Friday, March 30, 2018

Where Science meets Art

It's been rainy this past month (snowy, too) - but still, on those not-too-wet days I've loved heading outdoors to see what is happening with the changing season. Here are two books to inspire your own investigations as we welcome April showers, mud and flowers.

themes: nature, water cycle, imagination

 I am the Rain
by John Paterson
32 pages, ages 3-8
Dawn publications, 2018

Sometimes I'm the rain cloud
       and sometimes I'm the rain.

Using poetic language and art, author John Paterson takes us on an adventure through the water cycle. He knows water - where it flows and how to paddle through it. And he knows its many moods, from wild and splashy to misty fog.

What I like about this book: I like the first-person point of view - a story about the water cycle from the perspective of the water. I like how we learn about water through the different seasons, and in different states - gas, liquid, solid. Water is everywhere on our planet and, as it notes, "All of life depends on me."

The back matter is filled with so much information and ideas for exploration. There are notes to explain the "science behind the poetry" and tips for taking care of water. Plus science, engineering, and math activities.

Anywhere Artist
by Nikki Slade Robinson
40 pages; ages 4-7
Clarion Books, 2018

I am an anywhere artist.

Who needs paint and paper? All this artist needs is her imagination! And maybe a few leaves from the forest, or driftwood and seaweed. Mud, stones, lichens - they can make art. Or perhaps your art can fill the sky, created from nothing more than water vapor and imagination. Who hasn't created cloud dragons?

What I like about this book: it is so fun, free, and filled with the joy of discovering art in the natural world. As one who collects leaf skeletons for their lacy beauty, I love that this wild artist uses leaf skeletons in her creations. I love that she takes us to very different environments to find natural materials: the forest, the beach, a muddy puddle, the sky.

The title focuses on the art, but inside the pages this is a book about discovering nature. If your kids haven't hunted for leaf skeletons yet, they will once they see them used as art materials. The other cool thing about this book is that all the art materials are biodegradable.  I'd just add a caution: if you go collecting natural materials for your own art, use things that are dead, and only take a tiny tiny bit of living plants.

Beyond the Books:
How much rain falls during a storm? The easiest way to find out is to set a bucket in an open area of your yard and, after the storm, measure how much water is in it. Or you can make your own rain gauge out of a plastic bottle.

Where does rain gather in your neighborhood? And where does it go? Does it create a wetland in your yard? Make rivers in the gutter? Whoosh down storm drains? Fall over boulders in a creek? Find out where it goes.

Create art from natural things you find. It can be as simple as painting with mud, or creating a pattern from stones. This time of year you might find leaf skeletons beneath old piles of leaves. Or if you live along a beach you can find all kinds of seaweeds and driftwood, shells, and claws. Leave your art in nature, and return in a day or two to see what has happened to it.

Ephemeral Creations ~ choose a dry day so you can lay on the ground and look at the sky. Then create art from the cloud shapes. Do tree branches frame your art? Does mist turn it into rainbows?

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup - and we're also joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies from publishers


  1. Wow, that cover is adorable. I have not seen this one yet. My library doesn't have it but I put in a request. I can't wait to read it. Thanks. :-)

  2. Both books are perfect for spring. I love the cover on Patterson's PB and the theme of water cycles. The Anywhere Artist is very lively and filled with ideas about being in nature. Lovely choices!

    1. I agree, Patricia. And the cover of Anywhere Artist feels so... free and inviting.

  3. I just requested both of these books at my library. It's so frustrating when I learn about a new book and then have to wait to read it. I'm equally intrigued by both books, but the first one you reviewed, I AM THE RAIN, told from the perspective of water has me curious.