Cycles Storyline®

written by Colleen Vallerga

This Storyline is based on the Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole.

Grades: 1-3
Total Number of Pages:  139


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Storyline Overview

The Cycles Storyline begins when a large paper school bus appears in the hallway, outside the classroom. A letter from Ms. Frizzle of Magic School Bus fame arrives shortly after. In the letter Ms. Frizzle tells the students how kids from all over America help her create her books and videos. She invites the lucky class to create her next video about cycles and states clear guidelines and expectations for the project.

“First… I want you to create a Magic School Bus character.

Second… I want you to learn about a sunflower and its life cycle, and create a sunflower field.

Third… you will all need to work together to get things done. Magic School Bus kids cooperate at all times. How will you do this?

And fourth… remember to keep your imagination and sense of humor alive at all times on the bus. You will use it to have fun and create an exciting video.

I will send weekly clues to guide your cycle study as you explore my Magic School Bus land and create the new Cycles video.”

Ms. Frizzle

Ms. Frizzle ends her letter, telling the students that their classroom teacher will be their guide.

After students become Magic School Bus characters, they learn about sunflowers, document their information for the Cycles video, and create a sunflower field. Students then role play, shrinking into the sunflower field, to get a big picture of how it all looks. An incident, waiting to be solved, occurs while they are in the sunflower field.

Once a week, a new cycle clue arrives and a new cycle is explored. A format, similar to the sunflower activities, is used to study the following cycles:

  • bee
  • butterfly
  • ant
  • ladybug
  • seasons
  • rocks
  • water
  • moon

Additional information is collected and photographed for a Comic Life (or alternative) formatting of the new Cycles video. In the end, Ms. Frizzle arrives for the premiere, where she admires, and thankfully accepts, the new Cycles video.

The Cycles Storyline is packed with learning. Joanna Cole’s Magic School Bus framework makes the study lively, fun and personal for kids. I find this Storyline an efficient way to cover designated yearly curriculum in a creative and meaningful way.

Standards and Instruction Covered

Common Core Language Arts Standards

Reading Literature

  • Key Ideas and Details
  • Craft and Structure
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Reading Informational Text

  • Key Ideas and Details
  • Craft and Structure
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Speaking and Listening

  • Comprehension and Collaboration
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


  • Text Types and Purposes
  • Production and Distribution of Writing
  • Research to Build and Present Knowledge


  • Vocabulary

Next Generation Science Standards

  • Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
  • Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, Dynamics
  • From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
  • Earth’s Place in the Universe
  • Earth’s Systems
  • Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
  • Engineering Design

Health Education Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Promotion of Mental, Social and Emotional Health

Art Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Visual Arts
  • Theater
  • Music