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This week is filled with special celebrations. Wednesday was Earth Day, today is Arbor Day (see last Friday's post for suggestions for marking Arbor Day), and tomorrow, April 25, 2015, is Astronomy Day. What a great week to get out and celebrate nature and science!

Today, let's get ready for Astronomy Day.

What better way to explore the universe than through a good book? To get started, we have a middle grade nonfiction title: DK Eyewitness Books: Universe.

You are probably familiar with DK's Eyewitness series. The books are perfect for visual learners because they include fabulous illustrations against non-distracting white backgrounds. Also, the text is broken into well-organized chunks, allowing the reader to quickly access pertinent information without feeling overwhelmed.

This title starts with overviews of the history of our discoveries and also some of the chemistry and physics behind those discoveries. It then discusses some of the more familiar aspects of the universe, such as the moon, planets and solar system before moving into nebulae, star cycles, black holes, etc. In the back matter is a fact-filled discovery timeline of many important events in the field of astronomy.

We are rapidly learning more about our universe and a fresh new title from DK is a great way to keep current.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: DK Children (March 10, 2015)
ISBN-10: 146543187X
ISBN-13: 978-1465431875

Reminder: 

The children's picture book, A Place in Space, will be available for free to download at Amazon tomorrow. See our previous post for information and a link.

Looking for more children's books about astronomy? Try our lists organized by age level and genre at Science Books for Kids:

planet-books-buttonList of children's books about the planets, solar system and lunar landing

space-poetry-for-kidsChildren's Poetry Books about Space

 

stars-books-buttonAnd our list of books that explore beyond the solar system (under construction)

Do you have a favorite children's book about astronomy? Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Happy Arbor Day!

 

Disclosures: The book above was from my local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

 

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For our regular STEM Friday feature we recommend two books about trees for children, just in time for Arbor Day, next Friday April 24, 2015. (Read the rest of the reviews and see a video book trailer at Wrapped in Foil blog.) Then we'll finish out Butterfly Gardening With Children Week with a discussion of trees for butterfly gardens.

The first book, Branching Out: How Trees Are Part of Our World by Joan Marie Galat and illustrated by Wendy Ding (2014), describes a particular species of tree, how it used by humans, and what animals depend on that kind of tree in a series of four-page spreads. The 11 species of trees highlighted range from red maples and downy birches to pau brasil and cork oaks.

The second book, Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (2011), consists of a series of two-page spreads telling the stories of 14 famous, tall and exceptionally-old trees from around the world, the back matter gives more information about the trees and a number of suggestions about what the reader can do to help and encourage trees.

Appropriate for butterfly gardening week:  In the section about oak trees in the back matter of this book, we find out that a single large oak tree can support up to 34 species of butterflies!

That fact reminds us that although growing pretty flowers helps the adult butterflies, to have a truly productive butterfly garden you need to supply food for caterpillars as well.

Many beautiful species of butterflies require trees as larval hosts.

Examples:

1. Hackberry trees (Celtis species) are larval food for

  • Tawny emperor butterflies
  • Hackberry emperor butterflies
  • Mourning cloak butterflies
  • Question Mark butterflies
  • Snout butterfly

mystery-butterfly-2-identicationThe snout butterfly

Hackberry_Emperor,_Megan_McCarty46Hackberry emperor butterfly (Public domain photograph by Megan McCarty)

(Seed of the Week post about Canyon Hackberry)

2. Live oaks are larval food for California sister butterfly larvae.

California-sister-butterflyCalifornia sister butterfly, Ramsey Canyon, Arizona

Some duskywings and hairstreaks also use oaks for food.

3. Black cherry (Prunus serotina) trees are larval food for:

  • Red-spotted purple
  • Eastern tiger swallowtail
  • Coral hairstreak

4. Citrus trees (orange, lemon grapefruit) attract numerous giant swallowtails. Their larvae are called orange dog caterpillars.

caterpillar-orange-dogAn orange dog caterpillar on a grapefruit leaf

In addition to larval food, trees provide shelter for butterflies (and a multitude of other animals), provide safe places for the caterpillars to pupate, and some flowering trees supply nectar for many more adult butterflies.

In his book, Bringing Nature Home, entomologist  Doug Tallamy gives a list of how many species of butterflies and moths are supported by 21 kinds of trees. The numbers are astonishing! He says oak trees (genus Quercus) provide food for some 534 different species of butterflies and moths. Given that those butterflies are important pollinators and parts of the food web, that is an enormous contribution.

Activity:

If you are going to plant a tree for Arbor Day or any other event, consider choosing a local species that will host butterflies. You will get yet another benefit from a tree. Please leave a comment if you have any questions about how to choose a suitable butterfly host tree for your area.

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Wrap-ups:

 This is the final post for Butterfly Gardening with Children Week. Hope you enjoyed it. If you missed the previous posts from the week, check our links page for topics we covered.

butterfly-gardening-with-children

Interested in reading more great books about trees for Arbor Day? Try our giant, redwood-sized list of children's books about trees at Science Books for Kids.

tree-books-button

 

Disclosures: The books above were from my local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

 

For STEM Friday we have a new e-book, A Place In Space, by Astronomer Sarah Willis.

In a clever linkage of ideas, a young girl and her cat take an imaginary trip into space (via telescope) to explore the Cat's Paw Nebula and the Cat's Eye Nebula.

As explained in "The Science Behind the Story" section in the back, these two real space objects with similar names actually represent two opposing stages in the life cycle of stars. In the Cat's Paw Nebula, young stars are being formed in the swirling clouds. In the Cat's Eye Nebula, a large star has exploded at the end of its life cycle. The explosion pushed out rings of gas and dust, which will eventually be the stuff of new stars and thus completing the cycle.

The rhyming text is probably most appropriate for early elementary-aged children. The illustrations are imaginative, but frankly not the professional quality you see in most picture books these days. Will children mind? I'm not sure.

The good news is that you can decide for yourself, because Sarah Willis is making A Place in Space available for free to download on Amazon today, March 27, 2015. She is also scheduling another free weekend for Astronomy Day on April 25, 2015.

Be sure to let us know what you think.

Related Activities:

1. Explore images of space objects at NASA and Amazing Space

Cats-eye-nebula-NASA(Cat's Eye Nebula image from NASA)

 2. Shaving Cream Nebulae (plural form)

Model a nebula (singular form) by spraying a generous amount of shaving cream on a shower wall or bathroom mirror. Allow the child to swirl the nebula and form clumps (protostars and stars). Then the stars can "explode" to form a nebula again.

Note: Playing with shaving cream is a good pre-writing activity as well as introducing science vocabulary.

 

Disclosures: A .pdf copy of the book was provided by the author for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

 

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.