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If you gaze up at the night sky this weekend you might see some "shooting stars" from the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower.

Going out to look for meteor showers at night can excite an interest in space and astronomy.

It will likely raise questions, too. For example, have you ever considered that some of the stars you see while stargazing at night may have planets circling them? The new picture book Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet by Curtis Manley and illustrated by Jessica Lanan introduces young readers to idea that planets exist outside our solar system while at the same time exploring the things that make the Earth special.

Although "Goldilocks" in the title might give you the idea that this is a work of fiction, it is actually well-researched, detailed nonfiction. Readers learn about exoplanets, telescopes, the magnetic field, and much more.

What really makes the book work is that readers are guided on their path to discovery by a young girl who is shown in most of the illustrations (see the cover). As she moves on her journey from a park through a visit to a planetarium and back home to look at the night sky, the illustrator creates a story line that children relate to and understand. This is picture book nonfiction at it finest.

Just Right is guaranteed to thrill budding astronomers. It is also perfect for units on planets or space. Look up a copy today!

Age Range: 5 - 9 years
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (January 29, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1250155339
ISBN-13: 978-1250155337

Check out our growing list of children's books about planets and the solar system at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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

Today we have the lovely picture book, Seashells: More Than a Home by team who brought us the fabulous Feathers:  Not Just for Flying (previous review),  Melissa Stewart and Sarah S. Brannen.

 

This title really stands out because it does so much more than describe or identify shells a child might find on the beach. Instead, it breathes life into the creatures that inhabit different seashells by showing how all the various sizes, shapes, and colors help the members of the Phylum Mollusca -- or mollusks -- survive.

How good is it? My friend who is a retired school librarian and I discovered this book on the library shelf at almost the same time. Deciding to see who got to read it first nearly involved arm wrestling...

Other pluses:

Author Melissa Stewart uses the popular dual-layered text. Younger readers can find out the basics about seashells in the large-sized text at the top of the page, whereas older readers can explore more details with the denser, smaller text further down the page.

Sarah S. Brannen's watercolor illustrations incorporate both the mysterious beauty of the seashells and the delight of children when they discover one.

Seashells:  More Than a Home is a wonderful resource for studies on ocean or beach habitats. It would also make a great gift for nature lovers, especially before a trip to the beach. Discover a copy today!

Suggested activities:

  • See the free, downloadable  7-page Teacher's Guide at Charlesbridge (Click the "downloadables" tab at middle of the page).
  • What happens when you put seashells in vinegar? What does this tell you about what they are made of? (See instructions at Scholastic, for example).
  • Sue at Archimedes Notebook has some great activity suggestions, including an art project and a scavenger hunt. She also has a review of the book.

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (April 2, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1580898106
ISBN-13: 978-1580898102

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.

Painted lady butterflies are in the news this week. First of all, they are migrating in huge numbers in southern California.

Check out short video of the butterflies streaming across a field by South Coast research. Amazing!

The numbers of painted ladies are higher this year because of seasonal rains that caused a flush of their food plants. Here in Arizona we have seen smaller numbers of painted ladies migrating in both February and fall (links to previous posts).

If you'd like to see how to identify these butterflies, learn more about their migrations, and/or participate in a citizen science project, visit the Red Admiral and Painted Lady Research Site at Iowa State University

With perfect timing the fabulous new picture book that showcases the life cycle of painted ladies for the youngest readers, Butterflies in Room 6: See How They Grow by Caroline Arnold, also emerged on March 12, 2019.

Follow along with the children in Mrs. Best's kindergarten class as they hatch painted lady caterpillars from eggs, feed the caterpillars a special diet, and wait patiently for the butterflies to emerge from their chrysalids. As you can see from the book cover, nothing is as mesmerizing as a freshly-eclosed live butterfly!

Caroline Arnold is both the author and photographer for the book and she has captured some fun and incredible images of both the insects and the children. Her 2017 book with a similar format, Hatching Chicks in Room 6, was a winner of the Cybils Award for Elementary Nonfiction.

Back matter includes answers to questions about butterflies, a vocabulary list, links to butterfly information online and suggestions for further reading about butterflies.

Butterflies in Room 6 is a must have to accompany a unit on insects or project raising painted lady butterflies. Fly out and get a copy today!

Related Activities:

1. Explore butterfly and moth metamorphosis.

A painted lady butterfly undergoes a number of changes during its lifetime, from egg to larva to pupa to adult.

You can see the process in this time lapse of caterpillars raised in the classroom. The brown mixture is the artificial diet they use as food.

Why do you think the painted lady caterpillars are so spiky?

This is a painted lady caterpillar on a hollyhock leaf.

Models of Painted Lady Butterfly Life Stages

Create a poster of a butterfly or moth life cycle

Gather:

  • Poster board, construction or craft paper
  • Crayons, markers and/or colored pencils
  • Yarn (optional)
  • Age-appropriate scissors
  • Glue, tape
  • Photographs or clip art of caterpillars, butterflies and moths

Choose a particular butterfly or moth and learn about what each stage looks like in its life cycle. Gather images. Plan where each stage should go in the cycle:  egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis or cocoon, and adult butterfly or moth. Leave room for a title at the top. Either draw each of the stages, or cut out photographs and paste or tape them on. Draw arrows between the stages or connect them with yarn. Put on a title and display the poster. Tell others about what you have learned.

2. Plant a butterfly garden

Start with Butterfly Gardening with Children which has links to a week of butterfly gardening posts, including Five great nectar plants for butterflies

If you'd like to encourage painted ladies, grow plants their larvae prefer. Painted lady caterpillars will eat a variety of weeds like thistles, but also some cultivated plants or wildflowers like sunflowers, mallows, including hollyhocks, yarrow, and ironweeds (Vernonia sp.) Check with your local butterfly societies for local native plants to grow.

Butterflies Book info:
Age Range: 3 - 7 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (March 12, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1580898947
ISBN-13: 978-1580898942

Want to read more? See our growing list of children's books about butterflies and moths at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided for review by the publisher. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.