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.


August 1, 2012

Nonfiction Monday is at Shelf-employed.


By Sandra Markle

Lerner, 2011

ISBN #978-0-7613-5037-8

Grades 4-8


“Wecome to the world of arachnids. They can be found everywhere on Earth except Antarctica.”

Scorpions are not my favorite animal, but Markle makes them fascinating enough to interest even the most arachnophobic reader. An excellent book for readers from elementary ages through middle school, the narrative begins with an explanation of why scorpions are classified into the arthropod group. The introduction is followed by three pages of an easy-to-read diagram of the inner and outer anatomy of scorpions. These terms illustrated in the diagrams are used in the text throughout the book.

The book explains the life and habits of scorpions, including the life cycle and defensive adaptations. Full page photographs show the various species of scorpions in their habitats. Small sidebars give additional facts of interest as a Scorpion Fact. The ending concludes with more information about classification and the value of scorpions to humans.

Back matter has more armed defenders, a glossary, books, websites, an activity, and an index.  It’s one of six books in the Arachnid World Series by Lerner. Markel shows her usual excellent fact-finding and writing to make this a terrific read. It’s a perfect book for good elementary science readers but best of all will attract the middle school readers, too.


After reading the book, find at least five adaptations that scorpions have that helps them stay alive. How many can you find? I found seven on a quick glance back through the book. You might find more!

National Geographic has more information about scorpions.

This site has good information about adaptations with really good illustrations, although it stating that it is for grades 3-5 might put off older readers.

This site has a game where you choose the adaptations. An adaptation challenge along the right side has more games.

National science standard: adaptation

Book provided by Lerner.


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