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For STEM Friday we are highlighting a fantastic book for upper elementary-aged children, Amazing Amphibians: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring Frogs, Toads, Salamanders, and More by Lisa J. Amstutz (her website).

If you've never experienced one of the Young Naturalists series books from Chicago Review Press, you are in for a real treat. These books are designed not only for children who are independent researchers interested in a topic -- in this case amphibians -- but also for educators who need information and age-appropriate activity ideas for science lessons.

Lisa Amstutz's text covers everything readers will want to know:

  • What an amphibian is
  • What animals belong to the different families
  • Amphibian anatomy
  • What amphibians eat
  • Their life cycles
  • Some of the threats to amphibians
  • And much more!

It is also filled with amazing facts. Did you know that the North American wood frog can survive being frozen solid? How about that some amphibians can absorb water from moist soil by sitting on it because they have specially absorptive skin on their bellies? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to drink that way?

The activities (30 of them!) will keep young scientists engaged for hours. They range from making fake frog eggs from water beads to making your yard more toad friendly.

Some readers may initially think less of the book when they learn the illustrations are color stock photographs, with many coming from Wikimedia Commons. The quality of stock photographs, however, is determined by the person curating them and in this case the photographs are the highest standard, well-matched to the text and to each other.

The back matter is a treasure trove filled with goodies such as a table of the different amphibian orders, lists of resources, and a teacher's guide with even more ideas for activities.

Personal Note:  I absolutely love these Chicago Review Press books and I use them all the time. The activities encourage the type of hands-on learning that develops fine motor skills so useful later in life. They also reinforce learning. Let's face it, touching a fake frog egg made out of a water bead engages more senses than simply reading about eggs on the page.

The bottom line is Amazing Amphibians is an exceptionally well organized and well written introduction to a fascinating group of animals. It is perfect for young naturalists and scientists. It is also a must-have resource for educators. Investigate a copy today!

Related Activities:

Not that a book loaded with oodles of hands-on activities needs any more, but let's celebrate Amazing Amphibians by making a tiny book about frogs, toads, and salamanders to share with younger children.

1. Download the Tiny Amphibian Book Template (PDF) - (click on image that pops up to load).

2. Print out on white paper.

3. Fold using the instructions in the video below. Make the cut along the line shown in the photo.

4. Talk about the illustrations in the tiny book and research any questions that arise. Decorate and add information to your book to make it your own.

Please let me know if you have any problems folding it.

Older children can make a handmade scientific notebook as suggested on page 3 of Amazing Amphibians.

For more frog and toad science activity suggestions, see our previous posts:

  1. Summer Sounds: Frogs and Toads
  2. Frog and Toad Science Activities, includes toad anatomy and building a toad house
  3. A Frog's Life book and activities, includes link to a citizen's science project.

Age Range: 7 - 9 years
Publisher: Chicago Review Press; First edition (January 7, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1641600721
ISBN-13: 978-1641600729

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.

Looking for a fabulous STEM activity? The Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend, February 14-17, 2020.

 

The Great Backyard Bird Count is one of our favorite child-friendly citizen science projects. All you and your family need to do is count the birds you see over 15 minutes and then report your finding via the e-Bird app. Although it is called "backyard," you may count birds anywhere they are found, including parks, preserves, or fields. There is plenty of information and instructions about getting started at the website.

Are you a bird photographer? There is also a photo contest.

Related Activities:

Looking for children's books about birds?

1. Check out Taking Flight: a List of Children’s Books About Bird Migration at Science Books for Kids

Taking-Flight-childrens-books-about-bird-migration-300x270

2. The list of children's books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids

childrens-books-for-young-birdwatchers

You may also want to try:

Are you planning to participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count? What kinds of birds do you see in your backyard? We'd love to hear.

2

For STEM Friday we have the combined natural history comic and leveled reader for kids, We Dig Worms by Kevin McCloskey.

Kids of all ages are attracted to cartoons. The art helps tell the story and the humor makes it fun to read.

However, that doesn't mean cartoon illustrations shouldn't be taken seriously. This book has an underpinning of solid scientific facts. For example McCloskey shows the anatomy and life cycle of earthworms,

emphasizes the importance of earthworms in their natural habitat -- as food for other animals, for their role in the decomposition of plant waste, and as aerators of the soil --

and includes discussions of earthworm behavior.

Earthworms are great!

On repeat readings, you will likely notice other details that make We Dig Worms a special experience. At the beginning of the book (end papers), a worm is coming out of its burrow. At the end, the worm goes back into its burrow. Also, the illustrations are done on paper grocery bags to emphasize the theme of recycling. There is a lot to observe and talk about.

As if that weren't enough, in the back matter are tips and suggestions for parents and teachers on how to read comics with kids, with emphasis on going "for the shared pleasure." Wonderful!

We Dig Worms is a resource that young readers will want to return to again and again. Pick up and enjoy a copy today!

Suggested activities to accompany the book

Looking for a project on earthworms? You might want to consider vermiculture (worm composting). Providing a safe habitat for worms, feeding them, and being able to observe them closely can lead to valuable learning. All it requires is a container, bedding (like shredded newspapers and paper bags), vegetable food scraps, and worms (available at bait shops and from worm farms).

See:

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: TOON Books (April 14, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1935179802
ISBN-13: 978-1935179801

Disclosure: This book and the copyrighted illustrations were provided by the author. 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. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.