Tag Archives: teacher resources

“Look, up in the sky!”

binocular-387319_1920It’s a great month to be an amateur astronomer! Not only do we have a solar eclipse to look forward to on the 21st, but did you know that you can also enjoy shooting stars every August? The Perseid meteor shower occurs every August (near my friend’s birthday, which is one of the reasons I remember it!) and it should peak this weekend. I just made a display of some books about meteors, shooting stars and solar eclipses, but there are lots of great online resources, too.

The Adult Reference blog has all kinds of information right now about the upcoming solar eclipse. Lots of it will be readable and interesting for older kids. There’s an excellent roundup of online resources from Sky & Telescope magazine which includes a short, printable guide aimed at science teachers.

If you’re looking for something aimed at younger readers, NASA has resources especially for students as well as the NASA Kids’ Club, a page about the solar system, and Space Place (in English or Spanish). Space Place currently has an animation on the front page to explain, “What is a solar eclipse?” If you click on it, you can also download a poster with the information. You can find a link to eclipse safety information, too. Going beyond the eclipse, there is also information on meteor showers and how to watch for shooting stars. We will be trying some of the website’s hands-on activities at the bilingual Noche de la Familia program on the evening of August 21.

For information on the library’s eclipse-related programming and the eclipse glasses giveaway, please visit the special Eclipse page on our website. Please note that there is a limited supply of glasses. The teacher guide I mentioned above has instructions for other ways to view the eclipse safely, including simple pinhole projectors made from easy-to-come-by materials like cardboard, aluminum foil, and a pushpin.

If you would like to follow up on a family interest in astronomy sparked by this year’s eclipse, you might enjoy checking out one of our new STEAMboxes. The Astronomy Set has been popular and has several holds on it, but keep in mind– the Bird watching kit also includes binoculars! Janice Van Cleave also has several books with space science activities to try. You might also want to recreate some of the activities from the Noche de la Familia program with craft books, the Star Walk app, or music.

Tools for your anti-racist toolkit

The recent massacre in South Carolina has probably left parents and teachers looking for tools to help children better understand race and racism.  These topics can be tricky and uncomfortable.  Here are some resources that can make the ongoing discussions easier:

Resources for children

The Anti-Defamation League has lists of recommended children’s books on different topics, including a Race and Racism list that covers a range of subjects including history, identity, and overcoming prejudice.  Many of the books are available from the library, including these:

All the colors we are Todos los colores de nuestra piel
All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We get Our Skin Color
El color de nuestra piel: la historia de como obtenemos el color nuestra piel
by Katie Kissinger
A bilingual book in English and Spanish answers a natural question that can get adults tongue-tied: why do people have different skin colors?

Let's Talk about Race
Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester
Prolific author Julius Lester introduces the concept of race as only one component in an individual’s or nation’s “story.”  The tone of the book, and the colorful illustrations, invite discussion.

Resources for parents

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights & The Leadership Conference Education Fund created a booklet (now available online) on
Talking to Our Children About Racism & Diversity that offers some guidelines about what to say to children at different ages and in different situations.

The Parent Map website has a list for parents of recommended books along with some principles of anti-bias education: https://www.parentmap.com/article/baby-got-books

These are a couple of parenting books in the library’s collection:

40 ways to raise a nonracist child
40 Ways to Raise a Nonracist Child by Barbara Mathias and Mary Ann French
Offers suggestions for parents on how to talk openly with their children about racism and racial differences and includes advice on topics ranging from how to select toys for preschoolers to how to cope with a teenager’s prejudice. – (Baker & Taylor)

For more books like this, try searching the subject “Prejudices in children” in the library catalog.

Smart Parenting for African Americans
Smart Parenting for African Americans by Jeffery Gardere
An African American psychologist offers parents advice that is sometimes universal (“How to Treat a Baby” and “Teen Rebellion” are two chapter headings) and sometimes specific to the experiences of African Americans.  He covers a wide range of topics including self-esteem, messages in popular music, interacting with police, being biracial, and racism.

Resources for teachers

If you’re looking for a few books and ideas for how to discuss them with a class, https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Antiracist_Activism_for_Teachers_and_Students/Literature_for_Youth/Children%27s_Literature has a good starter list.

Here’s a library book especially for teachers:

Rethinking Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial and Cultural Justice
Rethinking Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial and Cultural Justice edited by Wayne Au
The description on Amazon.com for a newer edition of the book says, “This new and expanded edition collects the best articles dealing with race and culture in the classroom that have appeared in Rethinking Schools magazine. Moving beyond a simplistic focus on heroes and holidays, and foods and festivals, Rethinking Multicultural Education demonstrates a powerful vision of anti-racist, social justice education. Practical, rich in story, and analytically sharp, Rethinking Multicultural Education reclaims multicultural education as part of a larger struggle for justice and against racism, colonization, and cultural oppression in schools and society.”