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Here at Growing With Science we love both creepy crawlies and science poems, so imagine our excitement when we discovered the new middle grade book, Leaf Litter Critters by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Robert Meganck.

Each two-page spread in the book features a vocabulary-rich science poem about the leaf litter ecosystem, as well as a "Science Note," which is a paragraph or two of background information to support the poem.

For example, here's one of the poems (most are much longer):

Rove Beetle

Velcro-tongued predator
snags maggots, mites, snails, and slugs
soil pest control
requires a flexible
appetite and abdomen

The accompanying "Science Note" explains how rove beetles fit into the "brown food web," and also how their abdomens differ from those of most beetles.

The digital illustrations add a fun element. They range from somewhat realistic to full-blown cartoon.

Leaf Litter Critters is a serious text that might just entice some readers who prefer fiction to explore a less-than-glamorous ecosystem. It's also perfect for those who enjoy their poetry on the sci-ency side.

Don't forget our giveaway for the picture book What Do They Do With All That Poo? ends tomorrow! The giveaway is now closed.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 156145950X
ISBN-13: 978-1561459506

Related Activity Suggestions:

See our previous compost science projects for kids post.

Want more information? Visit our growing list of children's books about composting and decomposition 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.

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For STEM Friday let's take a look at a beautiful new picture book, On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall.

In this book, youngsters learn about seagulls and other inhabitants of a Massachusetts beach.

The story follows a young boy as he explores the seashore. Along the way, he spots a sea star. Before he can reach it, however, a seagull picks it up and flies away. Find out what he discovers as he chases the gull along the beach.

Jane Yolen's simple, but expertly-crafted rhyming text and Bob Marstall's exceptional illustrations make a delightful combination. Plus, you can't go wrong with the people of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology backing it.

The back matter includes more detailed information about gulls, other shorebirds, sea stars, and different types of crabs. Included are small color photographs of the different animals, plus QR Codes that will take you to sound files. There is also a sidebar about "How You Can Help Our Beaches and Wildlife."

Young birdwatchers will love On Gull Beach. It would also be a great choice for a trip to the beach, either in real life or in the reader's imagination. Enjoy a copy today!

Age Range: 4 - 11 years
Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group (March 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1943645183
ISBN-13: 978-1943645183

Related Seagull Science Activities

1. Identifying Birds

Encourage children to learn how to identify birds. When children can tell different birds apart, they pay more attention to the birds they see.

Identifying birds requires learning to recognize body shapes, learning the names of body parts, plus honing observation skills. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some tips and resources to get started.

 

The type of seagulls featured in the book are herring gulls. As you can see from the illustrations, herring gulls have robust white bodies, light gray on their wings, pink legs and feet, yellow eyes, and they have a red spot towards the tip of their yellow lower beak.  The All About Birds website has more details and photographs of herring gulls.

 

Is this a herring gull? Check the characteristics listed above. Does it match?

Nope. There are more than 20 species of gulls in North America.  This is an immature Heermann's gull (Larus heermanni).

2. Questions and Answers: Seagulls

Q: How are the feet of seagulls different from those of the song birds in your community?

A: The seagulls have webbed feet for swimming.

Q: What sounds do seagulls make?

Seagulls make a number of different sounds depending on circumstances. They have alarm calls, courtship calls, sounds to defend territories, and sounds when they feed their chicks. All About Birds has some seagull sound recordings.

Q: Why do seagulls have dots on their beaks?

A: Seagull chicks peck the dot on the beak as a signal they want to be fed.

Q:  Are seagulls only found at the beach?

A:  No. Seagulls are also found inland, around rivers and lakes, and even in agricultural fields. They are common around landfills.

Q:  Do seagulls really eat sea stars like in the book?

A:  Seagulls eat many different creatures at the beach, including sea stars, crabs, and fish. Those found at the landfill are feeding on trash.

Here are some clever gulls eating snails.

No matter how you crack it, seagulls are interesting animals.

__________________________________

Earlier titles in the On Bird Hill and Beyond series:
On Bird Hill (2016) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall

On Duck Pond (2017) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall

See our growing list of children's books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

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.

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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.

Activity:

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?

References:

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.