Motion, Magnets, and More

September 21, 2011

It’s Nonfiction Monday. Visit True Tales and A Cherry on Top to see all the posts.

Motion, Magnets and More

The Big Book of Primary Physical Science

By Adrienne Mason

Illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Kids Can Press, 2011

ISBN #978-1-55453-707-5


Grades PreK-2

“Stone, metal, paper, plastic—these are different materials. Everything around you is made of some kind of material. A marble is made of glass, and this book is made of paper.”

Motion, Magnets, and More begins with an introduction to materials on a primary level. The first activity it suggests is using those materials, and from there it goes on to give activities using the senses. This beginning to qualitative observations is subtle but important, because it sets a strong foundation for the science behind the activity. The topics include materials, magnets, mass, structures, systems, shapes, solids, liquids, gases, motion, forces, friction, and gravity.

The book covers the physical science of motion, magnets, and concepts relating to this field. It provides answers to everyday questions and asks questions that will trigger thinking about the reasons why. The book holds 115ish pages of activities and questions. The back matter includes an extensive section for parents and teachers that further explains the activity. The final spread holds the extensive glossary.

Fun, cartoony art fills the pages to support the simple text and break up the writing. Large, bold titles indicate the activity and key points are in boldface to stand out. Bright margins line the lively art.

This book includes the text of several earlier books by the author, who included additional subjects to make it more comprehensive. It’s not easy to find physical science for the younger kids, but this book does—and it’s terrific. I loved this book. It’s a great way to get science into your home, library, or classroom. Every library needs one.


Choose one of the activities from the book. Carry it out. Then use the scientific method form to write up your experiment.

This site explains the scientific method for young experiementers.

Here’s a form.

National Science Standards: Structure and Properties of Matter, Structure and Properties of Matter, Forces and Motion

Book provided by publisher for Librarians’ Choices Book Review Committee

Secret of the Bloody Hippo…and More!

July 27, 2011

Secret of the Bloody Hippo…and More!

By Ana Maria Rodriguez

Enslow, 2009

Animal Secrets Revealed! series

ISBN #978-0-7660-2958-3

Grades 5-9

“Peyton West was hooked. It was a wonderful idea! People had been wondering about why lions have manes for more than two hundred years. But nobody had the answer. Nobody had gone where lions live in the wild to do the experiments that would answer the question. Now she had decided to find the answer herself.”

In Secret of the Bloody Hippo, the scientific method is employed to find the answer to five animal mysteries in this fascinating book for middle school aged young people. Rodriguez takes the reader through the investigation of different scientists as they explore the reasons for specific animal behaviors. The studies include why lions have manes, the purpose of the guttural pouch in horses, the reason for giraffe scents, why hippos appear to sweat blood, and how animals can see in the dark.

The information in the book isn’t something readers run across every day and it made for an interesting read. It provides straightforward science and shows how questions are answered in a scientific manner. It’s a solid nonfiction book for that aged student and should appeal to boys, girls, animal enthusiasts, and reluctant readers. Sidebars, photographs, and experiments liven up and support the text. Back matter includes chapter notes, glossary, further reading, internet sites, and an index. Rodriguez’s book would make a terrific addition to middle school and public libraries. See more about her at her website.


Find out more about interesting animal behaviors. Look up tartigrades to find out how durable they are, explore why starfish can regenerate arms, why bees dance, why primates groom one another, or why some frogs swallow their own eggs.

These sites can help find answers to the topics.






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

 Book provided by author


POP! The Invention of Bubble Gum

February 16, 2011

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

Meghan McCarthy

Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster, 2010

ISBN-13: 9781416979708

Nonfiction picture book

Pre-K – 3

“On a small street in Philadelphia in the 1920s, there was a factory owned by the Fleer family….

Inside the factory, lots of gum and candy were made….”

I grew up in a household with a mother who hated chewing gum. Only on certain occasions (Daddy, when he took us to the grocery store on rare trips) were we allowed to buy gum. Smacking was definitely not in the picture! Sadly, I inherited the non-chewing gum gene and still don’t care for it. As for the smacking—it drives me crazy. But I did buy it for my kids! Here’s a book that celebrates gum, inventors, and all the repetition that goes with science.

Gum has been around for a long time, but it took accountant Walter Diemer try after try to create a gum that allowed the chewer to blow bubbles. His success eventually promoted him to vice president, although he never got rich. But he made many kids happy around the world.

McCarthy uses her familiar round eyes to create the cartoon-style illustrations that add detail to the book. The drab factory colors at the start of the book increases to bright bubblegum pink by the end. and lets the reader celebrate the success of gum created for blowing bubbles. The brief, narrative text relates the history and behind-the-scenes story of how bubble gum came to be.

Back matter completes the book with gum facts, more about Walter Diemer, additional facts, and a detailed list of sources. A happy story of persevering in the face of failure comes from Pop! and kids are sure to love it.

Check out Growing With Science and the fun, informational bubble gum activities there.

Activity 1

Design an experiment to test the flavor of different varieties of bubble gum. Examine the gum and record qualitative observations (those you can see, smell, hear, etc). Discuss chewing the gum and how you can set the controls to keep the experiment equal. Choose three flavors and time them as the kids chew. Record the time when there is no flavor left. Rinse mouths and eat a cracker, and test the other brands. Record the results and repeat the process. Make a graph comparing the times.

Create your own graph here.

Here’s a fun site about graphs.

Good examples of how a graph works.

Activity 2

Blow bubbles and decide on a way to measure them. Let the kids figure out a way!

More about gum’s history.

National science standard: understanding about scientific inquiry

Book provided by publisher for Cybils consideration.

I’m a Scientist Kitchen

November 17, 2010

I’m A Scientist Kitchen

By Lisa Burke

DK Publishing, 2010


Pre-K—2nd grade

“Dear Science Detective,

Let’s find out about the world you live in. You can be a great science detective if you look for clues, ask questions, and try to answer them. Carry a notebook to make draings and to write down your thoughts. Have a box for collecting things. This s your world of wonder—the beginning of a lifelong learning journey. Remember: Nothing is too hard for a science detective like you! Lift the Flap on every spread for the Science Stuff. It’s the facts behind the fun!”

This book combines science with everyday items generally found in the kitchen and guides the early scientists through basic science principles in fun, easy-to-do experiments. It encourages kids to record data, think about their activity, and ask questions while marveling at the fun they have conducting the experiments.

After the experiments, you can lift the flap and see the science principle behind each activity. The materials are inexpensive and common around most households, making the book parent or teacher friendly while exciting young children about what happens in each experiment and encouraging them to ask why as they learn the reasons behind each activity.

Big, bright photos highlight each experiment that extends across each spread and easily followed directions come with large numbers to guide the process. Pictures illustrate each of the materials and a large photo shows the results. The book sets up the scientific method process in a way that young children can understand and follow without actually using the terms, setting the pattern for future investigations. To see the science behind it all, lift the flap on each spread.

The book includes density, static electricity, engineering, oxidation, magnetism, colloids, insulation and states of matter, proteins, and refraction, all made easy to understand. It has a nice glossary and a shopping list as back matter and the publisher information fills the final cover flap.

I’d say every early childhood classroom and family with preschoolers needs this book. An early introduction to science is a fun way to learn and with the push for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, it’s a great book to get kids interested in the processes of science and learning.


Try an experiment from the book. Create a journal of the steps by illustrating each one as the experiment is performed. Use the scientific process to record findings in the journal and what the kids learned.

Here are some more fun experiments.

Use this page to help you show the scientific method.

Check out Nonfiction Monday at SLJ’s Practically Paradise.

National Science Standard: abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry; understanding about scientific inquiry

Book provided by publisher.


October 27, 2010


By Caroline Harris

Kingfisher, 2006

Science Kids series

(in new series to come titled The Discover Science Series)

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6315-4

Grades 1-4


“What is weather? Weather is all of the changes that happen in the air. Water, air, and heat from the Sun work together to make weather.”

Weather is an appealing 48 page book that defines and explains the phenomena of how forces work on the earth to create weather. It delves into the reasons for weather, the specifics created by the sun, air, and water, and the specific events that occur from these forces. From the sun to the water cycle to weather forecasting, this book has it all—neatly compacted into large type, bold photographs, and short text boxes. New vocabulary is found in the border at the bottom of each page.

The book has an extensive table of contents, an index, and four activities relating to weather. Information beside each photo adds to the body of facts presented. The photos are big and bright, adding an air of accessibility to the information. The tornado on the front cover is sure to attract readers, but the facts will keep them reading. I especially liked the activities at the back.

This book is part of Science Kids series, but will be included in the newer Discover Science Series from this publisher. I found the information about it in the current series list on Kingfisher.


Choose one aspect of weather to follow for two weeks (temperature, humidity, highest wind speed). Create a chart to record your information—maybe a classroom chart or one posted at home. After two weeks, record the data on a line graph to show the changes occurring over time. Look for any trend and write a paragraph summarizing the data from the chart.

This site will give you the graph grid.

This site shows you how to create your own graph.

Roberta at Growing with Science has a terrific list of activities and a great vocabulary list.

National science standard: understanding science inquiry; changes in earth and sky

Book provided by publisher

The Grand Canyon

March 17, 2010

The Grand Canyon

By Jeffrey Zuehlke

Lerner, 2010 Lightning Bolt Books

ISBN #13: 978-0-7613-4261-8


Grades K-3

Beautiful photographs highlight the text of this book and its information. It covers the erosion that formed the canyon and goes on to explain the three major areas that formed it, and relatesinformation about the U.S. park rangers as a part of the national park. It also shows the mules taking visitors to the bottom and the rapids in the river at the bottom.

A simple map of Arizona and the Grand Canyon area start the back matter, which also includes fun facts, a glossary, further reading, and an index. Large, bold text makes the wording inviting and little sidebars add an additional sentence of information to the pages. The book makes an excellent start to introducing earth science and erosion.

 Activity 1

Set up a simple erosion experiment. Form two identical hills out of topsoil. Plant rye grass seeds on one and water both of the hills gently (and equally) until the grass grows. Using a large jar or pitcher, quickly pour equal amounts water on both hills. Do this daily and watch for the results.

Write up your experiment and draw conclusions about the effects of erosion. Use this form to guide your writing.

Activity 2

To show how the layers were laid down to form the rock and make the oldest rock on the bottom, stack up newspapers for a week, laying the most recent one on the top of the stack. Ask the children which paper is the oldest and examine the dates. Relate this to the Grand Canyon’s formations and how the oldest layer got on the bottom.

Activity 3

Make your own layers of earth. Fill a jar in layers with peat, sand, pebbles, and topsoil. Examine the layers and discuss them in relation to the Grand Canyon and how the rock was formed.

 National Park Service information about the Grand Canyon

See these beautiful pictures of the Grand Canyon.

View the canyon from the dizzying perspective  of the skybridge and  learn more.

National Science Standard: abilities to do necessary scientific inquiry; properties of earth materials

Book provided  by publisher

Flip, Float, Fly

February 11, 2009


Flip, Float, Fly

Seeds on the Move

By JoAnn Early Macken

Illustrated by Pam Paparone

Holiday House, 2008

ISBN# 0-8234-2043-4

Nonfiction picture book


Vivid illustrations add depth to this book that traces the wide variety of ways seeds move about. In simple, sparkling language, the movements by seeds as they spread are shown and explained as they complete their life cycle. Back matter includes more seed and plant facts and a final page adds notes about why seeds must move.


Tumbleweed plants grow as round as globes. In autumn their stems snap off. On the flat, open prairie, they ROLL, ROLL, ROLL, sprinking their seeds as they tumble.


Activity 1

Use this book to start a seed experiment. Choose one variable to test (amount of water, light and dark, planting depth, or seed type). Give each student two small paper cups and fill with soil. One is the control and the other is the variable. Use 2-3 seeds for each cup. I recommend bean seeds, because the plant grows well and relatively fast.


Set up the experiment and plant the control seeds normally. Then set up the second cup according to your choice of variable. From now on, keep everything other than the variable equal. Fill out the scientific method form as you plan and perform the experiment and watch the seeds grow.



Activity 2

Use a metric ruler and measure the growth of the two sets of bean plants in millimeters. Record the results each day. Use the results to make a line graph of both and make your conclusions.


National Science Standard: understanding about scientific inquiry, life cycles of organisms


See a review of Flip, Float, Fly.


Other books:

A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons







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