Stripes of All Types

November 22, 2013

stripes of all types

Stripes of All Types

by Susan Stockdale

Peachtree Publishers, 2013

ISBN #978-1-56145-695-6

Grades PreK-3

Nonfiction Picture Book

Visit STEM Friday

Exciting news! Anastasia Suen and I co-wrote a new book. It’s based on my blog and is packed full of lesson plans, STEM, mentor texts, and the Common Core.

coverimage - Copy (2)

Stripes of All Types follows animal life with stripes as part of their coloration in their native habitats. The book reveals simple information in a rollicking rhyme and bright art.  It takes the reader from the ocean to land to a familiar striped animal at home.


Define the word “camouflage” in nature as protective coloring that helps animals hide in plain sight. Then show these images and together locate the animal. You may have to point out where it is in some pictures. Discuss why animals need to use camouflage and the ways it helps them.

Pair the book with the nonfiction book Toco Toucan Bright Enough to Disappear by Anastasia Suen.  Compare the ways the toucan uses colors to the stripes in the Stripes of All Types book.


Next Generation Science Standards


ESS3.A: Natural Resources

§ Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do. (K-ESS3-1)

ESS2.E: Biogeology

§ Plants and animals can change their environment. (K-ESS2-2)


LS1.A: Structure and Function

§ All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow. (1-LS1-1)

LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms

§ Adult plants and animals can have young. In many kinds of animals, parents and the offspring themselves engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive. (1-LS1-2)

LS1.D: Information Processing

§ Animals have body parts that capture and convey different kinds of information needed for growth and survival. Animals respond to these inputs with behaviors that help them survive. Plants also respond to some external inputs. (1-LS1-1)

LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits

§ Young animals are very much, but not exactly like, their parents. Plants also are very much, but not exactly, like their parents. (1-LS3-1)

LS3.B: Variation of Traits

§ Individuals of the same kind of plant or animal are recognizable as similar but can also vary in many ways. (1-LS3-1)


LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

§ There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water. (2-LS4-1)

For a Common Core experience, discuss the main idea of the book. Use each spread and talk about how that animal’s stripes are located and positioned. Ask the listeners why animals have stripes. Then show the spread with the striped images. Identify each picture in turn to review the animals’ names and where they live.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.2 With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.3 With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.5 Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.6 Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.

Look up the CCSS to see the remaining Literacy.RI.1-2 standards.

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.

Citizen Scientists

July 18, 2012

Citizen Scientists

By Loree Griffin Burns

Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Henry Holt, 2012

ISBN #9780805095173

Grades 3-7


“It’s not a phrase you hear every day, and it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But citizen science is the beating heart of this book, so we’d better start by defining it.”

“Citizen science, then, is the study of our world by the people who live in it.”

Swing a net to catch a monarch butterfly. Count birds in the winter. Identify frog calls in the spring. Sweep a net to identify ladybugs in the summer. You’ll be a scientist, too.

Citizen Scientist is a fascinating narrative combined with carefully explained sets of procedures that sweeps readers into the world of science that they can do. Their participation becomes a significant part of real life scientific research and teaches young people the skills and values of science in their lives.

Burns’s book takes readers on an adventure that leads them directly into the world of science that is found in their own neighborhood. It gives kids the power to contribute to the body of knowledge about the four animals discussed in the book: monarch butterflies, birds, frogs, and ladybugs. Her second person narrative is friendly and encouraging, giving the reader the sense she’s talking directly to them. Each section has a checklist for the equipment and gear needed to study that animal. Additional information is included about the specifics of each of the animals’ studies. This information is enhanced by the lovely photographs by Harasimowicz.

A “Now What?” section give resources for each animal about books and sources for more facts and the groups that organize the information presented in the book. More resources, quiz answers, a bibliography, and glossary round out the back matter.

 I heard Loree talking about this book last year and wondered what it would be like. She’s hit on a terrific format that puts kids directly into science in a fun, meaningful way. This book hits the Common Core Standards perfectly and is likely to inspire budding scientists and novices alike to be involved. It’s a book for everyone—kids, parents, teachers, and librarians. Who knows what future scientist will get her or his start by reading this book?


Choose one of the animals and look up the organizations that work with studying it. Find out more about how you can become involved. Make a model of the butterfly or ladybug, or learn two or three frog calls. Check out a bird book and identify three birds in your backyard. Then maybe you’ll participate in one of the events talked about in the book.

Resources: Check out the extensive list Burns added to the back matter for more information.

Read Loree’s article about involving kids in science at an early age.

Here’s a review from 100 Scope Notes. 

National Science Standards: biodiversity and humans; applied science

Book provided by Henry Holt and Company BFYR

Enterprise STEM

November 16, 2011

Enterprise STEM

By Shirley Duke

Let’s Explore Science series

Rourke, 2012 (is available now)

ISBN #978-1-61741-781-8

Grades 4-6


Enterprise STEM is one of my latest books and my author copies arrived last week! It’s a timely topic and I learned a great deal about the subject while writing it. There hasn’t been much written for children on this topic, so I’m pleased and excited to not only have been a woman in a STEM subject myself but to have had the opportunity to write about it.

Everyone has probably heard of STEM by now, but knowing what it is helps clarify its significance. It is NOT stem cell research, although that does fall into one of the STEM subjects. STEM is the future and it’s important to know what it is.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. The enterprise part of the subjects is included in the body of knowledge and steps it takes to acquire that knowledge by the people who work in it.

“I’d rather clean my room than do math.”

“Taking out the garbage is more fun than science.”

These comments reflect the attitudes of some students in schools today. Yet the falling far behind in world rankings in math and science scores.

The book defines Enterprise STEM and the subjects it incorporates. It tells characteristics of people who would be successful in STEM fields. It includes information about the collaboration among teams of scientists in a variety of fields and how they work to solve real world problems. It contains information about people working in STEM occupations and what they do and shows some of the technology that will help in the future. The final chapter includes ways students can get involved in STEM subjects at an early age so that as they work in these fields, they will be able to direct the future.

Short sidebars give additional information relating to STEM in some way. The book has a glossary, photos with captions, an index, websites to visit, and about the author—that’s me!

The next time someone mentions STEM, you’ll be familiar with the topic and able to discuss ways to incorporate these important subjects in your own field.


Look up and research products that came about as a result of the space program or developed by accident. Create a presentation that includes technology to share the findings.

NASA has a good list of products here and on the spinoff page.

This site has nine accidental discoveries, but you have to click through each one.

National Science Standards: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology; Influence of Engineering, Technology and Science on Society and the Natural World

Book provided by Rourke Publishing as author copies—and the author is me!


September 14, 2011

It’s Nonfiction Monday. Visit Tales From the Rushmore Kid to see all the posts.

The Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia

3rd Edition

By Charles Taylor and Kingfisher Editors

Kingfisher, 2011

ISBN #978-0753466889

Reference; middle grade nonfiction

Grades 5-9

This title will be released onOctober 25, 2011.

“The ground beneath our feet seems to be the most solid and unchanging thing we know. It forms foundations for our cities and an environment in which we can live. Yet, in reality, the Earth is spinning on it axis and hurtling through hostile space, as it orbits the nuclear furnace of our sun. The Earth is an active, dynamic, living planet.”

My sons laughed when I mentioned that I used to read the Britannica encyclopedia when I didn’t have a book on hand, but it’s true. I had insomnia as a child, and I’d slip downstairs, choose a volume, and browse, reading each entry in turn. If I’d had this book as a child, I’d have been thrilled.

This comprehensive science encyclopedia covers the fundamentals of life science, earth science, physical science, plus materials and technology and conservation. It’s colorful and inviting and well-sectioned off into two page spreads on many of the pages, so it’s welcoming and readable without being overwhelming. The focus is divided into sections by the branch of science and skimming the table of contents proved easy.

Back matter includes a conversion table, several appendices, and an easy-to-read index. The clear concise nature of this book makes it one that all middle schools should have. It could also be appropriate for upper elementary students, as well as ESL and reluctant readers in high school. This is a valuable resource for all public libraries in their reference section and school libraries, too. It’s a wonderful holiday gift book and an excellent reference gift for a special kid. Take a look at this terrific book!

I flipped open the book and looked—I’d landed on information about the elements. It brought to mind a blog post I’d written for NOVA’s web program, “The Secret Life of Scientists.” That gave me an idea for this activity.


Browse the science encyclopedia. Choose an interesting subject and read about it. Then write a short science cheer about that subject. Be sure to include important information relating to it. Perform your cheer for your friends or family—or just read it!

If cheering isn’t your cup of tea (although cheering for science is always good!), write a poem to express some facts or make an acrostic poem with the word.

Take a look at my cheer for the Periodic Table of Elements.

Here’s how to make an acrostic poem.

Check out these examples of acrostics.

National Science Standards: pretty much all of them

Book provided by Kingfisher.

I’m a Scientist Kitchen

November 17, 2010

I’m A Scientist Kitchen

By Lisa Burke

DK Publishing, 2010


Pre-K—2nd grade

“Dear Science Detective,

Let’s find out about the world you live in. You can be a great science detective if you look for clues, ask questions, and try to answer them. Carry a notebook to make draings and to write down your thoughts. Have a box for collecting things. This s your world of wonder—the beginning of a lifelong learning journey. Remember: Nothing is too hard for a science detective like you! Lift the Flap on every spread for the Science Stuff. It’s the facts behind the fun!”

This book combines science with everyday items generally found in the kitchen and guides the early scientists through basic science principles in fun, easy-to-do experiments. It encourages kids to record data, think about their activity, and ask questions while marveling at the fun they have conducting the experiments.

After the experiments, you can lift the flap and see the science principle behind each activity. The materials are inexpensive and common around most households, making the book parent or teacher friendly while exciting young children about what happens in each experiment and encouraging them to ask why as they learn the reasons behind each activity.

Big, bright photos highlight each experiment that extends across each spread and easily followed directions come with large numbers to guide the process. Pictures illustrate each of the materials and a large photo shows the results. The book sets up the scientific method process in a way that young children can understand and follow without actually using the terms, setting the pattern for future investigations. To see the science behind it all, lift the flap on each spread.

The book includes density, static electricity, engineering, oxidation, magnetism, colloids, insulation and states of matter, proteins, and refraction, all made easy to understand. It has a nice glossary and a shopping list as back matter and the publisher information fills the final cover flap.

I’d say every early childhood classroom and family with preschoolers needs this book. An early introduction to science is a fun way to learn and with the push for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, it’s a great book to get kids interested in the processes of science and learning.


Try an experiment from the book. Create a journal of the steps by illustrating each one as the experiment is performed. Use the scientific process to record findings in the journal and what the kids learned.

Here are some more fun experiments.

Use this page to help you show the scientific method.

Check out Nonfiction Monday at SLJ’s Practically Paradise.

National Science Standard: abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry; understanding about scientific inquiry

Book provided by publisher.

Super Women in Science

August 11, 2010

Super Women in Science

By Kelly Di Domenico

Second Story Press, 2004 (second printing)

ISBN #1-896764-66-5

Grades 4-8


      “Imagine trying to be a scientist during the 19th century, when men were even trying to use science to prove that women were inferior. They said that because a woman’s brain is shaped differently than a man’s, she must be less intelligent. Well, Marie Curie was a scientist at that time and her work with radioactivity earned her two Nobel prizes!

       The attitude that women were not smart enough to be scientists prevailed for a long time, but many women simply ignored it. They were curious about the world around them and wanted to play a part in discovering and understanding all its wonders.”

Any girl interested in science, or in pursuing her own dreams, even if they aren’t science, should read this book. It made me proud to be a woman who studied science, although my career led to teaching it. These fascinating stories of women who made their own way while overcoming great odds in the interest of science shows their struggles, the discrimination they faced, and the dedication they had to persevere and leave their mark on the scientific community.

Super Women in Science relates the path each woman took in developing her interest in science and her contribution to the body of science we have today. I first learned of Rosalind Franklin when I was working on my science book, You Can’t Wear These Genes. Franklin’s work in radiography was shown to Watson and Crick without her knowledge by her so-called colleague, leading them to realize the double helix shape of DNA. As a biology major, I knew of the two men. But I’d never heard of Rosalind Franklin, her work, or her struggle to be taken seriously by the men with whom she worked. It took an interview with a friend’s daughter in molecular biology to point this out.

The book begins with Hypatia–yes, that far back—to 355-415! It continues with Mary Anning, Harriet Brooks Pitcher, Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Birute Galdikas, and Mae Jemison, among others. Most of their discoveries were familiar; it was the names that were unknown to me. The writing is clear and concise, with science terms or vocabulary relating to the different fields of science explained within the text. After an introductory paragraph, each chapter is filled with the woman’s story set in the context of that time and how she overcame the resistance to being in her particular field of science. Small sidebars add short facts to the text.

This exciting book should be in every elementary and middle school library. Not just filled with facts, it’s an inspiring and hope-filled book with every chapter and woman scientist portrayed. I very often like the books I blog about a great deal, but I loved this book. I wish it had been around when I was young.

Activity 1

Categorize the discoveries by the fields of science in which the women from the book worked. See if there was any sort of correlation you can find. Which areas of science seem most interesting to you?

Activity 2

Use this site to look up some less familiar women scientists. Choose one and research further about her contributions to science.

Visit Nonfiction Monday at Apples With Many Seeds to see more great posts.

National science standards: science as a human endeavor; history of science

Book provided by publisher


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