Monday, April 29, 2019


And MORE!!!


Use the comment feature to leave your name, School Name and Address, and email address.

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and share that info.


It's my way of connecting with you to help you have a great experience sharing my books with readers.

I launched MARKLE'S BOOK EXPLORERS (MBE) about four years ago. There are now more than 200 schools in 32 states whose teachers or librarians/media specialists are members. But there's room for you. 

Is it worth it?

 It's totally FREE!

Once a year to celebrate "Back To School", I mail all MBEs a FREE Goodie Pack with a flier featuring activities to use with several of my books--whichever ones I'm featuring that year. 

Like this sample.

Plus there are other freebies, such as bookmarks, reproducible activity sheets I create just for MBEs to use, and a special gift that's unique each year. Last year it was a tote bag.  

Of course, what's coming in this year's MBE Goodie Pack is a Surprise! 

AND for the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year 5 lucky MBE's will receive a free autographed book!

PLUS--throughout the school year, I welcome MBEs to reach out to me with questions from students. 

I always answer. 

Periodically, I also reach out asking for input from MBE's and their students about ideas I have for future books or what you and your students would most like to discover about topics I'm working on...because I value this input. 

I really do pay attention. Afterall, I want my books to be meaningful, memorable, and so much fun children want to read them over, and over, and over. 

And periodically, I share special activities and mail surprises for students.

If you're already a member of MARKLE'S BOOK EXPLORERS, "hello!" And know I'm already getting ready to make 2019-2020 our best year together ever--so far!

If you aren't a member of MARKLE'S BOOK EXPLORERS yet, what are you waiting for!?  

Sunday, March 31, 2019


April is famous for tricks from the weather and absolutely awesome, inspired creations from artists, scientists and curious thinkers!  

Meet Howard McWilliam the awesome illustrator ...

of our WHAT IF YOU HAD!? series.

April 1: April Fool's Day  The day is known for pranks but it started in 1564 when New Year's Day officially changed on the calendar from being April 1st to January 1st. People who continued to celebrate the year's change on April 1 were called "April Fools".

April 2: US MINT founded in 1792 in Philadelphia, PA. 
Do you know who is on each of the American coins? Guess. Then find coin samples to check. Or go to this site. 

April 3: Pony Express started and the first mail delivery started from St. Joseph, MO in 1860.
Would you want to be a Pony Express rider? Read. Then decide.

April 4: Golden Gate Park was opened in San Francisco, CA in 1870.

April 5: Joseph Lister was born in Essex, England in 1827. He became a surgeon and was the first to use antiseptics to prevent infection after surgery.

April 6: North Pole! Robert E. Peary became the first recorded person to reach the North Pole in 1909. Read about the race to be the first. If this happened today, you could blog about it. So write a two paragraph blog report of this North Pole Race.

Communication Satellite the first commercial communication satellite, called Early Bird, went into orbit in 1965.

April 7: World Health Day 

April 8: William Henry Welch was born in Norfolk, CT in 1850. He is credited with transforming American medicine.

April 9: John Presper Eckert, co-inventor of ENIAC, the first electronic computer, was born in Philadelphia PA in 1919. 
I had the amazing opportunity to have lunch with Eckert and talk with him about the invention of ENIAC. :-)

April 10: Safety Pin was patented by Walter Hunt in 1849. List at least 5 things you could do with a safety pin--even better list 10.

April 11: Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in major league baseball in 1947. Read two different biographies of this person. In your opinion, which is better? How do the books tell Jackie's story differently?

April 12: Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gaganin became the first man in space in 1961. The flight lasted 108 minutes. 

April 13: Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, was born in Albermarle County, VA in 1743. In this book, the author does a clever job of comparing Thomas Jefferson and another key person in history. List at least 3 ways the books tells that these men were different. How did those difference help them?

April 14: Mathematician and physicist Christian Huygens was born in Hague, Netherlands, in 1629. He discovered Saturn had rings.

April 15: Artist, inventor Leonaro da Vinci was born in Anchiano, Italy in 1452. Make a parachute, invisible ink, walk-on-water and more to follow in DaVinci's inventive footsteps. Activities are found in this book.

April16: Aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright was born in Milville, IN, in 1867. Read about the man. Then start flying your own planes--that's straw airplanes.

Click to link to directions.

April 17: Celebrate Bats Day
Read my book The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats (Millbrook/Lerner) to discover why bats are in trouble and why we need to help them.
Then follow the steps on this site to make an origami bat.

April 18: Paul Revere and William Dawes made their "Midnight Ride" in 1775.
Read a really fun telling of this moment in history as shared by Paul Revere's horse.

And read one of my all time favorite books about this time in history.

The San Francisco earthquake and fire happened from April 18-21, 1906.
What was it like to survive this quake and fire? Here is one fun fictional story about it.

April 19: Surveyor 3 landed on the moon in 1967. This let scientists learn the surface is solid and not covered in fine powder. That opened the door for lunar landings.

April 20: RCA introduced the electron microscope in 1940, making it possible to sre the structure of very small things. 

April 21: Conservation leader and explorer John Muir born in Dunbar, Scotland, in 1838. His efforts led to the establishment of national parks. He led a successful effort to save California's giant redwoods. This is one of my favorite books. Read it to find out how this camping trip with John Muir changed the world. 

April 22: Arbor Day often observed on this date. First observed in Nebraska in 1872, by planting trees. 

You'll find loads of fun Arbor Day activities on the Arbor Day Foundation site.

And get to know trees from the Outside In.

Earth Day first observed on this day in 1970. 

April 23: First public showing of a motion picture took place in 1896 in New York City.
What is your favorite movie? Why?

April 24: Library of Congress established in 1800. It is considered the world's largest library with millions of books.

April 25: Guglielmo Marconi born in Bologna, Iltaly, in 1874. He invented the wireless telegraphy which made the radio possible.

The first Seeing Eye Dog was presented as a guide dog in 1928. Read the story about Roselle, the seeing eye dog in my book. How was this dog a hero?

April 26: Ornithologist (studier of birds) John Audubon was born in Haiti in 1785. 

April 27: Inventor Samuel Finley B. Morse was born in Charlestown, MA in 1791. He invented the telegraph. The first message ever sent was between Washington, D. and Baltimore, MD. It was "What hath God Wrought?" 

Check out the Morse Code alphabet. Then try writing a "Happy Birthday" message to your best friend in Morse Code.

April 28: First free fall parachute jump made by L.L.R. Irvin, in 1919 in Dayton, OH. 

April 29: "Separable Fastener" patented in 1913 by Gideon Sundback of Hoboken, NJ. With some tweaks, this became the zipper.  
What in the world can you do with a zipper? Find out and try some of the activities on thi site just for fun!
April 30: The Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the size of the US in 1803. Would you make the deal? Read and decide. What is your opinion?

Sunday, February 24, 2019


March is that month when winter isn't quite gone and spring isn't quite near enough. It's wildly windy, possibly stormy and definitely a great month for exploring, imagining, investigating, and wondering. 


Put all of that together and day-by-day  

March 1: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK was established by Congress in 1872. Covering over 2,220,000 acres of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it became the first National Park in the US. Find Yellowstone National Park on a map. Do a little research to find out and share at least 5 facts about it. Here's one of my favorite books about the founding of US National Parks. And one of my favorite stories to tell about one very special wolf, Female #7, who was part of reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone.

HAPPY NEW YEAR--once upon a time! Ancient Romans followed a calendar just 10 months long. So the year started in March and ended in December. That's how December got its name--stands for the Latin Decem for 10. In case you're worried, there were 2 other months but these were just called "winter" instead of being January and February. 

March 2: SAM HOUSTON was born in 1793. He became the only person to serve as a congressman, senator and governor of two states: TX and TN. Read about him in two books. Compare how he's described as a man and a legend.

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK in WA became National Park #2 in 1899.

March 3: ANNE SULLIVAN began teach blind-deaf Hellen Keller when she was six years old. 

Find out why this was such an amazing challenge.
What are 3 things Helen Keller is remembered for doing?

March 4: GARRETT MORGAN was born in 1877. He later invented the gas mask, a belt fastener and an automatic traffic light. So he helped people survive wars, hold up their pants and avoid traffic accidents. :-)

INTERNATIONAL PANCAKE DAY started in 1445 in Only, England. The town's women would make pancakes to use up the fat in the house beofre Lent. then race to the church carrying a pancake in a skillet. In 1950, the residents of Liberal, KS picked up this race. Now the two town hold rival races and compare winning times. Click on this link to find out more.

You could hold your own race!

March 5: 301 DAYS remain till the end of the year.

How many days until your birthday?

March 6: MICHELANGELO was born in Italy in 1475. He began one of the world's most famous painters and sculptors. I like this focus on just one of his fabulous works. But he's an artist worthy of researching to create a timeline of his life. 

March 7: THE TELEPHONE was patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Everyone needs to experience the fun of a string phone at least once. So click this link for directions to build one. 

The CHALLENGE: How long can the string be and still transmit the sound?

NATIONAL CEREAL DAY  What's your favorite? Make a bar graph by asking that question of at least 20 people. And record the results.  Here are some fun cereal facts:
  • The cereal industry uses over 800 million pounds of sugar a year
  • The average American consumes over 160 bowls of cereal a year
  • CheeriOats was the original name for Cheerios
  • Corn Flakes was the first boxed cereal to offer a prize

We don't usually think of food as being an invention--but cereals were invented. 

March 8: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY was first celebrated in New York City in 1857 to honor women in the garment industry. Today it is celebrated in many countries to honor all working women.

March 9: AMERIGO VESPUCCI was born in Italy in 1454. He became a famous explorer and The Americas were named after him. 
Find out more about him through books and on-line. Then make a timeline of his life.

March 10: "MR. WATSON, COME HERE. I WANT YOU." became the first clearly heard telephone message. It was transmitted in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell while he was just experimenting with the telephone. Check out this link to phones through the ages. 

*Time for kids to take a survey and make a graph. How many parents/grandparents used a rotary phone? And I'm old enough to remember having only one phone in the house (rotary) on a party line. Do I need to define that for any of you? :-)

March 11: JOHN CHAPMAN died in 1845 in MA. No one is sure when he was born but he is known for roaming the Ohio Valley planting apple trees. They called him Johnny Appleseed and this date is officially Johnny Appleseed Day!
Check out my blog archives for IT'S APPLE TIME! and lots of activities.

These two biographies are a great chance to compare a first person story vs one in third person. HOW ARE THEY ALIKE? HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT? WHICH DID READERS LIKE BETTER? WHY?

First Person

Third Person

March 12: COCA-COLA began selling its first bottles in 1894. 

March 13: EARMUFF DAY It really is. And time to thank Chester Greenwood for creating them in 1877. He called them "Champion Ear Protectors".

Make a list of other names for this invention. Be really creative! Then create a commercial for this newly named invention.

March 14: COTTON GIN was patented in 1794 by Eli Whitney. It made it as much as 50 times faster to separate the seeds from the cotton fibers than doing that job by hand.

March 15: IDES OF MARCH is in history the day that the leader of the ancient Romanan Empire Julius Caesar was assassinated.

March 16: ROCKET AWAY! Robert Goddard launched a liquid fuel rocket in 1926. It rose more than 47 feet and traveled 184 feet in just 2.5 seconds. 

Read about this inventor. Then blast off some rockets of your own following the directions below.

Blast into rocketry with these activities from NASA

And this fun site

Then thick outside the box and try this rocket boat activity.

March 17: ST. PATRICK'S DAY honors the death of the patron saint of Ireland who died in 493.

March 18: RUSSIAN COSMONAUT ALEXI LEONOV became the first man to wear a space suit and step out of his rocket and into space. He stayed 20 minutes.

March 19: THEY'RE BACK! The swallows migrate to the San Juan Capistrano Mission in California from Mexico. They don't all come on that day but it's the day their return is celebrated.

And they're not the only birds whose annual return is celebrated.

After reading, find where these birds start and where they land on a map.

March 20: SPRING officially begins on this day or the next, depending on when the sun crosses the equator. It's also called the vernal equinox.

WORLD STORYTELLING DAY Click here to learn more about its history and get some ideas for celebrating.

March 21: Johann Sebastian Bach, the famous composer, was born in 1685.

Don't just read about him--listen to his work. Fantasia impressed Walt Disney so much it's the music in his film Fantasia. (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor)

March 22: POWER UP! In 1941, electricity was first generated by the hydroelectric plant at the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.

Try out these fun activities using electricity--from battery power.

March 23: WERNER von BRAUN was born in Germany in 1912. After coming to the states following WWII, he would lead a team in launching the first US satellite, Explorer I.

PATRICK HENRY in 1775, gave the American Revolution a famous saying to remember, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
Of course, read about the man who made history.

Then read a fun mystery that shares this bit of history.

March 24: EXXON VALDEZ OIL SPILL happened when the oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound off Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil and damaging over 45 miles of natural habitat. *When I visited this area 10 years after the spill while writing my book AFTER THE SPILL, there was still on-going clean up efforts. This spill hurt the environment and the plants and animals living there. It also seriously damaged some local native communities as young people left for the new clean up jobs and never came home.

March 25: FIRST COLOR TV SET was manufactured by RCA in 1954.

March 26: ROBERT FROST was born in 1874 in CA. He became a famous poet but he also worked as a farmer, teacher, shoemaker and editor.

Listen to one of my favorite poems--recited by the author Robert Frost.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather gave me a sleigh bell from his family's sleigh. I still have it. Still love it. It always makes me think of this poem by Robert Frost. Write a poem about something you treasure.

VACCINE TO PREVENT POLIO was announced by Jonas Salk in 1953.

March 27: US NAVY was created in 1794.

WILHELM ROENTGEN was born in 1845. He discovered X-rays.

March 28:  THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR POWER PLANT DISASTER happened in 1979, near Harrisburg, PA, when uranium in the reactor core overheated due to a cooling valve failure. Radioactive steam was released into the atmosphere. Afterwards, there was a storm of cocern over the future safety of nuclear power plants.  

March 29: EARTH HOUR was founded by the World Wide Fund for Nature in Sydney, Australia in 2007. The goal is to have people think about climate change by turning off all non-needed lights for one hour. JOIN IN THIS YEAR! 

March 30: ERASE THAT! The first pencil with an eraser on the end was patented by Hyman Lipman in 1858. Don't miss this book!

March 31: EIFFEL TOWER was completed in Paris in 1889. It was named for its architect Gustave Eiffel and built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

Read these two books about the famous Eiffel Tower. What's different about the way they tell the story?
Which do you like better? Why?


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