An A-Z of the Port Environment

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in 11-12, Environment | 0 comments

This lesson combines geography, language arts and fine arts skills as students collaborate to make an alphabet picture book for young children on the theme of “Prince Rupert the Port City”. Students explore and analyze a range of published A,B,C and A-Z picture books. They apply the five themes of geography to the natural and built environment of Prince Rupert, its port, and the transportation network of which it is a part. They incorporate their ideas into an original alphabet book for pre-school and elementary age children. The lesson is informed by the big idea of Interdependence.


1 teacher-led session of 50-60 minutes; 6-8 sessions for student-led project work (plus homework time as necessary)


Students will:

  • Apply the five themes of geography to the context of the natural and built environment of the port of Prince Rupert and the goods distribution network of which it is a part
  • Organize written and visual information into an engaging, age-appropriate book for young children
  • Create a variety of 2-D images designed to engage an audience of young children
  • Demonstrate the ability to work cooperatively, sensitively and productively in a group to achieve a shared goal


  • A copy of ABCs of Prince Rupert by Chris Armstrong (ISBN: 978-0-9877614-1-5)
  • A copy of Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier (ISBN: 978-1585362387)
  • A selection of other A-Z or A,B,C picture books (enough for one per group of 4 students)
  • Table of The Five Themes of Geography (see Resources section)
  • Persistence and Change: A History of the Ts’msyen Nation, First Nations Educational Services, SD52 (Prince Rupert).
  • The following short videos about the port of Prince Rupert:
  • Mind map template for Activity 2 (see Resources section for an example)
  • The video AbeBooks Explains the Parts Of A Book
  • A variety of paper and art supplies for students who wish to produce their books by hand


  • Internet access for online research
  • Computer and printer access for students who wish to produce their books, or components of their books, electronically


  • Source the picture books from the local library
  • Set up computer and projector or Smart Board to show video materials
  • Have on hand sufficient paper and art supplies for the production of the picture books by hand
  • Secure access to the computer lab (or to sufficient laptops/tablets) for the electronic production of the picture books

CRITICAL VOCABULARY (see Glossary for definitions)

Students may find it helpful to refer to the Glossary on the Learning Gateway website as they do the research for and develop their books.


  • Explain to the students that they will be producing A-Z/ABC picture books for young children on the theme of the port of Prince Rupert. Tell them that the process of generating the content for their books will involve applying the 5 themes of geography to the natural and built environment at the port community. The goal of the book is to teach young children about the port, its buildings and structures, its activities, and the environment and the community that surrounds it and gave rise to it. The book will contain factual information as well as more lyrical or creative text.
  • Share ABCs of Prince Rupert and Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet with the students. You can do this by reading them to the class yourself or by inviting one or two of the students to read them to the class. Before the readings take place, ask students to engage with the text and pictures from the perspective of what they think would be appealing to an audience of young children.
  • After reading the books, lead a discussion with the class about the differences and similarities between the two texts and their illustrations:
    • Ask students to comment on the styles used (verse/prose; fact/fiction) and to provide as assessment of how effective or engaging the text in each book is and why.
    • Ask students to comment on the style of the illustrations in each book, how engaging they are, and how they think they were produced.
  • Give students time to examine the other picture books you have brought into class. Ask them to identify what they like (or dislike) about the books in terms of the text and illustrations, and why. Have students share their thoughts and on the board or flip chart, make note of the characteristics of the books that the class finds particularly appealing or engaging.


  • Review with the class the 5 themes of Geography. (See Resources section for a table of the themes and their meaning/application.)
  • Show students the following selection of short videos about the Port of Prince Rupert:
    • Port of Prince Rupert (4 minutes 44 seconds)
    • DHC-3 Otter Seaplane ride over Prince Rupert, B.C. (4 minutes)
    • The three terminal videos on the Learning Gateway website: Fairview Container Terminal Video, Ridley Terminal Video, Prince Rupert Grain Terminal Video
    • Ask students to watch the videos with the 5 themes of geography in mind. How do the themes apply to the locations and activities presented in the videos?

  • Give students 5 minutes to note down, individually, their thoughts about how the 5 themes of Geography apply to the port of Prince Rupert. Encourage students to think not just about the immediate environment of the marine terminals but also about how the shipping and transportation activities are connected to other places in North America and overseas. Students can record their thoughts as a mind map. (A suggested example is provided in Resources section.)
  • Have the students pair up and share their thoughts with each other. They can add their partners’ ideas to their own mind maps.
  • Have the pairs feed back their thoughts to the whole class and, on the board or flip chart, record the students’ responses. Keep this as resource of ideas that students can refer to as they develop their picture books.


  • Put students into groups of 4-5. Explain that these are the groups they will work in to create an A-Z/ABC picture book of Prince Rupert the Port City.
  • Lead the whole class in an identification of the tasks involved in making their book and in placing the tasks into an appropriate sequence.
  • Review with the class the parts of a book. (This may seem obvious, but there are some elements, such as end papers, that tend to be forgotten.) The short video (3 minutes) AbeBooks Explains the Parts Of A Book provides a useful reminder.
  • Remind students that their books will have to include factual information as well as more lyrical text (much like Z is for Zamboni does).
  • Have each group make the following decisions in preparation for beginning work on their book:
    • What format will their book take? Size; orientation (i.e. landscape, portrait); number of pages; handmade or produced on the computer (or a combination)?
    • How will the book be put together and bound? Hand stitched; spiral bound; stapled?
    • What style of text will they use? Verse or prose; how will they present both the factual information and the more creative/lyrical content?
    • What kind of illustrations will they create? Drawings; paintings; photographs; digital/computer generated art; colour/black and white?
    • How will the text and illustrations look on the page? Size of each illustration; font choices for text; placement of text and illustrations?
    • Which members of the group will take responsibility for which tasks? Individual/shared responsibility; using group members’ particular skills/interests; process for making decisions?
  • Give the students sufficient time to research, draft and produce their book. In addition to the ideas that were generated in Activity 2, have students explore the material in the first two chapters (in particular) of Persistence and Change: A History of the Ts’msyen Nation for information specific to local First Nations. Students may also wish to access more information about the port of Prince Rupert, the different terminals, the sister ports in Asia, the rail transportation system and destination cities in North America. The Additional Resources below provide some useful online resources.


  • The book-making project could be conducted as a collaborative activity between Geography and Fine Arts classes.
  • A whole class could work together to produce one book or students could create their own individual books.


During the preparation/planning phase of the book-making project, lead students through the collaborative development of assessment criteria for their finished books, and for their working process. Criteria might include:

  • Working process:
    • Level of individual input to group project

    • Ability to work cooperatively and respectfully with group members
    • Effectiveness/efficiency of the group’s working process
  • Finished book:
    • Readability of text
    • Use of engaging language
    • Accuracy of factual content
    • Grammatical accuracy of the textual material
    • Use of illustrations/images that are: Appropriate for the text, Engaging, Imaginative/creative
    • Overall presentation and durability of the book


  • Share the finished books with students at a local elementary school. High school students could read their books to a class of younger children. Copies of the books could be presented to the elementary school library.
  • If the necessary funds are available, the books could be printed digitally using an online book printing service.
  • Contact the Port of Prince Rupert Interpretive Centre to see if they would be interested in having copies of the books as a resource for visitors to the centre, or used as part of a special display.



  • AbeBooks Explains the Parts Of A Book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQyntYcGwik
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