Archive for the 'process skills' Category

Teaching Process Skills Through Children’s Literature: What’s That Sound?

whats that sound

What's that Sound by Mary Lawrence with illustrations by Lynn Adams combines science with literature to engage children's problem solving and reasoning skills.  Tim and his older sister, Amy, are on vacation in a spooky, old house that Tim believes is haunted.  Amy assures him that it is not by explaining every noise he believes to be a ghost.  By the end of the book Tim becomes brave and explores the sounds on his own, only to find a man playing the tuba!

The book offers fun and colorful cartoon illustrations that children enjoy, while at the same time every page explains why and how a sound occurs in a scientific manner.  The book also includes suggestions for related sound activities, such as making a kazoo or creating a sound code.

Curriculum Connections

 This is a great book that is easy to apply to the big picture of learning science, learning how to use what we know and applying that to solve problems.  What’s that Sound can be used to get kids thinking and creating ideas (3.1a, 3.1c).  This book can also be used with younger students (K.1a and K1.b).

Additional Resources

  • Auditory Processing provides games and songs for children to have to repeat and learn different types of sounds and games to help children improve their auditory memory.
  • Processing Skills is a website that provides auditory games for children with disabilities.  These activities can be done either at home or a school, so it is useful for both teachers and parents.
  • Hotchalk provides a fun science activity for younger children that requires then to uses their senses to observe, describe, and figure out what an object is.

 General Information

  • Book: What’s That Sound?

  • Written by: Mary Lawrence

  • Illustrated by: Lynn Adams  

  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing

  • Publication Date:2006

  • Pages:32

  • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade

  • ISBN:1575651181

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel?

Ever wondered how we can look at an object and sense how it would feel if we touched it? When did we learn that spiky things hurt or that extreme water temperatures were uncomfortable?  The book Looking at Nature: How does it feel?  teaches the reader how to infer things about the feeling of an object. Bobbie Kalman, the author, begins the story by introducing the 5 senses that humans have.

 “We have five senses. Our senses help us learn about the world around us. We see with our eyes. We smell  with our noses. We taste with our mouths and tongues. We hear with our ears. We touch things, to feel what they are like. Our sense of touch is in our hands and skin. What is this hand feeling?”

The book continues to show pictures of animals and objects, and asks questions about how we can imagine something would feel. Question after question throughout allows for kids to think rather than be told. They need to decipher why something may feel the way it does. Experience can be key in figuring such things out. If an student has a pet cat they can figure out that a bunny might feel similar based on how the furs look. Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel? also introduces empathy by getting students to think about how a lizard might feel if it crawls on a cactus.  The photographs throughout are outstanding and really give the reader a “feel” for what touching it may feel like. Check it out!

Curriculum Connections: 

 Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel? can be used in particularly first grade classroom when teaching the kids to make inferences and draw conclusions about familiar objects.(VA Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic 1.1) The question style of the book will allow students to think on their own to develop a reasoning for thinking something may feel a certain way. The words used to describe the feelings are thinks like sticky or rough. The book will teach to use appropriate words when trying to describe how something feels. This is a form of investigation because they are able to describe what they sense accurately.

This book could also work in a kindergarten classroom because it highlights one of the five senses (VA Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, and Logic K.2a). It does a great job of explaining how the skins feels.  Bobbie Kalman has a series of books that address the senses in a kid friendly way. Great resource! While the kids are listening to the book it would be fun to have some people holding things that can be found in the book so that they can tell the class how it feels. A feather, a small snail, a snake skin, and a turtle shell are examples.

Additional Resources:

Lesson Plan– Hands as a means of sensing how things feel.

Touching…– activity that can be used to get kids feeling things to see how their sense of feel can help them discover what something is without using any other sense.

Unit Plan -this link takes you to the introductory lesson plan about the 5 senses. Attached are great lesson plans dealing with each particular sense.

 General Information:

Book: Looking at Nature: How Does It Feel?

Author: Bobbie Kalman

Illustrator: collection of photos from

Publisher: Crabtree Publishing Company

Publication Date: 2008

Pages: 24 pages

Grade Range: k-2


Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Digging Up Dinosaurs



Did you ever wonder how we know that dinosaurs existed?  How do we know what they were like, how big they were, what they ate?  Digging Up Dinosaurs, written and illustrated by Aliki, is a very interesting and fun story that allows students to discover how science helps us answer these and many more questions about dinosaurs.

Have you ever seen dinosaur skeletons in a museum?
I have.
I visit them all the time.

This is how the story begins as a little girl takes us through the dinosaur exhibit in a museum.  The beginning pages show more dinosaurs in the museum, and the crowds of people viewing them.  We get to experience what one may think and say while visiting dinosaurs in a  museum like this through the clever use of dialogue in balloons.  Then, the little girl goes on to very clearly explain how these dinosaur skeletons, that people did not even know existed until about 200 years ago, got into museums.  After explaining how and where dinosaur fossils were first found, she goes on to tell us about the team of experts that work together: paleontologist, geologist, draftsman, workers, photographer, and specialist.  She explains how they find the fossils, dig them out, safely transport, and study the fossils.

They compare the bones to other bones.
They compare them to the bones of other animals.
They try to figure out what size and shape the dinosaur was.
They try to figure out how the dinosaur stood and walked, and what it ate.

Then they put the skeletons together again inside museums, to look just like the dinosaurs of millions of years ago, "And many people can spend hours looking at them, the way I do.".

The illustrations are colorful and fun.  The dialogue in balloons make the story very funny and relatable, and the texts of extra information (that give the appearance of being written notes) are filled with interesting facts.  This is a great book to inspire future young scientists or even satisfy the curiosity of the inquisitive child who needs to understand how and where these "bones" came from.

Curriculum Connections

Digging Up Dinosaurs can be used to introduce and/or enhance many of the Standards of Learning for elementary students.  There are many process skill SOLs covered within this book.  The student can apply what is in the book to help understand scientific reasoning, logic and nature of science by planning and conducting investigations in which: observations are made from multiple positions to achieve different perspectives, as they first view, uncover, photograph, and display the fossils (VA SOL K.1b, 1.1b); simple tools are used to enhance observations as they excavate, preserve, and study the fossils (VA SOL 1.1d, 4.1c); a question, or in this case many questions, are developed from one or more observations of the fossils (VA SOL 1.1g, 2.1a), examining the dinosaur teeth is an example of inferences being made and conclusions drawn about what the dinosaur ate (VA SOL 3.1j, 4.1a, 5.1i).  It is simply a great illustration of the varied process skills used to explore something that was not ever even heard of until 200 years ago.

Additional Resources

  • National Geographic Xpeditions offers a great lesson plan called The Science of Digging Up Bones.  The lesson plan is geared towards Grades 6-8, but can be changed to accommodate younger grades.  This lesson has students trace the steps of a paleontologist from determining where to look for dinosaur fossils to studying the completed dinosaur skeleton for clues about the dinosaur’s behavior, diet, and anatomy.
  • Digging Up Bones A WebQuest of a Dinosaur Excavation is another fun lesson plan idea related directly to the book.  It is a hands on activity allowing the students to work as teams as the paleontologist, a worker, a draftsman, and a photographer in order to identify fossil models made by the teacher based on dinosaur teeth information at this Enchanted Learning website.  This site gives a little more detail to the same lesson plan.
  • To add a fun hook to a lesson plan that will have the kids laughing (and probably keep everyone singing the tune all day), have the students watch the I Am a Paleontologist video from the Here Comes Science album by They Might Be Giants.
  • TVO Kids has a fun online game called Dino Dig.  The student can be the paleontologist and use tools to uncover fossils.

General Information

Book: Digging Up Dinosaurs
Author: Aliki
Illustrator: Aliki
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 1988
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN-10: 0064450783
ISBN-13: 978-0064450782


Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt




Introduction and Summary

With vivid color and black and white illustrations by Helen Oxenbury, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, is the perfect read-aloud story for young students. Follow this adventurous family on their journey through the wilderness in search of a bear. On each page, the family encounters different obstacles in nature and must find their way through to continue their hunt. The family meets and describes each location using sensory descriptions such as; long, wavy grass, a deep, cold river, thick, oozy mud, a big, dark forest, a swirling, whirling snowstorm, and a narrow, gloomy cave. In each instance the children decide;

“Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it.”

Students will love interacting with the story as they repeat the noise the family makes as they stumble through each setting. When the family reaches it’s final destination, a narrow, gloomy cave, the family sees;

“One shiny wet nose! Two big furry ears! Two big googgly eyes! Oh, No! IT’S A ____”

Can students guess what the family might have found? Students will then love repeating back each of the sounds and adventures as the hunters run away from their prey and back into their house, up the stairs, down the stairs to close the door, back up the stairs, into the bed, and under the covers.

“We’re not going on a bear hunt again,” the family exclaims from underneath the covers as the hungry bear wanders back into the woods.

Curriculum Connections

Filled with opportunities for observations and inferences, this adventurous story is perfect for introducing process skills to a pre-K, Kindergarten, or 1st grade class. Students will be able to make and confirm observations about characteristics of each obstacle the family faces. Students will be able to make predictions about what the family will do based on their observations and the patterns from the story. This book is great for younger students because verses of the story are repeated, observations and vocabulary are age and developmentally appropriate, and there is a strong text to picture relationship. (VA SOL’s K.1 g, k, K.2 b, 1.1 a, f, h)

Additional Resources

The Bear Hunt is an extended version of the story put to music. This link provides the music for the song as well as the lyrics. Students will love singing and following along on the adventure as well as providing their own descriptions of the obstacles and experiences along the way.

A to Z teacher stuff provides a printout activity for students depicting each of the obstacles that the family faces and a table so that students can match words to print, make their own observations about each obstacle, or tell the story again through pictures using their own words.

This Bear Hunt lesson plan from Early Childhood Building Blocks turns this story into a interactive activity. Prompt questions mentioned in the lesson are perfect for teaching process skills, such as; “What sound do you think the mud makes? How high do you think they had to lift their knees in the snowstorm? Do you think they move fast or slow?”

The author, Michael Rosen, reads the book aloud in this fun and entertaining youtube video.

General Information

Book: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Author: Michael Rosen

Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury

Publisher: Alladdin Paperbacks

Publication Date: 1989

Grade Range: pre- K – 1st

ISBN: 0-689-85349-1

Teaching Processing Skills with Children’s Literature: Cook-A-Doodle-Doo!



Cook-A-Doodle-Doo!, written by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel and illustrated by Janet Stevens, is a charming picture book about a hen who decides to make a strawberry shortcake.  She finds the recipe and some of her animal friends try to help.   The only problem is…her friends know nothing about cooking.  They try to bring her a flower instead of baking flour.  Iguana tries to measure the flour with a ruler and Turtle tries to beat the eggs with a bat.  Hen explains everything the animals need to know and the shortcake turns out beautifully.  Hen teaches about measuring properly with the right tools and following directions.

 The side notes on several pages show measuring equivalents such as 1 stick butter=1 cup=8 tablespoons.  It explains the use of dry measuring cups versus liquid measuring cups and other cooking terms. The recipe is written on the last page for readers to try at home.

 Curriculum Connections

This book can be used to introduce students to proper measuring techniques and tools.  It also shows the importance of following directions or working in sequence.  This book is funny and can be enjoyed by any elementary student.  Teachers can use the book before going over the rules or directions for a science experiment.  Students can practice measuring the ingredients like the animals did or even try the whole recipe.  This book would also be useful in math while teaching fractions and measurement conversions.  Teachers can use this book as an introduction to any of the elementary scientific investigation, reasoning, and logic skills.

Additional Resources

 For more ideas on teaching processing skills, read the first edition of Science in School.

For ways to encourage the teaching of  science processing skills at home, try this handbook written for parents.

Use recipes for a valuable math lesson.

See the Susan Stevens Crummel website for more ways to use this book in the classroom.

General Information

Book:  Cook-Doodle-Do!
Author:  Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
Illustrator:  Janet Stevens
Publisher:  Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication Date:  1999
Pages:  46
Grade Range:  K-5
ISBN:  0-15-201924-3


Teaching Process Skills With Children’s Literature: The Science Book of Color


Introduction and Summary

 “Imagine a world without color.  It would be like living in an old movie.

Color makes our world a pleasure to look at.”

The Science Book of Color by Neil Ardley  with photography by Pete Gardner is a great children’s book for introducing the concept of color and science experiments.  This is a short book written in terms easy for kids to understand.  The photographs are intriguing and very relevant to each experiment.  You might not think that there can be too many things to experiment with color but there are for sure and this book proves it.  With experiments about making vegetable dye to simulating a sunset, this book is a great beginner scientist resource.   It contains many science experiments that are very reasonable for a classroom or home project and many of the experiments require minimal adult assistance.   Although most appropriate for upper elementary grades, this book can be used for lower grades as well with more adult assistance.  Another great thing about this book is that in the beginning, the author lists ways to, “be a safe scientist”, which includes rules and expectations for a good and safe experiment.

Curriculum Connections

This book would be a great resource to use for many grades and to have in a class library to inspire interest in experiments.  The Science Book of Color would be especially useful for use with instruction on helping kids to  understand the nature of science and scientific reasoning and logic. The book has page after page of interesting, simple and fun science experiments all having to do with color.  This book would be great to use when teaching how to follow through with an experiment and follow all the steps to get an end result.  It would also be good to use for having kids determine a set of questions they want the answers to and developing an experiment to find those answers. (VA SOLs, 6.1i, 4.1l, 1.1d and 1.1j)

Additional Resources

Here are some great web resources that might be helpful when teaching about process skills.

This one has links to many science experiments similar to the book.  These are great to do at home and are simple enough for younger children.

This site has a list of frequently asked questions about color and their answers. This site would be much better used with older students.  Again this site can be used at home or at school.

Here’s another great one for kids with cool science projects and interesting information about things like, “why is a school bus yellow?” etc. and other questions that young children ask about color.

General Information

Book:  The Science Book of Color

Author: Neil Ardley

Illustrator: (photographer), Pete Gardner

Publisher:  Gulliver Books, Harcourt Brace & Company

Publication Date: 1991

Grade Range: 2-5

ISBN: 0152005765

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Galileo


The book Galileo by Leonard Everett Fisher chronicles the life of the famous Renaissance scientist.  Background information is presented at the beginning about the theories of Aristotle and Copernicus about the center of the universe.  The author does a great job not only summarizing the events of Galileo’s life but also some of his most famous experiments.  Galileo challenged Aristotle’s theory that two objects of different weights fall at different speeds.  “He dropped two balls of different weights at the same time from the same height at the top of a building, possibly the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  A crowd of students and professors watched the balls land together.  Those who were loyal followers of Aristotle refused to believe what they saw.”  The author describes Galileo’s use of a “spyglass” to view the stars and planets in detail as well as the reactions of the Church.  The illustrations throughout the book – all black and white – are amazing!

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used in instruction to teach students about planning and conducting investigations (2.1, 3.1, 4.1) and other general science process skills.

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: Galileo
Author: Leonard Everett Fisher
Illustrator: Leonard Everett Fisher
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication date: 1992
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 1-5
ISBN: 978-0027352351

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus Gets All Dries Up


 The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Upwritten by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen is a fun and adventurous children’s book about survival in the desert.  The book starts off in Ms. Frizzle’s class, where things are not normal for long.  The students are making a diorama and observe that they are missing something important, animals that live in the desert! Carlos does not think that the cute little stuffed animals that they have put in the diorama will survive the hot, dry desert; and Phoebe is determined to prove him wrong.  She decided they are going to for a committee called S.A.D.S. (Students Against Desert Scarcity).  “Scarcity because food and water is hard to find in the desert.”  Surprising Arnold decides they should take a field trip and the next think you know, the students are boarding the Magic School Bus which turns into an airplane.  While the class is at the desert they learn what it would be like to be a Gila Monster, lizard with spikes, a rabbit, and a tortoise while comparing and contrasting the ways of survival. It does rain over night and in the morning there are beautiful flowers everywhere in the desert. Ms. Frizzle ends the field trip by saying “All things that live here have special features-adaptations-for survival.”

Curriculum Connections

This would be a great book to read aloud to the younger elementary school grades. A kindergarten teacher or first grade teacher can use this book to help teach and relate the book to scientific investigation, reasoning and logic (SOL: K.1 or 1.1) by observing the different attributes of surroundings, physical properties such as the mountains vs. the desert, predictions and conclusions.  If the children in the classroom have difficulty reading, they can looked at the detailed pictures and still understand a majority of the authors content.  This is a good book for teachers to stop and ask questions to the students about what they think will happen next, while they are using their processing skills.

Additional Resources

Scholastic has a web-site just for The Magic School Bus adventures. Teachers, parents and students can all find something to do! Teachers can find free engaging activities for their students.

All Kinds of Weather is a worksheet that can help students process what activity can go along with each season. Students can process the following as an example: the boys and the kite go along with the wind blowing. 

Preschool coloring pages of the desert can help to tie in the climate and what things can be found in the desert after reading the book, such as, cacti.

A to Z Teacher Stuff is a great resource for teachers.  It has free lesson plans, coloring activities, games, etc. for the classroom. There is a whole section on the desert and each grade is broken down into sections for easier findings.

Book: The Magic School Bus Gets All Dried Up
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 30
Grade Range: K-1
ISBN: 0-590-50831-8

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: Saguaro Moon


        “Planet Scouts is a club for kids who like to study nature.
We always keep a nature journal. I started this new
journal to record all the desert life I discover.
I bring it with me whenever I go exploring!”

Explore Arizona’s Sonoran Desert through Megan’s journal in Saguaro Moon: A Desert Journal, written and illustrated by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini. While being quite kid-friendly, Saguaro Moon also offers a ton of great facts about many desert animals and plants. This book is full of lots of scientific names, measurements, and beautiful watercolor paintings.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be a valuable tool in introducing students to scientific journals. In Megan’s journal, she classifies the organisms she comes across in the desert initially by common name, scientific name, and size/length using two different units of measurement (5.1 b,c) Sometimes Megan makes Fact Cards in her journal about a plant or animals’ habitat, diet, range, measurements, and tips on how to interact with them (5.1d, 6.1c)  She will point out the slight differences between closely-related species (6.1a), and she even clears up some common misconceptions. What a great way to introduce students to scientific observation and classification!

Additional Resources

  • Planet Scouts! You can become a Planet Scout too! Learn how to keep your own journal and read about the adventures of other Planet Scouts. The Mission of the Planet Scouts is to bring literature, art and environmental science together in a way that encourages direct, meaningful interaction between people and their natural surroundings.
  • Saguaro Cactus Seek and Find! Discover cool facts while comparing the plants, animals, and people of the Sonoran Desert with those of the Central Australian Deserts.
  • Explore the Desert ThinkQuest! Learn about the geography of deserts, animal adaptations, characteristics of desert plants, and the future of the deserts! You can even take a quiz to test your knowledge.

General Information

Teaching Process Skills with Children’s Literature: The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds


The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen tells the story of Ms. Frizzle’s class planting their own garden. All the students are working together to make their garden as beautiful as they can, because photographers are coming to take pictures of their garden and they believe they are going to become famous. Phoebe was one student who was not as excited as the rest. She is new to this school and she had left her beautiful plant at her old school. Ms. Frizzle was not worried because she knew that Phoebe’s plant was only a quick field trip away. So, away the students went on their field trip to get Phoebe’s flower. The students all piled onto the bus, and before they knew it they were on their way, except they were flying. The bus had turned into a  little ladybug flying down onto one of Phoebe’s plants. As the story goes on the students get to explore the plant, and even go inside! They learn where their beautiful plants come from, and how they grow. By the end of the story, Phobe and her class made it back to school just in time for the photographers to take pictures of their garden, and Phoebe’s old teacher was waiting for her with a pot of her beautiful flowers to add her garden at her new school!

Curriculum Connections

This is a great book to read aloud to your class. I would reccommend reading this book to a lower elementary grade when introducing plants and seeds. The students in this book use their process skills to learn where our beautiful plants come from and how plants grow. This book will teach students how to use their senses to observe differences in physical properties, such as the plants and seeds. (1.1) I think this would be a great book to have in your classroom for read alouds or for students to observe the pictures. The students in the book talk about what they are learning as the story goes on, and this will show my students how they are using their process skills to learn about plants.

Additional Resources

Science in School Here is a website for teachers to go and learn about the basic process skills to teach to students. There are age specific activities, and appropriate lessons.

Plant Life Cycle This is an interactive website for children to go on and learn about plant life cycle. The children can put their processing skills to the test at this website. There are video clips and parts of plants you can click on to learn more about it. Overall, this is a great website teachers can use in their classroom when children are learning about plant life cycle and incorporate processing skills along the way.

Scientific Process Skills This is a detailed explanation on what scientific process skills consists of and how to teach it. It is focused on the kindergarden level and explains what should be taught and how to go about doing so. You can find great information at this website that you can bring into your own classroom.

Book: The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds
Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: 1995
Pages: 28
Grade Range: K-5
ISBN: 0-590-22296-1