I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY! (Bloomsbury, 2012)
Written by Rick Walton and illustrated by Wes Hargis
Pre-K through Grade 8
I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY! is a perfect opportunity for introducing citizenship and patriotism this month.
The pictures are a large part of the story and must be seen to appreciate the simple text. A young girl is having issues with her family, especially a baby brother. She decides to make her own space through the creation of her own country. The story documents her ideas and needs in order to assert her independence. She chooses her location, creates a name, and a flag for her country. She then posts her name on her bedroom wall and decides that she needs a bit of company. She invites citizens, and then subjects them to her rules and punishments for breaking them.
The remainder of the book follows her through the creation of national items, invasions, and visits from foreign dignitaries. Just like in the world today, what happens is often not what we were expecting and planning for. The pictures are MUST SEE to help build the interest and characters in the story. While this is a picture book designed for young readers, it can be used throughout upper elementary and middle school grades as well. This book works well as an outline of what students need to do to develop a country of their own. Cross-curricular connections
: Social Studies, Art, Math, English Ideas for Classroom Use
: Create a Country/Study an Established Country
The purpose of this activity is to introduce the process of naming and establishing a country. After reading I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY!, have students in younger grades work in small groups. Students should decide on a name, location, and choose “national things” like a flag, flower, songs, etc. Students should be able to justify their choices with explanations as to why those items, names, and locations are important to them.
|Flag for DayZ Elektro country. Designed by Alex, 7th grade. |
Upper grades can work in groups to determine the same information about existing countries. The students will research their group’s choice of country and present the information in a way to capture the other students’ attention. Students can create posters, PowerPoints, or brochures to showcase their country’s important information.
Students should be given an opportunity to showcase their work through a display or presentation to a group of parents, or other classes. A Veteran’s Day visit to the classroom would be a great opportunity to show their thoughts about their country. Laws
The purpose of this activity is to introduce the students to the process of making laws. After reading, I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY!, study the pages that show the laws and punishments for the girl’s country. Discuss the process of making laws in the country you live in. Determine the process of how laws begin, are studied, are passed, and how punishments are assigned. This process should be tailored to the grade level and knowledge of the students. Students who are younger will need a much more simplified pathway for this process. As the students discuss the process of creating laws, encourage them to think about laws their country will need or want.
Have students work in small groups, or independently, to create a set of laws and punishments for breaking the laws. Students should create a bill of rights, a list of rules, and a list of punishments to display in their country’s presentation. Students should be able to justify their reasoning for the laws and how the punishments will help to teach the citizens to do the right thing.
Students should be allowed to present this information in a classroom presentation to other classmates and/or parents. Goods and Services
The purpose of this activity is to simulate the process of currency and trade within a country for younger students. After reading I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY!, and creating the previous two activities, students should engage in a discussion of how people trade with one another. Have students create their own version of currency for their country. They will then need to discuss what their money can purchase and how much items are worth. Students should develop a list of items that their country can provide, as well as a list of items they will need from other places. Students in separate groups can work together to develop a system of trade between countries for different services. Will your money be worth the same amount in a foreign country?
Upper grades could use this book to develop a system of foreign trade and goods to supply needs to all countries. Discuss the ability to find resources in certain areas and having to share it with others. How will each country fulfill all of its needs?
Students should be allowed to present their own currency and list of trade goods to the classroom, and/or parents. Additional Resources and Activities
: Rick Walton
This website is a compilation of funny information about the author of I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY! The website includes information about Mr. Walton, his books, teaching ideas for some of his books, and links to “fun stuff,” including ways to play with words. An email link is included if the class wanted to find out more information about his newest book. Kids in the House: How Laws are Made
This website provides background information about how a bill becomes a law in the House of Representatives. The page gives explanations of the steps taken to pass a law and further links for lesson plans for this process. The main website includes extensive information discussing the processes used in the House of Representatives. Links are available from young learners through high school-aged students. Social Studies for Kids: Economics
This website provides an easy-to-understand look at the world or economics. The page includes links for what a budget is, what trade is, and how money has changed. The website also includes links to interactive pages to further teach economics. Many resources and explanations are available through links on this website. Countries of the World
This website provides quick links to facts about several countries worldwide. The countries listed are shown with location, flag, history, current ruling information, economy, and several other areas. This link would provide a good starting point for choosing a country to research. Kathy Prater is a reading specialist who works with students with dyslexia, an adjunct professor at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, and a full time pre-kindergarten teacher at Starkville Academy in Starkville, Mississippi. Her passions include reading, writing, tending her flock of 15 chickens, and helping students at all levels to find motivation for lifelong reading and learning. She believes that every child can become a successful reader if given the right tools and encouragement.
© 2012 Kathy Prater. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise. 5 Questions With... Laurie Calkhoven (I GREW UP TO BE PRESIDENT) Book Reviews: Elections & Presidents