Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Just Look


Have you ever looked at a part of an object, tried to guess what it was, and been fooled?  Even using all the clues provided, this can been a difficult task.  Using beautiful photographs and this technique, Tana Hoban takes the reader on a visual adventure in her book Just Look.

Just Look is a book for the imagination.  Without the use of text, Hoban creates a beautiful story, simply with the use of photographs.  The book features nine distinct objects, each with its own shape, color, and texture. The key objects photographed include:

  • a penguin
  • a toy sailboat
  • a rabbit
  • a bulldozer
  • a giraffe
  • the Eiffel Tower
  • a pelican
  • a cantaloupe
  • a horse

Hoban does not simply display these photographs.  Instead she gradually gives visual clues to uncover the object.  First she begins with a black page that has a 2-inch die-cut center.  The hole provides a peak of the photograph on the next page.  Then she follows this photograph with a wide view of the object in its environment.  For example, the first page shows black and white spots that are similar to the coat of a cow.  However, as the reader flips to the next page, Hoban reveals that these black and white spots are actually the feathers of a penguin.  On the following page, she zooms out the photograph even more, showing a pack of seventeen penguins.  The level of difficulty varies among the photographs, ranging from the easily recognized hide of a giraffe, to the disguised bolt of a bullzozer’s wheel.  Just Look will have children glued to the photographs, thinking about what they see!

Curriculum Connections
This book is great to teach students that physical properties can be used to help describe matter.  Students can focus on the color, shape, and texture of the pictures to help them predict what the author is showing in the die-cut.  It would be a great idea to compare and contrast each of the photographs.  The featured animals, building, and objects could serve as a basis for a classification exercise that focuses on the physical characteristics of each type of matter.   In Virginia, this book works well with the K.4 SOL.

Additional Resources

  •  The Utah Education Network provides a great lesson plan called “What it is, What it isn’t.”  Resources such as Instructional Procedures, Extensions, and Assessment Plans are also available on this site!
  • Are you looking for similar books like Just Look? Check out this site for additional books by Tana Hoban!
  • Relate this book to a visual arts lesson that focuses on texture and patterns.  Lesson plan #7 on this site is based off of Tana Hoban’s Just Look.

Book: Just Look
Author/Illustrator: Tana Hoban
Publisher: Greenwillow Brooks
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 38 pages
Grades: K-1
ISBN: 0688140416

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