Author Archive for Paul Hicks

Second Grade Math: Addition and Subtraction


The mathematical topic for this post is meant for second graders who are recalling addition facts to sums of 20 or less and the corresponding subtraction facts.  The focus is number relationships and is based on VA SOL 2.5.  The following books are resources that children can use in order to sharpen their addition and subtraction skills.

Recommended Books:


Icky Bug Numbers 123 written by Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by David Biedrzycki and Rob Bolster is a book that takes children from zero to ten and on each number, there is a corresponding number of bugs.  On 0, there are no bugs.  On numbers 1 through 10, each number has a different bug.  For example, there is one ant on the 1; there are two butterflies on the 2; there are seven spiders on the 7, and so on up to number 10.  What’s neat about the next section of the book is that Pallotta mixes the bugs on the numbers so children will understand the idea of sets.  On the number 7, there are four spiders, one dragonfly, one lady bug and one moth.  Despite the fact that there are four separate bugs, the total number of bugs is still seven.  The book also contains skip counting odd and even numbers to twenty and simple addition equations where the child will add groups of bugs together.  The end of the book concentrates on subtraction.  There is a spider that is capturing flies in its web.   Pallotta introduces simple subtraction equations in reference to the bugs the spider has cocooned or eaten.  I think second grade boys will really like this book.  The illustrations of the bugs are amazing, and some are pretty creepy.  The book is perfect for addition facts to 20 and corresponding subtraction facts.


Math for All Seasons written by Greg Tang and illustrated by Harry Briggs is a book of 16 addition and subtraction riddles.  Students can solve the riddles by counting objects or grouping objects on the page.  The author encourages children to find quick ways to solve the riddles by grouping then adding or subtracting.  The illustrations of objects such as, tulips, butterflies, umbrellas, dandelions, etc. are beautiful.  Each riddle is a rhyme so the book could be considered cross-curricular as far as reading.  Tang explains the best way to solve each riddle at the back of the book.


The Mission of Addition by Brian P. Cleary and illustrated by Brian Gable is a book about adding sums.  “6 yellow buses were parked in a line, 3 pulled behind them, and then there were 9.  Along came 4 more, and that made13.  If you got that right, you are an adding machine!”  All of the scenarios in this book engage students in adding a sum, then adding more to that sum to get a total.  It breaks down addition equations into simple terms.  Examples are: “numbers climb from low to high,” “add means to increase,” “plus can be used just like and,” and “equals can be used like is, or totals, or makes.”  Children learn how to add numbers together rather than counting objects.  The book is well illustrated and easy to read.


The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang and illustrated by Harry Briggs is a book of math riddles that encourages students to group like objects into sets, then add the sets together to forms sums or subtract groups in order to find the difference.  Objects in this book are ants, strawberry seeds, camels humps, dice, etc., and the illustrations are wonderful.  There are a total of 16 riddles in this book and answers are in the back.  There are groups that total sums higher than 20 so it may be more a little complicated than the book Math for All Seasons by the same author.  The riddles are in a rhyme format and Tang gives clues to help the students group objects as opposed to counting.


Math Appeal by Greg Tang and illustrated by Harry Briggs is another book that offers children great practice in addition and subtraction.  Tang uses riddles to challenge children to see patterns in numbers.  The patterns are located on beautifully illustrated objects such as, peas in pods, red hot chili peppers, clovers, geese, etc.  Patterns can be determined by colors, shapes, or pure number of objects.  Every riddle is a rhyme that challenges students to see the pattern, group the sets of objects, and then determine the sum or difference depending on what the riddle asks. Like his other books, each of the 16 riddles are different and the answers can be found in the back of the book.  This book would be a great challenge for students who have mastered the VA SOL 2.5 because many of the sums and differences are above 20.

Recommended Websites:

Countdown and other games such as, Give Me Time and 20 Questions are excellent practice for students on need to brush up on their addition facts to 9+9.   Simply scroll down to “Play” and choose any one of the three games.  You can navigate from this page to practice subtraction facts and learn about inverse relationships of addition and subtraction.

The Timernator is a great site for addition and subtraction.  Kids practice math against the clock.  It helps them develop addition and subtraction skills without the pressure of being timed in a classroom environment.

Addition Game-fishing is a fun site where children get to catch the fish that equals the correct sum.  There is also the Subtraction Game-fishing where children get to catch the fish that equals the correct difference.

Addition Concentration is a fun game that is played just like Concentration.  You select an addition problem from the left set of squares and then try to find the correct answer from the set of squares on the right.  A smiley face pops up when you get the correct answer.

Mathcar Racing is a site where children can practice addition or subtraction.  The child will race against another car by determining the sum or difference that provides the highest total out of the the choices of math facts on the board.

Duck von Fly is a subtraction game that specifically focuses on subtraction facts between 1 and 20.   The objective is to keep Duck von Fly up in the air by choosing the correct difference of a subtraction problem.  The answers are multiple choice.

Additional Resources:

Two Dice Sums is an activity that can be played in the classroom or the home.   It was a favorite activity developed by Marilyn Burns for the classroom.

Math word problems as well as several different lesson plans, activities and worksheets are listed on this site.  The link is to the word problems page but there are links on this page that will navigate to other activities and worksheets.  This would be a great site for teachers.

Super Teacher Worksheets is an excellent site for fun games and activities that teachers can print off for their students.  This link takes you directly to the addition page.  You can easily navigate from this page to other math topics such as subtraction.

Hotchalk is a site for lesson plans and activities for teachers.  This link will send you to a list of plans and activities for addition and subtraction.

Math Fact Cafe is a website where teachers can build grade specific fact sheets or download pre-made grade specific fact sheets.  It’s a good site for assessments and it also contains games for classroom activities.

Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Economy


The Economy written by Terence O’Hara gives an in-depth look at the economy of the United States and includes topics such as, free enterprise, the law of supply and demand, how businesses work, business cycles, and different types of economies from around the world.  This book is an excellent introduction into how our economy works because it gives readers real-world examples of the topics listed above.  For example, in explaining supply and demand, O’Hara talks about the “Playstation 2” video gaming system.

In 200o, the Sony Corporation came out with Playstation 2, the hottest home video gaming system ever.  If you could find it in a store, it cost anywhere between $100 and $200.  The problem was you couldn’t find it in any store.  Demand was so high…that sores ran out of them.  But the demand for the new game machines didn’t go away just because the supply was limited.  So the cost went through the roof. (p. 23 & 24)

Some other real world examples are how Henry Ford created the first assembly line when it came to building cars.  Now all car manufacturers use the assembly line in order to produce automobiles.  In the section of “how businesses work,” O’Hara talks about how banking helps our economy grow, from small independent contractors to large corporations.  Banks take a risk by lending people money in order to start businesses.  This leads into the topic of “business cycles.”  If banks take too much of a risk, it can cause banks to fail which can lead us into a bear market or even a depression.  O’Hara gives a progression of how the economy used to be in the past and gives fact-based information on how our economy has evolved.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be good for teachers to read to students who are in upper elementary classes due to its technical nature.  There are several terms which would not be suited for younger elementary students, such as capitalism, inflation, bull and bear markets, globalization, etc.  The book does talk about cost and opportunity cost.   “There are no free lunches…everything, even if you think it’s free costs something.  Every decision a person makes is rooted in cost-benefit analysis: in other words, what will it cost me and what will I get out of it?” (p.25)  He gives the example of a student sharpening her pencil.  Her writing might be clearer but she may interrupt the teacher. (VA SOL 3.9)  Several of the topics involve our use of natural resources, such as corn.  He talks about human resources, such as the industrial revolution, and capital resources, such as robots installing fiber optic cables in sewers.  (VA SOL 2.7)  This book expands on those SOL.  There are no illustrations in the book but there are good pictures of past and present.

Additional Resources

  • is a website dedicated to teaching elementary students about money.  Topics are “Basic Money Skills,” “Earning and Spending,” “Saving and Investing,” etc.
  • Economics Fun and Games is an interactive website for kids.  There are several games kids can play on this site relating to economics.
  • Lemonade Stand This is a website dedicated for games in economics.  Also good for developing math skills.

Book: The Economy
  Terence O’Hara
Publisher: Chelsea House Publishers
Publication Date:
64 pages
Grade Range:

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome



Introduction and Summary:

Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome  written by Jonathan Stroud and illustrated by Inklink Firenze and Kevin Maddison is a fascinating book about what life was like in ancient Rome written in the form of a travel guide.  If you were traveling back in time, and needed to know what to do in Rome, this book is a must.  Stroud covers many topics such as, what to wear, food and drink, shopping, accommodations, and the baths.  For entertainment, he discusses the theater, Circus Maximus, and the Colosseum.  There is a fold out map in the back of the guide as well as an index and “Souvenir quiz.”  Each of the chapters contains a great deal of detailed information with illustrations, and contains a “Sightseers’ Tip.”  Examples are “Watch out!  The steam baths are heated by air from underground furnaces, so the floor tiles are very hot.  You might want to wear sandals to protect your feet,” (p. 16) and “try to buy some fresh honey from one of the estate’s beehives.  It’s the only way to sweeten your food.” (p.26)  Stroud does a great job explaining the caste system of ancient Rome.  The vast majority of Rome’s inhabitants were poor and/or bound to slavery while some citizen’s were very rich.  He gives examples of what you can do in the city if you are rich compared to if you are poor.  The rich managed to keep the masses happy by paying the poor people’s fees in order to gain popularity.  These fees were for using the baths which “are an essential part of life in Rome.” (p.16)  The rich also payed for fees for entry to the theatre, the Circus Maximus, and the Colosseum.  One million people lived in ancient Rome during the emperor Hadrian’s reign.  One big surprise was that the emperor had to import grain from Africa in order to feed all of the people.  Stroud also speaks of the famous aqueducts that supplied Rome with over 40 million gallons of water every day. (p.26)

Curriculum Connections:

Emperors had absolute power at this time according to Stroud.  However, Magistrate’s were officially elected to public posts by Rome’s citizens.  “Wealthy young men follow political careers, as lawyers, magistrates, and finally, as the governors of far-flung regions of the empire.” (p. 28)  Teachers can make comparison’s between Rome’s and our political processes of today. (VA SOL 3.1)  Student’s will also find that the Roman citizen’s liked to be entertained as much as we do.  Men performed as actors on stage.  Some of the plays were pretty brutal.  In some tragedies, real-life criminals would be executed on stage.  At Circus Maximus, chariot races would take place and there would be many wrecks, much like today’s car races.  At the Colosseum, two men would fight to the death with sword’s and armor.  This would be similar to today’s boxing and mixed martial arts fighting.  There was also gambling.  (VA SOL 3.1)  The Roman’s were very advanced as far as their architecture to meet their environmental needs.  They had sidewalks so that people did not have to walk in the mud and sewage in the streets and they built aqueducts to transport millions of gallon of water into the cities daily. (VA SOL 3.4c)  The fold-out map at the end of the book showed where the famous Roman landmarks were in the city, as well as the huge expanse of the empire throughout Europe and North Africa.  (VA SOL 3.4a)

Additional Resources:

Roman Games — This website has several games and activities for elementary students to learn more about the Roman Empire.

Roman Roles — This website talks about the roles of Roman men, woman and children in ancient times.  There is also an activity at the end.

The Roman Empire is a site geared especially for kids.  There are several activities, maps, and time periods children can explore.

Roman Gods and Goddesses— Children can learn about ancient Roman religion by learning about the gods and goddesses the Romans worshiped.

General Information:

Book: Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Illustrator: Inklink Firenze and Kevin Maddison (not available)
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 32
Grade Ranges: 3rd & 4th
ISBN: 0-7534-5235-9

Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: I Pledge Allegiance



Introduction and Summary

I Pledge Allegiance by June Swanson with illustrations by Rick Hanson is a fantastic book that teaches the history of the Pledge of Allegiance since it was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892.  School children actually played a part in why the Pledge of Allegiance was written.  To celebrate the 400 year anniversary of Columbus discovering America, Francis Bellamy and James Upham (two men from the children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion) requested that American children collect flags to be raised in their classrooms to celebrate what would become Columbus Day.  Together, these children would say something to honor the flag.  That is why Bellamy wrote the very first pledge.  The original version was “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands–one nation indivisible–with liberty and justice for all.” (p.14)  The book then defines the words allegiance, Republic, nation, indivisible, liberty and justice so that all school children would know what the pledge meant.  The book goes on to talk about how the United States was changing such as, states that were being added, technological advances like the automobile and the Wright Brothers historical flight, and the wars that we fought.  As the nation changed, so did the pledge adding new phrases such as, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,” and “one nation under God” which was added due to Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address. (p.36)  In 1923 it was decided that every one who said the pledge should put their right hand over their hearts. (p.29)  Though many children say it today in our schools, the book points out that no one can force anyone to say it.

Curriculum Connections

This book tells about how school children were a part of the history of what is now a traditional practice that honors and fosters patriotism in the United States. (VA SOL 1.11)  It also provides the history of the pledge since it’s inception in 1892. (VA SOL 1.11 b)  Children will also learn about historical events that happened in the United States, and how Abraham Lincoln had a direct affect on the Pledge of Allegiance. (VA SOL 2.11)

Additional Resources

The Pledge of Allegiance in Schools is a website that lists famous court cases that have involved the Pledge of Allegiance and also discusses the religious implications because of the term “under God.”

Historic Documents is a website that not only gives a brief history of the Pledge of Allegiance, but also lists several other historical documents in United States History such as, The aforementioned Gettysburg Address, Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, etc.

USA Flag Site is a website that gives a history of the American flag.  Also contains images of the bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty.

Flag Picture Gallery is a website that shows the many different versions of the American flag.

General Information

Book: I Pledge Allegiance
Author: June Swanson (website link not available)
Rick Hanson
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2nd-4th
ISBN: 0-87614-393-1


Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: A River Ran Wild



Introduction and Summary

A River Ran Wild, written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry, tells the story of the Nashua river in New England.  Children opening the book will see a map of New England in the 1500’s on one side and another map of New England in the 1900’s focusing on the states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts which is where the Nashua flowed.  The “Nash-a-way” got it’s name from the native American tribe Nashau who settled on it seven thousand years ago.  Cherry points out that the Nash-a-way river and it’s surroundings gave the Nashua people everything they needed in life.  “The Nashua people saw a rhythm in their lives and in the seasons.  The river, land, and forest provided all that they needed.”  In the early sixteen hundreds, the white settlers of New England began to settle by the river which they named the Nashua.  They built sawmills that used the river’s current for power and dams to make millponds to store water.  The white settlers cut down the forest and used the lumber to build houses and furniture.  During the industrial revolution, the river was used for paper mills and other factories where all of the waste was dumped into the river.  In a short amount of time, the river was clogged with pulp, dyes, chemicals, and plastics.  The river smelled and all of it’s wildlife, and the wildlife that used it as a resource, “grew sick from this pollution.”  In the end, a descendant of the Nashua people known as Oweana and Marion Stoddart formed a committee to stop polluting the Nashua river.  In the 1960’s, they finally succeeded.  Now the Nashua has been cleared of it’s pollution and the wildlife has returned to it.  “We, too, have settled by this river.  Pebbles shine up through clear water.”

The illustrations in this book are beautiful and most of the pages with print have miniature illustrations of objects and historical events that were a part of people’s lives through time, such as clay pots, bows and arrows, and wooden bowls during the native American settlements through airplanes, automobiles and the Vietnam war in the late twentieth century.

Curriculum Connections

The book opens with a map showing where the Nashua river is located.   This book would be great for Kindergarten through second grade.  The student would see the shape of the northeast part of the United States to include New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island (VA SOL 1.4 c) and will be able to locate land and water features. (VA SOL K.4 c)  Students will also learn about how two different cultures of people affect their immediate surroundings.  The Nashua community took only what they needed from the river and the surrounding environment for food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and recreation.  The white settlers polluted the river thus limiting it as a natural resource.  Through the effort of the community, people were able to bring life back to the river so it could be e resource again. (VA SOL 1.6 and 2.4 d)

Additional Resources is a website that contains maps and geography classroom activities as well as lesson plans for elementary school students.

United States Geography, including Capitals, States, and Landscapes can be found at the Sheppard Software website.  This site has fun and free games children can play.

K Bears has a great site for world geography.  An animated bear will take children on a tour of the world.

General Information

Book: A River Ran Wild
Author: Lynne Cherry
Illustrator: Lynne Cherry
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K-2nd
ISBN: 0-15-200542-0


Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Kingdom of the Sun


Kingdom of the Sun: A Book of the Planets written by Jacqueline Mitton and illustrated by Christina Balit is a book written about our sun, moon and the planets in our solar system.  The book starts with an explanation of how “planets,” named from the Greek word for “wanderers,” were discovered and named.  At first, they were named for Greek gods and a goddesses.  Now they are named after Roman Gods and a Goddess except for Uranus (which is named for a Greek god).  The sun is the first celestial body that is explained.  Mitton writes about each celestial body in first person.  For example, “THE SUN– A MASSIVE BALL OF GLOWING FLAME, I am sovereign over nine planets.” (Mitton, pg 6) Pluto is included as one of the planets.  For each celestial body, there is an illustration of the god or goddess.  The illustrations by Balit are large and beautiful.  Mitton starts with the sun, then the moon, and finally describes the planets in order from Mercury through Pluto.  The book shows the size of the earth compared to the planets.  On the final two pages, there is a glossary and other facts about the planets, the sun and the moon such as, the number of moons each planet has, the distance the planet is from the sun, and the time it takes for a planet to orbit the sun.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be great for teaching students about our solar system.  The book describes the cycle of the moon.  It also lists the planets in order from the closest to the furthest from the sun.  Mitton explains that some planets are made up of rock while others are made up of gas.  There is much technical information important for older students such as the information listed at the end of the last paragraph, the diameter of the planets equators, the size of the sun and moon compared to the earth, and terms in the glossary such as atmosphere, constellation, gravity, etc.  (VA SOL 4.7 b,c,d)

Additional Resources

  • Interactive Solar System is a quick reference guide to the solar system at the “apples4the website.  It states that Pluto is no longer a planet and students can move the cursor over a rocket with the name of a planet and the sun to learn some fun facts.
  • The Solar System is a link that takes you to “Instructor Web” and gives a lesson plan and worksheets on the solar system.  It is appropriate for 3rd through 5th grade.
  • Welcome to the Planets shows real photograph images of the planets.  It is a photojournal that also has a list of human made satellites and a large glossary.
  • The Moon Cycle  is a link to the “Instructor Web” site where there is a lesson plan for elementary school teachers on the moon cycle.  It is appropriate for 3rd through 5th grade.

Book:  Kingdom of the Sun: A Book of the Planets
Author:  Jacqueline Mitton
Illustrator:  Christina Balit
Publisher:  National Geographic Society
Publication Date:  2001
Pages:  30 pages
Grade Range:  K-4
ISBN:  0-7922-7220-X (Hard Cover)

Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: A Log’s Life


A Log’s Life, written by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Robin Brickman, tells about the life cycle of an oak tree.  In the beginning, a large oak tree stands in the forest.  Pfeffer tells us how the tree supports many different living things such as, porcupines, squirrels, woodpeckers, beetles, slugs, snails and fungi.  Then one day a storm causes the oak tree to fall and the tree becomes a log.  Pfeffer continues to explain how the log supports other lifeforms such as, millipedes, termites, ants, and salamanders.  The log provides food and shelter for many years until it is broken down into nothing but a rich bed of soil.  In the end, an acorn falls and a squirrel buries it in the rich soil.  Soon after, another oak tree is born only one day to become another log.

The illustrations by Brickman are amazing in this book and would appeal to children, especially those who have not seen some of the creatures that Pfeffer and Brickman bring to our attention.

Curriculum Connections
A Log’s Life would be an excellent book for children who are in kindergarten through the third grade.  The book describes the life cycle of an oak tree, and how once the tree is dead, it is still an important part of our ecological system. (VA SOL 2.5a-c)  Children will learn how something as simple as a log provides food and shelter to many different species of living organisms. (VA SOL 1.5a)  Children will also discover how another oak tree is reproduced. (VA SOL K.7c)  Young children will love the illustrations and will be introduced to knew types of wildlife such as, salamanders, millipedes, and termites.  Older students should be able to read this book in a guided reading session and learn how important trees are to our environment.  A teacher may incorporate why it is important for the human race to protect or plant trees.  (VA SOL 3.5 b&d and 3.10a)

Additional Resources

  • The Decomposition link explains how and why living things decompose and why it is important to the earth’s ecological system.  It includes a slide show on decomposition.
  • This Living in a Tree link gives a lesson plan for teachers of early elementary students on the characteristics of animals that live in trees.
  • Animal Inn is a link that provides an outdoor activity for students who are searching for evidence in the wild of how animals use dead and living trees.
  • Trees: A Tremendous Renewable Resource takes you to the Kids F.A.C.E. website.  Kids can learn how we depend on trees to live and how planting trees is good for the environment.

Book: A Log’s Life
Author: Wendy Pfeffer
Illustrator: Robin Brickman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN: 0-689-80636-1

Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: The Science Book of Motion


The Science Book of Motion by Neil Ardley is a book containing 13 experiments that show students different examples of how forces effect objects in motion. Ardley begins the book by briefly defining motion. “Motion occurs whenever something changes place.” (pg 6) The experiments are easy to do and can usually be performed at home or in the classroom with regular household items. For example, Ardley’s first experiment is titled “Lift off!” All that is needed is tissue paper, water, a plastic cup, and an empty liquid soap bottle. The tissue is soaked in water in order to make a plug that is shoved into the empty bottle’s neck. The cup is then placed over the plug. Squeezing the bottle provides the force needed to push the plug out of the bottle and carry the cup with it up into the air. The force of gravity brings it back down to earth. Ardley also shows experiments on forces such as inertia, friction, and kinetic energy and how they effect objects that are in or about to be in motion. “In a spin” is an experiment focusing on inertia. It requires an egg and a bowl. I tried this one at home. I spun the egg in a bowl and then gently grasped the egg so the it stopped. I let it go once more without spinning it and it started to spin on it’s own. The inertia of the liquid inside the egg caused the egg to continue spinning.The Science Book of Motion contains photographs as opposed to illustrations. In each of the experiments there is picture of an example of the types of force Ardley teaches. In the “Lift off!” experiment, there is a picture of the Space Shuttle blasting off.

Curriculum Connections
The Science Book of Motion
would be perfect for students in the 4th and 5th grade.   Students who read this book should have a better understanding of how different forces affect objects that are still or in motion.  The experiments focus on the forces of gravity, friction, inertia, magnetism, and kinetic energy and allow students the opportunity to observe how objects behave when affected by those forces. (VA SOL 4.2 b-d)  One experiment is dedicated to producing sound via motion. (VA SOL 5.2b)  Another experiment shows applications in magnetism which 2nd grade teachers could introduce to their classes if the experiment is teacher led. (VA SOL 2.2b)

Additional Resources

  • The First School Years is a website that contains worksheets, online activities and other educational resources to help children learn concepts of motion.
  • Dicovery Education is a website that contains a “Lesson Plans Library.” This link goes directly to the “Rules of Force and Motion” page and it is for children who are learning Physical Science in the 4th and 5th grades.
  • Instructor Web contains a page that is dedicated to teaching elementary students gravity.

Book: The Science Book of Motion
Author: Neil Ardley
Photographer: Pete Gardner
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 29 pages
Grade Range:  4th and 5th
ISBN: 0-15-200622-2

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Science Book of Water


Introduction and Summary
The Science Book of Water
by Neil Ardley is a book of experiments that help students understand some of the different properties of water, such as buoyancy, density, displacement, surface tension, evaporation, etc.  Ardley starts the book explaining what water is and how it is essential to life.  The experiments can be easily done in the classroom or at home because most households will have the supplies needed. Also, most of the experiments can be done in four to six simple steps. One experiment called “Floating and Sinking” shows how objects, such as marbles and modeling clay, will sink to the bottom of a bucket. However, if the modeling clay is shaped in the form of a boat, it will float because of the water it displaces. There are twelve other experiments in this book.

Curriculum Connections:

The Science Book of Water would be an excellent book for students in grades 2-4.  The experiments are perfect for teachers to use in order to get students engaged by making predictions about what will happen in the experiment.  Since the experiments are simple in nature and number of steps, students will be able to see how properties of water work thus improve their skills of observation.  Prior to each experiment, I would explain the design of the experiment and have the class make predictions about what would happen.  Then I would perform the experiment, or have the class perform it.  Once the experiment is done, I would have the class explain what they observed.  (VA SOL 2.1a,g,l; 3.1b,g; 4.1a,e,l)

Additional Resource:

Water and plants.  This site has hydroponic experiments for children in the classroom.

Water Vocabulary.  This site lists elementary school terms for water.

Water Play? A Lesson a Day!  This site has 31 water experiments for children.  Just scroll down to “Water Play? a Lesson a Day!”

Water Videos.  This site has 7 video experiments involving water’s skin and surface tension.

Book: The Science Book of Water
Author: Neil Ardley
Photographer: Clive Streeter
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date: 1991
Pages: 29 pages
Grade Range: 2-4
ISBN: 0-15-200575-7