ACTIVITIES for Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America
The final title in the Deadly Diseases Trilogy tells the story of one of history’s worst human diseases. The book tracks plague from the beginnings of the First Pandemic ca. 542, to the Black Death of the 14th Century, to the scientific breakthroughs of the late 19th Century. In 1900, the disease invaded Chinatown, San Francisco, causing the first known plague epidemic in U.S. history. Readers will follow the outbreak through the eyes of victims, public health officials, doctors, politicians, and journalists. Finally, the book spotlights today’s health experts as they continue to cope with outbreaks throughout the world and the threat of plague as a bioweapon.
Topics covered include biology; disease (germ theory, vectors, prevention, treatment, epidemiology); scientific discovery; American history (1900 to 1940s, Chinese immigration, San Francisco earthquake of 1906); government ( federal, California, & San Francisco authorities, U.S. Public Health Service, courts); world history. The book contains a glossary, timeline, source notes, bibliography, author’s note, recommended websites and books, and plague FAQs.
The PDF available HERE is an educator’s guide developed by the book’s publisher. It includes discussion questions and activities correlated with the Common Core State Standards.
For More Information about plague and San Francisco’s epidemic…
- The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco by Marilyn Chase. New York: Random House, 2003
- Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco’s Chinatown by Guenter B. Risse. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.
- Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015.
- Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman. New York: Clarion Books, 2013.
ACTIVITIES for Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary
The medical detective story takes place during the early 1900s when typhoid fever outbreaks were common in the United States. The book follows the epidemiologists and public health experts who studied the disease and developed ways to control its spread. Part of their work involved tracking down the source of a typhoid outbreak. The most notorious carrier of the disease was Irish immigrant Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary.
Mary’s story raises questions we still grapple with today: When a deadly, highly contagious, and untreatable disease strikes, what do we expect health authorities to do? What government actions would—or should—we tolerate? Does the protection of a city’s population trump the rights and freedom of an individual?
Topics covered include American history (1900 to 1930s, New York City tenements, immigration), disease (germ theory, sanitation, current typhoid treatments & prevention methods); biology; medical history; government (New York City & State Health Departments, US Public Health Service, courts). The book contains a timeline, source notes, bibliography, a list of famous typhoid victims, and recommended books and websites.
The PDF available HERE is an educator’s guide developed by the book’s publisher. It includes activities and discussion questions correlated with Common Core State Standards.
Red Madness: How A Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat
This medical mystery tracks the spread and eventual control of pellagra, a vitamin deficiency disease that affected millions of Americans during the first half of the twentieth century. Topics covered include American history (1900 to WWII, cotton mills, sharecroppers and tenant farmers, Mississippi River Flood of 1927); world history; nutrition; disease; medical history; science (research methods, biology); government (US Public Health Service, states); biography. The book contains a timeline, notes, bibliography, and a list of recommended books and websites.
The PDF available HERE is an educator’s guide developed by the book’s publisher. It includes excellent discussion questions and activities aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
Pair RED MADNESS with these YA books about epidemic diseases…
- A DEATH-STRUCK YEAR by Makiia Lucier
- SHADOW BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters
- FEVER 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
- THE GREAT TROUBLE by Deborah Hopkinson
- CONVERSION by Katherine Howe
- STREAMS OF BABEL and FIRE WILL FALL by Carol Plum-Ucci
- AN AMERICAN PLAGUE: THE TRUE AND TERRIFYING STORY OF THE YELLOW FEVER EPIDEMIC OF 1793 by Jim Murphy
- OUTBREAK! PLAGUES THAT CHANGED HISTORY by Bryn Barnard
- THE SECRET OF THE YELLOW DEATH: A TRUE STORY OF MEDICAL SLEUTHING by Suzanne Jurmain
- INVINCIBLE MICROBE: TUBERCULOSIS AND THE NEVER-ENDING SEARCH FOR A CURE by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank
The Amazing Harry Kellar, Great American Magician
This book is a biography of the magician Harry Kellar (1849-1922). Topics discussed include magic performances; the history of magic; Spiritualism; and entertainment and transportation in the U.S. and throughout the world during Kellar’s lifetime. The book contains a timeline, notes, bibliography, and a list of recommended books, places to visit, and websites.
The Amazing Harry Kellar can be used to meet the Common Core and State Standards through activities that encourage critical reading of informational material, opinion and explanatory writing, speaking, listening, and research. It has curriculum connections to language arts, social studies/history, science, math, and art. The suggested activities and questions below can be adjusted for grade level.
Students can find information for these activities in the book’s text, For More Information section, and bibliography; on this site; in informational books in a library; and on the Internet.
- Make a list of personal traits that helped Harry Kellar become America’s favorite magician. Beside each trait, briefly explain how it helped him succeed.
- What were Kellar’s faults that led to career setbacks? Make a list of these and identify how his career was affected by each.
- Should Kellar have been criticized for using tricks and illusions that had been invented by other magicians? Or did he deserve praise for improving on the inventions of others? Pick a view and write an argument that supports it.
- You have just watched an amazing magic trick. Would you prefer to know the secret behind it, or would you rather never learn how it was done? Write an essay arguing for your preference.
- Today, most people enjoy watching a magician perform. But several hundred years ago, people were afraid of magic and thought that it was the work of witches and evil spirits. Write an essay or create a presentation that explains either 1) why magic is fun to watch OR 2) why magic frightens people.
- Magicians use “patter” to enhance their tricks or illusions and to distract the audience from the secret. Learn to do a magic trick. Write your own patter to use with the trick. Perform it for an audience.
- Pretend that Kellar is alive today and has hired you to create advertising to attract audiences to his shows. Choose one of these, or something else that would reach his fans: Write and record a radio spot. Make a video for TV or YouTube. Design Kellar’s Facebook page or Web site.
Period from post-Civil War through 1920s
- Make a list of the different ways that Harry Kellar traveled throughout the U.S. and the world from his childhood years in the 1850s to his death in 1922. Find or draw pictures of these different modes of transportation.
- How did the expansion of the railroad system after the Civil War help to change the way Americans were entertained?
- If you had lived in Kellar’s time, what would have been the choices of entertainment in your town or city? Search old newspapers online to read news stories and advertisements about magicians and other traveling entertainers in your state or region.
- As a child, Harry Kellar worked as a newsboy in New York City. Learn more about the “newsies” and how they lived. Find photographs of these children at the Library of Congress site (http://www.loc.gov/pictures [search “newsies” or “newsboys”]).
- Why do you think so many people believed in ghosts, séances, and mediums during Kellar’s lifetime? How did Kellar and Harry Houdini debunk the claims of the Spiritualists?
WORLD HISTORY & GEOGRAPHY
- Using a world map, trace the path of Harry Kellar’s travels as an international performer from 1873-1884. Mark the map where he was shipwrecked; the city where he collected many of his illusions; where he caught yellow fever; and where he met his wife.
- On a world map, show the area that formed the British Empire during Kellar’s lifetime. How did Kellar’s travels match the places controlled by the British? Why did he choose to perform within the British Empire?
SCIENCE and MATH
The secrets of magic -- including Harry Kellar’s tricks and illusions--involve science, mathematics, and psychology.
- Learn how to do a magic trick. Perform it for classmates. Teach a friend how to do it, too, by writing a step-by-step explanation or by creating a video of yourself demonstrating the secret of the trick.
- Learn how to do a mind-reading or prediction trick that depends on arithmetic and number patterns. Amaze your family and friends!
- Using resources listed on this site or in the book, research how Harry Kellar performed some of his tricks and illusions.
- Find out how Kellar’s colorful advertising posters were created using stone lithography.
- View the Library of Congress’s collection of Magic Posters from 1879 to 1936 (at loc.gov/pictures [search “magic posters”]). What were the characteristics of these posters that convinced people to attend magic performances?
- Compare today’s full-page magazine advertisements, movie posters, and billboards to the advertising posters of the 19th- and early 20th-centuries.
- Create your own Kellar poster.
Lincoln’s Flying Spies: Thaddeus Lowe and the Civil War Balloon Corps
This book has curriculum connections to Social Studies/History, Language Arts, and Science in Grades 5-12 and supports the teaching of the National Standards. It contains timeline, notes, bibliography, and lists of recommended books, places to visit, and Web sites.
The activities and questions below can be adjusted for grade level and used for writing, oral discussion, or class presentations.
This book covers the strategy, goals, and outcome of Civil War battles and campaigns from
April 1861 to June 1863.
Civil War: The causes. The course and character of the war.