Friday, September 25, 2015

Books for Math Storytelling Day

September 25th is Math Storytelling Day. Today (every day!) is the perfect opportunity to encourage and nurture the love of mathematics through reading about math. There are many terrific books that include mathematical content or challenging puzzles to solve. Here are some titles that will encourage children to stretch their mathematical muscles in a different way.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - Take a journey with Milo, a young boy who drives through a magic tollbooth into the Lands Beyond and embarks on a quest to rescue the maidens Rhyme and Reason from exile and reconcile the estranged kingdoms of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. This is a great book for kids enamored of words and/or numbers.

Grandfather Tang's Story: A Tale Told With Tangrams by Ann Tompert and The Warlord's Puzzle by Virginia Pilegard are both stories that revolve around an ancient Chinese puzzle made from a large square cut into seven pieces. The seven shapes include a small square, two small triangles, a medium-sized triangle, two large triangles and a parallelogram. Kids can read the stories and follow along with their own set of tangrams!

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger - With full color illustrations, this book tells the story of a twelve year old boy and math hater named Robert, who meets the Number Devil in his dreams. Over  the course of twelve nights, the Number Devil illustrates different mathematical ideas using things like coconuts and furry calculators. Along the way he also takes Robert to Number Paradise where he meets different mathematicians.

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett - Petra and Calder are preoccupied with Vermeer. When a Vermeer painting is stolen in transit from the National Gallery in Washington D.C. to the Chicago Institute of Art, they become intent on finding the painting and solving the mystery. Clues and mysteries abound.
  • Calder carries a set of pentominoes in his pocket at all times, so be sure to print your own set to use while reading this one!
  • Play pentominoes online.
  • Learn more about the book, the author, and the other books in the series at the Scholastic site
Brown Paper School Math Books by Marilyn Burns - Don't let the publication dates fool you into thinking these are out of date (one was first published in 1975!). These are great books for helping kids see that math is fun and for everyone.

The Book of Think: Or How to Solve a Problem Twice Your Size
The I Hate Mathematics! Book
Math for Smarty Pants

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart - Eleven year-old Reynie Muldoon is intrigued by an ad in the paper that asks “Are You a Gifted Child looking for Special Opportunities?” Reynie and dozens of other children show up to answer the ad and take a mind-boggling series of tests, but only Reynie and three others are left at the end. Puzzles and mysteries abound in this adventurous tale. Sequels include The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma.

Books by Greg Tang - Greg Tang has written a series of books that encourage children to look for patterns in math and find more "economical" ways of solving problems.

The Best of Times: Math Strategies That Multiply
Grapes of Math: Mind Stretching Math Riddles
Math Appeal
Math Fables: Lessons That Count
Math Fables Too: Making Science Count
Math for All Seasons: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles
Math Potatoes: More Mind-Stretching Brain Food
    The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan - Orginally published in 1949 as O Homem que Calculava, this book of mathematical puzzles was written by Júlio César de Mello e Souza and published under the pen name Malba Tahan.  The book is an enjoyable  series  of "Arabian nights"-style tales, with each story built around a classic mathematical puzzle. In each tale, Beremiz Samir uses his mathematical powers to "settle disputes, give wise advice, overcome dangerous enemies, and win for himself fame and fortune."

    The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin - Winston sees puzzles everywhere. Imagine his dismay when he gives his sister a box for her birthday, only to learn that it has a secret compartment containing four wood sticks with puzzle clues. Readers will solve puzzles right along with Winston and his sister Katie as they try to solve the mystery. The sequel to this book, The Potato Chip Puzzles, is also highly entertaining.

    Books by Theoni Pappas - Written in the same vein as the Brown Paper School Books, Pappas has written many books about math, my favorites of which are those where a cat explores the math in and around his house.

    The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat
    Further Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat

      The Origami Master by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, Lissy's Friends by Grace Lin (picture books), and Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George (poetry) are all books about origami. Paper folding is a great visual and spatial puzzler for kids and adults. It's also fun!

      Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra by Wendy Lichtman - Tess is an eighth grade girl experiencing typical middle school problems--friends breaking promises, peers cheating on tests, the boy that may-or-may not be interested--as well negotiating some drama at home. Tess examines everything logically and views her world through the lens of mathematics.
      "The way Sammy spoke about her mother made me think of what Venn diagrams look like when the two sets have nothing in common--like, for example, the set of odd numbers and the set of even numbers. Their intersection is called an empty set, because there's nothing in it. There's not one number that can be both odd and even. I didn't like thinking of Sammy and her mother like that--like an empty set." (p.49)
      While the book isn't necessarily about math, Tess has many interesting mathematical insights and how they relate to the world we live in. 

      That's it for now. Do you have a favorite book that offers something mathematical to puzzle over? If so, please share. I would love to add your ideas to this list.

      Thursday, September 24, 2015

      The Science of Story Time

      Last week on Science Friday there was a segment entitled The Science of Story Time. While it begins with a discussion of a study that shows reading with kids has positive effects ranging from increased vocabulary to greater success reading independently, it ends with experts and callers sharing favorite books for science-curious kids.

      Visit the Science Friday site for a list of books discussed.

      Monday, September 14, 2015

      Informal, Math-Rich Experiences - The Richmond Math Salon

      This is an old (2010) video, but I keep returning to it because I love the notion of a math salon. 
      A while back I wrote a post describing the components of elementary school homework I believed were important. Here's a description of one of those components.
      Puzzle - When was the last time you sat down to solve a puzzle and did it for fun? I do this all the time. Sudoku, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, logic problems, tangrams ... I could go on. Puzzles are good for the brain. They develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. They teach kids to persevere, guess and check, collaborate with others, and try a whole host of new strategies. Can you think of a better training ground for mathematical thinking than puzzling? Now imagine if your teacher encouraged you to do this for homework. 
      This is exactly the kind of think happening in this math salon--kids exploring ideas in meaningful ways that just happen to touch on aspects of mathematical thinking. Just imagine what you could do with this idea in a classroom.

      You can read more on my views about homework in the post entitled Elementary School Homework and Reading in Math and Science.

      Monday, September 7, 2015

      How Many Trees Are There On The Planet?

      Last week I was interested in a story I heard on NPR. It began with the question "How many trees are there on the planet?" I started to think about how one would make such an estimation. My guess was 100 billion. Was I close? No. The actual answer is closer to 3 trillion. That's TRILLION, or 3 x 1,000,000,000,000. 

      You can hear the story at NPR in the post entitled Tree Counter is Astonished By How Many Trees There Are.

      And while this sounds like a huge amount (no, we don't have enough), the researchers found that the Earth has lost nearly half its trees since the start of human civilization. We also know that we are losing 10 Billion trees every year. All of this is pretty disturbing. 

      These numbers teach us a lot about habitat loss, how much carbon dioxide is being absorbed from the atmosphere, how water is recycled in an ecosystem, and how we can preserve and replenish our forests. Take a minute to learn more in this video.
      You can read more about the study that produced these data at Live Science in the article Earth Lost Half Its Trees to Humans.

      Wednesday, March 4, 2015

      Thematic Book List - Biographies of Early Scientists (through Newton)

      In a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676, Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants." Newton, just like the scientists of today, relied on the work of scientists and mathematicians who came before him.

      Below you will find a list of books on scientists before and including Newton. I've also thrown in a couple of important mathematicians. Titles are roughly arranged in chronological order.
      The Life and Times of Aristotle (2006), written by Jim Whiting - This biography from the Biography from Ancient Civilizations series provides a compelling look at Aristotle and his influence across history in a wide range of subjects. Though Aristotle was a philosopher, he was for many centuries considered the world's greatest scientist. Whiting explores Aristotle's contributions to science, as well as history and politics. Back matter includes a chronology, selected works, timeline in history, chapter notes, glossary, and further reading ideas.

      The Librarian Who Measured the Earth (1994), written by Kathryn Lansky and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes - This biography of the Greek philosopher and scientist Eratosthenes, who compiled the first geography book and accurately measured the globe's circumference, tells the story of his life from his birth over two thousand years ago in northern Africa (modern Libya) to his work as the chief librarian at the great library of Alexandria in ancient Egypt. 

      Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia (2006), written by D. Anne Love and illustrated by Pamela Paparone - The daughter of Theon, a mathematician, philosopher, and the last director of the Library at Alexandria, Hypatia was educated in the ways of many young men of her time and was one of the first women to study math, science, and philosophy. This book provides a nice overview of the time and place in which Hypatia lived. The artwork evokes both Egyptian and Greek styles and nicely incorporates images that reflect the subjects Hypatia studied. This is a carefully crafted picture book biography on a woman that little is known of. Despite this, her story is one that will inspire. Included are an author's note and bibliography, as well as some additional notes about mathematics.

      Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci (2009), written by Joseph D'Agnese and illustrated by John O'Brien - Medieval Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci is introduced in this first person biography. In traveling with this father, Fibonacci learned geometry in Greece, fractions from the Egyptians, and Hindu-Arabic numerals in India. Largely responsible for converting Europe from Roman numerals to Hindu-Arabic numerals, he also realized that many things in nature followed a certain pattern, today known as the Fibonacci sequence.
      Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer (2012), written and illustrated by Robert Byrd - In this gorgeously illustrated picture book biography, Byrd provides a wealth of information about da Vinci's life and work. In addition to the traditional narrative, da Vinci's own words, anecdotes, and journal excerpts are found in sidebars and small panel illustrations. Byrd clearly and concisely explains da Vinci's theories in a way all readers can understand.

      Leonardo da Vinci: Giants of Science (2008), written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Boris Kulikov - An extensive biography for older students (middle grades and up), this engaging work in the Giants of Science series focuses on the life of da Vinci while exploring his study the natural world, including aerodynamics, anatomy, astronomy, botany, geology, paleontology, and zoology. Special attention is given to da Vinci's notebooks and their meaning.

      Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas: 21 Activities (1998), written by Janis Herbert - This biography of da Vinci is interspersed with activities readers can try on their own, including observing nature, painting birds, growing an herb garden, making minestrone soup, building a kite, and more. Includes extensive reproductions of da Vinci's sketches and paintings. Includes a list of related Web sites.

      Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci (2009), written and illustrated by Gene Barretta - This biography for younger students focuses on the ideas and inventions found in the more than 20,000 pages of da Vinci's notes. Readers learn how many inventions that came centuries after da Vinci's time were actually imagined and described in his notes.
      Galileo For Kids: His Life and Ideas: 21 Activities (2005), written by Richard Panchyk - This biography of Galileo is interspersed with activities readers can try on their own, including letter writing, observing the moon, playing with gravity and motion, making a pendulum, painting with light and shadow, and more. Back matter includes glossaries of key terms, people, and places in Italy, helpful web sites, and a list of planetariums and space museums.

      Galileo's Telescope (2009), written by Gerry Bailey and Karen Foster and illustrated by Leighton Noyes - Every Saturday morning, Digby Platt and his sister Hannah visit Knicknack Market to check out the interesting and unique “antiques” for sale. In finding a telescope, the children learn about the life of mathematician, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei. Back matter includes a glossary.

      I, Galileo (2012), written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen - This first person biography opens with Galileo imprisoned and remembering his life from childhood onward, highlighting his education and scientific discoveries. In the Afterword, Christensen explains that it took nearly 400 years for the Catholic Church to admit they were wrong to condemn Galileo. Back matter includes a glossary, chronology, and descriptions of his experiments, inventions, improvements, and astronomic discoveries. 

      Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei (2000), written and illustrated by Peter Sis - In this Caldecott honor book, gorgeous illustrations take center stage in telling the story of Galileo. Sis creates for readers images of the things Galileo saw in his observations of space, including sunspots, planets revolving around Jupiter, valleys and chasms on the moon, and more. Though not a detailed treatment of his life, the text is enhanced by notes and quotes from Galileo's own writings, scrawled throughout the pages.

      Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian (2010), written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Maria Merian was an artist and scientist who studied plants and animals in their natural habitat and then captured them in her art. This book is based on the true story of how Merian secretly observed the life cycle of summer birds (a medieval name for butterflies) and documented it in her paintings. Focusing on her young life, this book shows readers how curiosity at a young age can lead to a lifelong pursuit. 

      Isaac Newton: Giants of Science (2008), written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Boris Kulikov - An extensive biography for older students (middle grades and up), this engaging work in the Giants of Science series focuses on the life of Newton, a boy who was incredibly curious. Though he lived a solitary life, he attended Cambridge, worked for an apothecary, served in Parliament, and so much more. Despite his successes in the fields of math and science, Newton was also "secretive, vindictive, withdrawn, obsessive, and, oh, yes, brilliant." 

      Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities (2009), written by Kerrie Logan Hollihan - This biography of Newton is interspersed with activities readers can try on their own, including making a waste book, building a water wheel, making ink, creating a 17th century plague mask, tracking the phases of the moon, testing Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, and more. Back matter includes a list of useful books and web sites.

      World History Biographies: Isaac Newton: The Scientist Who Changed Everything (2013), written by Philip Steele - This book in the National Geographic World History Biographies series profiles Newton as more than just a physicist, but also as an acclaimed mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, philosopher, and inventor as well. 

      Online Resources

      That's it for this list. Coming up next is a list of biographies for scientists from the 18th and 19th centuries.

      Wednesday, February 11, 2015

      Honeybees and Hexagons

      "Honeybees are some of nature’s finest mathematicians. Not only can they calculate angles and comprehend the roundness of the earth, these smart insects build and live in one of the most mathematically efficient architectural designs around: the beehive."

      Learn more by viewing the complete Ted Ed lesson by Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson.

      After viewing this you may want to check out this book on patterns and shapes in nature.
      Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails: Patterns & Shapes . . . Naturally (2008), written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Steve Jenkins explores surprising and hidden shapes and patterns in nature. Poetic text and cut paper collage illustrations serve as a beautiful vehicle for introducing young readers to these concepts. On a page depicting a snake, a spider hanging from a thread, a snail shell, a bee in flight, an ant, and goose silhouetted against the moon, the text begins this way.
      In the day
      and the night,
      on the land
      and in flight

      tucked in hollows
      of trees,
      in the tide pools
      and seas,

      you'll find patterns and shapes—
      from the snakes to the bees!
      The next page reveals the genius behind a beehive. This is one of my favorite spreads in the book—not only do I love the text, but I could spend hours staring at the bees on the hive. The layers upon layers of paper used to create the illustration are stunning. The text that accompanies it reads:
      Study a beehive
      and you will see
      the mathematical genius of the bee.

      The hexagons
      you'll find inside
      fit side
      by side
      by side
      by side.
      This math is passed
      from worker bee
      to worker bee!
      *Swoon* Beautiful images and beautiful words—what better tools are there to introduce nonfiction to young readers? None that I can think of. 

      Franco and Jenkins next explore moths, the stunning symmetry of a spider's web, the dazzling feathers of the male peacock, the familiar V of migrating geese, the teamwork and formation of members of an ant colony, the geometry of animal tracks (a mouse in the snow), the shapes on diamondback snakes, the radial symmetry of sea stars, the shape of a puffed-up puffer fish, and the spirals of a snail shell. The text/poem on the shell page is written in the same spiral form displayed by the shell.

      The text ends with the same background as the opening spread, though presented at nightfall with some different animals on the page. There are eyes inside a hole in the tree, sea stars on a rock, a moth flitting in the moonlight, and a spider now resting on a completed web. The text reads:
      So there you have it . . . .
      I think you'll agree

      that creatures
      on land,
      in the air,
      in the sea

      make patterns and shapes
      quite naturally!
      Text ©Betsy Franco. All rights reserved. 
      The end matter of the book is titled New Angles on Animals and provides a brief bit of information on each of the animals highlighted in the pages of the text.

      While I plan on using this book for math to talk about shapes and patterns, I can also see it being used in science to discuss camouflage and other animal adaptations. This is a gorgeous book in both writing and illustration. I highly recommend it.

      Thematic Book List - Extreme Weather

      There are many types of storms, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards. Caused by extremes in weather, storms can cause severe damage. But extremes are not limited to storms. Weather conditions such as too little or too much precipitation can result in drought or flood. Extremely high temperatures can cause a heat wave. Whatever the condition, extreme weather is something meteorologists work hard to predict so that lives and property can be protected.

      Here is a list of books that focuses on storms and events caused by extreme weather conditions.

      Nonfiction Picture Books
      The Big Rivers: The Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Ohio (1997, OP), written and illustrated by Bruce Hiscock - In a text that combines history, geography and science, Hiscock describes the flooding of the upper Mississippi in 1993, while explaining what a river basin is, how it works as part of the water cycle, and how the system of dams and levees failed on this occasion.

      The Big Storm (2008), written and illustrated by Bruce Hiscock - This book follows the course of one large weather system as it travels across the United States.  Hiscock carefully chronicles a large springtime storm in 1982 as it moves from rain in the Pacific Northwest, to a blizzard in the Sierras, to tornadoes and hail in the Texas plains, and finally to New York City where it becomes a blizzard. As the storm rolls on, readers learn about weather forecasting, how storms are formed, and how they travel.

      Blizzard!: The Storm That Changed America (2006), written by Jim Murphy - The great blizzard of 1888 changed the way we respond to storms. Using personal recollections as well as newspapers, photographs, and sketches made by news artists during the storm, Murphy takes readers into the unfolding blizzard and its aftermath. As a result of this storm, legislation was passed in New York to clean up the city, bury wires, build the subway, and more. Back matter includes a six page narrative discussion of notes on sources and related reading material. 

      Flood: Wrestling With the Mississippi (1996, OP), written by Patricia Lauber - This National Geographic photo-essay describes the flooding of the Mississippi in 1993 with a focus on more on the underlying causes of the flooding. 

      The Great American Dust Bowl (2013), written and illustrated by Don Brown - This graphic novel is a masterpiece of history and science, weaving together sourced facts in an accurate historical narrative. Brown uses words from primary source materials to explain how the heartland of America became a vast barren plain, citing drought, the Depression, the loss of bison, and more. Includes scientific explanations for the dust storms as well as first hand accounts. Back matter includes a selected bibliography and source notes.

      National Geographic Readers: Storms (2009), written by Miriam Goin - This Level 1 reader introduces the basics of weather and then goes on to describe a variety of storms, including thunder and lightning, hailstorm, sandstorm, blizzard, monsoon, and others. Back matter includes a glossary.

      Rising Waters: A Book About Floods (2005), written by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea  - This book in the Amazing Science series describes the causes and effects of flooding. Back matter includes a glossary and helpful print and web resources.

      Sizzle!: A Book About Heat Waves (2005), written by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea - This book in the Amazing Science series describes what a heat wave is and how it affects living things in rural and urban areas. Back matter includes a glossary and helpful print and web resources.

      Storms (1992), written by Seymour Simon - In stunning pictures and clear and engaging text, Simon provides clear explanations of various storm types, how they form, and how destructive they can be.

      Whiteout!: A Book About Blizzards (2005), written by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea - What happens when snow is falling and wind is blowing? Readers will learn the answer to this question and more as they read about the conditions often found during a blizzard, include including whiteouts, strong winds, snowdrifts, and wind chills.
      Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll (1999), written by Franklyn Branley and illustrated by True Kelley - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series focuses on thunder and lightning. Back matter includes 2 simple experiments and additional resource suggestions for learning more.

      Lightning! (2006), written by Seymour Simon - With stunning pictures and clear engaging text, Simon describes how and why lightning occurs, different types of lightning, how scientists study it, how to stay safe during an electrical storm, and more. 

      Lightning, Hurricanes,  and Blizzards: The Science of Storms (2010), written by Paul Fleisher - At nearly 50 pages, this book is filled with information about storms. It opens by explaining that "Storms are the most dramatic weather events." Five chapters include: (1) air masses, weather fronts, and mid-altitude cyclones; (2) thunderstorms; (3) tornadoes; (4) hurricanes; and (5) other storms. Back matter includes a glossary, selected bibliography, further reading, and web sites.

      Nature's Fireworks: A Book About Lightning (2003), written by Josepha Sherman and illustrated by Omarr Wesley - This book in the Amazing Science series describes the different ways lightning is created  and what makes it flash across the sky. Back matter includes a glossary and helpful print and web resources.

      Our Wonderful Weather: Thunderstorms (2014), written by Valerie Bodden - Using beautiful photos and clear, concise text, Bodden describes what thunderstorms are, the relationship of thunder and lightning, kinds of thunderstorms, and more. Back matter includes a glossary, titles for learning more, and helpful web sites.

      Rumble, Boom!: A Book About Thunderstorms (2005), written by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea - This book in the Amazing Science series describes how thunderstorms form. Also included is information on phenomena such as thunder, lightning, storm cells, downdrafts, super cells, and more. Back matter includes a glossary and helpful print and web resources.

      Before moving on to books about tornadoes and hurricanes, let's take a quick break to watch this terrific little Peep and the Big Wide World video on stormy weather.
      Do Tornadoes Really Twist? (2000), written by Melvin and Gilda Berger and illustrated by Higgins Bond - In an engaging question and answer format, this book provides a good introduction to tornadoes and hurricanes. Illustrations, diagrams and maps accompany clearly written and engaging text. 

      Our Wonderful Weather: Tornadoes (2014), written by Valerie Bodden - Using beautiful photos and clear, concise text, Bodden describes what tornadoes are, their shapes and sizes, how they are measured, and more. Back matter includes a glossary, titles for learning more, and helpful web sites.

      Tornado! The Story Behind these Twisting, Turning, Spinning, and Spiraling Storms (2011), written by Judy and Dennis Fradin - This National Geographic Kids book includes amazing photographs and a wealth of information on how tornadoes form and are categorized, their destructive power, information on storms of note, and more.

      Tornado Alert (1990), written by Franklyn Branley and illustrated by Giulio Maestro - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series describes how, where, and when tornadoes happen and what to do during a tornado. 

      Tornadoes (2001), written by Seymour Simon - In stunning pictures and clear and engaging text, Simon provides a comprehensive look at tornadoes, including how they form, where they occur, and how they are studied.

      Tornadoes! (2012), written by Marcie Aboff and illustrated by Aleksandar Sotirovski - This graphic novel uses text and illustrations to explain how tornadoes form, how they are measured, and how to stay safe during one.

      Tornadoes! (2010), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - In this book, Gibbons uses text and images to help readers understand how tornadoes form, how they are classified, where they typically appear, safety procedures during a storm, and much more. 

      Twisters: A Book About Tornadoes (2005), written by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea - This book in the Amazing Science series describes how tornadoes form and provides explanations updrafts, downdrafts, thunderstorms, rotation, and funnel clouds. Back matter includes a glossary and helpful print and web resources.
      Eye of the Storm: A Book About Hurricanes (2005), written by Rick Thomas and illustrated by Denise Shea - This book in the Amazing Science series describes how hurricanes form, what tropical storms are, and how storm surges occur. Back matter includes a glossary and helpful print and web resources.

      Hurricane! (2008), written and illustrated by Celia Godkin - In a beautifully illustrated book, readers learn how coastal Florida has adapted to seasonal storms. With an eye to the flora and fauna, Godkin shows and tells readers how the opossum, fiddler crab, manatee, and many others (including humans), weather the storm.

      Hurricanes (2007), written by Seymour Simon - With incredible photographs clear and concise text, Simon provides readers with an in-depth look at one of nature's most terrifying storm types: the hurricane. Included is information on how hurricanes develop, how they are studied, and safety measures for those faced with such a storm. 

      Hurricanes! (2012), written by Marcie Aboff and illustrated by Aleksandar Sotirovski - This graphic novel uses text and illustrations to explain how hurricanes form, how they are named and measured, and how to stay safe during one.

      Hurricanes! (2010), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - In this book, Gibbons presents information about hurricanes in a kid-friendly manner using a combination of engaging water-color illustrations and simple text. Included are facts about the different types of hurricanes, where they occur, how meteorologists predict them, and more.

      Our Wonderful Weather: Hurricanes (2014), written by Valerie Bodden - Using beautiful photos and clear, concise text, Bodden describes what tornadoes are, how they are measured, they eye of the storm, and more. Back matter includes a glossary, titles for learning more, and helpful web sites.

      The Whirlwind World of Hurricanes with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (2010), written by Katherine Krohn and illustrated by Cynthia Martin and Al Milgrom - This graphic novel follows scientist Max Axiom as he explores the science and history behind hurricanes.

      Picture Books
      Flood (2013), written and illustrated by Alvaro Villa - This wordless picture book tells the story of the natural destruction that flooding can cause. Readers follow a family as they prepare for a storm, head to higher ground, and return to see the devastation brought by flood waters. Despite their despair at seeing their damaged home, the family rebuilds.

      The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane (1996), written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen - Miss Frizzle leads her class on a field to visit a weather station, but of course, a great deal happens before they actually get there. The bus turns into a hot air balloon and rises into the sky. Once Ms. Frizzle hears a hurricane watch is in effect, they head south to the equator where the students watch the birth of a hurricane. Included is a great deal of information on how hurricanes form, their effects, and other tidbits on a range of weather-related topics.

      Thunderstorm (2013), written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert - The illustrations for this wordless picture book were created in one 415 inch long panorama that beautifully details the effects of a passing storm and shows how a farm family and various animals weather the storm. The passing storm inflicts real damage, but Geisert wraps things ups by showing the community getting down to the work of repair once the skies clear.

      Online Resources
      For additional resources, consider these sites.
      • The National Center for Atmospheric Research has a kids site with a series of pages on dangerous weather.
      • National Geographic has a nice page devoted to extreme weather on our planet. You'll also find a terrific set of introductory videos on several extreme weather events here.
      • Surviving the Dust Bowl is a PBS film that tells the story of the farmers who came to the Southern Plains of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas dreaming of prosperity, and lived through ten years of drought, dust, disease and death. 
      • Ready.Gov: Kids provides information to help families prepare for emergencies caused by extreme weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. 
      • Sky Diary KidStorm provides information about tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes, and storm chasing.
      • The KidsAhead site has a page devoted to extreme weather such as hurricanes and tornadoes that includes activities, articles, and more.
      • Owlie Skwarn's Weather Book: Storms Ahead! is a free pdf download created by NOAA, FEMA, and the American Red Cross.
      • Try these book study pages for the Berger book on tornadoes.

      That's it for now. This makes 4 separate lists all related to the water cycle and weather. Join me in two weeks for my next thematic list! 

      Wednesday, February 4, 2015

      Thematic Book List - Weather (An Introduction)

      Weather describes the condition of the atmosphere at a particular place at a given point in time. Generally weather is described in terms temperature, pressure, wind conditions, moisture, etc. Because the weather is created by a mixture of factors, weather patterns change regularly. In contrast to this, climate refers to the "average" weather conditions for an area over a long period of time.

      Here's an annotated list of books that provide an introduction to weather and weather forecasting.

      Nonfiction Picture Books 
      Can It Rain Cats and Dogs? (1999), written by Melvin and Gilda Berger and illustrated by Robert Sullivan - In an engaging question and answer format, this book provides a nice introduction to a range of weather topics. The book is divided into three subject categories:  (1) sun, air, and wind; (2) rain, snow, and hail; and (3) wild weather.

      Feel the Wind (1990), written and illustrated by Arthur Dorres - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series provides fun book simplifies facts about wind so that they are easy to understand. Children will learn about what causes wind, its place in weather, and how we can use it. There are also instructions on how to make your own anemometer.

      Gusts and Gales: A Book About Wind (2003), written by Josepha Sherman  and illustrated by Omarr Wesley - This book in the Amazing Science series describes many different types of winds, including global winds, trade winds, local winds, and breezes. The text also touches upon extreme wind weather, including hurricanes and tornadoes.

      I Face the Wind (2003), written by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Julia Gorton - This is a wonderful introduction to what wind is and how it works. It even debunks the popular idea that air weighs nothing. Readers simply need a few materials (a plastic bag, a hanger, balloons, etc.) in order to conduct the series of basic experiments within the book. Between experiments, readers are offered explanations of how wind does what it does and how we experience it. The simplicity of the language combined with the great illustrations and easy-to-do science experiments make this book a wonderful resource for teachers and parents alike.

      The Kids' Book of Weather Forecasting (2008), written by Mark Breen and Kathleen Friestad and illustrated by Michael Kline - This book opens with directions on keeping a weather log and does a great job of encouraging kids to make observations and predictions about the weather. Readers will find a wealth of information about weather, as well as directions on how to create simple versions of the most common instruments found in a weather station, including a rain gauge, hygrometer, psychrometer, barometer, and anemometer.  

      National Geographic Readers: Weather (2013), written by Kristin Baird Rattini - This level 1 reader describes weather in the simplest of terms. Written in short chapters with economical text, this is a perfect introduction to weather for the youngest students. Back matter includes a picture glossary.

      Oh Say Can You Say What's the Weather Today? All About Weather (2004), written by Tish Rabe and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz - This book from The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library is written in the style of Dr. Seuss. In it, Cat in the Hat and his friends travel by hot-air balloon and experience different types of weather and learn why we need to know what the weather is going to be. Back matter includes a glossary and list of additional resources. 

      Pink Snow and Other Weird Weather (1998), written by Jennifer Arena and illustrated by Heidi Petach - This book in the Penguin Young Readers series looks at strange and unusual weather occurrences, such as pink snow, hail frogs, raining jellyfish, and more.

      Ready to Read: Wind (2003), written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by John Wallace - This Level 1 text uses simple words and short sentence structures to introduce readers to wind and its role in creating weather.

      W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet (2006), written by Pat Michaels  and illustrated by Melanie Rose - In two levels of text, one poetic and one informational, readers are lead through an alphabet of weather terms (a is for atmosphere, be is for barometer, c is for cloud, d is for dew, etc.). Written by a professional weatherman and storm tracker, Michaels explains weather phenomena, instruments, and more in clear, easy to understand language. Don't miss the helpful teaching guide that accompanies the text.

      Weather (2006), written by Seymour Simon - In stunning pictures and clear and engaging text, Simon provides a comprehensive look at the weather. Beginning with the sun as the driver of our weather system, the text moves on to examine wind patterns, temperature, clouds, precipitation, smog, and the greenhouse effect.

      Weather Forecasting (1993), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - In this book, Gibbons takes children through the four seasons and the weather that is associated with each one. She uses meteorologists at a weather station to explain how seasonal weather is predicted, observed and recorded. Some of the terms may be complicated for children, but Gibbons breaks them down so that they are easier to understand.

      Weather: Whipping Up a Storm! (2012), written by Dan Green and designed and created by Basher - This book in the Basher Basics series presents a series of personified characters that describe their roles in creating weather. Chapters include World of Weather, Blue Sky Dreamers, Wet 'n' Wild, and Extreme Weather. Back matter includes a glossary. Learn more by thumbing through this sample.

      Weather Words and What They Mean (1992), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons. - In text and pictures, Gibbons reviews an extensive list of vocabulary words related to weather including different types of precipitation, weather instruments, temperature and much more. The final page presents a number of interesting facts about weather.

      What Will the Weather Be? (2002), written by Lynda Dewitt and illustrated by Carolyn Croll - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series explains the basic characteristics of weather and how meteorologists use a variety of tools to gather data for their forecasts. Readers will learn what scientists know about the weather and how they use this information to try and predict it.

      Make Things Fly: Poems About the Wind (1998, OP), edited by Dorothy M. Kennedy, illustrated by Sasha Meret - This collection of 27 poems devoted to the wind covers topics like the sound of wind, tornadoes, seasonal wind, windy nights, and much more. Includes poems by Russell Hoban, Eve Merriam, Myra Cohn Livingston, Karla Kuskin, and others.

      Seed Sower, Hat Thrower: Poems about Weather (2008), written by Laura Purdie Salas - This collection of weather-themed poems was inspired by an amazing collection of photographs. The re are numerous poetic forms and the topics are wide ranging and cover all kinds of weather phenomena. 

      Weather: Poems for All Seasons (1995), collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Melanie Hall - This collection of poems in the I Can Read series covers topics like the sun, wind, clouds, rain, fog, and more.

      Weather Report (1993, OP), collected by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Annie Gusman - This collection of more than 50 poems is divided into sections covering rain, sun, wind, snow, and fog. Each section begins with a brief folk rhyme, followed by a range of poem types written by a nice mix of classic and contemporary poets. 

      Online Resources
      For additional resources, consider these sites.
      I also have a Pinterest board on this topic with many ideas and activities for instruction.
      Follow Tricia's board Weather/Earth's Atmosphere on Pinterest.
      You'll notice that books on storms like hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards are missing from this post. That is the subject for the my next thematic list, so stay tuned!

      Wednesday, January 28, 2015

      Thematic Book List - Clouds, Rain, and Snow

      My last thematic list focused on water and the water cycle. It did not include books on clouds or any form of precipitation. These things are integral components in the water cycle and are necessary for returning water to the earth's surface.

      Here's an annotated list of books that examine clouds and precipitation and the role they play in the water cycle and weather. You'll also find books here that celebrate rain and snow with lush images and sensory descriptions.

      Nonfiction Picture Books
      The Cloud Book (1984), written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola - This text focuses on different types of clouds: cirrus, cumulus, stratus, and other combinations of these three main types. The cloud types are described and presented with illustrated examples. Also included are myths about clouds and popular sayings inspired by clouds and the weather.

      Clouds (2008), written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Frane Lessac - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series describes clouds, what they are made of, what they are called, and much more. The simple, engaging text in this stage 1 book makes the content accessible to a range of age groups.

      The Man Who Named the Clouds (2006, OP), written by Julie Hanna and Joan Holub  and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye - This biography of Luke Howard tells the story the "father of meteorology." Readers will learn about his life and determination to find new ways to study the weather. After studying Linnaeus and his system for scientifically classifying plants and animals, he used these ideas and developed a system for classifying clouds.

      Shapes in the Sky: A Book About Clouds (2003), written by Josepha Sherman and illustrated by Omarr Wesley - This book will help readers understand that clouds come in different types and forms. The text explains how clouds are formed, how they are named, and how they  are distinguished from one another.

      Vapor, Rain, and Snow: The Science of Clouds and Precipitation (2011), written by Paul Fleisher  - At nearly 50 pages, this book is filled with information about clouds and precipitation. It opens by explaining that "Weather is what happens in the air around us. But a lot of weather is really about water." In four chapters Fleisher describes water in the air, clouds, precipitation, and atmospheric phenomena like rainbows, halos, and sun dogs.

      Down Comes the Rain (1997), written by Franklyn Branley and illustrated by James Graham Hale - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series follows the rain as it falls, evaporates, condenses, and falls again.

      It's Raining! (2014), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - A perfect book for young readers, Gibbons explores rain with simple definitions, basic facts, and interesting bits of information. Readers will learn what rain is, where it comes from, and why it is necessary. Includes maps that show annual rainfall amounts around the world and information on storms.

      Raindrops Roll (2015), by April Pulley Sayre - Gorgeous photographs accompany a lyrical text about water in the form of rain. Though the text is economical, it conveys a sense of wonder and beauty. Back matter examines the science of rain and includes facts about clouds, raindrop shapes, and the "abilities" of raindrops (hydrating insects, magnifying objects, and more). with facts about cloud formation, the shapes of raindrops and what they’re capable of—magnifying their surroundings, reflecting light, hydrating insects and more. Also included is a reading list for learning more.

      Splish! Splash! A Book About Rain (2003), written by Josepha Sherman and illustrated by Jeff Yesh - This book uses fun pictures and simple vocabulary to explain where rain comes from and why rain is important to the earth and to humans. Sherman also delves into what happens when too much rain (flooding) or not enough rain (drought) occurs.

      It's Snowing! (2011), written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - A perfect book for young readers, Gibbons explores snow with simple definitions, basic facts, and interesting bits of information. Readers will learn what snow is, how it forms, regions where snow falls, and how to prepare for a snowstorm. Also includes information on the ways in which snow falls to the ground, such as sleet, flurries, and a winter storm.

      The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes (2010), written by Kenneth Libbrecht  - The author of this book is a physicist at Caltech known for his passion for snow crystals. In this book aimed at 9-12 year olds, but appropriate for a much broader (and older) audience,  Libbrecht teaches readers what snow crystals and snowflakes are, where they come from, and how these amazing structures are created out of thin air. His own photographs beautifully complement the text.

      All snowflakes begin with water vapor in air, but as they begin their journey toward the ground, changes in temperature and humidity determine their exact and unique shape. Libbrecht answers questions that many children (and adults) are apt to ask, such as "Why is snow white when the crystals that comprise snow are clear?" Libbrecht's web site,, provides a wealth of images and even more information for those readers who finish the book and want to learn more. I recommend starting with the Snowflake Primer and the Snow Crystal FAQs.

      Snow is Falling (2000), written by Franklyn Branley and illustrated by Holly Keller - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series describes the benefits and importance of snow, as well as the danger of too much of it. Back matter includes experiments and activities for cold, snowy days.

      Snowflake Bentley (1998), written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian - This Caldecott Medal winner tells the true story of Wilson Bentley, a farmer who spent the better part of his life studying and photographing snowflakes. Willie's story is told from his childhood through his death. Accompanying the biography are a series of sidebars that contain additional facts about Bentley. The last page of the book contains a photo of Bentley at his camera (the same one at the top of the Wilson Snowflake Bentley home page), a quote about his love for photography, and three of his renowned snowflake images. This is the story of a remarkable man who pushed the limits of science and technology to create groundbreaking images of snowflakes. If the book inspires an interest in further study, you can view a number of his amazing photographs at The Bentley Snow Crystal Collection.

      The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder (2009), written by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson  - Mark Cassino is a fine art and natural history photographer. Jon Nelson is a teacher and physicist who studies ice crystals and clouds. Together they have given us a stunning volume on the formation of snow. A perfect mixture of art and science, Cassino's photographs are accompanied by clearly written text that explains a very complex process in terms kids will understand. Readers will learn what snow is made from, how it forms, what shapes it takes, and more! Photos of snow crystals are included with a comparison of the enlarged images to a snow crystal of actual size. In the back matter you will find directions on how to catch snow crystals and examine them. For more ideas for extending the text, download a teacher's guide for this title at the Chronicle web site.

      Poetry Books
      One Big Rain: Poems for a Rainy Days (2014), compiled by Rita Gray and illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke - This collection of 20 poems about rain through the seasons opens with a haiku about the season. Four additional poems follow. Gray includes eight haiku, two poems translated from other languages (Norwegian and Spanish), works by well-known poets like Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and Eve Merriam, as well as works by poets whose names may not be familiar to readers. The illustrations in muted browns, grays, blacks and greens beautifully capture the mood and subject of the poems. The book opens with an introduction that describes rain through the seasons. Following the introduction is a note about haiku translations. Adapted from a work by poet and translator William J. Higginson, the emphasis is not on counting syllables, but on finding the best rhythm for the haiku in the new language.

      Snow, Snow: Winter Poems for Children (2005), written by Jane Yolen with photographs by Jason Stemple - This collection of 13 beautifully crafted poems, inspired by stunning photographs of snowy woods, skiers, a snowmobile, and much more, will lead readers to see snow the wonder of snow and maybe even view it in a new way. One of my favorite poems in the collection begins "Somebody painted/The trees last night,/ Crept in and colored them/White on white."

      Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (2001), written by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers - Frost's poem is beautifully imagined in this picture book adaptation.

      Picture Books
      There are many, many books about snow and rain, and far too many to mention here. Instead, I am sharing my very favorite on each subject.
      Listen to the Rain (1988), written Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by James Endicott - This is a lyrically written and gorgeously illustrated book that celebrates the beauty, the mystery, the sounds, and the silences of the rain.

      Snow (1998), written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz - Even though the adults believe that it will not snow, a boy and his dog don't give up hope. This is a Caldecott honor book that beautifully portrays the transformation of a city when it snows.

      Online Resources
      For additional resources, consider these sites.

      That's it for this essential part of the water cycle. Since we've hit upon important components of weather, that will be the topic of the next list. See you soon!