200th Post! The Earth and the Role of Water

August 29, 2012

Help me celebrate my 200th post since I began blogging in December, 2008. Thank you to all the faithful readers–I appreciate your interest in my blog. I’m celebrating with one of my latest books–isn’t it a beautiful cover!

The Earth and the Role of Water

by Shirley Duke

Rourke Educational Media, 2013 (available now)

ISBN #9781618101266

Grades 4-6


“Water from the Niagara River plunges 75 feet (23 meters) to form the second largest waterfall in the world, Niagara Falls. The river is fed by four of the five Great Lakes. The lakes were carved by Ice Age glaciers and hold nearly one-fifth of all the Earth’s freshwater.”

This is one of my latest books from Rourke! It was so exciting to write and covers everything water-related on our planet. We take water for granted in the U.S., but many people struggle daily to get enough water for their needs. This book addresses water from every side and I loved researching and writing it.

The Earth and the Role of Water tells about the water cycle, the force of water, the water supply, and problems related to water, including pollution, lack of, and our effects on the water supply. The states of water as a solid, liquid, or gas, as well as the relationship between living organisms and water is explained.

Salt and fresh water, groundwater, and the power of water make up later chapters.  Dams, generators, and hydropower are discussed and clear diagrams and photographs clearly illustrate and support the text. The final chapters focus on weather and water and conserving and protecting our supply of fresh water for the world.

The book has a table of contents, a glossary, suggested websites, and index. I also wrote the captions! The book would be an excellent introduction to the water cycle, erosion, a study of conservation, a look at the states of matter, or city water purification.

The following sites will give you more information about water.




Activity 1

Research severe storms,  hurricanes, floods, drought, or tsunamis. Write and explain the role of water in these kinds of weather and explain how they affect people in their paths.

Activity 2

Develop an experiment to demonstrate water’s three states of matter. Use the scientific method to guide your experiment.  This site will help you understand the scientific method. Carry out your experiment and write it like a scientist. If you need to use heat, get an adult to help you.

Here’s a form to guide you as you create your experiment.

National Science Standards: roles of water in Earth’s surface processes; weather and climate; Earth’s materials and systems; human impacts on Earth’s systems

Book provided by publisher

Why Living Things Need…WATER

June 14, 2012

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday at SimplyScience. Please leave your links in the comments and I’ll update the site throughout the day.

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff tells about his experiences in Denmark.

Lisa at Shelf Employed reviews George Bellows: Painter With a Punch.  

Ms Yingling Reads has a review of Benson Bobrick’s A Passion for Victory.

Anastasia at Booktalking shares How Do You Know It’s Summer? by Ruth Owen (Author)

Nonfiction Book Blast has Create a Successful Butterfly Garden in 10 Easy Steps by Seymour Simon

Jennifer at Jean Little Library has a review/rant with Life in a Pond by Craig Hammersmith.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has two books about Arizona’s history relased for Arizona’s centennial year. The two titles are by the same authors and cover the same material, but one is a chapter book and one is a coloring/activity book. She’s interested in hearing what people think of having two formats.


Laura Salas has a  review of Out on the Prairie by Donna Bateman.

Abby at Abby the Librarian has  a review of The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon by Carla Killough McClafferty. 

Perogyo at Perogies & Gyoza has a review of Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature.

Tammy at Apples With Many Seeds is looking at big numbers todaywith  How Big is a Million? and Big Numbers.

Janet at All About the Books with Janet Squires has The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks, written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein.

MotherReader has Blue: 350 Inspiring Ways to Decorate with Blue.

Sue at Archimedes Notebook has a review of Citizen Scientists and interview with Loree G. Burns, the author.  

Myra at Gathering Books has El Chino by Allen Say.

The Bookmuse has The Great Snake: Stories from the Amazon

Why Living Things Need…WATER

by Daniel Nunn

Heinemann Library, 2012

ISBN #9781432959173



“Water is a liquid. LIquids are runny. Water has no smell, color, or taste.”

Water is one in a series of books that introduces young readers to the items living organisms need to survive. This necessary component of life is explored through defining water, where it comes from, who needs it, how they get it, and why it is important to living things. One sentence on a page makes that book inviting and the photographs support the text on each page.

This simple book introduces the the important concept of one of the things life needs to exist for the very early reader. It makes an excellent way to review living and nonliving things and then introduce this new concept. The rest of the books in the series include the other things all organisms need to live. The book includes a table of contents, a picture glossary, a one question water quiz, and an index.There is a notes section for an activity using water.


Take a walk around the house or classroom and outdoors. Make a list of the things you see. Then fold a paper in half and label the two colums needs water and doesn’t need water. Categorize the words on the list and illustrate them.

This site has good information, but you have to scroll down through the ads.

This site has some lessons about what living things need.

National Science Standards: Growth and development of organisms

Book provided by Capstone

A Raindrop’s Journey

May 4, 2011

A Raindrop’s Journey

By Suzanne Slade

Illustrated by Holli Conger

Capstone’s Follow it! Series

Picture Window Books, 2011

ISBN:  9781404862661

Nonfiction picture book

Grades 1-3

 A Raindrop’s Journey

This fun picture book takes kids on an exhilarating ride through the eyes of a drop of rain. Tumbling from a cloud, the raindrop is part of a rainbow before it falls into a stream and later splashes into a lake, where it gets sucked up into a water treatment plant. From there it goes into a faucet, is drunk by a child, and sweated out. The sweat falls to the sidewalk and turns to water vapor, where it gathers with other droplets to finally create a cloud, freezes and becomes a snowflake.

The cartoon-like illustrations and pithy comments from the drops enliven the water cycle story and the book includes in depth parts of the cycle to explain how we get clean drinking water—but keeps it simple to understand. A straightforward narrative details specifics about each spread the kids should have a good time reading about the water cycle. The idea of all our water moving constantly and being recycled is a fascinating one to young learners and this book is a great way to introduce the water cycle.


Use the information from the book to create a diagram of the water cycle. Label the main steps and then write a paragraph about what the diagram shows.

Use this site for more information and coloring sheets at the bottom of the page.

This site has a large number of links about the water cycle.

National Science Standard: properties of earth materials; changes in earth and sky

Book from Capstone breakfast at TLA. Thank you, Capstone. It was great fun!

The Green Mother Goose

April 27, 2011

The Green Mother Goose

By Jan Peck and David Davis

Illustrated by Carin Berger

Sterling Publishing; Sterling Children’s Books, 2011

ISBN #978-1-4027-6525-4

Picture book

Besides The Green Mother Goose, Jan Peck and David Davis are the authors of many other books for children. I’ve seen their terrific school visit program, too, and it’s a fun one.

“Together we’ll do it—

We’ll help save the Earth,

Our emerald home,

The place of our birth.

Come now, rhyme with me,

Let’s turn our hearts loose,

And fly ‘round the world

With Green Mother Goose.”

This clever, creative book takes a look at classic nursery rhymes and makes them “green.” The suggestions in each rhyme explain or provide ways that everyone can help improve the Earth. Rather than preaching about saving the Earth, the information is available for the taking in a fun-filled, short rhyme that will stay with you. Authors Peck and Davis surely had great fun matching rhymes with green ideas.

The Green Mother Goose is a great book to open dialogue with kids about the Earth, recycling, and what they can do on their own. The rhymes cover the simplest steps, like recycling, to the more complex additions of windmills and solar panel additions. It also opens the discussion of new vocabulary, for the book is rich in terms related to helping the environment.

The whimsical appeal of the art serves to focus and expand on the ideas behind the writing and sets a perfect tone for the book. The cut paper collage comes from “found papers and ephemera.” The book is produced with a “practice what you preach” style mentioned on the credits page.

The Green Mother Goose lends itself to a unit for Earth Day, reading, units on the environment, recycling, story time, and introducing the National Science Standards about organisms and their environments and changes in environments. It would make a fun poetry memorizing unit and a wonderful Reader’s Theater production. I can also see it in a PTA program and school wide presentation produced by the students—especially for Earth Day activities.

It’s delightful to pick up a book and really love it. This is one of those books. It would be an excellent lesson if paired with the original Mother Goose nursery rhymes. What a fun discussion!

 Activity 1

Choose one of the rhymes from the book. Identify the environmental concept from the new rhyme and research it to find more information. Write a paragraph explaining the problem and suggest some ways to help.

Activity 2

Make a list of activities mentioned in the book to help save the Earth. Create a poster suggesting things kids can do to help the environment and Earth. Decorate the poster with cut paper collage similar to the art in the book.

Saving the Earth suggestions

Activities to help

National Geographic’s green tips

National Science Standards: organisms and the environment; changes in environments

Book from my own autographed library collection. Jan and David signed it at TLA!


December 22, 2010

Oceans & Seas

By Margaret Hynes

Kingfisher, 2010

ISBN #978-0-7534-6415-1

Grades 4 to 7


“From the seashore to the deepest depths, oceans are home to the most diverse life on Earth. Plants are found only in the sunlit parts of the ocean. Animals are found at all depths, though more than 90 percent of all marine species dwell on the seabed, where a single rock can be home to as many as ten major groups of animals, such as corals, mollusks, and sponges.”

In another life I would be a marine biologist and this book confirmed that idea. In the new series, Navigators, Oceans and Seas is an in-depth look at the life in and around the oceans. It defines oceans and seas and provides information about the physical as well as life science of marine environments. Including archaeology, ecology, biomes, coastlines, Pangea, deep-sea exploration and the future of oceans, the layout is filled with facts and visually appealing art, diagrams, and photos.

I had great fun poring over this book and students will, too. The appealing cover holds a sea tortoise, along with colorful fish and a puffin. The art is stunning and catches the reader’s interest from the introductory information through the final back matter, which includes a large glossary, index, and final page of investigations.

Aimed at the middle ages, this book should be in every library. It’s comprehensive, fits with the science standards, and contains facts in a layout that is reader friendly, allowing the reader to go from cover to cover or select specific topics or sections. It’s a gorgeous book and the reasonable price makes it within the reach of library budgets. Take a look at this one. It fills a need for that middle group of readers—interesting and appealing.

Activity 1

Look up waves and study the physics of wave motion. Write a paragraph to explain the energy transfer from the wind to the water. Design a simple wave machine to show the action of waves.

Activity 2

Look up the destructive force of waves. Find two or three ways waves change coastlines and report on them, giving true life examples of their force.

This site has good information about the physics of waves.

This site has some interactive activities on waves.

National Science Standard: motion and forces; transfer of energy

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

The WEE Book of PEE

October 21, 2009


The Wee Book of Pee

The Amazingly Gross Human Body Series

By Kelly Regan Barnhill

Capstone, 2010 (Edge Books)

ISBN #1-4296-3357-3

Reading level grades 3-4   

Interest level grades 3-9

“Pee isn’t just some stinky yellow stuff people flush down the toilet. The body’s cells are constantly making waste products while they work. Something has to clean out all the gunk. Luckily, we have an amazing system of organs that keep our bodies clean and healthy. Let’s take a closer look at pee and how it’s made.

From needing to “go” on a car trip to peeing through history, this book sets the scene for the job the urinary system and its organs do in relationship to proper body functioning as an organism. Going about the job of cleaning the blood isn’t necessarily the polite topic of conversation in most places, but the importance of the job the urinary system does certainly is, and the book not only gives the outright facts but makes it fun, fascinating, and of course, gross!

New vocabulary is highlighted in blue and defined in a little sidebar at the bottom of the page. Details about how the organs work and their place in the urinary system make up a big part of the text areas. Photos and labeled diagrams clarify the text, and difficult ideas, such as pH, are explained clearly. The major illnesses related to the urinary system are mentioned and odd, quirky facts will help draw in the reader.

The title certainly drew me in. As a former science teacher, I can’t help but love topics (and books) like this. I wish this sort of book had been readily available when I was a child. I’m drawn to the way the systems in the body are so unbelievably intertwined and books like this can appeal to budding scientists or readers who want to know something gross equally well.

On a personal note, my dad had Type I diabetes and went into kidney failure when his kidney function dropped to 12% capacity. He started dialysis and I came to learn much about the disease, system, and nutrition involved with the shutdown of this important system of organs. While much progress has been made in controlling blood sugar and the damage it causes in the kidneys, the rise of Type II diabetes and resulting kidney failure continues to affect many people today.  This post is in memory of my dad, George Smith.

Activity 1

Review the organs of the urinary system. Draw the urinary system and label the major organs. Write a paragraph that follows the sequence of the wastes filtered from the blood through the kidneys to the urethra.

This print out of the urinary system can be used for the younger students.

Here’s a short movie about the urinary system.

This kid friendly site has information, games, and a coloring page.

Activity 2 For the older students

Look up dialysis and find out how it works to mechanically clean the body’s wastes.

This site has helpful information.

This site provides links to more kidney information.

National Science Standard: organization in living systems

This book is one in a series of six books about the human body and functions titled The Amazingly Gross Human Body.

Book received from Capstone Press.


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