Especially for Educators: “Using Back Matter to Inspire Lesson Plans” by Roxanne Troup

Maps! And trees! I’m a fan of both! Here’s an activity to use with MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME by Roxanne Troup—ready to go for busy educators!

Roxanne is offering a GIVEAWAY—a free 30-minute virtual visit! For a teacher, it can be a virtual author visit for a classroom. Or for a writer, a visit for self or critique group.  

Using Back Matter to Inspire Lesson Plans by Roxanne Troup

Thanks for hosting me, Beth!

I’m thrilled to share my new picture book, MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME, with your readers. Illustrated by Kendra Binney and published with Yeehoo Press, this book is a lyrical look at the life and harvest cycle of pecans as told through the relational lens of a grandfather and child.

Tree cover

Like many picture books, it is a great way to demonstrate language arts concepts to children. (It highlights things like lyrical language, refrains, and a compare and contrast structure.) It also introduces concepts about where our food comes from readily tying it to science curricula. But today, I want to use MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME as a model for how you can use picture books across the curriculum and show kiddos the interconnectedness between nearly every school subject.

Don’t Skip the Backmatter!

These days, most informational books for kids include backmatter that extends the story or explains the research that went into the book. But many readers skip these pages. As a teacher, please don’t do that. Even if you don’t read the backmatter aloud during your first read through with students, backmatter can be a wonderful springboard for other lessons and activities related to the book.

For example, the backmatter in my book includes a short history of pecans and defines unfamiliar words to help build student vocabulary.


It says that pecans are native to North America and live over 100 years! “Originally found growing along the Mississippi river valley, pecans were an important part of Native American diets…The commercial pecan industry wouldn’t exist if not for the ingenious idea of a man called Antoine.”

What type of extension ideas does that little bit of text inspire? History? Science? How about geography?

And the best part? Many authors have already done the heavy lifting for you by creating free teacher guides and print-and-go activities connected to their books. (Here’s mine. Please take advantage of it!) One such activity in my teacher’s guide uses MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME to spur a geography lesson.

Teacher Guide cover - Yeehoo

On the Go Lesson: Map It Out

Prep: Print out a US map for each child that defines its various regions. (Here are a couple good ones from National Geographic. Use the one that best scaffolds your student’s abilities.)

Book Connection: The pecan tree is grown commercially throughout the southern United States and Mexico. But pecans are also grown in backyards as far north as Illinois! Pecans grow best in hot climates that get plenty of rain and have deep, well-drained soil.

Activity: After providing your students with a bit of background information about pecans, define the term region. Talk about how each region of the country shares common features. They may experience similar weather patterns, have common landforms or wildlife, or share a cultural history or economic status.

Introduce each geographic area of the United States with your students and direct them to color the southern states.

Using another map as a guide, label each state that grows pecans. (You could also use this project as an assessment for older student who already know this information.)

Finally, have your students mark where they live with a large star, then answer the following questions to synthesize the information they have learned and connect back to MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME:

  • Do you live in a pecan-producing state?
  • What makes your area good/not good for growing pecans?

You can find more “On the Go Lessons” for MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME in my teacher’s guide or at these links:

Sensory Language:



RoxanneTroup-author photo

Don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a virtual visit. (Winner announced 6/2/23.)


Roxanne Troup writes kids books that celebrate wonder and family. With a background in education, she also writes engaging nonfiction for all ages. Author of over a dozen books for kids, Roxanne loves visiting schools to water seeds of literacy and teach about writing. (And sometimes remembers to water the plants in her own garden.) You can learn more about her online

9 thoughts on “Especially for Educators: “Using Back Matter to Inspire Lesson Plans” by Roxanne Troup

  1. I love sharing the backmatter with students! For many, it makes the work more authentic. It also shows how reading helps us learn about the world around us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I live for back matter, LOL. AND believe it should be used extensively! You’ve shared some great ideas for extension. So true that authors are now creating all kinds of ways to use nonfiction or informational fiction in the classroom. I hope that teachers are taking advantage of the resources. Congrats, Roxanne!

    Liked by 1 person

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