Southwest Children's Literature

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Agave Blooms Just Once

In the classroom/library:

Agave Blooms Just Once is appropriate for elementary students.

It integrates with classroom curriculum in the area of science, particularly the study of the Sonoran Desert flora and fauna. It can also be used as an example of a well-crafted alphabet book.

I shared this book with multiage students (third and fourth grade) who analyzed it as a model for their class alphabet book on the states of the United States.

Core Curriculum (Tucson Unified School District)

Utilize the six traits of writing.
Students use the writing process, including generating topics, participating in prewriting activities, drafting, revising and editing.
Describe and locate the major natural and human features that define places and regions in the United States.
Use the appropriate technology tools to accomplish learning tasks.

Before reading:

  • Students had begun their research of the state of their choice.
  • Earlier in the year, students had studied Arizona.

During the reading:

Students kept a list of the special features of this book:

  • the letters are illuminated;
  • something in the illustration has the same color as the illuminated letter;
  • it rhymes;
  • the information is true (factual);
  • the letters represent plants or animals;
  • the illustrations match the writing;
  • the illustrations are detailed.

After reading:

  • As a model, the whole group webbed possible topics for Arizona.
  • Students then webbed their individual states and selected to topics they could write about and illustrate.
  • Topics were put on cards and selected in order to create the entire alphabet, one topic for each letter.
  • Students used AlphaSmart portable laptops to input their text.
  • Students printed their text, illuminated their letters, and illustrated their topic.
  • Students made a table of contents that identified the topic, the state, and the author/illustrator.
  • The book was collated.


  • The book will be displayed in the library for "Young Authors' Month" (May, 2000) and will become a part of the Gale Library or classroom collection.

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