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With the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS ), people of all ages are forgetting how to use or create maps. This is an issue because maps aren't just for finding our way to Grandma's house. Not only are they useful for organizing information visually, but they are also a relevant way to develop the spatial relations skills that are so useful in many careers.

We often underestimate the ability of young children to learn how to read and understand maps. That's why a resource like the new nonfiction picture book Mapping My Day by Julie Dillemuth and illustrated by Laura Wood is such an asset for educators.

Mapping My Day introduces basic map concepts and vocabulary through a day in the life of a young girl named Flora. She wakes up to a lesson about cardinal directions, races to the bathroom while learning about map scale, and goes outside to use a treasure map full of landmarks. And that's all before breakfast.

The back matter includes a "Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Professionals" with explanations of why mapping skills are so important and an extensive section explaining map concepts with suggestions for numerous activities. Activity pages to encourage children to try out their mapping skills are included.

Mapping My Day explores an important topic that is often ignored. Educators will find it to be a valuable resource.

Related:

  1. Download the activity pages from the back matter for free at the Magination Press website (publishing arm of the American Psychological Association)
  2. Learn NC has an extensive discussion about Map skills and higher-order thinking for educators
  3. Read a book and do an activity for Pi Day from a previous post at Growing with Science

Pi Day is coming up on Tuesday March 14 (3/14). It's a fun way to celebrate the mathematical constant π and all things math.

What does mapping have to do with math and Pi Day? Although often associated with geography, mapping is a way to present visual information that is useful in many STEM fields. Think of genome maps for genetics. Or, how about all the coordinates you learn about in geometry? Mapping is everywhere.

Explore more children's math books for Pi Day and every day at Science Books for Kids.

list-math-books-for-pi-day

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Magination Press; 1 edition (March 13, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1433823330
ISBN-13: 978-1433823336

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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Usually we feature photographs of the Bug of the Week on Wednesdays, but this week for a change of pace we have a new children's picture book about house flies. It is a nominee for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

The premise of I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas is that house flies deserve to be studied even though they aren't as attractive or iconic as butterflies.

At first glance this book does not look like typical nonfiction. The illustrations are cartoons, complete with speech bubbles. The narrator is a stylized fly "speaking" in first person about his mom, brothers and sisters, as well as doing a bit of "trash-talking" about butterflies. Even the yucky/gross aspects are covered with a humorous touch.

Don't let the fun facade fool you, however. The text is full of carefully organized and well-researched facts about house flies. Readers will learn that house flies go through complete metamorphosis like butterflies, but that their larvae and pupae look very different. Heos slips in facts about house fly flight, anatomy, other flies that are relatives (mosquito, blow fly and fruit fly), and even some problems with flies (they carry disease-causing bacteria). Is it true that house flies throw up on our food? Yes, but only solids and it is more like spitting up.

I, Fly will be highly appealing to children (of that certain age) who are enthralled with all things gross and disgusting. The lighthearted approach will make it palatable to parents, teachers and librarians, as well.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (March 10, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0805094695
ISBN-13: 978-0805094695

HouseFly2_(PSF)(Image of house fly in Public domain from Wikimedia)

This book would pair well with the fictional picture book Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss. In fact, the pair could be used to compare nonfiction and fiction.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0062232983
ISBN-13: 978-0062232984

For more, see our insect-related lists of children's books at Science Books for Kids, including:

Disclosure: The books were provided by my 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.

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This week for STEM Friday we have physical science activities inspired by the new book:  The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun!by Kelly Doudna.

The Kids' Book of Simple Machines is the perfect hands-on science book for early elementary-aged children. It has concise explanations of the science of simple machines,  clear step-by-step instructions, and enticing colorful photographs of the projects. In addition, the background information in the different sections introduces children to famous scientists and inventors, from Archimedes to the Wright brothers.

The six simple machines covered are the lever, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, wheel and axle, and screw. After a brief introduction to each type in the front, the following chapters give more in-depth information, numerous examples of the different simple machines, and several activities and projects to explore the concepts more fully.

Whether you are teaching science in the classroom, after school, or at home, The Kids' Book of Simple Machines is a well-designed and useful resource. The young makers of the world are going to have hours of fun trying out the activities in this book.

Related Activities:

1. Archimedes Screw

One of the simple machines from the book is the screw.

Screws1_(PSF)(Public domain image from Wikimedia)

A screw is an inclined plane wrapped around some sort of central core. In addition to holding pieces of metal or wood together, screws can also be used to move objects. Propellers are types of screws that help move boats through water or airplanes through the air.

One of the earliest examples of a screw being used to move things was invented by the Greek scientist Archimedes. We all know that water moves down slope because of gravity. Archimedes figured out a way to move water against gravity using a device that now bears his name, the Archimedes screw.

Check out this video of a simple Archimedes screw made by a young girl:

Instructions for making an Archimedes screw may be found at:

2. Simple Machines Quiz

After reading this introduction to simple machines at Idaho Public Television,  figure out what kind or kinds of simple machines are illustrated here  (Public domain images are from Wikimedia).

Answers are at the bottom of the post.

A. What kind(s) of simple machine(s) are these scissors?

Scissors3_(PSF)

B. How about this wheelbarrow?

Wheelbarrow_(PSF)

C. What kind of simple machine is an adze?

Adz_(PSF)

D. How about this press, which might be used to squeeze the juice out of apples?

Press_2_(PSF)

Learn more with The Kids' Book of Simple Machines: Cool Projects & Activities that Make Science Fun!by Kelly Doudna

Age Range: 5 - 9 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Mighty Media Kids (August 25, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1938063597
ISBN-13: 978-1938063596

Disclosure: The 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.

Answers:

A. Scissors:  You are correct if you answered lever or wedge. Scissors are complex machines consisting of double levers and wedges (the blades).

B. Wheelbarrow:  Also a complex machine, a wheelbarrow combines a wheel/axle with a lever.

C. Adze:  The blade of the adze is a wedge.

D. Press:  The simple machine found in this press is a screw.

How did you do? If you'd like to learn more about simple machines, please let us know.