February 2022 - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide
Texas symbols, Texas Independence Day, Texas Week, and Texas-themed picture books! Texas history is not second nature to me, since I moved to the Lone Star state from New Mexico. One thing I quickly learned is that Texas people are proud, y'all. I can't complain about that. We do live in a pretty amazing state! The second thing I learned is that Texans are called to celebrate our state during the week that March Second falls in. Why March Second ? It's Texas Independence Day! <waving the Texas flag> Grab your favorite Texas-themed picture book to celebrate Texas Week! 

Celebrate Texas Week in Style at Your Elementary School

Did you know that teachers and pupils in every school in Texas need to observe this week?!

Texas Civil Statues (1932) say: "The spirit of Texas Week is that every citizen of our great state to exalt and extol the highest and the best cultural and spiritual value of Texas throughout Texas Week."

One great way to celebrate Texas Week is to educate your students about our state!

Here are some ways to exalt and exolt Texas for its special week:
  • Play the state anthem, "Texas, Our Texas"
  • Explain the symbols that represent our state
  • Make a list of ways we can show "friendship" our state's motto
  • Read Texas-themed books

Here are some of the best Texas-themed picture books to exalt and extol our Lone Star State:

Scroll through this post and find a new title to add to your Texas-themed collection!

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett

When Bo spots what he thinks is a "rip-roarin', rootin'-tootin', shiny red armadillo," he knows what he has to do. Follow that armadillo! 

Bo leaves his mother and three brothers behind and takes off for a two-stepping, bronco-bucking adventure. Jan Brett turns her considerable talents toward the Texas countryside in this amusing story of an armadillo on his own. See more here.

I Spy in the Texas Sky by Deborah K. Thomas

In this Texas twist on the popular child's game, I Spy, the narrator spies some of the state's most famous features, such as the bluebonnet, mockingbird, Mexican free-tailed bat, prickly pear cactus, and Lone Star. Once each item is identified, a brief informational page is provided. See more here.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola

When a killing drought threatens the existence of the tribe, a courageous little Comanche girl sacrifices her most beloved possession--and the Great Spirit's answer results not only in much needed rain but a very special gift in return. 

This old Texas tale tells the legend of the bluebonnet. It is the perfect book if you want to honor Texas' history with Native American See more here.

Indelible Ann: The Larger-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards by Meghan P. Browne & Carlynn Whitt 

This book is a new addition to my Texas picture book section! Dorothy Ann Willis hailed from a small Texas town, but early on she found her voice and the guts to use it.

During her childhood, Ann discovered a spark and passion for civic duty. It led her all the way to Washington, DC, where she, along with other girls from around the country, learned about the business of politics. Fast forward to Ann taking on the political boys' club: she became county commissioner, then state treasurer, and finally governor of Texas. Learn about the stunning life of the legendary "big mouth, big hair" governor of Texas, a woman who was inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and in turn became an inspiration to countless others. Maybe even a student in your class will be inspired by this story! See more here.

A Picture Book of Davy Crockett by David A. Adler

Legends say Davy Crockett weighed two hundred pounds when he was born, and leapt right out of his cradle ready to fight. Though those stories are an exaggeration, Crockett's life was anything but boring.  

Farmer, soldier, sharp-shooter and politician, he was a well-known figure in the early 1800s—and even after his death, his reputation as an American folk hero grew and grew.  Adler retells the true story of David Crockett's life—from his birth in Tennessee to his death at the Alamo, separating fact from fiction. A timeline of important dates is included. See more here.

L is for Lone Star: A Texas Alphabet by Carol Crane

There are enough special people, wildlife, and natural wonders in the Lone Star State to fill several alphabet books, but this picture book has the finest to represent Texas. With poems to engage younger readers and text to give further details for older students, this book is a fantastic tool for sharing Texan pride with the ones you love. See more here.

Susanna of the Alamo: A True Story by John Jakes

“Remember the Alamo!” is one of the most familiar battle cries in American history, yet few know about the brave woman who inspired it. Susanna Dickinson’s story reveals the crucial role she played during that turbulent period in Texas-American history. 

This well-researched story, which we read as a family this past fall, inspired us to take a trip to the Alamo. Our young daughter's face lit up when she saw the statue of Susanna. Her role in Texas will forever be remembered through this text. See more here.

Ima & the Great Texas Ostrich Race by Margaret McManis

In 1892, ten-year-old Ima Hogg rides her pet ostrich in a race against her brothers who are on horseback on a Texas ranch. This fun picture book contains lots of facts about the real Ima, daughter of Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg.

While this might be a lesser known Texas-themed picture book, but I had the best time listening to McManis, when she came for an author's visit at a New Mexico elementary school. I remember sitting in the cafeteria, full of eager children, and thinking, "Wow! I have got to get to Texas!" McManis has the best Texas twang. We just don't have accents like that here in El Paso. See more here.

West Texas Chili Monster by Judy Cox 

Mama makes a huge pot of award-winning chili for the Texas Chili Cook-Off, but a lean, green, chili-swiggin' space alien smells the chili and heads straight for Texas, gulping down the entire entry. Read this picture book to find out what happens. See more here. 

Need some fun, standards-based Texas activities to celebrate Texas Week?

The most popular Texas-themed resource is the lapbook bundle featured on the left side of the photograph above. This bundle is loaded with an interactive lapbook, Texas symbols matching puzzles (center photograph), student printables, posters, and more!

Texas Symbols are fun to study to Texas Week! These engaging two-piece matching puzzles, featured in the center of the photograph above, will keep your sanity with simple cuts for preparation. These are available individually or in the bundle mentioned above.

Texas Emergent Readers featured on the right side of the photograph above. These unique emergent readers combine sight words and Texas history.

I hope this post inspires you to read a fun Texas-themed picture book during Texas Week!

What's your favorite Texas-themed picture book?

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Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in the classroom. It is such a happy time to celebrate friendship. While I do enjoy celebrating holidays, there are a few things I do NOT like about celebrating the holidays: crafts are often messy, expensive, or too complicated. After my first couple of years of teaching, I hated celebrating the holidays. I bit off more than I could chew in the name of the celebration. I took a step back and decided to make things simple. I don't do glitter, paint, or more than six-step crafts! If the craft is simple and meaningful, I'm here for it. Here's a collection of my favorite crafts to use in my classroom that are SIMPLE! 

Top 3 Valentine's Day Crafts for the Classroom

Cupcakes, hearts, and love... oh my! There's so many fun, favorites in this post. Each of them is simple to create and contain several options for differentiation. 

1. Differentiated Math Cupcake Craftivity 

Your mathematicians will LOVE creating and designing these fun Valentine's Day math cupcakes!

Depending on your grade level, your mathematicians can use their scrumptious cupcake to show how they compose and decompose numbers, use addition or subtraction, or represent numbers using place value, including standard form, expanded form, and using base-ten blocks. Mathematicians can also draw pictorial models too!

There's so many ways to use this sweet cupcake for students to show their understanding of math concepts and more!

There are three suggested uses (see photograph below) for this project, but it is open-ended and can be differentiated to fit your math curricular or students' needs!

2. Love Writing Craftivity 

One thing I love about this writing craft is that it can be used for a variety of celebrations, including Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Grandparents' Day. 

It can be placed adoringly on a bulletin board to display standards-based writing activity which students will create comparisons for their love for someone special. This activity has lots of options for younger students and older students! It makes a unique gift for a someone special.

There's an English version OR a Spanish version too!

3. Valentine's Craftivity

This is by-far the most used craftivity out of the set. 

Create a Valentine's Day bulletin board and display this standards-based writing activity to display the top three things that your students love! This February bulletin board craft has options for younger students and older students!

One teacher just left some feedback that they are putting this together as a mobile and hanging them from the ceiling in the classroom. 

There is so many options with each of these fun crafts to celebrate friendship for Valentine's Day! 

I hope this post inspires you to simplify crafting for Valentine's Day!

Which craft is your favorite in this set?

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