Busy as a Bee

October 24, 2012

Busy as a Bee

by Thea Feldman

Kingfisher, Kingfisher Readers,  2013

Level1 Beginning to Read

ISBN: 9780753433195

Grades K-1

Nonfiction early reader

“Buzz! What is that? It is a bee!”

The introduction to this early nonfiction reader is followed by a large photograph of a bee, designed, to catch the reader’s interest.  The text continues with interesting bee facts like why it buzzes, why they fly from flower to flower,  the life cycle, and where they live, along with other bee details. The final page reviews the information and back matter in this 32 page book includes a glossary.

This book is a wonderful way to introduce nonfiction to beginning readers and gets a jump start on the Common Core need to include informational texts in the curriculum. The set goes up to Level 5, but Busy as a Bee is a great way to start young readers with nonfiction.


After reading the book, list the facts the reader learned about bees. Then read about ants, another animal living in a community. Write down the ant facts, and then make a chart to compare some of the ways they are alike and different.

National Geographic has good ant information.

KidsKonnect has more ant facts.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Common Core: Ask and answer questions about key details (RI.1.1); identify the main topic and recall key details of a text (RI.1.2)

Book provided by Kingfisher.

Step Gently Out

October 10, 2012

Step Gently Out

By Helen Frost

Photos by Rick Lieder

Candlewick Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5601-0

Grades PreK and up

Nonfiction poetry

“Step gently out,

be still,

and watch

a single blade

of grass.”

Gentle words carry the reader through a rhyming poem celebrating the beauty of insects and arachnids who share our world, if only you’ll look around. The words glide across the pages of up-close, beautiful photographs and it brings the reader along, too.

The praying mantis photograph is one of my favorites. The back matter includes a paragraph of information about each of the insects and orb spider mentioned in the poem. This lovely book will bring a hush to the listeners and provides an intimate, close-up view of the life hiding right under our eyes.


Make a chart showing the differences between an insect and a spider. Illustrate or use words to show the differences.

Then write words that help describe insects and spiders and the ways in which they are alike and different

This site has an excellent explanation of the differences for young children.

This site has information and a lesson about spiders and insects.

This site has an explanation of the differences.

A Fuse Eight Production has a more comprehensive review for Step Gently Out

100 Scope Notes has a lovely review and a suggestion for Step Gently Out. Great idea!

National Science Standards: LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics

Common Core:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.4 Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.6 Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7 Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.


March 28, 2012


By Mary R. Dunn

Pebble Plus, Capstone, 2012

Nocturnal Animals Series

ISBN #9781429666497

Grades PreK-2


“At night, fireflies rise from bushes and grass. These nocturnal beetles blink their lights in the darkness.”

Warm summer nights lit by fireflies in the deepening dusk is a favorite childhood memory. Even now, I stop to marvel at the blinking lights of these fascinating beetles. What a wonderful way to introduce young readers to nonfiction!

Fireflies explains the life habits and life cycle of these blinking insects in a controlled vocabulary. It introduces terms relating to fireflies as a nocturnal insect but does so in the context so early readers can understand the meaning.

Large, close-up photos provide a good look at these insects, and the one of a female laying eggs is particularly interesting. The back matter includes a glossary, read more section, internet sites, and an index. The front cover is appealing with a lit firefly on it and makes the book appealing as a nonfiction choice. The book covers aspects of the Core Curriculum for informational texts with its map and close-up images and good back matter.

This book covers a terrific topic for beginning readers and is a great introduction to nonfiction reading. The timely approach to summer and these lovely reminders of summer evenings makes it a perfect seasonal book.


Use the information in the book to draw and label the life cycle of a firefly. Add to the diagram by showing the food eaten at various stages of development. Don’t forget to show the bioluminescence!

The Texas A&M site has firefly information.

Here is a good example of a larva.

This site gives a brief description of the firefly life cycle.

This site has good background about fireflies.

National Science Standards: structure and function; growth and development of organisms

Book provided by Capstone

Colors of Insects

March 23, 2011

Colors of Insects

By Laura Purdie Salas

Capstone , A+ Books, 2011

ISBN #9781429652551


Grades K-2

“More than half of all animal species on Earth are insects. Look at them closely. You’ll see amazing things, like big, round eyes and glow-in-the-dark bellies! Sharp pincers, see-through wings, hairy legs, and glossy shells. And their colors are out of this world!”

What a fun way to present colors to young children. This book takes a typical early childhood concept and elevates it to the fascinating world of science. The theme of the different colors is conveyed with familiar and not so familiar insects in a brilliant, three-quarter page spread. These up-close photographs present the color and the inset text box adds a short, interesting fact about the insect depicted.

The vocabulary in the text is supported by context clues and the bright pictures. Back matter includes a glossary, more reading, Internet FactHound site, and an index. This would make a great read-aloud book for story time or one a budding scientist reader will love. I can picture a science loving child reciting some of the specific, fascinating facts. And it’s a fun idea!

Activity 1

Create a color chart and list the colors used in the book. Under each color, write the insect from the book. Then look up more insects and add them to the color chart, or create your own category and add animals (or plants, flowers, etc.) that fit in that color’s category. This would be a good way to introduce classification: use grouping by fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, or the invertebrate groups.

 Here are some interesting facts about animal colors in detail.

National Geographic has excellent animal photos.

Activity 2

Look up animal camouflage and protective coloration to find out how animals use color to hide or stay safe.

Investigate animal camouflage here.

Capstone’s Colors of the Ocean by Laura Purdie Salas is another book that can help introduce colors. It’s in a series that is sure to hold the interest of any reader.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Book provided by Capstone

Do You Know about INSECTS?

October 20, 2010

Do You Know about Insects?

By Buffy Silverman

Lerner, Lightning Bolt Books, 2009

ISBN #9781580138598


Grades K-3

“A luna moth spreads his wings. He flies in the night. A tiny flea hops onto a dog. She sucks blood. Moths and fleas are insects. A beetle is an insect, too. How can you tell? Insects are animals with six legs.”

This book for the lower grades holds comprehensive information about insects, their bodies, their homes, and their habits and special adaptations. Small chunks of text in large letters invite the reader to examine the large photos that illustrate and add to the information. Additional facts highlight each insect discussed in the body by means of a sidebar with pointers.

The beauty of this book is that it holds more details and facts than it seems to at first glance. I can see kids poring over the pictures and marveling at the different stages of metamorphosis and many of the others as well. This book is kid-friendly and is inviting to read. It has a table of contents, a glossary, an index, further reading, plus two pages of match the mouths with an answer key at the back. It would be fun reading for pleasure or for information seeking students who need to know about insects.

Activity 1

Research the two kinds of metamorphosis (complete and incomplete). Make a chart and add the familiar insects under the correct heading. For older children, find more obscure insects and add them to the chart. Make a life cycle picture with labels showing the stages.

Activity 2

Look up some insects and find out some of the strange characteristics or adaptations they have. Share you facts with classmates or friends.

See more information here and here.

These blogs have great information from an entomologist (insect scientist) and writer who has many insect posts and activities. Check out her tobacco hornworm!

For science fun, see Growing With Science
Reading and Writing Children’s Books
And if you love ants:

Wild About Ants
National Science Standard: life cycles of animals

Visit Nonfiction Monday for more great books at Write About Now.

Book provided by publisher


April 28, 2010

Insect Detective

By Steve Voake

Illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Candlewick Press, 2010 (US), 2009 (England)

ISBN #978-0-7636-4447-5


Grades K-3

“Right now, all around you, thousands of insects are doing strange and wonderful things. But you can’t always see them right away. Sometimes you have to know where to look.”

This beautiful, sparely-worded book uses lyrical language to take the reader on an investigation of different insects in their natural habitats. The insects include common and less well-known groups as examples and an identifying characteristic or habit is described as the text tells the way to discover the insect.

During the overturned log investigation, the defining characteristics of an insect are included in a way that clearly illustrates that all crawling creatures are not insects. This is one of the best examples I’ve seen for young children that distinguishes the the difference between insects and animals like spiders and centipedes. Additional, short facts scattered on each spread give details about insects in general.

The watercolor art highlights the line drawings that show the young boy’s investigation and the lifelike, accurate depictions of the insects. The book concludes with activities of how the reader can also be an insect detective. A short index is included.

Activity 1

Follow one of the activities from the book’s back matter or collect an insect to observe. List qualitative observations (using the senses) and quantitative observations (using numbers), write an accurate scientific description of the insect.

Activity 2

Look up metamorphosis and learn the difference between complete and incomplete metamorphosis. List the insects from the book. Make a chart that identifies the insects listed that undergo complete and incomplete metamorphosis.

This is a good explanation of metamorphosis.

Here’s a more complex explanation.

Visit Candlewick Press

National Science Standard: life cycles; organisms in their environment

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choices Committee


March 24, 2010

Bugs and Bugsicles

Insects in the Winter

by Amy S. Hansen

Illustrated by Robert C. Kray

Boyds Mills Press, 2010

ISBN #978-1-59078-763-2


Ages 6-10

“It is late September and the sun is still warm when a Monarch Butterfly lands on a purple aster. She’s grabbing a quick sip of nectar before flying south.

A Honeybee aims for a yellow marigold. She will need food to get thorough the winter.

On the grass below, five Pavement Ants hurry past, carrying seeds. They march underground, going down to their nest to get away from the dangers of frost.”

I always wondered what insects did in the winter and where they went. This realistically illustrated picture book answers just that. Following the gentle introduction describing the preparations for the fall season, the book follows different insects as they prepare and settle in for the winter, and in some instances, die, after leaving their eggs safely secured. Text filled with specifics and interesting details about the insects traces among others, a dragonfly, praying mantis, field cricket, ladybug, a pavement ant, and Arctic wooly bear caterpillar (turns into a wooly bear moth), whose body is adapted to freeze and thaw and the alluded-to bugsicle. The book ends with a poetic slide into winter and a promise of spring to follow.

The large illustrations contribute well to the text and show the insects up close, in their natural habitat, and in detail. There is an author note, additional reading suggestions, and an index. Best of all, the back matter suggests two experiments related to freezing that the readers can easily do.

This book holds great information and should delight any nature lover or curiosity-filled kid and will answer the questions about where insects go in the winter for anyone.

Activity 1

Look up insect life cycles and find out the difference between metamorphosis and incomplete metamorphosis. Name two insects that exhibit the different life cycles.

Use this page to follow the Monarch butterfly’s development.

Use this page to follow the dragonfly’s development.

This site has lessons to follow the development of some insects.

Use this information to learn about metamorphosis.

Activity 2

Carrry out one of the experiments in the book. Record the results and write up the findings using the scientific method.

Use this form to guide your write up.

Learn more about Amy S. Hansen and see her other books.

National Science Standard: life cycles; organisms and their environment

Book provided by author.


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