The Cat in the Hat Science: Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?

The Cat in the Hat might not be the first book/character that comes into mind when you think of science, but it should be. Take a look at Random House’s The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library®, and the PBS TV series The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! and you will find a whole new way to introduce science to preschoolers and beginning readers.

Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?: All About Deserts by Tish Rabe and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu is a lively new addition to the series. As the title suggests, the Cat in the Hat character takes two children (with Thing 1 and Thing 2) on a learning adventure through deserts throughout the world told in the famous Seussian rhyming text (yes, I made that word up, but Seuss does that, too).

Because I live in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, I was curious to see how the book stacked up against traditional nonfiction science titles. I was pleasantly surprised. Tish Rabe has obviously done her research, and presents a number of interesting and relevant facts.

How does the rhyming work? Is it too light for serious science? Again, it works well. In fact, reading rhyme is a wonderful way for beginning readers to learn new vocabulary. If the readers come to an unfamiliar word, often it falls into place if they can relate it to another rhyming word. Thing 1 and Thing 2 hold up signs in the illustrations with pronunciations of unusual words, such as saguaro.

These books are definitely worth consideration. As the blurb on the back of the book says, “…The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library® shows young readers that books can be entertaining and educational at the same time.”

Related science activities:

  • Although the desert book isn’t included, there is a Activity Brochure on this page packed with ideas for earlier books
  • The PBS site has more in depth lesson plans (click on the linked titles), again for other books in the series
  • Saguaro cactus investigation

Reading level: Ages 5 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 11, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0375858687
ISBN-13: 978-0375858680

Other books in the series:

Stem Friday is at A Life in Books today. Click through for links to more excellent STEM books.

If you would like to participate in STEM Friday in the future, go to the new STEM Friday blog for more information.

Ant Antics

As some of you may know, I am wild about ants, so naturally I had to pick up Ant Antics by Deborah Lock. This DK Reader is full of the fabulous full color photographs you have come to expect from DK, and it is told in a lighthearted way using the point of view of the ants that is sure to pull in young readers.

Deborah Lock has done her research and her portrayal of the six types of ants she chose is accurate and realistic. Although she does move into some mild sensationalism as times (“…we each use our lethal weapon- a poisoned stinger!”), her text is for the most part balanced and is thoroughly readable.

A note to those of you with sensitive children:  there is one photograph of a dead lizard with ants crawling on it that could be disturbing.

According to the DK scale, Ant Antics is level 3, which means it is meant to be read alone. The vocabulary and sentence structure are more complex than a beginning reader, and it contains a full glossary and index.

Overall, Ant Antics is definitely a book that will interest young scientists and naturalists. Although I picked up the book I reviewed at the library, I will be on the lookout for a copy for my personal ant book collection.

Reinforce learning with some ant-related hands-on activities

Reading level: Ages 7 and up
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: DK CHILDREN (August 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0756689325
ISBN-13: 978-0756689322

Stem Friday is at Picture Book of the Day today. Click through for links to more excellent STEM books.

If you would like to participate in STEM Friday in the future, go to the new STEM Friday blog for more information.

Planes (from National Geographic Kids)

Planes by Amy Shields

Series:  National Geographic Readers

Reading level: Beginning/Easy Reader (Ages 4-8)

Summary: Narrator Pilot Nic tells about the smallest plane, the biggest plane, the fastest plane, and all other sorts of planes.

Illustrations: Color photographs

Comments: Planes will be a fun book for children interested in the topic. The formatting is perfect for the age group. The photographs are clearly labeled and laid out well. The book has a pictorial glossary at the end.

Related activities:

  • The book suggests pretending you are an airplane
  • Visit an airport to watch the planes taking off and landing
  • Fold and fly a simple paper airplane

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has another review and a lot of good ideas for using this book

Compatible fiction: Mr. Putter & Tabby Fly the Plane by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (September 14, 2010)

ISBN-10: 1426307128
ISBN-13: 978-1426307126

Stem Friday is at Simply Science today. Click through for links to more excellent STEM books.

If you would like to participate in STEM Friday in the future, go to the new STEM Friday blog for more information.

Welcome to STEM Friday

We are hosting STEM Friday today!

Look what wonderful Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics books our authors and reviewers have discovered:

Loree Griffin Burns stops by with links to some interesting science projects and a link to her new book

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by
Loree Griffin Burns, with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Shirley at Simply Science has

Prairie Storms by Darcy Pattison
Illustrated by Kathleen Rietz

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff discusses
Animal Fights
written by Catherine Ham
Anastasia at Chapter Book of the Day has

The Computer Zone: Jokes, Riddles, Tongue Twisters & “Daffynitions” by Gary Chmielewski and Jim Caputo (Illustrator)

Here at Wrapped in Foil, we review

Dinosaur Discovery: Everything You Need to Be a Paleontologist by Chris McGowan and illustrated by Erica Lyn Schmidt

Heidi at Geo Librarian highlights

Frozen Secrets, Antarctica Revealed
by Sally M. Walker

The Swimmer Writer presents a biography

Phillis Sings Out Freedom: the Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley by Ann Malaspina

That concludes STEM Friday. Thank you to everyone who participated.

STEM Friday folks, do we have a Twitter hashtag yet?

If you would like to participate in the future, go to Chapter Book of the Day for a list of STEM Friday hosts.