Category: Lesson Plans

Blue throated macaw - Kitty Harvill for Draw a Bird Day |

Draw a Bird Day: April 8

Draw a Bird Day demonstrates the power of healing that can be found in the drawing of a bird.

A Story of Cheer Amidst the Gloom of War

As the story goes, in 1943 during World War II, Dorie Cooper was a seven-year-old living in England. Her mother often went to care for soldiers wounded in battle. One day, her mother took Dorrie to see her uncle, who had lost his right leg to a land mine. Dorie was sad for her uncle and especially sad because her uncle was so upset.

To cheer him up, she asked, “Draw a bird for me, please.”

Looking out his window, the uncle saw a robin and drew it. Dorie was so pleased that she hung it in her room. Other wounded soldiers decided to draw bird pictures for Dorie. Soon walls of the hospital were covered with bird drawings. Dorie’s simple request cheered men during gloomy times.

Sadly, in 1946, Dorie was killed in a car accident. At her funeral, bird pictures from soldiers and nurses covered her coffin. Since then, Draw a Bird Day has been celebrated on April 8, Dorie’s birthday. For more, see the Draw a Bird Day website or Facebook group. See some of the 2016 bird drawings here.

Draw a Bird day has simple guidelines

  1. Draw a bird.
  2. Share it with someone you love.

Get started with Draw a Bird Day

If kids need a start, you can download the following “uncoloring” pages.

Wildlife artist, Kitty Harvill is offering a series of black and white, printable creative coloring pages for students. As the artist for Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for over 60 Years, Harvill is well-versed in bird art. The three creative coloring pages include a set-up for students:

Complete the Albatross Un-coloring Page by Kitty Harvill for Draw a Bird Day |
Complete the Albatross Un-coloring Page by Kitty Harvill |

Download the pdf file.

  • Add a landscape for a soaring bird
  • Add a bird flying over a tsunami wave
  • Complete a drawing of a bird using a photo reference.

Draw a Bird Day with Illustrator Kitty Harvill

Kitty Harvill is the amazing wildlife artist for the book, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS. Learn more about her here and see more artwork. She has graciously let us post some of her recent bird images.

Blue-Throated Macaw by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 for Draw a Bird Day |
Blue-Throated Macaw by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 |

Little Blue Patriot by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 for Draw a Bird Day |
Little Blue Patriot II by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 |

Kitty Harvill c. 2016 for Draw a Bird Day |
Kitty Harvill c. 2016 |

Art by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 for Draw a Bird Day |
Art by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 |

Sira Curassow, critically endangered bird. Art by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 |
Sira Curassow, critically endangered bird. Art by Kitty Harvill c. 2016 for Draw a Bird Day |

They Like It! (And Teachers Do, Too)

The Aliens, Inc. Series. A Read-for-Pleasure book with surprising lessons to learn. | MimsHouse.comWhen the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) came out, I studied them closely. (Hey, it’s all about close reading, right?) One thing stood out to me: in the CCSS, kids are never encouraged to read for pleasure.

That makes me sad. Reading is my favorite activity. Books are my friends. Within the pages of a book, I travel to far away places, become an adventurer, become a giant or an armadillo or a princess. Books—life without a book is sad.

And yet, I understand that the CCSS is about educating and teaching. I get it. Still, does it have to be a bitter pill all the time?

I thought back to the stories that I loved the best. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. As I read those stories, I learned vocabulary, how to deal with strangers, how to deal with evil, and so much more. Lessons don’t have to come as a bitter pill. Instead, they can be sugar-coated.

Remember Mikey?

In a popular commercial for Life cereal, two boys discuss the cereal and decide that since it’s “good for you,” it must taste bad. Instead, they pass the cereal bowl to Mikey, who “hates everything.” Mikey LOVES the cereal.

“He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”

If you can’t see this video, click here.

As a writer, I aim to give kids a book they will read for pleasure. The Aliens, Inc. Series is written for kids to enjoy. In this easy chapter book series, Kell, Bree and the gang have great fun at birthday parties!

But I also try to make the book useful for teachers. Kell is constantly trying to figure out a problem by writing the W questions: who, what, where, when, why. Vocabulary is stretched but context provides a clue to word meaning. Each book focuses on a different subject matter, so kids are learning fact–and a song. Oh, and there’s an art project in each book. At the end, there’s a searching game that encourages kids to go back through the book and look for certain illustrations. Oh, there’s lots of learning in The Aliens, Inc. series. But most important for me, as the author, the books are fun.

Hey, Mikey! They like to read these books!

The Aliens, Inc. Series Teacher’s Guide

Yet, teachers will find lots to love here, too. In fact, the teacher’s guide for The Alien’s Inc. Series addresses all the CCSS standards that apply, especially for language arts lesson plans for 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 4th grade.

The Aliens, Inc. Teachers Guide: CCSS Standards for a Read-for-Pleasure Book |
DOWNLOAD The Aliens, Inc. Teachers Guide

Teach Kids to Write: A Pinterest Preview Book | Back to School Books

You see a children’s picture book online that you think you’ll like. But it’s hard to justify spending money until you examine it closer. Mims House has just made that easier than ever with a Pinterest Preview book. We’ve put an ENTIRE book on a Pinterest board for you to preview.

Follow Darcy Pattison – Children’s Book Author’s board I WANT A DOG on Pinterest.
If you can’t see the preview of the board, click here.

I Want a Dog: My Opinion Essay

The Read and Write Series: Dogs, cats, and writing--it's a natural combination in this series of fun books.For over twenty years, I’ve taught professional development classes on the topic of teaching kids to write. I constantly look for children’s books that teach writing in fun and exciting ways, that I believe will actually be useful. Fun, exciting and useful? It’s a hard combination!

Finally, I decided to write the book I’d been looking for. And it’s turned into a series, THE READ AND WRITE SERIES.

The biggest problem kids have in writing opinion essays is basing their opinions on solid facts or reasons. In I WANT A DOG and I WANT A CAT, cousins Dennis and Mellie discuss what kind of dog or cat to get. They use nine criteria to evaluate different breeds of dogs or cats. For dogs, they look at:

  • size
  • energy level
  • need for exercise
  • need for play
  • affectionate or not
  • gets along with other pets
  • easy to train or not
  • guard dog or not
  • grooming needs

For cats, they discuss:

  • activity level
  • playful or not
  • need attention or not
  • need for affection
  • Noisy or not
  • hard or easy to handle
  • intelligence
  • independence level
  • grooming needs
  • gets along with other pets

To these criteria, a classroom teacher or parent might add even more criteria: family tradition of breeds, cost, allergy concerns, adaptability to local weather, male or female, availability in your area, and specific needs such as a cat to show or a dog trained as a duck hunter.

Dog and cat experts praise these books:
“. . .remarkable children’s book. . .” Fred Kampo, President of the Labrador Retriever Club
“. . .absolutely delightful. . .” Joan Miller, Cat Fancier’s Association
“. . .as informative a cat book as any text out there. . .” Alexis Mitchell, Maine Coon Cat Breeders of CFA
“I would highly recommend this book to young writers.” Julie Keyer, CFA Breed Council Secretary, Oriental Cats

But you don’t have to take their word for it.

Preview the entire book, I WANT A DOG, on Pinterest.

Buy I WANT A DOG ebook on the Mims House website.

Or, order at your Favorite Online Bookstore


I WANT A DOG: A Pinterest preview of a children's picture book. Read the whole book on Pinterest | Mims House Books

Primary Sources to Study and Write about Snow: Lesson Plans

Here in Arkansas, we’ve had winter weather with snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Rubber duckie is iced in near the fish pond.
Rubber duckie is iced in near the fish pond.

Of course, schools have been closed around the state. But when they are back in session, it might be interesting to compare the 1908 technologies of snow removal with today’s methods.
Library of Congress Photo of Snow Removal from New York City Streets in 1908.
Library of Congress Photo of Snow Removal from New York City Streets in 1908.

Read Anne Savage’s post about using primary sources to study how technology has changed in snow removal. It’s a fun classroom idea.