Author Archive for Alex

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: 11 Planets!


National Geographic’s 11 Planets, written by David Aguilar, is one of the best kid-friendly reference texts on the planets. Up-to-date and full of amazingly vivid computer graphics, 11 Planets teaches students about the new definition of the term “planet” and introduces Ceres in the Asteroid Belt and Eris in the Kuiper Belt. Each planet is given an individual two page spread including a brief informative narrative, three fun facts, a reference to Greek/Roman mythology, its orbit’s position around the sun, and unbelievable graphics.

Curriculum Connections

This is an amazing resource for classroom when studying Earth, Earth’s place in the solar system, and other planets. (ES.4c) The pictures throughout this book would really interest younger children, thus making 11 Planet a great read-aloud. This book would also work really well for research in fifth or sixth grade (6.8) In addition, the interesting tidbits in each planet’s profile include references to Greek/Roman mythology. For example:

“Jupiter was the king of the ancient Roman gods, so his name works for the biggest planet. He was also called Jove, which is why the gas giants are sometimes called Jovian planets. In some languages, Thursday is named for Jupiter.”

Additional Resources

  •  Play the “Missions to Planet Earth” online card game. Help to prepare five important NASA Earth missions. The information from these missions will help scientists understand how to keep Earth in harmony and friendly to all its living things.
  •  Play one of these solar systems games to test your knowledge and learn something new! Since it is impossible to link to only one of these games, this is a whole page of great games! I particularly love Planet Impact! and Comet Facts, Myths, & Legends!

Book: 11 Planets
Author: David Aguilar
Illustrations Specialist: Jean Cantu
Publication: National Geographic
Pages: 47
Grade Range: 4-5
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0236-7

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Jump Into Science SAND


Jump Into Science SAND, written by Ellen Prager is a great book for students when learning about sand.  The book starts off by explaining the different uses of sand: beaches, desert dunes, home for certain aquatic life and the recreational uses people use sand for: walk, lie down and to build sand castles. The autor does a fantastic job of describing what sand is make of , where it comes from and how sand moves from location to location.

“Sand can be many colors-white, red, green, tan, or black. Some sand even looks like the black and white of a Dalmation’s spotted coat. The color of sand comes from the color of it’s grains.”

The book explains in detail how the various colors of sand are seen around the world.  An example is a white beach which is made up of the beautiful coral reef’s and shells found in the water close by.  It can take a very long time for sand to create the beautiful beaches we are use to today.  There are sections of the book that show what the different colors of sand look like up close.

Ellen Prager does a great job explaining how sand travels for the early elementary student while still capitaviting the older student.  Sand can travel by water, wind and ice.  She explains how each of the natural ways of movement shape the grains of sand differently.  At the end of the book you will find a fun activity titled, Shake It Up.  This would be a fun way for students to learn hands on how sand can be made.

Curriculum Connections

This would be a great resource for teachers teaching about minerals and rocks in the classroom (SOL 4.9C).  The book explains in detail how rocks and minerals are broken up into smaller pieces, which make a grain of sand.  This book can be used throughout the state of Virginia for teaching students about the sand they can find sand along the east coast of Virginia at the beach as well as small recretation areas along the west coast of Virginia.


Early elementary students can complete the word search, At The Beach to find words associated with the beach.  This would also go along well when teaching about the seasons.

Activites for students ranging from preschool to grade 3.  This web-site has ideas for teachers to use such as sand pictures & sand beads. The web-site also can provide teachers with information about the animals that live (habitat) in the sand.

Another fun activity for students would be making sand filled bottles and creating sand art. Students can create different layers of colored sand while learning about the different colors and how they are created.

Book: Jump Into Science SAND
Author: Ellen Prager
Illustrator: Nancy Woodman
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 31
Grade Range: Preschool-5th grade
ISBN: 0-7922-5583-6

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Living Sunlight



Living Sunlight How Plants Bring The Earth To Life, a book written by Holly Bang and Penny Chisholm. This book introduces kids to photosynthesis in a simplestic way. In the book it discusses how plants and animals take in the sunlight to grow and make food for the child who then eats the plants and drinks the sunlight and grows. Throughout the book the pulse of the child is seen as the pulse of the world and the warmth of the child is seen as the warmth of the sun. The colorful illustrations in the book are great for first and second graders. In conlusion this book can be used to teach students about the science cirrculum.


Curriculum Connection:

1.4(a) plants need air, water, light and a place to grow. The book describes how the sunlight melts glaciers, warms the land and create your winds . (c) The book then goes on to describe that the secret starts in green plants because they suck up H2o from the earth plants and can be classified on a variety of characteristics. (2.5a) With adquete food, shelter, space or cover the plants trap the energy as little packets.

Additional Resources:

Water experiments: Surface tension is one of water’s most important properties. It is the reason that water collects in drops, but it is also why water can travel up a plant stem, or get to your cells through the smallest blood vessels. Water experimetns allows you to experiment with surface tension using just a few household items.

People and Space: Students will understand preservation of food and space-saving storage, also what dehydration means and how dehydrated foods can be consumed by mixing the food with saliva from the eater's mouth or by adding water

The Living Earth: Discuss glaciers, how they change the land and how the planets structure changes

General Information:

Book: Living Sunlight

Author: Holly Bang & Penny Chisholm

Publication Date: 2006

Pages: 1-30

Grade Range: 1-3

ISBN: 3 3082 01074 2996


Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht


Introduction and Summary
Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht written by Richard Platt and illustrated by David Parkins,  follows the life of nine-year-old Nakht, who has just moved with his family to Memphis where his father has a prestigious new job as a scribe. As Nakht takes up his own scribe lessons, he maintains a diary of the daily events of an Egyptian child as well as the historical events of the time.  Nakht and his sister, Tamyt, decide to investigate the robbing of nearby tombs and eventually catch the criminal mastermind, the Controller of Granaries, at a banquet inside their own house! Nakht and Tamyt are invited to meet King Hatshepsut, who is really a woman! The end of the book has notes of historical details of the time period including maps, a timeline, and information about the Ancient Egyptian society.

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce Ancient Egypt to elementary students. Although the book itself is long, it would ideal to read aloud a few pages at a time to a class. Key vocabulary could include ancient, scribe, pyramid, Pharaoh, barter, Nile River, and heiroglyphics. The book explores the Ancient Egyptian architecture, inventions, calendar, and writings (SOL 2.1). It can also be used in conjuction with a geography lesson to point out Ancient Egypt on a map as well as the Nile River(SOL 2.4a). An economic lesson can also be incorporated on bartering as there are several examples of bartering throughout the book (SOL 2.8)

Additional Resources

Book: Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht
Richard Platt
Illustrator: David Parkins
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date:
Pages:  64 pages
Grade Range: 2nd-5th grade
ISBN: 0763627569

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: S is for Save the Planet


S is for Save the Planet, written by Brad Herzog and illustrated by Linda Holt Ayriss, is a How-to-be Green Alphabet that sparks students’ enthusiasm for saving our environment. Published in 2009, S is for Save the Planet includes up-to-date information on the biggest problems facing our environment and the simplest ways that we can help!  The beautiful illustrations not only depict the beauty in the environment, but also students in action. Displaying students who are completing these environmentally friendly acts makes each task seem more feasible. The short, rhyming poem accompanying each letter of the alphabet is perfect for younger readers, while the side excerpts explore the topic in greater detail. The two paragraphs chock full of factual information are great resources for the curious student or the advanced reader. Students will absolutely love this book and hopefully share the new strategies they learn with their families and friends!

Curriculum Connections
Although this book is very much environmentally-focused it is still largely connected to Life Science. The effect of human interaction in ecosystems including human land use and ecosystem stability is a major topic within Life Science. Since populations within ecosystems are interdependent, these disturbances have a ripple effect on the environment. (LS.12b,d,e) General factors that decrease population sizes and the effects of climate change on communities, populations, and organisms are all environmental issues addressed in this book. (LS.11c)  

Additional Resources

  • There is a 27 page teacher’s guide available full of vocabulary, pictures, and all kinds of fun, relative activities including lab experiments! This guide also includes a lot of creative and meaningful writing prompts to challenge students.  Xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that conserves water, is just one of the many new topics students can explore.
  • This fun interactive site offers a treasure hunt, recycle game, cool videos, and new articles for kids all introduced by Otis the otter!
  • The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources brings us EEK! (Environmental Education for Kids) Students can research animals in the Critter Corner, discover the history of maple syrup in Nature Notes,  and test their knowledge with riddles of the month. EEK! even provides descriptions of careers in the environmental industry!

General Information 

Book: S is for Save the Planet
Author: Brad Herzog
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 36
Grade Range: 3-6
ISBN: 1-58536-428-2

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: Butterflies and Moths


Butterflies and Moths, written by Nic Bishop. This book provides basic information about moths and butterflies.  The book goes on to discuss facts about the insects appearance and habits. For example Moths have fatter bodies, covered with furry hairs. One can tell a moth from a butterfly by the antennae on the moths head. The book then goes on to discuss the life cycle of a butterfly and moth. First it begins with an egg, then the caterpillar crawls out, and lastly the caterpillar wanders to a safe place into a pupa. This book is great for K-4 graders because of the colorful illustrations and detailed facts about butterflies and moths.

Cirrculum Connections

 Butterflies and Moths is a great way to teach children the four stages of the butterfly. The illustrations are bright and colorful for students to look at. This book is for K-4 graders because of the basic facts that are provided about the insects. K.1g)The four stages of the butterfly allows the students to observe and record the result of each stage. 2.4a) and 2.4b) Allows the teacher to teach about the butterflies life cycle and habits.

Additional Resources

 Colorful Art Butterfly– In this activity students cut off part of an egg cartoon then the students can paint the carton any color they want. This activity is great for students who have read a book about caterpillars.

Life Cycle of a Butterfly– Students will identify the four stages of a butterflies life cycle

The Ugly Caterpillar– This program features four different reading leavels. This program is great for guide reading


Book: Butterflies and Moths
Author: Nic Bishop
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 48 pages
Grade Range: K-4
3082 01039 0721

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: The ABCs of Oceans

ABCs of Oceans


“B is for Butterfly Fish, C is for Camouflage, D is for Dolphins.” The ABCs of Oceans by Bobbie Kalman is a half dictionary, half storybook that provides children and adults about the different types of animals and plants that thrive in the spectacular world beneath the ocean. I absolutely adore the ocean and with this book, myself and anybody else who picks it up will learn that there is a lot more beneath the ocean than people think. The book talks about common sea creatures like whales, dolphins, sharks and sea turtles but it also provides definitions and ocean facts as well. Who knew that such creatures as “Nudibranchs” and “Leafy Sea Dragons” actually existed? (“Nudibranchs are mollusks” and “The leafy sea dragon is a relative of sea horses.”) This book is an amazing 32 pages of facts about sea life and is the perfect book for any ocean lover to pick up and read.

Curriculum Connections:

This book provides young children with a lot of information about ocean animals but it also helps students understand relationships among plants and animals in an aquatic environment. The book talks about how some animals in the ocean are predators/consumers and how others are prey. But the book also does a phenomenal job in classifying ocean animals and plants as well. It talks about how animals are classified as things like cartilage fish, mollusks, mammals, plants, etc. It also provides students with a brief glance into parents, babies and offspring and how usually the offspring aren’t identical to their parents. Overall, the book provides lots of information about ocean animals and plants but it does so in a fun way that is enjoyable to learn (Virginia SOLs LS 4, 5, K.6, 1.5, 3.5 and 3.6)

Additional Resources:

Ocean ABCs:  This website will provide children with the opportunity to create their own ABC book of the oceans. Each student will contribute something different for one letter of the alphabet and the finished product will be a masterpiece.

Ocean Activities for Kids:  With this website, teachers and students will get the chance to construct numerous ocean animals using simple art materials. A fun and wonderful way to learn about what lies beneath the ocean.

Ocean Alphabet Pages:  These fun color printout pages are a must for children who enjoy coloring and are also a great learning tool for teachers to hand out to their students in order to provide a more interesting look at the glorious animals that dwell in the ocean.

General Information:

Book: The ABCs of Oceans

Author: Bobbie Kalman

Publisher: Crabtree Publishing

Publication Date: 2007

Pages: 32

Grade Range: K-2

ISBN: 0778734323


Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Secrets of Sound!

April Sayre's Book Secrets of Sound: Studying the Calls and Songs of Whales, Elephants, and Birds

“The satisfaction comes from knowing that I am constantly
in the world of discovery, where I am encouraged to use my
imagination, creativity, and intelligence for the purpose of
learning about life in all its incredible forms.” (pg. 23)

April Pulley Sayre, author and photographer of Secrets of sound: studying the calls and songs of whales, elephants, and birds,  has added  yet another exciting, informative book to the Scientists in the Field Series. Secrets of sound explores the work of acoustic biologists in three distinct habitats of whales, elephants, and birds.

Sayre introduces the reader to three scientists€”Christopher W. Clark, Katy Payne, and Bill Evans€”who have dedicated themselves to researching animal communication. This book reveals the scientists’ use of new technologies and secret military information to make exciting discoveries. In addition, Secrets of Sound demonstrates the role of scientific research in studying the calls and sound of animals and in preserving endangered animals. While celebrating the methods and challenges of lab and fieldwork, this book also highlights the satisfaction of results.

Curriculum Connections
Sound is one of the many topics within the field of Physical Science.  Secrets of Sound  takes the reader from Texas to Hawaii to Africa, revealing the scientific methods used in the work of three bioacousticians. The text can be a bit dense, but it is a great way to introduce the main ideas such as frequency, waves, wavelengths, and vibrations of animal sounds (5.2 a,c). The reader clearly views the process behind the observation and measurement of the data collected in all three studies (6.1 a,c,h). There are also various graphical representations included in the book (6.1 i). Additionally, the last page of the book includes a glossary of words such as “frequency,” “pitch,”and “hertz,” to name a few.

Additional Resources

  • Interactive Science Movie on Sound! In the movie, you'll find out how sound and ocean waves are similar, yet different, as you learn about different kinds of waves. See how air molecules, air pressure, pitch, and vibration all play a part in everything you hear. Plus, you'll be introduced to a cool mechanism designed to measure sound waves! Discover how fast sound can travel through mediums like air, water, and steel. And see how aquatic animals like whales use sound to communicate underwater!
  • Night-Migrating Bird Calls! Get instructions for building your own microphone! You can set up a night-flight call monitoring station at your home or at your school and then connect with others doing the same via the Oldbird Web site.

General Information

Book: Secrets of sound: studying the calls and songs of whales, elephants, and birds
Author & Photographer: April Pulley Sayre
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 63
Grade Range: 5-6
ISBN: 0-618-01514-0

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: Electricity


Electricity, a DK Eyewitness book written by Steve Parker, is a great introduction to electricity.  The book is written in short sections with one topic per two page spread.  There are lots of pictures which make the book very visually interesting.  Each section discusses the science behind electricity and includes information about important historical scientists.  Topics covered include Circuits and Conductors, Electromagnets, Discoveries using electricity, Electricity in the home, and more.

Curriculum Connections

This book could be used help students investigate and understand the characteristics of electricity (VA SOL 4.3) like conductors and electricity (4.3a), basic circuits (4.3b), static electricity (4.3c), transformation of electrical energy into light, heat, and mechanical energy (4.3d), electromagnets (4.3e), and historical contributions in understanding electricity (4.3f).  The short sections make it conducive to using the book to supplement multiple activities and lessons.

Additional Resources

Learn more about electric circuits with the interactive Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits.

Play this Conductors and Insulators game to learn more about electricity.

Explore Static Electricity with this experiment.

General Information

Book: Electricity
Author: Steve Parker
Illustrator: DK Eyewitness Books
Publisher: DK Eyewitness Books
Publication date: 1992, republished 2005
Pages: 72
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 0756613884

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: What is the World Made Of?


Introduction and Summary:

  • In the book, What is the World Made of by Kathleen Zoehfeld it describes the three states of matter solid, liquid and gas. The book then goes on to state each one of the matters attributes. This book introduces young readers to important science concepts. For example the book teaches children the difference between solids, liquids and gas. The book uses simplestic concepts like why a child cannot walk through a wall to help the child better understand science. This book is great for K-3 because of the colorful illustrations and easy concepts for children to grasp.

 Curriculum Connections:

  • This book introduces young children to the basics of science and help satisfy their curiosity about how science works. K.1a) By looking at all three matters you can identify there physical state by direct observation. K.2b) Sensory descriptors. In the book they use perfume to describe how you can smell it in different parts of a room when the top is taken off the bottle. 1.1a) The senses are used to to observe different physical properties. For example when you put water in a ice tray one can observe the water changing to a solid when put in the freezer.

Additional Resources:

  • Solids, Liquids and Gases– This lesson allows students to distinguish between liquids, solids and gases. The students will observe experiments. The students will also be able to identify some of the physical properties of each of them
  • What is Matter ?- This three minute video allows students to learn more about liquids, solids and gases. Singing Karaoke about the three matters will help the students understand a new way of learning.
  • Matter– This site defines the three stages of matter. There are activities and videos to further explain the three different stages of matter.

Additional Resources:

Book: What is the World Made of?

Author: Kathleen Zoehfeld

Illustrated: Paul Meisel

Publication Date: 1998

Pages: 4-32

Grade Range: k-3

ISBN: 0-06-445163-1