STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

How Many Jelly Beans?

How many jelly beans?
How many jelly beans?

MATHEMATICS (K-2) How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti GRL J ATOS 1.5

Help K-5 students answer this essential question (and meet the Common Core State Standards) with the Teaching STEM lesson plans for this mentor text.

Essential Question: What would a million of something look like?

Unit Summary: Students will examine the essential question, “What would a million of something look like?” They will explore numbers of increasing size through the enlarging number of jelly beans pictured in the book. They will color sets of five jelly beans and practice skip counting by five as they complete each row on the graphic organizer.

The Library Activity begins on page 182. The Collaborative Teacher Activity is on page 184.

Extension Activities (sample)

1. Give each student ten jelly beans or ten bite-sized candies. Have them write story problems and the number sentences using subtraction as they eat them.

2. Bring in a package of beans or peas. Ask the students how many beans are in the package. Then give a handful to each person until they are all distributed. Ask them to count their beans and write it down. Then have the students make piles of tens and re-count the beans. Ask which way is easier. Count the beans by 10s for everyone in the class to get the total number of beans. Then take a set amount of beans and write number sentences. You can do this with numbers up to 20 to review addition and subtraction or make larger numbers. Group the students and have them work together with more beans.

3. After reading the book, have the students write a short description of the main idea of the book. Use the phrase, “I am a mathematician. I know that _________.”

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Oceans & Seas

Oceans and Seas


Oceans & Seas

by Margaret Hynes

Lexile Level: NC 1130L (Non-Conforming)


What allows animals to live in a specific water ecosystem?

Help K-5 students answer this essential question (and meet the Common Core State Standards) with the Teaching STEM lesson plans for this mentor text: Oceans & Seas by Margaret Hynes (Lexile Level: NC 1130L)

Students will examine the essential question, “What allows animals to live in a specific water ecosystem?” Students will be grouped and assigned a specific ecosystem chosen from the suggested list. They will conduct research using a variety of sources to identify important information about an animal that lives in their assigned ecosystem and identify the adaptations the animal has that allows it to successfully live there.

The Library Activity begins on page 40. The Collaborative Teacher Activity is on page 42. Extension Activities (sample)

1. Investigate James Cook and other early ocean explorers. Create a timeline of the early explorations and where they took place from journey’s start to end. Add information about the explorers.

2. Look up cultured pearls and read about the process for creating these pearls. Write a description of how it’s done and the science behind it.

3. Explore the issues facing oceans today. Name the largest issues and assign students to research and present the information in a debate-style setting.

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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.

STEM Friday

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

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Come See the Earth Turn


Come See the Earth Turn

By Lori Mortensen

Illustrated by Raul Allen

Tricycle Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58246-284-4

Nonfiction picture book

Ages 8-12

Come See the Earth Turn tells the story of Leon Foucault and the way he proved that the Earth turned using a pendulum to show the movement. Lacking formal training, Foucault, a poor student, found his place in developing “clever instruments and magnificent contraptions.”

He wondered about questions relating to light, its speed, and how to prove these sorts of things. And while people had begun to think the Earth turned, no one had proved it—until Foucault did.

Even though he’d received honors for his work, he wasn’t formally trained and it wasn’t until three years before his death that he was granted membership into the French Academy of Science.

The book contains an author’s note, glossary with pictures of the instruments, and bibliography.  In this day of Common Core State Standards, this book begs to be included in classroom and library lessons.

It would make a wonderful introduction to a lesson on Earth science, gravity, and the Earth’s motion. The invention could be compared with that of another early scientist and used as a way to show the scientific method.

Determine the main idea and find examples of how the story supports it. Look up the tools listed in the vocabulary to find more about how they worked to support academic and domain-specific word acquisition.

Compare the book with a scientific explanation of the Earth’s motion and discuss they different ways the authors used to explain this principle.

With the Next Generation Science Standards now available, the book fits perfectly with the Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions and Earth’s Place in the Universe strand. It would kick off a fun lesson to begin a study of these topics in the relevant grades.

Nonfiction is a terrific way to liven up lessons and provides a fun introduction to many topics. It gives teachers, parents, and librarians the opportunity to show children the pleasure and fun of nonfiction.

This site has a good biography of Foucault.


STEM Friday with African Animal Alphabet

Welcome to STEM Friday. Add your links in the comments and check out all the great STEM offerings today.

African Animal Alphabet

By Beverly and Dereck Joubert

National Geographic, 2011

ISBN #978-1426307812

Grades PreK-3


“As we lie in our tent at night in the African bush listening to the barks, chirps, twitters, and roars of the animals around us, we understand that all these animals have their own way of talking. We’ve filmed and photographed these creatures for many years and have come to know them very well. Each animal is different, just like you and me.”

This alphabet book is filled with short fact blurbs and large, exquisite photographs of African animals centered on the alphabet theme by the authors, who have spent more than 25 years in Africa. Familiar and not-so-familiar animals are presented in the spreads and come following a map of Africa showing the terrain and a short introduction about finding more words in the text that begin with that letter.

Readers and listeners will find the pictures appealing and the layouts draw the reader’s attention to some of the “Did You Know” text boxes. Back matter includes more short facts about each animal presented, a glossary, and more information and web sites.

The appeal of this book is that it appeals to a wider age range than most alphabet books and would be a fun read, reference, introduction to animals, or an excellent way to introduce Africa. From pictures to facts, this is a terrific book and would make a great gift, too.


Make an alphabet book of animals from your state, region, or country. Look up animals and make a book as a group of individually. If you are working with young children, assign each child a letter of the alphabet to research. Write 2-4 facts about the animal, draw a picture, put it in a category, and try to use alliterative words in the animal facts.

National Geographic has animal information for kids.

This site has child-friendly information.

National Science Standard: structure and function; growth and development

Book provided by publisher.


Rocks and Minerals at STEM Friday

Welcome to STEM Friday. Please leave your contribution in the comments. I’ll add the links throughout the day.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of Insects and Spiders by Jim Arnosky.

Sue at Archimedes Notebook is  focusing on pollinators… think you can pollinate a flower as well as a bee can? Find bee-friendly activities here.

Rourke Educational Media is featuring the new books in their line, My Science Library, including The Night Sky, Skeletons and Exoskeletons, The Scoop About Measuring Matter, Let’s Investigate Light, Eating and the Digestive System, and The Amazing Facts About Sound.

I Can Prove It! Investigating Science Cover

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff, has a review of A Whale of a Tale, which is a new iPad app.

And Shirley at SimplyScience has

Rocks and Minerals

Rocks and Minerals

By Steve Tomecek

Illustrated by Kyle Poling

National Geographic Kids, 2010

ISBN #978-1426305382

Grades K-3


“Rocks are all around us. Have you ever wondered where all these rocks came from? What are rocks made of? Here’s your chance to become a ‘rock star’ an discover the wonderful world of rocks.”

Rocks and Minerals is a terrific introduction to rocks, the rock cycle, and minerals. In a simple, fun way, Steve Tomecek, also known as  “The Dirtmeister,” explains rocks through the Earth’s formation and subsequent cooling, the building blocks of rocks called minerals, and the three groups of rocks and how they formed. Also included are examples of how people use rocks, erosion and sedimentation, and fossils embedded within rocks. The conclusion diagrams the rock cycle. The book ends with an easy to do experiment to show how conglomerate rocks are formed.

The illustrations are shown through the eyes of an unnamed cartoon figure that frolics about as a guide. This book would be a good read-aloud or one a reader might want to read on his or her own. The rocks depicted in the art are shown in large photos that are labeled and a pronunciation is given for the hard-to-say names. This good information would be an excellent way to begin a study of rocks and minerals.


Try the activity suggested in the book and make a conglomerate rock. Then use the same technique to make a sedimentary rock with a fossil inside. You may want to use a smaller cup for this activity.

Use the glue, but include several layers of sand, dirt, and other material with a different grain size (like powered clay, plaster of paris, or even salt) to make the different layers. Place a leaf or small object covered in petroleum jelly or small object between two of the layers. Let the rock dry and open it. Break it apart and see if you can find the fossil.

Another way to do this is to use plaster of paris for the fossil layer. Make the layers, but let the plaster layer dry. Cover the layer and fossil object with petroleum jelly, put the fossil object on top of the plaster layer, and add more plaster and layers. Let this dry and break it open.

Observe the fossil imprint. Then talk about which layer is the oldest and youngest. The bottom layer would be oldest.

National Science Standards: Earth’s material and system.

Book provided by publisher for Librarians’ Choices Review Committee.



Wecome to STEM Friday, hosted by SimplyScience. Add your links in the comments to participate and read about all the great STEM books we’re reviewing. Today I have the one Roberta presented last week–that’s because it’s so good!

Build It

Invent New Structures and Contraptions

By Tanny Enz

Capstone, Fact Finders, 2012

ISBN # 9781429676359

Grades 3-6


“The world is full of wonderful, puzzling, everyday problems waiting to be solved. Inventing contraptions to solve those problems is what engineers do. But you don’t need to be an engineer to invent like one. Ask how you can solve them.”

Author and engineer Enz explains her interest in engineering and conveys her excitement about the subject. With the emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) today, it’s great to find a book that addresses engineering for readers under twelve. This book does just that!

Build It focuses on how engineers go about solving problems using six steps of inventing. It explains the process of problem solving from an engineering point of view and then goes on to show readers how to solve specific problems that might occur in their world. The two to three pages dedicated to each problem list the steps and show a photo of what each step involves to create the new invention. The projects range from building a newspaper fort to making a pet watering dish. The projects are presented in the problem solving process and the photos are numbers for ease of following the directions.  New vocabulary is defined on the page and in a glossary.

Each project also includes a sidebar telling about a success that came from a failed project, like how cereal flakes were discovered by the Kellogg brothers. The variety of projects will suit most readers and can be made with easily found materials. A few of the projects have steps that will require a minimum of adult help, but most of them can be done by the readers of this age. Back matter includes a glossary, read more, internet sites, and an index.

It’s good to see engineering defined and explained in a book for both girls and boys. It’s an excellent summer reading book but extends to the school year, as projects could be done in classes with groups. The relationship of math, science, and technology is evident and practical. What a great way to interest readers in STEM!


Try one of the activities from the book. Identify the problems and success you have. Then identify a problem you’d like to solve and use the 6 steps to help you solve it. Analyze what worked or didn’t work and show someone your ideas.

This excellent site has definitions, activities, and explanations about engineering.

This site has additional activities for kids.

National Science Standards: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem; Developing; Possible Solutions; Optimizing the Design Solution

Book provided by Capstone Press

Here are today’s STEM titles.

Marina’s Tween Materials Blog  has The Hundred-Dollar Robber

Sue at Archimedes Notebook has A Luna Moth’s Life and Luna Moths.

Pam at Nomad Press has Robotics.

Roberta at Growing With Science has Night Life of the Yucca and many other books in honor of National Moth Week.

Amanda at tamarck writes has The Other Way to Listen.

Anastasia at Booktalking has Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls.



STEM Friday: Animal Homes

STEM Friday: Animal Homes
By Shirley Duke of SimplyScience.

Animal Homes

By Angela Wilkes

Kingfisher, 2012

Discover Science Series

ISBN #9780753467756


Grades K-3

“Animals need home for all of the same reasons that people do. Homes provide shelter and keep animals warm in the winter. They are a safe place to rest and raise babies.”

Animal Homes  introduces the variety of homes and locations where vertebrate and invertebrate animals live. An introductory paragraph sets the facts included about the specific home; short text passages give detailed information about animals living in that sort of home. Large, clear photographs support the text information that will appeal to the readers of this age range. Each spread discusses a specific kind of home following the introduction.

After defining homes, the book covers homes along the water and in it, nests of all kinds, underground homes and hibernation, colonies and cells such as honeycombs, and snow homes. The animals inhabiting each location are described by explaining how and why they live there.

This book addresses many areas of science. Life cycles, habitats, adaptations, and animal habitats are included within the information. Something else I noticed is the attention to aspects of the Common Core. Topics address the nonfiction reading and information. Rings point out details in photos to illustrate specific information. Back matter suggests specific activities to do that relate to the reading and extending the knowledge. It also has parent and teacher notes that include extension activities across the curriculum, as well as table of contents, glossary, a short quiz, and a find out more section.

The beauty of this book and its series is that it covers so many parts of life science. This book in a library will not only enhance the collection but it will provide a wide range of science for one reading. Kingfisher books are excellent choices for their quality and well-chosen information.


Set up a field notebook for recording observations to use throughout the year. Inlcude qualitative observations and quantitative observations. Qualitative observations include information observed using the senses. Quantitative observations are those that include recording facts numerically. Choose one of the activities on pages 50-51 and do it. Record the findings in your field notebook.

National Science Standards: growth and development; adaptation

Book provided by publisher.


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

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