Let’s Build a Sandcastle

Sandcastle

Who would have thought playing in sand perfects artistic, math, and science skills? Making a sandcastle is one of the quintessential beach activities. To build an impressive structure, you need a little planning and a few tools. Here is a short guide and reading list to help with the construction.

Gather your Supplies

Of course, a bucket and a shovel are the classic tools for sandcastle building, but experts also suggest putty knives, spoons, spatulas, pencils, and brushes. You can use a variety of items to create the perfect details.

Site Selection

Location is key when building a beachfront property. Hard-packed sand is ideal for construction, but the tide can wash away all your hard work in an instant. Take a look around, assess whether the tide is coming in or headed out before mapping out your location.

Beach

Mix the Perfect Construction Sand

The ratio is very important – one part sand to one part water. Dry sand will crumble, and a soupy mixture will never hold its shape. One expert suggests digging a well in the sand to be able to pull water out and mix the perfect sand.

Start the Build

It is helpful to plan your design and make sure that the base structure is sound enough to carry the weight of the castle. Mix up a big pile of sand to create a large mound and begin building your base. Fill your buckets with sand to turn over and create towers. Use your tools to shape the walls, cut out the windows and decorative details, or add a bit of texture.

Now that you are done enjoy your castle. You never know when it will be washed away!

If you can’t get to the beach or a sandbox, here is a reading list that will sharpen your building and critical thinking skills.

The Fort on Fourth Street

The Fort on Fourth Street
When a young child decides to build a fort in the backyard, Grandpa comes forward to help. But they can’t do it alone—they get help from the six simple machines: lever, pulley, inclined plane, wheel and axle, screw, and wedge. Told in cumulative rhyme, similar to The House That Jack Built, readers follow the building process to completion and discover the surprise reason it was built.

Newton and Me

Newton and Me
While at play with his dog, Newton, a young boy discovers the laws of force and motion in his everyday activities. Told in rhyme, Lynne Mayer’s Newton and Me follows these best friends on an adventure as they apply physics to throwing a ball, pulling a wagon, riding a bike, and much more. They will realize that Newton’s Laws of Motion describe experiences they have every day, and they will recognize how forces affect the objects around them. The “For Creative Minds” educational section includes: Force and Motion Fun Facts, Matching Forces, Who Was Newton?, and Newton’s Laws of Motion (2 of 3). Additional teaching activities and interactive quizzes are available on the Arbordale Publishing website.

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant
How much does an elephant weigh? How do you know? How would you know if you didn’t have a modern scale? Six-year-old Cao Chong, the most famous child prodigy in Chinese history, faced just this problem! Chong watches as the prime minister’s most trusted and learned advisors debate different methods. The principle of buoyancy and a little bit of creative thinking help this boy come up with a solution.

How to Be a Clean Bird

Believe it or not, no one likes to be dirty, not even animals! So, while we are lathering on the soap, birds may be anting! Author Darcy Pattison captured Anting and other mysterious bathing rituals in her book Desert Baths, illustrated by Kathleen Reitz.

What is Anting?

Anting is a peculiar ritual where birds sit on an anthill, wings spread wide, and either let the bugs crawl through their feathers and skin, or they pick up insects with their beaks and rub them on their body. The excitement of the event causes certain species of ants to release formic acid.

Of the more than 200 types of birds observed anting, some finish the bath by eating the ants while others leave the ants without dining. And while scientists have several theories on why birds “ant”, they can only agree that it is a mysterious behavior.

The theories range from a hypothesis that the acid kills mites and parasites bothering the bird. Others surmised that it has soothing properties and can give relief to irritated skin. One theory suggests that the birds are draining the ants of their acid, making them a less dangerous snack. And one study observed birds hopping while anting suggesting that the ants may be like a “catnip for birds.”

Whatever the reason, if you come upon a crow or a blue jay anting stop to watch, it is a behavior not often witnessed by humans.

Celebrate international bath day with us and read Desert Baths. Check it out!

And for more information on anting here are a few resources we used to write this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/curious-crow-behavior-known-as-anting-looks-like-violent-dirt-bath-1.6053823?cmp=rss, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mystery-bird-anting.

Go Inside Animal Homes with Mary Holland

Mary Holland’s popular Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series grew by one today. We release Animal Homes – a look at the way animals adapt to their environment and make their homes. Mary takes us inside the homes of beavers, bees, birds, and squirrels.

Let’s take a look…

You may have made a fort, using blankets and furniture, or put up a tent to go camping, but today we have a different kind of challenge for you. Can you make a house of cards?

What we learned. This only requires a deck of cards, but you need a steady hand and a lot of patience. Start building with two cards angled in a triangle. Once one is steady, start with another and cap them together by placing a card on top. We tried to make multiple levels, but our house folded several times.

Send us a photo of your card house to @Arbordalekids on Instagram and you could win a copy of Animal Homes. For more information about Mary’s latest Animal Anatomy and Adaptations title visit the book’s homepage.

Smart Mammals of the Sea

Dolphins are beloved mammals of the sea. They are also some of the smartest animals that live in the ocean, and researchers have just released a study on dolphins using interesting techniques to capture their prey.

Recently, biologists observed dolphins in the Shark Bay area of Western Australia. These animals used a technique called shelling to catch prey. The dolphin chases a fish or other small animal into a large shell, then they put in their beak and shake it until the fish drops into their open mouth. They observed the behavior in several dolphins, and through social evaluation, determined shelling was learned from other dolphins in the same generation and not mothers.

Being in the South Carolina Low Country, we frequently see dolphins swimming near the beaches and in the marshes. They have a unique way to capture prey, strand feeding. This technique is where a group of dolphins coordinate to rush the bank of a creek, pushing fish onshore then feeding on the flopping fish.

You can learn more about the amazing abilities of dolphins in many of the titles in our Summer Reading collection. Here is a short reading list:

Join Delfina the dolphin as she imagines that she becomes other sea animals: a fish, a sea turtle, a pelican, an octopus, a shark, even a manatee! The incredible morphing illustrations will have children laughing as they learn about the real differences between these ocean animals and their respective classes.

Sharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

Enjoy a day in one of the most dynamic habitats on earth: the salt marsh. Fun-to-read, rhyming verse introduces readers to hourly changes in the marsh as the tide comes and goes. Watch the animals that have adapted to this ever-changing environment as they hunt for food or play in the sun, and learn how the marsh grass survives even when it is covered by saltwater twice a day. An activity on adaptations is included in the “For Creative Minds” section.

Where else could you stay dry while visiting aquatic animals from around the world? Only in an aquarium can you visit and learn about all these different local and exotic animals. Aquarium staff care for and teach about these animals, as well as work to conserve and protect threatened and endangered species. Follow this behind-the-scenes photographic journal as it leads you into the wondrous world of aquariums and the animal helpers who work there.

Start reading today! Check out Arbordale’s free ebooks for Summer Reading and learn more about dolphins!

Sea the World from a Different Perspective this Summer

The unofficial start to summer is here! While 2020 has not been smooth sailing, we are happy that we can continue to share quality reading and fun activities with little ones and today we are kicking off Summer Reading Under the Sea.

Splash around through 24 underwater and beachy ebooks through August 31st on arbordalepublishing.com. We choses a few of our classic favorites along with some of our newer titles and a mix of fiction and nonfiction for readers to enjoy!

Don’t miss out on the fun! Read our blog weekly for crafts, scavenger hunts, and coloring pages to go along with a theme! Join us next week as we explore the darkest depths of the ocean and the strange creatures that live there!

Start reading today!

If you have any questions about our summer reading program email heather@arbordalepublishing.com.

Math in Flowers

April showers bring May flowers, and this month there are a few flower centered days to celebrate with a math lesson.

Flowers

Public Gardens Day is May 8th.
Mother’s Day is on May 10th.
May 15th is Bring Flowers to Someone Day.
And, May 30th is Water a Flower Day.

With all these days to give or enjoy flowers, this is a good month to visit the Fibonacci numbers and learn more about math patterns in nature. You may notice the makeup of a flower begins in a spiral pattern. In addition to this being an efficient way to grow, this spiral will always result in a Fibonacci number.

We demonstrate that with a pinecone! As we trace the spirals with paint, the purple spiral is the 13th! Using this pinecone pattern we have an easy craft where little ones can create their own Fibonacci flowers, but first, you might want to visit Fibonacci Zoo to master the number pattern.

Fibonacci Zoo by Tom Robinson, illustrated by Christina Wald

When Eli and his father visit an unusual zoo, they count the creatures in each exhibit. Eli sees one alligator, then one bison, and next two camels. Soon a number pattern emerges and Eli thinks he can predict how many animals will be in the next exhibit. Explore the zoo with Eli as he runs ahead to test his hypothesis. Visit the book page, or download the “For Creative Minds

Now, Let’s Make Flowers!

Flowers made of pinecones

To make the flowers you will need:
Pinecones
Craft paint and paint brushes
Garden clippers, or a saw

If you want to make a bouquet, you also need:
Floral wire
Floral tape

Start by cutting the pinecones into small sections with the clippers or if your pinecone is larger a small saw. (Have an adult do this ahead of time for easier painting)

clipping the pinecone

Choose your paint colors and paintbrush and start creating by painting the scales and center of the pinecone to look like a flower.

painting the clipped pinecone


Although we did not make a bouquet, you can wrap the wire around the center of the cone, leave two sides long enough to fold down, and then wrap with floral tape to make the stem.

the finished pinecone flower

Now count your scales to find the Fibonacci number!

It’s a Birthday Party!

Today we release three new picture books to the world! Happy Book Birthday to authors Mary Holland Jennifer Keats Curtis and Timothy Bradley and illustrator Phyllis Saroff!

Now, let’s meet the books

Mary Holland has written several popular Arbordale titles, including her Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series. For Animal Tracks and Traces, she spent days capturing signs that animals were around. She also gives readers a glimpse at the animals that made the tracks, scat or marks.

About the book: Animals are all around us. While we may not often see them, we can see signs that they’ve been there. Some signs might be simple footprints in snow or mud (tracks) and other signs include chewed or scratched bark, homes or even poop and pee (traces). Children will become animal detectives after learning how to “read” the animal signs left all around. Smart detectives can even figure out what the animals were doing! This is a perfect sequel to Mary Holland’s Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series.

Visit the Animal Tracks and Traces page to learn more!

Jennifer Keats Curtis is also finding herself writing about familiar themes in Creek Critters. Fans of her books Baby Bear’s Adoption, Moonlight Crab Count, or Salamander Season will love this book too! For this book, she teamed up with the Stroud Water Research Center to show young readers how they can tell if their creek is healthy by finding some bugs.

About the Book: Do you like scavenger hunts? How do you tell if creek water is clean and healthy? Join Lucas and his sister as they act like scientists looking for certain kinds of stream bugs (aquatic macroinvertebrates) that need clean, unpolluted water to survive. What will they find as they turn over rocks, pick up leaves and sort through the mud? Read along to find out if their creek gets a passing grade.

Go to the Creek Critters page and learn more about bugs in the book!

Timothy Bradley has always loved writing about creatures of the past! I am Allosaurus starts a prehistoric series, and he kicks off the series with a favorite dino, the Allosaurus. This book will certainly be loved by beginning readers as they run, eat, and hide with the bright pink Allosaurus. While the text is simple, Bradley’s illustrations are bright, fun, and reflect new research in paleontology.

About the Book: What would it be like to live as a dinosaur? Young readers will discover that dinosaur lives had many similarities to present-day animals: they hatched, ran, hunted, hid from predators, and grew to adulthood. However, the world these creatures from the far past inhabited was very different from that of today; a great example is that a simple thing like grass didn’t yet exist. Repetitive sight words make this a great story for beginning readers and dinosaur enthusiasts alike.

Run to the I am Allosaurus book page to learn more about Timothy and his new series!

All these titles are available in hardcover, paperback, and Spanish paperback. Visit Arbordale’s website for more information!

Book Launch! The Forest in the Trees

We’re celebrating the release of The Forest in the Trees by Connie McLennan. This book takes readers high into the canopy of the world’s tallest trees, a forest where very few human eyes have spied the lush greenery and animal inhabitants that call the coast redwoods home.

Connie was inspired by botanist’s research. The scientists were able to climb the trees and explore the landscape to identify many different plants that thrive high amongst the clouds. Learning more about the discoveries is easy. In The Forest in the Trees, readers find a new plant or animal with the turn of a page!

Test your own skills at identifying trees and plants with our observation and identification guide:

About the Forest

A forest is an ecosystem. This ecosystem requires just the right soil for trees to secure their roots and grow tall trunks for the leaves that soak up the sunlight.

The plants and animals in this ecosystem need the trees, just as the trees need them to thrive. One ecosystem is found on the ground where we can walk around and marvel at the amazing size of the trees. The other is high in the sky, and only a select few botanists have laid eyes on this ecosystem.

So, what do botanists look for in this ecosystem?  Take this observation guide on your next walk through the forest and see if you can identify the trees and plants you find.

We’re giving away three copies of our new fall releases! Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Forest in the Trees and Animal SkinsWinners will be contacted on September 30th!

Lucky Number Seven

It’s a book launch for Mary Holland! This is the seventh launch for the Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series, and this season Holland is focused on the outer coverings of North American mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

The skin is an important organ for all animals, including humans, but some of the featured animals use their skin to hide or warn predators. Many of the adaptations discussed in Animal Skins showcase this adaptation.

Here is a fun little experiment in animal pattern identification. Color the skins and identify the animal.

Learn more about how animals make their way in the world through an exploration of anatomy. Get the series

We’re giving away three copies of our new fall releases! Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Forest in the Trees and Animal Skins. Winners will be contacted on September 30th! 

Children’s Book Week!

We look forward to the beginning of May each year to celebrate something near and dear to our heart, children’s books! This week our authors and illustrators are out and about presenting to children in bookstores, schools and libraries across the country for Children’s Book Week.

We wanted to get in on the fun, and today we are sharing Book Week Bingo as a fun way to check off your weekly reading.

Get started reading with this month’s FREE ebook of the month, Where Should Turtle Be?. Send us your full bingo card and we will send you a free ebook of your choice.

Happy Reading!!