Let’s Talk About Nonfiction

AnimalAnatomySeries

Learning is great! Learning is fun! So today we feature one of our continuing nonfiction series that is growing season by season!

Did you know…

“Dragonflies have two compound eyes that can see in all directions at the same time.” – Animal Eyes 

“Most frogs don’t have any teeth on their lower jaw” – Animal Mouths 

This month we add another fact-filled book to Mary Holland’s series, Animal Tails!

Like the others in this series, Mary uses her vast knowledge to show young readers why a tail might be useful. From warding off predators to dangling from a tree, each page features a new use for this unique appendage!

striped-skunk

Learn more about each book in this series:

Animal Tails
Readers will be fascinated by the many ways animals use their tails: to move on land, swim, warn others, steer, hold on to things, keep warm, balance, fly, attract a mate, and even to defend themselves! Apparently, tails are not just for wagging when happy. Following Animal Eyes, Animal Mouths(NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Science Award-winning book), and Animal Legs, Mary Holland continues her photographic Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series by exploring the many ways animals use their tails.

AnimalEyesThe sense of sight helps an animal stay safe from predators, find food and shelter, defend its territory and care for its young. We can tell a lot about an animal from its eyes: whether it is predator or prey, whether it is more active during the day or night, and sometimes even its gender or age. Award-winning nature photographer and environmental educator Mary Holland shares fascinating animal eyes with readers of all ages.

AnimalLegsCan you smell with your feet? Do you dig your claws into a river’s muddy bank to climb up and bask in the sun? Animals’ legs are different from humans’ in so many ways! Find out why strong talons suit a raptor, or webbing is perfect for water dwellers as author Mary Holland continues her photographic Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series by exploring the ways insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals move and explore their world.

AnimalMouthsWhat are some things we can learn about animals from the shape of their mouths, beaks,
or bills? What can we infer about animals with sharp teeth compared to large, flat teeth? Are there any animals that don’t have mouths? Following in the footsteps of Animal Eyes, award-winning nature photographer and environmental educator Mary Holland shares fascinating animal mouths with readers of all ages.

We hear Animal Ears will arrive Spring 2018 learn more about it too! 

AnimalEarsHearing is an important sense for animals’ survival. Ears give animals vital information to help them find food or listen for predators ready to attack. This continuation of Mary Holland’s award-winning Animal Anatomy and Adaptations series features a wide variety of animal ears and how animals use them. Did you know that some animals have ears on their legs? Like the eyes, mouths, legs, and tails featured in previous books, animal ears come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes—a perfect match for each animal’s needs.

 

Advertisements

Ferdinand Fox’s Scavenger Hunt

FerdinandFox

In the book Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer, we’re introduced to how young foxes grow up and learn to survive on their own. Although they drink only their mother’s milk when the kits are first born, they eventually have to learn how to hunt and scavenge for food on their own.

Just like us, young kits love to play outside with their siblings and friends in the summer. Gather a few friends together to see if you can complete Ferdinand Fox’s Scavenger Hunt!

Give a bag to each scavenger and see who can collect the most items:

  • An acorn
  • The biggest leaf you can find
  • A long skinny leaf
  • A leaf that has been chewed
  • A smooth rock
  • A rough rock
  • A flower
  • A twig
  • A pine cone
  • A clover
  • A seed
  • A feather
  • Pine straw
  • A blade of grass
  • Something beautiful

Happy scavenging!

Can you name all of the seashells?

If you’ve ever had a chance to go to the beach, you may have noticed the overwhelming number of shells that are scattered all over the sand. Some are big, some are small, and some have a very weird shape. Although the shell is all that’s left now, most of the shells you find have had something living in it at one time or another. Cool, huh?

In Turtle Summer, we are introduced to several different types of seashells. Next time you’re at the beach, see if you can name all of the shells!

 

monksnailMoon Snail Shell

musselshellMussel Shell 

arkshellArk Shell

clamshellClam Shell 

oliveshellLettered Olive Shell

tulipshellTulip Shell 

whelkshell Knobbed Whelk Shell

oystershellOyster Shell 

jackknifeshellJack Knife Clam Shell

slippershellSlipper Shell 

cockleshell
Cockle Shell

The Quantum Classroom

public_domain_astronomy_23

Quick! What’s behind you right now? Did you peek over to see desks, the wallpaper, students, books, or toys? Were those objects there even before you looked at them? Are they there now, even though you’re reading this instead of seeing them? As strange as it sounds, some scientists believe that nothing exists definitely until someone measures it, such as you did with your eyes and ears. These scientists work in a field of science called Quantum Mechanics.

In the early 1900s, smarty-pants scientists like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg studied, experimented and argued over the question of what light was made of. Light was very mysterious to scientists at the time, because in some experiments it acted like a wave, similar to the invisible radio and magnetic waves all around us. In other experiments though, light acted like a particle, a solid object like a Pop Tart, a textbook, a penny, a skyscraper… Anything that’s in one place and that weighs something is a particle. It didn’t seem to make sense for something to be an invisible wave and a solid particle at the same time, but in test after test, light was both! You might think it was time for these scientists to turn in their labcoats and get new jobs… this was too hard to figure out! Instead of giving up though, the scientists continued experimenting and studying the subject until they found a solution: light is a wave until it gets observed, then it becomes a solid particle!

This was huge news for scientists. If light acts like this, then other solid objects may not be so solid after all too. The scientists studying Quantum Mechanics presented this thought-provoking possibility: that that the world is actually a wave of possibilities until we observe it, then it becomes the solid place we can feel, touch, taste and smell. It’s a bit like hiding trash under your bed: if you can’t see it, it’s not there!

A Fun Classroom Activity for Common Core Standards

By Darcy Pattison

How do you get kids interested in a book about vultures and desert tortoises at a summer program where they are interested mostly in having some fun? And how do you do it while fulfilling the Common Core State Standards?

One of the tenets of the Common Core State Standards is the use of technology with kids. This summer, I volunteered at the Arkansas Audubon (ar.audubon.org/) summer camp. Camp Director Mary Smith agreed when I asked if we could do some videotaping with kids to create a book trailer for my new book, DESERT BATHS.

First, I studied the Common Core requirements. The Common Core ELA Speaking & Listening anchor standard #5 requires students to “Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding.” An appropriate task for this standard is for students to create a video. In this case, we also emphasized close reading of the text of Desert Baths (CC ELA Reading anchor standards #1, 2, 4) to understand how each desert animals stays clean.

Note: The camp had a wide range of ages, so I didn’t use any specific grade level standards. The Common Core provides Anchor Standards, which are in turn specifically interpreted for each grade level. By following the more general Anchor Standard, I was confident that we would accomplish something appropriate for each student.

After the close reading of the text, students were assigned an animal to act out and practiced a couple times.

Videotaping the Desert Baths Book Trailer

Videotaping with kids can be chaotic. In order to minimize this, I set up four stations.

  1. Camera man. The camera man was responsible for running the camera and taping the Actor. I use a Kodak Z-i8 hand-held camera because it is the only camera in its class with an external microphone jack. The camera was mounted on a tripod and the Camera Man had to make sure it was the right height for the Actor and was positioned for the setting to fill the screen.
  2. Actor. The actor was responsible for standing on the stage, saying his/her lines and acting out how a desert animal takes a bath.
  3. Sound Man. I plugged a lapel microphone into the Kodak Zi8 Camera. If you look closely, you can see the wire on the kids. The Sound Man was responsible for making sure the microphone was placed on the Actor correctly. Also, to conserve the batteries of the microphone, it was turned off except when in actual use. The Sound Man was responsible for making sure the microphone was turned on and off at the right times.
  4. Stage Director. This was a favorite task, because this person got to yell out, “Quiet on the Set.” In addition to starting and stopping the action, the Stage Director was responsible for making sure everything was set up correctly, the Actor was ready and then directing everyone to start.

The stations worked well because students came to the videotaping in groups of four and each student rotated through all the tasks. They knew their job was important and they took it seriously. Watch and see what fun they had.

Facebook Contest…Enter to Win!

Don’t pass this up guys! It’s easy and fun, and you could win your own personal elibrary. Starting now through December 31, check out our facebook page and post on our wall.  All you have to do is write your favorite thing about reading or the holidays.  And hey, you could “Like” us while you’re at it!

For example my favorite thing about Christmas is the hot Russian tea at my hometown tree farm, and the smell of my favorite Christmas tree candle. 

If you are in the holiday spirit to share your favorite thing about the holidays, or your favorite thing about reading, do it now while you still have a chance to win! We will be giving out 5 free personal elibraries between now and the end of December.

With one click, these eBooks read aloud to the children and page-flip from the beginning of a story to the end. Put a child in front of this eLibrary, and they will “play” for hours on end reading and listening to wonderful, award-winning picture books. We encourage parents to take this excitement and discuss the “For Creative Minds” section at the end of each ebook with their child. Each book homepage also has 40-60 pages of cross-curricular Teaching Activities plus 3 Interactive Reading Comprehension and Math Quizzes.

And since I’m in such a holiday spirit, I can’t help but share the recipe to the best hot winter drink EVER!

  • 1 cup of instant tea
  • 2 cups of tang
  • 1 tsp of cloves
  • 1 package of Wylers lemonade mix
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or less depending on taste)

Directions: Mix all of this together and keep it in a tightly sealed jar. Use 2 heaping teaspoons for one cup of tea.

And Wha Lah! There you have it…the best winter drink of all time!

What is a Synesthete?

So I came across a new word today: Synesthete. What in the world is that?  As I hope you know, reading can bring all sorts of new experiences and knowledge.  Here’s what I learned today through taking a few minutes to read something new and interesting:

A Synesthete is a person with a sensory image condition called Synesthesia.  For a long time, scientists didn’t bother to study these patients because they claim that they can hear colors and taste words!  How unusual is that? 

There was never any way to prove if these people were making it up, thus causing the condition to be widely misunderstood for many years. Also, Synesthetes tend to describe the things they see and feel in extreme detail, which has prompted scientists to link them to schizophrenics and other people with mental incapacities. 

Now, however, scientists are starting to learn that this condition is not an incapacity at all.  In fact, they are trying to prove that all humans are wired with the potential for Synesthesia…that it is just suppressed from us for some unknown reason. 

I hate calling this strange phenomenon a condition because it offers people certain benefits to creative thinking.  What if we can find a way in the future to unblock the neural path to Synesthesia?  If studies indicate that Synesthesia is about seven times more common in artists, poets, and novelists than in the rest of the population, does this mean that we can all have the maximum potential for creativitiy?

We can all be writers and artists! As Synesthetes are better at linking unrelated ideas, would we be able to find connections and hidden links to many of the mysteries we are investigating today?  You wait and see…I wouldn’t be surprised if a Synesthete discovered the cure to cancer!   

Also, some Synesthetes have been known to perform amazing feats of memorization, such as remembering the value of pi to 22,514 digits, while others are able to distinguish between very similar colors or have a heightened sense of touch.  Whatever the condition heightens, a math genius, or an artist could be born.

Now, just because we don’t all have Synesthesia, or access to it, this doesn’t mean we can’t be whatever we want to be.  Anyone can write a story, and anyone can be an author.  Sylvan Dell Publishing is proof of this, as we ourselves are a small, but quickly growing company.  Many of the books we publish are written by first time authors.  Habitat Spy, Hey Diddle DiddleThe Penguin Lady, and Gopher to the Rescue! are only a few.  

Take a look at these books, read them with your kids, and make sure to tell them that any time they choose, they could be a first time author too!