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Posts Tagged ‘bilingual’

In addition to the physical Watershed Relief Map and the print map produced by the Department of Environmental Protection, here’s a book you can use to teach about the route water takes from rain to your tap and all the steps in between.

I first received a copy of this book in the late 1980s and have been in love with it ever since. Just like every other Ms. Frizzle adventure, the Magic School Bus Goes to the Waterworks by Joanna Cole is a fascinating, in-depth look at the steps from rain to tap. Kids will really appreciate how much work in takes to clean water before we can use it. The book is also available in a Spanish edition, an Italian edition, a Japanese edition, and a Greek edition!

The one caveat is that the story is a generic, every-town story, and New York City’s water system is a little different. A while ago, the Department of Environmental Protection here in New York City commissioned a NYC-specific version of the book. The last time I talked to them, they had run out of a budget for printing more, but you may want to reach out to DEP and see if they have new copies. Alternately, ask around – a colleague, friend, or local library may have a copy!

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You can, of course, start an herb, vegetable, or other edible garden. But another option is to garden for the purpose of attracting wildlife or to tie gardens into your literacy or math study. Here are some suggestions for interesting garden design concepts:

Try urban gardening for birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a website on gardens that attract birds, including where to garden, which plants birds like, and curricular connections.

A resource from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Or, you could garden to attract butterflies. Check out this website from the University of Kentucky for suggestions on how to create a butterfly friendly garden. Monarch Watch also has butterfly gardening ideas.

What about a literacy garden? Plant a garden to supplement a book your class is reading. For example, the garden at Brooklyn Children’s Museum features a “Rainbow Garden,” with flowers that bloom every color of the rainbow. Our gardener and lead science educator, Greta, designed the garden based on the book Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. Students read the book, see the garden, and get super excited. This book is also available in Spanish, as Cómo plantar un arco iris.

The beginnings of the Rainbow Garden last spring

And don’t forget gardening for math!

Check back next week for information on Greta’s culture gardens…

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If you’re interested in doing a whole unit on insects, you will need some books. Here are some kid friendly suggestions (with a bonus for any teachers with Spanish-speaking students; many of the book suggested are available in English and Spanish):

Insects by Barbara Taylor is a great resource for students who want to learn more about insects. It comprehensively covers most introductory questions students will want to know about insects. In addition, this book is available in Spanish as Insectos.

The Beetle Alphabet by Jerry Pallota uses the many kinds of beetles to teach the entire alphabet. Drawings are very detailed and help students see just how many different kids of beetles are out there. The reading level is 2nd-3rd grade, but the alphabet and drawings could be used with younger students as well.

Jerry Pallota has a number of other books, including counting books that use insects. These are available in English and Spanish: in English, there’s Icky Bug Numbers 1 2 3 and in Spanish, there’s Cuenta los insectos.

The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive by Joanna Cole focuses in on bees – demystifying these often scary creatures and helping kids learn about bee life. The book is written for 3rd grade reading level, but kids of all ages will draw information from it.

Then, of course, there’s the DK Eyewitness book Insect by Laurence Mound. Like all DK Eyewitness books, this one will answer almost every question a student will have and serves as a great reference for insect research. If you can get your hands on the most recent edition, it comes with a clip-art CD, providing you with you with lots of reference material. And, it’s also available in Spanish: Insectos.

Finally, don’t forget our earlier suggestion of a kid-friendly field guide like the National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America by Arthur Evans.

Do you have any other favorite insect books?

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Really understanding energy consumption and the need for energy conservation can be hard with young learners. But it can be done! Once you’ve started by helping students identify what energy is and used some of the wonderful NEED resources for energy education, here are some supplementary enery books appropriate for students in elementary school (grades 1-5).

Why Should I Save Energy? by Jen Greene presents kids whose computer crashes due to a blackout, leading the kids to examine energy use around them in their home. They come to realize that lots of machines use energy even when humans aren’t actively using the machine.

What’s so Bad About Gasoline?: Fossil Fuels and What They Do by Anne Rockwell focuses on the potential harmful effects of oil and what objects (cars, buses, etc) use gasoline. This book will help students see just how much oil is used around them.

Alternative Energy by Christine Peterson is a great follow up; now that students know about the drawbacks of oil use, this book catalogs other options, including solar, wind, water, geothermal, and biofuels.

Generating Wind Power by Niki Walker explains how exactly wind power can be turned into electricity as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using wind power.

Solar Power by Tea Benduhn explains what solar power is, how it works, gives a little information on greenhouse gases, and then explores objects that use solar power. PS: this book is also available in a Spanish edition for any bilingual teachers out there!

Do you have any other favorite energy books?

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Today, two favorite websites for early childhood science: Sid the Science Kid and Big Science for Little Hands. These are both great resources for teachers with students aged 3-5 and I hope they’ll help you plan great science lessons.

Sid the Science Kid's website; note the parents and teachers links on the right

A few months ago, the staff at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum had the opportunity to be trained by the team behind Sid the Science Kid. They talked us through the show’s format, the research behind Sid the Science Kid, and the show’s website. If you’re not familiar with the program, you can watch clips on the website or watch a full episode on your local PBS station.

What’s so great about Sid?

  • The show is all about the scientific method. Each episode starts with question that a kid might ask, like what happened to the bread I left out overnight, and then proceeds to test the question until the kids arrive at a conclusion.This is exactly the way to get kids ready for the full scientific method when older: start with a question, make a guess or prediction, test it, and then draw a conclusion.
  • Each episode has an activity and a game. Try them out with your students!
  • The vocabulary lists are amazing. Words are defined in a way that’s scientifically valid and developmentally appropriate. Check out the words they’ve defined so far and you will be much better prepared the next time a kid needs a new word defined. Here’s a link to the glossary.

The team from Sid the Science Kid does a lot of their planning using Preschool Pathways to Science: Facilitating Scientific Ways of Thinking, Talking, Doing, and Understanding, by Rochel Gelman, Kimberley Brennenman, Gay McDonald, and Moises Roman. It’s a great book to help plan science activities in your early childhood classroom.

This brings us to Big Science for Little Hands, produced by Science World in Vancouver. The website is all about science for preschoolers, with activities about wet and dry, air, contraptions, size, stickiness, and more. Most of it isn’t directly related to sustainability, but it’s all about getting kids to think scientifically. The activities are all designed to get kids engaged, unleashing their curiosity.

If you scroll down the homepage, you will find “questions to ask while exploring science with preschoolers.” These great questions, like “What has changed?” and “What has stayed the same?,” are simply worded questions that will help young learners get at complicated scientific truths. Best, of all, they’re available in English and 8 other languages: French, German, Spanish, Farsi, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Punjabi. I used to work at a bilingual school, so I’m always on the lookout for resources that you can send home with kids for use with their parents, even if those parents don’t speak English.

I hope these two websites will help you think about great ideas for your classroom. What other early childhood science websites do you like to use?

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