STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Seed to Sunflower

Seed to Sunflower
written by Camilla de la Bedoyere
2016 (QEB Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

When spring comes, the seeds that are in good soil begin to germinate. They will grow into new plants, and the whole life cycle will begin again. 

There may not be a flower that is more fun to grow than the sunflower. They are a no fuss bloomer that can grow to twice your height. It’s also one of the easiest seeds to use with young children who love to fill a plastic bag with dirt and wait for the magic to happen. My previous class planted seeds on Earth Day and now the plants are ten feet tall! Now if you’re going to do this, you should have a literacy tie-in. Seed to Sunflower tells the story of the humble sunflower as it sheds its seed coat and climbs to greatness. Three things stand out about this informational text. First, it’s loaded with text features that are just right for the K-1 crowd. Lots of labels here with diagrams that illustrate the process of the life cycle. Second, the photographs are dazzling and huge which makes it perfect for the primary crowd. Third, it’s loaded with science vocabulary. Young readers, with the proper scaffolding, will enjoy using these words to impress their parents and friends.

Seed to Sunflower, besides being a good science book, would be a great source for teaching sequence. You can take one of several two page spreads and use it for a mini-lesson. Students can also use this book to compare the plant life cycle to other life cycles such as animals and humans.

*Check out more of Jeff’s ramblings at NC Teacher Stuff

Once Upon an Elephant

Once Upon an Elephant
by Linda Stanek (Author) and Shennen Bersani (Illustrator)

Booktalk: From slowing wildfires to planting seeds, one animal is the true superhero that keeps the African savanna in balance. Elephants dig to find salt that other animal lick, their deep footprints collect water for small creatures to drink, and they eat young trees to keep the forest from overtaking the grasslands. In every season, the elephants are there to protect the savanna and its residents but what would happen if the elephants were only once upon a time ? Discover the important role this keystone species plays in the savanna and explore what would happen if the elephants vanished.

Snippet: Once upon an elephant, the sun beat down on the hot, cracked earth. Rivers ran dry. The animals of the savannah risked dying from thirst.

But the elephants were there.

They dug in the riverbanks with thier tusks. They cracked the hard soil, shoveled through mud, and reached water. And the animals gathered ’round and drank.

Linda is one of my former students!

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Learn to Program

Learn to Program (Kids Get Coding)
by Heather Lyons (Author), Elizabeth Tweedale (Author), and Alex Westgate (Illustrator)

Booktalk: What do programs tell computers to do? And how are they written? Programs are instructions that computers follow. Learn about different programming languages, coding rules and bugs, and how to solve problems.

Snippet: Our brains can connect meaning to instructions. For example, if someone said “Go down to the slide,” we would understand that they mean for us to first walk up the steps, sit on the slide, and then slide down.

However, a computer needs step-by-step instructions:

1. Walk to the steps.
2. Climb up the steps.
3. Sit on the top of the slide.
4. Slide down the slide.

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Find Your Future in Science

Find Your Future in Science
by Diane Lindsey Reeves (Author)

Booktalk: Find Your Future in Science introduces 8 high-interest science careers via reader-friendly profiles and sidebar features that inspire extended learning, online research, and critical thinking skills. Back matter includes additional learning activities.

Snippet: Young scientists start by asking lots of questions. Why? How? What if?

Curiosity keeps them exploring. Every fascinating discovery lights a spark, an idea, an interest, a connection.

Before they know it, they are hooked. Science is awesome!

Then they find out that can grow up and be a scientist. What? You mean that companies will actually pay you to do science as your job?

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

My House Is Alive!: The Weird and Wonderful Sounds Your House Makes

My House Is Alive!: The Weird and Wonderful Sounds Your House Makes
by Scot Ritchie (Author / Illustrator)

Booktalk: What’s that sound? Starting with a simple question, My House Is Alive! takes readers on a tour of the basic inner workings of a house and explains the scientific reason for the knocks, thumps, bangs, and booms we hear.

Two spreads are devoted to each scary sound: the first shows the source of the noise as imagined by a small boy — a monster, giant insect, or other wacky creature — and the second explains the reality behind it.



The garage door can make a lot of noise. The door’s motor is attached to a chain. It pulls the chain one way to open the door and the other way to close it. Push a button and — presto –the door rumbles open!

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

About Marine Mammals

Swim on over to Growing with Science blog where we are highlighting the newest edition to the About… series by Cathryn Sill and John Sill:  About Marine Mammals: A Guide for Children.

about marine mammals

The Sills are a talented couple who have been collaborating on books in the award-winning About… series and the About Habitats series. If you have seen their work before, you know what to expect. John Sill’s gorgeous watercolor illustrations catch the readers’ eyes. Then they turn to Cathryn Sill’s clear, uncomplicated language. In remarkably few words she explains the scene and draws readers into it.

The “Afterward” in the back matter contains more detailed information about each of the previous scenes with a paragraph about each next to thumbnails of the illustrations. For example, did you know polar bears can be considered to be marine mammals? They swim between blocks of floating ice looking for other marine mammals such as seals.

Planning a trip to the beach? About Marine Mammals would be a perfect book to get children inspired about ocean creatures before the trip, learn more about what they see during the trip, and reinforce memories and learning after the trip. Not traveling? It would also be a wonderful way to take a trip to distant, cool places in your imagination.


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

Site Meter Copyright © 2016 Roberta Gibson at Growing with Science All Rights Reserved.



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Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo

Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo
by Helaine Becker (Author) and Kathy Boake (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Feeding time is one of the most popular events at zoos. It also prompts a smorgasbord of questions: what do different animals eat? How much food do they need to stay healthy? Where do zookeepers get all that chow? And what constitutes a special treat?

Worms for Breakfast answers all these questions and more in a cookbook-style primer packed with facts from experts at zoos and aquariums. Covering everything from regular animal nutrition to feeding babies to mimicking how animals hunt and eat in the wild, this book explores the eating habits of carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, and insectivores. Inside, you’ll also find real-life recipes from zoos around the world for meals like eucalyptus-leaf pesto, kelp tank goulash, and mealworm mush. Beware! You probably don’t want to eat any of it yourself.


1 large animal bone (deer or cow)
5 gal. (20L) bucket of water

1. Place bone in water and store in freezer until water is frozen solid.

2. Remove ice (with bone) from bucket. It is now a predator popsicle!

3. Float popsicle in the tiger’s enclosure pond, like an iceberg. Watch tigers study, fetch, lick, gnaw, and play with their frosty treat all day long.

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


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