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

Our Earth

March 21, 2012

Our Earth

By Joanne Mattern

Capstone Press, 2011

Fact Finders Series

ISBN #9781429653954

Grades 3-6


“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


August 31, 2011

Today is STEM FRIDAY. Visit A Life in Books with Loree Griffin Burns to see all the great suggestions.


By Gail Gibbons

Holiday House, 2009

ISBN #9780823422333

Grades K-3

Nonfiction picture book

“The winds are howling, the rain is pouring down, violent waves are crashing onto the shore. A dangerous spinning storm has formed over tropical waters. It is a hurricane.”

 Truthfully, this book was next in line for my blog post this week. This is the time of year when hurricanes become more active, so I had it set to go. I hope the towns and people affected by Irene can get back to normal before too long.

Gibbons’ book is a terrific way to show children what happened with a hurrican and give an explanation of this force of nature. Knowledge about a scary event is a good way to better understand it and this book is a good follow-up to way to Hurricane Irene.

Hurricanes! explains what a hurricane is and how it forms over tropical waters. She mentions the damage that can occur, but in a non-threatening manner. The text goes on to related how storms are labeled and the significance of the categories they are given. She discusses some of the better known hurricanes before going on to show how they are forecast and tracked as they move toward the U.S. The book concludes with actions to take for an approaching hurricane and includes more hurricane facts. A small sidebar gives the national weather website to learn more.

The art is Gibbons’ typical bright, page-filled color done in a cartoon-like style. This book would be useful for a study of weather, during hurricane season, a storm unit, or before or after an actual hurricane. It’s interesting reading for young children and provides a great deal of easy-to-understand information.

For a limited time, Sylvan Dell has the e-book Ready, Set, Wait! available to read. It’s about what animals do before a hurricane and has activities at the back–something available in every Sylvan Dell book.


As a group, make a list of words from the book that talk about hurricanes, or use the list of words from the Holiday House worksheet. Have the students scramble the words and exchange papers. Then unscramble the vocabulary words.

Follow up with an illustrated picture dictionary of hurricane vocabulary words.

For educator information, try the NASA Earth Observatory site for more information about hurricanes form.

A link from the NASA site gives an explanation of hurricane anatomy with a diagram of a hurricane, explanation of the levels, and pictures of its power.

Roberta at Growing with Science has activites and vocabulary related to weather.

Amazon has the book available in paperback.

National Science Standard: weather and climate

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choices review committee.

Prairie Storms

August 10, 2011

Prairie Storms

By Darcy Pattison

Illustrated by Kathleen Rietz

Sylvan Dell, 2011

ISBN: 9781607181293

Ages 4-9

Picture book

“Low, thick clouds dump snow, covering the prairies. Whistling winds shape and mold the snow into drifts and hollows. The prairie chicken claws into a drift, digging a winter roost.”

Darcy Pattison, known for her fiction, changes her writing direction in this book about animals, the prairie, and the variety of weather that blasts the prairie grasslands. Tracing the weather month by month, Prairie Storms features a different animal on each spread as it survives, aided by its specific adaptations to this habitat. The language is lovely and engaging for young children.

Soft art by Rietz portrays the animals in a realistic manner within their prairie environment and surroundings. As in other Sylvan Dell books, this book has a six page set of activities relating to prairies, animals, and weather that will encourage discussion and opportunities to reread the book. The book would be a good one for story time, studies of habitats, weather, or animals.


Find out more about each of the animals named in the book. Divide the children into groups and have them look up interesting facts about the animal. Make a poster showing a picture of that animal, the facts, and the animal in the month’s prairie weather from the book. Present the information.

National Geographic has good animal information.

The website for Prairie Storms gives a number of activities and lesson plans that accompany the book.

The site also has a coloring page link.

Roberta at Growing with Science has a great set of weather activites and a vocabulary list.

National Science Standard: organisms in their environment

Ebook provided by author Darcy Pattison


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


June 2, 2010


By Mari Schuh

Capstone Press, 2010

ISBN #978-1-4296-3433-5


Grades Pre-K-2

“Hurricanes are huge, strong ocean storms. They can bring big waves, strong wind, and heavy rain to shore.”

Told in simple language, this book explains hurricanes on a beginning reader’s level. It follows the definition of a hurricane with an explanation about how it is formed, how meteorologists follow it (using that term), and how to stay safe and prepared for a hurricane. A section in the front matter explains the use of the difficult vocabulary unique to the study of hurricanes and the possible need for assisting the early reader.

This is a good book to introduce the concept of these often violent storms, especially at the beginning of hurricane season. With the recent, strong hurricane in Galveston, Texas, and the devastating New Orleans hurricane having been in the news, it’s a way to show what is happening from the science point of view. Knowledge is power, and is a way to explain a frightening storm.

While limited in word count for this level, I’d like to have seen something about evacuation as a means for staying safe and possibly something about the chances of hurricanes hitting cities that might allay the fears of those children in the hurricane zones.

This book is a great start for those kids interested in science and is one in a series of six books about natural disasters occurring on our earth.

Activity 1

When a hurricane develops, use this map to track the storm. This will introduce the concepts of latitude and longitude as well as follow the storm’s path. Discuss the locations of the hurricanes and use the map to identify where they storms begin.

The FEMA site has excellent children’s activities that will explain and increase their knowledge of these sorts of storms.

Activity 2

Look up the current list of hurricane names. Look up the retired names and discuss why they won’t be used again.

Activity 3

Being prepared is one way to lessen the worries of a young child. Use this site to create your own hurricane safety plan.  If you don’t live in a hurricane zone, do a simulated plan.

Visit Nonfiction Monday at Charlotte’s Library on June 7.

National Science Standard: changes in environment

Book provided by publisher


January 4, 2010


The Story of Snow

By Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson

Illustrated by Nora Aoyagi

Chronicle Books, 2009

ISBN #9780811868662

NF picture book

This book traces the development of snow crystals from tiny speck to the wide variety of shape snow crystals form. Diagrams and large, beautiful photographs fill the pages and provide up close looks at the crystals and their shapes. Inset, short sidebars provide additional information to accompany the lovely text.

Activity 1

 Create a graphic organizer to show the shape of the varieties of snowflakes mentioned in the book.

Activity 2

Do this experiment about the density of water, ice, and snow. This is for places that have snow!

Activity 3

Make your own individual ice creams. This is for those who don’t have snow! Arrow down to the specific ice cream making activity.

Here’s more of the science and history behind it.

Other snowy books to read:

A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

See other reviews at Miss Rumphius Effect and at Bookends.

National Science standard: properties of objects and materials

Review book from TWU Librarian’s Choices Committee


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