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Books and online resources for you and your students, from our Winter 2019 issue

By Carolyn Astfalk

Page by page

STEM resources

Looking to add STEM projects to your school day? Prufrock Press’ 10 Performance-Based STEM Projects series by Todd Stanley comes in editions for four grade levels in the K-8 range. Lessons include outlines, timelines, handouts, rubrics, and more.

Continue to build STEM skills with other Hands-On offerings from Prufrock Press. Hands-On Physical Science (grades six through eight), Hands-On Engineering (grades four through six), and Hands-On Ecology (grades two and three) include classroom activities made simple with materials lists, preparations, procedures, and activity sheets.

Constructing Modern Knowledge Press has released The Art of Digital Fabrication: STEAM Projects for the Makerspace and Art Studio by Erin E. Riley. The full-color book contains more than 25 tested projects for digital fabrication, including 3-D printing and laser cutting, physical computing, and coding as artistic media. Includes inspiration for those new to the technology and creative approaches for experienced users.

Comic-book style

Even reluctant intermediate-grade readers will be drawn to Pauline Books and Media’s graphic novel Saint John the Baptist: A Voice Crying Out in the Desert by Ezekiel Saucedo. With engaging illustrations, John the Baptist’s story is traced from ancient prophecies to beyond his death, integrating his life into salvation history.

Fans of graphic novels will also appreciate the sturdy, hardcover Our Lady of Guadalupe by Natalie Muglia and Sam Estrada. In addition to the illustrated text, it includes biographies of several key characters and a detailed examination of the tilma of Guadalupe. Available from TAN Books.

Saintly stories

Audacious Ignatius by Paul Mitchell is a rhyming, vocabulary- building picture book that would serve as an excellent read-aloud for students in the primary grades. How many ways can you rhyme Ignatius? Available from Corde Press.

Students in grades three through 10 can delve into the life of a recently-canonized saint with the latest addition to the Vision Books series from Ignatius Press: Saint José: Boy Cristero Martyr by Kevin McKenzie, LC. The chapter book details the life of a young martyr who campaigned for religious freedom in early 20th-century Mexico.

Extraordinary stories

From Magnificat-Ignatius comes The Life of Jesus According to Saint Luke. The sturdy book for grade two and up retells Gospel stories with illustrations, prayers, and colorful sidebars that explore history, culture, and theology.

Stories of the Blessed Sacrament, also from Magnificat-Ignatius, contains a dozen stories that emphasize the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Gospel stories and saint stories alike are brought to life with bright illustrations perfect for those preparing for First Communion or for use by classrooms in anticipation of a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

A picture-book biography from Magnificat-Ignatius turns the spotlight on Catholic composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Author/illustrator Demi highlights Mozart’s outstanding musical abilities alongside his constant faith in Mozart: Gift of God.

Live the seasons

Enhance students’ learning about the liturgical year with Catechetical Crafts for the Liturgical Year by Lee Palencar. Arranged by month and liturgical season, age-appropriate crafts include objectives, prayer, a supply list, and detailed instructions. Ideal for kindergarten through grade two and available from Twenty-Third Publications.

Help older students understand the liturgical year with a fun question-and-answer board game from Pauline Books and Media. Add a die and a timer or watch, and your classroom is ready for team play. Liturgical Year Board Game is ideal for grades three and up.


Get help writing rubrics for performance-based assessment, including hard-to-assess skills such as leadership and grit. Using Rubrics for Performance-Based Assessment: A Practical Guide to Evaluating Student Work by Todd Stanley explains how to write and assess rubrics, including how to grade using those rubrics. Available from Prufrock Press.

Hands-on interactive

Flying high

The Flite Test STEM curriculum portal provides teachers with aircraft lessons and professional development. The site offers a comprehensive, flexible K-12 curriculum with hands-on aircraft activities. Flite Test also recently partnered with POWERUP Toys to offer lessons that help teachers incorporate toy kits in the classroom.

Introducing Photon

Photon, a cute, alien-like robot, teaches coding lessons to students as young as kindergarten. Photon is compatible with tablets, Windows, iPads, and Chromebooks. It can also be used with Scratch, Java, Microsoft MakeCode, Python, and Swift Playgrounds. A teacher’s guide and more than 200 lesson plans, an educational mat, and flashcards are included.

Make it a Game

Brittanica’s Launch Packs, which recently introduced Learning Strategies with new tools for teachers, has also integrated Kahoot! On their own, LaunchPacks (science or social studies) include interactive content on 4,000 topics that can be customized in a variety of ways for grade level, student preferences, and uploaded content.
The introduction of Kahoot! allows for the creation, sharing, and play of trivia quizzes and games on mobile devices or laptops.

Carolyn Astfalk is a contemporary Catholic novelist, blogger, CatholicMom.com contributor, and mother of four Catholic-school students ranging from first grade to high school.


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