Caroline Arnold's Books

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Projects and Activities

Here are some projects that you can do after reading my books. Most of the them use materials easily found at home or at school. Go to My Books to find more information about the books.

For a PDF of a list of links to projects presented at IRA, April 2012, click here.

  1. a.Animal Pyramid Poem
  2. Using a photo of an animal for inspiration, you can use different parts of speech to create a vivid description of the animal and its environment. Each successive line adds an element, ultimately creating a pyramid "poem".

    Line 1. Name of animal

    Line 2. Adjective + animal

    Line 3. Adjective + color + animal

    Line 4. Adjective + color + animal + verb

    Line 5. Adjective + color + animal + verb + adverb

    Line 6. Adjective + color + animal + verb + adverb + where animal lives

    Line 7. Simile: (Name of animal) looks like..........

    Line 8. Personification: If I were a (name of animal) I would..........

    To download these directions and a sample "poem", click here.

  1. b.Measure Your Wingspan
  2. What kind of bird would you be, if you could fly? Here's how you can make your own wingspan measuring tape. Cut a piece of heavy paper (such as cardstock) in 1.5 inch strips. You will need eleven strips, each eleven inches long. Connect the strips with tape. (Strapping tape is the best, but any tape will do.) You will have now have a strip 121 inches long. Make a list of the wingspans of various birds. Then, using a yardstick or measuring tape, mark the tape to show the width of each bird's wingspan. Here are some of wingspans on my tape: emperor penguin, 32 inches; peregrine falcon, 3.5 feet; red-tailed hawk, 4.5 feet; flamingo, 5 feet; turkey vulture, 6 feet; golden eagle, 7 feet; bald eagle, 8 feet; California condor, 9.5 feet. You can add the wingspans of any birds you like. You will need two people to hold the ends of your tape. Then you can measure your wingspan. When you are not using the tape, it folds up like an accordion.

  1. c. Icebergs and Sea Level
  2. Do you think melting icebergs raise the sea level? Do this experiment and find out.

    You will need: a glass bowl, water, ruler, ice cubes

    1. Pour water into the bowl until it is about half full. Use the ruler to measure the height of the water.

    2. Add the ice cubes. Measure the water level again. How much did it rise? Each ice cube is like a tiny iceberg.

    3. Set the bowl in a warm place until all the ice is melted. Measure the water level again. What happened? (Remember that water increases in volume when it freezes.)

  1. d. Choose a book and create a bookmark showing a theme from the book.
  2. In your class or school you could also have a bookmark contest to celebrate Book Week or National Library Week.

  1. e. Kangaroo Bookmark A Kangaroo's World

    Hop into reading with a kangaroo bookmark. Click here. for a printable outline of a kangaroo that you can color and cut out and use as a bookmark in your favorite book To make your kangaroo bookmark stand up by itself, bend the tail backward and the feet forward.

  1. f. Book Fact Scavenger Hunt
  2. Like many authors, I find that school and library visits are one of the best ways to promote my books. They also put me in touch with my audience and give me a chance to talk with teachers and librarians to find out how my books are being used in the classroom. The most successful visits are those where the children are familiar with my books before I come. Recently, I visited a school where the librarian had devised a clever project to encourage the children to read my books. It was a Book Fact Scavenger Hunt, created by one classroom and then played by another. To make the "clues" each child chose a book, found a fact and turned it into a question. Here are some samples:

    In the book A Panda's World, how many countries outside of China have pandas in zoos?

    In the book Ostriches and Other Flightless Birds, why do ostriches eat small pebbles?

    In the book A Killer Whale's World, who is the leader of the pod?

    In the book House Sparrows Everywhere, what do restaurants put on their roofs to discourage sparrows from roosting?

    In the book Giraffe, how much does the giraffe's heart weigh?

    The librarian then typed a list of all the questions, made several copies of the list in a copy machine, and cut the paper so each question was a separate slip of paper. All the questions were put into a paper bag. Children picked out one question at a time and competed to see who could answer the most questions during the library period. By the day of my author visit, the children at the school were experts in books by Caroline Arnold!

  1. g. Literacy Chain

    Cut strips of paper 1 inch wide and 8 1/2 inches long. When you finish reading a book, write the name of the book on a strip of paper. Glue or tape the ends of the strip together to make a circle. Do this with every book you read, connecting the circles to make a chain. This is a good class or family project.

  1. h. Hot Rocks

    Read Too Hot? Too Cold? In this activity you can test how well dark and light colors absorb the sun's heat. You will need: Two rocks (about the size of your fist), white paint, black paint, a paintbrush. Paint one rock white and the other rock black. Put both rocks in the sun and wait for one hour. Then feel the rocks. Which rock feels warmer? The white rock reflects the sun's rays and stays cool. The black rock soaks up the sun's rays and becomes warm. To stay cool on a hot day, would you wear a dark shirt or a light one?

  1. i. Cooling Thermometers

    Read Too Hot? Too Cold?. This experiment is a simple demonstration comparing the length of time it takes for objects of two different sizes to cool down in your refrigerator. You will need: 2 household thermometers, 4 washcloths, rubber bands, paper and pencil, a clock. Look at the thermometers and write down the room temperature. Wrap one thermometer in one washcloth and fasten it with rubber bands. Wrap the other thermometer in three washcloths and fasten with rubber bands. Put both thermometers in a refrigerator for five minutes. Then take them out, unwrap them, and look at the temperature on each thermometer. Which one cooled off the most?

    1. f. Chick and Egg Cut-Out Craft Hatching Chicks Project

      Cut out and color a chick popping out of its egg. Click here. for a printable outline of a chick that you can color and cut out and Click here. for a printable outline of the egg.

    1. g. Butterfly Life Cycle with Pasta
    2. butterfly pasta

      Read Hatching Butterflies in Room 6.

      To do this project you will need: A paper plate; 4 types of pasta: bulgar for eggs; ziti for the caterpillars; shells for the chrysalis; and bowties for the butterflies; Glue; Markers, paint or crayons


      Make an X across the paper plate to divide it into four sections. Label each section with a butterfly stage: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly Glue the appropriate pasta in each section. Draw or paint leaves. Color the pasta if desired.

      This project is good for 4-8 year olds.

  1. h. A butterfly's wings are symmetrical
  2. butterfly symmetry

    Paint your own paper butterfly wings making the colors match on each side.

  1. Put Stripes on the Zebra
  2. A Zebra's World

    Read A Zebra's World, Zebra, or African Animals. To do this project you will need: White paper, black and green construction paper, scissors, glue Print the zebra outline (link below) on white paper. Cut it out. Cut strips of black paper ½ inch wide and about 3 ½ inches long. Glue black stripes onto zebra shape. Cut to fit if necessary. Glue finished zebra onto a piece of green construction paper.

    This project is good for 3-7 year olds. For a printable outline of a zebra and directions for the project click here .

  1. Contour Potato
  2. The Geography Book

    Read The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World for fifty nifty projects about the world we live in. For printable directions for the contour potato project click here .

  1. Beautiful Baleen: How Baleen Helps Whales Get Food
  2. Read Super Swimmers: Whales, Dolphins, and Other Mammals of the Sea

    Gray whales, humpback whales, and other large whales do not have teeth. Instead, their mouths are filled with hundreds of long, hard plates called baleen. With this project you will learn how the hairy edges of the baleen help whales to catch tiny pieces of food to eat.

    You will need a dishpan, water, a large comb and about a half cup of uncooked rice. Put water in the dishpan until it is about half full. Pour in the rice. Dip the comb in the water and use it to scoop up pieces of rice. In the same way, the hairy edges of baleen are like a giant comb, or net, that catches krill and other tiny animals in the ocean.

  1. Read "The Terrible Hodag" or "The Terrible Hodag And The Animal Catchers"
  2. a. Write a sequel to the story in typical tall tale form. Your main character should be larger-than-life, or superhuman. Exaggeration is the major element in a tall tale.

    Or, perform a play (in person or with puppets) of the story.

    b. Read The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers. The story tells us that the Hodag helped to get rid of the lumberjack's mean boss. Keeping in mind that the Hodag was a kind creature, ask students to infer just how the Hodag got rid of Olee's boss. They can write their idea on a strip of paper and/or illustrate what they think might have happened to him. Display the various responses around the room.

    c. Make your own mixed up animal and draw a picture of it:

    My mixed up animal has the head of a ________________________, the feet of a _________________________, the back of a ________________________, and the tail of a ______________________. It is as big as a __________________________. Its favorite food is _______________________. Its name is _____________________________. This is what it looks like.

  1. Make a Model of the Taj Mahal
  2. Taj Mahal

    Click here to print a pattern and directions to make a model of the Taj Mahal. This project works best if you can print the pattern on heavy paper or cardstock.

  1. Use white paper bags to make penguin puppets.
  2. A Penguin's World

    Read A Penguin's World. Use white lunch size bags for the penguin's body. Cut out black construction paper for wings and a circle for head. Add cut out eyes and beak to head. Glue head to bottom of bag and wings to sides of bag.

  1. a. Make a Paper Plate Panda.
  2. A Panda's World

    Read A Panda's World. For this project you will need a white paper plate, cotton balls, black and white tissue paper. Glue cotton balls to the paper plate for the panda's furry face. Crumple white tissue paper for the panda's snout and glue on. Crumple black paper for the ears and eye rings and mouth and glue on. Use small cotton balls for the center of the eyes.

  1. Make curlycue snakes by drawing a spiral on a sheet of paper.
  2. Cut out the snake along the line, poke a hole in the snake's head, put a string through it and hang the snake from hanger or a dowel. Decorate and add forked tongue if desired.

    Curly Cue Snake Click here for a printable picture of this project.

  1. Make animal or dinosaur costumes and organize an animal or dinosaur parade.
  1. a. Use paper plates to make animal masks.

  1. Dinosaur Time Line
  2. Read Giant Sea Reptiles of the Dinosaur Age, Pterosaurs: Flying Reptiles of the Dinosaur Age or Dinosaurs With Feathers. Make a time line of the history of the earth and show when dinosaurs,pterosaurs and giant sea reptiles lived. (Use a roll of shelf paper or draw the time line with chalk on the playground. If one inch equals a million years you will need about 20 feet to go back to the beginning of dinosaurs.)

    Write a story about what you would do if you had a dinosaur, pterosaur, or giant sea reptile as a pet. Where would you keep it? What would it eat?

  1. Dinosaur dioramas--make a museum in a box.
  2. Use clay models or paper cutouts for dinosaurs and create a miniature, three-dimensional scene of a museum exhibit.

  1. Peanut Butter and Jelly Geology
  2. The Earth's crust is made of many layers of rock and dirt. They build up over millions of years. In some places, where a hill has been cut along the side of a road, you can see some of the layers. The Grand Canyon is another place to see how the Earth was formed. You can make an "Earth Sandwich" to learn about the layers of the Earth. Each part represents a part of the Earth's crust. When you cut the sandwich in half, it will be like digging through the layers of the Earth. To make your sandwich, you will need:

    pumpernickel bread for coal, rye bread for sandstone, white bread for limestone, peanut butter for dirt, jelly for oil or tar, raisins for boulders, and pretzel sticks for fossil bones

  1. Sandpaper Camels
  2. Read about camels in African Animals or Camel and make a notesheet of what you have learned. Draw a picture of a camel on a piece of paper and cut it out. Trace the outline of the camel with a crayon onto a piece of very coarse sandpaper. Use crayons to fill in the outline and draw other desert plants and animals. Place the sandpaper on a board or heavy piece of cardboard face up. Put a piece of wax paper on top of the sandpaper. Then put a piece of brown paper (shopping bag cut open) on top of the wax paper. Iron the sandpaper illustration with the heated iron so that some of the crayon beneath begins to melt into the sandpaper. The heat creates an unusual effect on the illustration. Cooled pictures may be hung for display. Students may post their note sheets beside the illustrations. (Adapted from Internet School Library Media Center)

  1. Endangered animal posters ( Panda, Orangutan, Cheetah , etc.).
  2. Make a poster showing why a particular animal is endangered and what people can do to help.

  1. Animal dioramas, mobiles or collages made from cut out magazine pictures.

    Choose a theme such as zoo animals, desert animals, sea life, etc. and create a scene inside a shoebox. Or, glue pictures of animals to heavy paper, cut them out and hang them from a dowel to make a mobile. Or, glue pictures of animals onto heavy paper to make a collage.

  1. Alphabet mural based on an animal book.
  2. Read a book and look for facts beginning with each letter of the alphabet (e.g., Cheetahs live in Africa. A cheetah's coat has black spots that measure 1-2 inches across. By the age of three weeks, the cubs can walk, etc.) Illustrate each fact on a separate page and connect the pages either to make a book or a mural. This is a good project to do in small groups.

  1. Make a chart showing how the various animals are alike and different. e.g., cheetahs and giraffes.
  2. Alike--they are both mammals, they live in Africa and they have spots. Different--one is a meat eater and the other eats plants.

  1. Make a chart to compare the physical characteristics and lifestyles of several birds--sparrows, penguins, flamingos, ostriches, peregrine falcons, condors--after reading those books.

  1. Read the animal books as preparation for a field trip to the zoo.
  2. Read "A Walk On The Great Barrier Reef" or "A Walk By The Seashore" before going on a trip to the seashore. Or, use shells and sand to make a seashore in the classroom.

  1. Read "Watch Out For Sharks!" or "A Walk on the Great Barrier Reef." Make miniature aquariums with plastic topped gift boxes.
  2. Use blue paint or blue paper on the bottom of the box for the background and add pictures of sharks and other sea life. Or make fish drawings with crayon and then paint over them with thin blue watercolor (crayon resist technique.)

  1. Read the appropriate books when studying the continents of the world and make maps showing where the animals live.

  1. Popcorn Balls
  2. Read Children of the Settlement Houses.

    Holiday parties were always a high point of the year at settlement houses. They were a time when everyone from the neighborhood could enjoy being together. In the 1950's, when I was growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I always looked forward to the children's Christmas party at the Northeast Neighborhood House. The auditorium was filled with fragrant evergreens and colorful decorations. We played games, sang songs and watched the drama club put on a play. One year I was an actor and played the part of the littlest angel! At the end of the party each child always received a small gift and a popcorn ball wrapped in colored paper. I still remember their sweet and crunchy taste. Here's how you can make your own popcorn balls.

    POPCORN BALLS: Put ½ stick of butter or margerine, 6 cups of miniature marshmallows, and one 3-ounce box flavored gelatin in a microwave safe bowl and melt in microwave oven. (About two minutes. Check and continue melting if necessary.) Stir to mix. Pour over 12 cups popcorn. ( Optional, add ½ to 1 cup salted peanuts) Stir gently until evenly coated; butter your hands and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic wrap to store. Makes 16-20 medium size popcorn balls.

  1. Read "A Guide Dog Puppy Grows Up"
  2. In teams of two, pretend what it is like to be blind. Or, invite a person who uses a guide dog or who is raising a guide dog to visit your class.

  1. Read "Pets Without Homes"
  2. Make a list of all the things one must do to take care of a pet. Or, visit an animal shelter. Or,invite an animal control officer to visit the classroom. Or, write stories about pets you have or would like to have.

  1. Make an animal classification chart. (Use "Dinosaurs Down Under" as a guide.)
  2. Make sections for fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. List animals that are extinct and animals that are alive today.

  1. Read "The Ancient Cliff Dwellers Of Mesa Verde" or "City Of The Gods"
  2. Write a paragraph or have a discussion about how your life would be different without metal or wheels (or modern conveniences like electricity and telephones!). Or, make a chart to show what was going on in other parts of the world 1000 years ago when people were living at Mesa Verde or 2000 years ago when people were living at Teotihuacan.

  1. Read "The Olympic Summer Games" and "The Olympic Winter Games" Plan your own "Olympic Day."

  1. Do experiments using SUN FUN or books in the geography activity series ("Maps And Globes," "Charts And Graphs," "Bodies Of Water," etc.) and in The Geography Book.

  1. Read "House Sparrows Everywhere."
  2. Make daily observations of house sparrows in your neighborhood or on the playground of your school. Make a chart to record your observations.

  1. Be An Archeologist

    Read Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland's Prehistoric Village of Skara Brae. Find out how people lived in northern Europe 5000 years ago in the Neolithic, or New Stone Age.

    1. We learn how people lived long ago by looking at what they threw away. Archeologists at Skara Brae studied the trash piles, or middens, surrounding the village to find out what kinds of food people ate and what kinds of tools and household objects they used.

    Project: Empty your waste baskets at home and make a list of the contents. Exchange your list with another student and try to draw conclusions about the people who threw away those objects.

    2. We learn how people lived long ago by finding out how they died and how they treated their dead.

    Project: Visit a local graveyard--preferably one that goes back more than one hundred years. What do the inscriptions on the gravestones tell you about the people who are buried there? What can you conclude about the people and their families from the size and placement of the grave markers. What else does the cemetery tell you about the community?

    3. In every community, both ancient and modern, the places where people live have to meet basic human needs. Houses provide warmth, shelter from the weather, protection from danger, places to store and cook food and places for people to meet.

    Project: Compare your house or apartment to a house at Skara Brae. How are they the same? How are they different?

    These projects can also be done in conjunction with the following books:

    The Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde, City of the Gods: Mexico's Ancient City of Teotihuacan, Stories in Stone: Rock Art Pictures By Early Americans, Easter Island: Giant Stone Statues Tell of a Rich and Tragic Past.