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.


Step Gently Out

October 10, 2012

Step Gently Out

By Helen Frost

Photos by Rick Lieder

Candlewick Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5601-0

Grades PreK and up

Nonfiction poetry

“Step gently out,

be still,

and watch

a single blade

of grass.”

Gentle words carry the reader through a rhyming poem celebrating the beauty of insects and arachnids who share our world, if only you’ll look around. The words glide across the pages of up-close, beautiful photographs and it brings the reader along, too.

The praying mantis photograph is one of my favorites. The back matter includes a paragraph of information about each of the insects and orb spider mentioned in the poem. This lovely book will bring a hush to the listeners and provides an intimate, close-up view of the life hiding right under our eyes.

Activity

Make a chart showing the differences between an insect and a spider. Illustrate or use words to show the differences.

Then write words that help describe insects and spiders and the ways in which they are alike and different

This site has an excellent explanation of the differences for young children.

This site has information and a lesson about spiders and insects.

This site has an explanation of the differences.

A Fuse Eight Production has a more comprehensive review for Step Gently Out

100 Scope Notes has a lovely review and a suggestion for Step Gently Out. Great idea!

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

Common Core:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.4 Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.6 Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7 Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.


Fireflies

March 28, 2012

Fireflies

By Mary R. Dunn

Pebble Plus, Capstone, 2012

Nocturnal Animals Series

ISBN #9781429666497

Grades PreK-2

Nonfiction

“At night, fireflies rise from bushes and grass. These nocturnal beetles blink their lights in the darkness.”

Warm summer nights lit by fireflies in the deepening dusk is a favorite childhood memory. Even now, I stop to marvel at the blinking lights of these fascinating beetles. What a wonderful way to introduce young readers to nonfiction!

Fireflies explains the life habits and life cycle of these blinking insects in a controlled vocabulary. It introduces terms relating to fireflies as a nocturnal insect but does so in the context so early readers can understand the meaning.

Large, close-up photos provide a good look at these insects, and the one of a female laying eggs is particularly interesting. The back matter includes a glossary, read more section, internet sites, and an index. The front cover is appealing with a lit firefly on it and makes the book appealing as a nonfiction choice. The book covers aspects of the Core Curriculum for informational texts with its map and close-up images and good back matter.

This book covers a terrific topic for beginning readers and is a great introduction to nonfiction reading. The timely approach to summer and these lovely reminders of summer evenings makes it a perfect seasonal book.

Activity

Use the information in the book to draw and label the life cycle of a firefly. Add to the diagram by showing the food eaten at various stages of development. Don’t forget to show the bioluminescence!

The Texas A&M site has firefly information.

Here is a good example of a larva.

This site gives a brief description of the firefly life cycle.

This site has good background about fireflies.

National Science Standards: structure and function; growth and development of organisms

Book provided by Capstone


Three For One! Germs, Diseases, and Gross Little Creatures

October 12, 2011

Scroll down for NF Monday.

I’m happy to be hosting Nonfiction Monday. Welcome, everyone. Please post your link in the comment section and I’ll update them throughout the day.

Micro Mania

A Really Close-Up Look at Bacteria, Bedbugs, and the Zillions of Other Gross Little Creatures that Live In, On, and All Around You!

By Jordan D. Brown

Imagine Publishing, 2009; reprint, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1936140473

Ages 9-12

Nonfiction

Which leads to:

Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence

By Richard Platt

Illustrated by John Kelly

Kingfisher, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0753466872

Ages 9-12

Nonfiction

And then we go on to my take on the topic:

Infections, Infestations, and Diseases

By Shirley Duke

Rourke, 2011

Ages 9-12

Nonfiction

Rourke

Take a closer look at all three books.

MICRO MANIA

“Try not to panic, but there are billions of tiny creatures crawling all over your skin. They are wriggling on your legs, your arms, your nec, your scalp… EVERYWHERE!”

Micro Mania covers the world of bacteria, pests such as fleas and ticks, food pests like ants, roaches, beetles, and moths, along with kitchen bacteria and where they all live and reproduce. Then the information moves to the bedroom and bathroom, with dust mites, bed bugs, and algae. Plankton, krill, and thermophiles round out the mix of these mini creatures that live with us. The book reveals the amazing characteristics of these organisms and presents the information in a medium gross way that should appeal to this age.

Activity

Look up information about the life cycle of a flea. Then read about the Bubonic Plague. Write a paragraph explaining what part fleas played in the plague’s transmission.

Read about the flea life cycle here.

Here’s some basic bubonic plague information.

PLAGUES, POX, and PESTILENCE

“Do you dare step inside the Pox Lab? In here, we study the history of the world’s most horrible diseases.”

Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence takes the reader deep into the story of diseases in this fascinating book. It includes the story of great epidemics, the people who made history in germs and disease prevention, and how science has provided the technology to fight these invaders today. The final chapter talks about the future of poxes and plagues.

The type adds to the fun of reading this book. It contains a thorough glossary of poxy words and an index. Bright, cartoonish characters add to the action and narration. This is another books kids should love.

Activity

Develop a timeline of scientific discoveries using the information from the book.

Here’s a comprehensive example, but it would need to be narrowed to the examples used in the book.

INFECTIONS, INFESTATIONS, AND DISEASES

“Achoo!”

“Where’s the Kleenex?”

“I don’t feel well.”

How many times has a teacher moved back or a mom has hurried to get the thermometer? Or you’ve checked for nits, worried over vaccines, or stayed up most of the night with a sick child? This book is a starting point for kids interested in what makes you sick or those who are curious about the world and themselves.

The first three chapters address the meaning of the title, covering health and illness, infestations, and then diseases. The next chapter continues with how they are spread, prevention and treatment, and eliminated and emerging diseases. The book addresses current topics like bed bugs, HIV, and the H1N1 flu virus. It has a table of contents, glossary, index, and suggested websites to visit.

Health is important to everyone, and eager young scientists and kids alike should enjoy the fascinating facts in the book. Each book in the series has straightforward science and facts presented in an interesting way to readers. I’m writing three new books for Rourke in the coming year. I can’t wait to blog on them, too!

Activity 1

Research how to wash hands properly. Create a poster to display the correct techniques and practice singing happy birthday two times to show children how long they should spend scrubbing them.

The CDC has a child-friendly set of directions.

The Mayo clinic has additional information about dos and don’ts for hand washing.

Activity 2 (for older kids)

Look at the comparisons of hands that have been washed or cleaned in various ways. Draw a conclusion about the most sanitary means of cleaning hands and write a paragraph about how to properly wash hands to remove bacteria.

You can find good information and pictures here.

Here you’ll find more interesting bacteria and hands information.

National Science Standards: biodiversity and humans; growth and development of organisms

Books provided by the individual publishers.

Nonfiction Monday

Take a look at the great entries for today!

GatheringBooks has Reflections on BOY: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl.

Shelf-employed has The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water.

Ana’s Nonfiction Blog has Don’t Let the Barber Pull Your Teeth. She says t’s a fun read about medieval medicine, with lovely illustrations.

Jennifer at Jean Little Library has Everything Sharks for her “Read Scary” month.

Wild About Nature interviews nonfiction writer Phyllis Perry.

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books has Just a Second by Steve Jenkins.

Roberta at Growing With Science reviews Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy, a  Cybils nominee and National Book Award finalist.

Jeff at  NC Teacher Stuff has a review of Voices of World War II: Stories from the Front.

Abby the Librarian has a review of Bootleg by Karen Blumenthal.

Tammy at Apples With Many Seeds has Brave Deeds by Ann Alma.

All About the Books with Janet Squires has Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures  by George Sullivan.

Jone at Check it Out has Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman.

Heidi at Geo Librarian highlights three great books for introducing global studies or just for fun.

Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day has Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist by Gina Capaldi (Adapter, Illustrator) and Q. L. Pearce (Adapter).

Lynn at Bookends reviews a fun book called A Monster Cookbook by Sarah Schuette that is perfect for Halloween feasts. Take a look–Halloween will be here soon!

 Diane at Practically Paradise  examine ZOMBIES  with a new series from Capstone Press.

Brenda at proseandkahn has Big Wig: a Little History of Hair by Kathleen Krull.


Colors of Insects

March 23, 2011

Colors of Insects

By Laura Purdie Salas

Capstone , A+ Books, 2011

ISBN #9781429652551

Nonfiction

Grades K-2

“More than half of all animal species on Earth are insects. Look at them closely. You’ll see amazing things, like big, round eyes and glow-in-the-dark bellies! Sharp pincers, see-through wings, hairy legs, and glossy shells. And their colors are out of this world!”

What a fun way to present colors to young children. This book takes a typical early childhood concept and elevates it to the fascinating world of science. The theme of the different colors is conveyed with familiar and not so familiar insects in a brilliant, three-quarter page spread. These up-close photographs present the color and the inset text box adds a short, interesting fact about the insect depicted.

The vocabulary in the text is supported by context clues and the bright pictures. Back matter includes a glossary, more reading, Internet FactHound site, and an index. This would make a great read-aloud book for story time or one a budding scientist reader will love. I can picture a science loving child reciting some of the specific, fascinating facts. And it’s a fun idea!

Activity 1

Create a color chart and list the colors used in the book. Under each color, write the insect from the book. Then look up more insects and add them to the color chart, or create your own category and add animals (or plants, flowers, etc.) that fit in that color’s category. This would be a good way to introduce classification: use grouping by fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, or the invertebrate groups.

 Here are some interesting facts about animal colors in detail.

National Geographic has excellent animal photos.

Activity 2

Look up animal camouflage and protective coloration to find out how animals use color to hide or stay safe.

Investigate animal camouflage here.

Capstone’s Colors of the Ocean by Laura Purdie Salas is another book that can help introduce colors. It’s in a series that is sure to hold the interest of any reader.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Book provided by Capstone


100th Post! Infections, Infestations, and Diseases

November 10, 2010

Infections, Infestations, and Diseases

By Shirley Duke

Rourke, 2011

Let’s Explore Science Series

ISBN #978-1-61590321-4

Grades 4-6

Nonfiction

It’s my 100th post and I’m still blogging! All thanks to Anastasia Suen, who told me I should.

“I don’t have time to blog.” That’s what I said. After I took her class and got started, with lots of questions and frustrations, I found I liked having a way to keep a tiny bit of teaching and lots of science in my life. I did it on my own terms, and I kept going, delighted by the wealth of new books that relate to science. Now I’m part of the first round CYBILS panel for nonfiction picture books. I can’t wait to blog on many of them.

“Health means being free of disease or pain. Health can refer to the mind, spirit, and body. A body that is healthy can function properly. Muscles, organs, and other systems all work together to help a person live day-to-day life with relative ease. Bodily health is sometimes taken for granted—that is, until someone gets sick. What are the different ways a person can become sick?”

I wrote those words! I still can’t believe it. Even as I’m working on two new science books, I have to stop and remember that I’m writing science books—a goal I’ve desired for a long time.

This book also reminds me why I didn’t continue teaching kindergarten. I interned in kindergarten during my master’s year, but there was simply too much snot! I moved up through the grade levels as the job allowed, spending time in elementary school, middle school, and then high school. Each grade had its own good things, but through the years I taught mostly science, except for the few years an ESL certification beckoned me into a new district or school.

My two favorite grades were second, with its mellow seven year olds, and my year of sheltered biology. It’s amazing how closely science words in Spanish resemble the English words and those students were mostly a delight. I loved writing this book, and actually wrote it before You Can’t Wear These Genes, since genetics wasn’t my best subject (I became knowledgeable again before writing it!) and I’ve always loved health.

“Achoo!”

“Where’s the Kleenex?”

“I don’t feel well.”

How many times has a teacher moved back or a mom has hurried to get the thermometer? Or you’ve checked for nits, worried over vaccines, or stayed up most of the night with a sick child? This book is a starting point for kids interested in what makes you sick or those who are curious about the world and themselves.

The first three chapters address the meaning of the title, covering health and illness, infestations, and then diseases. The next chapter continues with how they are spread, prevention and treatment, and eliminated and emerging diseases. The book addresses current topics like bed bugs, HIV, and the H1N1 flu virus. It has a table of contents, glossary, index, and suggested websites to visit.

Health is important to everyone, and eager young scientists and kids alike should enjoy the fascinating facts in the book. Each book in the series has straightforward science and facts presented in an interesting way to readers. The appeal of each title is evident. The hardest part of talking about these two books? Trying to say them both in one breath!

My scientist blogger friend, Roberta, has a lovely review of my Genes book at her terrific blogs: Wrapped in Foil at and Growing with Science. Be sure to check out her excellent and fun ideas. 

Activity 1

Research how to wash hands properly. Create a poster to display the correct techniques and practice singing happy birthday two times to show children how long they should spend scrubbing them.

The CDC has a child-friendly set of directions.

The Mayo clinic has additional information about dos and don’ts for hand washing.

Activity 2 (for older kids)

Look at the comparisons of hands that have been washed or cleaned in various ways. Draw a conclusion about the most sanitary means of cleaning hands and write a paragraph about how to properly wash hands to remove bacteria.

You can find good information and pictures here.

Here you’ll find more interesting bacteria and hands information.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environments; develop an understanding of personal health

Book supplied by publisher to author (me!).


Do You Know about INSECTS?

October 20, 2010

Do You Know about Insects?

By Buffy Silverman

Lerner, Lightning Bolt Books, 2009

ISBN #9781580138598

Nonfiction

Grades K-3

“A luna moth spreads his wings. He flies in the night. A tiny flea hops onto a dog. She sucks blood. Moths and fleas are insects. A beetle is an insect, too. How can you tell? Insects are animals with six legs.”

This book for the lower grades holds comprehensive information about insects, their bodies, their homes, and their habits and special adaptations. Small chunks of text in large letters invite the reader to examine the large photos that illustrate and add to the information. Additional facts highlight each insect discussed in the body by means of a sidebar with pointers.

The beauty of this book is that it holds more details and facts than it seems to at first glance. I can see kids poring over the pictures and marveling at the different stages of metamorphosis and many of the others as well. This book is kid-friendly and is inviting to read. It has a table of contents, a glossary, an index, further reading, plus two pages of match the mouths with an answer key at the back. It would be fun reading for pleasure or for information seeking students who need to know about insects.

Activity 1

Research the two kinds of metamorphosis (complete and incomplete). Make a chart and add the familiar insects under the correct heading. For older children, find more obscure insects and add them to the chart. Make a life cycle picture with labels showing the stages.

Activity 2

Look up some insects and find out some of the strange characteristics or adaptations they have. Share you facts with classmates or friends.

See more information here and here.

These blogs have great information from an entomologist (insect scientist) and writer who has many insect posts and activities. Check out her tobacco hornworm!

For science fun, see Growing With Science
Reading and Writing Children’s Books
And if you love ants:

Wild About Ants
National Science Standard: life cycles of animals

Visit Nonfiction Monday for more great books at Write About Now.

Book provided by publisher


INSECT DETECTIVE

April 28, 2010

Insect Detective

By Steve Voake

Illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Candlewick Press, 2010 (US), 2009 (England)

ISBN #978-0-7636-4447-5

Nonfiction

Grades K-3

“Right now, all around you, thousands of insects are doing strange and wonderful things. But you can’t always see them right away. Sometimes you have to know where to look.”

This beautiful, sparely-worded book uses lyrical language to take the reader on an investigation of different insects in their natural habitats. The insects include common and less well-known groups as examples and an identifying characteristic or habit is described as the text tells the way to discover the insect.

During the overturned log investigation, the defining characteristics of an insect are included in a way that clearly illustrates that all crawling creatures are not insects. This is one of the best examples I’ve seen for young children that distinguishes the the difference between insects and animals like spiders and centipedes. Additional, short facts scattered on each spread give details about insects in general.

The watercolor art highlights the line drawings that show the young boy’s investigation and the lifelike, accurate depictions of the insects. The book concludes with activities of how the reader can also be an insect detective. A short index is included.

Activity 1

Follow one of the activities from the book’s back matter or collect an insect to observe. List qualitative observations (using the senses) and quantitative observations (using numbers), write an accurate scientific description of the insect.

Activity 2

Look up metamorphosis and learn the difference between complete and incomplete metamorphosis. List the insects from the book. Make a chart that identifies the insects listed that undergo complete and incomplete metamorphosis.

This is a good explanation of metamorphosis.

Here’s a more complex explanation.

Visit Candlewick Press

National Science Standard: life cycles; organisms in their environment

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choices Committee


BUGS and BUGSICLES

March 24, 2010

Bugs and Bugsicles

Insects in the Winter

by Amy S. Hansen

Illustrated by Robert C. Kray

Boyds Mills Press, 2010

ISBN #978-1-59078-763-2

Nonfiction

Ages 6-10

“It is late September and the sun is still warm when a Monarch Butterfly lands on a purple aster. She’s grabbing a quick sip of nectar before flying south.

A Honeybee aims for a yellow marigold. She will need food to get thorough the winter.

On the grass below, five Pavement Ants hurry past, carrying seeds. They march underground, going down to their nest to get away from the dangers of frost.”

I always wondered what insects did in the winter and where they went. This realistically illustrated picture book answers just that. Following the gentle introduction describing the preparations for the fall season, the book follows different insects as they prepare and settle in for the winter, and in some instances, die, after leaving their eggs safely secured. Text filled with specifics and interesting details about the insects traces among others, a dragonfly, praying mantis, field cricket, ladybug, a pavement ant, and Arctic wooly bear caterpillar (turns into a wooly bear moth), whose body is adapted to freeze and thaw and the alluded-to bugsicle. The book ends with a poetic slide into winter and a promise of spring to follow.

The large illustrations contribute well to the text and show the insects up close, in their natural habitat, and in detail. There is an author note, additional reading suggestions, and an index. Best of all, the back matter suggests two experiments related to freezing that the readers can easily do.

This book holds great information and should delight any nature lover or curiosity-filled kid and will answer the questions about where insects go in the winter for anyone.

Activity 1

Look up insect life cycles and find out the difference between metamorphosis and incomplete metamorphosis. Name two insects that exhibit the different life cycles.

Use this page to follow the Monarch butterfly’s development.

Use this page to follow the dragonfly’s development.

This site has lessons to follow the development of some insects.

Use this information to learn about metamorphosis.

Activity 2

Carrry out one of the experiments in the book. Record the results and write up the findings using the scientific method.

Use this form to guide your write up.

Learn more about Amy S. Hansen and see her other books.

National Science Standard: life cycles; organisms and their environment

Book provided by author.


Little Black Ant on Park Street

March 3, 2010

 

NONFICTION MONDAY

Little Black Ant on Park Street

By Janet Halfmann

Illustrated by Kathleen Rietz

Soundprints, Smithsonian’s Backyard, 2009

NF information, ant point of view

Grades K-3 

            “Little black ant pokes her head from a tiny sandy hill dotting the lawn of the house onPark Street. It is sumertime and the anthill is a flurry of activity.

            Beneath the hill lies a busy ant city, with many rooms connected by little tunnels. There are rooms for the ant queens, nurseries for the eggs and babies, a sickroom, fod storage rooms and bedrooms for the workers.”

With a storybook feel, the activities and life of little black ants in this book carries the reader through the work of an ant from an ant’s point of view. From finding a tasty meal to share with the other ants to aphids to a new queen, this book shows in fascinating detail what ants do and how they live and work. The brightly colored art contributes to the interest and comprehension of the text and illustrates the size relationship to ants and their world very well. The book is deceptively simple in appearance but holds a wealth of information for budding entomologists and young readers alike.

Activity 1

Look up the ant life cycle. Create a bar graph illustrating the number of days each part of the cycle takes to grow an ant from egg to adult.

Enchanted Learning has a simple diagram. 

Activity 2

Look up information about aphids. Write a paragraph explaining how they show mutualism with the ants.

See definition of mutualism and explanation here.

See Growing With Science for three posts about this book and excellent information from Roberta’s work with ants. Her blog Wrapped in Foil disusses the book thoroughly. She suggests many great activities to accompany this fun book.

Good ant information

More ant facts

Information and ant photographs

Lesson relating to ants

Some great ant pictures

National Science Standard: life cycle of organisms

Book provided by author.


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