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Sometimes rather than focus on a certain kind of animal, children want to investigate the groups of living organisms found in a particular habitat. This approach allows for a bigger picture of nature, from similarities and differences between animals found in specialized habitats, to how they all fit together into a food web.

Today we are participating in STEM Friday (see below) by featuring two new children's books  published this month that highlight habitats. Both these books from Animal Planet are loaded with big color photographs and plenty of entertaining sidebars, sure to entice young readers. "Just Like Me" sections highlight how the featured animal and humans are similar, further bringing the child into the book. The back matter of both is also impressively robust. They have suggested activities to accompany the book, an extensive list of resources, a large glossary, and a comprehensive index.

The first is Animal Planet Polar Animals (Animal Bites Series) by Laaren Brown, which focuses on the polar regions.

As you can see from the images on the cover, this books deals with animals in cold places from polar bears in the Arctic to penguins in the Antarctic. In fact, maps of the two poles are included, as well as a sidebar with the average summer and winter temperatures in both regions.

Do you know what a bergy bit or a growler are? Not only does the book cover animals, but also other unique aspects of the habitat. (Bergy bits and growlers are different types of ice that can be found floating in seawater.)

Polar Animals is an enjoyable introduction to the animals in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It has something from everyone because it offers both a fast facts and breathtaking photographs for the casual reader, and sufficient in-depth information for the more serious reader.

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 161893161X
ISBN-13: 978-1618931610

Animal Planet Ocean Animals (Animal Bites Series) by Laaren Brown explores the unique creatures found in oceans.

In this case, the habitat is organized by depth of the water where the creature occurs. Most of the ocean creatures are found in the "Sunlight Zone" near the surface, but Brown also introduces what she calls the deeper "Twilight Zone," and the deepest "Midnight Zone." She also discusses the specialized organisms of hydrothermal vents.

In addition to introducing interesting animals, like the whale shark, the author also introduces important concepts. For example, many animals form large groups to help them survive in the vast oceans. Fish form schools, dolphins gather in pods, and sea birds fly together in flocks.

Ocean Animals makes a large and complex topic manageable for children to understand. In addition to being a resource for libraries, it would also be a good gift book to accompany a trip to the beach or an aquarium.

We'll be adding this to our growing list of ocean-themed children's books

ocean-themed-childrens-books

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1618931628
ISBN-13: 978-1618931627

Disclosure:  The books were 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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For STEM Friday, we have four new children's books about ocean animals that were nominated for the 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category, each with its own unique voice and intended audience.

Hungriest Mouth in the Sea, The by Peter Walters explores ocean food webs.

Follow the animals in the ocean to find out who is at the top of the ocean's food web. Young children will be intrigued by this mystery told in rhyming text. The collage illustrations have interesting textures to explore, as well.

The best part of the book is that it has four pages of learning activities in the back matter, including a predator and prey matching game, plus food web cards to copy and cut out.

Hungriest Mouth in the Sea is a lively introduction to the concept of food webs and the interactions between ocean animals.

Related:  Be sure to visit the Arbordale Publishing website for a link to a free 35 page .pdf Teaching Activity Guide to accompany this book (download at link in the right sidebar).

Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Arbordale Publishing (September 10, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1628556366
ISBN-13: 978-1628556360

Could a Shark Do Gymnastics?: ...and other questions - Hilarious scenes bring shark facts to life! (What if a) by Camilla de la Bedoyere and illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff is a fun picture book that compares what a shark can do with some common human activities, allowing children to easily relate to the information.

This factual book dances on the edge of fiction with cartoon illustrations of sharks in funny situations. A shark with 240 teeth going to the dentist? At its nonfiction core, however, the child will also learn many current facts about sharks, such as the fact that sharks don't need a dentist because they continually grow new teeth. The facts are repeated to reinforce learning in a “Fact File” in the back.

Looking for a book to entice a reluctant reader? Could a Shark Do Gymnastics? is a perfect choice because it has all the elements needed to capture and hold a child’s attention. It would also be a wonderful choice for budding marine scientists, to accompany a trip to an aquarium, or of course, to accompany a trip to the beach,

Age Range: 3 - 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten
Publisher: QEB Publishing (August 3, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1609927710
ISBN-13: 978-1609927714

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond is a whimsical picture book about blue whales that draws the reader in with relatable information.

The illustrations make this book shine. Desmond contrasts the relatively realistic forms of the whales in swimming in dark blue waters with children wearing bright colors doing fantastic things, like riding in a whale's mouth. This is the type of book that children will want to spend time exploring every illustration and are likely to discover more with each reading.

The informational text shares fascinating facts, starting with how large an adult blue whale actually is, what whales eat, and what they sound like. The tone is just right, not only giving the information, but also keeping the reader's interest.

The Blue Whale is delightful! Share it with a budding ocean scientist today.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 4
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books (May 26, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1592701655
ISBN-13: 978-1592701650

 

Extreme Animals: Sharks by Ben Grossblatt is essentially a field guide to sharks for the middle grade set.

After introducing sharks with a few pages of general information about things like their anatomy and teeth, the book continues with a series of two-page spreads on different species of sharks. In addition to the familiar great whites and hammerheads, the author has included less popular species, such as the banded wobbegong and the goblin shark. Of course, no book about sharks would be complete without the largest fish in the world, the whale shark.

Each two-page spread includes facts about that particular shark, several color photographs and sidebars with fast facts, as well as maps where those sharks are found throughout the world. The tone is even and informational, not sensational at all.

Extreme Animals: Sharks is a good, solid introduction to shark identification and diversity. It would be perfect to accompany a trip to an aquarium or to the ocean, as well as units on ocean habitats.

Age Range: 8 and up
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books; Har/Pstr/T edition (July 14, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1626863822
ISBN-13: 978-1626863828

Want more books? See our growing list of children's books about oceans (organized by age of reader) at Science Books for Kids.

ocean-themed-childrens-books

 

Disclosure:  The Blue Whale was provided by my local library. The books were 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 for STEM Friday we are featuring The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans (Scientists in the Field Series). Author Elizabeth Rusch introduces us to a number of scientists who are working hard to convert the mechanical energy of ocean waves into electrical energy. See a full review at our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil.

Waves are actually very complex and we are still learning about them.

How do waves form?

The waves in the ocean form due to wind blowing on the surface. The shape and size of the waves depend on the force and steadiness of the wind, and the distance over which the wind travels, called "fetch." The shape of the wave is also influenced by the depth of the water, especially as it meets the shore.

Activity 1. Exploring Waves

Gather:

  • Plastic bin
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Dropper

You may use a sink or bathtub to hold the water, but because you will be blowing across the surface, a plastic bin situated on the waterproof surface of a counter or tabletop will probably be easier to maneuver around. This would be an ideal activity to try outdoors.

bin-with-water

Fill the bin 3/4 full of water.

Ask the children if they have ever been to the ocean and seen waves. If they have not, consider showing a video (YouTube has dozens).

ocean-waves-ca

Brainstorm about how to form waves. If water splashes are not a problem, allow the children to free-explore their ideas about how best to produce waves. They will probably put their hands in and swirl the water.

Now reveal that waves are formed by wind blowing over the water. Have the children blow and see how the waves look different from those they produced using their hands.

Did they form in parallel lines like in the video above?

Once the children have seen waves, add a drop of food coloring to the water and have them blow waves again. How does the water move? Do all layers move the same way?

Many texts will tell you that the water in the deeper part of the ocean does not move forward as a wave passes by, but simply travels in a circle or oscillates. Proof is given when an object floating in the water simply bobs up and down, rather than moving forward.

waves-oscillating

 

If you look closely at the second video, however, you will see that the top layer of the water with the food coloring moves across the surface with the waves. Why?  One possible solution is that the bin is too shallow and the waves are behaving more like those at the shore, where the circular motion is disrupted. Can you think of any other reasons?

Activity 2. Water Vortices

Older students might want to try the experiments with vortices suggested in this video by Physics Girl (has a pop-up ad):

Isn't that incredible? I can't wait until it is warm enough to try it myself.

If your children like these activities with waves, be sure to pick up The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans (Scientists in the Field Series) . It introduces young readers to an exciting new technology that will capture the energy of waves and convert it to useful electrical energy. The book will definitely inspire young readers who want explore waves and oceans. It is also a great resource for adults who want to learn more about this relatively new area of research on a potentially renewable source of energy.

Age Range: 10 - 14 years
Grade Level: 5 - 9
Series: Scientists in the Field Series
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0544099990
ISBN-13: 978-0544099999

You might also be interested in other books we have reviewed from the Scientists in the Field series. 

 

scientists-in-the-field-series-book-reviews

Disclosures:  The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.  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.