STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Terrific Tongues!

9781620917848

Terrific Tongues!

by Maria Gianferrari,  Illustrated by Jia Liu.

Boyds Mills, April 2018.  ISBN 9781620917848.

I have to wait a few months before I am permitted to re-post reviews I write for School Library Journal, but here it is—better late than never.

I tested this book in a school classroom. The kids enjoyed it and were able to remember the differences between the animals’ tongues.

PreS-Gr 3–An expressive monkey acts as a guide to the animal kingdom’s most
interesting tongues. Liu chooses the monkey’s own mouth to illustrate,
literally, the many things a tongue is similar to—straw, sword, nose,
and mop. In each instance, Gianferrari’s simple analogy appears in
large font with a humorous illustration. “If you had a tongue like a
sword, you might be a…” In the first example, the monkey’s tongue is
actually a sword as he dukes it out with a fencer. On the following
page, we discover the answer, “Woodpecker!” and see a rendering of a
woodpecker in its natural habitat, its long pointed tongue stabbing
underneath the bark of a tree. A short paragraph explaining the workings
of the animal’s tongue is embedded within the illustration. Readers
will enjoy finding the monkey in each habitat, too. Eleven creatures are
featured in similar fashion. Back matter offers greater detail and also
explains the workings of the human tongue. The appealing cover and
bright, cheery illustrations will capture the attention of even casual
browsers. VERDICT A fine addition to early nonfiction collections.

School Library Journal. Feb2018, Vol. 64 Issue 2, p112-112. 2/9p. Copyright © 2018 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted here with permission.

 

See all my reviews at Shelf-employed.

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


Experience the World of African Elephants in the Illustrated Travelogue of Ted Lewin & Betsy Lewin

Elephant Quest, from Adventures Around the World series, Lee & Low Books, 2014 (paperback)

Elephant Quest, from Adventures Around the World series, Lee & Low Books, 2014 (paperback)

Elephant Quest (nonfiction, travelogue) Interest level: grades 1–6

written and illustrated by Betsy Lewin and Ted Lewin

Caldecott Honor winners Ted and Betsy Lewin combine their distinctive artistic styles with captivating text to relate their adventure to see majestic African elephants in Botswana. Along the way they encounter a full range of African wildlife: hippos, lions, leopards, wildebeests, giraffes, wild dogs, baboons, and more. Elephant Quest is one of six illustrated travelogues in the Lewin’s Adventures Around the World series.

Honors include:

  • Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students, National Science Teachers Association/Children’s Book Council
  • John Burroughs Award for Nature Books for Young Readers, American Museum of Natural History

Themes: Biodiversity, Animal Adaptations, Habitats & Environments, Human Activity & Impact, Sustainability, Geography

Discussion Questions:

  • Describe the physical and behavioral adaptations of the elephants. What do they need to have or be able to do to survive in their environment?
  • How do Ted and Betsy Lewin and other humans that appear in the book demonstrate respect toward the animals they observe?
  • Why do you think Ted and Betsy Lewin choose to focus on the African elephants? What makes this species unique or interesting compared to the other animals in the habitat and country?
  • What is a reserve? Why do the elephants live in a reserve? What reasons might people have for creating a reserve? Do you think people have a responsibility to protect animals or the environment? Why or why not?
  • Ted and Betsy Lewin are tourists at the reserve and in Botswana. List the consequences (positive and negative) of the Lewins’ trip on the animals, habitat, people of Botswana, and young readers around the world. Do you believe wildlife tourism is beneficial, harmful, or something else to the animals and habitat? Why?

elephant (3)Activity Suggestions:

  1. Have students research the geography of Botswana. What are the physical features, climate, and seasons? Which animals and plants are found there? What culture(s) are found there? What makes the region unique from other parts of the world? How might the region’s geography make it attractive to elephants and ideal for the Moremi Reserve?
  2. Elephant Quest was originally published in 2000. Encourage students to research the status of African elephants today. If the Lewins were to write an update to their travelogue, what might they include about the species and the challenges they face? Explore the conditions of African elephants with the World Wildlife Fund and National Geographic Kids.
  3. If the Lewins were to come to your community, what animal species should they search for and write a travelogue about? Ask students to write a letter to persuade the Lewins to visit this place and study an animal species of their choosing. Describe the species where you live. What does it look like? What does it eat? What are its predators? What challenges does it face?
  4. Encourage students to design and create a travel poster advertising the Moremi Reserve. Persuade tourists to visit this region based on facts about its climate, animals, and geography found in the book. Think about the time of year that would be best to visit this region. Students may wish to study examples of travel advertisements in newspapers, magazines, or online travel sites for inspiration.
  5. Ted and Betsy Lewin choose to use watercolor paint to convey their experiences. How do watercolors help them tell the story and capture their observations? How do watercolor illustrations compare to photographs (check out the photo galleries of Moremi from Expert Africa and Botswana Tourism for examples)? Contrast Ted Lewin’s realistic images to Betsy Lewin’s field sketches. How do the Lewins use watercolors differently from each other? If possible, have students practice painting a scene with watercolor paints. Have students reflect on the material, time involved, and process of painting with watercolors. Have students hypothesize whether the Lewins painted during the trip or after they returned to their studios. Then show them a video interview with the Lewins in their studios.
  6. Home-School Connections: Encourage students and their families to participate in Wildlife Watch, the National Wildlife Federation’s national nature-watching program created for people of all ages. Students and families share the details of the wildlife they see in their communities to help National Wildlife Federation track the health and behavior of species.

stemfriday.tinyIt’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2015 Jill Eisenberg. All Rights Reserved.


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Muskrat Will Be Swimming

Muskrat Will Be Swimming, by Cheryl Savageau, illustrated by Robert Hynes, is one of those classic old school picture books from the 1990’s. It has more words per page than most picture books have per book these days. But I found this story to be a perfect blend of fiction, Native American hmuskrateritage, and natural science.

A muskrat is similar to a beaver, in that it is a water mammal that lives in marsh and lake habitats. While there is extensive information on muskrats at the back of the book, and there are internet links to information for teachers wishing to find out how to teach about this story, the basis of the book is not science about muskrats. Rather it is about a girl who is in love with her home near a lake where nature is still wild and muskrats are busily leading their lives. Yet, even as she appreciates the wilderness surrounding her home, she struggles with her experiences at school, where the other kids make fun of her and what they think of as a gross place to live.

With the help of her Grandpa and a Native American legend, the girl learns to find confidence in her place in the natural world.

The highlight of the book for me is the beautifully, and scientifically accurate, depictions of the lake environment and creatures. Robert Hynes’ artwork is meticulous and brings depth and life to this story. I’m a sucker for nature art, and this book is a perfect one to pull me in.

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2013 Amanda K. Jaros All Rights Reserved.


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The Chiru of High Tibet

One of the things I love about picture books is the growing trend right now towards creative nonfiction stories. Real stories that are brought to life in colorful, easy-to-read, and narrative ways. The Chiru of High Tibet by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda S. Wingerter, is one of these books.

I found this book, published in 2010, to be a perfect meshing of fact and narrative. The story has an arc, has suspense, has characters we care about, all the while giving us information on an animal species most of us probably have never heard of, and a region of the world that we probably will never go to. Some of the facts are woven into the story, but there are also subtle side boxes to give us even more.

Chiru are deer or antelope like animals, living live in the mountainous Chang Tang region of Northern Tibet, whose fur is extremely soft and luxurious. The chiru migrate through the mountains each year to an unknown location to birth and raise their babies. People did not know where this area was, but when they discovered that the fur made a wonderfully warm wrap, they were quite able to kill the adults in their summer lands.  Eventually, like many other species in a similar situation, this population began to lessen. The crux of the book asks “In the wide, unpeople plains, who would care if the chiru disappeared?”

Who cares, is what the rest of the story is about. It tells of one man who tried to find and protect the chiru calving grounds, but failed. Then there was the expedition of four explorers who took up that quest to protect the chiru. They trekked across Tibet through harsh conditions to follow the chiru to the calving grounds, and find a way to protect this land.

This book is nonfiction, done in a creative way. I may never see a chiru in high Tibet, but this picture book made me care about them, made me wonder just how soft that chiru fur is, and made me quickly turn each page to find out what happens next in their story.

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STEM Friday Tales of Animal Tails

Animal Tails by Beth Fielding

36 pages, ages 4-8

Early Light Books, 2011

There are almost as many kinds of tails as there are animals: scaly tails, curly tails, wagging tails, striped tails, tails that sting, tails that warn and even talking tails. Think rattlesnake.

Beth Fielding gives us a visual tour of animal diversity – but this time, instead of tongues and eyes, she’s got us checking out the back ends of animals. Each photo-packed spread focuses on one animal and the special role its tail plays in survival. With kangaroos, it’s balance: those super-long tails help kangaroos balance their weight when they’re jumping. Squirrels use their tails as umbrellas, folding them over their heads and back. When it stops raining they just shake the water off like you’d shake off a wet raincoat. And when it snows, squirrels use their tails to keep warm.

Fielding writes about lizard tails, chameleon tails, cat tails and bird tails – which act like rudders when they’re flying and air brakes when they want to slow down. She even has a section on caterpillar tails – useful for tricking predators into thinking the tail end is the head end.

On each page there’s a nifty fact, something to think about, or an experiment to try. Why are whale tails so effective? Put on a pair of snorkel fins and find out.

At the end there’s six pages of “Tail Talk”- more tales about tails, and even a bit about how animals use their tails to communicate. A dog’ll let you know its happy by wagging a tail – but did you know pigs wag their tails, too? Cats, on the other hand, only wag their tails when they are annoyed or ready to attack. Could this explain the age old animosity between cats and dogs?

Check out more tail tales over at Archimedes Notebook, and take a look at what other people are posting here today.

Join STEM Friday!

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  • Write about STEM each Friday on your blog.
  • Copy the STEM Friday button to use in your blog post.

STEM Friday

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

  • Link your post to the comments of our weekly STEM Friday Round-up. (Please use the link to your STEM Friday post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

Site Meter Copyright © 2012 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.