Scorpions

August 1, 2012

Nonfiction Monday is at Shelf-employed.

Scorpions

By Sandra Markle

Lerner, 2011

ISBN #978-0-7613-5037-8

Grades 4-8

Nonfiction

“Wecome to the world of arachnids. They can be found everywhere on Earth except Antarctica.”

Scorpions are not my favorite animal, but Markle makes them fascinating enough to interest even the most arachnophobic reader. An excellent book for readers from elementary ages through middle school, the narrative begins with an explanation of why scorpions are classified into the arthropod group. The introduction is followed by three pages of an easy-to-read diagram of the inner and outer anatomy of scorpions. These terms illustrated in the diagrams are used in the text throughout the book.

The book explains the life and habits of scorpions, including the life cycle and defensive adaptations. Full page photographs show the various species of scorpions in their habitats. Small sidebars give additional facts of interest as a Scorpion Fact. The ending concludes with more information about classification and the value of scorpions to humans.

Back matter has more armed defenders, a glossary, books, websites, an activity, and an index.  It’s one of six books in the Arachnid World Series by Lerner. Markel shows her usual excellent fact-finding and writing to make this a terrific read. It’s a perfect book for good elementary science readers but best of all will attract the middle school readers, too.

Activity

After reading the book, find at least five adaptations that scorpions have that helps them stay alive. How many can you find? I found seven on a quick glance back through the book. You might find more!

National Geographic has more information about scorpions.

This site has good information about adaptations with really good illustrations, although it stating that it is for grades 3-5 might put off older readers.

This site has a game where you choose the adaptations. An adaptation challenge along the right side has more games.

National science standard: adaptation

Book provided by Lerner.


Animal Homes

April 11, 2012

Nonfiction Monday is at The Nonfiction Detectives today.

Animal Homes

By Angela Wilkes

Kingfisher, 2012

Discover Science Series

ISBN #9780753467756

Nonfiction

GradesK-3

“Animals need home for all of the same reasons that people do. Homes provide shelter and keep animals warm in the winter. They are a safe place to rest and raise babies.”

Animal Homes introduces the variety of homes and locations where vertebrate and invertebrate animals live. An introductory paragraph sets the facts included about the specific home; short text passages give detailed information about animals living in that sort of home. Large, clear photographs support the text information that will appeal to the readers of this age range. Each spread discusses a specific kind of home following the introduction.

After defining homes, the book covers homes along the water and in it, nests of all kinds, underground homes and hibernation, colonies and cells such as honeycombs, and snow homes. The animals inhabiting each location are described by explaining how and why they live there.

This book addresses many areas of science. Life cycles, habitats, adaptations, and animal habitats are included within the information. Something else I noticed is the attention to aspects of the Common Core. Topics address the nonfiction reading and information. Rings point out details in photos to illustrate specific information. Back matter suggests specific activities to do that relate to the reading and extending the knowledge. It also has parent and teacher notes that include extension activities across the curriculum, as well as table of contents, glossary, a short quiz, and a find out more section.

The beauty of this book and its series is that it covers so many parts of life science. This book in a library will not only enhance the collection but it will provide a wide range of science for one reading. Kingfisher books are excellent choices for their quality and well-chosen information.

Activity

Set up a field notebook for recording observations to use throughout the year. Inlcude qualitative observations and quantitative observations. Qualitative observations include information observed using the senses. Quantitative observations are those that include recording facts numerically. Choose one of the activities on pages 50-51 and do it. Record the findings in your field notebook.

National Science Standards: growth and development; adaptation

Book provided by publisher


Coral Reefs

November 9, 2011

Coral Reefs

By Jason Chin

Roaring Brook Press, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-563-6

Nonfiction picture book with fantasy element

“For more than 400 million years, corals have been building reefs in the earth’s oceans. Corals may look like plants, but they are actually animals. Some are soft and sway back forth in the water, while others, called hard corals, are rigid. Corals are made up of polyps, and most have hundreds of tiny polyps on their surface.”

A young girl pulls a book off the shelf at the New York Public Library and begins to read. Like the boy carried into the forest in Redwoods, she is swept into the undersea world of corals. Before this happens, however, Chin presents some of the fascinating information about corals and the skeletons of these animals that form coral reefs. As the girl experiences slides into the coral reefs, she meets up with the plants and animals that live there.

Chin brings to life the brilliant colors and variety of animals living in the tropic seas where reefs are formed. Each spread presents information and brings what the child is reading to life. This book provides excellent information and makes the relationships among the life there clear and real.

This book slips into the undersea world more effortlessly than Redwoods. It’s lovely and lush—and guaranteed to be popular, especially among New York librarians!

Activity 1

Create a food chain or web from the organisms in the book.

 This site has a food chain explanation.

Activity 2

Look up the term for the relationship between two animals that is mutually beneficial called mutualism. Find other examples of beneficial relationships.

Here are two examples.

Activity 3

Find ways some of the animals have adapted to escape their predators using the book’s information.

Visit my post on Follow That Food Chain Coral Reefs post to pair the books and find more activities.

National Science Standards: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems, Ecosystems Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

Book provided by Blue Slip Media and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group


WELCOME TO STEM FRIDAY

November 4, 2011

Mr. Linky and I didn’t work out after all. Feel free to send your posts  in the comments  thoughout the weekend.

STEM Friday

1. Archimedes Notebook reviews “Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature” – an awesome new book by Joyce Sidman.

2. MotherReader is sharing a preschool program she designed for the library, Science and Stories.

3. Anastasia at Chapter Book of the Day has The Water Cycle (Science Foundations) by Nikole Brooks Bethea (Author) – the debut book of her former student!

4. Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has has two Kingfisher books today from the My Life in the Wild series. She reviews Penguin and Cheetah.

5. Zoe at Playing By the Book has is has The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins.

3-D Theater Rainforest

By Kathryn Jewett

Illustrated by Fiammetta Dogi

Kingfisher, 2011

ISBN #978-0-7534-6467-0

Ages 4-8

“Stand still for a moment on the forest floor and armies of ant will stomp over our feet. Leeches start slinking toward you, hungry for blood. The trees above block out most of the light, so fungi, ferns, and mosses grow where the green plants can’t. It may be dark and damp, but this is one of the busiest layers of the forest.”

This gorgeous pop-up book puts the rainforest in a 3-D view to illustrate and narrate the rainforest layers and its inhabitants. Every other page gives information about the animals and plants living in that level. Alternating pages pop out to form a view deeper inside the rainforest. Cut out pop-ups fill the forest niches with animals and plants found there. Additional animal information is found around the edges of each theater scene.

This twenty page book is fun to read or simply look at. It’s remarkably sturdy and readers can find something new each time it was read. It would be a wonderful way to introduce rainforests to the classroom or make a lovely gift at birthday or holiday time.

Activity 1

Develop a food chain based on the plants and animals in the book.

Activity 2 (for younger children)

Identify the animals in the book or practice the colors of the life found inside the rainforest.

National Geographic has short information and pictures of rainforests.

This site explains a simple food chain.

This site has some rainforest activities.

National Science Standard: ecosystems dynamics, functioning, and resilience

Book provided by Kingfisher


3-D Theater Rainforest and 3-D Theater Ocean

October 26, 2011

3-D Theater Rainforest

By Kathryn Jewett

Illustrated by Fiammetta Dogi

Kingfisher, 2011

ISBN #978-0-7534-6467-0

Ages 4-8

“Stand still for a moment on the forest floor and armies of ant will stomp over our feet. Leeches start slinking toward you, hungry for blood. The trees above block out most of the light, so fungi, ferns, and mosses grow where the green plants can’t. It may be dark and damp, but this is one of the busiest layers of the forest.”

This gorgeous pop-up book puts the rainforest in a 3-D view to illustrate and narrate the rainforest layers and its inhabitants. Every other page gives information about the animals and plants living in that level. Alternating pages pop out to form a view deeper inside the rainforest. Cut out pop-ups fill the forest niches with animals and plants found there. Additional animal information is found around the edges of each theater scene.

This twenty page book is fun to read or simply look at. It’s remarkably sturdy and readers can find something new each time it was read. It would be a wonderful way to introduce rainforests to the classroom or make a lovely gift at birthday or holiday time.

Activity 1

Develop a food chain based on the plants and animals in the book.

Activity 2 (for younger children)

Identify the animals in the book or practice the colors of the life found inside the rainforest.

National Geographic has short information and pictures of rainforests.

This site explains a simple food chain.

This site has some rainforest activities.

National Science Standard: ecosystems dynamics, functioning, and resilience

Book provided by Kingfisher


POLAR LANDS

September 28, 2011

Nonfiction Monday is a 100 Scope Notes today.

Polar Lands

By Sean Callery

Kingfisher, 2011

Life Cycle Series

ISBN # 978-0-7534-6691-9

Ages 7 to 10

Nonfiction PB

“The Arctic and Antarctic regions are known as the polar lands. These are the toughest habitats in the world: dark all winter long, with freezing temperatures and storms. Against the odds, plants and animals live there.”

If you’re looking for a book about biomes/habitats and life cycles, Polar Lands (and other books in this series) is the perfect one for elementary-aged learners. Sean Callery takes a region and introduces it, then takes the reader along the food chain page by page. This book includes Arctic and Antarctic animals ranging from krill (which I especially liked, having never seen this organism’s life cycle in a book) to seals to the Arctic wolf. The first page of the spread introduces the organism and traces its life cycle in four steps. A sidebar adds the animal’s adaptation in three picture bulleted details and one more fact at the bottom, which leads the reader to the page turn and next animal in the food chain.

Bright photographs illustrate the text and a circular graphic presents the life cycle, interspersed with more photos. The spread out text and chunks of information make the book inviting and readable. Back matter includes a large silhouette diagram of the entire food chain, a glossary, websites, and an index.

This is one of the most clever ways of writing about and illustrating a food chain that I’ve seen in a book. It’s clear and concise, making both the concept and life cycle easy to follow. I’ve read another book in the series, Grassland, and it’s just as good.  This is a terrific book for libraries and schools, and is great for reading and holding the interest of kids, especially animal lovers.

Activity 1

Take one of the animals from the book and create a graphic to show the food chain in which it is involved. Illustrate the steps along the way or print and cut out pictures for the animals.

National Geographic has good animal information and pictures.

Activity 2

Look up more information about the Arctic and Antarctic. Make a diorama or mural to illustrate its features and the life there. Label each animal.

National Geographic has lots of excellent information on ecosystems and biomes.

Activity 3

Choose an animal. Read more about the animal and create a list of ways it is adapted, or suited, to fit into its environment.

National Science Standards: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems; Growth and Development of Organisms; Growth and Development of Organisms

Book provided by Kingfisher.

Grassland


COYOTE The Barking Dog

August 17, 2011

Coyote 

The Barking Dog

By Natalie Lunis

Bearport, 2012

Animal Loudmouth Series

ISBN #978-1-61772-279-0

Grades K-3

Nonfiction

“It is nighttime in the woods. A few short, squeaky yips and yaps come from a coyote somewhere in the distance. Soon more yipping and yapping starts up in another spot. Before long, other voices join in, and the yips turn into howls.”

Coyotes have a special place in my heart. One of my Austin College professors, the late Dr. Howard McCarley, studied wolves and coyotes. On a field trip with a class I took, he demonstrated a coyote call. I could hardly keep from laughing. However, I tried it, and got a terrific response from the local coyotes. He invited me to work accompany him on his research and I managed to get the coyotes to respond almost every time. He recorded the sounds for further study. Turns out my college-aged voice was quite similar to coyote pups. It was one of the more interesting side aspects of college! As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to blog about it.

Coyote starts with the sounds the animal makes, explaining the purpose and significance of the calls. Habitat, hunting, team work, pups, and living with coyotes are included in the narrative text. The book explains the prevalence of coyotes and their ability to adapt to many kinds of habitats. Short captions explain the photographs.

Excellent photographs of coyotes in action liven up the spreads and break up the information. In keeping with the series, the decibel levels of coyote calls are included with a range of other noises on a page titled Sound Check.

Back matter includes a picture glossary, an index, read more, and a short author blurb. This book makes me want to howl with joy—be sure to check it out.

Visit Nonfiction Monday today to see all the other great books at Ana’s Nonfiction Blog.

Activity

Look up statistics of coyotes, foxes, and wolves. Create a way to compare the sizes of these related animals and add specific facts about where they live, what they eat, how they hunt, color, and number in the litter. Identify ways they are similar and ways they are different.

This site has interesting information about coyotes.

Read more coyote facts here.

National Geographic has good information.

Check out gray wolves here.

National Geographic has fox information here.

National Science Standard: growth and development of organisms; social interactions and group behavior

Book provided by Bearport during TLA.


Prairie Storms

August 10, 2011

Prairie Storms

By Darcy Pattison

Illustrated by Kathleen Rietz

Sylvan Dell, 2011

ISBN: 9781607181293

Ages 4-9

Picture book

“Low, thick clouds dump snow, covering the prairies. Whistling winds shape and mold the snow into drifts and hollows. The prairie chicken claws into a drift, digging a winter roost.”

Darcy Pattison, known for her fiction, changes her writing direction in this book about animals, the prairie, and the variety of weather that blasts the prairie grasslands. Tracing the weather month by month, Prairie Storms features a different animal on each spread as it survives, aided by its specific adaptations to this habitat. The language is lovely and engaging for young children.

Soft art by Rietz portrays the animals in a realistic manner within their prairie environment and surroundings. As in other Sylvan Dell books, this book has a six page set of activities relating to prairies, animals, and weather that will encourage discussion and opportunities to reread the book. The book would be a good one for story time, studies of habitats, weather, or animals.

Activity

Find out more about each of the animals named in the book. Divide the children into groups and have them look up interesting facts about the animal. Make a poster showing a picture of that animal, the facts, and the animal in the month’s prairie weather from the book. Present the information.

National Geographic has good animal information.

The website for Prairie Storms gives a number of activities and lesson plans that accompany the book.

The site also has a coloring page link.

Roberta at Growing with Science has a great set of weather activites and a vocabulary list.

National Science Standard: organisms in their environment

Ebook provided by author Darcy Pattison


HUMMINGBIRDS

June 8, 2011

Hummingbirds  

Facts and Folklore from the Americas

By Jeanette Larson and Adrienne Yorinks

Illustrated by Adrienne Yorinks

Charlesbridge, 2011

ISBN # 978-1-58089-332-9

Grades 2-6

Going to ALA? The Nonfiction Book Blast Panel is presenting June 26 at 8:00 AM. I’m signing at Lerner booth 916 on Sunday at 10:00. I’m signing at Peachtree booth 1243 on Saturday at 11:00.

“Hummingbirds defy the limitations of their tiny size and other physical constraints that most species could not conquer. When early European explorers first saw a hummingbird, they thought it was a cross between an insect and a bird because of its small size.”

I’ve watched the hummingbirds sip nectar and then return to fight on our front deck, and they are fascinating birds. Tiny and fierce, they dive and drive away competitors in their territory. I’ve watched their diving behavior and thought they were fighting the entire time. Some of it is courting behavior!

Larson’s and Yorink’s Hummingbirds revealed a new view of these beautiful, iridescent birds that can fly in any direction. The book gives facts in a narrative text with retold folklore interspersed about the hummingbirds that matches the category discussed in the chapter. This is a creative way to present the information while digging into the folklore about these birds.

 

The art is done in fabric collage with a quilted feel. The stitching follows specific hummingbird species in quality representations that matches the information in the narrative. The extensive back matter includes a glossary, additional reading, bibliography, tale sources, bird resources, hummingbird sanctuaries, web sites, art notes, and a glossary.

The book covers a wide range of topics: Life science, history, legends, myths from the Americas, and animal habitats. It’s a beautiful book and worth reading straight through or in small chunks. What a wonderful way to introduce readers to birds and folktales!

Read an interview with Jeanette and Adrienne at Donna Bowman Bratton’s Writing Down the Kid-Lit Page.

Download a coloring page from a hummingbird folktale.

Activity 1

Look up information about hummingbird statistics, such as size, weight, wing beats per minute. Create a chart to display the information in an easy to understand way. Illustrate it with one of your favorite hummingbirds.

This site has good hummingbird information.

Activity 2

Research information about two other small birds. Design a chart to compare the different statistics of hummingbirds with the other two birds you choose.

This website has pictures of small birds. Be sure to click on the photo for a beautiful close-up of the birds.

A Bird’s World has lots of information about birds.

National Geographic has some bird information.

This site has links to more bird information.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choices Best 100 Books.


Survival at 40 Below

August 18, 2010

Survival at 40 Below

By Debbie S. Miller

Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

Walker & Company, 2010

ISBN # 9780802798169

Grades 2-5

Nonfiction 

     “Along the Koyukuk River, towering mountains guard the magnificent valley. Their sheer faces watch the seasons change.

     Click…click…click. Snapping hooves and grumbling voices fill the autumn air. With heads held high, a herd of caribou follows the river through Gates of the Arctic National Park. These regal deer wear new coats of dense fur, with velvet antlers curving toward the sky. Ready for winter, the caribou have gained a thick layer of fat from summer grazing on the tundra.”

The approach of the autumn season begins this story of the animals living in Gates of the Arctic National Park. Busy birds, squirrels, weasels, and deer prepare for the coming frigid winter and the narrative text follows more animals and their adaptations who must ready themselves for the 40 below temperatures. Antifreeze frogs and air gulping fish mix with the animals that hide and hibernate. The return of spring reintroduces the animals now ready to face the return of their activities in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

The writing is beautiful and descriptive and wide, landscape orientation allows for full spreads that show the vast expanse of this land. Endpapers feature a map of Alaska and an inset of the park’s location within Alaska. An author’s note explains her 75 mile trek through the park and what led her to write about these animals that survive the extreme temperatures here. My only complaint is the coloring of the title. It’s a glaring gold and doesn’t seem to fit the beautiful landscape with the caribou on the front. Other than that, the design is gorgeous. The back matter includes a glossary, temperature scale of extremes, and further reading and resources.

Activity

Choose one of the animals from the book. Research information and trace the animal’s life cycle. List the adaptations that that animal has to survive the extreme cold.

Learn more about the Gates of the Arctic National Park.

See this park site for kids. There are games and a slide show to watch with some of the animals.

National Science Standards: life cycle of animals; organisms and their environment

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choices at TWU.


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