Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ reflecting on the season


Head out our library door, down the block, turn right and, in a couple minutes, you come to Catatonk Creek. Look upstream, above the dam, and you see the seasons reflected in the water. Summer greens, autumn scarlets, and now the slate-gray of early winter.

Walk around your neighborhood and look for nature's reflections. You might be surprised by what you notice in ponds, pools, and puddles.

Archimedes is taking a winter break ~ I'll be back in January with new books and hands-on STEM stuff. Meanwhile... keep warm and cozy in your own little domicile. And have a 

Happy Solstice and a Merry New Year!


Friday, December 11, 2020

Survival handbook for plants

Pretty Tricky: the Sneaky Ways Plants Survive
by Etta Kaner; illus by Ashley Barron
48 pages; ages 7-10
Owlkids Books, 2020

theme: plants, animals, STEM

…would you believe there are plants that trick insects into being their bodyguards?

Plants don’t have brains, but they have adapted ways that fool animals – even humans! They have ways to defend themselves from harsh weather, being munched, and heavy feet that might step on their vines. One plant plays dead to discourage predators. Other plants fake leaf damage. Plants use deceit to manipulate pollinators into carrying pollen, and one plant produces smelly seeds that fool dung beetles into rolling them to new places. And some plants … hunt insects!

What I like about this book: I like how it’s divided into three sections: defense, making more plants, and food. Back matter includes details about how plants make seeds and how plants use sunlight to make food. An index, glossary, and list of selected sources round out the back pages.
But what I really like: the artwork!  The cut paper collages are filled with texture and color, and nicely detailed to inspire curious young naturalists to head out and look more closely at plants.

Beyond the Books:

If you were a plant and couldn’t run away, what would you do to protect yourself?
List some ways you could make yourself yukky, prickly, or otherwise unattractive to a predator.

Use cut paper collage to make a picture of a plant growing in or around your house. If it’s not in bloom, then find a photo to help you remember what it looks like. You’ll need scissors, colored paper, a piece of paper or cardboard for your collage, and glue. If you can’t find papers in the colors you want, raid the recycle magazine pile or paint your own paper to use for collage. Have fun!

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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ First Snow


The first snow snuck in last week... feathery flakes slanting from the west. By the time I'd put away lunch dishes, the sun was out and the last remaining calendula was casting shadows. A splat of summer color left in this very late fall. One of the flower heads had gone to seed, so I collected them to plant next spring.

This week take a break to go outside - even if only for a few minutes. What plants have survived the season so far? What spots of color do you find in the landscape? Are flowers still blooming where you live? Are they going to seed? If so, collect some to grow in the spring.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Books that Ask Questions

Kids are full of questions. So are writers – and these authors have turned their questions into fun books about animal adaptations.
themes: animals, STEM, humor

Do Lizards Eat Ice Cream? How Animals Beat the Heat
by Etta Kaner; illus by Jenna Piechota
32 pages; ages 4-8
Owlkids Books, 2020

When it gets hot out, do animals wear flip-flops? NO!

So … how do animals beat the heat? They don’t eat ice cream. Or run through sprinklers. But some use their ears as fans, and some use sunscreen. From lizards to lungfish, elephants to ants, this book explores the ways animals have found to cool off in hot weather.

What I like about this book: It’s fun, with a straightforward structure. For each spread, one side asks a question and the facing page provides an answer with supporting text. The cartoon-like illustrations are bright. It’s a great companion to their earlier book, Do Frogs Drink Hot Chocolate .

Do Jellyfish Like Peanut Butter? Amazing Sea Creature Facts
by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig; illus by Ellen Shi
36 pages; ages 4-8
Persnickety Press, 2020

Do starfish sign autographs? NO!

But they do use their arms to do other things… like pry open clams. In this book you discover the adaptive secrets of seahorses (No! they do not wear saddles), pilot whales (who have nothing to do with flying aircraft), and of course, the peanut-butterless jellyfish. 

What I like about this book: I like the playful questions, and the short answers. But in this book, the questions are presented on one spread, inviting readers to turn the page to discover the real answer. The art is fun and the tone of the text one of friends tossing one-liners to each other. I like that the authors include Back Matter, where they present more information about each of the sea creatures introduced in the book.

Beyond the Books:

Make a list of questions (silly or serious) about animals. And then find out the answers. Maybe you'd like to know things like: can chickadees sing the blues? Or how much wood can a woodchuck chuck?

What sort of adaptations do you have for warming up and cooling off? Do you drink hot cocoa? Put on extra layers of clothes? Wear a raincoat to keep dry? 

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's websiteReview copies provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ Look Up!


Winter skies offer an amazing display of clouds. Some are flat and dark, like slate. Some are puffy, cottony lightweights. Some look like dragons, others like fish scales. Some blow by too fast to capture, and others cling to the ground, or the tips of trees as if reluctant to let go.

This week do some cloud-watching. Capture their colors, shapes, impressions, poetry. These clouds? A school of fish racing away from something bigger and darker...