“Magic School Bus” with a splash Jurassic Park for kids crossed my mind when I read this classroom friendly book about fossils! The book Fossils Tell of Long Ago, by Aliki, provides an in depth look at the different types of fossils, how they form and even a simple in class activity to do!
Aliki unfolds the book as a story that explains the formation of fossils to a group of students who looks like they are at a museum learning about fossils. The book clearly explains some of the scientific vocabulary associated with fossils but never gets so technical that a young student would be lost:
“Millions of years ago a fly was caught in the sticky sap of a tree. The sap hardened and became a fossil called amber. Amber looks like yellow glass. The fly was perfectly preserved in the amber (Page 20).”
The text is also nicely complemented by illustrations that further clarify the text. Throughout the book the students examine fossils of fish, plants, dinosaurs and even fossils found in the Arctic and in amber. Not only does the book explain the formation of fossils but it explains how they are used, where they can be found and who finds these “stones”. One of the most impressive aspect of the book is that is has some repetition that drives home the key concepts about fossils but never becomes boring or unnecessary. The book ends with a quick activity that could be done in your class, where students make imprints of their hands in clay. If you are familiar with the “Magic School Bus” series, this book gives off a very similar vibe with both the layout and approach but seems to more manageable for a younger student to read.
This book can provide students with an introduction to fossils and how animals lives are impacted by the land environments around them. Students can learn about the change over time that occurs in natural things. In Virgina this would address the SOL where students need to understand that change occurs over time at both fast and slow rates and that these changes can be noted and measured in natural things (Science Standards of Learning K.9 a, b).
Book: Fossils Tell of Long Ago
Publication Date: 1990
Pages: 32 Pages
Simple machines can sometimes pose a more then simple problem in trying to find the appropriate book for your classroom. The book Machines, by Janet Pallazzo-Craig has solved this problem with a phenomenal book that provides real life examples your students can relate to.
This classroom-friendly chapter book provides a fun way and easy way to learn about the different machines in the world around us. The most impressive part of the book is the way the author simplifies the vocabulary associated with simple machine and compound machines into terms your students will comprehend. The real photographs accompanied with labeled diagrams will also solidify the students’ understanding of the material. In addition to exploring the six simple machines, the text explains compound machines which most books on this topic fail to do. The number of comparing and contrasting activities are endless! The interactive questions and bold text also make the book appealing.
An example of a simple question built into the text that can engage the class is:
Did you know that a can opener is a compound machine? It is made of these simple machines working together: Lever (The hinged handle), Wheel and axle (The turning knob), Wedge (The sharp blade that cuts the metal.
Machines, would be the perfect book to introduce students to simples machines and how they function. The book gives examples found in school as well as at home and provides extensive explanations about simple and complex machines where students might have no prior knowledge. If teaching in Virginia this book would directly address SOL 3.2 which investigates the understanding of simple machines and their uses.
Additional Classroom Resources
- Great link for additional resources as well as additional activities for your classroom. This can help further reinforce concepts from the book or give students additional research opportunities on the topic.
- Simple Machines offers free powerpoints, templates and clip art to provide visual aids and spice up your lesson plan.
- This site provides field trip ideas for your class as well as hand-on activities to explore the simple machines around your students.
Author: Janet Palazzo-Craig
Illustrator & Photographs: Bill Melvin
Publisher: Macmillan/McGraw Hill
Pages: 14 pages
NOTE: This book is a Macmillan/McGraw-Hill leveled reader and is only available through the textbook company.
Have you ever struggled to come up with a fun and creative approach to teach the 5 senses to your students? Well, look no further because Joanna Cole, the author of the book, You Can’t Smell a Flower with Your Ear! has done exactly that. The fun and bright illustrations by Mavis Smith add a friendly and inviting touch to the book as well.
The book’s text provides a fun way to learn about the 5 different senses. It provides examples that children could easily relate to and experience in every day life. The most impressive part of the book are the fairly complex concepts that Cole nicely simplifies into terms that your students will comprehend:”Nerves-like wires-carry messages about the picture from the back of your eye to special places in your brain (Pg. 13).” The illustrations also nicely compliment and further explain key ideas in the text by providing diagrams for each major sense. The book goes through all of the 5 senses and gives a “try this” portion where students could actually test out how each of their sense are being activated.
An example of a “Try This” would be:
“Dim the lights. Look at your eyes in a mirror. Are your pupils big? Now turn on a bright light. Did you see your pupils get smaller? Your pupils get bigger and smaller to let in just the right amount of light (Page 11) .”
This book could be used to introduce students to different properties that could be observed by using their sense of sight, touch, hearing, feeling and smell. In the state of Virginia it would address the Standard of Learning 1.1 in the Science Standards of Learning, which looks at the differences in physical properties using the senses and how inferences can be made about a familiar object or event.
Additional Classroom Resources
- The Lesson Plans Page has a lesson plan with an activity that could further reinforce concepts from the book.
- InstructorWeb provides some worksheets to be printed out that deal with the five senses.
- Education World offers 10 great activities that could be used with your class to teach the five senses.
Book: You Can’t Smell a Flower with Your Ear!
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Mavis Smith
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Publication Date: 1994
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: 1-3 (might be a challenge for struggling 1st grade readers)