Stripes of All Types

November 22, 2013

stripes of all types

Stripes of All Types

by Susan Stockdale

Peachtree Publishers, 2013

ISBN #978-1-56145-695-6

Grades PreK-3

Nonfiction Picture Book

Visit STEM Friday

Exciting news! Anastasia Suen and I co-wrote a new book. It’s based on my blog and is packed full of lesson plans, STEM, mentor texts, and the Common Core.

coverimage - Copy (2)

Stripes of All Types follows animal life with stripes as part of their coloration in their native habitats. The book reveals simple information in a rollicking rhyme and bright art.  It takes the reader from the ocean to land to a familiar striped animal at home.


Define the word “camouflage” in nature as protective coloring that helps animals hide in plain sight. Then show these images and together locate the animal. You may have to point out where it is in some pictures. Discuss why animals need to use camouflage and the ways it helps them.

Pair the book with the nonfiction book Toco Toucan Bright Enough to Disappear by Anastasia Suen.  Compare the ways the toucan uses colors to the stripes in the Stripes of All Types book.


Next Generation Science Standards


ESS3.A: Natural Resources

§ Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do. (K-ESS3-1)

ESS2.E: Biogeology

§ Plants and animals can change their environment. (K-ESS2-2)


LS1.A: Structure and Function

§ All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow. (1-LS1-1)

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms

§ Adult plants and animals can have young. In many kinds of animals, parents and the offspring themselves engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive. (1-LS1-2)

LS1.D: Information Processing

§ Animals have body parts that capture and convey different kinds of information needed for growth and survival. Animals respond to these inputs with behaviors that help them survive. Plants also respond to some external inputs. (1-LS1-1)

LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits

§ Young animals are very much, but not exactly like, their parents. Plants also are very much, but not exactly, like their parents. (1-LS3-1)

LS3.B: Variation of Traits

§ Individuals of the same kind of plant or animal are recognizable as similar but can also vary in many ways. (1-LS3-1)


LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

§ There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water. (2-LS4-1)

For a Common Core experience, discuss the main idea of the book. Use each spread and talk about how that animal’s stripes are located and positioned. Ask the listeners why animals have stripes. Then show the spread with the striped images. Identify each picture in turn to review the animals’ names and where they live.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.2 With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.3 With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.5 Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.6 Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.

Look up the CCSS to see the remaining Literacy.RI.1-2 standards.

Come See the Earth Turn

June 24, 2013


Come See the Earth Turn

By Lori Mortensen

Illustrated by Raul Allen

Tricycle Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58246-284-4

Nonfiction picture book

Ages 8-12

Come See the Earth Turn tells the story of Leon Foucault and the way he proved that the Earth turned using a pendulum to show the movement. Lacking formal training, Foucault, a poor student, found his place in developing “clever instruments and magnificent contraptions.”

He wondered about questions relating to light, its speed, and how to prove these sorts of things. And while people had begun to think the Earth turned, no one had proved it—until Foucault did.

Even though he’d received honors for his work, he wasn’t formally trained and it wasn’t until three years before his death that he was granted membership into the French Academy of Science.

The book contains an author’s note, glossary with pictures of the instruments, and bibliography.  In this day of Common Core State Standards, this book begs to be included in classroom and library lessons.

It would make a wonderful introduction to a lesson on Earth science, gravity, and the Earth’s motion. The invention could be compared with that of another early scientist and used as a way to show the scientific method.

Determine the main idea and find examples of how the story supports it. Look up the tools listed in the vocabulary to find more about how they worked to support academic and domain-specific word acquisition.

Compare the book with a scientific explanation of the Earth’s motion and discuss they different ways the authors used to explain this principle.

With the Next Generation Science Standards now available, the book fits perfectly with the Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions and Earth’s Place in the Universe strand. It would kick off a fun lesson to begin a study of these topics in the relevant grades.

Nonfiction is a terrific way to liven up lessons and provides a fun introduction to many topics. It gives teachers, parents, and librarians the opportunity to show children the pleasure and fun of nonfiction.

This site has a good biography of Foucault.

Nonfiction Picture Book Cybils Winner!

February 14, 2013

We have a winner for the nonfiction picture book Cybils award! I was on the committe for nonfiction picture books and we all  agreed that Mrs. Harkness and the Panda was our favorite. Take a look at the book and the other winners here. I loved this book and think you will, too.

Nonfiction Picture Books

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda By Alicia Potter, illustrated by Melissa Sweet Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers Nominated by: Cathy Potter

Who could forget the endearing face of a panda bear like the one on the cover of Mrs. Harkness and the Panda? It is more difficult to remember, however, who brought the first panda  bear to America. In 1934, when the story starts, only a few people even  knew pandas existed. Mrs. Harkness, a young New York dress designer,  seemed to be the least-likely person to go to far-off China to look for  one. Yet when her husband dies during an attempt to find a panda, off  she goes on the adventure of a lifetime to fulfill his quest.

Reading this book is an adventure of its own. It delves into China with rich  colors, using actual Chinese writing on the paper in the background of  the illustrations, photographs of Chinese coins, and even including some well-placed Chinese words. Each page and each reading reveals new  discoveries.

The story of a young woman heading off into the unknown is one of bravery  and perseverance that is sure to appeal to a wide range of readers. Mrs. Harkness would be perfect to introduce a geography or history lesson about China.  Although it is a biography, this book is also likely to stimulate  conversations about animal conservation, particularly discussions about  endangered animals and how our views of how to care for rare animals  have changed. It is truly a memorable and inspiring book.

See a complete review at Wrapped in Foil.



Infinity and Me

November 14, 2012

Infinity and Me

by Kate Hosford

Illusgtrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

Carolrhoda Books (Lerner), 2012

ISBN #978-0761367260

Ages 5 and up

“How many stars were in the sky? A million? A billion? Maybe the number was as big as infinity. I started to feel very small. How could I even think about something as big as infinity?

Uma loves her new red shoes, but she can’t help wondering how big infinity really is. Using comparisons with familiar objects, she gets an idea about how big it really is. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a terrific way to introduce young children to the indefinite concept of infinity. The text flows smoothly and does an excellent job of explaining an abstract concept. In the end, Uma gets an up-close idea of how big infinity really is.

This book fits a wide range of ages and would appeal to listeners and readers alike. It could trigger a fascinating discussion in class and is a good way to introduce a Common Core lesson in any classroom. Try this one. It belongs in every school library!


Use a strand of cooked spaghetti for this activity. After it has cooled, stretch the spaghetti strand out. Measure it and then cut it in half. Measure the halves in standard and metric units. Continue cutting the half in half until you are unable to cut it further. Then talk about how it might be possible to cut it even down to a size you can’t see any more.

CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.2 Measure the length of an object twice, using length units of different lengths for the two measurements; describe how the two measurements relate to the size of the unit chosen.

Book provided by Blue Slip Media.

*This will be my last post for SimplyScience. I’m shuttering the blog because my writing career is getting so busy–that’s a good thing. Thank you to everyone who has read and shared my work. I’ll be leaving the archives up and who knows? Perhaps I’ll return in a year or so. Thanks to all of you!


Environmental Disasters

November 7, 2012

Environmental Disasters

By Shirley Duke

Rourke, 2012 (available now)

ISBN #978-1-61741-784-9

Grades 4-6


“In 2010 an explosion shattered a quiet April evening in theGulf of Mexico. Flames roared into the air on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform. Startled workers scrambled to escape. Most of them reached safety. Millions of gallons of light crude oil gushed from the site.”

After writing a report on fires in 7th grade, my interest in disasters grew, along with learning the science of them. It’s interesting that I ended up writing this book. It followed Enterprise STEM and Forces and Motion at Work, and it was fascinating to research. I learned much more about our environment and the charge we have to keep it healthy. The most interesting part of writing this book was revisiting the history of some disasters that had happened in my younger days.

Each section in Environmental Disasters relates the situation about how the disaster happened, explains the consequences, and tells what may prevent it in the future. The book opens with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It goes on to discuss solid wastes like those at Love Canal and the problems with plastics and electronic wastes, nuclear meltdowns here, in Chernobyl, and Japan, acid rain, and the ozone. It includes a chart of small changes children can make to get involved in making the Earth safer. Each chapter includes diagrams that illustrate new vocabulary and more details about the processes involved.

The book has bright photographs with captions containing pertinent information not included in the text. It has a glossary, websites, and index, and an about the author section.

Activity 1

Look up information about the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the Three Mile Island disaster, and the more recent Japanese reactor problems following the tsunami. Use a graphic organizer or develop your own  to contrast and compare two of those disasters and their results.

Three Mile Island



Activity 2 (easier)

Make a timeline of disasters and display it. Use the book’s information to begin and find others to include.

Find more disasters at this site.

National Science Standards: matter and its interactions; human impacts on Earth systems

CCSS: I.5.3:

3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or

concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

100 People Who Made History

October 31, 2012

100 People Who Made History

By Ben Gilliland

DK Publishing, 2012

ISBN #9780756690038

Grades 3-7 (Publisher lists ages 7-12)


“There are adventurous discoverers who boldly go where no one has gone before, sailing the high seas and finding new lands. Then there are the more stay-at-home types, who toil away in labs and the like and—eureka—discover something that will save millions of lives. Behind every great discovery is a remarkable person, whose courage and determination—and sometime plain luck—made the world the place it is today.”

I opened the book and the page fell to Dimitri Mendeleev, the scientist who developed the first periodic table of the elements. Early pages of the book begin with the great explorers, like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, and then moves on to the great early scientists: Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin.

Each spread is devoted to a great explorer, philosopher, historian, leader, or inventor in many different fields, including popular culture and the arts. The two pages are presented in a series of sidebars set off by photographs that break the information into small chunks packed with facts. One section details their early life, education, how they arrived at their achievement, and other sets of interesting facts. The bottom text and art on the pages tells of others who came along and used the information to develop further ideas.

The back matter includes a section titled “Let’s Applaud…,” which includes those who didn’t quite make the top 100 of American and Canadian history, a glossary, and index. This book allows readers to “Meet the people who shaped the modern world” and allows them to make their own discoveries of those intrepid explorers who changed the world in some way. 

This book fits easily into elementary and middle school libraries and is well-suited to the Common Core Curriculum. It contains a helpful table of contents grouped by achievements and would be a fascinating read for any age interested in learning more about a specific person. It’s a great jumping off place for biographies and first nonfiction research. I loved the book and I think kids will, too.


Select an explorer from two different categories. List the events in their life. Then make a chart to compare their experiences. 

This site has more information about other people and their achievements.

Here’s another list.

National Science Standard: Core Idea ETS2: Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society; ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

CCSS: I.5.3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

Book provided by DK Publishing

Busy as a Bee

October 24, 2012

Busy as a Bee

by Thea Feldman

Kingfisher, Kingfisher Readers,  2013

Level1 Beginning to Read

ISBN: 9780753433195

Grades K-1

Nonfiction early reader

“Buzz! What is that? It is a bee!”

The introduction to this early nonfiction reader is followed by a large photograph of a bee, designed, to catch the reader’s interest.  The text continues with interesting bee facts like why it buzzes, why they fly from flower to flower,  the life cycle, and where they live, along with other bee details. The final page reviews the information and back matter in this 32 page book includes a glossary.

This book is a wonderful way to introduce nonfiction to beginning readers and gets a jump start on the Common Core need to include informational texts in the curriculum. The set goes up to Level 5, but Busy as a Bee is a great way to start young readers with nonfiction.


After reading the book, list the facts the reader learned about bees. Then read about ants, another animal living in a community. Write down the ant facts, and then make a chart to compare some of the ways they are alike and different.

National Geographic has good ant information.

KidsKonnect has more ant facts.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Common Core: Ask and answer questions about key details (RI.1.1); identify the main topic and recall key details of a text (RI.1.2)

Book provided by Kingfisher.


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