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



“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.


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

The Green Mother Goose

April 27, 2011

The Green Mother Goose

By Jan Peck and David Davis

Illustrated by Carin Berger

Sterling Publishing; Sterling Children’s Books, 2011

ISBN #978-1-4027-6525-4

Picture book

Besides The Green Mother Goose, Jan Peck and David Davis are the authors of many other books for children. I’ve seen their terrific school visit program, too, and it’s a fun one.

“Together we’ll do it—

We’ll help save the Earth,

Our emerald home,

The place of our birth.

Come now, rhyme with me,

Let’s turn our hearts loose,

And fly ‘round the world

With Green Mother Goose.”

This clever, creative book takes a look at classic nursery rhymes and makes them “green.” The suggestions in each rhyme explain or provide ways that everyone can help improve the Earth. Rather than preaching about saving the Earth, the information is available for the taking in a fun-filled, short rhyme that will stay with you. Authors Peck and Davis surely had great fun matching rhymes with green ideas.

The Green Mother Goose is a great book to open dialogue with kids about the Earth, recycling, and what they can do on their own. The rhymes cover the simplest steps, like recycling, to the more complex additions of windmills and solar panel additions. It also opens the discussion of new vocabulary, for the book is rich in terms related to helping the environment.

The whimsical appeal of the art serves to focus and expand on the ideas behind the writing and sets a perfect tone for the book. The cut paper collage comes from “found papers and ephemera.” The book is produced with a “practice what you preach” style mentioned on the credits page.

The Green Mother Goose lends itself to a unit for Earth Day, reading, units on the environment, recycling, story time, and introducing the National Science Standards about organisms and their environments and changes in environments. It would make a fun poetry memorizing unit and a wonderful Reader’s Theater production. I can also see it in a PTA program and school wide presentation produced by the students—especially for Earth Day activities.

It’s delightful to pick up a book and really love it. This is one of those books. It would be an excellent lesson if paired with the original Mother Goose nursery rhymes. What a fun discussion!

 Activity 1

Choose one of the rhymes from the book. Identify the environmental concept from the new rhyme and research it to find more information. Write a paragraph explaining the problem and suggest some ways to help.

Activity 2

Make a list of activities mentioned in the book to help save the Earth. Create a poster suggesting things kids can do to help the environment and Earth. Decorate the poster with cut paper collage similar to the art in the book.

Saving the Earth suggestions

Activities to help

National Geographic’s green tips

National Science Standards: organisms and the environment; changes in environments

Book from my own autographed library collection. Jan and David signed it at TLA!

GRASSLANDS About Habitats

March 2, 2011

Visit Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen’s Picture Book a Day blog.


About Habitats

By Cathryn Sill

Illustrated by John Sill

ISBN# 978-1-56145-559-1

Nonfiction picture book

Grades 1-4

I’m so excited about this new Peachtree book because I was asked to write a teacher’s guide for the series About Habitats. I finished it and sent it in, so look for it soon on Peachtree’s website. I’ll add a link from my webpage, too! It’s written to be used with any of the About Habitats books or with them all at one time. Check out the other eight Peachtree guides I’ve written, too.

“Grasslands are large open places where most of the plants are grasses. The grasses may be short, tall, or mixed.”

Grasslands is one in a series of books about habitats, their life, and their ecology. Clear, distinctive text narrates the facts about the habitat, its distinguishing characteristics, and the plant and animal life there. This book shows the relationships of the plants and animals and their adaptations and defenses that suit them to this particular habitat.

The Sills’ love of science is evident in the text and lovely, full-paged art that adds detail to the information. The front matter shows a world map of major grasslands, a very nice addition to the book, and back matter includes additional information about the art plates, a glossary, bibliography, and websites. Many other books in the About… series relate to individual animals.


Use a graphic organizer to list all the different grassland habitats in a large group discussion. Then fill in the animals and plants in each one. Using the organizer, write about grasslands as a habitat.

Web cluster graphic organizer

Learn more about grasslands at National Geographic.

National Science Standard: organisms in their environment

Book provided by Peachtree for me to write the series teacher’s guide.


December 22, 2010

Oceans & Seas

By Margaret Hynes

Kingfisher, 2010

ISBN #978-0-7534-6415-1

Grades 4 to 7


“From the seashore to the deepest depths, oceans are home to the most diverse life on Earth. Plants are found only in the sunlit parts of the ocean. Animals are found at all depths, though more than 90 percent of all marine species dwell on the seabed, where a single rock can be home to as many as ten major groups of animals, such as corals, mollusks, and sponges.”

In another life I would be a marine biologist and this book confirmed that idea. In the new series, Navigators, Oceans and Seas is an in-depth look at the life in and around the oceans. It defines oceans and seas and provides information about the physical as well as life science of marine environments. Including archaeology, ecology, biomes, coastlines, Pangea, deep-sea exploration and the future of oceans, the layout is filled with facts and visually appealing art, diagrams, and photos.

I had great fun poring over this book and students will, too. The appealing cover holds a sea tortoise, along with colorful fish and a puffin. The art is stunning and catches the reader’s interest from the introductory information through the final back matter, which includes a large glossary, index, and final page of investigations.

Aimed at the middle ages, this book should be in every library. It’s comprehensive, fits with the science standards, and contains facts in a layout that is reader friendly, allowing the reader to go from cover to cover or select specific topics or sections. It’s a gorgeous book and the reasonable price makes it within the reach of library budgets. Take a look at this one. It fills a need for that middle group of readers—interesting and appealing.

Activity 1

Look up waves and study the physics of wave motion. Write a paragraph to explain the energy transfer from the wind to the water. Design a simple wave machine to show the action of waves.

Activity 2

Look up the destructive force of waves. Find two or three ways waves change coastlines and report on them, giving true life examples of their force.

This site has good information about the physics of waves.

This site has some interactive activities on waves.

National Science Standard: motion and forces; transfer of energy

Book provided by publisher.

Nest, Nook, and Cranny

December 1, 2010

Nest, Nook & Cranny

Poems by Susan Blackaby

Illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Charlesbridge, 2010

ISBN #978-1-58089-350-3


Grades 3-6

“A doe will pick a thicket

As a place to place her fawn,

Its speckled hide well hidden

In the dappled forest lawn.

A bed safe in the shadows—

Mossy cushion, leafy crest—

A doe will pick a thicket

As a place to make a nest.”

This stunning book of poems has it all. “Poetry, animal behavior, ecosystems, habitats, figurative language,” says the Charlesbridge site. I agree.

Plus, I’d add mood and voice.  And art.

I read Nest, Nook, & Cranny for the science. Open the book and look at the fabulous endpapers. I was hooked before I’d read a word.

But it’s so much more than science. The book does an excellent job of fitting each animal within the context of its habitat while using evocative language in a variety of poetry styles. The language within each poem whisks the reader away to that habitat in the imagination.

The charcoal line drawings fit the mood perfectly and rendered the images in a realistic way that suited each poem and introduces each habitat across the spread with simple lines and shading.

Any teacher or librarian could enjoy reading this book to students, and it’s a wonderful place to continue either science or poetry activities. Lessons stem naturally from the wealth of carefully researched science information and the back matter, which explains the poetry forms by poem. An introduction tells the reader about the author’s inspiration for the book and she introduces her habitat in Beaverton, Oregon.

I loved this book and encourage it as a read-aloud. When time is short, as it often is during the school day, there’s not a better way to combine two lovely subjects.

Activity 1

The author describes her habitat. Use figurative language to describe your own habitat.

Activity 2

Look up habitats. Choose a habitat that isn’t used in the book. Write the characteristics of that habitat using interesting vocabulary. Include science words, too.

Challenge: Write about the habitat you chose in poetry form. Choose the style you want to use and fit your habitat information into it.

Habitat information

Interview of author and illustrator

See another review at Wrapped in Foil, March 29, 2010 and at Fuse 8.

National Science Standard: organisms and environments

Book provided by publisher


November 24, 2010

Wild Animal Atlas 

Earth’s Astonishing Animals and Where They Live

Priyanka Lamichhane, Project Editor

National Geographic, 2010

Grades K-5


“North America is 9,449,000 square miles (24,474,000 square kilometers) in area. It is the third largest continent and makes up almost 17 percent of Earth’s land area. It stretches from ice caps and tundra in the north to tropical forests in the south with grasslands, wetlands, mountains, and deserts in between. These ecosystems are home to many animals, including this Grizzly Bear trying to catch a salmon in a river in Alaska.” A three quarters-sized image of a fish headed straight for a grizzly’s open mouth dominates the introduction to North America.

This atlas has it all. Perfect for the elementary ages, the atlas presents its fascinating information by continent and ecosystems. When many states are including more about biomes in their standards, the atlas is right on top of the information. The book begins with the table of contents and a map of the world across the spread depicting the animals on each of the continents. The tiny animals dot the continents with a key for each one. The next spread identifies the animal ecosystems and shows a bright, bold picture for each.

Each continent opens with a gripping photo and a paragraph of information about the continent. The subsequent pages provide the animal information, including habitat, diet, and survival of the group. The National Geographic standard “Facts at a Glance” box gives basic, short information. Two sets of map keys designate animals and habitats.

Filled with fascinating animals and an abundance of information, this book is a winner for me. Every library should have at least one copy of this useful, inexpensive ($18.95) reference book. Kids can spend hours poring over it and it hits the standards for science and social studies both.


Choose an animal from one of the continents. Look up facts about that animal and list as many ways the animal is adapted to it habitat as you can find.

The National Geographic website is a good place to begin your search.

Here’s a fun place to see animal adaptations.

Take a look at Playing by the Book for Nonfiction Monday and see many other great nonfiction books for kids.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choice Book Review Committee.

Nonfiction Monday Round-Up and My End of Year Books

December 21, 2009


When I took December off, I forgot about my time for Nonfiction Monday. So I’m back! Welcome to SimplyScience. Put your information and link in the comments and I’ll update them throughout the day.   

From Abby (the) Librarian, The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson.

Robin at The Book Nosher has a new National Geographic book: live, laugh, celebrate.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has Dragonflies of North America by Kathy Biggs

In Need of Chocolate has Paleo Sharks

Wild About Nature reviews About Penguins: A Guide for Children

Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian reviews Zero is the Leaves on the Tree by Betsy Franco

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books has reviewed lots of picture book biographies 

Wendie’s Wanderings looked outside her window and decided that 20 inches of snow was the order of the day and so is offering Snowflake Bentley

Lost Between the Pages has Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids

Check It Out has Redwoods by Jason Chin

Bookends Blog has a fabulous pair of poetry/animal camouflage books: Where in the Wild and Where Else in the Wild


Frosty Treeless Land

By Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by Jeff Yesh

Picture Window Books, 2009

This fact filled book explained tundras in detail with excellent, reader-friendly text and supplied additional, fun information in sidebar Fun Facts. One in the series of Amazing Science—Ecosystems, it’s fun to read. Carefully labeled illustrations highlight the digital art. Tundra facts appear in the back matter. It includes a glossary, index, and further reading section.


Create a food chain for the tundra.

National Science Standard: organisms and environments

Book sent by publisher

Box Jellyfish

Killer Tentacles

By Natalie Lunis

Bearport Publishing, 2010

The deadly difference between box jellyfish and regular jellyfish are detailed in this book. The book begins with a girl being stung and explains the treatment, then goes on to discuss these tropical invertebrates. One in the series Afraid of the Water, this book contains fascinating photos and one of the stings is sure to be remembered. It includes a glossary, index, and further reading section.


Create a chart comparing the differences in box jellyfish and regular jellyfish. Don’t forget to include habitat, eyes, swimming, tentacle placement, and lots of other differences.

National Science standard: organims and environment

Book donated by publisher

Let’s Look at Snails

By Laura Hamilton Waxman

Lerner Publications, 2010

Lightning Bolt Books

Bold, bright photos mix with big text to describe snails and how they live. Labels point out specific facts and the book has additional fun facts and a snail diagram in the back matter. It includes a glossary, index, and further reading section.


Look up snails to find out all of the places snails live. Make a chart to show these habitats.

 National Science standard: organisms and their environment, life cycle

Book donated by publisher

Out of This World

The Amazing Search for an Alien Earth

By Jacob Berkowitz

Kids Can Press, 2009

This text dense book about the hunt to find an alien Earth that supports life as we know it begins as fiction, but is filled with facts. Sidebars provide additional information. It will appeal to the budding astronomer who can distinguish fact from fiction. Some of the ideas provide food for thought and this could be a fun book for the right reader.


Find out more about exoplanets.

National Science standard: objects in the sky

Book donated by publisher

Many thanks to the publishers who contributed their books. The blog has been a pleasure and I’ll be able to include my two new science books in the blog in the coming year!


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