Author Ellen Jackson

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Autumn is a season when daylight hours decrease and the weather grows colder. People of many cultures celebrate the Autumn Equinox, a time when crops are harvested and the first frost glitters on the grass.

THE AUTUMN EQUINOX by Ellen Jackson tells the history of this special time of year, describes hands-on autumn activities for children, and includes a Native American harvest tale.


Leaves are falling to the ground
Letting go without a sound.
Red and yellow, orange and brown
Flakes of color flutter down.

Now the wind comes racing by
Tossing leaves into the sky.
Swirling, whirling, Do-Si-Do--
Make them dance before they go!

Winds have left a leafy clutter
Scattered in the grass and gutter
Time to gather, rake, and sweep.
Pile those leaves into a heap.

Leaves are food for bugs and worms,
Nourishment for all that squirms,
Forming part of each new birth,
Growing from the giving Earth.


"The first day of school is an event that brings mixed emotions to children everywhere. It's exciting to see new friends and begin a new year with a new teacher. But what if the work is too hard? Will the new teacher be nice?

"In IT'S BACK TO SCHOOL WE GO!, Ellen Jackson and Jan Davey Ellis portray children from eleven different countries experiencing their first day of school. Each child's first-person account is enhanced by a fact box that tells us about the culture from which the child speaks. The author and illustrator have skillfully captured the diversity of children's school experiences, while capturing how much the world's children have in common."


Spunky Monkey

The class sits in a circle. Children pass around a stuffed monkey to music. When the music stops, the child holding the monkey is the "spunky monkey." The game continues until everyone has had a turn.

For kindergartners: The child holding the monkey says his or her name.

For older students: The child holding the monkey tells something interesting about herself or one thing she did on her vacation.

Hello From The Children Of The World

The teacher creates a poster showing hands of different colors. The word "hello" is printed on each hand in a different language. (Each of the eleven children in ITíS BACK TO SCHOOL WE GO! says hello in his or her native language.) After the teacher reads the book to the class, the students try to match the "hello hands" with the correct child.

Where Do We Live?

Using a globe or a map of the world, the children locate the homelands of each of the eleven children in ITíS BACK TO SCHOOL WE GO! For younger children, teachers can use the map at the beginning of the book to help locate each country on a larger map or globe. The teacher might also ask each child to find out about his or her family's country of origin and locate it on the same map or globe.

Apples Are Alike and Different

Autumn is harvest time as well as back-to-school time in many countries. Hereís an activity that shows even apples are individual and unique. The teacher passes out an apple to each child in the class. Apples should be green, yellow, and red. The children have five minutes to study their apples carefully. Then the apples are gathered and placed in a pile. The children search the pile and try to locate "their" apple.


How are the apples alike?
All are round, all are fruit, all grow on trees, all have seeds, etc.

How are apples different?
They come in different colors, different sizes, some have streaks or spots.

How are apples like people?

People Are Alike And Different (for teachers and parents)

The children in IT'S BACK TO SCHOOL WE GO! are alike and different from one another. After reading the book, students answer the following questions:

1. All the children in the book go to school. But the children use different kinds of transportation. Name as many as you remember:

(Walking, by canoe, school bus, bicycle.) Can you think of other ways children might get to school? (Horse or donkey, car)

2. Some children in the book wore special items of clothes to school. What are some of these?

(Parka, caribou mitts, school uniform, hat, neckerchiefs, pinafore, baseball cap)

3. What special items did the children bring to school on the first day? Why?

(Bag of candles, pencils and pencil cases, sweets and candy, notebooks, flowers for the teacher, backpacks, bowl and chopsticks, schultute)

4. Which children helped clean the classroom or surrounding area? (Achieng, Jessica, Misaki)

5. Which children in the book enjoy games or sports you have played or might enjoy playing?

(Achieng and Misaki--soccer, Kendi--skating, Jessica and Rajani--cricket, Misaki--dodgeball, Jinsong--gymnastics and video games, Thomas--fishing and hopscotch, Nadia's brother--chess, Casey--baseball, and others.)

6. What subjects did the children study?

(Health, arithmetic, maths, reading and writing, computer skills, storytelling, languages, debating, social studies, art, sewing, geography, calligraphy, religion, and others)

7. Which of the following foods might you like to try?

Caribou meat, fried bread, boiled sheep's head, smoked croccodile, rice with seaweed sauce, plov (dessert made from raisins and apples), lentil stew, pancakes filled with fish or meat, pizza.

8. What unusual animals might you see on your way to school if you lived in:

Kenya--zebras or elephants
Peru--monkeys or parrots



Back-Pack Snack

2 or 3 flour tortillas
1 package cream cheese
1/​2 c. shredded lettuce or carrots
1 package sliced deli turkey


Spread cream cheese on tortillas. Add slices of turkey. Add shredded lettuce or carrots. Roll the tortillas up. Fasten with toothpicks or wrap in foil.

First Day Of School Note

On a paper napkin write a note to your child just to let him know youíre thinking of him. Put the note in his lunch. For children who canít yet read, include a picture of the family instead.

Easy-To-Make Trail Mix

Ĺ c. Cheerios
Ĺ c. raisins
Ĺ c. pretzels
Ĺ c. peanuts

Mix and put in baggie.