Exploring Fall

September 19, 2012


Exploring Fall

By Terri DeGezelle

Capstone, 2012

Exploring the Seasons Series

ISBN #9781429676960

Grades PreK-2


“Fall is the season of change. Everything gets ready for winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of fall, or autumn, is September 22 or 23.”

Exploring Fall includes information about the seasons and where fall fits in, light, water, trees, animals, people, and fall in the different hemispheres. The short narrative text introduces the photograph on the opposite spread.

The book has a glossary, a read more section, internet sites, and an index. It holds 225 words and is at a grade 1 reading level. This series is a perfect way to introduce the seasons, especially with school having started. It works well with the Common Core by extending fall facts to how other things in their world relate to fall. It’s a lovely book and a great way to kick off autumn, a study of the seasons, or predictable changes in the environment.

Activity 1

Make a list of all the topics from the book that are connected to fall. Discuss how each kind of life or event is affected by fall. Illustrate the list to show the changes that take place.

Activity 2

Before reading the book, introduce the title. Then show the pictures without revealing the text. Discuss what kinds of information each picture provides. Make a list on the board or chart for each picture. Then read the text. Talk about what each part of the book gave in the way of information.

National Science Standard: weather and climate

Common Core: grade 1 – Reading Standards for Informational Text

3. Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

6. Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.

Book provided by Capstone.

How Do You Know It’s SUMMER?

May 9, 2012

How Do You Know It’s Summer?

By Ruth Owen

Bearport, 2012

Signs of the Seasons Series

ISBN #978-1-61772-399-5

Grades PreK-3


“There are four seasons in every year—spring, summer, fall, and winter. Summer is the season when many people have fun at the beach on hot sunny days. Gardens are filled with colorful flowers. Busy insects seem to be everywhere. Look for these and other signs of summer as spring comes to an and each year.”

How Do You Know It’s Summer? begins with an introduction to the time of year encompassing summer. The characteristics that follow summer’s day are introduced from a scientific point of view, with temperatures, hours of sunlight and why, and summer life. While the book is for the lower grades, it has enough great information that older readers can get facts from it as well.

Big, clear photos are enhanced by information-filled captions or labels identifying the subject. The book ends with the starting date of fall and then provides a suggested activity for summertime or any time of the year. A picture vocabulary, index, read more section, and an online site form the back matter.

This is a fun book that points out both the obvious and not so obvious indicators of this fun-filled season for kids. It’s a good read and a great jumping-off point for the end of the school year activities.


Choose a plant or animal discussed in the book. Use a graphic organizer to illustrate its life cycle.

See graphic organizers for life cycle here and here.

Here’s a fun interactive plant growing site.

This website has plants and animal information.

This site has some good information about a number of different animals and their life cycles.

This is a good site with animal life cycle for young readers.

Bearport has a crossword puzzle and activities at their website.

National Science Standard: growth and development of organisms

Book provided by publisher.

Desert Seasons

May 2, 2012

The Swimmer Writer is hosting Nonfiction Monday. See more good nonfiction there.

Desert Seasons

By Layne deMarin

Capstone (Wonder Readers)

ISBN #9781429686358

Grades PreK-2

“The Sonoran Desert is in the southwest corner of the United States. It stretches across parts of Arizona and California. It is a place of remarkable beauty.”

For a long time, I’ve thought about how seasons vary in different parts of the United States. I always felt disappointed as a child when school began in Texas, with the cheerful falling leaves on the bulletin boards, and it was still 95 degrees and green leaves covered our trees.

This book addresses the seasons in the desert, specifically the Sonoran Desert, a beautiful place. The information reveals the warm temperatures for most of the year and traces the seasonal changes that do take place in each season. It covers the ecology and life in those seasons in a controlled vocabulary and brings the cycle of the seasons full circle at the end. The book shows the relationships of plants, animals, and the weather, making it a great introduction to food chains and ecology of specific biomes.

The bright photos support the vocabulary and show the results of the changing seasons. The small size of the book makes it just right to attract young readers while allowing them to stretch their comprehension while reading. Back matter includes a glossary, a website for more information, and an index. It also suggests a comparison activity that would work well with any region of the country. Desert Seasons fits well within the Common Core Standards for reading information texts and specific use of photos and back matter, as well as reading with purpose and understanding.


Look up information about other deserts in the U.S. They include, besides the Sonoran, the Great Basin, Mohave, and Chihuahuan. Choose one of them and create a seasons chart that shows the plant and animal life and the weather for each season in that desert. Draw pictures to illustrate the life and weather for each season in that desert.

This Google site has pictures for images the readers can use to create their own.

See more about the Sonoran Desert here.

The Desert Museum has good desert information for many of them. (I love the Desert Museum!)

Read about more desert information here.

The Growing with Science blog has wonderful desert information with lots of pictures of plants and animals. Search it for specific information.

National Science Standard: interdependent relationships in ecosystems

Book provided by publisher

A Leaf Can Be…

January 25, 2012

A Leaf Can Be…

By Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrations by Violeta Dabija

Millbrook Press, 2012

ISBN #978-0-7613-6203-6

Grades K-2

Nonfiction picture book

Visit Wendy’s Wanderings for all the excellent Nonfiction Monday titles.

“A leaf can be a…Shade spiller…Mouth filler…Tree topper…Rain stopper….”

Spare, simple verse follows the many ways leaves contribute to nature and life in this lovely, appealing picture book. The job of leaves changes with the changing seasons and the book traces these events with Salas’s lyrical poetrytext. Soft greens wash the pages until the seasons change and Dabija’s mixed media art makes the book lovely and soft, inviting the reader into a gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, world of nature.

Back matter includes specific facts and examples of each of the word choices used. The book also has glossary and further reading suggestions.


Take a leaf walk. Each time you see a different kind of leaf, have one child collect one. Back inside, draw outlines of each leaf. Then decide on a way to organize the leaves by finding similar characteristics. Post and label your collection with the categories.

Scroll down at this site to see lots of leaf activities.

The author has a site with activities to accompany the book. She also has links to fun leaf activities there.

This is an exciting book. Check other reviews at:

Wrapped in Foil

NC Teacher Stuff


National Science Standard: Variation of traits; structure and function

Book provided by Lerner.

Are You Ready for Summer?

May 26, 2010

Are You Ready for Summer?

By Sheila Anderson

Lerner Publishing, Lightning Bolt Books

Series—Our Four Seasons

ISBN #978-0-7613-4585-5

Grades K-2


“Crack! Listen to the sounds of children playing baseball in the park. Summer is here. Warm sunshine and clear, blue skies invite people to play outdoors.”

Big, bright headings and large photographs invite the reader into the summer season. One of four in the series, Our Four Seasons, the text follows the summer activities, weather, staying cool, and the first hints of fall. More detail is included under the heading of the events of summer, incorporating plants and animal activities. The last spread discusses the summer solstice. A glossary, index, and further reading page round out the book.

My only comment (as I sit here in the sweltering heat) is that the book follows a more northerly climate. However, for a traditional unit on the seasons, this book sets the stage in an excellent way for the end of the school year and would be a great way to compare and contrast the seasons in your home climate.

Activity 1

Make a seasons chart. Have the readers illustrate events and activities that they do in summer. This would be a great last day of school activity.

Activity 2

Make a chart using the text headings included in the book. Make a list of activities that related specifically to your climate.

 For example, under the heading Fall is Coming, the book says, “In late summer, you might need a sweatshirt outside.” In Texas (or your city), you might say, “You don’t need a sweatshirt outside at the end of summer.” Then add a change that does occur, such as “the temperature doesn’t get to 100 degrees any longer.”

Activity 3

Relate the changes in season to the turning Earth. Use a globe and lamp to demonstrate the tilt of the earth and show how the days are longer in summer because of the tilt.

See this site for an explanation.

Enchanted Learning has a good explanation of this concept and pages to accompany the lesson.

Lots of teacher guide activities relating to the seasons can be found here.

See my post on All Around the Seasons, by Barney Saltzberg, a book that celebrates all four seasons.

Visit nonfiction Monday at Lori Calabrese Writes for more great nonfiction.

National Science Standard: changes in the earth and sky

Book provided by publisher.


May 6, 2010

All Around the Seasons

By Barney Saltzberg

Candlewick Press, 2010

 ISBN #978076363694-4

Ages 2-5


Chicks are hatching;

Cool melting snow.

Digging a garden,

Seeds in a row.”

Vivid colors in the art match the snappy rhymes in this book about the seasons. Highlights of the activities that take place in each season are depicted in energetic pictures that will attract the interest of toddlers and yet leaves room for imagination and opens up discussion about what we do in each season. The book depicts holiday activities, like Halloween, Christmas, and Hanukah, in the art, in a child friendly way.

Activity 1

In a particular season, go outside each day and observe the weather. Create a chart that shows the weather and record your observations over a period of time. Talk about your local weather and compare it with what a season from the book is like. Discuss the words same and different.

This site has a variety of materials that relate units to season.

Activity 2

Choose a season and make a predictable chart.

National Science Standard: changes in environment

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choices Committee

Count Down to Fall

August 12, 2009


Count Down to Fall

By Fran Hawk

Illustrated by Sherry Neidigh

Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2009

ISBN #978-1-934359-94-5

Count Down to Fall_COVER_3

Ten sweet gum leaves, orange, purple, and red,

look like bright colored stars as they fall on earth’s bed.

Told in simple rhyme, this reminder of fall beautifully illustrates the colors and changes that take place during this brilliant season. The reader sees the variety of leaves falling from trees in autumn as they land around the flora and fauna of each area with its specific tree. The simple, backwards-from-ten countdown provides the structure of the book for showing the wide variety of trees and their changes alongside the animals.

The art is lovely, with a definite child appeal, and Neidigh uses a gorgeous fall palette to show the leaves and the animals. The layout frames the art with details relating to the story and corner insets show the trees, green leaves, and an addition to the story, making it a book to pore over for the picture details.

The book has activities in the back titled For Creative Minds that is a Sylvan Dell signature. I especially liked the additional leaf information and plant details. This book provides more than a simple read and is a welcome addition to the start of the school year.

Activity 1

List the four seasons. Discuss the changes that happen to trees during each season. Write sentences to explain the changes and illustrate them.

Activity 2

Research why we have seasons.

Demonstrate how they occur by the activity in this lesson.

See another review at a patchwork of books.

Another book about the seasons.

Our Seasons by Ranida T. Mckneally and Grace Lin

National Science Standards: changes in the Earth and sky


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