Our Earth

March 21, 2012

Our Earth

By Joanne Mattern

Capstone Press, 2011

Fact Finders Series

ISBN #9781429653954

Grades 3-6

Nonfiction

“We all call Earth home. Of all the planets and other bodies in the solar system, Earth is the only place that supports life. That makes our planet one of a kind!”

Our Earth introduces the planet we know so well in its place within our solar system. It continues with the formation of the solar system and the reasons Earth can support life. This first section explains orbit, axis, rotation, and revolution, and then begins to explore inner Earth.

The remaining chapters of the book fill in information about the land, the oceans, the atmosphere, and the biomes on Earth. The final chapter addresses photosynthesis, weather, and the water cycle, all parts of the processes that allow life to thrive here.

Our Earth is an excellent survey of our planet and a great introduction to each of these individual processes that take place. Photographs and diagrams add information and highlighted vocabulary is defined at the bottom of the page where it was introduced. The text is reader-friendly and the book has an appealing layout that shows the information well. Fun facts are sprinkled on some of the pages. Back matter includes a glossary, a read more section, Internet sites, and an index. Joanne Mattern does an excellent job with science subjects and it’s a fun book to read. The book hits on a number of science concepts—all in one book. In all its complexities, who can get tired of reading about the Earth and its amazing processes?

Activity 1

Choose a topic from the book and find out more about that subject. You might want to investigate plate tectonics, the water cycle, the carbon cycle (not in book but interesting!), Earth’s atmosphere, the moon, the Sun, or photosynthesis. Make your own poster or display to share the information you learned.

These links will get you started:  tides, plate tectonics, water cycle, carbon cycle, Earth’s atmosphere, photosynthesis, moon, Sun

Activity 2

Choose another planet. Then look up information about that planet and create a chart or Venn diagram to compare and contrast the Earth and that planet. This activity could be done as a group project, too.

NASA’s site has planet information. Click on the planet and then go down to the read more tab.

National Science Standards: Earth and the solar system; Earth Materials and Systems; Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions;  The Roles of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes; Weather and Climate

Book provided by Capstone


Leveled by an Earthquake!

February 3, 2010

Leveled by an Earthquake!

By Adam Reingold

Bearport Publishers, 2010

ISBN #978-1-936087-53-2

Nonfiction

Grades 3-6

“A School Disappears

            Seconds later, Anning felt the ground shake from several more tremors. When the nearby mountains shook, a huge amount of loose earth began to slide toward the school. Within seconds, the buidling was buried completely. Anning and her schoolmates were trapped under the great weight of cracked concrete floor and broken walls. Some could not move. Other could barely breathe. ‘We have to keep going so we can get thorough this,’ said one classmate.”

Beichuan, China, was wiped off the landscape during the great Sichuan earthquake of 2008. The quake registered a magnitude 8.0 on the Richter scale. Introduced from the point of view from a 16 year old girl who survived the collapsed school, the book explains earthquakes from a personal experience to the physical aspects of how a quake happens. Earthquake safety and the ring of fire are discussed as well and the book concludes with what happens after the quake. In the case of Beichuan, the city was rebuilt but in a different location.

This book is one in a series of Disaster Survivors by Bearport and includes additional information about famous earthquakes, earthquake safety, a glossary, bibliography, an index, and more reading.

The timely appearance of the book following the disastrous Haiti earthquake should pique interest among readers.  The information is good and well-explained, as Bearport does, and the newly introduced vocabulary is bolded within the text. My only concern is the cover image, which shows a close-up of a young Chinese man and a glimpse of the earthquake damage in the background, rather than a child, which could make the book less appealing to elementary age readers. However, the subject is compelling enough to look inside and the reader should be pleased.

Activity 1

Research the fault that lies under Haiti and locate it on a map. Explain why Haiti was vulnerable to having an earthquake. 

Activity 2

Research the different kinds of faults.

This site has good animated examples.

Activity 3

Look up your state and see how earthquake prone it might be.

Kid-friendly earthquake information

Locate recent earthquakes on this map.

Good geological animations

National Science Standards: properties of earth materials; changes in the earth

Book provided by publisher


Plate Tectonics

July 15, 2009

Plate Tectonics

By Alvin Silverstein, Virginia Silverstein, and Laura Silverstein Nunn

21st Century Books, Lerner Group

Revised edition, 2009

Nonfiction, grades 6-8

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Details abound in this well-researched narrative about the inner workings of the Earth and its resulting volcanoes and earthquakes. It covers information from history of the planet itself to actions of the moving plates to the future of quake detection. Two chapters are devoted to the specifics of volcanoes and earthquakes and their impact on the continents. Diagrams, sidebars, and photographs break up the text into sections that make the reading less intimidating. The book has a full glossary, bibliography, further reading section, websites, and an index. While the book is aimed at older students, the younger ones will like the diagrams and the experiment on p. 57.

We usually think of the ground under our feet as firm and solid, but it is not always so.

Activity 1  Research caldera volcanoes and locate where in the world they have erupted. Find examples of caldera volcanoes in the United States.

Activity 2 For younger children.

Use a map of the world and cut out the continents. Try to find places where the continents fit together.

Look up Pangaea and find out more information about the supercontinent.

Other books about plate tectonics:

Plate Tectonics: Earth’s Moving Crust (Exploring Science) by Darlene R. Stille

Plate Tectonics (Great Ideas of Science) by Rebecca L. Johnson


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