Category: Learning Outdoors (Page 1 of 62)

STEM Friday #Kidlit Stretch to the Sun

Let’s celebrate nature with the picture book Stretch to the Sun: From a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth by Carrie A. Pearson and illustrated by  Susan Swan.

How do you start a story about the tallest tree in the world? If you’re Carrie Pearson, you start it with a bang!

Creak! Crack! Kaboom!
A giant tree falls, broken,
and the forest floor trembles.

And with that dramatic event comes the opening needed for another tree to be born, one that will live over 1200 years and grow to about 380 feet tall. That’s about as tall as a 35 story building. Amazing!

Susan Swan’s illustrations are equally amazing. She used Adobe Photoshop to create collages of found objects and hand painted papers that are enthralling. The trees are the central characters, of course, but she also features many animals of the Redwood National Park, giving young readers hidden treasures to search for on every page.

Other highlights include a surprise single gate-fold spread that helps emphasize the height of this magnificent tree.

The back matter shines as well. Besides an Author’s Note that explains how the book came about, there are many remarkable facts about coast redwoods, a bibliography, as well as information about where you can learn more and what you can do to help preserve redwoods.

Stretch to the Sun is a one-of-a-kind book about a one-of-a-kind tree. It will thrill young nature lovers. Get lost in a copy today!

Activity Suggestions:

1. Visit Carrie Pearson’s website for resources including an activity and discussion guide, NGSS standards, and a fun trailer for the book.

2.  Learn how to measure the height of a tree in the second activity from this previous post (scroll down.)

3. Visit our tree category here at the blog for many more posts.

4. Want to read more? Try our growing list of children’s books about trees at Science Books for Kids.





Reading age ‏ : ‎ 5 – 8 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition (October 9, 2018)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1580897711
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1580897716


Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher. 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.

Night Creatures #kidlit Soars and Slinks

Today we are featuring the first in a series of fabulous STEAM picture books that are coming out this month, Night Creatures: Animals That Swoop, Crawl, and Creep While You Sleep by Rebecca E. Hirsch and illustrated by Sonia Possentini.

Even though we don’t see them as often, about half of the animals on the planet are nocturnal (active after dark). This book is a wonderful introduction.

The book starts in a soft, lyrical settling-down-to-bedtime voice.

A cool night breeze
blows softly on your face
As night creatures wake…

Soon, your heart begins to race as bobcats leap, owls pounce, and rabbits run away.  No worries, however, because the quiet descends again as night turns into day.

Young readers will enjoy Sonia Possentini’s marvelous illustrations. Possentini uses a pallet of blues, greens and black tree silhouettes to reflect nighttime, but also capture the warm hues of a bobcat’s coat or an owl’s feathers.

In the concise and informative back matter, learn more details about the featured animals.

Night Creatures is a celebration of animals that are active when many people are sleeping. Slip into a copy and discover what you have been missing.

Related Science Activities:

Check out the incredible free activity guide to download. Seriously! Perfect for any unit on nocturnal animals. Rebecca has instructions for taking a night hike, as well as activities that reflect how your senses change in the dark. What might you touch and feel? How might your color vision change? What might you hear? What might you smell?

In this video, listen to some of the sounds you might expect to hear at night. Note:  The video is silent except for the parts with the animal sound recordings.


Consider having a moth ball, which is a nighttime moth watching party (previous post).

See our growing list of children’s books about nocturnal animals at Science Books for Kids.

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 5 – 10 years
Publisher:  ‎ Millbrook Press ™ (September 7, 2021)
ISBN-10 : ‎ 1541581296
ISBN-13 : ‎ 978-1541581296

Disclosure: This book was provided electronically 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.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Ten Reasons to Start a Nature Journal

If you have been hesitating to start, here are ten reasons why you should keep a nature journal.

1.  It is an inexpensive hobby. All you need is a notebook, a pencil, and perhaps a few art supplies.

2.  If you record the world around you, you will see how it changes over time.  If you write the date and location on each entry, you will  remember when the blackberries were ripe or when you saw the first violets the year before. You will begin to spot patterns.

3.  Writing and drawing makes you observe more closely and notice details. It will help you remember what you saw, heard, felt, and even smelled.

4.  A detailed nature journal allows you to share your experiences with others. Your journals may become a treasure passed down to another generation or a useful tool for scientific studies.

5.  You will learn the names of natural features (mountains, rocks, lakes) and living things in your community, while building your vocabulary. You get to know your neighbors in nature.

bird drawings
Can you tell the great-tailed grackle from the curved-bill thrasher?

6.  If you are worried about your ability to draw or write, remember that regular practice helps build confidence and skill. You will improve.

7. Nature journals are great places to keep track of your ideas and questions as you process.

Touch Me Not (1915) by Hannah Borger Overbeck. Original from The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

For example, why is this plant called a touch-me-not? Where does it tend to grow? Is it the same as jewel weed?

8. Writing and drawing in a nature journal takes time. It is an opportunity to slow down, to focus, to relax.

9.  A nature journal is personal. It reflects your interests, your creativity, your personality. It can be funny (cartoon animals with speech bubbles), mostly stories (writings), or almost entirely art. You can focus on the big picture (ecosystems, habitats) or the the close up, macro view (what insects live in an acorn?) Or a mix.

You can also focus on one group, such as only birds or only wildflowers.  There isn’t one way to do it. See these examples of nature journal pages to see the range.

10.  Start a nature journal and it might change your life.

Keeping a nature journal is an activity that combines science, art, writing, and an opportunity to get outdoors. What could be better?

Do you keep a nature journal? What advice do you have?

Related Activities:

  1.  See the International Nature Journaling Week website for tons of information and ideas.
  2. Try making comparisons between similar plants as a way to get started (video has details).

Free nature journal to print mentioned in the video

Their book is full of ideas:

How to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, Attention by John Muir Laws, Emilie Lygren and Amy Tan (Foreword)

Or look for books by Clare Walker Leslie:

The Curious Nature Guide: Explore the Natural Wonders All Around You by Clare Walker Leslie

Disclosures: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles, covers, 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.

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