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For STEM Friday this week we have a new picture book about ants, Just Like Us! Ants by Bridget Heos and illustrated by David Clark.

Although the cartoon illustrations may make it look like this isn't a serious book, don't be fooled. It covers all the facts and concepts you would expect in a nonfiction book in a way that will attract the most reluctant of readers. To make it even more enjoyable the author compares what ants can do to what humans do, putting ants in perspective.

Just Like Us! Ants is not simply a rehash of previous children's books about ants, either. The author reveals recent scientific discoveries, such as how bigheaded ant larvae process food for the colony or how fire ants build rafts to float on water.

Check out this video from BBC that shows fire ant rafts and some of the dangers they encounter while in the water.

(By the way, the winged ant they discuss once the colony makes landfall is not actually the colony's queen. She is a sister ant that will fly off to start her own colony in the near future. Some ant biologists call the female winged ants "princesses.")

Back to the book, it you are looking for a fun and informative introduction to the world of ants, then Just Like Us! Ants is for you.

Ant-Themed Hands-On Activities:

Want to learn more about ants? Check out our growing list of ant books for kids.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 054457043X
ISBN-13: 978-0544570436

Another review at Wild About Ants

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.


The ocean has been in the news, which is why we are excited about this new middle grade book. From Josh and Bethanie Hestermann (the team that brought us Zoology for Kids),  we have Marine Science for Kids: Exploring and Protecting Our Watery World, Includes Cool Careers and 21 Activities with a foreword by Stephanie Arne.

This is one of the fantastic Chicago Review Press books that combine great information with fun hands-on activities to reinforce learning. Throw in beautiful color photographs of awesome animals and mini-biographies of marine science professionals, and you have a treasure trove for middle grade readers.

The book starts with a time line of some important historical events in the field of marine science, with references to discoveries made and boundaries pushed by the likes of Jacques Cousteau, Marie Tharp, and Sylvia Earle.

Then right off the bat, the reader learns what marine science is. Did you know marine scientists study not only saltwater creatures in oceans, but also those found in rivers and lakes?

Now the reader can hop to the chapter that covers their favorite habitat, such as the coast or deep ocean, or they can read from cover to cover. There's so much to discover.

Activities from the book include:

  1. Building a water molecule
  2. Making an edible coral reef
  3. Exploring marine camouflage
  4. Constructing a water-propelled squid
  5. Testing methods for cleaning up an oil spill, etc.

With a glossary, resource list, and selected bibliography, this book is a useful reference for planning lessons beyond the book, as well.

Marine Science for Kids is a must have for budding marine scientists, but will also entrance young readers interested in animals or the environment. It is a fabulous reference for educators, too.

Activity Inspired by Marine Science for Kids:

Hurricanes are violent forms of weather on land, but what happens underwater?

Many things happen as winds churn the ocean water and rain falls. These changes can harm the organisms living there.

Hurricanes cause major changes underwater:

  • Strong water currents and waves
  • Rapid mixing of temperatures and salinity - top water is cooler and more salty than it usually is, lower layers are warmer and less salty.
  • Reduced amounts of dissolved oxygen in the surface water
  • More suspended particles, silt
  • Movement of sand

Usually the larger fish that are strong swimmers, such as sharks, can swim away. But slower or sessile creatures take a pounding. Some are killed.


Watch the following video of a coral reef underwater during a hurricane. Make notes of the things you see. Then compare to the ReefCam today. What changes do you notice?


What Happens Underwater University of Miami Rosenstiel School

Other Marine Science Activities (from this blog):

  1. Humpback whales (with three activities)
  2. Jellyfish (with craft activity)
  3. Learn about Steller Sea Lions
  4. Sea Horses and Other Fish
  5. Shore Birds
  6. Tide Pool Invertebrates
  7. Fish (with three activities)

For a bunch of ocean-themed lesson plans, try the Ocean Portal.


Looking for more? Try our growing list of children's books about marine science at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 9 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (June 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1613735367
ISBN-13: 978-1613735367

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher 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.


With Halloween just around the corner, some of you may be pulling out the spider decorations or designing spider-themed costumes. What a perfect time to do some spider science activities with your children or students. And while you're at it, be sure to stop by the Halloween Hands On Blog Hop links at the bottom of the post for more spooky ideas.

As is often the case, today's post was inspired by the new children's book, Fatima and the Clementine Thieves by Mireille Messier and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard.

At first glance doesn't the type of children's picture book that we'd feature in a science blog post. However, it serves up surprises because spiders play an important positive role in the story. See a full review, and suggestions for accompanying math and art activities at our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil.

1. Make a Spider Climber

An opportunity to learn about spider anatomy in an activity that combines art and science to make a spider that climbs a sting.


  • Construction paper or tag board
  • Yarn or string
  • Scissors
  • Pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Drinking straw (one for every two participants)
  • Needle and thread (optional- for adult use)
  • Tape
  • Spider photographs and/or spider anatomy diagrams


Show the children photographs or illustrations of spiders like the one above. Tell them to look closely. Ask how many body parts does a spider have. How many legs? Where are the legs attached, to the front section or back?

Note:  spiders have eight legs and two body parts. The front section is the cephalothorax (some texts now call it the prosoma). The rear section or abdomen may also be called the opistosoma. The eight legs are attached to the cephalothorax.

Spiders also have two mouthparts, pedipalps, that kids sometimes mistake for legs. See a more detailed diagram in our post about tarantulas and our post about identifying spiders.)

Fold the construction paper lengthwise (hot dog style). Draw half of two body parts and then four legs attached to the appropriate segment.

Cut out the spider and unfold. Decorate as desired. Add eyes and spider markings.

Cut the drinking straw in half. Tape to the spider along the fold line. Cut a piece of sting roughly 15 feet or 5 meters long. Pass the string through the straw towards the front of the spider, loop it and then send it back through the straw. (See photograph below.) Suggestion for adult help:  Fold the string in half. Thread a needle and tie the end of the thread to the loop where the yarn folds. Pass the needle through the straw from the back of the spider to the front. Pull the yarn loop through the straw with the needle and thread. Cut the thread.

(Note: You don't need the second piece of drinking straw shown in the photograph.)

Final step:  Fasten the loop to a tree branch, door frame or hook on the wall. Pull the spider to the bottom of the string, taking care not to pull it off the end. Then carefully pull the two strands apart (it might be easier for two children to work together to do this.) The spider should "climb up" the yarn or string. Pull the spider back down and repeat.

2. Craft a Spider Web


  • Tag board, cardstock, manila folders or light cardboard
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn or string
  • Small spider illustration or clip art (optional)

Cut a square frame out of the tag board, creating a size appropriate for the age of the children you are working with. Make holes in the frame with a hole punch. Now have the child weave a web by placing yarn through the holes.

For young children, this may be a simple lacing exercise. When they are done, leave a tail of yarn and tie or glue on a spider picture.

Have older children draw or photograph a spider web. Watch this cool animation of how a spider makes a classic orb web for inspiration (requires Quicktime). Explain how the spider starts by laying down the anchor and bridge lines, then the radii, and finally the spirals  with help from this labelled orb web graphic.

Other spider web science:

  • At JDaniel4's Mom Blog, they use dental floss and a clothes hanger to make a spider web for a demonstration of tensile strength.
  • Buggy and Buddy have a spider web vibration activity where they string lines between the backs of chairs.

3. Read Spider-Themed Books

Read Fatima and the Clementine Thieves, or one of the many nonfiction and fiction children's books featuring spiders from our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

Disclaimer:  Just so you know, the picture book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of the title links, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you, the proceeds of which will help pay for maintaining this website.

Looking for more ideas for Halloween-themed science activities? Check out the Hands On Halloween Blog Hop at the following links:

Fluffy Zombie Slime - Little Bins for Little Hands

Discovering a Pumpkin: STEM Investigation - Share it! Science

Halloween Ghost Balloons - Mama Smiles

Halloween Science: Static Electricity Ghosts - The Homeschool Scientist

Bubbling Pumpkin Experiments - Preschool Powol Packets

Halloween Robot Spider Craft - Inspiration Laboratories

Halloween Rock Painting for Kids using Physics - From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom

Science Experiments with Pumpkin Peeps – JDaniel4’s Mom

Candy Corn Slime- Teach Beside Me

Happy Halloween Stained Glass Window - From Witty Hoots