STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

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Animals on the Move

Animals on the Move

written by Dorothea DePrisco

2017 (Animal Planet)

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

The globe skimmer makes an 11,000-mile journey from India to Africa-the longest migration in the insect world. 

The next time I THINK I’m too tired to get up and grab the TV remote, I need to read this book and remind myself that I’m being a slacker. It’s a celebration of animal movement that will enthrall elementary animal lovers. Color tabs guide readers through the pages. Categories that are tabbed include how animals move, why they move, and animal similarities and differences. When reading this, I’m reminded of the reference books that I loved as a child of the early ’70s. Beautiful bold photographs with intriguing text that keeps you engaged for hours. Except now I can take this book home and not have to leave it in the reference section before I exit the library.  For example, on page 17 is a fabulous photo of a gnu (wildebeest) with its hind legs high in the air. Surrounding it are labels that not only point out body parts but also tell their purpose. There’s a box with size facts on the left that explains how the gnu g-not its name from the sound they call out when they are busting each other with their horns. Another fun spread is on pages 54-55 where the movement of animals, that do not have legs, are featured. Walruses use their fins to move them along the ice and their tusks to pull up out of the water. Earthworms squeeze their muscles to move along. I’d make a lousy earthworm if I had to do crunches just to move. Perhaps the coolest is the sea urchin that uses its teeth to move on the coral. Those same teeth can cut out a hole to make a place to hide. That’s a pretty boss move. In the back matter, you’ll find activities that teach you how to build a snake snack and an in-flight snack for birds.

One of the ways I would use this book in the classroom is to teach main idea and supporting details. There are so many different paragraphs that are perfect for a J-M level reader to pull out a main idea or a supporting detail. It’s also pretty good for modeling text features such as labels. You’ll want to move this title to the animal section of your classroom library.

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If You Were the Moon

If You Were the Moon
by Laura Purdie Salas (Author) and Jaime Kim (Illustrator)

Booktalk: What would you do if you were the moon? Do you think you would rest quietly in the night sky? Oh, no. The moon does so much more than you might imagine! It spins like a twilight ballerina, plays tug-of-war with the ocean, and lights a pathway for baby sea turtles. Discover the many other roles the moon plays . . .


Hover near your mother.

Scientists believe the moon formed 4.5 billion years ago when a meteorite the size of Mars collided with the newly formed Earth. Rock from Earth and the meteorite splashed into space, and the moon was born.

See the book trailer.

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Laura is one of my former students!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Out of School and Into Nature

Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story
by Suzanne Slade (Author) and Jessica Lanan (Illustrator)

Booktalk: This picture book biography examines the life and career of naturalist and artist Anna Comstock (1854-1930), who defied social conventions and pursued the study of science.

From the time she was a young girl, Anna Comstock was fascinated by the natural world. She loved exploring outdoors, examining wildlife and learning nature’s secrets. From watching the teamwork of marching ants to following the constellations in the sky, Anna observed it all. And her interest only increased as she grew older and went to college at Cornell University. There she continued her studies, pushing back against those social conventions that implied science was a man’s pursuit. Eventually Anna became known as a nature expert, pioneering a movement to encourage schools to conduct science and nature classes for children outdoors, thereby increasing students’ interest in nature. In following her passion, this remarkable woman blazed a trail for female scientists today.

Snippet: The more she learned, the more she wanted to share her discoveries.

So she began to draw.

Slowly. Carefully.

Her bugs looked to so real they almost crawled right off the paper!

Amazed by her art, a professor started using her pictures during his lectures.

Farmers studied her detailed sketches to identify hungry bugs stealing their crops.

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Just Hatched: books about birds

Birds are back! They’re gathering nesting materials, checking out the bugs in the garden, and filling the morning with song. Here are three recently hatched books to tickle your bird-lover’s thirst for true stories.

Duckings (Explore my World series)

by Marfe Ferguson Delano

ages 3-7; National Geographic Kids, 2017

High in a tree, a wood duck mother checks her nest.She sits on her eggs to keep them warm. Then one day, peck, peck, peck. Ducklings are ready to hatch. Large-print words or simple phrases set off sections of a baby bird’s life. Crack! They hatch. Jump! They leap out of the nest and down, down, down … to a pond. Text describes the life of a duckling, and photos invite us right into their day, from learning what to eat (bugs are good) to following mom everywhere. Back matter includes comparing ducks with other animals that hatch out of eggs, “ducky details”, and how to be a duckling.

Otis the Owl

by Mary Holland

ages 4-9; Arbordale Publishing, 2017

Beautiful, detailed photos take us right into the first few months of a baby owl’s life. Otis, and his sister, are the cutest, fluffiest sad-eyed babies you’ve ever seen. Mary Holland shows all aspects of a baby owl’s life, from hatching to eating voles, mice, and the occasional chipmunk. Sometimes Otis and his sister fight over the food their parents bring. Other times, he and sis are best friends, preening each other’s feathers and standing watch at the nest hole. Back matter includes information on owl pellets, a guessing game, and details on owl anatomy.

Birds Make Nests

by Michael Garland

ages 4-8; Holiday House, 2017

Two-page spreads show a diversity of birds and the nests they build. Some nest in trees, others nest on the ground. Some use grass to make their nest, or animal hair, spider silk, lichens. Others use sticks and mud. Some nests open at the top; some nests open at the bottom. Kids might recognize some as visitors to their back yard or local park. Others live half-way around the world, giving parents an opportunity to show on a globe or world map where those birds build their nests.

Dive into the “Beyond the book” activities at Archimedes Notebook

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper

Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper
by Anastasia Suen (Author) and Ryan O’Rourke (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Snappy rhymes invite young readers to watch workers dig, pour, pound, and bolt a skyscraper into existence. Simple yet satisfying sidebars provide further information about each step in the construction process. Perfect for preschoolers and all those who dig diggers.


It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.



by Tim McCanna; illus. by Richard Smythe

32 pages; ages 4-8

Simon & Schuster, 2017

Drip drop

      plip plop

           pitter patter pat …


A rainstorm moves in as a fox trots through a marsh. As the storm builds, fox looks for a safe place to shelter.

What I love about this book: The language. Reading the words aloud is like listening to a rainstorm. Whish! Hiss! Whoosh…. The illustrations are stunning, and capture the storm from all angles, including from above.

You can feel the energy of the leaves whirling in the wind! I love the beat of the words, and the way they are grouped on the pages. At first the words are soft, few on the page, but as the storm intensifies the words become rougher, more intense, louder.

I also love that there is back matter: notes about ecosystems, watersheds, and the importance of water to plants and animals. The story itself doesn’t explain the water cycle or ecology of a marsh, but we see it. Notes add some context that an older reader can share with a youngster.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some hands-on “beyond the book” activities.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python

Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python
by Al Sweigart (Author)

Booktalk: Learn how to make computer games using the popular Python programming language–even if you’ve never programmed before!

Begin by building classic games like Hangman, Guess the Number, and Tic-Tac-Toe, and then work your way up to more advanced games, like a text-based treasure hunting game and an animated collision-dodging game with sound effects. Along the way, you’ll learn key programming and math concepts that will help you take your game programming to the next level.

Snippet: All you need is a computer, some free software called the Python interpreter, and this book. Once you learn how to create the games in this book, you’ll be able to develop games on your own.

Computers are incredible machines, and learning how to program them isn’t as hard as people think. A computer program is a bunch of instructions that the computer can understand, just like a storybook is a bunch of sentences that a reader can understand. To instruct a computer, you write a program in a language the computer understands. This book will teach you a programming language called Python.

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.