Tag Archives: Melissa Stewart

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Just in time for Great Backyard Bird Count  February 17-20, 2017, we have a terrific bird-themed giveaway opportunity offered by Downtown Bookworks. Let's see all the great stuff they have to offer, and then discuss what you have to do to enter below.

Number 1 on the list is Bird-acious (Science with Stuff) by award-winning children's science writer Melissa Stewart.

This book is a fun and educational introduction to birds for young readers. It contains big color photographs and interesting facts. It covers everything from feathers and flying to beaks and eating. There’s even a two-page spread that features photographs of cool bird tongues and describes what the various structures are used for.

But Bird-acious offers even more. In the cover image above, do you see the brown mass in the yellow oval to the right, just under the title? That is an actual owl pellet for kids to dissect, as well as detailed instructions how to do it in the back of the book. A bird book with its own hands-on activity included, what more could you ask for?

See more about Bird-acious in last week's STEM Friday review.

Age Range: 6 and up
Publisher: Downtown Bookworks; Nov edition (December 10, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1935703900
ISBN-13: 978-1935703907

Number 2 is A Walk in the Woods: Into the Field Guide by Emily Laber-Warren.

This Into the Field Guide is perfect to carry along on a hike in the woods. Color photographs and clear, simple descriptions will help youngsters learn to identify common animals, plants, and even some rocks. Also includes basic scientific concepts and facts, such as how stick insects hide from predators using camouflage.

Although not solely about birds, both these guides have a section on common birds found in the habitat they feature. A Walk in the Woods has descriptions of American robins, Northern mockingbirds, chickadees, goldfinches, etc., all the birds you might see for The Great Backyard Bird Count.

Age Range: 5 and up
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Downtown Bookworks (June 18, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1935703269
ISBN-13: 978-1935703266

Number 3 is A Walk on the Beach: Into the Field Guide by Laurie Goldman.

A Walk on the Beach helps young readers learn about common animals, plants, rocks, shells, and even debris found on the beach.

The bird section includes information about water birds ranging from great blue herons and seagulls, to eagles and ducks. If you live near a body of water, this book will also help your children identify birds for the GBBC.

Age Range: 5 and up
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Downtown Bookworks; Original edition (June 18, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1935703277
ISBN-13: 978-1935703273

Number 4 is Look and Learn Birds (PBS Kids) by Sarah Parvis and PBS KIDS (Editor)

Perfect to accompany a citizen science project like The Great Backyard Bird Watch, this kit comes with a 64-page Look and Learn Birds book, simple-to-use binoculars, a laminated identification sheet with pictures of common birds, and an activity poster. What a fabulous way to encourage the next generation of bird watchers!

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Downtown Bookworks; Box Pck Pa edition (August 30, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1941367291
ISBN-13: 978-1941367292

Giveaway

Would you like a chance to receive the prize pack of all four of these items? Simply login the Rafflecopter below -- making sure you leave a valid e-mail address -- by 12:00 a.m. EST February 7, 2017. Rafflecopter will randomly pick the winner and I will notify Downtown Bookworks (they have kindly agreed to ship the prize.) Their only request is that the giveaway is only open to US residents.

The Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please let me know in the comments or contact me at the e-mail address listed on the about page if you have any problems with Rafflecopter.

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Related Activities:

Check out the bird-related activities in this free downloadable .pdf:

Activities from PBS KIDS Look and Learn Birds

 

And don't forget the Great Backyard Bird Count.

 

Disclosure: These books and kit were provided by the publisher/author 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.

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Coming up on next week, we are going to announce a giveaway opportunity for some great bird books as well as a PBS Kids Look and Learn Birds kit.  For STEM Friday, let's preview one of the books in the giveaway, Bird-acious (Science with Stuff) by Melissa Stewart.

First of all, the book itself is a fun and educational introduction to birds for young readers. It contains big color photographs and interesting facts. It covers everything from feathers and flying to beaks and eating. There's even a two-page spread that features photographs of cool bird tongues and describes what the various structures are used for.

But this book offers even more. In the cover image above, do you see the brown mass in the yellow oval to the right, just under the title? That is an actual owl pellet for kids to dissect. A bird book with its own hands-on activity included, how cool is that?

Some of you may be asking, "What is an owl pellet?" It turns out that owls can not digest the fur and bones of the animals they eat, and instead of passing through their bodies, the remains are regurgitated back up in the form of an owl pellet, or as it's labelled here, "owl puke."

Where do they come from? Collectors go to old barns and other areas where owls live and pick up the pellets. To get rid of any bacteria, the pellets are baked at high temperatures for four hours.

What are they used for? Students can dissect the pellets looking for small bones. This allows them both to discover what the owls have been eating and also to find out more about skeletons as they identify the bones they find.

For example, in this sample the owl pellet contained three mandibles (jaws) of mice. The orange curved parts towards the bottom are the large front incisors rodents are known for. The mandibles on the left and center also still have a row of smaller grinding teeth. Sometimes those fall out of the bone like the one on the right, but can still be found elsewhere in the sample.

Not sure how to do this? Don't worry, the book has four pages of instructions in the back, including a labelled photograph of rodent skeletal parts found in owl pellets. All you'll need to supply are tweezers, toothpicks, or some similar tool to pull apart the pellet; papers or trays to lay the bones on; and a place for the children to wash their hands with warm, soapy water afterwards.

Bird-acious is a unique way to teach children about birds and what they eat. After they've completed the project, young readers are likely to come back to the book again and again.

Think you might be interested in a chance to win this book? Stop by our giveaway next week.

Age Range: 8 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Downtown Bookworks; Nov edition (December 10, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1935703900
ISBN-13: 978-1935703907

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.

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Today we have another fabulous new children's STEM picture book, Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen.

feathers-not-just-for-flying

What is there to learn about bird feathers? It turns out there is a wealth of information. You might already be familiar with how feathers help birds fly or how they keep water birds dry, but Melissa Stewart has found at least 16 different ways birds use their feathers. To make it easy for children to relate to and remember, she compares the uses to common human-made objects with similar purposes, like sunscreen and jewelry. The text with dual-layer format, with the easy-to-read main text in a large font, and sidebars on each page to fill in the informational details.

Feathers_page

In the style of a nature journal, the watercolor illustrations look like you should be able to pluck them from the page. Nature lovers are going to want this for the illustrations alone.

It is time to think deeply about feathers with Feathers: Not Just for Flying. It would be a perfect gift for budding ornithologists, as well as a must have for a unit on birds.

Activities to extend Feathers:

Important Note: Although this book is likely to encourage you to observe feathers more closely, be aware that it is illegal to collect/possess bird feathers from most birds in the United States. The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (part of the USGS) has an explanation of the rules. You may, however, collect or purchase feathers from domestic birds, such as chickens and guinea fowl. If you are looking for feathers to use with a unit on birds, try craft supply stores.

 1. Author's Activities

Be sure to check out the Melissa Stewart's webpage for activities, as well as the story of how the book came about. The links in the right sidebar of her page will take you to:

  • Readers Theater (a play to read aloud)
  • Storytime Guide
  • Teacher's Guide (with Common Core standards)
  • Migration Math Activity
  • Draw a Bird Activity
  • Similes video mini-lesson

2. Learning about feathers

dove-feather

When we see a feather on the ground, it often looks like this. These are the wing and tail feathers that help the bird fly. For the most part they are smooth, with the individual parts (barbs) hooked together in a single layer.

feather-fuzzy

Other times you may spot shorter feathers with a fuzzy appearance. These are likely semiplume or down feathers, which are involved in keeping the bird warm. The barbs are not locked together.

mocking-bird-close

Some birds, like this mockingbird, also have feathers that are bristles. These may act like eyelashes or a cat's whiskers, helping the bird sense its environment or keep away pests.

To explore feathers:

Gather:

  • Some chicken, duck or guinea fowl feathers -available from craft supply stores. Try to find a mix of as natural-looking feathers as possible
  • Magnifying lens
  • Scissors

First let the children free explore a few of the feathers. Ask them to use their senses. Are the feathers heavy or light? Are they soft or hard? What do they smell like? Do the feathers make any sounds? (Some do.) What colors are the feathers?

Now investigate the structure of the feather.

Parts_of_featherThis illustration from Wikimedia can help us learn some feather vocabulary.

Parts of a contour (body) feather:
1.    Vane
2.    Rachis
3.    Barb
4.    Afterfeather
5.    Hollow shaft, Calamus

Point out the harder part in the center, the rachis, and the branching barbs. See if the children can pull apart the barbs of a contour or flight feather with their fingers. Can they "zip" the barbs back together again?

Have the children look at the barbs with a magnifying lens. Can they see the tiny hooks, called barbules, that help keep the barbs zipped together? Now look at the fluffy afterfeather at the bottom. Does that have barbules? (Down feathers lack the barbules, which is why they don't lie flat).

Point out that birds need to be a light as possible to fly easily. Are feathers heavy? Use the scissors to cut through the rachis of a feather. Is it solid inside? Feathers are even lighter because the center of the rachis is hollow.

3. Bird craft

Now use the feathers to make a simple bird.

bird craft closer

Gather:

  • Feathers (from previous activity)
  • Craft Pom Poms - 2 different sizes for head and body (at least one pair for each participant)
  • White glue
  • Chenille or bit of felt for beak
  • Fishing line (optional)
  • Scissors

Note:  white glue is slow to dry. Be prepared to set things aside for a few minutes between steps for best results or have an adult assemble using a hot melt glue gun.

1. Provide 2 craft pom poms for each child, a smaller one to serve as the head and a larger one to serve as the body. Have the children glue the head to the body with white glue and then set aside for a moment.

2. Now have the children choose feathers to serve as the wings and tail. Two smaller feathers of roughly the same size look good as wings and one longer feather serves as a tail. Clip a bit of chenille to fold into a beak or cut a wedge-shaped bit of felt to serve as a beak.

3. When the head/body poms poms are set enough to work with again, place white glue on the shaft of one feather chosen to serve as a wing and insert into the "body." Repeat with other feathers chosen to serve as the other wing and tail. Once again, you may want to place the growing bird aside to set up for a few minutes while you cut the fishing line. Then glue the beak to the head.

4. Optional:  Cut a section of fishing line about two feet long. Tie one end of the the line in a loop around the body. Allow the bird to dry completely and then the child may "fly" it. Tie to pole or similar object for a bird mobile.

bird craft flying

4. Start a nature journal/scrapbook

The format of this book is sure to inspire children to want to start a nature journal or scrapbook. Encourage children to record their findings by drawing, taking photographs, and writing down their observations.

Check our Nature Journal post for more details.

Edit: Anna also has a post about The Feather Atlas, which is a place to identify feathers, too.

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Doing a unit on birds? We also have a list of books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

childrens-books-for-young-birdwatchers

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Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Grade Level: 1 - 4
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge (February 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1580894305
ISBN-13: 978-1580894302

If you become very interested in feathers, here's an adult level identification guide:

Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species
by S. David Scott and Casey McFarland

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Stackpole Books (September 3, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0811736180
ISBN-13: 978-0811736183

 

Disclosures: This children's book was provided for review by the publisher. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

 

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