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Today our post was inspired by the picture book A World of Bugs (Comparing Bugs: Acorn Read-Aloud) by Charlotte Guillain.

Way back when I started this blog, I purposely chose the title "Bug of the Week" for the long-running Wednesday feature because I knew I would want to include spiders, pill bugs, and other creepy crawlies, as well as insects.  A World of Bugs shows children the range of arthropods and other invertebrates that are often called "bugs." It tells what their features are, how they grow, where they live, and how they move. It is filled with huge, full color photographs that are very attractive. On the last page, the book also has some suggestions for activities to do before and after reading the book.

Identification of insects and their relatives requires careful observation of their anatomy.

Insects are part of the phylum of animals called Arthropoda.  All arthropods have:

  • supporting skeleton on the outside, called an exoskeleton
  • bi-lateral symmetry, which means if you draw a line down the center the two sides will be symmetrical
  • jointed appendages
  • segmented bodies
  • specialized appendages, like antennae

The major arthropod classes can be separated by comparing their number of body regions, legs, and antennae.

Activity 1. Compare various creatures to discover features using live arthropods to observe, pictures and rubber or plastic models to explore. Give the children free explore time at first, and then start to encourage them to observe the following features:

Arachnids are the spiders, ticks, mites, scorpions and their relatives

  • Have 8 legs
  • Have 2 body regions, the cephalothorax (literally head-thorax), and abdomen

Spiders have 6 or 8 eyes at the front of the cephalothorax. Spiders' mouthparts are called chelicerae and typically end in a fang. Around the mouth are the pedipalps.

For detailed information about spider anatomy, see Invertebrate Anatomy Online, the Garden Spider.


The Isopods, which are called pillbugs, roly-polies, or wood lice, and other common names, have:

  • 12 legs
  • 2 antennae (one pair small)

Pill bug activities for kids

Centipedes and millipedes

  • Many legs per segment
  • Many segments
  • One pair of antennae

Millipedes have 2 pairs of legs per segment.

Centipedes have one pair of legs per segment. (Photograph from Wikimedia).

Insects have:

  • Three body parts:  head, thorax and abdomen
  • Six legs
  • One pair antennae
  • Many adults have wings, but not all

Next time we will discuss how to recognize the major groups of insects, the orders.

A World of Bugs by Charlotte Guillain

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Heinemann-Raintree (August 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1432955063
ISBN-13: 978-1432955069

Book was provided by publisher for review purposes.


Welcome to the October 21, 2011 edition of STEM Friday.

Are you looking for Science, Technology, Engineering or Math children's books? Then you've come to the right place. We've gathered some of our favorites here today.

My submission today is the wonderful new book that is coming out next week, Coral Reefs by Jason Chin.

Have you ever been so immersed in a really good book that you felt like you entered a new world? In Coral Reefs, Jason Chin's illustrations show a young reader experiencing just that when she picks up a book about coral reefs and enters a glorious underwater world of corals, fish and sea turtles. 

If you saw Jason Chin's previous book, Redwoods, you will know what an interesting mix of highly imaginative watercolor illustrations (fictional) and straight nonfiction informational text to expect. This time the reader picks up a book at a city library and is swept into what the author calls the "cities of the sea," the coral reef community. The reader floats through every underwater scene, carrying her (magically intact) book with her.

Having the child reader in every illustration gives interesting advantages. It gives a clear sense of scale. It also draws the real reader into each scene, giving him or her more of a sense of participation. Finally, each illustration is so different from what is typical of a nonfiction book that it really takes time to study and absorb all the nuances. Clearly, capturing the child's imagination has a potential to lead to greater understanding of the topic.

Jason Chin thoroughly researched his book, including a visit to the coral reef off the coast of Belize. His personal experiences give to real "depth" (sorry) to the book. Did you know that some sea turtles graze on the sea grasses that grow in lagoons that form behind coral reefs? Or that the biggest fish in the world, whale sharks, visit the reef in Belize each spring to feed on eggs of spawning fish? Coral reefs are dramatically important sources of food for ocean dwellers.

In the backmatter, Chin has included a page about how coral reefs are threatened and some straightforward ways to help prevent further loss. He also shows a cross section of the structure of a typical coral reef and more information about the symbiotic relationship between the coral organisms and algae that live inside them.

Even the endpapers are informative, showing soft pencil sketches of various sea creatures with their names and size ranges underneath. It gives the feel of sketches in a nature journal.

This book would be a fabulous addition to a unit on marine habitats or to tuck into the bag for a read at the beach. Follow up with a visit to your local aquarium or even better, a snorkeling trip to a real coral reef.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Flash Point (October 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1596435631
ISBN-13: 978-1596435636

Secret of the Sleepless Whales…and More!
by Ana Maria Rodriguez

at Ana's Nonfiction Blog

My Friend the Box Turtle
by Joanne Randolph

At NC Teacher Stuff

Tracks in the Sand by Loreen Leedy is now out of print,

but is available as an iBook

at Loreen Leedy Books

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
By Georgia Bragg
Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley

at Simply Science

Explore Simple Machines!: 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments (Explore Your World series)
By Anita Yasuda

at Nomad Press

Garbage: Investigate What Happens When You Throw It Out with 25 Projects (Build It Yourself series) by Donna Latham

at Wrapped in Foil

Uninvited Guests: Invisible Creatures Lurking in Your Home (Tiny Creepy Creatures)
by Jennifer Swanson

at Chapter Book of the Day

If you would like to participate in STEM Friday in the future, go to the new STEM Friday blog for more information.

Book was provided by publisher for review purposes.

It's Day Four of Science Book Week and our spotlight is on Glass Squid and Other Spectacular Squid (Creatures of the Deep) by Casey Rand.

Do you know the differences between an octopus and a squid? What is a colossal squid? How do squid survive in the extreme pressures of  the deep ocean? This book contains the answers to all these questions and many more, such as where squid live, what they eat and what eats them.

In addition to brilliant color photographs of underwater creatures, the book also has illustrations to clarify key concepts. One illustration shows the zones of the ocean. Another shows the size of a sperm whale and different species of squid compared to a semi-trailer truck.

If you aren't sure how interesting squid can be, take a look at this video (particularly good for relaxing on a stressful day). Notice the fins on the sides of their bodies. The presence of a fin is one way to tell a squid from an octopus.

Glass Squid and Other Spectacular Squid is a wonderful nonfiction picture book for learning more about squid, curious creatures from deep in the water that we know very little about.

Reading level: Reading level R, gr 3-5
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Heinemann-Raintree (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1410942015
ISBN-13: 978-1410942012

Book was supplied by publisher for review purposes.