Eleanor Roosevelt on a night time airplane ride over Washington, D.C., over the objections of the Secret Service.  First off, the black and white illustrations are fantastic (illustrator is Brian Selznick) and lend an air of 1930s black and white films to the story.  Amelia is invited to dine at the White House with the First Lady.  There the conversation turns to flying.  The First Lady asks what it feels like to fly at night.  That's when Amelia comes up with the idea of flying that evening.  And of course the Secret Service objects!

As Eleanor points out, if Amelia can fly across the ocean by herself, she can take a short night time flight to Baltimore and back.  Reporters were waiting for them as they landed back in Washington, D.C.  Of course, the questions sound very condescending in today's world, but they were still asking if it was safe for a "girl" to fly a plane!  I always use this opportunity to point out to the girls (and boys) that calling a woman a girl is condescending and demeaning.  Would you call your dad boy?

Cool Women.  By Dawn Chipman, Mari Florence, and Naomi Wax.

This book is a non-fiction book that details over 50 women who were pioneers or just plain cool!  From women pirates to women baseball players.  From women scientists to women artists.  The book is not just about American women, but women from all over the world and from all historical periods.  There are even portraits of goddesses, queens, and femaleSoviet Flying Aces.

With the advent of Title IX, more and more girls and young women are given the opportunity to play sports and be part of sports in general.  Before that though, women athletes were not even considered on par with male athletes.  During WWII, the shortage of manpower to fill major and minor league baseball teams brought about the All-American Girl's Professional Baseball League.  There's that "girl" label again.  Even though these women were certainly pioneers and proved that women were just as capable as men to play baseball, I do have a discussion with my class about the sexist treatment these women endured to play the game they loved.  From the ridiculous uniform skirts they wore to the even more ridiculous team names (Milwaukee Chicks?), these women had to look coiffed on and off the field.  And of course, there's no crying in baseball.

What are your favorite books about inspiring women? Share below in the comments!

And Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!

Beautiful and Amazing New Children's Literature Books

I hadn't bought any new children's literature books in quite awhile until I discovered these beautiful and amazing new children's literature books.  I'm using these books with different units in my class as well as, for inspiring my students to take their education seriously.

For the Right to Learn:  Malala Yousafzai's Story.  By Rebecca Langston-George ©2016

Let's start with the incredible tale of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani young woman almost murdered by the Taliban in her home country just for wanting to be educated.  We learn that Malala is the daughter of a teacher (her father) who believed everyone should receive an education, including girls.  But when the Taliban moved into Pakistan's Swat Valley where Malala lived, they started intimidating the populace and implementing their archaic views of the world in which NO females should can be educated.

But Malala persisted.  She began blogging for the BBC and became known worldwide.  Her outspokenness and fight for girls to be educated put her on the Taliban hit list.  On a school bus, Malala received a bullet in the head, but with the help of the international community, she survived by being flown out of the country to England.  She continues to fight for a girl and woman's right to an education.  She has received the Nobel Peace Prize and spoken at the United Nations.  As she says so eloquently, "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world."

This book is one of my all-time favorite books to read to children.   It worked itself right into my unit on Women's Suffrage.  It also worked perfectly to motivate my students for State Testing which started this week.  Imagine what this young lady had to go through just to get an education.   I tell my students that it is because of people like her, they are sitting in my classroom receiving an education.  Let's not squander that opportunity or waste it! Let's do our best!

Martin's Dream Day.  By Kitty Kelley ©2017 

My school recently had a book fair, and that is where I found this fantastic book with even more amazing photographs.  The story is all about the famous March on Washington back in August of 1963. It tells how Martin Luther King, Jr. had a speech prepared for that day.  But, those famous words....I have a dream... were not actually in his original speech!  That part was all ad-lib!

But what really sets the book apart from other stories about Martin Luther King, Jr., are the beautiful black and white and color photographs used.  It is as if the entire day, August 28, 1963, was recreated in those pictures.  The photographer, Stanley Tretick, is the same photographer who shot the iconic picture of John F. Kennedy, Jr. playing under his father's desk in the Oval Office.  There are also photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. meeting with President John F. Kennedy.  It is a very inspiring book that makes history come alive.

The Youngest Marcher:  The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist.  By Cynthia Levinson. ©2017

Did you know that children as young as nine were jailed during the Civil Rights Movement?  And that more than 3,000 children were arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting?  Yes, and this story about Audrey Faye Hendricks is the actual story of one of those young children who went out to protest segregation.

The plan was to fill up those jails so that not one more person could be arrested for demanding their rights. And it worked!  But the story also recounts how African-Americans were treated in Birmingham during that era.  The story also details the week Audrey spent in Juvenile Detention.  But in the end, Birmingham integrated, and her work for integration succeeded.

Separate is Never Equal:  Sylvia Mendez and her Family's Fight for Desegregation.  By Duncan Tonatiuh. ©2014

If you're a teacher, you know about the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka.  It's the 1954 Supreme Court decision ending segregation in schools.  But did you know that there was actually a court case BEFORE that ruling that ended segregation of schools in California in 1947?  Yes!

This book is the story of a young girl named Sylvia Mendez who moved with her family to Westminister, California to farm.  When her aunt tried to enroll her children and Sylvia at the local school, only her light skinned cousins were allowed to register, while she was told she had to go to the Mexican school, because it was the rule.  Eventually, Sylvia's family and several others filed a suit.  The book retells the court proceedings and the very racist testimony of the then Superintendent of the Garden Grove District.  After a year, the judge ruled for the Mendez family.  The district though appealed the ruling, and it made it to the Court of Appeals in San Francisco which eventually ruled in favor the Mendez Family again.  That same year, the Governor of California signed a law integrating all public schools in California.

I think too many times the story of the battle for integration neglects the fact that in other parts of the country like California and the Southwest, those of Mexican or Latino heritage also were victims of segregation.   As a California teacher and teacher of mostly Latino students, this book is essential to teaching about this troubled time in our history.

What are some of your favorite new children's literature books to use with your class?  Leave a comment and let's spread the word about these books!

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