June 29, 1999, written and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist David Wiesner, chronicles the strange events that occur exactly one month after the story’s young scientist, Holly Evans, launches vegetable seedlings into the sky on seed flats with Acme weather balloons. “Holly intends to study the effects of extraterrestrial conditions on vegetable growth and development. She expects the seedlings to stay aloft for several weeks before returning to earth.” What she doesn’t expect is for the skies to fill with giant vegetables one month later. “Cucumbers circle Kalamazoo. Lima beans loom over Levittown. Artichokes advance on Anchorage.” The dry report like style of Weisner’s writing, only serves to accentuate the absurdity of his story and the humor in his drawings. But Holly is puzzled when arugula, eggplant, avocado, and rutabaga all show up on the news; Holly didn’t grow these specimens and can only conclude that the giant specimens are not the result of her experiment. “More curious than disappointed, Holly asks herself, ‘What happened to my vegetables? And whose broccoli is in my backyard?” Wiesner answers her question with a surprise twist that children will love on the last two pages of the book.
This book is great fun to read and to look at and provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce the scientific investigation, reasoning, and logic to grade school children (K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1, 5.1). But it is perhaps best suited for third grade students who have already been exposed to the scientific method and are beginning to plan and conduct their own investigations or experiments where predictions and observations can be made, questions developed to formulate hypotheses, data gathered, charted, and graphed, and inferences made and conclusions drawn (3.1a, c, g, j). Wiesner’s book follows Holly’s experiment and the unexpected events of June 29, 1999 without giving anything away too early, allowing students to make their own observations and draw their own conclusions. Teachers can pause throughout the text to ask questions that reinforce this manner of thinking and encourage students to make their own hypotheses about Holly’s vegetables.
- Predicting Story Outcome – This lesson plan is actually geared toward developing reading analysis skills using Wiesner’s book, but it could easily be shifted to focus on scientific prediction.
- Science Equipment: Planters – Teachers interested in helping students to conduct their own experiments with plants can use these guidelines to create cheap easily constructed planters in the classroom.
- Process Skills Lesson Plans – This site includes numerous lesson plans intended to teach a variety of process skills including a number of experiments that focus on the process of scientific investigation.
- Scientific Method Worksheet – Teachers will love this worksheet that introduces the scientific method to elementary students with simple language and graphics.