Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel by Connor, Leslie. Illustrated by Mary Azarian.
Houghton Mifflin, 2004. ISBN 0618305645. pp: 30.
grades 1-4, older as curriculum specific tie-in


Young Miss Bridie chooses a shovel to bring when she immigrates to America in 1856. We follow Miss Bridie and her shovel through the pleasures and sorrows of her life.


  1. Select an event in the life of Miss Bridie. Write a diary page as you think Miss Bridie might have.

  2. Study the meaning of these words: ancestor emigrant immigrant
    for definitions see Citizenship at these links
    upper primary, intermediate
    upper elementary
    Interview a parent or grandparent. Collect a family story about how your family came to this county or to this area from another place in this county.

  3. Miss Bridie came to New York in 1856. Read a newspaper article from 1855 that describes what some emigrants found as they "stepped off the ship in the harbor in New York."

  4. Miss Bridie was a young Irish immigrant. Find names of some other Irish immigrants to the United States and what they contributed to their new homeland - America.

  5. Miss Bridie got a job in a Millinery. Victorian Millinery sells head wear like that worn in the 1850-1860's. Examine the different illustrations and descriptions (the prices are what you would pay to buy the hat in 2006.) Design a hat that Miss Bridie might have sold.

  6. People in a community used to help each other by having a barnraising. The tradition of barnraising can still be found in the Amish community. Do you think that Miss Bridie had a barnraising after the barn burned? The tradition of barnraising can still be found in the Amish community. As more immigrants came to America bringing the traditions of their homeland, the barns of America changed.

  7. Look through the book for pictures of the flowers that Miss Bridie grew. Look at the flowers at Kids’ Valley Garden. Which of the ten flowers shown might be pictured in the book? If you were selecting five of the ten shown to plant in a garden, which ones would you choose? Why?

  8. Could it have happened?
    Would Miss Bridie have used a sewing machine in making hats? hint
    Would Miss Bridie have seen the Statue of Liberty when coming into New York?

  9. Explore the website for illustrator Mary Azarian beginning with the page about her.
    Mary Azanan also illustrated the Caldecott Medal winning Snowflake Bentley. Compare the illustrations in the two books.
  10. List fourteen ways that Miss Bridie made use of her shovel. How many additional ways can you think of to use a shovel?

  11. Teacher directed activity for grades 4-6
    Pair two readers of differing abilities to each read a book, then contribute to your discussion based on their reading. Assign Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel to a lower level reader and the companion book, Annie Quinn in America, to a better reader.
    Schneider, M. (2001). Annie Quinn in America. Carolrhoda Books


More for the Teacher

Sharron L. McElmeel @ McBookwords lists Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel as an excellent example of organization in studying the writing process. Discuss these characteristics of good writing with your students in relation to the book:

Links to other online guides for Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel.


Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel
Accelerated Reader: Quiz #78071 EN; Book Level 4.5; Points= 0.5
Book Adventure (Sylvan): Quiz Level 1