Friday, February 5, 2016

Play with your food!

Edible Science: Experiments You Can Eat
by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant
80 pages; ages 8-12
National Geographic Children's Books, 2015

Our kitchen has been a science lab ever since I started cooking. Think about it: every time you mix something up, bake it, stir-fry or whatever... you're doing a science experiment. You're mixing up chemicals and creating reactions.

This book is chock-full of experiments to try, and "science scoop" text-boxes that explain why things happen or don't happen. Take the idea of chocolate-flavored gum. Ever tried eating a candy bar when you're chewing gum? Gum, it turns out, is made of molecules that don't mix well with water. That's why you can chew it all day and it won't dissolve. BUT, when you add chocolate, those chocolate molecules act as an emulsifier. They connect oil and water or, in this case, gum and water. When that happens, the gum starts breaking apart.

There are lots more things to try: making crystals, exploding seeds (popcorn), baking cookie pH indicators, making gels, and making slime. Cakes and cookies rise because of gas bubbles, so changing ingredients might make your cakes turn out flat. There's a recipe for making yogurt - that means keeping a bacteria culture alive - and one for making "bug" brownies with toasted meal worms. In all, there are about 40 hands-on science experiments - and to clean up, all you do is eat them.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copy provided by publisher.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wild Outdoor Wednesday

Go on a Texture Field Trip. Feel the trunks of different trees. Are they smooth? rough? scaly? Capture them with colors and words ~ or make a rubbing of the bark.

To make a rubbing, hold a white piece of white paper against the tree trunk so that it won’t move. Then rub over the paper with the side of a crayon. 


Remember to take your sketchbook or journal with unlined pages, something to draw and write with, and something to add color ~ watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reptiles! and a give-away

I love reptiles. So I was doubly excited when National Geographic sent these two books my way last month.

Ultimate Reptileopedia: The Most Complete Reptile Reference Ever
by Christina Wilsdon
272 pages; ages 7-10
National Geographic Children's Books, 2015

 How can you resist opening a book with the face of a Tokay gecko plastered on the cover? Cute, right?

This hefty guide begins with an overview: what a reptile is (contrasted to an amphibian); diversity of reptiles; reptile basics (scutes and scales); behavior; and life cycle. There are short sections on camouflage, reptile homes, what they eat and what eats them.

Then Wilsdon dives right into the different groups of reptiles: lizards and snakes; turtles and tortoises; crocs and alligators; and a funny little group called tuataras. Each two-page spread includes a detailed photo of the featured creature, a description about their life and behavior, a "facts" box and additional cool things to know. For example: did you know that Australia is minting a set of coins featuring reptiles? And that there really are dragons? And there are lizards that look like worms?

There is also an interview with a herpetologist - that's a scientist who studies reptiles - and a discussion about what you can do to help save reptiles from extinction.

Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue
by Karen Romano Young
112 pages; ages 10 & up
National Geographic Children's Books, 2015

 This is one of the Mission: Animal Rescue series that focuses on saving animals in danger. Habitat loss, hunting, and other human activities are threatening many animals - but this book points to ways children can help turtles and other animals.

Learning about sea turtles means getting wet, so the author takes us into the ocean to show us how they live and grow. If sea turtles had a superpower it would be flying through the water. They are built for speed. But they can get tangled up in nets and debris.

Young highlights different kinds of sea turtles, and shows how people are protecting hatchlings. Throughout the book we meet sea turtles that have been rescued and explorers who work with them. There are also "Rescue Activities" - things kids can do to learn more about sea turtles and increase awareness about sea turtles in their communities. The last two chapters focus on human-turtle interactions and what's being done to save sea turtles. A page of resources provides links for people who want to learn more about sea turtles, adopt a sea turtle, or go visit them.

Give-Away! Win a copy of Sea Turtle Rescue. Just leave a comment about reptiles or sea turtles before Feb 10. I'll choose a winner by random drawing and let you know on Feb. 12. (Limited to addresses in the US)

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copies from the publisher.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wild Outdoor Wednesday

Chill a piece of dark colored paper in the freezer. Then take it outside when snow is falling - and catch some snowflakes. Look at them with a magnifying lens. Capture what you see in colors, words, a song, or movement.


Remember to take your sketchbook or journal with unlined pages, something to draw and write with, and something to add color ~ watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers.