This post originally appeared on the blog ideas by jivey.

If you took a poll of current educators, one of the top things that teachers would tell you they need is more TIME. Although I can’t give you more time in your day, I can help you maximize your time!

One struggle with time is being able to teach the many standards WELL in a short amount of time. Here in Georgia, 4th grade teachers are responsible for teaching students pre-explorer days with Native Americans, to exploration of the United States, to colonization, to the American Revolution, to the creation of our government (new nation), to the War of 1812, to Westward Expansion, to abolitionists and suffrage movements… ummmm hello?! That’s over 400 years of history in one!

maximize your time with mentor texts with ideas by jivey - freebie included!

Mentor texts are the best way that I have found to be able to cover numerous skills at once. In this post, you’ll see how to teach standards in reading, writing, grammar, and social studies with just one book. Content integration can be a lifesaver if you are trying to maximize your time!

There are so many wonderful historical fiction books out there. We would be here all day if I started listing my favorites! But one of my favorites that I’ll focus on in this post is Henry’s Freedom Box.

If you teach about the Underground Railroad or abolitionism, this is an amazing book to use! But you don’t have to ONLY read this book during your social studies time for a history lesson…


Definitely read the book during your social studies time to relate it to your teaching about the Underground Railroad, but then refer back to parts of it to cover some reading skills! 
1. There are some great vocabulary words in this book that students can use context clues to define. 
2. Henry “Box” Brown is as a truly courageous man. Students can analyze Henry and determine character traits to describe him. 

3. Students can find evidence in the story to demonstrate ways slaves were treated unfairly (which also relates back to your social studies content). 

4. Students could compare Henry to Harriet Tubman and discuss how they both took drastic measures to escape slavery (again, goes back to social studies content, too).


This book really sparks emotion in students and gets them interested in the time period. What a great time to allow students to do some research and write an informational piece about the Underground Railroad or civil rights!


And of course, you can’t read a good mentor text without analyzing a good mentor sentence, too! (Unfamiliar with mentor sentences? Read all about them here, or check out the ready-to-teach units in my TpT store!) This book is full of great descriptive sentences that students can use as models for their own writing.
Being able to cover all of these skills with just one book not only helps you maximize your time, but it also will help to ingrain the social studies content you need to teach as well. 
Do you want to use this book for all of the skills I just listed above? Here you go! :o)

You might also love these mentor sentence mini-units to help you cover grammar and writing skills WHILE utilizing these books in other content areas:




What are some of your favorite historical fiction mentor texts? I’d love to check out some new-to-me books that you suggest!
ideas by jivey
Ideas by jivey shows teachers how to integrate social studies content and teach ELA standards using mentor texts - awesome freebie included for Henry's Freedom Box!
ideas by jiveyJessica Ivey has 10 years of experience in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. She has a Masters in Early Childhood Education and a Specialist in Teacher Leadership. Her passion for teaching, leading, and mentoring other teachers inspired her to launch her own business as a consultant, professional development instructor, and curriculum creator for her TpT store. She blogs at ideas by jivey and can also be found on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.