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We haven't offered a giveaway in some time, so in honor of STEM Friday one lucky winner will receive a copy of the new picture book biography Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Sandra Neil Wallace and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (U.S. addresses only, please. See Rafflecopter for entry below).

About Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Marjory Stoneman Douglas grew up in Taunton, Massachusetts with her mother, but a one-time visit to her father in Miami sparked her lifelong interest in Florida.

In fact, she moved there after college to become a reporter for her father's newspaper.

After serving in the Red Cross in Europe during World War I, she returned to Florida where she found, much to her dismay, acres of wild land had been drained and burned to build tracts of homes and businesses. She saw how all the unique plants like ghost orchids and Florida Scrub Ziziphus, plus animals like roseate spoonbills, storks and even manatees were disappearing as the Everglades were being destroyed.

Roseate Spoonbills (Public Domain Image)

Marjory realized how important wetlands like the Everglades were both for wildlife and also for replenishing fresh water supplies. She knew she had to act to save this precious resource. Would she be able to make a difference?

About The Book

You can see how powerful and inspiring her story is in this book trailer:

Sandra Neil Wallace has distilled 108 year's of Marjory's life into 56 pages of essential reading. The back matter is so full that it has spilled into the end papers. There's an author's note with more facts, resource lists, source lists, and an extensive timeline. Plan to linger there.

Rebecca Gibbon's illustrations capture the lush green vegetation of Florida as well as Marjory's lively disposition. Young readers will delight in finding all the hidden animals and plants in her illustrations of the Everglades.

Marjory Saves the Everglades shows how one person really can make a difference. It will delight both young historians, ecologists, and conservationists alike. Wade into a copy today!

The STEM Connection:  Ecology

How does the biography of a reporter from Miami fit with STEM? Actually, much of the book is about the Everglades, which are a special kind of wetlands ecosystem. As Marjory wrote, "There are no other Everglades in the world." Let's learn more about it.

Ecology Vocabulary

Ecosystem – A community of living things and their distinctive environment

Wetland – Ecosystem covered at least parts of the year with either freshwater, brackish water (partly salty) or salt water. Types of wetlands include:

  • Swamps –wet areas with trees
  • Marshes – Low-lying wet areas dominated by grasses and some bushes rather than trees. Can be found at the edges of lakes or streams. Salt marshes occur along oceans.

River – A large volume of water that runs downhill.

Rather than a swamp or a marsh, the Everglades is a meandering river that is roughly one hundred miles long and fifty miles wide.  Marjory described it as a "river of grass."

Many one-of-a-kind animals and plants live in the Everglades, which can vary between wet and dry from season to season and place to place. Some of the animals found there are land creatures, like the marsh rabbit. Some animals are equally at ease both in the water and on land, like otters. Other animals found in the Everglades are water creatures, such as manatees.

Make a list of some of the animals mentioned in the book or the Everglades park website. Decide whether they are land animals (terrestrial), live both on land and in water (semi-aquatic), or only live in the water (aquatic).

Then make a picture or diorama featuring the animals in their preferred habitats.

White peacock butterflies live in the Everglades.





Grade Level : Preschool - 3
Publisher : Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (September 22, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1534431543
ISBN-13 : 978-1534431546

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: This book was provided by Blue Slip Media for review. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. 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.


Right in time for the spring gardening season and for STEM Friday, we have Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by ("dirt by") Mary Peterson.

Cindy Jenson-Elliott's new book celebrates the simple pleasures of mucking around in the soil. Each page reveals a new discovery, from earthworms to pill bugs.

With only a few words per page, the text is simple enough to read to toddlers or for beginning readers to tackle on their own.

I dig in the dirt...and find a seed.
Seed waits.
I dig in the dirt...and find a spider.
Spider runs.

The illustrations are linoleum block prints with just the right touch of humor. It might be fun to accompany the book with a quick art lesson using ink stamps or making potato prints to celebrate the illustrations.

It seems that digging in the dirt is a pastime too few young children get to indulge in these days. Dig In! is sure to encourage young readers to get outside and explore the world under their feet.

Related Activity:

Have everyone put on some old clothes and take your children out to a place they can examine some soil. Start by simply sitting on a patch of soil. Ask your children what they think soil is. Is it alive? (Yes, components of soil are alive.) What does it consist of? Are all soils alike? Smell the patch of soil, what do you smell? Touch the soil. What does it feel like? Is it wet or dry? Warm or cool?

Then allow the children to dig into the soil with their hands. Sandbox digging tools can be helpful, but not necessary. If age appropriate, supply a hand lens or magnifying glass. Talk about what they discover.

Some things to look for:

(Links go to related posts with activities)

Sue also has a review and suggestions for related activities at Sally's Bookshelf.


Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (March 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1442412615
ISBN-13: 978-1442412613

Disclosure:  An ARC 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.


For STEM Friday we're going to the birds again with a new middle grade book, Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds (Young Naturalists) by Monica Russo and photographs by Kevin Byron.

If you are already familiar with Chicago Review Press books for kids, you will recognize the format. Each section reveals information about a topic, such as feathers, and then provides suggestions for making observations and for appropriate hands-on activities to reinforce learning.

Birdology gives an introduction to many aspects of bird biology, such as their anatomy and special characteristics, where to look for them, what they eat, bird migratory behavior, etc. In the final section it explores common careers that involve working with birds.

The author is very careful to point out that it is illegal to collect or possess feathers, nests or eggs of wild birds. All the activity suggestions keep this important consideration in mind.

Educators will be interested in the Teacher's Guide and Resources in the back matter. Monica Russo is an experienced teacher, which is evident because the Teacher's Guide includes suggestions for how to accommodate a student who is afraid of birds. That is not something a beginning teacher is likely to have encountered.

Kevin Byron's photographs are inspiring (see activity suggestion below). You almost wish more space had been devoted to them, although that might have left less room for the fabulous activities. See what I mean by checking out the barn swallow in flight on page 76.

Birdology is a must have book for beginning ornithologists, and basically any older child interested in science and nature. It would be wonderful paired with a citizen science project such as the Great Backyard Bird Count. Educators will also want a copy for ideas for quick projects that are appealing and well-designed, and that could work with multi-aged groups.

Age Range: 7 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (January 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 161374949X
ISBN-13: 978-1613749494

Related activity suggestions:

1. Anting by birds

Imagine you are watching some big black birds called crows. Suddenly one spies an ant mound, runs over to it and starts flopping around on it while ruffling its wings. Then it grabs some of the ants and starts thrusting them up into its feathers. What is wrong with this crow? Has it eaten some bad food? What is it doing?

In fact, the bird is using the ants’ defensive chemicals as a personal bug killer. Birders call this behavior “anting.”

Birds can be host to various itchy lice and mites. Scientists have long thought that by anting birds kill these parasites, but few are willing to do the experiments to prove it. However, one man actually took the lice off several birds he had observed anting and compared them to the lice on some birds that hadn’t anted. He found many of the lice from the anting birds died, but only a few from the non-anting birds.

When the birds actively pick up the ants and wipe their wings with them, it is called active anting. Other birds simply squat or lie on an anthill shaking their wings and tails, and stirring up the ants. This behavior is called passive anting.

You can see an example of passive anting in the following video (there is background music):

Doesn't the behavior look odd at first?

When you are watching birds, be sure to keep your eye out for birds that are anting. Document your observations in a nature notebook, sketchbook, with photographs, or with video and then share them with others.

2. Bird Photography

Birds are often small and active, but with patience and experience, children can learn how to photograph birds.


With any camera, start with larger birds that are easy to spot and are not likely to fly away. Water birds might be a good choice.


Think about the background. Again, water birds make this easier because the water is generally uniform and gives good contrast.

heron background issuesSee how much easier it is to spot the mallard in the top photograph, where the heron gets lost in the second photograph?

heron-headNo pesky background in this photograph.


Add interest to a photograph by concentrating on the head and eye of the bird. If  you study Kevin Byron's photographs, you will see he does this.

Encourage your budding photographers to keep records of what kinds of birds they photograph, where and when the photograph was taken, what the birds were doing, etc.

Talk about the photographs, too. Compare the beak of the heron versus the goose. Do you know what each kind of bird eats? (Herons eat fish whereas geese graze on vegetation.) Who knows what else you might discover!


Previous Growing With Science posts with bird-related activities:


More Resources:

Check our Pinterest board of bird-related activities.

Looking for more bird books for children?

childrens-books-for-young-birdwatchersA growing list of bird books for kids at Science Books for Kids

Taking-Flight-childrens-books-about-bird-migration-300x270plus a list of children's books specifically about bird migrations.


Disclosures: The book above was from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. 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.