Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Connecting Literacy, Science, and Current Events with the Brazilian Rainforest

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Aug 11, 2016 3:30:00 PM

In my previous post, I demonstrated how to incorporate the Summer Olympics into a lesson for improving literacy skills. Did you know that this year’s Games can also be seamlessly tied into a lesson about biodiversity? The Rio de Janeiro Olympics marks the first time that the Games take place in South America, home to the famous Amazon Rainforest. Brazil itself has one of the richest biodiversity in the world. By reading informational texts about the rainforest habitat, students can improve reading skills, extended scientific understanding, and learn how to create connections between the classroom and current events! 


The New Generation Science Standards for second grade require that students understand the following concept: “There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water” (2-LS4-1). The ZooZoo Animal World’s Rainforest Habitat Set provides a compelling glimpse into the millions of species that live in the rainforest. In addition to detailed photos, each book also contains an animal vocabulary list to enrich the students’ repertoire of scientific words.


Begin the lesson by contextualizing it within current events:

  • Where are the Summer Olympics happening this year?
  • Can anyone find Brazil on a map?
  • Introduce the Amazon Rainforest, a tropical forest that provides home to one-tenth of the planet’s species. More than half of the Amazon Rainforest lies inside Brazil! 

In addition to the suggested talking points featured inside the books, below are some fun facts to enrich your lesson:


  • Vampire bats, which can be found in Brazil, are the only mammals that feed exclusively on blood. These bats make a small bite and lick the blood of other animals—they don’t actually suck or drink human blood like vampires.


  • The blue morpho butterfly lives in the Amazon Rainforest. With a wingspan of five to eight inches, they are one of the largest butterflies in the world. All butterfly wings, however, are actually clear and covered by tiny scales—we just see different colors and patterns based on the ways that light reflect off of the scales.


  • Crocodiles can close their ears so water doesn’t enter while they swim. They also have great hearing, and can even hear crocodile babies calling from inside their eggs!


  • Brazil is home to the heaviest (and second longest) snake in the world, the anaconda. Although they aren’t poisonous, they always swallow their prey whole—imagine that!


  • Although gorillas only live in the African rainforest, they’re still fascinating to explore. Despite their intimidating body size, gorillas are herbivores!

Students are sure to love reading about the unique animals in the ZooZoo Animal World: Rainforest Habitat Set. By fulfilling Common Core ELA and Next Generation Science Standards at the same time, it’s a win-win lesson for everybody! Happy Olympics!


Click the image below to download an information sheet with key features about ZooZoo Animal World, which contains the books featured in this blog post. Check out our website to learn about ZooZoo Mundo Animal, the Spanish version of the ZooZoo Animal World series!

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Zoozoo Animal World, Science, Olympics, Sally Hosokawa

The Summer Olympics: A Golden Opportunity for Teaching

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Aug 4, 2016 3:30:00 PM

After four years of anticipation, the day has finally arrived—tomorrow’s opening ceremony marks the beginning of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! The Olympic Games, with their energizing excitement and patriotic spirit, appeals to sports lovers of all ages. This event is also a perfect opportunity to integrate world events into the classroom by reading relevant informational texts.


Summer Olympics from the Kaleidoscope Collection introduces students to the ins and outs of the Games. Featuring photographs from the most recent 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the books explores different competitions and Olympics traditions.

Kaleidoscope_Book.Sports.HighResFinalp4.jpgKaleidoscope_Book.Sports.HighResFinal.jpgFor early readers, the Kaleidoscope Collection’s Sports and My World’s Play Ball! tie in with the Olympic theme by identifying different types of sports.

  • After reading, ask your students this question: What is your favorite sport? Students can identify sports that they enjoy participating themselves or watching on TV.
  • If necessary, use the sports mentioned in Play Ball! for reference. Create a class bar graph to determine the most popular favorite sports (CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.D.10).


More advanced readers can read about a timeless Olympic star, Muhammad Ali, from the Hameray Biography Series. In addition to winning gold in heavyweight boxing at the 1960 Rome Olympics, he also lit the symbolic torch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. In the London 2012 Games, Ali carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony. This high-interest biography will engage the reader by connecting Common Core Social Studies Standards to current entertainment.




The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place from August 5th to the 21st, so your students will be buzzing about it all month. Don’t miss this fantastic teaching opportunity—it only happens once every four years!


Click the left image below to download an information sheet with key features about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which contains Summer Olympics and Sports. Click the middle image below for an information sheet about the My World series, which contains Play Ball!. Click the right image below to download the Muhammad Ali Teacher's Guide from the Hameray Biography Series.


Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet        My World Series Info Sheet        Bio TG Ali

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Kaleidoscope Collection, Biography Series, My World, Social Studies, Olympics, Sally Hosokawa

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