September 2018

Can't-Miss Teaching Extras

Keep the learning going with additional videos, book recommendations, discussion starters, and more! 

image of nonfiction article
The Flaming Sky

The true and tragic story of the Hindenburg, the greatest flying machine ever built.

Breaking News

An original map of the Hindenburg’s flight path exists! It was found in the papers of a 24-year-old American survivor. Share this fascinating 3-minute Smithsonian video from a curator who explains how she received the map, and what else came with it. (Note: The first 15 seconds show original news footage of the crash, including the shocked broadcaster’s narration. You might want to start the video after that if you feel it will upset your students.)

Class Discussion

If your students are curious about what the inside of the airship looked like, take a look at this article. From photos of the dining room, to the architectural skeleton of the airship, it provides a cool visual aid of the gigantic vessel.

Extend the Learning

Let your students know that there was another major zeppelin before the HindenburgGraf Zeppelin was the first airship to travel to another continent without stopping, and it crossed the Atlantic Ocean 136 times.

Further Reading

The Hindenburg can be compared and contrasted with another disastrous vessel: the Titanic. (Check out our nonfiction story from last year about the Titanic.

Enter to Win! 

Every “Big Read” nonfiction feature in Storyworks Jr. comes with a writing contest! Check out the “Think & Write” prompt on page 9 and encourage your students to enter the contest—they could win some awesome prizes!

Not My Dog

Fenton doesn’t need or want a dog—until he meets Meriwether

Inside Scoop

Author Patrick Jennings told us the inspiration for this story: “Once, a big, hairy, black, stray dog started following me down the sidewalk. When the pooch suddenly ran into the street in front of a truck, the driver laid on the horn and shouted at me, ‘Control your dog!’ Unfortunately, the honking drowned out my reply, ‘But it’s not my dog.’ The story that came from that scene is “Guinea Dog,” which Storyworks published in 2005, and was about a kid who desperately wanted a dog. ‘Not My Dog’ is about a kid who desperately doesn't, as ridiculous as that sounds.”

Further Reading

You might share with your students another of Patrick’s wonderful stories, one we published last year: “Ujiji” is about a stubborn rhino who learns an important lesson about teamwork from a sassy tickbird. There's even a science connection because the story teaches the concept of symbiosis.

Class Discussion

This story provides a good opportunity for a class discussion about pets. Did anyone change their mind about wanting a pet, in one direction or the other? Has anyone’s pet caused trouble like Meriwether does?

Teaching Vocabulary

Use the vocabulary words from this article in this super-fun creative writing activity from one of our teacher advisers.

Fun Facts About Golden Retrievers

Meriwether chases the cat because of his “prey drive,” which is the trait that makes dogs want to chase smaller animals. Golden retrievers have a strong prey drive because they were used in hunting to retrieve animals shot by their owners. This also means that Meriwether will probably be great at fetch!

cover of pandoras box
Pandora's Box

In this Greek myth, Pandora opens a box and changes the world forever.  

Meaning Behind Idioms

Don’t miss our Why Guy slideshow all about idioms that come from Greek myths!

A Myth Extravaganza

If, after viewing the slideshow, your kids are interested in reading the myths we reinforced, check out our take on King Midas in the form of a read-aloud play!

Helpful Tips

We love teacher Kriscia Cabral’s approach to reader’s theater! Learn more about how to try it in your classroom on the Storyworks Ideabook, our blog filled with creative ways to teach using Storyworks and Storyworks Jr.

example of paired texts
The History of Yum/When Chocolate Tasted Yucky

How chocolate became America’s favorite candy.

Classroom Tips

For a fun approach to reading comprehension that’s perfect for September, try this truly inspired “Walkie-Talkie” strategy from one of our superstar teacher advisers!

Chocolate Around the World

When your students read our sidebar about the early days of chocolate, they might be surprised to see chocolate and chili peppers together. Let them know that cocoa and chili go together in many foods, like Mexican mole [MOH-lay] sauce. And today, many artisanal chocolate makers create chocolate with chili flavor!

Chocolate as Money? Wow! 

One of the ancient cultures who were early fans of chocolate were the Mayans. Mayans valued chocolate so much that they used cacao beans as money!

Chocolate Today

This three-minute video walks your students through the fascinating process of making chocolate, from cacao bean to delicious chocolate bar!


This poem celebrates the joy we feel when we find that perfect book.

Poetry in the Classroom

Ask your students: What was the last book they read that they related to? How did it feel? Can they understand the feeling this poem demonstrates?

Lissy Marlin

The illustrator of the poem, Lissy Marlin, was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and studied illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. If any of your students have read the Goldie Blox series, they’ll recognize her work from the covers! To see more of Lissy’s work, go to her site.


Here’s a fun story about how this poem came to us: Editor Kara Corridan remembered her children loving a book of poems called Good Books, Good Times. There was one poem in particular that really spoke to them. Kara unearthed the book, found the poem, and discovered it was written by Beverly McLoughland, the same wonderful poet who has written several poems for Storyworks Jr. and Storyworks. Talk about a surprise!

Related Content

For more poems from Beverly, check out a book of animal poems she wrote!

Slime Attack!

Who would have thought that a gooby, gllopy mess would become America's latest fad?

Further Viewing

To learn more about the science of slime, check out roughly the first 5 minutes of this awesome video. It goes quickly, so feel free to pause and talk about it with your students as you watch. We recommend stopping around the 4:50 mark.

The Science of Slime

If you're looking for a hands-on science project, Scholastic has a brand-new STEM-based book about making slime--filled with how-tos and simple recipes! Check out Amazing Makerspace DIY Slippery Slime. (It’s available starting August 20, 2018.)

Try This!

You can also find a plethora of slime recipes online—here’s a collection we like that includes several different kinds of slime, from fluffy to clear to glittery!

Slimy Record

Believe it or not, there are several Guinness World Records about slime! The largest slime weighed 13,820 pounds! The longest-stretching slime could be pulled for more than 6-and-a-half feet without breaking!

image of debate plan
Are Trampoline Parks Safe?

Kids have a lot of fun at these indoor parks—but many end up getting hurt too.

Can't Get Enough of Trampolines?

When you're done with the trampoline park debate, keep the lesson going with our debate from 2016.  It's from 2016, but you have free access to it in our archives!

What Would You Do?

If you’re wondering about the answer to the question posed in the photo caption on page 27, those kids are doing flips and jumping with more than one kid at a time—neither of which is recommended by pediatricians.

Class Discussion

How dangerous are trampoline parks compared to other activities? The answer might surprise you! Click here and scroll down for a simple bar graph you can show your students. (An important point to keep in mind: activities like soccer and baseball are way more common than trampoline parks, so that has an effect on the numbers!)

The Rise of the Kid Chef

Across America, kids are becoming famous for their cooking!

Connect with Eliana

To learn more about Eliana de Las Casas, the young chef in the beginning of our story, students can check out her website.

Kid Chef in Action!

See Flynn McGarry, the other young chef we mention in the article, in action in this video of him making homemade Hot Pockets.  

A Different Kind of Chef

One of the youngest competitors on "MasterChef Junior" was 8-year-old Riley—see him in action in this video, presenting his very sophisticated steak dish!

Cooking for All! 

For an interesting class discussion, ask your students: Does anyone like to cook? What’s their speciality? How did they learn to cook? For the kids who don’t cook: Would you want to learn?