April 14, 2010

Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow

A Compost Story

By Linda Glaser

Photos by Shelley Rotner

Millbrook Press (Lerner), 2010

ISBN # 978-0-7613-4911-2


Ages 5-8

“At our house, we grow lettuce and tomatoes, pumpkins and potatoes, strawberries, sunflowers, cucumbers, and cauliflowers. And we use garbage to do it. This is where it starts—in our compost bin. It’s just a big box. But amazing things happen here.

Making a compost bin is a great way to recycle organic matter into soil and this simple book explains the entire process—from garbage and clippings to brand new soil—in a way young children can understand. Large photos fill the page to show in detail what is taking place in the text. The book relates ordinary household activities, such as Halloween pumpkins, to explain what can and can’t go into a compost pile. The food chain decomposers are mentioned as helping break down the materials in a simple explanation and the book shows the value in composting for its rich soil-making contribution as well as cutting down on the landfill trash.

Back matter defines organic matter and answers questions about composting. It includes a simple composting experiment. This is an excellent Earth Day book to read and can be used to help explain decomposition in early food chain lessons. This book makes me want a compost pile of my own!

Activity 1

Perform the experiment in the back of the book by making a mini-compost pile in a cup.

Use this sheet to help write up the results of your experiment.

Activity 2

Create a list of organic materials that are suitable for putting into the compost pile.

This page can help.

Activity 3

Follow the life cycle of a pumpkin as shown in the book.

Read here for more information about composting.

Here’s more good information about composting.

Go to Wild About Nature blog to see another post about this book.

National Science Standards: organisms and environments

Book donated 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

Let’s Get Dirty!

April 29, 2009



The Dirt on Dirt

By Paulette Bourgeois

With Kathy Vanderlinden

Illustrated by Martha Newbigging

Kids Can Press, 2008

ISBN # 978-1-55453-101-1



 Dirt is everywhere. Anything and almost everything to do with dirt, from mud pies to dirt homes to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, is covered in this fun to read book that discusses all things dirt. Filled with a mix of short facts and lengthy, detailed passages about dirt, the book provides some dirt activities sprinkled in between the information.



Large section headings provide guides to the information and photographs and illustrations complement the facts. The book will appeal to 8-12 year olds.



Since the book contains activities, I’ll refer to the page numbers in the book for some fun things to do with dirt.


See page 7 for mixing oil and water to find out how to clean dirt, page 11 for a recipe for mud cake (you can really eat it!), page 14 for what’s in dirt, or page 33 for making tracks of your own.


For more information, see this dirty site.



More books about dirt:


Dirt: Jump Into Science by Steve Tomecek and Nancy Woodman



A Handful of Dirt by Raymond Bial


Dirt: The Scoop on Soil by Natalie M. Rosinsky and Sheree Boyd







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