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.

Activity

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.


Desert Baths

October 3, 2012

Darcy Pattison is a guest blogger for today’s book, Desert Baths. Read on to to discover the fascinating way this fun nonfiction book about ways desert animals stay cleam came about.

Desert Baths started when I read an article about anting. Anting is when birds walk onto an ant mound and spread their wings, allowing the ants to crawl over their wings and clean off parasites. Alternately, some birds will pick up an ant in their beaks, crush the ant and then use the ant like a washcloth to brush parasites off their wings. Scientists believe the formic acid from the ant functions as an antiseptic.

After reading about this remarkable method of hygiene, I started searching for other ways that animals take a bath, however odd: spit, rolling in something like dirt or grass, and using dew or mud wallows. The Western Gecko, with its long tongue darting out to lick its eyeball, was just the sort of odd fact that turned up. Slowly, I started to focus on desert animals because the contrast between deserts with no water and the expectation of a water bath was funny.

One problem I faced in writing this was balancing the types of animals. Mammals and birds used a variety of ways to bathe, but reptiles, amphibians and arachnids rarely do what we would call a bath because their skin doesn’t need the same sort of regular hygiene. I wanted to include a tarantula in the book, but they just molt their exoskeleton—not exactly a bath. Instead, the illustrator Kathleen Rietz  kindly included this desert dweller in the illustrations. I squeezed in a diamondback rattler shedding his skin and a desert tortoise looking at a sky empty of cloud. But mostly, the animals had to be mammals and birds.

I also needed to find a variety of animals, from nocturnal to diurnal, or those awake at night and those awake during the day. That would allow me to use a 24-hour day to structure the story.

After I decided to balance nocturnal – diurnal and mammal/bird/reptile/amphibian, it was simply a matter of research, looking for the best possible combination of desert animals. I talked to scientists and studied scientific journals. Finally, I wrote, this time, paying attention to the sounds of the words, to the literary aspects of the story. I always work hard to create stories that are easy to read-aloud.

Desert Baths is a companion book to last year’s Prairie Storms, a book about how prairie animals survive a year of storms. Sylvan Dell Publishing has 50+ page teacher/parent guides available as an pdf download on its site for Desert Baths and Prairie Storms. Desert Baths is also available in Spanish, Las duchas en el desierto.

See all Darcy Pattison’s books here.

Activity 1

Do one of the activities in the book. Compare your answers with a friend.

Activity 2

Do the “Food For Thought” activity. Write a paragraph to demonstrate your knowledge.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Book provided by author.


African Animal Alphabet

September 12, 2012

Visit STEM Friday to see all the posts on great STEM books.

African Animal Alphabet

By Beverly and Dereck Joubert

National Geographic, 2011

ISBN #978-1426307812

Grades PreK-3

Nonfiction

“As we lie in our tent at night in the African bush listening to the barks, chirps, twitters, and roars of the animals around us, we understand that all these animals have their own way of talking. We’ve filmed and photographed these creatures for many years and have come to know them very well. Each animal is different, just like you and me.”

This alphabet book is filled with short fact blurbs and large, exquisite photographs of African animals centered on the alphabet theme by the authors, who have spent more than 25 years in Africa. Familiar and not-so-familiar animals are presented in the spreads and come following a map of Africa showing the terrain and a short introduction about finding more words in the text that begin with that letter.

Readers and listeners will find the pictures appealing and the layouts draw the reader’s attention to some of the “Did You Know” text boxes. Back matter includes more short facts about each animal presented, a glossary, and more information and web sites.

The appeal of this book is that it appeals to a wider age range than most alphabet books and would be a fun read, reference, introduction to animals, or an excellent way to introduce Africa. From pictures to facts, this is a terrific book and would make a great gift, too.

Activity

Make an alphabet book of animals from your state, region, or country. Look up animals and make a book as a group of individually. If you are working with young children, assign each child a letter of the alphabet to research. Write 2-4 facts about the animal, draw a picture, put it in a category, and try to use alliterative words in the animal facts.

National Geographic has animal information for kids.

This site has child-friendly information.

National Science Standard: structure and function; growth and development

Book provided by publisher.


ANIMALS a visual encyclopedia

September 5, 2012

ANIMALS  a visual encyclopedia

Edited by Carrie Lowe and Caroline Stamps

Dorling Kindersley, 2008

ISBN #9780756640279

Ages 5 – 9 years

Nonfiction

What is an Animal?

The animal kingdom is a vast collection of weird and wonderful creatures. Members of this group come in many different shapes and sizes, but they are all made up of cells, and they all have nerves and muscles to move and respond to the world around them. Most important, all animals eat food to make energy.”

This visual encyclopedia first defines animals and then begins with a chart showing the relationship of life as it is divided into various categories. From this introduction, filled with charts, photos, and sidebars explaining animal relationships, the book continues with information about behavior, life cycles, habitats, and endangered animals.

Following this introduction, each group of animals is defined and detailed in sections about vertebrates and invertebrates. The information is excellent and a good way to introduce any study of animals and how they interact. Bold and large photographs make the wide range of text narrative appealing and will draw in the reader. The representative animals are both familiar and unfamiliar. For example, the water bird heading in the bird section includes the Black swan, the Mallard, and the Muscovy duck.

I can see readers picking up the book to browse or using it for the information. It does not read like a typical encyclopedia and invites children to read and explore the world of animals. This book is perfect for the library, classroom, or home and it would be a wonderful gift for any child.

Activity 1

Choose an animal and read about its habitat. Identify why it lives in that particular habitat. Look up more information about the animal and read about it. Make a list of adaptations the animal has that allows it to live and thrive. Illustrate the adaptations or write an explanation of those adaptations.

Activity 2

Choose an animal from the book. Read about its life cycle. Then create your own chart to illustrate the life cycle. Don’t overlook the wide number of interesting invertebrates!

Find animal information at National Geographic Kids.

The San Diego Zoo has good animal information.

See more animal information here.

National Science Standard: growth and development of organisms; interdependent relationships in ecosystems; adaptation

Book provided by publisher


Nonfiction Monday

August 26, 2012

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday.

Add your link in the comments and I’ll update the books throughout the day.

BROWN BEAR

Brown Bear

Eye on the Wild Series

Written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2012

ISBN: 9781847802057

Nonfiction PB

Grades K-3

“Far away in the mountains of Alaska, in the middle of winter, two baby brown bears are born. It is so cold outside that they spend the first few months of their lives tucked away in a warm and cozy den, fast asleep next to Mom.”

Professional wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas has filled Brown Bear with an up-close look at brown bears, often called grizzly bears. The book begins with the birth of the cubs and traces their lives for the next two years as they learn to live on their own with their mother. The narrative text provides excellent details about their lives and explains the bears’ activities without anthropomorphizing them in any way. By the arrival of spring following the young bears’ third birthday, the young venture out on their own.

The writing is descriptive and well-done, and the photography is fantastic. The pictures show the bears in their natural setting engaged in activities that develop naturally and the up-close photos are amazing, showing them in their own environment.  

This is a terrific book to illustrate life cycles. It shows the bears in their natural habitat and could lead to a discussion of omnivores. It would be a good read-aloud and is full of fascinating facts about these animals. The final page provides more brown bear facts. This book is a fun read and I absolutely loved it. Other Eye on the Wild books in this series are about cheetahs, gorillas, and lions.

Activity

Look up information about polar bears and black bears. Create a way to compare the three different kinds of bears. You may want to include size information, young, food habits, and anything else you can learn. Present your information in an interesting way.

National Geographic has more information about brown bears.

Learn about polar bears here.

National Geographic has information about black bears here.

Take a look at the author’s new work on lions here.

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

Book provided by the publisher, Francis Lincoln Children’s Books.

NONFICTION MONDAY BOOKS

Tammy at Apples With Many Seeds has posted about Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss.

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has a review of When Did Columbus Arrive in the Americas? by Kathy Allen.

The Swimmer Writer  has Justin Bieber by Lynn Peppas.

Charlotte at Charlotte’s Library has Robotics: Discover the Science and Tecnology of the Future  by Kathy Ceceri with 20 projects.

Ms. Yingling Reads has The Red Tails: World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen by Steven L. Jones.

The Red Tails: World War II's Tuskegee Airmen

Louise at The Nonfiction Detectives has The Boston Tea Party by Russell Freedman.

Engaging Educators has “Five Paths Toward Literacy Immersion.”

Shelf Employed has a pair of informational books for the preschooler about to receive a new sibling, You’re Getting a Baby Sister! (Brother!) by Sheila Sweene Higginson.

Sue at Archimedes Notebook has  posted a review of City Fish, Country Fish  by Mary M. Cerullo.

Jennifer at Jean Little Library a review of Ancient Celts by Jen Green.

 

Tara at A Teaching Life has reviews of Allen Say’s memoir Drawing From Memory and Walter Dean Myers’ Just Write  on writing tips for young writers.

Anastasia at Anastasia Suen’s Blog has T is for Tutu by Sonia Rodriguez.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up the Stage by Alan Schroeder.

True Tales & A Cherry on Top  focuses on Marcel Marceau – Master of Mime ,with a shout-out to teachers.

Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect has Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City.

Janet at All About the Books With Janet Squires has Life in the Ocean : The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola.

Lynn and Cindy at Bookends  review Tag, Toss & Run.

Rourke Educational Media reports on their new eRead and Report tool.


BROWN BEAR

August 22, 2012

Visit STEM Friday for more good nonfiction books.

Brown Bear

Eye on the Wild Series

Written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2012

ISBN: 9781847802057

Nonfiction PB

Grades K-3

“Far away in the mountains of Alaska, in the middle of winter, two baby brown bears are born. It is so cold outside that they spend the first few months of their lives tucked away in a warm and cozy den, fast asleep next to Mom.”

Professional wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas has filled Brown Bear with an up-close look at brown bears, often called grizzly bears. The book begins with the birth of the cubs and traces their lives for the next two years as they learn to live on their own with their mother. The narrative text provides excellent details about their lives and explains the bears’ activities without anthropomorphizing them in any way. By the arrival of spring following the young bears’ third birthday, the young venture out on their own.

The writing is descriptive and well-done, and the photography is fantastic. The pictures show the bears in their natural setting engaged in activities that develop naturally and the up-close photos are amazing, showing them in their own environment.  

This is a terrific book to illustrate life cycles. It shows the bears in their natural habitat and could lead to a discussion of omnivores. It would be a good read-aloud and is full of fascinating facts about these animals. The final page provides more brown bear facts. This book is a fun read and I absolutely loved it. Other Eye on the Wild books in this series are about cheetahs, gorillas, and lions.

Activity

Look up information about polar bears and black bears. Create a way to compare the three different kinds of bears. You may want to include size information, young, food habits, and anything else you can learn. Present your information in an interesting way.

National Geographic has more information about brown bears.

Learn about polar bears here.

National Geographic has information about black bears here.

Take a look at the author’s new work on lions here.

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

Book provided by the publisher.


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.


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