Monday, March 31, 2014

Science Books-My Feedback on Two New Options

Hey everyone! What time is it?  Science time!

I am excited to tell you about two books that might come in handy if you are teaching science to elementary school students. I was lucky enough to get a look at them thanks to Educents and Dover Publications and I have some details about each and my thoughts.

First: The BOOST  Books My First Human Body Coloring Book

This is the cover of the BOOST edition, which has 36 pages and is $4.99. You can download a teacher's guide for free which is 5 pages long.


This version  is $3.99, and there is an ebook available, for less. There is  no teacher guide or lesson plans with this version. The one I looked at  was the BOOST version one above.


As you can see, the front cover has a picture of a child eating a piece of pizza and you can see some parts of the body that are used to eat, like teeth, tongue, salivary glands, esophagus, and other body parts like lungs and more. The BOOST edition is  aligned to the common core. On the bottom of every page it tells you what standards (mostly grades 1 and 2) that page is aligned to. The body parts featured in detail are cells, bones, muscles, and organs , just to name a few. Each page features facts about the body part, details about how it works, labeled diagrams, and the students  can color the pages too. I teach second grade and think the explanations are reasonable for this age level and a lot of second graders could read the text on their own. I think first graders could understand most of it, but would more likely need help reading the text. For example, on the page about lungs, it describes breathing power and states: "You need muscle power to breathe in and out. Each time you breathe in, you pull air into your nose and mouth, down your windpipe, and into your lungs". Also on the same page: "Your diaphragm is a dome shaped breathing muscle".

Included in this book are pages about many parts of the body and body functions such as the process of digestion, the brain and nerves, breathing, the heart and the 5 senses. I like that this book offers a detailed explanation of the 5 senses and tells how they work instead of many science books which seem to just state what the 5 senses are. My second graders already know what the 5 senses are- they would be able to learn something new about them from this book.

Honestly, the teacher's guide was a little disappointing. It was 5 pages long, but 1 page was the cover, and 2 pages were the alignment to common core standards, which is important, but that left only 2 pages of an actual teacher's guide. The 2 pages of activity suggestions include activities related to: main idea, making suggestions, and writing (I do like that they broke down writing into 3 types: informative, narrative, and opinion). There were a few neat writing ideas including a fun idea to write about what a story about what a day without bones would be like. Vocabulary activities were also mentioned but there was not much there. For example, there was  1 suggestion on teaching word structure using the word soupy. This could be an area to improve in the future.



Here is what a couple of the pages look like when printed out. The BOOST Books: My First Human Body Book could be really great and a classroom teacher or homeschooler could benefit from it, even without looking at the teacher's guide. I have a friend who has a 6 year old daughter who would love this book. Even though my school does not teach the human body in second grade, if you do, it might be worth a look.

There are other books in the BOOST series too, such as this one.

 
 




Tabletop Scientist: The Science of Water

The other book I got a look at was Tabletop Scientist: The Science of Water. It has 25 pages and is $6.99 and is aimed for slightly older students - maybe grades 3-6.  Here is the cover:



If you're getting a science text to use with your class you have to know what it includes. In the table of contents, I can see it covers a lot of ground: 
Water Cycle
Solid Water
Heavy and Thick
Disappearing into Water
Water Supply
Curved Water
Creeping Water
Float and Sink
Under Pressure
Water Force
Water Pressure
Water Propulsion
History of Water
Glossary
Index


This style of this text is reminiscent of the style of encyclopedia like books for children such as the DK series.
Each page has an explanation of a water-related phenomena  and an experiment. Many of the experiments use mostly easy to find materials such as soda bottles, clay, and  straws. A few experiments require items that a classroom teacher may or may not have like a beaker, but you could replace with something else. A few include supplies I would not know where to get, like muslin, but I bet if I asked a few other teachers at my school someone could tell me a store, place, or person who would have some.Some activities would be easier to do at home than school. For example, not every classroom teacher has access to a freezer at school.

Overall, you can could do most of these in a classroom with a little advanced planning, rounding up supplies, and prep work.

The text includes activities and experiments such a color a flower. If you want an idea of what the experiment is like, Mom to 2 Posh Lil'  Divas has a similar experiment on her blog in her 10 Flower Experiment post here


Another fun experiment involves making a clay boat.



Here is a peek at what one of the activity pages looks like printed out. You can print it in color also but I am running low on color ink.


My take on this is that is would be pretty handy to have this text if you are teaching water (and related topics like the properties of matter). It has a lot of great activities. You'd need to read through and see what is relevant to what your goals are and just prep materials. My students love any activities that get them experimenting so they would have a blast.

If you like this type of text, Tabletop Scientist also has others in the series such as:



These books are from Dover Publications. They were founded in 1941 and they aim to offer "remarkable products at amazing prices". Dover Publications has everyday free shipping on orders of $50+. The 2  books I got were downloadable so no need to worry about shipping there. There are some sections on the website that would be useful to teachers and parents such as the Coloring and Crafts section,Free Samples, and a Teacher Resource Page. Click here for the Teacher Resource Page. Dover Publications also has a 30 day full refund or exchange policy. Good to know! This may not apply to downloadable items; however, so check their policies on those before you buy.

Here are a couple of other science books and resources you may want to look into:




 So what are your favorite texts or resources to teach science? Beyond what your school gives you, that is? Anything you can share? Please comment below.


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Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday - Will Winter EVER END?!



It's time, and please someone tell me it will be spring weather SOON! Here is my 5 for Friday!


New England Aquarium - went on a field trip to the New England Aquarium for the first time! The kids had tons of fun (I was a little stressed-I'm not going to lie!). Their favorites were probably the shark and sting ray touch tank, the penguins, and the seals. 


Yep, you can actually put your hand in and touch the sting rays and sharks! The sharks were hiding on us but we saw many sting rays!




Doesn't (except for the lights) it look like you are somewhere tropical?



You have to put your hand flat and keep it still in the water. Then they will come by and their back will graze your hand. You also have to be kind of quiet. The students were super!


A tidepool habitat. Not much going on in here to be honest, but they still wanted to look for quite a while.

  

Seals ! Look at my guys, taking notes on their seal behavior checklist!


These two were super playful, wrestling over this toy.

   
That guy was alive but did not move the whole time. I said he was the St. Bernard of the seal group- always lying around with no energy!

  

Penguin! I wish I got better pics but my camera looks lame when you zoom in.



Science: The Human Eye 
A mom came in and we combined classes with another second grade and learned all about how the eye works. It was pretty fascinating!
They were pretty into it.

They were covering one eye and their partner was dropping a ball in a bucket so they could see how it looked different when they switched eyes and then used both eyes to see it.


They also tried these crazy goggles that distorted vision and then had to try and toss the ball into the bucket. They had practiced before without the goggles. The first time she did it with the goggles, she accidentally threw it right on the kids face next to the guy holding the bucket. No one was hurt and we had a chuckle!

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I can't resist this pic of my brother's cat at the vet. He is usually very difficult when he was there but apparently he was very well behaved this time around!




And of course my big boy. A couple weeks ago here - it looks like he purposely snuggled the sheet all up to get comfy.


And last week- does he look like he gained a few pounds? He is on a new prescription diet ($99.80 for a 25lb bag) but it is agreeing really well with his system, he enjoys eating and isn't sick!



The Walking Dead - Season 4 finale is Sunday ! I will be having some SERIOUS Walking Dead withdrawal. I may have to subscribe to the magazine or something to tide me over until at least season 4 comes out on DVD (probably this summer). Do you watch? Any predictions?

 


Bonus: 

 Thinking of a student right now and her family who are going through some tough times. They are wonderful people and so strong and I so admire their attitude and perseverance. As a teacher you just never want any child to have to deal with anything like what they are so my thoughts and prayers go out to them.