Free World U top bar image
Free World U Blog Graphic

It's Spring! Or Is It Summer? Books for the Seasons

by Miriam Downey 25. March 2012 10:31

Every day for the past couple of weeks, I have heard people say, "Such crazy weather!" and "I can't believe it's still March." Old-timers in Michigan where I live are fond of saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes."

FWU has excellent flashcard units on weather. If your children haven't done the weather flashcard units yet, this is probably the time to do them. In this posting, I have included a list of books and a couple of websites that will go with the weather units. I have grouped them by season. Most all of these books are available at your local library or bookstore. The books that are available online are linked to the website where they can be found. The books listed are most appropriate for elementary-age children. Another posting will include informational books and websites about weather for middle school children.

For fun, everyone should begin by reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judith and Ron Barrett. After you read that crazy book, the real weather will never again seem so crazy!


Weather in General

A Drop of Water by Walter Wick. Experiments about water, clouds, rain, and snow.

Books by Seymour Simon: Lightning; Storms; Weather; Tornadoes; and Hurricanes. Lots of facts and great photographs about weather.

Eye Wonder: Weather by John Farndon. The power of the weather in photographs.

The Kid's Book of Weather Forecasting by Mark Breen. Everything any kid would want to know about weather forecasting.

Two Websites about Weather Resources

USA Today's alphabetical listing of hundreds of weather resources:

NOAA's weather website:


Twisters by Kate Hayden. Facts about tornadoes.

Come a Tide by George Ella Lyon. What happens in the spring when there has been a lot of snow during the winter.

And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano. This is a brand new, award-winning book.


Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco. A summer storm is on the horizon and the little girl is afraid of thunder. Grandma comes up with a great solution.

Come on, Rain by Karen Hesse explores a summer drought and how the children celebrate the rain.

Peter Spier's Rain. Another summer rain story.

A Prairie Boy's Summer by William Kurelek. Also, A Prairie Boy's Winter. Life in the 1930s.

When the Wind Stops by Charlotte Zolotow. A summer day's story.


Hurricane by David Wiesner. The adventures of two boys when a hurricane knocks down a big tree in their yard.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert. An explosion of autumn color.

The Story of Johnny Appleseed by Aliki. Why did Johnny Appleseed plant apple trees all over the Great Lakes states?

Picking Apples and Pumpkins by Amy Hutchings. What every child wants to do in autumn.

Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betsy Maestro. An explanation of autumn weather.


The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The classic story of a child and the snow.

It's Snowing! It's Snowing! by Jack Prelutsky. Poems about winter.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Wilson A. Bentley took photographs of snowflakes for many years and discovered that no two snowflakes are alike. Here is the website about him:

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. There is a wonderful You Tube video of this book that you can find here:

Blizzard: The Storm that Changed America by Jim Murphy is about the blizzard of 1888.

So, dear readers, enjoy the weather and everything it brings us.


Tags: ,

Memorize a Poem: Expand Your Brain

by Miriam Downey 7. March 2012 16:34

When I was a piano teacher, I required my students to memorize two pieces every year--one to play at the Christmas piano recital and one to play at the spring recital. I noticed two things from that requirement: 1) some children memorize easily and for others the experience is difficult, but all my students grew in their piano playing ability as they memorized their pieces; 2) whenever those children sat down at the piano recreationally, they played those memorized pieces. The experience of memorizing a piece gave them instant access to the instrument, and they were able to play their memorized pieces with a great deal more feeling than they could when they played them with the music.

I thought about this experience as I was working on last week's blog posting about the poetry in the FWU curriculum. Should school children be required to memorize poetry? isn't that just too old-fashioned? I suggest that there is as great a value in memorizing a poem as there is in memorizing a piano piece or lines for a play. These activities stretch and activate parts of your brain that are often dormant. And the thing about a memorized poem is that it stays with you your entire life. You can call it up whenever you need it.

Let me give you an example. Once for a presentation as a child, I had to memorize I thank you God by e.e. cummings. It begins like this:

i thank you God for most this amazing

day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue, true dream of sky; and for everything

which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(e.e.cummings never used capital letters and hardly ever used punctuation. That was just his style. One of the things I had to learn about when I learned this poem was why he wrote that way.) Well, the point of telling you this is that for every morning all the rest of my life, I have recited that poem as a morning prayer. It has sustained me my entire life.

Here are some things children learn by memorizing and reciting poetry:

1) A richness of vocabulary

2) A feel for the English language in general. Important if they are going to speak, write, and read English with ease.

3) An enormous amount about order, measure, proportion, balance, symmetry, agreement, temporal relationships, and mood.

4) Rhythm and rhyme

5) An increased brain capacity. (The brain is not a quart jar that will be filled up!)

So...what to memorize? Here are some suggestions based on books that are in the Free World U library and some easily accessible poetry available online. For more suggestions of poetry books, see last week's blog posting.


Grades K-2

     Stevenson, Robert Louis: A Child's Garden of Verse. Look up The Swing. It is a good one to say when you are swinging on the swing set.

     Lear, Edward: The Book of Nonsense

     Milne, A. A.: When We Were Very Young.

Grades 3-6

     Milne, A. A. Now We Are Six.

     Silverstein, Shel: Where the Sidewalk Ends. Shel Silverstein has a wonderful website with a lot of his poems on it. check it out:

     Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth: The Children's Longfellow. Try out Hiawatha.

Grades 7-12

     American Poetry. Pick out something by Robert Frost. Perhaps...Stopping by the Woods or The Road not Taken.

     Shakespeare, William: The Complete Works.  Learn a speech from a play or a sonnet.

     The Works of Edgar Allen Poe. Try out The Raven.

If all else fails, which it might have with one of my children, have them memorize a joke or a riddle and practice telling it out loud. Your child will get the memorization practice and the speaking ability. All that will be missing will be the beauty of the poetry.

Here is an interesting essay about memorizing poetry: resources/


About the author


Page List

Month List

Free World U bottom bar image