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We are excited to be hosting STEM Friday this week, a celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books for children. The theme is STEM books for autumn, so be sure to click through the link and check it out.


A wonderful new book to introduce youngsters to the changes that occur in fall is Awesome Autumn by photographer Bruce Goldstone.

Fall is more than simply leaves changing color, it is about getting ready for winter. Goldstone takes us through the how and and why leaves change color, of course, but then ventures on to also talk about the fall migrations and hibernation. At the end are instructions for fall activities such as roasting pumpkin seeds. If you are ready to jump into a pile of colorful autumn leaves, then you are ready for this book!

Edit: Full review at Wrapped in Foil

Activities inspired by Awesome Autumn:

How animals prepare for winter

1. Winter in temperate climates often means freezing temperatures and snow. The food for many types of animals becomes scarce. Some birds and butterflies, like the monarchs, are known to fly south in the fall to places that are warmer and/or have more food. This is called a seasonal migration.

Opportunities to study migration:

Journey North is a citizen science project targeting seasonal changes and migration of animals like whales, hummingbirds and robins.

The middle grade level book Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Philip Hoose is about a tiny shorebird commonly called a red knot that makes extremely long migrations. In the Appendix of the book, Hoose lists a number of child-friendly organizations and projects that welcome participation and promote education about birds and conservation issues.

Monarch Watch has extensive programs for tagging and monitoring monarchs on their migrations.

The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology also has educational and citizen science opportunities for studying birds.

2. Other animals eat a lot and build up layers of fat to get ready for spending the winter holed up underground, called hibernation.

The layers of fat serve two purposes. First, the fats are energy reserves that the animal uses to survive long periods without food. Second, the layers of fat insulate the animal against the cold.


  • Disposable gloves or a plastic sandwich bag
  • Bowl deep enough to place hands in without overflowing
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Vegetable shortening

Fill the bowl half way with ice and just cover the ice with water. Put the disposable glove or plastic bag over your hand and briefly plunge it into the ice water. Think about how it feels. Generously grease the outside of the glove or bag with shortening and put it back on your hand. Stick your covered hand back in the ice water. Does it feel the same as before?

3. See a previous post: Where do insects go in winter?

There are many ways to investigate science in autumn. Why not use Awesome Autumn by Bruce Goldstone and the other books recommended at STEM Friday as a jumping off place?

Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (August 7, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0805092102
ISBN-13: 978-0805092103

Disclosures: The book 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.


Today Growing with Science is hosting STEM Friday, the meme that highlights Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books for children (as well as older favorites). The STEM Friday book meme can found each week at the  STEM Friday blog. It is a great resource if you are looking for the newest and best in STEM books for kids.

You know how much we love hands-on activities here at Growing With Science, which is why we were excited to find Build It: Invent New Structures and Contraptions (Invent It)by Tammy Enz.

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Author Enz is a civil engineer, and her experience shows in the details in each of the projects. Included are instructions on how to make a device that can open an close a door remotely (with strings), a newspaper fort, a trash grabber, toothpick bridge, a pet waterer and many more. Each project comes with a list of materials and step-by-step instructions with color photographs accompanying each step.

In additions to the projects, sidebars are sprinkled throughout that reveal some historically-important inventions. Did you know the can opener was invented 48 years after the invention of the tin can? Amazing!

Build It: Invent New Structures and Contraptions would be great for a busy teacher looking for a quick science or engineering project because it has complete and detailed plans. It would also be fun for the home inventor who could build the project as presented and then use the skills he or she learned to tweak the design or come with up with a whole new invention.

Related activity:

The book contains plans for a toothpick bridge held together with hot glue. If you want to work with younger children who aren't ready for a hot glue gun, however, try the classic toothpicks and mini-marshmallows. The children can build bridges or towers. Hint: Fresh marshmallows can be mushy. Allow the marshmallows dry out for several days to stabilize the structure before testing or moving it.

This quick video shows some of the details.

Other materials that can be used for building bridges or towers include plastic drinking straws, craft sticks, and dried spaghetti.

Even grapes can work in a pinch, although the structure won't be a permanent one.

These projects are sure to lead to bigger things!

More about bridges (scroll to bottom for additional links)

Build It: Invent New Structures and Contraptions by Tammy Enz

Reading level:  3-4
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Capstone Press (January 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1429679816
ISBN-13: 978-1429679817

Book was provided by publisher for review purposes.

Did you know that it is World Oceans Day today? To celebrate, let's take a look at picture book, Your Senses at the Beach by Kimberly Marie Hutmacher.

"Get ready to feel
the warm sand
and smell the salty air
Today we'll use our
five senses at the beach."

Your Senses at the Beach would be a good choice for a child who is going to the beach for the first time and isn't sure what to expect. Reading it would introduce some of the sights, sounds and smells that they might experience. It also works well for encouraging children to explore the beach more fully while learning about their senses. Finally, it would be a great way to relive the memories of a special trip to the beach.

What would you see, hear, smell, touch and taste at the beach? Maybe this video from the World Oceans Day will help give you some ideas.

If you would like more ideas about ocean and beach-related activities, explore these previous posts from Growing With Science:

Learn about Steller Sea Lions

Investigate an animal (sea slug) that can make its own food

Sea Horses and Other Fish

Shore Birds

Tide Pool Invertebrates

Experiments with movement of floating trash

Sand Experiments

Reading level: Ages 4 and up (First Grade)
Library Binding: 24 pages
Publisher: Capstone Press (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1429666633
ISBN-13: 978-1429666633

Book was provided by publisher for review purposes.

Come visit the new STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.