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ABC Books
Aren't for Babies

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Looking for some inspiration for an activity that will engage students -- from kindergarten to college -- while they learn? Why not challenge students to create their own ABC books? Included: More than 200 ABC book ideas -- spanning the grades and the curriculum.

ABC books aren't just for babies! Kids across the grades are getting in on the act. First graders in Loogootee, Indiana, searched the Net for great sites for each letter of the alphabet. First graders in Wiscasset, Maine, created the Morris Farm Alphabet Book. Kindergarten students in Alaska created this Online Alphabet Book. Other online alphabet books include Room 8's Awesomely Amazing Alliteration Alphabet and this Animal Alphabet Book. Even high schoolers could get in on the act! Why not have your biology class create an ABCs of Biology. A is for amoeba, B is for biome, C is for crustacean ...

This week, in honor of the anniversary of the birth of Noah Webster -- the father of the American dictionary, Education World offers an ABC of possible ABC books that students across the grades might create. Pick one from the list and let your students create their own books. Or divide students into groups to work on a book. Or let each student explore a topic of choice ...

AN ABC OF ENDANGERED SPECIES

Teacher Laura Toffenetti challenged each of her fourth graders at the Dorothy C. Goodwin School in Storrs, Connecticut, to create an ABC book of endangered animals. The task was easier than might be expected because, the students were amazed to learn, the world has more than 6,000 species that are "endangered" due to loss of habitat, poaching, and pollution!

"Students used a variety of resources to research the animals," says Toffenetti. "Each page had to include at least four facts about the animal, a map showing where the animal lives, and a picture."

"We spent some time learning how to lay out a page in an effective way," adds Toffenetti. "We also had some mini drawing lessons to help them capture the animals' likenesses."

At the end of the project Toffenetti decided to create a kind-of "best of" ABC book. You can see the results of this Endangered Species Project on the school's Web site. The book opens with Jessica's picture and story about the American bison, Joy's introduction to the blue macaw, and Billy's account of the plight of the cuckoo. Twenty-three letters later, Emily closes the book with the sad facts about the Grevy's zebra.

The project so excited Toffenetti's students that at the end of the school year, when the kids were feeling a little sad about leaving their comfortable elementary school for the unfamiliarity of middle school, the kids made another ABC book -- this one a Memory Book. "As a class we brainstormed all the things we had done all year and then connected the events to a letter of the alphabet," says Toffenetti. "Each student wrote and illustrated their letter and then we all got a copy of the book. It was a great keepsake."

Toffenetti has also done the ABC book project with second graders. "After looking at lots of ABC books, the students each chose a topic," says Toffenetti. "They were allowed to work with a partner, but most were so excited that they chose to work alone. There were a lot of animal books, one was a science book, a few chose to make riddle books... The project involved a lot of dictionary and encyclopedia searching to fill in the knowledge gaps. The ABCs proved to be a simple vehicle to help keep them focused and organized."

TAKE YOUR PICK! AN ABC OF ABC BOOKS!

ABC books are a great way to explore a new topic -- or to bring a unit of study to an exciting conclusion. However you choose to use them, ABC books are excellent motivators. The results are always educational, and often beautiful!

Create a special section in your school library for ABC books. They're "bound" to be signed out often!

Wondering what topics your students might explore? Education World is pleased to offer an...

ABC OF POSSIBILITIES

For the letter A, you might create a book called The Ancient Civilization Alphabet Book. The opening pages of that book -- the pages for the letters A to E -- might include illustrations and text related to

  • A -- Alexander the Great, the Aztecs, Athens, the Aeneid, or Aristotle;
  • B -- Buddha, Babylon, or the Byzantine Empire;
  • C -- Confucius, Code of Hamurabi, Cheops' Great Pyramid, clay tablets, Crete, Caesar, or Cleopatra;
  • D -- democracy;
  • E -- Egypt, Elba, Euphrates, Etruscans, or Euripedes ...

Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter A: aviation, agriculture, Africa, art history and artists, American authors, architecture, astronomy, automobiles, or Australia.

B AND BEYOND ...

For the letter B, you might create The Biology Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • amoeba, arachnids, or algae;
  • bacteria or biomes;
  • cells or crustacean;
  • Darwin;
  • ecology or evolution ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter B: baseball, biographies, the human body, birds, Brazil, or famous buildings.

For the letter C, you might create The Citizenship Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

A good citizen

  • acts responsibly;
  • doesn't bully;
  • cares for people and other living things;
  • takes part in community debates;
  • votes in elections ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter C: Canada, cats of the world, the Civil War, Central America, chemistry, the civil rights movement, Christmas around the world, cities, computers, cowboys, or China.

For the letter D, you might create The Dinosaur Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Apatosaurus, Allosaurus, armor, the "asteroid theory," or Age of Reptiles;
  • Brontosaurus or bipedal (those dinos that walked on two hind legs);
  • Cretaceous Period;
  • Diplodocus or Dinosaur National Monument;
  • eggs ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter D: diseases, dogs, or the Declaration of Independence.

For the letter E, you might create The Economics Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • automated teller machine (ATM);
  • banks, bull market, or budget;
  • credit cards, child labor, or consumerism;
  • depression or dollar;
  • European Community ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter E: Earth, ecology and the environment, Thomas Edison, Eskimos, education, Egypt, elections, Europe, electricity, endangered species, science experiments, exploration, energy, or England.

For the letter F, you might create The Food Around the World Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • artsoppa (Scandanavia) or anitpasto (Italy);
  • babka (Poland), blini (Russia), bubble and squeak (England), or baklava (Armenia, Greece);
  • challah (Israel), curry (India), crumpets (England), or chow mein (China);
  • Danish pastries (called wienerbrot, or "Vienna bread," in Denmark) or dumplings (Germany);
  • edible seaweed (Japan) ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter F: family, farms and farming, fish, flags, forests, or flowers.

For the letter G, you might create The Geography Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Arctic, altitude, archipelago, atoll, axis, or Atlantic Ocean;
  • bay or butte;
  • cities, cape, canyon, continental shelf, or climate;
  • delta, (continental) divide, or dune;
  • elevation, erg, estuary, or equator ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter G: games, gardens, Greece, or geology.

For the letter H, you might create The Holidays Around the World Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Arbor Day and Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (U.S.), Australia Day (Australia), or April Fools' Day (many countries);
  • Bolivar's Birthday (South America) or Bastille Day (France);
  • Christmas (many countries), Confucius' Birthday (China), Columbus Day (U.S.), Constitution Day (Japan), Candlemas Day (Scotland), or Canada Day (Canada);
  • Day of the Race (Latin America) or Dragon Boat Festival (China);
  • Empire Day (also called Commonwealth Day, Great Britain) or Easter (many countries) ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter H: Hawaii, the home, healthful habits, the Holocaust, herbs, Hispanic Americans, and hobbies.

For the letter I, you might create The Important People in American History Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Susan B. Anthony or John Quincy Adams;
  • Aaron Burr, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, or Buffalo Bill;
  • George Washington Carver, Henry Clay, Andrew Carnegie, or Calvin Coolidge;
  • Frederick Douglass;
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter I: India, the Ice Age, inventions, immigration, Illinois, ice-skating, American Indians, the Industrial Revolution, or insects.

For the letter J, you might create The Jobs Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • anthropologist, animator, airplane pilot, auto repairperson, or architect;
  • baker, butcher, ballet dancer, basketball player, bulldozer operator, bus driver, or businesswoman;
  • chemist, cook, cable TV installer, chaplain, carpenter, cashier, or computer technician;
  • divorce lawyer, dentist, doctor, director, disc jockey, dietition, or dress designer;
  • editor, economist, engineer, electrician, EMT, or eye doctor ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter J: jungles, Jamestown, jazz, or Japan.

For the letter K, you might create The Martin Luther King Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Atlanta (King's birthplace);
  • Birmingham or bus boycott (Montgomery);
  • Coretta Scott King or Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Dexter Avenue Baptist Church or "I have a dream ..." speech;
  • Ebeneezer Baptist Church or equality ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter K: the Korean War, knights and knighthood, or Kansas.

For the letter L, you might create The Language Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • alphabet, apostrophe, adjective, abbreviation, or address;
  • books and book titles;
  • colon, compound words, compositions, comma, or cliche;
  • debates, diaries, or dialogue;
  • editing, e.g., or exclamation ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter L: Abraham Lincoln, the Labor Movement, London, Los Angeles, great literature, or lumber and lumbering.

For the letter M, you might create The Mathematics Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • algebra, arithmetic, or abacus;
  • budgets or Bernoulli;
  • calendar, complex fractions, or computers;
  • decimals or Descartes;
  • Einstein or equivalencies ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter M: mammals, Mexico, the Middle Ages, Mars, minerals, the Middle East, mountains and mountain climbing, multiculturalism, music, mythology.

For the letter N, you might create The National Parks Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Acadia National Park, Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities, Arches National Park, or Appalachian National Scenic Trail;
  • Badlands National Park, Big Bend National Park, Biscayne National Park, or Bryce Canyon National Park;
  • Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Channel Islands National Park, Crater Lake National Park, or Carlsbad Caverns National Park;
  • Death Valley National Park, Denali National Park, Department of the Interior, or Dry Tortugas National Park;
  • Everglades National Park ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter N: people's names, North America, nature, nursery rhymes, nutrition, newspapers, or New York City.

For the letter O, you might create The Olympic Games Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Athens, archery, or alpine skiing;
  • Baron Pierre de Coubertin, boxing, basketball, bobsledding, Bonnie Blair, biathlon, or bronze medal;
  • cross-country skiing, Nadia Comaneci, or cycling;
  • discus throw or Babe Didrikson;
  • equestrian events ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter O: oceans, Oklahoma, or the orchestra.

For the letter P, you might create The Let's Get Physical Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • archery;
  • badminton, bodybuilding, or bicycling;
  • canoeing, curling, or cheerleading;
  • darts or diving;
  • equestrian events ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter P: the Pacific Ocean, famous painters and paintings, prehistoric animals, presidents and the presidency, Puerto Rico, phobias, pets and pet care, pioneer life, plants, or Pennsylvania.

For the letter Q, you might create The Famous Quotations Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include:

  • Aesop: "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched."
  • P. T. Barnum: "There's a sucker born every minute."
  • Confucius: "Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors."
  • Leo Durocher: "Nice guys finish last."
  • Thomas Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter Q: queen bees and other insects, science questions, Quebec, or quizzes.

For the letter R, you might create The Railroad Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Amtrak, articulated locomotive, angle bars, or Horatio Allen;
  • boxcar, Baltimore & Ohio, "Big Boys," ballast, baggage car, Matthias Baldwin, or Blucher;
  • catenary, cog railroad, crossties, coach, covered hopper, caboose, classification yard, Peter Cooper, or Conrail;
  • diesel locomotive, driving wheels, or dining car;
  • Eurostar or electric locomotive ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter R: racism, the rain forest, Reconstruction, religions of the world, reptiles, the Revolutionary War, rivers, recreation, the Renaissance, rocks, ancient Rome, or Russia.

For the letter S, you might create The Space Exploration Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Neil Armstrong or astronomy;
  • black holes or Tycho Brahe;
  • comets, constellations, or Copernicus;
  • space shuttle;
  • eclipse ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter S: safety rules, San Francisco, Scandanavia, South America, the four seasons, stars in the sky, the sun, sharks and other sea animals, slavery, the Supreme Court, snakes, the solar system, or superstitions.

For the letter T, you might create The Technology Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • aerodynamics or automation;
  • Alexander Graham Bell;
  • computers;
  • Sir Humphrey Davy;
  • electron microscope ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter T: transportation, television, Texas, Thanksgiving, trees, the thirteen colonies, the tundra, or theater.

For the letter U, you might create The United States Government Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • act of Congress, authorization bills, appellate court, associate justice, or appropriations bills;
  • Bill of Rights or bills;
  • the president's Cabinet, Congress, the U.S. Capitol, the CIA, the Constitution, checks and balances, chief justice, commander in chief, Congressional Budget Office, or the Supreme Court;
  • democracy, division of powers, district court, diplomats, or the Declaration of Independence;
  • elections, executive branch, or the Electoral College ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter U: U.S. history, undersea exploration, U.S. landmarks and attractions, or the universe.

For the letter V, you might create The Vegetables and Fruits Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • artichoke, asparagus, or apple;
  • beet, broccoli, berries, or banana;
  • cabbage, celery, carrot, cauliflower, corn, or cucumber;
  • date;
  • eggplant ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter V: the Vikings, Venezuela, the vice presidency, or the Vietnam War.

For the letter W, you might create The World War II Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Axis Powers, Allied Forces, Afrika Korps, Anti-Comintern Pact, American Flying Fortress, Anschluss, Anzio, or Antwerp;
  • blitz, Battle of Britain, Plan Barbarossa, Bismarck, Battle of the Bulge, Bataan, or B-29;
  • Georges Clemenseau, Covenant of the League of Nations, Cherbourg, Casablanca Conference, or Winston Churchill;
  • Dunkirk, Deutcshland, Colonel James H. Doolittle, or D-Day;
  • Enterprise, Emperor Hirohito, Essex, ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter W: wetlands, Washington (D.C.), weather, the Westward movement, whales and whaling, George Washington, water, the White House, the women's rights movement, World War I, or American writers.

For the letter X, you might create The X-Rays and Other Medical Terms Alphabet Book. Another possible topic for an alphabet book that begins with the letter X: Xmas around the world.

For the letter Y, you might create The Yukon Territory (Canada) Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • Arctic Ocean, Aishihik, or Alaska Highway;
  • Beaufort Sea, British Mountains, bear, John Bell, or Bonanza Creek;
  • caribou, common raven, George Washington Carmack, Cyprus-Anvil mine, coat of arms, or Robert Campbell;
  • Dawson City or Dempster Highway;
  • Eskimo or Elsa-Mayo ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter Y: Yellowstone National Park or Yugoslavia.

For the letter Z, you might create The Zoo Animals Alphabet Book. The opening pages of the book might include

  • armadillo or American bison;
  • brown bear, beaver, bobcat, black rhinoceros, or baboon;
  • caribou, cheetah, cougar, crocodile, camel, chimpanzee, or coyote;
  • deer;
  • elephant (African), elephant (Asian), or elk ...
Other possible topics for alphabet books that begin with the letter Z: Zaire, zeppelins and other aircraft, Zambia, or zoos and zoology.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Originally published 06/24/2002
Last updated 06/02/2010

 

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