Breakfast: Your Brains’ Best Friend

Schools across the country have implemented breakfast programs for students. Research shows the importance of eating breakfast helps students become better learners. Not focusing on eating they are able to focus on their assignments. Having proper nutrition is also linked to brain development. Schools can now offer free breakfast to students and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables for all students in schools that qualify with their free and reduced lunch count.

Try these resources to encourage your students to use their math skills and have a nutritious treat!

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Gruesome Grub Halloween Party

by Ken Carder (author)
35 Halloween Party Recipes to make your Kids Halloween Party unforgettable!

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Super ‘Wiches

ISBN: 9781617723476  by Marilyn La Penta (author)       © 2012

Kids can get creative in the kitchen with inspiration from the tasty recipes in Super ’Wiches. Young chefs can choose from classic favorites with a twist such as grilled cheese and PB&J, or innovative fare like Thanksgiving Treats and Tuna Avocado Roll-Ups. Each recipe includes suggestions for customizing the sandwiches to match the tastes of the cook or to make artistic creations. After all, cooking is an artand art is all about experimenting! Each recipe includes a nutrition tip and a fact box as well as a list of tools and ingredients and easy, step-by-step instructions. Kids will learn about nutrition and healthy eating, sequencing and following directions, math and measuring skills, and kitchen safety. Bon apptit!

Here are some great resources to use in health and science classes students learn about the digestive system as well as proper nutrition. Include these great read a louds to ensure your students understanding of these concepts.

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Inside the Brain

by M.D. Halvorson (author)       © 2013 ISBN: 9781614809753
Find out what goes on every day inside of the human body! This title offers children an exciting voyage through the brain. Detailed illustrations, color photos, and simple text combine to make a fun and easy introduction to how the brain works. This book also includes simple activities and crafts like Reaction Action, Thinking Cap and how to make a Brain with how-to photos to further engage young learners. 

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Eating and the Digestive System

by Julie K. Lundgren (author)       © 2013
ISBN: 9781618103635This title addresses how we need food to fuel our bodies. It teaches students what happens during the digestive process. How the saliva starts the process and how the stomach and intestines break down food so it can be digested properly. Also talks about the digestion system of animals (herbivores, meat-eaters).





A Reading Specialist Talks About Teaching Reading: Concepts of Print

 The Importance of Teaching Concepts of Print

Students need to master the concepts of print in order to become fluent readers. Concepts of print are the elements of a book. Students need to understand that books and print tells a story. The should be able to identify the  cover, title, and author. After reading, learners with this skills should be able to restate the beginning and ending. Kids need to be instructed about the left to right and top to bottom sequence of text. Explicit teaching on punctuation, words, and capital letters is necessary for students to attain the concepts of print.

Book Concepts

  • Front of book






  • Back of book
  • The title

Directionality Concepts

  • Where to begin reading story
  • Direction in which to read (left to right)
  • Where to go next at end of the line

Concepts of Letter and Word

  • First word on page
  • Last word on page
  • One word or two words
  • First letter in word
  • Last letter in word
  • One letter or two letters
  • Names three letters on page

Punctuation Marks

  • Capital letter
  • Small letter
  • A period
  • A question mark
  • An exclamation mark
  • A comma
  • Quotation marks


Assessing Student’s Concepts of Print

Free Clip Art Book


Concept of Print                                                               What the Teacher Says



(Book Concepts)

“Show me the front of this book.”




(Book Concepts)

“Show me the back of this book.”




(Book Concepts)

“Show me the name of this book or story.”



(Reading Concepts)

“Show me where I start reading.”



BEGINNING OF TEXT (Directionality Concepts)

“Show me with your finger where I have to begin reading.”



LEFT TO RIGHT; TOP TO BOTTOM (Directionality Concepts)

“Show me with your finger which way I go as I read this page.”




(Directionality Concepts)

“Where do I go then?”



(Reading Concepts)

“You point to the words while I read the story.” (Read slowly, but fluently).




(Concepts of Word)

“Use your finger to show me the first word on this page.”




(Concepts of Word)

“Use your finger to show me the last word on this page.”




(Concepts of Word)

“Move your fingers until I can see one word. Now, show me two words.


Reading Specialist Can Help Students Become Fluent Readers

Image by CLU_ISS

Image by CLU_IS

Explicit, systematic reading instruction has been proven to create successful readers. Teaching all children to read in today’s diverse classrooms requires highly trained educators. Schools and educational institutions often employee reading specialists that possess advanced degrees in reading and language arts instruction. Reading specialists provide expert instruction, and assessment for all types of learners. Struggling readers benefit from working with a reading specialist, who provide students with specialized instruction. They provide leadership for the reading program, and are a valuable resource for teachers, parents and administrators. Reading specialists are highly trained and have skills to evaluate the literacy program and provide training for the staff. Using a variety of assessment tools, reading specialists assess the reading strengths and needs of students. They communicate these to educators, parents, guardians, administrators and specialized personnel such as psychologists, special educators, or speech teachers.

freeclipart appleConnecting To The Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards clearly outline what is expected of students at each grade level, for students in the United States. The Common Core State Standards can be found at

Print Concepts:
Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.
Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.
Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

Celebrate International Literacy Day with Big Universe

The term “literate” means that an individual can read and write in own their language.  Statistics show that in many third world countries, nearly half of their populations cannot read or write!   Literacy has impacts on economies, populations, and peace. How does reading and writing impact our lives? There are many ways to insure student literacy globally.  This isn’t just a teacher issue.  Remember it takes a community to raise a child.  Here are a few suggestions that you could use to celebrate International Literacy Day on September 8, 2014.

Read To Your Child.  Begin as early as possible to develop a love for reading.  Read from a variety of genres together.  Fiction and nonfiction provide opportunities to increase their global view.

Read With Your Child.  There are numerous resources available to help early readers to develop phonemic awareness.   Knowing that letters make sounds, sounds make words, words make sentences, and  sentences make stories.  By selecting books that are on their level will increase comprehension and fluency.  As they develop fluency and further skills they are no longer learning to read; they are reading to learn!

Encourage Writing Activities.  Allow students to express themselves thru pictures and  words.  Students need to have various writing experiences.  Journal entries are a great way to develop the habit of writing.  Provide writing topics that allow them to critically think about the world around them.  You can even have them write and edit stories that will be shared with others around the world.

Find Engaging Resources!  Big Universe has both reading and writing capabilities.  By using these resources you will  increase your students literacy!  What resources will you use?

Try these with your students…

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by Amy Buswell & Bruce Lansky (author), Stephen Carpenter (illustrator) © 2014

ISBN: 9781476742946

Amy Buswell and Bruce Lansky’s Giggle Poetry Reading Lessons turn struggling readers into happy readers.
Many struggling readers are embarrassed to read aloud. They are often intimidated or bored by texts that conventional programs require them to practice. So, instead of catching up, they fall further behind. Currently 67% of American fourth graders cant read grade-level text. Reading specialist Amy Buswell has spent eight years looking for remediation methods that work. What is needed, Buswell explains, is a program that improves the motivation of struggling readers, because that accounts for 90% of the problem. Four years ago, Buswell came up with a brainstorm. She knew her best readers enjoyed reading Bruce Lanskys poetry books for pleasure. The more poems they read, the better the reading got. Why not use Lanskys kid-tested poems as texts struggling readers could practice on to improve their readingusing six research-based strategies: choral reading, echo reading, paired reading, repeated reading, sustained silent reading and say it like the character reading. This book is the result of that brainstorm and the resulting collaboration between Buswell and Lansky. It gives teachers and parents everything they need to help children improve their reading: -35 kid-tested poems by Bruce Lansky -35 customized reading lessons by Amy Buswell -35 off-the-wall illustrations by Stephen Carpenter -35 sets of zany performance tips by Bruce Lansky all of which is designed to make the process of reading improvement more like fun than work. What Amy Buswell and Bruce Lansky have created is the most entertaining fluency intervention ever. Thats why it is so successful at overcoming negative attitudes to improve reading skills and scores. Ninety-five percent of participating students made significant improvement in their fluency (reading rate). And average reading scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for Buswells school raised her schools rating to an A for the first time. In 2011, Buswells school achieved one of the highest-percentage reading gains in the county. Theres no reason parents cant get in on the fun, too. Parents will enjoy Lanskys funny poems and Stephen Carpenters delightful illustrations as much as their children. By reading the poems with their children and encouraging their children to try some of Lanskys entertaining performance tips (by adding gestures, sound effects, props and finding additional readers: be they friends, family or neighbors), they can dramatically speed up their childs reading progress (and have lots of fun in the process.)

A Reading Specialist Talks About Teaching Reading: Phonics, Word Recognition and Fluency

Researched Based Reading Instruction

Phonics and Word Recognition

book pages

Helping Students Become Successful Readers

Educators use researched based principles and practice to teach students how to read. Using a proven, explicit, systematic program, people of all ages can learn to read. One crucial component of reading instruction is phonics and word recognition.

Teach Phonics and Word Analysis Skills To Decode Words

Introducing learners to letters and sounds helps them to break the reading code. Students should memorize the sound/symbol correspondence of letters. Primary teachers should instruct the sound and symbol associations each day, to help students store this information in their long term memory. Songs and chants help students to recall letter sounds. Upper elementary teachers should review these to promote mastery.

thumb-1.jpg Singing The Consonant Sounds
by Kim Mitzo Thompson (author), Patrick Girouard (illustrator) © 2012
ISBN: 9781620020180
What words begin with the letter b? Ball and bat and baby! Learning all about consonant sounds is fun with this catchy rhyme.


thumb-2.jpg Things I Do (Single Letter Sounds-2A)
by Lynda Franco (author)
ISBN: 9781621672340
This book is intended for readers at the speech production stage of language acquisition. It will allow the reader to focus on the sounds of the English Language (phonemic awareness); single letter recognition; sound/letter associations; beginning decoding skills by deconding known vocabulary; vocabulary development; and word/picture associations.

Instruct Short Vowels

In teaching reading, the short vowel sounds should be introduced prior to the long vowel sounds. After learning the short vowel sounds, students are able to decode a large number of words, quite quickly. Big Universe users can type short vowels in the search box to find engaging texts that help students practice short vowels. Some of the texts are featured below.

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Instruct Long Vowels

Long vowels must be explicitly instructed and are more complicated for children to learn due to the fact that they have multiple spellings for the same sounds. Students will need a lot of practice with long vowels using blending strategies and decodable texts.

Big Universe Users can type long vowels in the search box to find engaging texts that help students practice the long vowels. Some of the texts are featured below.

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Read High Frequency Words By Sight

Students need to be explicitly taught the 200 most common high frequency or sight words.

High-frequency words are the most commonly used words in printed text. At least 50 percent of all text is composed of HF words. Many sight words are phonetically irregular. Children do not sound out sight words. The words tend to be abstract, and have limited visual correspondence. Students must memorize the words in order to read quickly and fluently.

Strategies to help students learn high frequency words:

  • Provide students with books to practice high frequency words.
  • Use texts specifically created to practice high frequency words
  • Make high frequency flashcards
  • Construct tactile flashcards (students can use glue and sand to write high frequency words on flashcards)
  • Create high frequency word books
  • Cut HF words out of a newspaper or magazine. Glue them on construction paper or poster board.

Educators can introduce the words to students by showing them flashcards and the practicing the words in books. Students can create their own high frequency word books and flashcards. Kids can practice with their parents and guardians at home. Tactile learners can create high frequency words using cotton balls, felt or even sand!

Books Recommendations For Beginning High Frequency Words Learners

thumbMy Clothes
by Sharon Lewis (author), Sou Saetern (illustrator) © 2011
ISBN: 9781620468449
Readers learn the high-frequency word “my,” along with several useful vocabulary words for articles of clothing. They can color the black-and-white illustrations and follow along with the text by using the dots below each word.

Books Recommendations For Practicing High Frequency Words

thumb.jpgThe Ugliest Duckling
by John Lakey
ISBN: 1561759767
This 6-book series is filled with fun! Beginning readers are sure to enjoy these stories starring offbeat fantasy characters involved in humorous “not quite predictable” plots. Fibs, Fables, & Lies is an innovative, entertaining blend of humor and learning. It utilizes both phonics and word repetition in a delightful new way that never loses sight of the fun of reading. The zany and colorful illustrations add to the appeal. Set includes 18 storybooks (3 of each title) and a 24-page book of ready-to-use activities that test comprehension and review sight words. Great fun for reluctant readers!

Big Universe Offers Many Engaging Texts That Help Students Practice High Frequency Words

Users can type sight words in the search box to find engaging texts that help students practice high frequency words. Some of the texts are featured below.

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freeclipart appleConnecting To The Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards clearly outline what is expected of students at each grade level, for students in the United States. The Common Core State Standards can be found at

Phonics and Word Recognition:
Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.
Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.
Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).
Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ.

Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.

Tips For Getting Kids Hooked On Reading…For Life!

A Reading Specialist Talks About Strategies That Create Lifelong Readers


Creating avid readers is one of the best ways to produce a well educated student. Kids that start reading at a young age do better in their academic career and are more likely to attend college. Reading is one of the best ways to acquire new vocabulary. In addition, students are exposed to multiple genres of literature. The more reading one does, the more knowledge they can gain. People that read 65 minutes per day read over five million words per year!

Look at the research data shown on this table (adapted from Adams, 2006).

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Surround Children with Books and Written Words


Get children used to seeing and reading books! Books from the bookstore, books from garage sales (a bargain), books from the library, books they make, books made with their families, books made at school, electronic books. Books made out of tin foil and permanent markers. All types of books!

Use Technology to Make Reading Fun

Families can enjoy literature with the use of technology. They can use i-pads, phones, laptops or other electronic devices to record reading. Children and teens can wear funny hats and make video recordings of them reading books that families can cherish forever. People can read to each other from different geographical locations using Skype. Imagine how much fun your family will have reading to family in another state! Kids will be elated to read!

Use Comprehension Strategies

  • Talk about the book
  • Act out parts of the story
  • Discuss new words and key points
  • Summarize the plot and main idea
  • Have each person share their favorite part

Spark Children’s Interest in Books

Children should have the opportunity to read books that they are interested in. Kids like the ability to choose so it benefits younger children to choose what they would like to have read aloud. If they need help selecting a book, guide them to select an age appropriate book on a subject they might like.

Designate Family Reading Night

Designate one night per week as Book Night. Turn off the television and talk about and read books. Let children make their own books and share them with friends and family. Create a funny family book where each family member writes one page and then puts the book together. This family book is guaranteed to create giggles and put a smile on children’s faces. Self-created books create fond memories. Families will have a book they created together that they can save for a lifetime.

Become a Vocabulary Master

Point out words everywhere. Find words on the side of Starbucks cups, on billboards, in magazines at the doctor’s office, in papers sent in the mail, anywhere words are! Identify new words and make them exciting. Kids can circle the words with crayons, cut them out, highlight them and talk about the words. Look them up in the dictionary or in an online dictionary.

Model Reading

Children need to see adults reading. Adults can read the newspaper, books, and magazines. They can read on their i-Phones, Droids, i-Pads, Kindles, and other electronic devices. This sparks interest in reading! Let your child see you read. Kids especially need to see men reading. In most cases, young children mostly have female teachers and the mother is the one that reads the bedtime stories. Children need to see everyone, at every age, reading!

Read Online Books

In this tech savvy world, online books open up a whole new world for children. Anytime, anywhere, any subject. Utilizing online books helps kids get hooked on books and helps to make them lifelong readers! Visit Big Universe Learning to access thousands of books online. Children love reading online books! Students can even put the books they read on an online bookshelf for everyone to see at Placing books on the bookshelf builds self-confidence for readers as they create a public display all of the online books they have read.

freeclipart appleConnecting to The Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.4a Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.4b Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.5.4b Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.



Teaching Diversity Using Anti-Bias Framework

Diversity, social justice, and cultural sensitivity & awareness are huge issues right now in the news, in the kidlit publishing world, and in the lives of our students. We’d all like to do more in the classroom to help our students think critically about these important issues, but it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, many people are thinking about how to help educators tackle diversity in the classroom. Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has taken a huge leap forward in this arena by creating an Anti-bias Framework, essentially a k-12 Common Core for teaching students about social justice issues.

“The Anti-bias Framework (ABF) is a set of anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes divided into four domains—identity, diversity, justice and action (IDJA). The standards provide a common language and organizational structure: Teachers can use them to guide curriculum development, and administrators can use them to make schools more just, equitable and safe. The ABF is leveled for every stage of K-12 education and includes school-based scenarios to show what anti-bias attitudes and behavior may look like in the classroom.”

One Example from the standards:

Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.

At the K-2 level, the learning outcome looks like this:
I can feel good about myself without being mean or making other people feel bad.

At the 3-5 level, students can understand:
I can feel good about my identity without making someone else feel badly about who they are.

The middle school outcome expands on this concept:
I feel good about my many identities and know they don’t make me better than people with other identities.

By senior year, students can understand:
I express pride and confidence in my identity without perceiving or treating anyone else as inferior.

You can view the full list of standards here.


Try the ABF Using These Books About Multiculturalism:

How are we the same and different?

Kids' Book Publisher: Crabtree Publishing Company

How are we the same and different?

by Bobbie Kalman
ISBN: 9780778790433
Children often feel that they need to be the same as everyone else. That is the main reason for unhappiness. Do we see our differences as reasons for judgment and fighting? How can we view the different ways of others as things to enjoy, rather than criticize? This book encourages children to honor their own uniqueness and that of others through new ideas and positive actions.


Thirty-Three Multicultural Tales To Tell

Kids' Book Publisher: August House

Thirty-Three Multicultural Tales To Tell

by Pleasant DeSpain
ISBN: 9780874832662

When a story shares a universal message, it finds its way into that pantheon of tales that is shared with many diverse cultures. These classic 33 tales, collected from Brazil, China, Korea, Russia, Tibet, Africa, from America’s native peoples, and other lands, are chosen for their timeless shared values.


We Share One World

Kids' Book Publisher: Illumination Arts Publishing

We Share One World

by Jane E. Hoffelt (author), Marty Husted (illustrator)
ISBN: 9780970190789

Children are never too young to begin exploring the many different cultures that make up our beautiful world. Whether we awaken to the wind blowing from the desert, the spray from an ocean wave, or snowflakes dusting the trees, we all share this truly magnificent planet.


Kids Around the World

Kids' Book Publisher: Teacher Created Materials

Kids Around the World

by Dona Herweck Rice
ISBN: 9781433335990

This book gives kids a chance to meet other kids from different cultures around the world. Reads at a level of 1.9 and has a word count of 294.


One Land, Many Cultures

Kids' Book Publisher: Rourke Publishing

One Land, Many Cultures

by Maureen Picard Robins
ISBN: 9781618104014

This title addresses how America Is a melting pot filled with people from all over the world. Learning about their native language, the foods they eat, and their customs are just some of the issues addressed in this book. Maps that show the different parts of the world where their ancestors came from are an added feature.


Or These Books About Specific Cultural Groups:

Rourke's Native American History and Culture Encyclopedia, Volume 1

Kids' Book Publisher: Rourke Publishing

Rourke’s Native American History and Culture Encyclopedia

ISBN: 9781604727074

Volumes 1–10



Modern Middle East

Kids' Book Publisher: Teacher Created Materials

Modern Middle East

by Blane Conklin
ISBN: 9780743906746

The Middle East is a place of conflict based on the controversial nation of Israel, religious extremism, and the Middle Eastern oil supply. The Middle East produces 65% of the world’s oil. Oil has been responsible for many interactions between industrialized countries and the Middle East. Many times, those interactions have led to conflict. Its history and culture provide insight and understanding to world events taking place there.



Kids' Book Publisher: Rourke Publishing


by Michael Burgan
ISBN: 9781604723496

Provides the most current information on the people, culture, and conflicts of Afghanistan. Maps, photographs, and other text features help to support understanding.


What Will You Be, Sara Mee?

Kids' Book Publisher: Charlesbridge

What Will You Be, Sara Mee?

by Anne Sibley O’brien Kate Aver Avraham (author), Ann Sibley O’Brien (illustrator)   

ISBN: 9781580892117

Will she be an artist? A cook? A writer?

Sara Mee is turning one, and her family and friends gather for her tol, or first-birthday celebration. Food and presents abound, but most exciting of all is the traditional Korean prophecy game, called the toljabee, which predicts what Sara Mee will be when she grows up.

A book for all cultures, What Will You Be, Sara Mee? celebrates siblings, community, and the blending of traditions.

This book is good for your brain because:

Multicultural, World History, Korean Traditions & Customs


Tito, the Firefighter / Tito, el bombero

Kids' Book Publisher: Raven Tree Press

Tito, the Firefighter / Tito, el bombero

by Tim Hoppey (author), Kimberly Hoffman (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781621671985

This bilingual (English/Spanish) text has Spanish sprinkled in and, as each word is introduced, it is used from there through to the end of the book. There is also a vocabulary page at the end of the book.

Richie, a New York City firefighter or bombero, only speaks Inglés, but he answers all calls for help. In any language, a good deed is still a good deed. When Tito grows up, he wants to be a bombero. He speaks both Inglés and Español. But he never dreamed his bilingual skill might actually help Richie and the other bomberos save the day!


Graphic Novels: An Alternative to Hi-Lo books

Graphic novels have so much potential to heal literacy problems. Older reluctant readers won’t go near traditional early readers because of the stigma attached to reading a book that’s obviously meant for younger kids. There is a large market, therefore, for Hi-Lo books. The folks who can accomplish the task of writing a highly-engaging, well-written novel on, say, a first-grade reading level have my undying admiration. That can’t be an easy task. But Graphic Novels make an excellent, and in some ways more natural, alternative for struggling and reluctant readers.

There are many reasons that kids struggle to read. One is that they are not mentally ready to make the leap from reading pictures, which concretely represent their subject, to reading words. Words are an abstraction. They don’t look like their subject. Instead, they are symbols that represent sounds that make up words which are given as designations for an object. While a child may recognize the designating word when it is spoken, making a connection between little visual squiggles that do NOT look like the object, and a mental picture of the object is actually quite a leap in cognition. It’s kind of amazing that we do it at all, but for some kids this leap just does not come as naturally or as quickly as it does for their peers.

That’s where graphic novels come in. They can provide a more natural transition between picture books and full-text novels. The brunt of the story-telling burden in a graphic novel lies in the pictures, so the stories can be quite complex and engaging, but they still contain words as an integral part, so the learner is still increasing her literacy level. And because kids tend to love reading them, they practice more and more.


Try These Graphic Classic Adaptations for a Start

The Call of the Wild

Kids' Book Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London
ISBN: 9781602911437

Follow the adventures of Buck, a loving family pet, who is stolen from his comfortable home to become a sled dog in the Yukon gold rush territory. As Buck faces freezing temperatures, starvation, and cruelty, he learns that he must be brutal to survive.


Moby Dick

Kids' Book Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

Moby Dick

by Herman Melville
ISBN: 9781602911611

Moby Dick is an exciting story about Captain Ahab’s compelling obsession to get his revenge and defeat the Great White Whale. The story truly portrays the tragedy of hatred. This timeless epic is considered one of the strangest yet most powerful stories ever written.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Kids' Book Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

by Victor Hugo
ISBN: 9781602911536

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of Victor Hugo’s greatest accomplishments. This gothic tale about Dom Frollo, the archdeacon of Notre Dame Cathedral, and his total infatuation and frustration for the beautiful La Esmeralda ends in disaster. The pathetic and disfigured Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell ringer, is forced to choose between his two loves- Dom Frollo and La Esmeralda.


A Christmas Carol

Kids' Book Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens
ISBN: 9781602911444

A Christmas Carol is without question one of Charles Dickens’ greatest works. This extremely popular story introduces some of the most timeless, internationally known characters such as Scrooge, the unforgettable miser; Bob Cratchit, the underpaid clerk; and Tiny Tim, Cratchit’s frail, loving son.



Back to School for Teachers

As a teacher, you may have spent this past summer learning new concepts and skills, attending classes, or possibly visiting places.  Now, it is time to start heading back to school! Now breathe….. Big Universe is here to support you!  Below are some great ways to help you transition back into the classroom after the summer break.

First, Big Universe has Lesson Plans available to help you through out the school year.  With common core and the push for informational text literacy, lesson planning will be a snap.  Don’t forget to use the writing tab that has ready to use lesson plans. You can also visit Big Universe for reading, math, and science materials that aligned to state standards.

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Second, set up a literacy center.  Simply use Big on a few internet ready devices.  Review how to login and you are ready to go!  You can assign books for the small groups to read or select read aloud titles for them to listen to.

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Next, select a few titles to share with your students on the opening day.  There are great back to school texts that will help build relationships in the classroom. Simply use your computer and projector for better viewing!

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Lastly, continue your Professional Development. There are videos available for you to use or you can schedule your own session.  This a great way to either review or learn new ways to use Big Universe.

You are now ready for your big day!  You will do great!

Lessons In Making Lunch: Teaching About Kids Math, Health and Literacy


Teaching Students Valuable Skills While Making Lunch


Parents and educators can utilize the time while making lunch to teacher valuable math and literacy skills. Texts from various genres can be read to introduce kids to new vocabulary and content. Students can learn mathematical concepts such as ratios, fractions and proportions. They can practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills. Teachers can make classroom graphs, like the one that is featured in the text below.

Our Harvest Lunch by Suzanne Barchers Join the Garcia kids on their harvest adventure at their grandparents’ apple orchard. Picking apples, eating apple pie, and bobbing for apples are just a few of the fun things they will do there. The kids will help prepare a big lunch for everyone. They will also plan games. They will use two-digit subtraction to help them with the menu, shop for food, and set up the games. What is your favorite apple game or treat? 32pp.

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Books About Lunch For All Ages

Readers have the opportunity to enjoy these titles about going to lunch. These books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at

thumb  Anansi Goes to Lunch by Bobby Norfolk (author), Baird Hoffmire (illustrator) © 2007 Anansi is invited to three parties and wants to attend them all. He gives each of his hosts a rope to tug, ties the other end around his own waist, and waits to be summoned when the food is served — but when all of the food is ready at the same time, Anansi is caught in the middle!



thumb-1.jpgLunch for Carl by Kris Bonnell (author), Kris Bonnell (illustrator) © 2009 ISBN: 9781933727950 Will Carl eat all of his lunch so he can have dessert?     Monster Lunch by Pat Skene (author), Graham Ross (illustrator) ISBN: 9781551439419 AR: Book Level 3.9 / Points 1.0 / Quiz 128004 / Interest Level LG Yummy, yucky rhyming stories and facts about food. In Monster Lunch we dine with Frankenstein, attend a burgoo and a birthday party, meet a grumpy garden dude and slurp hot zoop. Each poem is followed by an interview with the main character or fascinating facts about food. This collection of yummy, yucky, messy and hot rhyming stories is bursting with rhythmical fun.

thumb-3.jpgBugs for Lunch by Margery Facklam (author), Sylvia Long (illustrator) (illustrator) © 1999 ISBN: 9780881062724 AR: Book Level 2.5 / Quiz 36617 Bon appetit! Kudos to Chef Nature for dishing up these tasty morsels. No reader with a discriminating palate will be able to put this delicious menu of appetizing delicacies down. Bugs for Lunch caters to a full array of creatures,Äìanimal, plant, and human,Äìthat munch on bugs.From a mantis perched and ready to prey on ladybugs and butterflies, to the honey-drenched fur of a big brown bear munching on a hive full of bees, Sylvia Long’s vivid illustrations show close-up details of all sorts of creatures munching on their lunch. These colorful drawings of creatures that live to eat bugs will be your key to discovering a world of insectivores in your own backyard and beyond.

Poetry Makes Kids Giggle and Wiggle

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Monster Lunchthumb-3.jpgby Pat Skene (author), Graham Ross (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781551439419   AR:   /   /   /
Yummy, yucky rhyming stories and facts about food.In Monster Lunch we dine with Frankenstein, attend a burgoo and a birthday party, meet a grumpy garden dude and slurp hot zoop. Each poem is followed by an interview with the main character or fascinating facts about food. This collection of yummy, yucky, messy and hot rhyming stories is bursting with rhythmical fun.


Connecting To The Common Core State Standards

freeclipart apple The Common Core State Standards clearly outline what is expected of students at each grade level, for students in the United States. The Common Core State Standards can be found at

Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.

    CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.1 Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities. For example, “The ratio of wings to beaks in the bird house at the zoo was 2:1, because for every 2 wings there was 1 beak.” “For every vote candidate A received, candidate C received nearly three votes.”

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.2 Understand the concept of a unit rate a/b associated with a ratio a:b with b ≠ 0, and use rate language in the context of a ratio relationship. For example, “This recipe has a ratio of 3 cups of flour to 4 cups of sugar, so there is 3/4 cup of flour for each cup of sugar.” “We paid $75 for 15 hamburgers, which is a rate of $5 per hamburger.”1

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3 Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3.A Make tables of equivalent ratios relating quantities with whole-number measurements, find missing values in the tables, and plot the pairs of values on the coordinate plane. Use tables to compare ratios.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3.B Solve unit rate problems including those involving unit pricing and constant speed. For example, if it took 7 hours to mow 4 lawns, then at that rate, how many lawns could be mowed in 35 hours? At what rate were lawns being mowed?

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3.C Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quantity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.RP.A.3.D Use ratio reasoning to convert measurement units; manipulate and transform units appropriately when multiplying or dividing quantities.

Preparing For A Successful School Year

Back-to-school tips from Big Universe.

Steps For Making Back To School A Breeze

Educators, families, neighborhoods, stores and schools can work together to generate excitement about back to school. Using these simple strategies can make returning to school a memorable event.

Shop For School Supplies When They Are On Sale

Families can save money by stocking up on materials in the summer months, when they are on sale. Adults can use this hands-on shopping experience to teach their kids valuable math skills.

Post a Family Calendar

Organizing information on a calendar offers a two-fold purpose. A visual picture lets everyone know when important dates are. For young children, a monthly calendar can also teach them how to read the days of the week. Utilizing a calendar management system is an important and useful lifeskill.

Designate a Bedtime and Stick To It

Kids benefit from a regular bedtime. Research indicates that lack of sleep is one of the causes of academic difficulties. Well rested children and teens do better on tests and in school! Parents and teachers benefit from getting enough rest, too.

Prepare School Lunch Recipes and Write Them On Index Cards

Busy families can save precious time and money by creating a lunch recipe book, prior to the start of school. Kids can help by writing the ingredients on an index card and drawing a picture of it. Technology savvy youngsters can even take photos of the food and add them to the cards. At the start of the week, families can use the recipe cards to create a grocery shopping list. This can save time. Clipping and using coupons for the items also saves money.

Be Informed: Know the Standards and Expectations For Your Child’s Grade Level

It is also helpful to know the standards for the grade levels before and after. Share this information with your child so that they know what to expect. Having clear expectations begets success. Working as a team, educators, families and students can meet educational goals.

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The Common Core State Standards clearly outline what is expected of students at each grade level, for students in the United States. The Common Core State Standards can be found at

Read Books That Prepare Children and Teens To Go Back To School

Parents can utilize the precious few weeks prior to the week of school to generate excitement about school and learning. Several thematic books for all ages are featured below.

Sharing Funny Poems and Literature Gets Kids Laughing






I’m Allergic to School!
by Robert Pottle (author), Mike & Carl Gordon (illustrator) © 2007

Read Now Bookshelf
ISBN: 9781416929475
I’m Allergic to School! is the first solo project by Giggle Poet Robert Pottle, and it depicts everyday events only a former teacher could capture. It contains 18 hilarious poems and songs about the funnier-than-fiction misadventures that occur at school. The 4-color illustrations are equally entertaining and giggle-packed.

School Related Books For All Ages

Readers have the opportunity to enjoy these titles about school. These books offer a great opportunity to enrich student’s vocabulary and content knowledge. Big Universe offers hundreds of titles in many different languages on thousands of topics. Find these informational and engaging texts at




 At My School


by Laura Verderosa (author), Illustrator (illustrator) © 2011

Meet the people who work at school.




 My New School


by John Serrano (author), NA (illustrator) © 2009
ISBN: 9781607190455 AR: Book Level 0.0 / Points 0.0 / Quiz NA
My new school is different from my old school, but it is also the same in some ways!





 At School

by Bobbie Kalman (author) © 2010
ISBN: 9781427195074
Children who are just starting school will love this peek at the activities that children do in class. Repetitive text structure and close picture-to-text match help children relate to such familiar activities as playing, counting, painting, and listening to stories and music. Children will agree that school is a fun place to be!

 Interesting Books For Teens 





 Spooky Schools

by Natalie Lunis (author) © 2013
ISBN: 9781617727993 AR: Book Level 6.1
Most days, schools are filled with students learning in classrooms, studying in libraries, and eating in lunchrooms. Yet what about the reports that something more unusual has been spotted in these buildings? Are they true? According to some, ghostly figures and creepy spirits haunt the hallways of some of Americas most well-known schools, colleges, and universities. Among the 11 spooky schools in this book, children will discover an art institute haunted by a mischievous ghost and a university in Florida where a man with glowing red eyes mysteriously appears. The haunting photographs and chilling nonfiction text will keep children turning the pages to discover more spooky stories.

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