Mapping Panem

Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has an entire webpage devoted to mapping the districts in The Hunger Games Series?  This page, which uses BLS data to help users determine where in North America each of the fictional districts must be located, is part of the BLS Career Outlook series.

The article explains, "To use data to find the districts of Panem, you’ll need to look for areas with the highest location quotients for the industries and occupations associated with each district."

This is a fantastic activity that challenges students to use math and social studies skills to analyze real data about the United States to draw conclusions about a very popular book and movie series.

This is a far more scientific approach than my attempt, a few years back, to map the Hunger Games arena.


Stories of Refugees and Immigration

The best cures I know for misunderstandings between people are conversations and books.  Lately, it seems, we in the United States are engulfed in conflicts between people who are having trouble understanding each other's points of view.  One of the contentious topics is immigration...who should be allowed to visit or live in the United States and under what circumstances.  To help young readers grapple with this question, I am sharing stories about refugees and immigrants who along with their descendants are, after all, the vast majority of our country's population.

Coming to America: The Story of Immigration is one great story that provides an overview of the history of immigration in the United States.  Readers may also be interested in reading historical fiction accounts of the experiences of immigrants.

If you're looking for books on this topic that you can share with the children in your life, there are a few great lists already published by very reputable sources.

School Library Journal - Tales of Child Refugees and Safe Havens

The Horn Book - Refugee Children

Additionally, Teaching Tolerance has an article for educators including many facts about refugees and immigrants.  This detailed guide can provide helpful background information for adults who are hoping to facilitate student conversations about the current, and eternal, topic.

After reading some of these great books, students can reflect on U.S. immigration policy using a fantastic printable prompt from Make Beliefs Comix that asks students to think about what the Statue of Liberty thinks of President Trump's executive order banning immigration from certain countries.

Groundhog Day

Last week, we learned from Punxsutawney Phil that we can expect six more weeks of winter.  Groundhog Day is such an odd tradition, especially given ol' Phil's paltry prediction accuracy.  But, it's a fun holiday that lends itself to lots of lessons about weather, seasons, and traditions.

For years, my favorite Groundhog Day read-aloud has been Punxsutawney Phyllis, partly because Phyllis is my mom's name and partly because it's a really fun story.  I even wrote to author Susanna Leonard Hill to tell her how much I love sharing her book each year, and she let me order a signed copy for my mom.

This year, I have finally discovered another Groundhog Day book I totally loved reading and sharing with my students.

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox is a fun story that includes the basics of the holiday's traditions woven into a story of unexpected friendship.  If you're looking for a fresh take on a very old topic, definitely add this title to your Groundhog Day reading list.