Friday, March 15, 2019

Ocean books for Early Readers

I love the National Geographic Kids books for early readers. Here are three recent books that focus on the ocean, tide pools, and coral reefs.

In the Ocean (Readers)
by Jennifer Szymanski
48 pages; ages 2-5

This book is a level 1 co-reader, meaning that it's a book for a shared reading experience between a kid just learning to read and a parent or older reader. It is divided into four chapters of 6 to 10 pages: Water in the ocean; Ocean homes; Animals in the ocean; and People and the ocean.

Each spread introduces a single idea, such as what oceans are, how waves move, or what coral is.

 The left side presents text for the older reader. Text on the right side (I Read) is in larger font. Some words are bolded - words about the ocean, places, action words. After each chapter is a section called "Your Turn" - a matching game or other activity for kids to do to further explore the ocean.

Tide Pools (Readers)
by Laura Marsh
32 pages; ages 4-6

This is a book for kids who are beginning to read on their own. It opens with a color-coded table of contents. Topics are presented in yellow and orange sections, while green indicates an activity. Throughout the pages you'll find text boxes with seashell icons. Labeled "Tide Pool Talk", these highlight new words which are also featured in the photo-glossary on the last page. The Q & A boxes are fishy jokes, and others provide labels and information about the photos. It's a fun way for beginning readers to learn that information comes from text AND captions, labels, and sidebars. I love the "cool facts" about tide pool critters.

Explore My World: Coral Reefs
by Jill Esbaum
32 pages; ages 3-7

Though not a "reader", this is a perfect book to read with emerging readers. Simple text introduces each topic, in text large enough for a young kid to trace with their finger. Text is focused without being too sophisticated, and circular text "boxes" provide helpful pronunciation and intriguing facts.

Back matter includes a menu (What's for Dinner?) and a celebration of the diversity of corals. There's also a world map showing where coral reefs are found, and a hide-and-seek game.

Learn more about ocean life!

Check out the National Geographic Kids Ocean Portal. There you can dive into the deep, learn more about underwater animals, play ocean-themed games, and watch videos.Or head out to explore Tide Pools with biology students at the College of Idaho.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. Review copies provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday Explorer's Club ~ changing seasons

We are nearing the equinox, when day length will equal dark length. Which means we can have ice and snow one day and 40 degrees the next. This week the snow is melting, turning slushy. Leaves and pine needles that fell during the big wind a week ago are coming to the surface, and some create local "hot spots", melting holes into the remaining few inches of snow. And then, overnight, snow melt freezes into a thick layer of ice and we start the melting anew at mid-morning the next day.

What does the end of winter look like where you live? (Or maybe in your neck of the woods it is the end of summer)

How does the texture of the snow change over the course of a day, a week?

What unexpected treasures are you discovering as the snow melts?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dolphins swim through these books

Like bats and cats, dolphins are mammals. And like bats, they use echolocation to hunt. Here are two books that finally swam to the top of my book basket!

themes: animals, dolphins

The Truth about Dolphins
by Maxwell Eaton III
32 pages; ages 4-8
Roaring Brook Press, 2018

This is a dolphin.

Dolphins may look like fish, but they aren't. They are mammals, just like bats, cats, and you. They talk to each other, though they don't use words. and they like to play. They even use echolocation to hunt their dinner, sort of like bats do - but in the water.

What I like about this book: I like the way Max Eaton uses dialog to embellish the text. Facts are on the page, but the dolphins talk about them! I like his excellent tutorial on how dolphins use echolocation (a full-spread illustration with labels and arrows). And I like how he includes a diversity of dolphins in the illustrations. Plus those cartoon illustrations are just plain fun.

Absolute Expert: Dolphins
by Jennifer Swanson, with Justine Jackson-Ricketts
112 pages; ages 8-12
National Geographic Kids, 2018

Justine Jackson-Ricketts is a marine biologist who loves dolphins. Good thing, because she is our guide into the world of dolphins. She does research on community ecology - that means she is learning how dolphins interact with each other and their environments.

In this book she and Jennifer Swanson team up to tell us all about dolphins, beginning with how they are related to each other and where to find them. Then we get a close-up look at dolphins, inside and out. They have streamlined heads so they can cut through water quickly, and their flippers have bones that look almost like fingers. They've got rubbery skin, layers of blubber, and a brain designed for problem-solving.

What I like about this book: The photography is gorgeous! And I really enjoy having Justine along for the read, because she (and Jennifer) explain everything in terms a non-dolphin can understand.  I love the "Deep Dives" at the end of each chapter - hands-on activities that extend your understanding of life as a dolphin. And I love the Dolphin Personality Quiz. Turns out I'm a bottlenose dolphin. Click-ck-ck! Squeeeek? Bzzzzt!

Beyond the books:

Check out these dolphin and whale activities from Whale and Dolphin Conservation's website.

Make a dolphin craft. This site has 15 different dolphin crafts, from paper plate dolphins to origami.

Watch a video about dolphins (here).

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copies provided by publishers.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Look Up!

"Why are you taking a picture of the sky?" a kid asked. It was blue... and after so many gray (and cold!) days I wanted to document that we actually have sunny days in upstate New York. Of course, "sunny blue sky" is a relative term. As you can see, there are clouds up there.

But there are clouds, and then there are clouds. These are the first variety: light, airy, letting the sun through... and warning of the coming storm.

This week do some daytime sky watching. Notice the texture of clouds - and their colors. Do they look heavy or light? What happens over the next 24 to 48 hours?