Family Resources - Advanced Academic Programs

Resources for parents to support the development of students in Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) at home, including enrichment, research, and critical and creative thinking activities.

Enrichment Opportunities

The National Building Museum offers a variety of interactive activities for families and children of all ages. One can register for summer camp or attend one of the ongoing family programs that are offered.  There is something for families to do every day at the National Building Museum. Offerings include:

  • Family Tool Kits
  • Amazing Arches: Build a Life-Sized Arch in the Great Hall
  • The Building Zone
  • Discovery Carts
  • Family Tours

The National Gallery of Art family weekends offer a variety of activities—films, music, hands-on art projects—for children and adults to enjoy together. All activities are free. There is no advance registration for this drop-in program; participation in each activity is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 
202-789-3030. The focus of the weekend programs vary depending on the featured show.

The National Air and Space Museum offers a variety of free educational programs for families, school groups and the general public.

Children's Literature

The Mysterious Benedict Society   by  Trenton Lee Stewart, Diana Sudyka, Diana Sudyka

Grade 5–9—After Reynie Muldoon responds to an advertisement recruiting "gifted children looking for special opportunities," he finds himself in a world of mystery and adventure. The 11-year-old orphan is one of four children to complete a series of challenging and creative tasks, and he, Kate, Constance, and Sticky become the Mysterious Benedict Society. After being trained by Mr. Benedict and his assistants, the four travel to an isolated school where children are being trained by a criminal mastermind to participate in his schemes to take over the world. The young investigators need to use their special talents and abilities in order to discover Mr. Curtain's secrets, and their only chance to defeat him is through working together. Readers will challenge their own abilities as they work with the Society members to solve clues and put together the pieces of Mr. Curtain's plan. In spite of a variety of coincidences, Stewart's unusual characters, threatening villains, and dramatic plot twists will grab and hold readers' attention. Fans of Roald Dahl or Blue Balliett will find a familiar blend of kid power, clues, and adventure in Society, though its length may daunt reluctant or less-secure readers.

This book answers the charges that special programs for gifted children are elitist. The authors demonstrate that it is simply appropriate to provide educational experiences that each child needs at a particular time."

The Invention of Hugo Cabret  by Brian Selznick

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Johnson, D. B. Henry Climbs a Mountain. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, 2003

(Henry wants to climb a mountain, and nothing is going to stop him. Then Sam, the tax collector, puts him in jail. But being locked up doesn't stop Henry. He still gets to splash in rivers, swing from trees, and meet a stranger. This bear, modeled on the real Henry David Thoreau, roams free.)

Lasky, Kathryn. The Librarian Who Measured the Earth. Little, Brown and Company. New York, 1994

(This lively picture-book biography begins more than two thousand years ago, when a very smart baby was born in ancient Greece. His name was Eratosthenes. From the time he was a baby, Eratosthenes was full of wonder and questions. Wherever he went as he grew up, and whatever he did, his curiosity and questions propelled him from one discovery to the next. More than anything, however, Eratosthenes wanted to find out how to measure the earth. Everyone knew the earth was round, but no one knew how big around it was. Eratosthenes knew he couldn't walk around the world to measure it, but could he stand in one spot and figure it out? How he did, coming up with a measurement that is only two hundred miles different from our own calculations today, is an inspiring story that is a celebration of curiosity and a tribute to the questing mind.)

Scieszka, Jon and Lane Smith. Math Curse. Viking. New York, 1995

(Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes until your bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pair of pants. Can you make 1 good outfit? Then you start to wonder: Why does everything have to be such a problem? Why do 2 apples always have to be added to 5 oranges? Why do 4 kids always have to divide 12 marbles? Why can't you just keep 10 cookies without someone taking 3 away? Why? Because you're a victim of a Math Curse. That's why. But don't despair. This is one girl's story of how that curse can be broken.)

Brown, Ruth. If at First You Do Not See. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. New York, 1982

(The caterpillar goes off in search of food, but each time he thinks he has found a meal, he discovers that he has stumbled onto one creature or another who does not want to be eaten. At last a scarecrow puts the caterpillar in his pocket where he can rest. When he wakes, the caterpillar has become a butterfly. In this book, the reader's imagination is called into play to make sense of both story and pictures.)

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!:  Voices From a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, Robert Byrd (Illustrator)

Using a series of interconnected monologues and dialogues featuring young people living in and around an English manor in 1255, she offers first-person character sketches that build upon each other to create a finer understanding of medieval life. The book was inspired by the necessity of creating a play suitable for a classroom where "no one wanted a small part." Each of the 23 characters (between 10 and 15 years old) has a distinct personality and a societal role revealed not by recitation of facts but by revelation of memories, intentions, and attitudes. Sometimes in prose and more often in one of several verse forms, the writing varies nicely from one entry to the next. Historical notes appear in the vertical margins, and some double-page spreads carry short essays on topics related to individual narratives.

Cooper, Melrose. Gettin' Through Thursday. Lee & Low Books, Inc. New York, 1998

(Andre dreads Thursdays. Thursday is the day before Mama gets paid at work each week--it's the day when money is tight and spirits are low for Andre and his older brother and sister. As report card day approaches, Andre anticipates making the honor roll and Mama says she'll throw a royal party for just such an event. But Andre can't believe his eyes when he looks at the calendar and sees that the report card day falls on the worst possible day of the week: A Thursday. Andre's predicament--and the loving solution that his family offers--will strike a chord with readers of all backgrounds.)

Frasier, Debra. Miss Alaineus. A Vocabulary Disaster. Harcourt, Inc. New York, 2000

(Anyone who has ever been daunted: discouraged or disheartened, by a mere word in a dictionary will cheer wildly: in a manner lacking all restraint, as Sage transforms embarrassment into victory in this outrageous and touching story of loving--and mistaking--our glorious language.)

Pappas, Theoni. fractals, googols and other mathematical tales, Wide World Publishing, San Carlos, CA, 2002.

(This book, for grades 4 to 8, contains information about famous problems, mathematicians, and events in the history of mathematics from the perspective of Penrose the cat. Each tale centers on one particular event and is accompanied by historical background information. For example, in the tale about the Mobius strip, Penrose falls asleep and dreams he is in a room where he can walk from the floor to the ceiling without touching the walls.)

Phillips, Christopher. The Philosophers' Club. Tricycle Press. California, 2001

(What is silence? What is wisdom? How do you know you're here? Think you don't have a clue? Well, think again. Because in the Philosophers' Club, you'll come up with plenty of answers--answers that always lead to more questions, questions, questions that will get your mind humming and give you plenty to talk about with your friends. Join the conversation!)

Smith, David J. If the World Were A Village. A Book about the World's People. Kids Can Press.New York, 2002

(At this moment, there are more than 6 billion people on the planet! It's hard to picture so many people at one time but what if we imagine the whole world as a village of just 100 people? In this village: 22 people speak a Chinese dialect, 20 earn less than a dollar a day, 17 cannot read or write, 60 are always hungry, and 24 have a television in their homes. If the World Were a Village tells us who we are, where we live, how fast we are growing, what languages we speak, what religions we practice and more. So come and learn about our global village. What you find out may surprise you!)

Dorros, Arthur. Abuela. Dutton. New York, 1991

(Rosalba tells of a day in the park with her abuela (grandmother). Rosalba imagines flying over New York City with her abuela, seeing the harbor, the airport, the streets and office buildings, the Statue of Liberty. Rosalba's narrative is sprinkled with terms in Spanish, her abuela's language, offering just enough challenge to invite an English-speaking child to become fascinated with the words. The illustrations are joyous, colorful, and rich in details to explore.)

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