STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books



Life Cycles: Ocean
written by Sean Callery
2011 (Kingfisher)
Source: Orange County Library

This is a reposting of a blog entry from March 2013.

When I teach life cycles, it’s easy to turn to the obvious. My class made butterflies on Friday and will write about their life cycle this week. There is a ton of material on the Internet about butterflies which makes it easy. That’s why books like Life Cycle:Ocean are important because they make you think beyond the comfortable and try something new in your teaching. Sean Callery has written a whole series about life cycles in different habitats. I was lucky to find this book since all of the others were checked out from my local library. In the introduction, Callery discusses the parts of a food chain(producers, primary consumer, secondary consumer, top of the chain with no predators). Throughout the book, readers will go “through three food chains from oceans” and learn about the life cycles of 11 different animals. I find the combination of life cycle and food chain information an intriguing mix and a great resource. For example, coral is the first part of a food chain in warm ocean waters. A two page spread explains the life cycle of coral. There are extra fun facts about the animal included in the spread. On the bottom right hand corner of the second page is a great tease where an ellipse calls for the reader to predict what is going to eat the feature animal. A small piece of a photograph adds a visual clue to the mix. What we find on the next spread is a starfish that eats the coral. Beautiful photographs accentuate each spread of information. In the back matter you find a terrific food web that connects all of the featured animals in the book.

Dare to go beyond butterflies! Be bold and teach about other life cycles that are not as familiar. You can start by checking out a couple of Sean Callery’s books and compare life cycles in different ecosystems. What is similar and different about life cycles in the ocean and in polar regions? If you are teaching children to map information, these books are quite valuable in that regard as well.

Copyright © 2013 Jeff Barger All Rights Reserved.


Stripes of All Types

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 from ABC-Clio.


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 K-2

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)

Common Core State Standards

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.

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Parrots Over Puerto Rico

PARROTS FC hi res smallPARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, illustrated by Susan L. Roth; ages 6 and up; Lee & Low Books, Fall 2013

Kids care about animals. Kids care about the environment. Parrots Over Puerto Rico engages these interests with stunning collage illustrations and high-interest narrative that is both poetic and scientific. This book presents a fascinating look at the beautiful, raucous Puerto Rican parrots, their environment, and the efforts that have been made to ensure the future of these endangered birds.

Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home. They lived on this island for millions of years, and then they almost vanished from the earth.

For centuries beautiful, Puerto Rican parrots and the settlers on the island of Puerto Rico hunted for food, survived hurricanes, raised their young, and protected their homes. But then things began to change, and in time the trees in which the parrots nested were destroyed. By 1967, only twenty-four Puerto Rican parrots were left in the wild. Humans had nearly caused their extinction. Could humans now save the parrots?

Readers will come away with an appreciation for Puerto Rico, its rare parrots, and the dedicated scientists who work to keep Puerto Rican parrots flying over their island home. The book is a “triumphant reminder of the inescapable connection between people’s actions and the animals in the wild.” (Booklist)

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This week for STEM Friday, we’re featuring Sandra Markle’s new book The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery.


What’s killing the bees? That’s a mystery scientists and gardeners have been investigating for years now. Our bee population is dropping. This matters because about one-third of our food supply is pollinated by bees. Apples, almonds, apricots, and avocados, for a start…and that’s just food starting with A.

Here in Minneapolis, researchers at the University of Minnesota have determined that pesticides killed three hives of bees last month. Someone in a residential area sprayed a house and some nearby plants, and the bees inadvertently took the poison back to their hives to share it with the group. Read more here:

So is it just pesticides that’s causing our bees to die off? That’s unlikely, though it is one important cause. Students can follow along in the investigation of a real-life science mystery in The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery. And furthermore, check out our FREE teaching resources. These activities, written by author Sandra Markle, invite students to dig deeper into the story of the disappearing honeybees.

STEM Friday

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

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