Monthly Archive for September, 2009

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: I Face the Wind


I Face the Wind, by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Julia Gorton, is a book that explores wind and some of the properties about it.  The book starts with some explanations of wind and how it relates to you.  As the book continues there are a number of opportunities to engage students in discussion and question students.  There are also a few experiments such as a simple way to show that air has mass using two balloons and a hanger.  The book also looks at the basic science behind air, introducing children to the idea of a molecule.  This book would be good to introduce wind to 1st or 2nd graders.

Curriculum Connections
This book would be good way to introduce wind and the concept of air to younger students.  It also has elements such as the experiments that can be used for older students when looking at mass of gases and molecules. It is best suited for VA SOL 2.6.

Additional Resources

  • provideds a simple lesson plan that allows students to investigate wind, where it comes from, and how it affects objects.
  • Vicki Cobb’s website provides a number of experiments that can be found in her books.  They are simple activities that can easily be done by students with simple objects.
  • How Stuff Works provides an at home activity for kids that can be a simple way to see if wind direction has a pattern.  It requires little materials and only some short daily observations.

Book: I Face the Wind
Author: Vicki Cobb
Julia Gorton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 2003
Pages: 40 pages
Grade Range: 1-2

Teaching Earth Science With Children’s Literature: Every Season



What is your favorite season?  Is it summer when you can swim in the ocean? Is it autumn when you can jump in a pile of leaves? Or maybe winter when the weather is just right for sipping hot chocolate?  Every Season by Shelley Rotner & Anne Love Woodhull, photographs by Anne Love Woodhull, will spark lively classroom discussions about the four seasons.  The spare text complements the abundance of vibrant photographs which are sure to appeal to young children. 

Curriculum Connections

Use Every Season to illustrate that the changes in season, cause changes in weather, which cause changes in the activities of plants, animal and people (VA Science SOL K.9 and 1.7).

Additional Resources

Spring–When you think of spring you think of rain. Make it rain in your classroom with this        activity that demonstrates the water cycle

Summer–Students can observe how change occurs over time by making  grass head monsters.

Autumn–You can save memories of fall and study the differences between objects by doing leaf  rubbings.

Winter–Young children can practice their reading and mouse skills while they enjoy building a snowman.

BookEvery Season 
:  Shelley Rotner & Anne Love Woodhull
Illustrator:  Shelley Rotner
Publisher:  Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date:  May 2007
Pages:  32
Grade Range:  K – 1
ISBN-13:  9781596431362

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs


If food dropped like rain from the sky, wouldn’t it be marvelous!  Or would it?  It could, after all, be messy.  And you’s have no choice.  What if you didn’t like what fell?  Or what if too much came?  have you ever thought of what is might be like to be squashed flat by a pancake?

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs   written by Judi Barrett and drawn by Ron Barrett is a book about the tiny town of Chewandswallow. 

 It was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast lunch and dinner.  It never rained rain, snowed snow, or blew just wind.  It rained things like soup and juice.  It snowed things like mashed potatoes.  And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers.

Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse.  The food got larger and larger and so did the portions.  Chewandswallow was plagued by damaging floods and storms of huge food.  The town was a mess and the people feared for their lives.

Something had to be done, and in a hurry.


“Across the ocean, over lots of huge bumpy mountains, across three hot deserts, and one smaller ocean……there lay the tiny town of Chewandswallow”. (pg 6-7)

Whatever the weather served, that was what they ate. (pg 9)

For lunch onde day, franfurters, already in their rolls, blew in from the northwest at abou five miles an hour. (pg. 14)

Curriculum Connections

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs could be used in a lesson when students are invesitgating and understanding the basic types, changes, and patterns of weather (SOL 2.6).

Additional Resources

1. This movie trailer is of the 2009 movie Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.

2. This lesson includes three different activities reflecting on the book Cloudy With a Change of Meatballs.

3. This is an activity where students can Make it Rain.

Book:  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Author:  Judi Barrett
Illustrator:  Ron Barrett
Publisher:  Atheneum
Publication Date:  August 1, 1978
Pages:  32
Grade Range:  PreK-3
ISBN:  978-0689306471

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf


Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf , written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, is a simple story that describes the growth of a maple tree from seed to sapling.

This book is written as if a child were telling their friend about a special leaf he/she has been saving to show them.  The child tells the friend how it came to be – from a seed that sprouted, grew into a sapling, then was planted in their yard.  It takes the reader through the cycle of seasons, as well as the growth stages of a tree.  The illustrations are bright and colorful.

Curriculum Connections:  Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf is a good book for teaching the concept of seasonal changes as they relate to the life cycle of a tree.  SOL 1.7

Additional Resources

  • This Scholastic website offers several ideas for reinforcing the lesson on seasonal changes, fall leaves, and harvest time, utilizing the areas of poetry, language arts, and math.
  • In an effort to further understand the seasons, this website outlines a lesson plan on the four seasons, as well as an activity to create a “seasons book” that can be used as a tool to measure their knowledge and understanding of this concept.
  • This website offers a printable cut & paste activity for students to paste the appropriate activity under the proper season.
  • General Information:
    : Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
    Author: Lois Ehlert
    Illustrator: Lois Ehlert
    Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company
    Pages:  40
    Grade Range: K-1
    ISBN: 0-15-266197-2

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: An Island Grows


An Island Grows, written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Cathie Felstead, is a wonderful introduction to the topic of Earth Science for young children. The book explores how an island is formed, providing a step by step guide as to the cycle of the birth of an island to the presence of human life on an island. The book begins by discussing magma at the bottom of the ocean, then addresses the presence of lava and volcanic activity, and eventually talks about how life comes to the island (plants, animals, and humans).”Magma glowsVolcano blowsLava flows, and flows, and flowsAn island grows”The book concludes by coming full circle and discussing how the cycle starts from the beginning, where “Another island grows.”The language and vocabulary used in the story are at a very basic level so young kids will comprehend and more fully understand the concepts. The short rhyming pattern of the story makes the story flow with ease, presenting an almost “sing-song” pattern. The illustrations are also simple and basic, without too much going on. This helps students to understand visually, as well, the concepts of the story.

Curriculum Connections: 
This book is a very helpful resource for very young students. The book clearly describes formation of life, in a cyclic rhyming pattern. Students will understand how the earth changes and evolves over time, exploring the natural world over time (K.9 (a) (b)). Clear stages and steps of the formation of an island is explored while introducing important terms such as volcano, magma, and lava.

Additional Resources:
1. This lesson plan provides an activity/experiment where young students will begin to explore what volcanoes are and will visually demonstrate a volcanic eruption.
2. This blog shows how an actual class performed experiments showing the formation and explosion of a mini-volcano. Real pictures and explanations are provided as well.
3. This website provides young students with links to an Art Gallery, where kids share there drawings and descriptions about volcanoes. Virtual field trips are also provided.

General Information:
Book: An Island Grows
Author: Lola M. Schaefer
Illustrator: Cathie Felstead
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: August 2006
Pages: 40
Grade Range: PreSchool- Kindergarten

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Weather


Weather written by Jim Pipe is an excellent science resource for younger elementary students. Jim Pipe uses language that is easy for the student to understand and photographs that are beautifully arranged. This book describes everything from describing atmosphere as “the mixture of gases that surrounds any planet”(p. 30) to a thunderstorm “that produces thunder and lightning”(p. 31). This book even has a few examples on how students can experiment with weather themselves.

Curriculum Connections
 Jim Pipe uses not only vivid pictures but excellent information to describe each and every type of weather. Weather is appropriate when teaching elementary school students the different types of weather (SOL 4.6b). This book could be used as an excellent introduction or as an excellent resource to any topic related to weather.

Additional Resources
Hurricanes is a wonderful website that has questions and answers designated to learning all about hurricanes.

Forecast is a great website where children can create their own forecast.

Weather station  is a very useful site that is designated to demonstrating to kids on how to actually create their very own weather station.

General Info:
Book: Weather
Author: Jim Pipe
Illustrator: Brian Smart
Publisher: Aladdin Books Ltd
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 1-932799-47-8

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: What Makes Day and Night


What Makes Day and Night, written by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by Arthur Dorros, is a book answering children’s questions as to what causes ‘day to be day,’ ‘night to be night,’ and how the sun appears and disappears during these times.

This book follows a group of inquisitive children on their journey into finding out exactly what causes these events to happen, starting off with the basics of how our planet, Earth, is constantly spinning and rotating on its axis and the daily evoluations it makes around the sun.  The illustrations provide children with a clear sense of the Earth’s full rotation around the sun and shows the different stages of sunrise, day, sunset, and night, as well as providing insight into the moon’s lunar phases.  In addition to providing solid, factual information on these concepts, the children in the book conduct their own experiements at home with a flashlight in order to have a hands on understanding of how days and nights are created and the effects of light and darkness on Earth.

This book can surely serve as an anticipatory resource prior to a unit on Earth’s movement and motions within the solar system, and can be read aloud to the class or read independently by students because of the simplicity and student-friendliness of the text.  The author and illustrator do an excellent job of allowing students to grasp and process these abstract concepts through facts, home experiments, and detailed illustrations, leaving them with a sense of pride and curiousity to learn more about our plant and solar system.

Curriculum Connections

What Makes Day and Night serves as an excellent and useful resource to help teach, reinforce, and emphasize the third grade learning objectives in accordance with the Virgiia Standards of Learning (SOL’s).  Investigating and understanding the basic patterns and cycles of the Earth in relation to the sun and moon (SOL 3.8) is supported throughout the entire book through its discussion and illustrations of the stages and time of Earth’s rotation, its effects of the sun on the planet, and the phases of the moon (SOL 3.8a).

Additional Resources

  • Eye On The Sky offers an excellent lesson plan, demonstration, and printables for teaching students the Earth’s rotation and how it causes day and night – plus, this lesson can be adapted for grades 1 – 3.

  • Jefferson County Schools‘, located in Tennessee, website dedicates a page full of classroom lesson plans, activities, and numerous resources aimed at teaching students all about the Earth’s rotation and its effects on people, plus interactive websites for students to work with at school or at home!  Additionally, this site provides a range of lesson plans and activities on other units covering Earth Science.

  • SkyTellers provides a multitude of resources for activity ideas, books, and websites links for students and teachers solely devoted to how Earth rotates and it’s implications on day and night, seasons, lunar phases, and the sun.  Also, this website offers insights on other Earth Science concepts, such as the origin of starts, constellations, meteors, and the solar system.  This is definately a website to have on hand for many Earth Science lessons, no matter the grade level!

Book: What Makes Day and Night
Author: Franklyn M. Branley
Illustrator: Arthur Dorros
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 1986
Pages: 32pp
Grade Range: 3rd Grade
ISBN-13: 9780064450508

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle


Introduction and Summary:
The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, written by Nuria Roca and illustrated by Rosa M. Curto, is a great resource to use when teaching students about conservation.  The book discusses the ways in which the main character, Paul, can reduce, reuse and recycle items found in his everyday life.  For example, Paul tries to reduce his water and electricity consumption at home, and wears tee shirts his brother has outgrown (reuse).  The book also discusses how Paul recycles at his home and school.  “In the kitchen at Paul’s home there is a container for things made of plastic, metal or glass, and another for all other garbage,” (page 25).  The author does an excellent job putting the three R’s in concise terms that are understandable and relatable to students.  The book also explains landfills, and how trash and pollution ultimately impact plants, animals and people.  “Plastic bags are very handy, but sometimes they end up in the sea where they can be dangerous for animals.  Turtles may take them for jellyfish and eat them, or they may get tangled up in the plastic rings used to hold cans together,” (page 17).  The end of the books contains fun activities students can do to recycle items found in their homes.

Curriculum Connections:
The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle is appropriate for use in the kindergarten curriculum to show how everyday materials can be reused, recycled and conserved.  The Three R’s does a great job showing how materials can be used over and over again, such as bags at the grocery store (SOL K.10 A).  Pages 18-27 do a great job describing what everyday materials can be recycled, as well as the process used to recycle materials (SOL K.10 B).  Page 13 is particularly useful in illustrating how water and energy conservation, at home and in school, helps preserve resources for the future (SOL K.10 C).   

Additional Resources:
-This word search is a great way to reinforce vocabulary. 
-This activity is a great means to see how your school handles recycling and garbage.  Note: This is a worksheet from the UK and uses the word “rubbish” instead of trash.  Modify.
-This link contains many crafts that can be made by recycling items that students would normally discard.

General Information:
The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Author: Nuria Roca
Illustrator: Rosa M. Curto
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Services, Inc.
Publication Date: February 2007
Pages: 36
Grade: K-1
ISBN-10: 0-7641-3581-3

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: The Reasons for Seasons


The Reasons For Seasons is written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons. The book opens by explaining how the tilt of the Earth causes the seasons. It depicts the tilted Earth rotating around the sun. The book then talks about each season and its characteristics with five pages of illustrations and explanations. At the end, the book talks about how areas near the equator have little temperature change during the year. It also explains how the North and South Poles are always cold and how it is always dark at the pole during parts of the winter and always light in the summer.

Curriculum Connections: The book can be used for teaching the patterns of natural events (seasonal changes) and the causes of the seasons. SOL 3.8(a), 4.7(b). It would be great as an anticipatory set because it is very colorful and interesting. It will prepare students for diving in deeper during the following lesson plan.

Additional Resources:

General Info:
Book: The Reasons for Seasons
Author: Gail Gibbons
Illustrator: Gail Gibbons
Publisher: Holiday House
Pages: 32
Grade Range: 3-5
ISBN: 9780823412389

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Our Solar System


What are the order of the planets? How big is the Earth and how many moons does each planet have? All of these are important questions that students must be able to answer by the time they enter the 6th grade. Seymour Simon takes students through the different planets in Our Solar System. Each page has a detailed instruction of the nine planets that make up our solar system.

The books opens with a chart of all the planets in order from the sun with basic information that students must know for the SOL’s. Each planet is give a spread with information about its origins and important aspects of the planet. For instance, Mercury is the “second smallest planet in our solar system after pluto”. In addition, the beginning of the book describes the core of our solar system, the sun. The end of the book describes the different particles that orbit within our solor system. The pictures throughout the book are replicated of what we would see if we looked through a telescope.

Curriculum Connections: This book could be used as a reinforcement in class or as a guide for sixth graders when they are trying to to remember the organization of the solar system especially 6.8a) the sun, moon, Earth, other planets and their moons, meteors, asteroids, and comets , b) the relative size and distance between planets and f) the unique properties of Earth as a planet

Additional Resources:
For detailed information on the solor system try Science Monster.

Another great website that has ideas on different lesson plans to be instituted in the classroom on the solar system: The Solar System

Solar System Live– This site shows the solar system as it is on a specific date.

General Information:
Book: Our Solar System
Author: Simon Seymour
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date:September 1992
Pages: 64
Grade Range: 6th grade
ISBN: 978-0688099923