Category: insects (Page 1 of 87)

Celebrating #PollinatorWeek 2021

Let’s get ready to celebrate Pollinator Week.

Reading children’s books is great way to learn more about pollinators. Afterwards, do some of the activities suggested below.

But first, what is pollination and what is a pollinator?

Pollination is an essential process that allows plants to grow healthy fruit and seeds. Scientifically, pollination occurs when pollen (the colorful powdery dust) is moved from male part (anther) of a flower to the female part (stigma) of the same or another flower.

A pollinator carries the pollen from flower to flower so that pollination happens. Although when we hear the word “pollinator” we generally think of bees, many different animals act as pollinators.

Children’s books:

In No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young, and illustrated by Nicole Wong young readers learn that cacao trees need the help of a menagerie of rain forest critters to survive: a pollen-sucking midge (previous post), an aphid-munching anole lizard, and brain-eating coffin fly maggots. Reviewed at Wrapped in Foil.

In Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine and illustrated by Masha D’yans a snarky purple cactus narrator explains why plants “talk” to animals via their flowers and how they entice the animals to carry their pollen from place to place.

POLLEN: Darwin’s 130-Year Prediction by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Peter Willis reveals how long it may take for science to find an answer to a problem. In 1862, naturalist Charles Darwin received a box of orchids. When he saw one of the flowers, the Madagascar star orchid, he wondered how insects could pollinate it, and he made some predictions that it was a moth.

Fast forward 130 years. In 1992, German entomologist, Lutz Thilo Wasserthal, Ph.D. traveled to Madagascar. By then, the moths were rare. He managed to capture two moths and released them in a cage with the orchid. Would they pollinate the orchid as Darwin had predicted?

Although it is more about who and what eats flies, 13 Ways to Eat a Fly by Sue Heavenrich and illustrated by David Clark features some flies that pollinate plants (previous review).

A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond showcases twelve North American butterflies―from the familiar eastern tiger swallowtail to the rare Palos Verdes blue butterfly―and the ecosystems that support their survival.

A Place for Bats by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond features twelve types of North American bats, from the familiar little brown bat to the Mexican free-tailed bat.

 

Related Activities

Disclosure:  One of the books mentioned above was provided by the publisher. The rest were from the library or are my personal copies. 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.

STEM Friday #Kidlit A Cicada Book is Coming!

(Public domain image from Wikimedia)

The 17-year cicadas are incredible insects that emerge in mass numbers after spending 17 years underground. In late April to early May 2021, scientists expect a large emergence (called Brood X) in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. To coincide with this amazing natural event is the emergence of a new picture book The Cicadas Are Coming!: Invasion of the Periodical Cicadas! by Doug Wechsler (releasing April 26, 2021).

Ever wonder where the periodical cicadas come from and what they are doing? Step by step, this book supplies the answers.

We have featured Doug Wechsler’s book, The Hidden Life of a Toad in a previous post, so we knew to expect fabulous photography, detailed life cycles, and accurate information.

The Cicadas Are Coming! exceeds our expectations. He has captured every detail of the cicadas’ life cycle through photographs. He must have spent many, many hours to explore each life stage — inside and out — so thoroughly. The photographs are so amazing that the text seems hardly needed.

But don’t ignore the text. Wechsler explains the life of cicadas in an engaging way.  He also includes fun fact sidebars to keep young readers turning pages. Did you know that a cicada’s ears are on its abdomen?

The back matter includes many more facts, a glossary, and resources for finding out more.

All in all The Cicadas Are Coming! is perfect for nature lovers and curious scientists of all ages. Break out a copy today!

Related Activity Suggestions:

1. Visit Doug Wechsler’s website for more fantastic nature photographs.

2. Explore how a cicada makes sounds.

Do you see the flap called the tymbal that acts sort of like a drum head? That tiny structure allows the male cicada to generate an extremely loud noise.

Make a model using a tin can and a balloon (instructions in this previous post, Activity 4)

3. Dissect a cicada exoskeleton

Have you ever seen a cicada nymph exoskeleton on a tree trunk or the side of a building?

Look at it closely and you can see many features of the insect, from the claws on the front legs — that it uses to dig with — to the silvery strands inside that are the remnants of its breathing tubes (trachea). See if you can find the poky beak of a mouth (often directed down between the legs), the eyes, and the pads on it’s back where the wings formed.

If you have one available, examine it under a microscope.

For more, check out our previous cicada posts.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Reading age: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Doug Wechsler (April 26, 2021)
ISBN-10: 1737021714
ISBN-13: 978-1737021711

Disclosure: This book was provided electronically by the 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.

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.

#kidlitstem Insect Anatomy Picture Book: How to Build an Insect

Look what arrived in a box on the front porch yesterday:

 

Physical copies of my debut picture book, How to Build an Insect!

What’s it about?

Calling all curious young scientists, artists and makers! Come into the workshop and find out How to Build an Insect. While you are inside, discover different insect body parts —from head to cerci — and how they go together. At the same time, explore how human body structures compare to those of insects through playful illustrations. The workshop in the book has so much to offer, once you come through the doors, you might not want to leave. Once you do, however, crank up your creativity and build your own insect model!

 

Educators know that hands-on STEAM activities reinforce learning and help youngsters develop fine motor skills. Those abilities will allow adults to perform tasks ranging from a fishermen tying flies to surgeons suturing a patient. Plus, by reading the book young readers will learn to observe, compare, and develop the vocabulary needed to classify and appreciate insects. Full STEAM ahead!

It has been a long journey to publication. I hope children enjoy reading it for years to come.

How to Build an Insect will be available to the public April 6, 2021. You can pre-order copies at the publisher Lerner Books, at our local indie bookstore, Changing Hands, or most other places books are sold.

If you’d like to take a peek at the amazing illustrations, visit Anne Lambelet’s website.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information. Thanks!

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