Elementary Programs Chapter

By Laura Douglas and Stacey Irish-Keffer

Section 2: Passenger Car: Stories about People

Section 2: Passenger Car: Stories about People

Grab a seat and settle in; this is the passenger car. Use the following programs to learn more about interesting people.

Bulletin Board

Clipart - Text on side of Engine says 'Stories about people' on top and 'The Reading Express' on bottom. Several characters are waving through five windows

Featured Book

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull.

Books to Display:

Ancient Olympic Games by Haydn Middleton.

Olympics by Chris Oxlade and David Ballheimer.

Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics by Sue Macy.

Track and Field by Bob Knotts.

Introduction of Featured Book

Show the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think this story is about. Also ask what they think it takes to be an Olympic athlete and what sports they have seen at the Olympics.


Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull.


Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What happened to Wilma when she was five years old?”

“What sport did Wilma compete in at the Olympics?”

“How do you think she felt about winning gold?”

“Was it worth all the pain and hard work just to win at the Olympics?”

Nonfiction Topics: Olympic Games and Wilma Rudolph

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about the nonfiction connections.

Olympic Games

The Olympic Games originated in Greece in 776 BCE. Although they were discontinued by the 4th century, they were revived in the 19th century as the Modern Games. Today the Games comprise the most important international athletic competition in the world. The competition brings together thousands of the world’s finest athletes to compete against each other in a variety of individual and team sports. Women first competed in the second Modern Games in 1900. The Olympics now consist of the Summer Games and the Winter Games, alternating every two years. What sorts of sports do we see during the Summer Games? What sorts of sports do we see during the Winter Games? The 2010 Winter Games were held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, while the 2012 Summer Games will take place in London, England.

Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph was born in Tennessee on June 23, 1940. The 20th child in a family of 22 children, Wilma was born premature and underweight. She was also born with polio, a crippling disease. Overcoming physical problems, as well as problems arising from discrimination and segregation, Wilma became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics. For more biographical information on Wilma Rudolph, as well as comments from kids about how she has inspired them to succeed, visit The My Hero Project, www.myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=wilmaRudolph. For photographs of Wilma Rudolph, show part of this short video biography of her life posted on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igl8DmcKRhQ. The video includes photographs of her winning various sporting competitions.


Gold Medal Cookies

  • Vanilla wafers
  • Yellow icing
  • Sprinkles
  • Red or black licorice strings
  • Plastic knives

Mix yellow food coloring into white to make yellow icing or purchase pre-mixed yellow icing. Give each child some yellow icing and a plastic knife. Spread the icing onto the vanilla wafers to create gold medals. Use red or black licorice strings to make the ribbon. Eat the medals!


Olympic Medals

(Adapted by Stacey Irish-Keffer from Family Crafts.)

  • Yellow construction paper
  • Ribbons (red, white, and blue)
  • Markers
  • Staplers

In advance, cut the yellow construction paper into circles for the medals. Also in advance, cut the ribbon in lengths that will hang to a child’s chest. Distribute one circle and a piece of ribbon to each child. Use the markers to decorate the circle to make an Olympic gold medal. Drape the ribbon around the child’s neck in a “V” shape. Staple the yellow circle to the bottom of the “V.”

Games and Activities

Personal Heroes

Show some of the stories posted on the My Hero Project web site, www.myhero.com. Encourage the children to research the lives of people who have inspired them and add their own entries on this web site. Lesson plans to help organize information about heroes for posting to the web site is available from the project at http://www.myhero.com/myhero/go/theteachersroom/ pdf/AfterSchoolLessonPlan.pdf.

Guest Speakers

Invite a representative from Special Olympics or the Paralympics to talk about how athletes overcome challenges to succeed in their sports. Ask them to show some of the adaptive equipment that allows these athletes to compete.

Professional Resources

Enchanted Learning


This site has instructions to make a wearable medal from juice lids.

First School: Preschool Activities and Crafts


This site has Olympics-inspired crafts, printable sheets, and games.

2010 Vancouver Olympics Kids Turn Central


This site has the latest, up-to-date information on the 2010 Winter Olympics, coloring sheets, games, and links to other sites with more of the same for kids.

Featured Book

My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston.

Books to Display:

One Room School by Laurence Pringle.

One-Room School by Raymond Bial.

The Quilt-Block History of Pioneer Days: with Projects Kids Can Make by Mary Cobb.

Words West: Voices of Young Pioneers by Ginger Wadsworth.

Introduction of Featured Book

Show the cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Talk about the Blue Ridge Mountains, the setting of the story, and show them where they are located on a map. Talk about how the story takes place a long time ago, before there were cars, telephones, and computers.


My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston.


Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What does Arizona like to do as a girl?”

“Where do Arizona and her brother go to school?”

“What does she do after she finishes school?”

“How does Arizona feel about staying in her home town and never traveling to faraway places?”

Nonfiction Topics: One-Room Schools and Quilts

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about the nonfiction connections.

One-Room Schools

For nearly 250 years, from the 1700s to the 1950s, one-room schools were commonplace in America. Among the students who attended such schools were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Schools had only one room because there was only one teacher to run it. Early schools were made of sod, logs, and adobe. Some schools were dugouts, buildings set into holes in the ground. Show pictures of a one-room school from One-Room School by Raymond Bial. Students in the schools ranged in age from 4 to as old as 18 years old. Children did not have many books and paper and pencils were in short supply, so they learned their lessons by reciting them out loud. Photographs and history of early schools, including one-room schools in Texas are available at Texas Escapes, http://www.texasescapes.com/Texas_architecture/ TexasSchoolhouses/TexasSchoolhouses.htm. See if there is a picture for a school in your town. Although probably not accurate, Colorado County claims to have "the last one room schoolhouse still standing in Texas.” Draw stories about what it was like attending a one-room school from The Empty Schoolhouse: Memories of One-Room Texas Schools by Luther Bryan Clegg.


During Arizona’s youth women saved scraps of cloth from worn out clothing, old quilts, and other pieces of fabric to make new quilts. The scraps were cut into squares, triangles, and rectangles. Women sewed the scraps together to make designs called quilt blocks. Show examples of different kinds of quilt blocks. These quilt blocks were joined together to make a quilt top. The top was then sewed to a quilt backing made from large pieces of fabric. The quilts were stuffed with fleece from sheep, old rags, raw cotton, or even dried leaves. While the technique of quilting can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, the patchwork quilt, using scraps to create something that is both beautiful and utilitarian, is more closely tied with American history.


Paper Quilts

  • Cardstock or construction paper
  • Markers
  • Clear packing tape

Distribute two pieces of cardstock or sheets of 8 ½” x 11” construction paper to each child. These will be used to create quilt squares or blocks. Use markers to decorate both pieces. The children can take home one of the quilt blocks while the other will be used to make the larger quilt for display in the library. Collect one block from each child and tape them together using clear packing tape. Assemble the blocks in such a way as to make a large paper quilt. Put the quilt on display somewhere in the library.

Games and Activities


(Adapted from http://www.ci.tumwater.wa.us/researchjackstraws.htm by Stacey Irish-Keffer.)

Jackstraws, or pickup sticks, have been played for hundreds of years. All you need is a pile of plastic straws or long wooden sticks or skewers, such as those used for kebobs, although fancy versions of the game with whittled sticks in different colors can be purchased or made.

  • Plastic straws or wooden skewers

Grasp the bundle of straws in one hand. Hold them perpendicular to the table or ground (the straws are pointing straight up) about one foot above the surface. Drop the straws, letting them land in a messy pile. Players take turns trying to remove one straw at a time from the pile. They can only move the straw that they are trying to pick up. If any other straws wiggle or fall, their turn is over. The player who has the most straws when the pile is gone is the winner.

Guest Speakers

Invite a local quilting group or a patron who quilts to demonstrate quilting techniques and show off some of the quilts they have made.

Web Sites

Boowa and Kwala


This international site includes an online version of pick-up-sticks.

Professional Resources



This site provides links to a variety of pioneer craft projects.

America’s Story from America’s Library


This page from the Library of Congress includes photographs and stories related to how Americans spend their leisure time making quilts.

City of Tumwater


The web site for this Washington town provides information on historically researched pioneer games and crafts.



History, facts and fiction, and more about quilts and quilting can be found here.

Featured Book

Tutankhamen’s Gift written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda.

Books to Display:

Ancient Egypt by George Hart.

Egyptian Mummies by Henrietta McCall.

In Search of Tutankhamen by Giovanni Casilli.

King Tut’s Tomb by Don Nardo.

Mummies, Tombs and Treasure: Secrets of Ancient Egypt by Lila Perl.

Introduction of Featured Book

Show cover of the book, and ask the children what they think the story is about. Discuss the setting and time period of the story. Show where Egypt is on a map or globe. Explain who a pharaoh was.


Tutankhamen’s Gift written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda.


Ask questions about the story, such as the ones below, to start a short discussion of the book.

“What was Tutankhamen like as a child?”

“What command does Amenhotep IV give after his father dies?”

“How old is Tutankhamen when his brother dies?”

“What does Tutankhamen do as king?”

Facts about Nonfiction Topics: King Tut, Mummies, and Sarcophagi

Use the World Book Encyclopedia, nonfiction books, and web sites to find facts about the nonfiction connections.

King Tut

Tutankhamen is often referred to as King Tut. He reigned for nine years from 1341 BC until 1324 BC. King Tut is famous because his tomb and burial chamber were found mostly intact, meaning that most of the artifacts and objects that were buried with him were still there. Most of the other tombs had been robbed and emptied of their riches after the pharaohs were buried. King Tut’s tomb is located in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. It was not discovered until 1922 when Howard Carter, a British archeologist, found it. King Tut’s tomb was packed with treasures and the discovery ignited new interest in ancient Egypt around the world. The most striking artifact in the tomb was the solid gold mask placed over the mummy’s face. Show pictures of the treasures from King Tut’s tombs from King Tut’s Tomb by Don Nardo.


Mummies are dead bodies that have been dried out so they would not decay. In most cases, the tissue on a body decays and all that is left is a skeleton. The process of mummification allowed some of the soft tissue, such as organs, to remain intact. After a body was mummified, it was placed in a coffin and then in a tomb. Possessions were buried with the mummy so the person would have these for their next life. Sometimes pets were even mummified and buried with their owners. While mummies are most often associated with Ancient Egypt, mummified remains have been found from many other cultures. Sometimes, as in Ancient Egypt, mummification was intentional. In other cases, mummification occurs naturally, as when a body is preserved in a bog or ice.


A sarcophagus is a stone coffin from ancient Egypt. Early coffins looked like houses made of stone, but later coffins were designed to look like the dead person. This way the coffin could act as a substitute body if something happened to the mummy. Show pictures of sarcophagi from Egyptian Mummies by Henrietta McCall or Mummies, Tombs and Treasure: Secrets of Ancient Egypt by Lila Perl.

For more great information about Ancient Egypt, daily life, mummies, pyramids and more, visit “Ancient Egypt,” a project of ThinkQuest at http://library.think quest.org/CR0210200/ancient_egypt/egypt.htm. This site has great photos and information that can be shared during the program.


Mummy Sarcophagus

  • Mummy pattern
  • Flat rectangular cardboard boxes (small shoe boxes, boxes from drinks and yogurt tubes, or similar small boxes)
  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Markers and crayons
  • Yellow construction paper
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Egyptian hieroglyph stamps (optional)

Two Mummy Sarcophagii-one with a human head and the other of a cat,


In advance, copy the mummy pattern provided with this program onto cardstock. Distribute a pattern and a small rectangular cardboard box to each child. Have the children cover the box with yellow construction paper. Use markers and crayons to decorate the mummy and the sides of the box. Glue the mummy onto the long flat side of the box. Mummy sarcophagus should be displayed standing up.

Find mummy/sarcophagus pattern at the end of this program.

Cartouche Nametag

(Adapted from Kidzone by Stacey Irish-Keffer.)

  • Cartouche pattern on cardstock
  • Hieroglyph alphabet key
  • Hieroglyph stamps (optional)
  • Markers and crayons
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn

Cartouche bookmark - Egyptian nametag, with blue string


A cartouche is sort of like a nametag. Ancient Egyptians made cartouches for kings, queens, and other high-ranking people in the kingdom.

In advance, copy the cartouche pattern provided in this program onto cardstock. Also in advance, copy the hieroglyph alphabet key from a web site such as Discovering Ancient Egypt, http://www.eyelid.co.uk/hiero1.htm. Distribute a cartouche pattern and key to each child. Have adults help the children translate their name into hieroglyphs. Draw the hieroglyphs onto the cartouche.

Alternately, the Metropolitan Museum of Art sells a set of hieroglyph stamps, Fun With Hieroglyphs, that is available at many museum stores or through Amazon.com. Instead of drawing the glyphs, each child can use the rubber stamps to stamp their name. Decorate the glyphs and cartouche with markers or crayons. Punch a hole in the top of the cartouche and thread yarn through the hole. Wear the cartouche or display it.

Find the Egyption nametag cartouche pattern at the end of this program.

Games and Activities

Mummy Wrap Rap Game

(Adapted from Zoom by Stacey Irish-Keffer.)

  • Four rolls of high quality toilet paper for each team
  • Masking Tape

Plan to play this game in an area with enough space for a relay race. The object of the game is to see which team can wrap one of their members up as a mummy the fastest and which mummy will be the first to complete a race. Before the program, measure and mark the racetrack, placing a line of masking tape at the start/finish line and one at the turn-around point.

At the program, divide the children into teams of three or more players. Have one child volunteer to be the mummy. The other children will be the mummy wrappers. On the count of three, the teams start wrapping their mummy with toilet paper. Be sure to tell the wrappers to leave the mummy’s eyes and mouth free and to wrap each leg separately so that the mummy can run. Once wrapped, the mummy sticks out its arms and starts running for the race at the start line. The mummy should reach the turn-around point and then run back to the finish line. The team with the first mummy to cross the finish line wins. This can also be adapted into a relay if teams wrap more than one mummy.

Web Sites

Cartoon Factory


Make your own cartoon.

Professional Resources

Kansas City Public Library


This library site has instructions and a template for a mummy coffin craft.



This site has a wide selection of Egyptian-themed crafts and activities, including printable coloring pages and costume designs.

Program Materials

Passenger Car: Stories About People – Mummy Sarcophagus Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (13 KB)

Mummy Sarcophagus Pattern - Two sarcophagus on sheet

Passenger Car: Stories About People – Egyption Nametag Cartouche Pattern

Printer Friendly PDF Version (10 KB)

Egyption Nametag Cartouche Pattern - 6 cartouches on sheet, each cartouche is rectangular shaped with rounded corners

Texas Reading Club 2010 Programming Manual / Catch the Reading Express!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011