My Diary From Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá: Cross-Curriclar Activities

Language Arts

From Your Diary to the World

Students practice keeping daily journals that reflect their experiences. They select one journal entry to transform into personal narratives and share with the class.

Materials Neccessary:

  • Journals or small notebooks for every student
  • Pens and pencils

Estimated Time: 20-30 minutes a day, over the course of three weeks

Group Size: Individual

CA Reading Standard 1.0 and 2.0: Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing shows they consider the audience and purpose. Students progress through the stages of the writing process. Students write compositions that describe and explain familiar objects, events, and experiences.


  1. Explain to students that they, like Amada, can keep diaries. Every day the class will be writing in their diaries or journals for twenty minutes. Distribute one journal or small notebook to each student. (If necessary, create these journals from pieces of folded paper stapled together, or designate one section of students' regular notebooks as the journal.)
  2. Tell the class that, just like Amada's, their diaries are private — they don't have to share everything they've written. But they do have to write daily, and they will eventually choose one piece of writing to share with the class.
  3. Put aside twenty minutes of regular diary time each day. Good times for this kind of writing are often at the beginning or end of the day.


  1. After two weeks, tell the class that their diaries can be great sources for their regular writing. Of course, you don't always want to share exactly what you've written in your diary with other people. Ask the students to look through their diaries and select an entry that they think might be a good story to share.
  2. Once students have selected their entries, have them write first drafts of stories based on their selections. Remind the students that their diaries are the starting places — the entries describe what happened and their feelings. But when they share a story with others, they need to think about how to explain the events to people who weren't there. They will have to use details and sensory imagery to make the reader see, hear, and feel what happened.


  • Ask students to share their first drafts in pairs and give each other feedback. Have them use that feedback to revise their work, creating second drafts. Tell students that the questions their partners ask about the story should help them figure out where they need to do more work.


  • Ask students to edit their second drafts for publication, checking spelling and punctuation. Read through the drafts and mark errors. Encourage students to use a word wall, a dictionary, or other classroom reference tools as they correct their work.


  • Publish the stories by posting them in the classroom and having students read them aloud to the class.

Other Writing Activities

Writing Home

  • Point the class to the letter from Amada's father on page 19. Ask them to remember —or imagine — a time when they were far away from a loved one. What stories would they tell? How would they feel? Have them write letters to their family members from that point of view.

Social Studies

The Other Side/El otro lado

Students study the geography and government of Mexico, comparing it to the United States.

Materials Neccessary:

  • Map of the United States and Mexico
  • Flipchart and markers
  • Encyclopedia or other reference tools

Estimated Time: 2 hours, over the course of several days

Group Size: Entire class

CA Reading Standard 3.1: Students describe the physical and human geography and use maps and tables to organize information about people, places, and environments.


United States











Languages Spoken



  1. Amada worries that the United States will be very different from Mexico. Ask students what they know about Mexico from the book. Encourage them to look at both the illustrations and the words. Elicit information from the class about the country: its location (next to the United States), climate (there are deserts there, but also green parks), and the languages they speak (Spanish and indigenous).
  2. Ask the class what else they know about Mexico. How big is it? What kind of government does it have? How is Mexico different from the United States?
  3. Tell the class that you're going to learn more about Mexico by comparing it to the United States. Using a flipchart and markers, create a table comparing key features of geography and government — emphasize those aspects that you wish students to best understand. One table might look like this:
  4. Have students fill in the information they already know and research the remaining information using the class map, encyclopedias, or the Internet (see the Resources list for recommended websites). Once the chart is complete, ask students: How different do they think the two countries are?

Other Social Studies Activities

Words of Change

  • On page 19, Amada's father writes to the family about “new words” like “unions, strikes, and boycotts.” If students are not familiar with these concepts, ask them to define these words with a dictionary and to research more about César Chávez, the man who spoke them.

Modes of Transportation

  • In My Diary From Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá, Amada and her family travel by car and bus. They end up living right near many airplanes and trains. Ask your class to consider the advantages and disadvantages of these different modes of transportation. Encourage them to take issues such as cost, speed, and convenience into account.


A Story Without Words

Students create wordless picture books that tell the stories of their own journeys.

Materials Neccessary:

  • 8.5" by 11" white paper
  • Stapler
  • Colored pencils

Estimated Time: 1.5 hours

Group Size: Individual

CA Reading Standard 2.4: Students create artwork based on the observation of objects and scenes in daily life.

  1. Remind your class that in a picture book, the story is told as much through illustrations as through words. Look at how Maya Christina Gonzalez's pictures for My Diary From Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá tell the book's story in scenes, so that you can see in the images the stages of Amada's journey. The students are going to have the chance to make their own book — one that tells the story of a family trip with pictures instead of words.
  2. Ask students to think of a trip they took. It could be a big trip, such as to another state or country, or just a short trip, such as to a friend's house or even to the grocery store. What happened? What made it memorable? Tell students that their books will have three scenes each, plus the front and back covers. The only words will be the title and the name of the artist on the front cover. Have students think about how to share stories of their trips in three scenes. Point out that there are different ways to choose their scenes. Options include the beginning, middle, and end of the trip; the time spent traveling, arriving at the destination, and what happened once you're there; or making the decision to go, what you do once you're there, and returning home.
  3. Once students have chosen their scenes, give them “books” made of three sheets of paper folded in half and stapled together. Have students use colored pencils to illustrate their scenes and an appropriate front and back cover. Encourage students to take a minute to plan their images before they jump in with the colored pencils. They can sketch out their ideas for each scene in small boxes (“thumbnail sketches”) on a piece of scrap paper or they can outline their figures lightly in regular pencil to help them make final decisions about what to draw where.

Other Art Activities

Playing with Color

  • Maya Christina Gonzalez loves to use surprising colors to represent everyday images. Look at the people in My Diary From Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá — they often have green or purple lines highlighting their features. The grass seems to be red below the green, and the roads are almost purple. Encourage your class to play with color in their own art, layering surprising combinations on top of each other to draw familiar things in new ways. Oil and chalk pastels are wonderful media for this kind of experimentation.


Are We There Yet?

Students create wordless picture books that tell the stories of their own journeys.

Materials Neccessary:

  • Map of the United States and Mexico
  • Pushpins
  • String
  • Ruler

Estimated Time: 1 hour

Group Size: Entire class and individual

CA Reading Standard 2.0: Students calculate and solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  1. Remind students that real maps are drawn to scale — distance using a ratio, such as one inch equals five miles. If you want to figure out how big something is on a map, you need to multiply it using the map's scale.
  2. Using a piece of string, ask a student to trace the route that Amada and her family traveled on your map. Make sure to have the student trace the actual route that the family took, rather than a straight line from Ciudad Juárez to Los Angeles. Ask the student to measure the length of the piece of string in inches. Model for the class the process you would use to figure how far the trip is in miles, explaining that to find the real distance, you multiple the number of inches on the map by the ratio of miles to inches.
  3. Now, ask another student to use the string to measure the distance between each point on the journey. Once you have a list of those measurements in inches, ask students to individually calculate the distance between each point.
  4. Once the students have finished their calculations, have them check their work. Point out to the class that when you add up the distance of all the trip segments, your answer should equal the total distance of the trip as a whole.
  5. Finally, ask students to look at the map once again. If there were a road that went directly from Ciudad Juárez to Los Angeles, what would it look like? Allow students to experiment with different routes, using the piece of string, until they understand the shortest route between the two points would be a straight line. Have the class calculate that distance. How much longer is the route taken by Amada and her family?

Other Math Activities

Miles and Kilometers

  • To extend the map activity above, have students explore the relationships between the metric and the U.S. system of measurement. Students can recalculate the distances in metric units, using the scale on the map to figure out the ratio of centimeters and miles. Or, they can convert the miles directly to kilometers, multiplying their previous answers by 1.6.


Fly Away

Students study the life cycles and migration patterns of the monarch butterfly.

Materials Neccessary:

  • Flipchart and markers
  • Encyclopedias and online resources*
  • Colored pencils

Estimated Time: 1.5 hours

Group Size: Entire class

CA Reading Standard 3.0: Students know that adaptations in physical structure or behavior may improve an organism's chance for survival.

What we know

What we want to find out

What we learned







Start out as



  1. If your students have not already noted them, point out the butterflies in the book's illustrations. Ask why they think butterflies might belong in this story. Write their ideas on a piece of chart paper.
  2. Tell the class that they will be learning more about one particular kind of butterfly, so that they can understand why they're in the story. Begin your research by making a KWL (Know, Want to know, Learn) chart–a chart that records what students know about a topic, what they want to find out, and what they've learned. Ask your students what they already know about butterflies.
  3. Once you've added all that students know about the topic to the chart, ask them what questions they have about butterflies. Write these questions in the second column of the chart.
  4. Tell students they're going to learn more about the monarch butterfly. Give the class a short text about monarch butterflies' life cycles and migration patterns.* Once they have read the text, ask students what they've learned. Can they answer their questions? Start by recording the answers in the third column, and then ask the students to share other interesting facts they learned.
  5. There will, of course, be questions that the students' first reading has not answered. Encourage them to do additional reading to locate the answers to these questions. You can break them up into small groups to research particular questions or to read selected sources.
  6. Once the students' research is complete, ask them: Why does it matter that butterflies change their form? How does this help them? What is the role of migration in their survival? Direct the class once more to their initial ideas about why butterflies make sense in the book's illustrations. Do they still think those ideas make sense? What similarities do they see between Amada and butterflies?

Other Science Activities

Plants and their Environments

  • In My Diary From Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá, we see Amada in a range of natural settings. In the park, she is surrounded by grass and trees. In the desert, she notices the saguaro cacti along the route. Why do different plants grow in different climates? What does it mean if a plant is indigenous to a region? Have your class explore these questions in a scientific research project.

Suggestions for Bilingual Classes

  1. Ask students who are “experts”–who have immigrated themselves–if they would like to share their knowledge and experience as they relate to the story. Children's experiences in coming to the United States may vary; be sensitive to the fact that some students may not wish to share. Discuss the connections between your students' experiences and that of the characters in the book.
  2. If your students, or your students' families, are from Mexico, draw on their knowledge of the country's society and culture as much as possible. Even though this knowledge may not be formal, students bring a familiarity that can deeply enrich activities such as the Social Studies comparison of the two countries.
  3. Partner heritage speakers of Spanish and English whenever possible, and encourage them to explore differences in reading and writing the two languages.

* See the Children's Book Press Resources Guide to download worksheets and for a list of more online sources.


Used with permission of the publisher, Children's Book Press, San Francisco, CA. Teachers Guide for Featherless/Desplumado © 2004 by Children's Book Press. Visit the Children's Book Press website for a complete list of free, downloadable Teacher's Guides.



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i think that this book is a awsome book it really gives you the feeling

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