science poems

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It's STEM Friday and we're hosting this week. It's time to soar with STEM poetry books about astronomy.

Note:  Title links take you to more information at Amazon.

Blast-off-poems

When my son was small, we discovered Blast Off: Poems About Space (I Can Read), compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (1995). The book features the poem "Children of the Sun" by Brod Bagert, which starts:

"Mercury's small
Almost nothing at all.
Venus is bright and near…"

It was a wonderful way to memorize both a poem and the names of the planets. Of course it is slightly out of date because Pluto is no longer a planet, but many of the others in the collection are still ring true and clear.

As of today, the poems from Blast Off are available for reading on the Internet.

out-of-this-world

Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space by Amy Sklansky and illustrated by Stacey Schuett (2012) really lives up to its name. The poems are fun, creative and absolutely perfect for kids. For example, in the poem "Zero Gravity" some of the lines are flipped over. How creative!

Each poem is accompanied by a black sidebar labeled "Fact" that explains scientific concepts or fills in the history of events that are mentioned.

comets-stars-moon-mars

You could teach a robust unit on STEM poetry with just Douglas Florian's fabulous books. Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings (2007) is probably the one most geared to older children.

Personally, I love Florian's playful style and fun-filled illustrations. In this book there are cut out circles in some of the pages that move images from one page to another, some playing with changes in scale while doing so. For example, the planet Mercury is a cut out that reveals the much larger Venus on the page behind it.

 

and-then-there-were

And Then There Were Eight: Poems about Space (Poetry) (A+ Books: Poetry) by Laura Purdie Salas (2008) is fresh and lively. Salas is devoted to her craft, and presents poems in different forms, and then explains each in the backmatter. This book would work well for a unit on poetry as it does for a unit on space.

 

roaring-rockets

Although not a collection of poems, the rhyming couplets in Roaring Rockets (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker (2000) are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

Are you ready to try science poetry now? Do you have any favorite poetry books about space that aren't on the list? We'd love to hear about them!

Related activity: Exploring Space Without a Spacesuit.

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

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We are celebrating science poetry books this week. For our usual Wednesday feature Bug of the Week let's take a look at poetry books that explore insects and spiders. Poems about insects? It turns out that there are quite a few by some extraordinary children's poets.

Why science poetry? What a fantastic opportunity to introduce the poetry fans to science and the science fans to poetry. It's win-win!

(Note:  title links go to Amazon for more information. See disclosure below.)

face-bug

Let's start out with Face Bug by our current Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Kelly Murphy and with photographs by Fred Siskind. Published just last month by Wordsong (March 1, 2013), this amazing book features close-up photographs of the "faces" of bugs in the "Face Bug Museum." As a counterpoint to the poems by Lewis, Murphy's illustrations create the story of two beetle friends visiting the museum. Obviously, there is a lot to explore here, so you'll want to come back to the museum again and again.

bug-off

Bug Off!: Creepy, Crawly Poems by Jane Yolen with photographs by her son Jason Stemple is also published by Wordsong (2012). In a series of two-page spreads we find a close-up photograph, a poem about the featured insect or arachnid, and an informative paragraph to add fun facts and details.

Yolen reveals in her "A Note from the Author" right up front that in the past she wasn't all that fond of insects. After spending time with her son's photographs, however, she changed her mind. The "beauty" and "mystery" of insects inspired her to write poems about them.

Jane Yolen is an imaginative storyteller and poet. Paired with her son's detailed macro photography, the result is sure to please any bug-loving youngster or help a bug-hating youngster conquer his or her fear and dislike.

insectlopedia

Douglas Florian's insectlopedia has long been a favorite of our family (reprinted in 2002). Douglas Florian was formerly a cartoonist, and his fun, silly side comes through in his poetry books.

The illustrations that accompany the poems are quirky. Florian painted them with watercolors on brown paper bags. It gives them an informal look that is appealing and kid-friendly. His concrete and shape poems are basically self-illustrated.

Although the age range is listed as  5 - 8 years, as with many poetry books, this one is sophisticated enough to work for a variety of ages.

unBeeleivable

UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings, a newer book by Douglas Florian (2012), goes into more scientific detail than some of his other books of poetry. The reader comes away with an appreciation of bees and how they live.

This video shows Douglas Florian reading one of his poems from the book.

 

joyful-noise

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows is a classic that everyone should experience. The depth, the accuracy and the amazing rhythm of the poems for two voices, it is simply made to be shared. Some of my favorite poems of all time are in this little book.

 

seeds-bees

If you discover you enjoy poems for two voices, Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices by Carole Gerber and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin just came out in February (2013). Although it is centered more on plants, it features a number of insects and other creatures as well. Listen to what they have to say.

 

song-of-the-water-boatman

Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (Caldecott Honor Book, BCCB Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award) by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange encompasses the change of seasons at a pond. Not just about insects, it is about the pond as a habitat.

 

hey-there-stink-bug

Hey There, Stink Bug! by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Leslie Evans is for the older reader (probably 8+) who doesn't mind a bit of gore and mayhem. This is a poetry book with bite!

It also contains up-to-date factual information about insects and notes about the poetic forms. The illustrations are very clean, crisp and bright. I was impressed that the author had obviously spent time reading the work of the late great entomologist, Thomas Eisner.

Hope you decide to try some of this fabulous poetry books about insects. Do you have a favorite? Any suggestions for books to add to the list? We'd love to hear from you.

 

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Did you know that this month is National Poetry Month? Isn't there something about the bursting promise of springtime that brings out the urge to read and write poetry? April is a great time to pull out the books, paper and pen and follow your muse. I'm also hosting STEM Friday on Friday, so I thought I would put the two together and celebrate all the ways to mix science, STEM and poetry this week.poppy-purple

Activity 1. Write a STEM Haiku

Anastasia has suggestions for writing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-based haiku at the STEM Friday blog. Be sure to visit to see what others are sharing and perhaps share yours as well.

Haiku is a type of poem that helps the writer because it usually has a defined number of syllables per line and only three lines. The pattern is first line containing five syllables, second line with seven syllables and third line with five syllables.

Here's an example I wrote about the giant squid last year:

Search for sea monster
Giant squid swimming so deep
Tentacle comes up

2. Read some science-related poetry books.

I recently talked to a children's librarian who was lamenting that there were some fabulous poetry books for children, but they often were left on the shelf, undiscovered. This may be because the poetry books, regardless of their subject matter, all get lumped in the literature section around the Dewey Decimal classification 811. If you are looking for a particular subject, like science, it is easy to miss the poetry options.

Let's dig up some of the hidden science poetry treasures. Throughout the week I will be making suggestions and posting lists of science-related poetry books.

For example, Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Virginia Halstead is a collection of poems that explore science through many different voices; some witty, some calm, and some contemplative. Concepts covered include magnets, the states of water and how a prism works.

spectacular-science

Although poems are typically short and easy to read, they tend to work for a wider range of ages and reading levels than most fiction picture books. This can be a real advantage when working with mixed age/grade groups.

Do you have a favorite science-related poetry book? I'd love to hear about it.

Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Virginia Halstead

Age Range: 5 and up
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 0689851200
ISBN-13: 978-0689851209