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Let’s explore another of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

Although it may seem like a weird to be thinking of seeds and seedlings, in Arizona we plant our fall gardens this month. For that reason, A Seed is the Start by Melissa Stewart is timely.

Although the word "start" in the title and the pictures of sunflowers germinating on the cover suggests this books is about plant life cycles, with exception of a corn kernel germinating on pages 4-5 and an apple seed growing on pages 30-31, this book is about much more. In fact it is mainly about seed dispersal. Whether it is by wind, water, or animal taxi, author Melissa Stewart reveals the many, many ways seeds get around.

The color photographs are high-quality, as you would expect from National Geographic. From flying dandelion seeds to floating cottonwood seeds, the photographs will attract the reader's attention.

A Seed is the Start is a lovely introduction to seeds and seed dispersal. Use it to sprout an interest in plants in a young reader today.

Activity Suggestions To Celebrate the Book:

1. Germinate a pumpkin seed.

Do you have some pumpkin seeds left over from Halloween or from Thanksgiving pies?

They can make an educational germination project.

Gather:
1. Pumpkin seeds (unsalted, raw)
2. Small containers - *see note
3. Potting soil

*Note:  Seeds may be started in almost any recycled container. Old milk cartons, newspaper pots, even empty egg shells can serve as containers. Put an opening in the bottom of the container for drainage and set it in a tray, and/or add some gravel or pebbles to cover the bottom.

Fill the containers with soil. Press one or two seed into the soil so covered slightly. Water until moist and keep watered regularly. Set in a sunny window.

If you prepare several sets, allow the children to carefully remove one or two of the seedlings from the soil over time. Discuss what they see, measure the stems and roots, and make drawings or take photographs to record the progress as the seed germinates and then the plant grows from day to day.

2. See our previous post for a fun quiz and seed dispersal activities.

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (February 13, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426329776
ISBN-13: 978-1426329777

Check out our growing list of children's books about seeds 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.

2

Good things come in threes. For STEM Friday and the Year of the Dog, we have the third National Geographic Kids book about dogs published this year,  Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities To Do With Your Canine Companion by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and with photographs by Matthew Rakola. (See our previous review of the first two.)

Building on common activities that dog owners already do with their pets like bathing them, playing with them and feeding them, Jodi Wheeler-Toppen has come up with over 20 science explorations to discover more about dog biology and behavior. For example, you can learn more about what colors dogs see by hiding different colored balls in a grassy lawn and watching how easy it is for the dog to find them. Another activity involves making dog treats for your dog.

Safety is first with all these activities. The author remind kids to watch for signs the dog is upset or uncomfortable, and to quit the activity if the dog is unhappy. Also, make sure the dog has access to water and plan lots of breaks even if the dog is enjoying himself.

In addition to the activities, the book is full of cool scientific information. Did you know that dogs have a special vomeronasal organ (also called Jacobson's organ) in their noses that allows them to smell special pheromones?

As to be expected from National Geographic, the photographs are fantastic. The photographer followed kids and their super-photogenic dogs as they tried out the activities. The results are inspiring.

The bottom line is that Dog Science Unleashed is a great choice for dog lovers, as well as budding zoologists and veterinarians.

Delving Deeper:

More about the Vomeronasal Organ

Recently scientists and veterinarians have been able to synthesize some of the pheromones (scents used by animals to communicate with one another) detected by this special organ in a dog's nose. For example, pheromones may be added to puppy potty training pads to help attract the puppy to them. Other pheromones, called "dog appeasing pheromones," may help calm dogs down. You can now find products at pet supply stores in the form of sprays, wipes, and even special collars. Think of ways you can learn more about dog pheromones.

Want to read more about dogs? Try our growing list of children's books about dogs and dog science at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (August 7, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1426331533
ISBN-13: 978-1426331534

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher's representatives for review purposes. 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.

2

Bug of the Week is a bit late for a good reason. I had a post all queued up and then a monarch butterfly flew by.

Not just any monarch butterfly. Do you notice anything unusual about it?

What about now?

This monarch is extremely skittish. It won't let me close. See it yet?

This is the best I could do before it flew away. On it's hind wing is a circular paper tag. This is a tagged monarch!

Why is it tagged? People have been tagging monarchs to learn more about the their migration. You can learn more about the tagging program at Monarch Watch.

Wish I could have read the number and found out where it was from.

~~~~~

Want to discover more about monarchs and their migrations? Check out the new middle grade book The Monarchs Are Missing: A Butterfly Mystery by Rebecca E. Hirsch. It was nominated for a 2018 Cybils Award.

Illustrated with large color photographs and clever illustrations, this book delves into all the reasons that monarch butterfly populations have been on the decline. Hirsch goes beyond the loss of habitat in the monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico, and examines other factors such as:

  • Increase in herbicide use killing their milkweed food plants.
  • Decrease in fall wildflowers that supply food for their long migration flights.
  • Planting tropical milkweeds, which encourages the monarchs to overwinter in Southern states, and thus increases the spread of a disease.
  • Changes in weather conditions in Texas in the spring.

To counteract the bad news, Hirsch also suggests some small changes that could make a big difference, like planting native milkweeds and avoiding pesticide use. She also encourages kids to participate in any one of a number of different citizen scientist projects for monarchs.

The Monarchs are Missing is part scientific mystery and part tribute to an amazing insect. It is a great choice for kids interested in nature and particularly in butterflies.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Millbrook Pr (January 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1512452505
ISBN-13: 978-1512452501

It will soon be part of our growing list of children's books about butterflies and moths 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.