Share it! Science : March 2019

Friday, March 8, 2019

Awesome STEM Picture Books and Activity Ideas

Two of my great loves are children's books and STEM. I truly believe that integrating an engaging picture book with a great hands-on activity is a educational win. In this post I've put together some activity ideas to accompany some wonderful new picture books in the STEM disciplines.

These activities will be great additions to units you may be teaching at school, or could be used to follow your children's interests at home. They would also be great to use in your library sponsored STEM club, summer camp or after school program. There is something here for everyone, from preschool through early middle school!

STEM picture books and STEM activity ideas


This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commission from purchases made through these links. Please see disclosures for more information.

STEM Books and Activities for Early Childhood and Elementary


CRASH! BOOM! A Math Tale by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Chatterton is a cute picture book that follows the thought process of a little one building with blocks. I love it because it is something that most children can relate to as they have experimented with blocks themselves. A great introduction to early math concepts like shapes, the area of surfaces, and nonstandard units of measurement.




Activity ideas for CRASH! BOOM! A Math Tale:
  • Challenge kids to see how many blocks it takes to build a tower their height. Ask them to make a prediction before they begin!
  • Nonstandard units of measure: Use blocks of different size to measure various items (i.e. How many long blocks does it take to go from one side of the room to another?)


Bee & Me by Alison Jay is a sweet and fanciful wordless story about a girl who befriends and helps raise a bee in the city. The bee misses flowers, so they go collect seeds in the country and spread them around the city. This story introduces the importance of bees in a gentle, kid-friendly way. It very quickly became a favorite book at our house!



Activity ideas for Bee & Me:

Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root and illustrated by G. Brian Karas is a fun story illustrating the idea that you can grow food just about anywhere. It also hammers home the needs of seeds and plants.




Activity ideas for Anywhere Farm:
  • Design a creative container garden!
  • Build a germination jar and watch plants grow
  • Investigate where our food comes from
  • Measure and graph plant growth
  • Sort seeds
  • Monitor the light your plant is getting with a light meter or the water in a pot with a moisture meter to add in some technology.

The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley is another wonderful story of triumph over adversity in the "Amazing Scientists" series. It follows Raye Montague's path to becoming the first to create a computer generated design of a U.S. Naval ship. With rhyming, kid-friendly text the story of this remarkable engineer is accessible for the elementary crowd.



Activities for The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague:


STEM Books for Upper Elementary and Middle School


Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins is another of his beautifully illustrated book featuring animals. Each page shares an infographic containing fascinating facts like the number of wingbeats per second for various flying animals, or how many hours a day different animals sleep. Lots of great information presented in a visually stunning way!



Activity ideas for Animals by the Numbers:
  • Research an animal and create an infographic poster
  • Research an animal and create a digital infographic
  • Design a fictitious social media profile for a researched animal or animal group 


Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends by Heidi Stemple, illustrated by Clover Robin is the true story of the inception of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and how citizen science really got started.



Activity ideas for Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends:
  • Participate in an Audubon bird count
  • Keep track of birds at a feeder, collect data about the species and number and then graph it.
  • Log in to eBird and contribute your bird observation data to scientific research.
  • Use an app to learn bird calls and a field guide to learn bird identification.
  • Install a wildlife camera and photograph birds at a feeding station, analyze their behavior

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motem is a fun look at the "life story" of one of the Mars rovers. Really understandable and informative text paired with engaging illustrations.



Activities for Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover :
  • Give an engineering design challenge of any sort
  • Jump start a unit on space exploration and the solar system
  • Build robots
  • Try some coding
  • Research a planet and decide what criteria a rover or space probe would have to meet to travel and work there

Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson is a book teeming with information, photos and inspiration about space and sea research and exploration. Although it is not meant to be a read-aloud book, kids who love the ocean and outer space will pour over the pages chock-full of images and information.



Activities for Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact:

This Book Stinks!: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash by Sarah Wassner Flynn is literally jam-packed with images and information. Sometimes the most disgusting is the most interesting to kids, and this explores all aspects of the real-world issue of waste!


Activity ideas for This Book Stinks!: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash:
  • Recycling challenge- supply some recyclables and challenge students to think of how many ways they could reuse and repurpose them
  • Explore upcycling with Terracycle
  • Build a model landfill and see what happens to the garbage
  • Build a worm composting bin
  • Set up a mini-makerspace with recyclables as the supplies to work with
  • Study materials science and trace an item back to its beginning


More Book Linked STEM Activities!


     


    STEM picture books and STEM activities

    Tuesday, March 5, 2019

    My Go-To Science Curriculum Resources

    As I was recently putting together a list of science resources for developing curriculum, I began to think of my most useful and dog-eared science curriculum books. There are so many resources out there, sometimes it is difficult to weed through it all. Although having a seemingly endless supply of digital information available, it is sometimes really nice to have an actual, honest to goodness book to look at.

    In this post I've put together the short-list of my most valuable elementary and early middle school science curriculum resources. If you are a beginning teacher, trying to revamp your curriculum, working on curriculum mapping or developing curriculum from the ground-up, you are sure to find these books useful!

    science curriculum resource books

    This post contains affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission from purchases made through these links. Please see disclosures for more details.

    Science Curriculum: Scope, Sequence and Benchmarks


    If you are unsure of the best way to progress through science concepts, what is age or grade-level appropriate you'll find the Atlas of Science Literacy and A Framework for K-12 Science Education  useful.




    The Atlas of Science Literacy is a two volume set of concept maps that you can trace through various grade levels. You can see a sample of what I mean here.

    A Framework for K-12 Science Education is basically the mother of the Next Generation Science Standards. It is written in a narrative form (rather than difficult to read standards form) and allows you to understand what to teach and when students should have mastered it. You can download a free version of the book here.


    National Science Teacher's Association Books


    The National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA) has tons of great titles when it comes to science curriculum. I've used many, but by far my favorites are the Picture Perfect Science and STEM series, the Stop Faking It series, Everyday Science Mysteries series, and The Truth About Science: A Curriculum for Developing Young Scientists.

    NSTA press books can be purchased directly from NSTA (at a discount for members) and are also available on Amazon.




    The Picture-Perfect Science books pair inquiry based science activities with wonderful picture books. You can find a sample of a Picture Perfect lesson here.


    Books in the Stop Faking It: Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It series give you a chance to brush up on your science knowledge in a fun and often humorous way to help you with your teaching practice.


    Everyday Science Mysteries are great stories that lead into a quick science investigation or inquiry of everyday phenomena. These are wonderful to get student's creative juices flowing, and are also perfect for after-school science clubs or electives.



    The Truth About Science: A Curriculum for Developing Young Scientists is a step by step curriculum to preparing students to develop their own science investigations. These lessons really set the stage for future work in the High School lab, or preparation for the science fair.



    Science Picture Books to Read with Your Students


    I've used a lot of picture books throughout the years to teach and help illustrate science concepts. Here are just a few of my favorites.

    What is a Scientist? by Barbara Lehn and Scientists Ask Questions by Ginger Garrett are both excellent introductions to how we complete the scientific process. I particularly like that they show kids doing the investigating!


    The Science Play series by Vicki Cobb illustrate science concepts in a really fun and digestible way for kids. There are several on topics you'll cover in early childhood and elementary education.


    With an enormous list of titles and with concepts that are leveled for difficulty, the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series can be used throughout elementary school. They are perfect for reading before or after a hands-on investigation. You can find lesson and activity ideas to accompany, the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out book, "Gravity is a Mystery" here.


    If you're looking for books to help you with your Preschool Science Curriculum, check out my top 5 here.



    best science curriculum resource books