Wednesday, June 30, 2021

7 Days, 7 Books, Day 4. I'm a Hare, So There! by Julie Rowan-Zoch

What is the difference between a jack rabbit and a hare?

What is the difference between a chipmunk and a ground squirrel?

What type of animal might want to eat rabbits, I mean, hares? A jackal? Or a coyote?

I'm a Hare, So There! by Julie Rowen-Zoch moves us into the middle of the week with a fun picture book that also provides curricular tie-ins to biological science for all sorts of topics. Evolution. Predation. Comparison of Traits. Ecological and Community Interactions. And so on.

I envision this book providing an entertaining way to engage kids and get them thinking about ecological relationships, as well as the names that are assigned to different animals, or even different names that are given to the same animal!

When it comes to books written about animal topics, there are so many to choose from--especially when it comes to pairing titles in the classroom. Below, I offer a few that can provide bridges into a variety of subjects.

Whole Whale by Karen Yin and illustrated by Nelleke Verhoeff is a rhyming story that features inclusion and mathematics given that there are 100 animals to count by the end of the story! For an extra exploratory game, children may enjoy seeing how many habitats are represented among the animals. How could the animals be sorted? Big vs small? Dryland vs Wetland? Hot region vs cold? And what about that whale? Will they be able to predict how that big, big whale will fit on the page with the rest of them?

Jet the Cat (Is Not a Cat) written by Phaea Crede and illustrated by Terry Runyan is a book that offers a twist to the theme of identity and naming labels that is offered in I'm a Hare, So There!  

Jet the Cat explores expectations and what makes Jet like other animals, but also . . . what makes Jet different . . . and unique. 

Lastly, I offer the pair of books written and illustrated by Cassandra Federman: This is a Sea Cow and This is a Sea Horse. In reading these stories, children will laugh at the comparisons between manatees and cows, and between sea horses and land horses, respectively. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

7 Days, 7 Books, Day 3. SOAKED by Abi Cushman

The books on yesterday's blog post allowed for deductive reasoning in young readers. Today's books provide a chance for higher order thinking skills. 

Wait! Don't let these nerdy teacher phrases make you nervous. Bear with me, PUN intended! 

Because look at this cover!

Aren't these animals adorable! And that umbrella! I must get myself that bee-utiful umbrella!

But don't worry, the books I'm sharing don't need to make you smart or anything. 

They are wonderful enough to enjoy for the pure pleasure of reading.

What I love about SOAKED is that at first glance, it doesn't seem to be about a science topic in any way. (No need to scare off the children). In fact, it seems to be more hinged on emotion given that its main character is a glum bear who reminds me of Eyeore from Winnie the Pooh who is trying to pass the time with friends on a rainy day. 

Yet, science teachers like me will quickly recognize that all of the elements of the water cycle shine through in the illustrations, which can instantly turn this book into a fun treasure hunt for evidence of processes like evaporation, precipitation, infiltration, interception, condensation, saturation, adhesion, and cohesion, as well as properties of water like universal solvency and dissolution, etc. 

Another wonderful book to pair with SOAKED is WATER IS WATER, A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Jason Chin. I suggest following up reading and discussion of both of these books with sipping apple juice! Read these books to find out why! Enjoy!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Seven Days, Seven Books, Day 2. Invent a Pet by Vicky Fang and Tidawon Thaipinnarong

Hold on to your seats, we're moving into Day 2 with the picture book, INVENT-A-PET written by Vicky Fang and illustrated by Tidawon Thaipinnarong.

INVENT-A-PET touches the "nerd heart" of this science teacher for showing the scientific method in action in a fun and creative way.

This time, instead of documenting what is found and observed in nature as shown in The Collectors for Day 1's post, we are now moving into keeping track of data and analyzing Outputs that result from Inputs. In essence, today's book is all about finding patterns to crack a code.

In INVENT-A-PET, Katie wants a pet of her own, but the goldfish suggested by her mother seems too ordinary. So when her mother gives Katie a machine that will allow her to invent an extraordinary pet, Katie jumps at the chance. Of course, as with most scientific endeavors, the process is not as straightforward as Katie expects and the pets she creates are definitely packed with surprising traits. Eventually Katie figures out how the machine works by monitoring each output that is produced for every input that is changed -- one at a time.

I love this story because it combines the process of coding with scientific discovery and experimentation.

In the classroom I can envision numerous ways in which this story could be used to spark imagination and engage learning. Three books below offer different applications and pairing that a teacher could use depending on their goals.
However, each story involves the common thread of understanding the links between inputs and outputs, as well as overcoming odds in finding solutions to seemingly impossible and difficult questions.

Counting on Katherine, How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. This book relays the importance of patterns in numerical relationships and being able to recognize patterns in understanding when answers make sense. In this case, the lives of three men depended on the getting the answer right!

Gregor Mendel, The Friar Who Grew Peas, written by Cheryl Bardoe and illustrated by Jos A. Smith. This book tells the story of Gregor Mendel who was determined to figure out how breeding and artificial selection worked in cracking the code toward the inheritance of traits. Mendel is considered to be the Father of Genetics based on his detailed accounting of offspring over generations that were created from cross-breeding particular selections of parent plants.

The Leaf Detective, How Margaret Lowman Uncovered the Secrets in the Rainforest by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jana Christy. Margaret Lowman follows her dream to study and understand trees of the rainforest, a biome never studied before in Australia, particularly by a woman.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Seven Days, Seven Books. Day 1. The Collectors by Alice Feagan

Hooray! I have been wanting to get back into doing this blog series for a while, and at last, here we are!

I have so many wonderful books to share. This time I'll be focusing on books that can be enjoyed in both a home and school setting--no matter the level--they're THAT GOOD! I teach high school science, and I'm always thrilled when I can see ways to weave fiction or informational fiction into learning and the nonfiction side of it. And if I find a book that can make reading AND learning fun, then you know it has to be fantastic. In this series I'll also be recommending companion books that can be paired with the daily feature title for similar or cross-curricular themes.

Day One is kicked off with a new favorite book: The Collectors, written and illustrated by the immensely talented Alice Feagon. When I look back at all the new releases I've read in 2021 and reflect on a list top ten, I can guarantee that this book will be sitting among the titles. 

the collectors by Alice Feagan

From the engaging prose to the amazing artwork to the captivating story that inspires wonder and exploration of our natural world, this story speaks to my scientifically-educated heart. In addition, big, bold words like Too Heavy!Too High!, and Too Hidden! are excitingly kid-centric and will draw readers in to both text and illustration.

I imagine young readers will be eager to forge into amassing their own collections of things that interest them, or simply step outside to explore. After being limited in this kind of movement through the last year and a half, isn't outdoor exploration what we all are eager to return to doing? 

I especially appreciate Feagan's depiction of the scientific approach to cataloging items that are collected by Winslow and Rosie. This part of the story can provide a handy tool for teaching the process of discovery science in the classroom.

I highly recommend The Collectors by Alice Feagan. This book deserves an active spot in any book collection.

Companion books that I recommend focus on a starting or expanding a different type of collection--one that involves growing a collection of cultural experiences and friendships. 

The Star Festival, written by Moni Richie Hadley and illustrated by Mizuho Fujisawa

Festival of Colors, written by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal and illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Dia De Los Muertos, written by Roseanne Thong and illustrated by Carles Ballesteros

The Invisible Boy, written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton

Be Kind, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill

See you on Day 2 for my next book recommendations!