Dolphins on the sand


This short school week we’ve read Dolphins on the Sand , another Jim Arnosky book. This beautifully illustrated book tells an idealized account of the rescue of stranded dolphins that the author and his wife witnessed.

We then watched a video of what happened at a beach in Brazil last week, where some dolphins came in and beached themselves. It seems that scientists are not sure why dolphins do this sometimes. It was remarkable to see a video about such a rare event! You can watch it below.


Michael Jordan


The book of this week is the inspiring story of the early life of basketball superstar Michael Jordan.  Salt in his shoes, written by his mother and his sister, is about Michael’s early determination to be the best basketball player he could be. He also wanted to be taller, so his mother suggested that they put salt in his shoes. This obviously didn’t work, but his practice, patience and positive will made him into what is still recognised as one of the best basketballers ever. To understand why, we watched a video of some of his slam dunks, and you can watch it here:

The Wolves are Back


In the last two weeks we have been looking at many books by Jean Craighead George. This week some classes read her non-fiction story of the wolves of Yellowstone National park, The Wolves are Back. It was shocking to read that by 1926 all the wolves in national parks in 48 states of the U.S. had been killed! However in 1995 wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone National Park. It is amazing to see how everything in nature adjusts to changes.

For many of us here in Tanzania it is difficult to imagine winter snowfalls, wolves and coyotes so we were able to watch a National Geographic video to help us put the story into context:

How to talk to your cat


For some classes this week and last, we read another Jean Craighead George book, How to talk to your cat.  She has also written How to talk to your dog. We were fascinated to find out how much cats and dogs communicate non-verbally, as well as making sounds we can hear. There is a delightful video on youtube showing two cats “chatting” to each other, so of course we had to watch that too! You can watch it here:

How to talk to your dog is also very worthwhile if you are a dog lover.

I think it is important to remember that even though animals don’t speak our languages, they are still communicating with each other and with us.

Non-fiction stories can be very exciting!


Last week we really enjoyed learning how Mr Graham Mercer writes non-fiction books. This week we learned how exciting non-fiction can be! We have many National Geographic “Face to Face” books in the elementary library and this week we’ve been reading Face to face with lions by Beverly and Dereck Joubert.

The Jouberts have lived in Botswana for over 25 years filming and photographing wildlife. They have recently released a movie called The Last Lions that tells an exciting story of a lioness caring for her cubs. We watched the trailer for this film in class and you can watch it here:

We then watched one of the most popular videos on youtube called “Battle at Kruger” about the amazing experience of a buffalo calf that was fought over by lions, a crocodile and then survived to be protected by its herd.  It’s incredible that this amateur video has been watched nearly 60 million times! You can watch it here:

The Legend of Pale Male


This past week we have been reading the amazing true story of Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City written by Janet Schulman and illustrated by Meilo So.

Since 1991 this light-colored red-tailed hawk has made his home on a ledge of a 5th Avenue apartment block.  It is heart-warming to know that some people go to great effort to protect this endangered species.  

There is a documentary made about this story. You can find out more about The Legend of Pale Male from the following website:

Watch The Legend of Pale Male trailer:

The boy who dreamed of cars


Honda: the boy who dreamed of cars by Mark Weston is the inspiring true story of Soichiro Honda who started the Honda Motor Company.  When he was seven years old, Honda saw a car for the first time.  He determined then that he would learn how cars worked and would build them in the future.  His lifelong perseverance and commitment to making his dream come true is a great example for all of us.

We even watched a Honda advertisement in some of the library classes!  IST is not promoting the purchase of Honda products, but this commercial does help us understand how one man’s determination and dream affected so many of the things we take for granted today:

The IST elementary library has many other excellent biographies and autobiographies.  Please see me if you need some ideas for what to read next.

Sue Toms

Elementary teacher librarian