Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ Morning sky

I've been watching the morning sky this month. Many days, the sky looks like layers of slate-colored clouds, stacked from the horizon to the top of the sky dome. But some mornings the early dawn light paints the sky with colors.

collage using tissue paper for the sky, and painted paper for tree trunks
Try to capture the colors of the sky - using whatever media you want: collage, paint, music, words... How does the sky change from one day to the next? What do you notice about sunrises and sunsets?

This year I'm encouraging everyone to spend 1,000 hours outdoors. So on Wednesday I'll be posting ideas for nature breaks, field trips, and outdoor play. The goal: to have fun!

Teachers and homeschoolers who want to use nature breaks as field trips can grab a sketchbook or journal, something to draw and write with, and some watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers. Think cross-curricular: art, language, science, math, engineering, movement, exercise! And come back Friday for some STEM book-talk.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Dinosaurs!


So You Think You Know About … Triceratops?
 by Ben Garrod; illus. by Gabrietl Ugueto, Scott Hartman, & Ethan Kocak
112pages; ages 8-12
Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2019

If you thought all dinosaur science was set in stone – ta-da! Scientists are digging up new dino facts every few weeks. So much new science that Dr. Ben Garrod decided each kind of dinosaur deserves its own book about its anatomy, habitats, and behavior. So he’s created a series that explores dinos up-close and personal.

First off, Garrod makes sure readers understand what dinosaurs are, and how they are related. In this book, he talks about how new discoveries can totally revise how scientists think about the dino family tree. And he provides a checklist. Tiny arms? Check. Straight legs? Check.

From there, he dives into the family tree of Triceratops and their relatives. And when they lived (Mesozoic era), and where their fossils have been discovered. Then he does a dino autopsy. Not a real one, because it’s hard to get your hands on a recently-deceased Triceratops. Bone-by-bone, Garrod introduces the skeleton of the dino, with notes on elbows, toes, and how they ran.

Sidebars include “Ask an Expert” and “New Science”, and at the back there’s a fossil finder, answers to the quizzes, and a glossary (the only thing lacking is a pronunciation guide). Other books in the series include Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Velociraptor.

Lifesize Dinosaurs 
by Sophy Henn
32 pages; ages 3-8
Kane Miller Books/EDC Publishing, 2018

Sophy Henn uses her art to show how readers measure up against some of the smallest and largest dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. You’re probably thinking: Riiiight. How can she fit an entire dinosaur onto a page?

Turns out, some dinosaurs were small. Microraptors, for example. From head to tail they easily fit on the diagonal of a full spread. Some dinosaur eggs were small enough to fit on a page. But some dinos were so big that there’s no way to capture the entirety of them on a single page. So Sophy selects their most interesting features. Utahraptors have dagger-sharp curved claws. “Hold your foot up to the page and see how it would look on you!” writes Sophy.

But to compare your smile to the toothy grin of a T-Rex – that requires fold-out pages! Back matter compares dino sizes using the book as the unit of measurement. Which is pretty cool – all you need to do is put a piece of tape on the floor and then flip the book end-over-end 30 times to see how big a T-rex really was. Eighty-three flips for Diplodocus!

Not out yet, but coming soon….

1,000 Facts About Dinosaurs, Fossils, and Prehistoric Life 
by Patricia Daniels
112 pages; ages 8-12
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2020

This is a wonderfully browsable book filled with collections of facts and fun. If you’re looking for something specific, start with the index or table of contents. If you’re ready for adventure, open at random and see where you end up. It might be a page about skeletons, or facts about prehistoric names. For example, Wakiewakie, a prehistoric Australian marsupial, is said to get its name from a local wake up call. And some fossils have been named after musicians, Star Wars characters, and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Or perhaps you’ll find yourself diving into a page filled with ocean animals, or treated to an entire page of Triceratops facts.

Check out STEM Tuesday blog – where this month’s theme is Dinosaurs. There’s a book list and more.

To find other dinosaur books reviewed here at Archimedes Notebook, just type “dinosaur” into the search bar over to the right. Review copies provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ Windows to What's Under the Snow

 Warm winds blew in for a week, and snow began to melt. What was underneath? Bright green mosses, soggy leaves in shades of brown, rust-colored pine needles. It smelled like a garden after rain, but colder.

What's poking through snow-windows in your neck of the woods? Or if you don't have snow, what's starting to grow? Scribble words, brush paint, stretch like a small plant reaching to the sun or shrugging off the snow.



This year I'm encouraging everyone to spend 1,000 hours outdoors. So on Wednesday I'll be posting ideas for nature breaks, field trips, and outdoor play. The goal: to have fun!

Teachers and homeschoolers who want to use nature breaks as field trips can grab a sketchbook or journal, something to draw and write with, and some watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, or markers. Think cross-curricular: art, language, science, math, engineering, movement, exercise! And come back Friday for some STEM book-talk.
 



Friday, January 10, 2020

The Mess That We Made

The Mess That We Made 
by Michelle Lord; illus. by Julia Blattman
32 pages; ages 5-7
Flashlight Press, 2020

theme: environment, ocean, pollution

THIS is the mess that we made.

The book opens with an illustration of kids in a  boat, surrounded by a spiral of plastic debris and sea life. Then, page by page, introduces the sea animals affected by the mess of plastic floating in the ocean: the fish, seals, turtles.

This is the seal
that eats the fish
that swim in the mess we made.

From the ocean to the landfill that spills plastic into the water, we see tons of plastic: bottles, fishing nets, plastic bags that trap the sea life … a very big mess.

What I like about this book: That Michelle gives us hope. Because “we are the ones who can save the day…” she writes. We can reduce the plastic we use, recycle it, and clean up the beaches and bays. I like the cumulative “House that Jack Built” structure – it’s perfect for a book where the mess grows and grows. Plus there’s Back Matter – and you know how much I love books with back matter! Three pages at the end of the book highlight the problems of plastic in the oceans and landfills, and also provide specific actions readers can take to reduce the amount of plastic trash they produce.

One Question for Michelle

Archimedes: Have you managed to eliminate plastic from your life?

Michelle: Not yet, but I am cutting down. I’ve switched to bar soap instead of body wash in single-use packaging, and  no plastic grocery bags for me. Unfortunately, when dining out I sometimes forget to tell the waitstaff that I don’t want a straw before one automatically shows up in my drink. Maybe I should tie a string around my finger. I wish restaurants only provided straws upon request.

Last year my husband and I bought several pieces of new furniture. The amount of foam in the packaging disappointed me. I am fortunate that my town offers plastic foam recycling for drop-off. Scientists estimate that it takes from several years to one million years for plastic foam to break down! My goal for this year is to shop local and secondhand for the things I need.

My daughter went vegan several years ago and shops at thrift stores and farmer’s markets, and  my husband is a recycler extraordinaire. If we all make an effort, together we can make positive changes to our environment!

Beyond the Books:

You can learn more about the plastic problem in our ocean here. If we continue to use – and throw away – plastic at the rate we currently do, the plastic in the ocean will At current rates plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish by 2050. Absurd, right?

Reduce the amount of plastic you use. I gave up using plastic straws and single-use water bottles last year. I also carry reusable shopping bags when I go to the grocery store. You’ll find more ideas here.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.