OCEAN SUNLIGHT

October 17, 2012

 

Ocean Sunlight

How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas

By Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

The Blue Sky Press, 2012

ISBN #978-0545273220

Grades K-5

Nonfiction picture book

“Dive into the sea! Now flip over slowly, and look up. The water is shimmering with light—my light. I am your sun, your golden star. All ocean life depends on me; so does all life on land.”

I love books about the food chain, and this one delivers on a grand scale. Ocean Sunlight begins with an  explanation of photosynthesis and its value, and then goes on to relate that ocean plant life is part of the food chain. Seaweed is obvious, but the explanation of the food-producing phytoplankton is one of the best I’ve seen.

The book continues with the photic levels, explaining the amounts of light at the different divisions of the world’s oceans and shows the food chains in them. It continues to the deepest levels and discusses adaptations that the life has there to survive, including marine snow, the detritus that falls to the sea floor. The cycle concludes with the sun’s heat causing the water to move upward and bring the nutrients and CO2 back around.

This book can be read with many different grade levels and matched to the level of the children’s understanding. The art is bright and inviting and adds details to the informational text. It’s a lovely book and could lead to many discussions about food chains and webs while making a perfect introduction to the concept.

Several pages of back matter give much more detail, but as a science teacher, I’d love to have seen sources, a glossary, and more reading included in the back matter. Nonetheless, it’s a terrific book and one that every science teacher should know and introduce.

Activity 1 (younger)

List the plant and animal life in one of the food chains depicted in the book. Create a diagram or flow chart to show the different levels. Label and illustrate the food chain.

National Geographic has good information.

Here’s a fun food chain e-game.

Activity 2 (older)

Look up the word chemosynthesis. Compare and contrast the food production by chemosynthesis with photosynthesis. Identify what hydrothermal vents are. Then explain how tube worms and clams at deep sea vents use the hydrogen sulfide to make food.

This site has good information, but you might want to enlarge it so it doesn’t look so intimidating.

National Geographic has good information.

This site has a comparison of photosynthesis and chemosynthesis.

Author website with information

This review was a good one.

National Science Standard: LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics

Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5 Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

Book provided by Scholastic for Librarians’ Choices Book Reviews


Food Chains and Webs

July 11, 2012

Food Chains and Webs

By Andrew Solway

Raintree, 2012

ISBN #9781410944245

Grades 5-8

Nonfiction

“Living things need food to stay alive. That is simple and obvious. But if you start looking at what food different organisms need, and how they get it, it all gets complicated very fast.”

This book puts food chains and webs in the perspective of energy, making it an appropriate book for the upper elementary grades and middle school students. The book introduces food by making connections and includes a diagram of this overall concept.

From energy, the book goes on to trace the different groups of producers and consumers, filling in details on the range of concepts that accompany each topic. Sidebars, diagrams, and photos add additional information. For example, the producers are presented in the usual manner, but then it goes on to include phytoplankton and other unusual producers, taking the information to a higher level than the basic food web. The book illustrates specific examples of the text using photos and captions to further explain.

Vocabulary is bolded on the page and defined at the bottom of the page. The book makes the connection to people as humans and clears up or explains confusing terms or misconceptions about the vocabulary related to this topic.

Food Chains and Webs includes a case study of the Antarctic, a spread about the changes inflicted on organisms by people, and a conclusion. This is a fantastic book, filled with information for this aged reader, and certainly fills a most-needed niche for this topic.

Back matter includes a glossary, bibliography, websites, an index, and a list of three topics to research.  This is a terrific book! It would have been in my middle school classroom when I taught.

Activity

Look up plant life and animals in an ecosystem. Using the information you read, list producers and consumers. Then create a food web of your own. Label the organisms with their names and place in the food chain. For the artistic, draw or find pictures of the organisms and add that to the food web.

Here’s a practice activity.

Information for younger readers

Use these organisms to create a prairie food chain.

Animals to use to create your own food web or chain.

Here’s a good explanation of food webs.

Book provided by publisher. 


MOUNTAIN

June 20, 2012

Mountain

By Sean Callery

Kingfisher, 2012

Discover Earth’s Ecosystems Series

ISBN #9780753468104

Grades 2-5

Nonfiction

“Mountains are cold, high, and rocky, so plants and animals must be tough to survive. Birds may fly elsewhere, but most other animals stay near shelter and food.”

Mountain explores the life cycles of different animals in three sets of mountain ranges. The animal information explores their life and needs and the page turns transition into what eats them on the food chain. The Rocky Mountains, the Himalayas, and the Andes serve as a backdrop for the different habitats and habits of these mountain dwelling animals. A variety of animals allows the reader to see a different sort of food chain than often presented and the text traces the chain up to the top predator. One plant, the Alpine butterwort, is included in the narrative.

The text is accessible and broken into text boxes with the life cycle presented in the center of the spread in four sections. Photos and insets give the text support and allow the reader to experience the book features that come with nonfiction. The final spreads show silhouetted food webs derived from the food chains presented in the reading.

Back matter includes the food webs, a glossary, websites, and an index. This is a terrific way to include both life cycles and food chains in one book. It would make a good introduction to either of these science concepts and lends itself to further exploration.

Activity

Choose another ecosystem and look up the animals and plants in it. Use them to create your own food web. Draw or cut out the animals and paste them on a large sheet of paper. Draw in the arrows to show the energy flow.

This website has really good food chain information. Arrow down to the bottom to see examples of food chains in other ecosystems. This page has an interactive food web diagram that you can print when you finish.

Enchanted Learning has some good information, too.

National Science Standards:  interdependent relationships in ecosystems; cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems; growth and development of organisms

Book provided by Kingfisher


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


A COMPOST STORY

April 14, 2010

Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow

A Compost Story

By Linda Glaser

Photos by Shelley Rotner

Millbrook Press (Lerner), 2010

ISBN # 978-0-7613-4911-2

Nonfiction

Ages 5-8

“At our house, we grow lettuce and tomatoes, pumpkins and potatoes, strawberries, sunflowers, cucumbers, and cauliflowers. And we use garbage to do it. This is where it starts—in our compost bin. It’s just a big box. But amazing things happen here.

Making a compost bin is a great way to recycle organic matter into soil and this simple book explains the entire process—from garbage and clippings to brand new soil—in a way young children can understand. Large photos fill the page to show in detail what is taking place in the text. The book relates ordinary household activities, such as Halloween pumpkins, to explain what can and can’t go into a compost pile. The food chain decomposers are mentioned as helping break down the materials in a simple explanation and the book shows the value in composting for its rich soil-making contribution as well as cutting down on the landfill trash.

Back matter defines organic matter and answers questions about composting. It includes a simple composting experiment. This is an excellent Earth Day book to read and can be used to help explain decomposition in early food chain lessons. This book makes me want a compost pile of my own!

Activity 1

Perform the experiment in the back of the book by making a mini-compost pile in a cup.

Use this sheet to help write up the results of your experiment.

Activity 2

Create a list of organic materials that are suitable for putting into the compost pile.

This page can help.

Activity 3

Follow the life cycle of a pumpkin as shown in the book.

Read here for more information about composting.

Here’s more good information about composting.

Go to Wild About Nature blog to see another post about this book.

National Science Standards: organisms and environments

Book donated by publisher


A Desert Food Chain

January 27, 2010

A Desert Food Chain

A Who Eats What Adventure in North America

By Rebecca Hogue Wojahn and Donald Wojahn

Lerner, 2009

ISBN #978-0-8225-7501-6

NF

Grades 3-6

“As the sun goes down, the Sonoran Desert comes to life. All day, most of the animals shielded themselves from the broiling sun in tunnels, burrows, and dens. Some huddled in arroyos—streambeds that hold a smidge more shade than the rest of the desert. As the air temperature drops, the hot ground starts to cool. And the desert animals creep out to explore their prickly landscape of cactus and brush. Daytime flowers close their blooms, but nighttime flowers spread their petals to welcome visitors.”

Another fascinating parade of organisms marches across the pages in this desert version of the Follow That Food Chain series by Lerner. Elf owls, suguaro cactus, chuckwallas, pallid bats, roadrunners, rattlers, pinacate beetles, centipedes fill the spaces as consumers and producers, allowing the reader to chose the direction the food chain takes—and finding the end in a variety of ways. Along the way, the book provides a fascinating look at the individuals comprising the chain. Set in the desert southwest of the United States, the Sonoran Desert provides an abundance of life in the arid, seemingly lifeless land.

Bright photos and sections of text make the book fun and engaging, while back matter includes additional information about desert plants and animals, an index, glossary, and for further information sections.

Activity 1

Organisms living in a desert environment must be well-suited for arid life. Choose one of the organisms and research the specific adaptations that allow it to live successfully in the desert.

Activity 2

Use this site to create your own desert food chain

Activity 3 For younger students

Choose an animal from the book. Make a chart showing what the animal eats. Then make another chart showing what eats that animal.

This movie shows desert food chain interactions.

This site has a good explanation of the energy flow in food chains.

See my other posts about this food chain series at

http://simplyscience.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/a-coral-reef-food-chain/

http://simplyscience.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/a-who-eats-what-adventure/

I visited the Sonoran Desert in college during a January term for desert biology. I loved the plants and animals and will always have a special place in my heart for this desert. These food chain books by the Wohans have generated more interest than any of my posts, so I felt I had to do one more. All the books in this series are fascinating and distinguished by the wealth of organisms they include. 

National Science Standard: organisms and environment

  Books provided by Lerner.


Molds, Mushrooms, and Other Fungi

January 20, 2010

Molds, Mushrooms, and Other Fungi

By Steve Parker

Compass Points Books, 2010

ISBN #978-0756542238

Grades 4-7

NF

     “The world is full of living things, from tiny bugs and delicate flowers to giiant trees, huge elephants, and massive whales. But nothing lives forever. Eventually all plants, animals, and other forms of life die. But what happens to them?

     The answer: They become food for fungi. This kingdom of living things includes mushrooms, toadstools, molds, mildews, yeasts, and many others. Fungi are nature’s recyclers.”

     This upper elementary-middle school level book, presented in a picture book format, defines and discusses the Kingdom Fungi. It begins with an explanation of cells, including the fact that fungi are eukaryotic, and goes on to detail the life processes of the variety of fungi that exist. Places of growth, the below the ground decomposing structures, and the helpful and harmful aspects of fungi complete the book.

     The information is broken into sections interspersed with large, fascinating photos of fungi, parts, and their effects. The back matter includes a classification of life table, fungi classification, a glossary, further resources section, and an index. Chock full of facts, my only quibble with the book is that it comes off a bit crowded. The information, however, is excellent and it’s good to see a quality book with some depth on a lesser studied group of organisms put into an interesting read.

Activity 1

Research yeast and find out how it makes bread rise. Look up Louis Pasteur and read about his early experiments with fermentation to find out how yeast is involved in his experiments that lead to the Germ Theory.

Activity 2

Explain how fungi and their hyphae play a role in the food chain and food web.

Activity 3

Look up the symbiotic relationship that exists in lichens.

Activity 4

Design an experiment that has to do with where molds grow well and what might inhibit their growth. Use the scientific method and write up the experiment. Conduct the experiment and then make your conclusions.

Great information for more details.

This site makes fungi about as fun as you can make it! 

Take a look at these fabulous mushroom pictures.

National Science Standard: structure and function in living systems; diversity and adaptations of living organisms

Book provided by publisher.


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