Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Celebrate Maryland with Movement and Art

Today I'm participating in the second annual Booking Across the USA tour, which has been organized so well by our fearless leader Jodie at Growing Book by Book. Each blogger on the tour is creating an activity for young children that is related to one of the 50 U.S. states and is inspired by a new series of books -- Travels with Charlie -- by Miles Backer with illustrations by Chuck Nitzberg. I signed up for Maryland!

Some of you might remember that my family and I moved from Maryland to California late last summer, so we've been in our new home for almost an entire school year now. Wow! I must say that I am truly enjoying the beauty, sunshine, and way of life out here on the West Coast, but I do miss many things about Maryland, so this blog tour gave me a chance to reminisce.

The four books in the Travels with Charlie series tackle the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast regions of the United States. Maryland is one of 12 states included in the Travelin' the Northeast book, which publisher Blue Apple Books so graciously sent me to help write this post.

Maryland, like each of the states in the book, is devoted a full-page spread that includes the state capital, a picture of the state flag, a bulleted list of interesting facts about the state, and a poem. The poem ends with the line "Where's Charlie?" to get children not only looking for Charlie (the cute dog you see on the cover of the book) but also perusing all the fun, bright, and educational illustrations in which Charlie is hiding on each spread. 

Movement Activity
Given my blog's theme, I wanted to come up with a book-related activity that involved movement. So why not create a simple dance to the book's poem about Maryland? But first, here are a few definitions that are important to know in order to execute the movements in the dance...

Skipjack: Maryland's official state boat, which looks like a sailboat and is used to fish for oysters in the Chesapeake Bay

Fort McHenry: A star-shaped fort in Baltimore, Maryland, where part of the War of 1812 was fought

And here is the book's poem about Maryland, along with movements to go with each line or group of lines. As you'll see, the first few movements are wavy and circular and the last few are sharp and straight, to give children the opportunity to explore both types…

Maryland: The Old Line State

Where is a skipjack
on Chesapeake Bay? 
[Put you hands in a triangle shape just above your head (like a sail) and sway from side to side like you are going over waves.]

Where's Assateague Island, 
where wild ponies play?
[Gallop (like a pony) in a circular pattern on the floor.]

Where's Fort McHenry
where Francis Scott Key
wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" --
[March in a star shape (like the shape of Fort McHenry). Put an outline of a star on the floor or use stickers for the points of the star if needed. Rather than making circular patterns as they march, the children should make straight lines, in more of a military fashion.]

"Oh, say can you see?"
[Stop marching and put your hand on your heart as if you are listening to the Star Spangled Banner, also known as our national anthem!]

Art Activity
The star spangled banner was actually a flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem. (The flag was raised at Fort McHenry after a crucial battle in 1814.) What makes this banner so special is that it is the only version of the American flag that has 15 stars and 15 stripes. You can read more about the banner at this website of the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, where the original flag is on display.

Star spangled banner on display at the National Museum of American History

For an art activity, each child can color his or her own star spangled banner, either freehand or using a coloring page. Here is a sample coloring page from the TPS-Barat Educational Foundation. TPS-Barat also has a whole star spangled banner lesson plan for students in kindergarten through second grade, which could probably be adapted for younger students as well. It's aligned with some of the common core language arts standards and includes illustrations, recordings, lyrics, and more related to the national anthem. (When you color the flag, don't forget that the first stripe is a red one.)

Star spangled banner coloring page from TPS-Barat Educational Foundation

You might consider playing the national anthem in the background as the children color their flags, or turning their coloring pages into "real" flags using some glue and popsicle sticks or straws. If time allows, it might also be nice to do a little marching dance to the national anthem when the flags are finished. First have the kids stand still and wave their flags to the beat. Then have them march, holding their flags still over their heads. Finally, see if they can march and wave their flags at the same time while still keeping the beat!

Don't forget to stop by Growing Book by Book to find the rest of the posts in this year's Booking Across the USA tour…plus a giveaway. You can also explore picture books by authors and illustrators from the 50 states through last year's tour here


  1. I love the idea of pairing books and movement. Kids learn best when they're moving! We can't wait to explore more of Maryland.

  2. Love the idea of taking the poem and making up movements to make it into a movement activity. We love finger plays and movement songs, so will have to try our hand at the Maine poem.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you try moving to the Maine poem. Would love to hear how it goes!

  3. Couldn't agree more! Love the idea of allowing children to combine reading and movement together. I would love to share this on my new blog: "The Dance Site" for others to see. Thanks for the follow on Twitter :)

    1. Hi, Najah. Thanks for stopping by! That would be wonderful if you wanted to share any of my content on your blog. I'm glad we're connected…and good luck on getting your blog off the ground!

  4. I love all the movement activities that you tied into this! Thanks so much for being a part of Booking Across the USA again!


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