STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

The Bug Book


The Bug Book
by Sue Fliess (Author)

Booktalk: The BIG Picture

Bugs, bugs, everywhere! There are big bugs and small bugs, creeping bugs and flying bugs. Grab your bucket and explore the dirt and the sky.

#kidlit Writing Lesson: the small details

This rhyming story opens with an invitation to readers:

Grab your bucket. Check your guide.
Let’s go find some bugs outside.

Notice the use of the second person voice.

Grab your bucket.

Second person is the voice used to give directions.

Check your guide.

Each line has a different action verb.

Let’s go find some bugs outside.

Each line on this first page is a call to action.

See the book trailer.

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Once Upon an Elephant

Once upon an elephantOnce Upon an Elephant
By Linda Stanek; illus by Shennen Berdani
32 pages; ages 4-8
Arbordale, 2016

“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.”

The elephants used their tusks to crack through the hard soil and dig for water.

Elephants are a keystone species- a species that helps other living things meet their basic needs. They dig salt for zebras, slow wildfires, plant seeds, maintain grasslands – they help keep the African savannah in balance. If something happens to a keystone species, the entire ecosystem is hurt. So… what would happen if the elephants were gone, if they were only “once upon a time”?

Back matter includes additional information about keystone species and elephant facts.

STEM Friday

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

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Pitter and Patter

Pitter and Patter
by Martha Sullivan (Author) and Cathy Morrison (Illustrator)

Booktalk: The BIG Picture

Take a ride with Pitter on a water cycle! You’ll go through a watershed, down, around and up again. How about going with Patter? You’ll even go underground. Oh, the places you’ll go and the creatures you’ll see. A water drop is a wonderfully adventurous thing to be!

#kidlit Writing Lesson: the small details

The two water drops landed in different places. The story follows one water drop at a time:

Pitter landed on the leaf
of an oak tree.
Hello, squirrel.
Good morning, blue jay.
Rise and shine, caterpillar.

After following Pitter all the way to the ocean, the book shows readers where the other water drop landed. The water cycle repeats:

Meanwhile, Patter had landed
in a spring meadow.
Hello, daisy.
Good morning, bee.
Rise and shine, butterfly.

The second water drop falls to the ground, travels back to the sea, and the water cycle begins again. The repeating pattern in the text reinforces the idea behind the story.

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Wild Ones ~ Critters in the City

wild onesWild Ones: Observing City Critters
by Carol L. Malnor; illus. by Cathy Morrision
32 pages; ages 5-8
Dawn Publications, 2016

“Nature is all around us, even in the city.” And when Scooter sneaks out the back door, we head off with him on his city tour of critter discoveries.

What I like about this book: Scooter starts off chasing a squirrel. Of course! But he doesn’t notice the raccoon, or the possum. On each page we see what Scooter doesn’t notice as well as what he does notice. Which makes you wonder: what am I not noticing around me? In this book you’ll learn about gulls that sneak off with chip bags and bats that live under a bridge. While Scooter explores, his family is searching for him – and that story is told through illustrations.

I also like that Dawn books come with “back matter”: pages of activities and more stuff to explore. For example, “squirrels are everywhere in the city…” and there’s one on every page of this book. Go back and see what it’s doing; what a great way to help kids develop their skills of observation!

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)

Site Meter Copyright © 2016 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Jump! Books

Jump! Books
(Review copies provided by the publisher.)

I like Minnesota. My favorite band, the Jayhawks, hails from Minneapolis. You may be familiar with a couple of other local musicians named Dylan and Prince.  I’ve always thought that the Vikings uniforms were some of the best in the NFL. So I’m not surprised that I am enthusiastic about a couple of imprints from the Star of the North. Jump! (Is David Lee Roththe editor?) has been around since 2012. They aim to provide high interest nonfiction books for readers in the K-2 range. This is like the best chocolate in that you can’t have enough of these kinds of books. The first imprint, Bullfrog Books, is for K-1 readers. I have a copy of Painting, from the Artist’s Studio series, next to me. My first impressions come from the photographs. Bold colors in the pictures and background catch my eye. There is very little white space here as opposed to the books of my youth that sometimes looked like a snowstorm broke out. You can see the brush strokes on the canvas because the views are up close. The people in this book don’t all look the same. That’s great! I want my students to be able to see themselves in these photographs. So what about the text? A mix of short sentences with challenging Tier Two words sprinkled throughout. You’ll want to review a few words before reading with K-1 students, but that’s a good thing. Beginning readers love to learn new words and try to connect them to their world.

The second and newer imprint is Pogo. These books are STEM related and written at a second grade level. In Paper Airplanes and other titles from the Early Physics Fun series, you get the text features that you expect. Bold print, diagrams, fun facts, labels, and procedural text all take a bow. What I really like about this particular title is that it explains the science behind why a paper airplane is able to fly and in second grade language. That’s not easy! Like Bullfrog Books, the photography is spot on. The books are the right size too. Easy for smaller hands to grip with the right amount of text to read. If Goldilocks reviewed nonfiction, she would say the text is just right.

You need these kinds of titles in your public and school libraries. They play a big part in getting kids excited about their world and serve as a gateway for learning how to do research. With many attractive features, you might as well Jump! and find these books for your students.

Dig In! To Explore Soil With Children

At Growing with Science blog today, we are featuring Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by (“dirt by”) Mary Peterson.


Cindy Jenson-Elliott’s new book celebrates the simple pleasures of mucking around in the soil. Each page reveals a new discovery, from earthworms to pill bugs.

With only a few words per page, the text is simple enough to read to toddlers or for beginning readers to tackle on their own.

The illustrations are linoleum block prints with just the right touch of humor. It might be fun to accompany the book with a quick art lesson using ink stamps or making potato prints to celebrate the illustrations.

It seems that digging in the dirt is a pastime too few young children get to indulge in these days. Dig In! is sure to encourage young readers to get outside and explore the world under their feet.

See more at Growing with Science.

Sue also reviewed this book for STEM Friday and has activity suggestions at Sally’s Bookshelf.


STEM Friday

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

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Animal Books for Early Readers

turtlesReading aloud to kids is fun, but sometimes they want to find out things on their own. Here are three new books from National Geographic Kids that are written at a level for curious young naturalists. While written for different levels of readers, these books share a couple things in common: gorgeous photos of animals, a table of contents to help young naturalists find the information they seek, and an activity of some sort.

Turtles (level 1) by Laura Marsh
32 pages; ages 4-6

Who doesn’t love turtles! But did you know there are more than 300 kinds of turtles? And what the difference between a turtle and a tortoise is?

This book presents information in a variety of ways, from text on a page to “Turtle Terms” – introducing new words – to photo spreads where information is packaged like labels on a chart. There is an entire section devoted to “Cool Turtle Facts” like this: Giant tortoises can live more than 100 years.

Want to know what turtles eat? There’s a chapter on that. There’s also a chapter on how baby turtles hatch from their eggs and grow up into teenage turtles, plus a page showing different kinds of turtles.

beesBees (level 2) by Laura Marsh
32 page; ages 6-9

Pollinators are a hot topic, so kids will want to get the buzz about bees. Young readers can see close-up photos of how bees carry pollen, learn to tell the difference between a bee and a wasp, and how to be safe around bees (hint: don’t bother them!).

There are plenty of “Buzz Words” scattered throughout the pages – words you need to know to talk about bees – and there’s a detailed section about honeybees and how their society is structured. While the book is packed with great photos and information, I wish that the author had spent more time showing how solitary bees live – but maybe that’s another book?

Follow MeFollow Me: Animal Parents and Babies
by Shira Evans
48 pages; ages 2-5

This is a book meant to be read by children and an older sibling or a parent. Together. Sharing one book. One side is written for the older reader, with more sophisticated language. The “I Read” side is meant for the beginning reader, with larger text, easier words, and shorter sentences. The cool thing: people of all ages will learn something. For example, I didn’t know baby lemurs were called “pups”.

There are four chapters, each focusing on a particular aspect of animals lives: finding food, moving, making a home, and using tools. At the end of each chapter there’s an activity to do together. What fun!

Too Many Tomatoes


Too Many Tomatoes
written by Eric Ode; illustrated by Kent Culotta
2016 (Kane Miller)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

It’s bursting with berries and beans and potatoes
and tall, twining vines of too many tomatoes.

Somebody bring me some bread, salt and pepper, and mayonnaise quick! A young grandson celebrates the bounty of his grandparents’s garden in this charming ballad to a favorite food source. When sprouts appear above ground, the boy dances with delight. Soon, vines are all over the place hanging with tasty treats both red and yellow. As the family heads to the farmer’s market, tomatoes are spotted on trains and the back of a tow truck. After selling at the market, it’s time for a whirlwind of tomato gifting. The teacher, the tailor, the scientist, and the sailor all receive a tomato. With a seemingly never ending supply, why not have a parade? A marching band in, what else, tomato red uniforms, celebrates the fruition of garden labors. The grandparents and the boy tote tomatoes while the band plays on.

Mater mania running wild will make for an enjoyable read aloud in your classroom. With the rhymes, you can touch on phonemic awareness. Too Many Tomatoes is also full of rich parts of speech. Vivid verbs and abundant adjectives will invigorate the pencils of young writers. If you have a plant and/or foods unit, this book needs to be a part of it. Spring is just around the corner, so celebrate the joy of keeping a garden with Too Many Tomatoes.

You can find more reviews at NC Teacher Stuff.

Two New Books About Habitats: Ocean Animals and Polar Animals

At Growing with Science today we are featuring two new children’s books published this month that highlight habitats, Polar Animals and Ocean Animals, both by Laaren Brown.


These books from Animal Planet are loaded with big color photographs and plenty of entertaining sidebars, sure to entice young readers. “Just Like Me” sections highlight how the featured animal and humans are similar, further bringing the child into the book. The back matter of both is also impressively robust. They have suggested activities to accompany the book, an extensive list of resources, a large glossary, and a comprehensive index.

Polar Animals is an enjoyable introduction to the animals in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It has something from everyone because it offers both a fast facts and breathtaking photographs for the casual reader, and sufficient in-depth information for the more serious reader.

Ocean Animals makes a large and complex topic manageable for children to understand. In addition to being a resource for libraries, it would also be a good gift book to accompany a trip to the beach or an aquarium.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2015 Roberta Gibson at Growing with Science All Rights Reserved.


Rick and Rachel Build a Research Report

Rick and Rachel Build a Research Report
by Sue Lowell Gallion (Author) and Chi Chung (Illustrator)

Reading & Writing #kidlit #Review Haiku:
Make a plan to find
the facts. Learn how to write a
report step by step.

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

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.