Thursday, January 12, 2012

Science Book Take-and-Replace Swap

I'm gathering a list of people interested in a Take-and-Replace book* swap. 

Here's how it'll work:

I'm going to pack up a box with science books I no longer need or use.  Some of them are duplicates of books I have, some of them are books I've never found use for despite teaching the topic covered in the book , some of them have just found their way into my collection for unknown reasons.

Some of the objects I'm considering including in the box.  No final decisions have been made - and I won't share the final cut with anyone.  That way it'll be a surprise for the first recipient.

I'll send the box to the first person on the list.  That person can remove as many books from the box as they wish to keep.  But, each book they remove from the box must be replaced with a science book that they no longer need in their collection. 

The books can be used (I expect they would be) and worn, but they should still be usable.  When choosing your replacement items, please make sure your items are in a condition that you would be willing to receive.  Please do not include photo copies. 

The box will be repacked and sent to the next person on the list, and will continue on until it makes its way back to me at the end of the swap. 

The cost of participating will be the cost of mailing a medium-sized Priority Mail flat-rate box - $10.95 if you go to the post office, $10.50 if you purchase your postage online. 

We'll go with the Priority Mail option, because it will keep the cost the same for everyone and it will keep the box moving faster than the other options. 

If you find one or two books that are helpful to you, you should come out ahead!

Participation is open to as many people as are interested - if the list of interested people starts to get too long, I'll start additional boxes so you're not waiting several months to get your turn!

 If you're interested in participating, send me an email in the next week, and we'll get the box(es) going as soon as possible!

*Swap objects are not limited to books (though I suspect most of them will be books).  Other appropriate objects include science DVDs, small games, etc.  Remember the objects all need to fit in the box, along with the other objects that remain. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Picture Book Science: More Resources

If you enjoy the idea of incorporating children's literature with your science lessons, I'd like to draw your attention to a couple more resources: Picture-Perfect Science Lessons and More Picture Perfect Science Lessons, both written by Karen Ansberry and published by the National Science Teachers Association. 

These books provide complete lessons based on children's picture books, including ready-to-copy handouts for students. 

I would say the lessons are largely geared to elementary aged students, though things can be adjusted up or down to meet other groups' needs. 

They're really nice books, but seem to be a bit pricier than some, at least at the sources I've checked.  With a little bit of work you may be able to get them through your library, if you want to check them out before making the investment.  My local library system didn't possess either book, but they maintain an affiliation with some of the state universities, at least one of which did have the books in their collection.  It took a little more time and effort (on my librarian's part) than a regular book request, but with my librarian's help, I was able to get my hands on the books without laying out any money.  It's certainly worth striking up a conversation with your local librarian and seeing if it's a possibility for you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coral Reefs: Build a Coral Reef

Most of the books featured in the Picture Book Science series have been works of fiction. Coral Reefs differs in that it's a non-fiction picture book.

It's a beautifully illustrated book, filled with easy-to-understand facts about the formation of coral reefs and the habitats they create. 

Have your students work together to create a coral reef in your classroom. 

Each student is given a balloon to cover in newspaper strips coated in paper mache.  You can use your favorite paper mache recipe, watered down white glue or liquid starch.

I skimped on the newspaper strips, but your students will cover their balloons more thoroughly.

While the balloons are still wet, stack them together.

When the paper mache has dried, pop the balloons. 
Remember, yours will look much better because the students will have been more thorough with the newspaper, and it will be a larger structure.
The balloons represent the living organisms and hardened newspaper represents that hardened shells of the organisms.  When the organisms die (i.e. the balloon is popped), the shells remain. 

This model is great at showing how fragile coral reefs are.  And it provides a neat prop for your further study of coral reefs and the animals that inhabit them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Empty Lot: What Can you Find in a Square Meter

The Empty Lot tells the story of man who thinks he's selling an empty lot, but he comes to learn that the lot is far from empty - instead it's home to a great many living things.

Have your students head outside on a nice day.  Mark off one-square-meter squares, using string or yarn.  These will be your students "lots".  The lots can be on a variety of terrain - grassy areas, parking lots, etc. 

Before students explore their lots, have them guess how many different living things they'll find evidence of in their lot. 

Have students carefully examine their lot to see how many different living things they can find (or evidence of living things).  They can carefully move leaves and grass aside, but shouldn't pull anything out of the ground.  And, they should try to replace anything they move to the best of their ability.  Students may also wish to use magnifying glasses to make closer observations. 

Student should keep a list of the things they find - naming the ones for which they know the names and providing careful illustrations for the ones in which they don't know names.  Upon returning to the classroom, students can use their observations and reference books to identify the unknown objects. 

Were your students surprised by the number of living things they found?  How did the different terrains vary in their living components?  What impact do human habitats have on other creatures' habitats?

By the way, The Empty Lot is illustrated by Jim Arnosky, who has written (and illustrated) a plethora of picture books about nature.  He's well worth checking out if you're looking for some books to accompany any studies of animals or plants. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Little Blue and Little Yellow: Color Mixing

Leo Lionni's Little Blue and Little Yellow makes an excellent addition to your study of colors and color mixing. 

Try it with one of these two activities that provide a mess-free hands-on way to mix colors.  If using these activities in conjunction with the story, you'll want to use the appropriate colors.  Or, you could have other colors and have your students write and illustrate their own versions of the story, using the colors they chose. 

Play-Doh Version
Start with two colors of Play Doh .  Use a small amount of each color.
 Knead the two colors together....

 You'll see the colors swirl together at first, and then combine to form a new color:

Here it is next to a sample of the original colors, so you can see what happened. 

You could have a lot of fun creating a Play Doh color wheel, or varying the amount of each color you used to create a whole range of shades.

Colored-Water Version

 Using the same technique used when learning to use a pipette, students can investigate mixing colors in a very simple, non-messy way.

Provide students with a pipette, wax paper, paper towel and  3 small cups - one with blue water, one with red water and one with yellow water.  Food coloring can be used to color the water (a small amount will go a long way), but food coloring does have the potential to stain, should the water spill.  Another option is to use the True Color Tablets available from Steve Spangler Science, which do not stain.

Students use the pipette to place drops of colored water on the wax paper.  They can then drag the different colored drops together and watch the colors mix. 

Challenge your students to make the entire color wheel.  Or see how many different shades of green they can create by mixing varying amounts of blue and yellow water.  Most importantly, allow them time to explore on their own to see what they can learn.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wild About Books: Insect Haiku

If you aren't familiar with Wild About Books, you should be - it's a fun read and a favorite in our house.  But, beyond that, you can incorporate it into your study of insects.

After the animals have learned to love to read books, they begin to write their own.  And, the insects begin writing haikus (and the scorpion gives each a stinging review).  Four of these haikus are included in the story.  Share them with your students and then have them try writing their own haiku that includes some facts they've learned about insects.

Maybe they could even write their finished poem on a piece of paper cut into the shape of their chosen insect for a cute display.  

In case you've forgotten, a haiku has three non-rhyming lines.  The first contains 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, and the third 5 syllables.