Monday, March 24, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: I know you know the answer to this one

I've been using Mondays to discuss books about writing, but yesterday, a priority request came in.


My daughter is designing the curriculum for a summer day camp for 1st and 2nd graders. The theme she's picked is: How Things Work. She has lots of ideas for hands-on activities, but she asked me for some book suggestions. Other than David Macaulay's standard of excellence, The New Way Things Work, what should she include? (Tricia, I'm going to your site now.)

And she'd love to find a poem on that theme, too. (Elaine, can you hear us?)

P.S. I can't imagine a better summer job for my literary/science-loving/crafty/ amazing daughter than this one.

Nonfiction Monday roundup is here, as always, at Picture Book of the Day. I'm going to plead my case over at I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) too.


  1. Sadly, I haven't done any physical science lists yet, but I'll get to work on one right away. Until then, here are a few ideas.
    Judith Hann's book How Science Works has great activities and explanations, though not at a 1st/2nd grade reading level.
    How Do You Lift a Lion by Robert Wells is great for simple machines.
    Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary has a great section where Leigh designs an alarm for his lunch box (great for circuits and electricity).
    Spectacular Science, with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, has a poem on Magnets (by Valerie Worth) and another called What is Science (by Rebecca Kai Dotlitch).
    Scien-Trickery by J. Patrick Lewis is a series of poems in riddle. Many of these are related to physical science.

    I'm off to class, but will think more about this and get back to you!

  2. P.S. - If your daughter wants to make a trip to Richmond and raid my files, she's more than welcome!

  3. Two more, then I'm really off to class!

    Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully

    Clever Trevor by Sarah Albee - This is a Science Solves It picture book that features a boy on the playground who figures out a way to outsmart bullies by using a simple machine.

  4. Here's a combo of science and verse, in Jon Scieszka's Science Verse.

  5. Sara,

    Things are a little slow over at I.N.K. today as we wait for our MIA poster.

    Vicki Cobb has several titles with science experiments that could be good for 1st and 2nd graders. The title that has been popular in my house is "Science Experiments You Can Eat."

    April Pulley Sayre has a new book called "Trout Are Made of Trees" about the food chain that sounds like it would be perfect for that age.

    Feel free to post a question so that those with more knowledge can offer suggestions.

    If I think of anything else, I'll be back.


  6. I have found this book:

    for my kids and I recommend it - but there are many more to check out. Science experiments are a great way to let kids learn how to experiment, using the Scientific method and give meaning to what they learn.

    Also, here is a "Why" book I would recommend as well:

    Tell your daughter to have fun and "good luck!" She will remember this summer for the rest of her life!!

  7. Whoop!! I knew you guys would come through, but these suggestions are more than great! Yay! I can't wait to share the wealth of ideas with my daughter.

  8. At the risk of adding a shameless plug here, my book Team Challenges has been well received by camp counselors and allows participants to gain an understanding of what works, both in communicating and cooperating with people and in creating successful structures. A few of the challenges require kids to build things that have moving parts, many others are challenges to build a structure (bridge or tower) using creative methods and materials. I've got samples up on my website with a link over to my Great Solutions blog. Perhaps this will be of value!

  9. Thanks, Kris. Shameless (on-topic) plugs like yours allowed! I'll have to go check those challenges out---they sound like fun. I know she's trying for a good mix of active, quiet, team and solitary activities.

  10. Sara,

    I've been working on my taxes today--so I haven't had an opportunity to look through my poetry collection. I can't say there's a whole lot about physical science. Life sciences, weather, and seasons are a different story. I hope I'll be able to find some poems for you and your daughter.

    Here are two poetry books that come to mind.

    1. EARTHSHAKE: POEMS FROM THE GROUND UP, by Lisa Westberg Peters. This book includes poems with the following titles: Instructions for the Earth's Diswasher, Recipe for Granite, Wyoming Layer Cake, Pumice Seeks Stone Work.

    2. FLICKER FLASH, a book of concrete poems written by Joan Bransfield Graham and illustrated by Nancy Davis. This is a book of poems about light--light from the sun, in a flash camera, a television, a light bulb, match, etc.

  11. Thank you, Elaine. You're right---physical science is not often covered in poetry, at least not for a younger level. I think a poem could be at a higher reading level, since they could be read to, and of course, there would be supporting activities. This is really interesting, seeing what everyone comes up with. I heard from my daughter via email, and she's very excited about all the ideas left here. Thank you all so much.

  12. Sara,

    Here are some more book suggestions for your daughter:

    POETRY (I'm not sure all of the poetry books are still in print.)

    1. MACHINE POEMS, collected by Jill Bennett (Oxford University Press, 1991)


    3. GO! POETRY IN MOTION, by Dee Lillegard (Knopf, 2006.) This book has really short rhyming poems about a lawn mower, roller coaster, garbage truck, freight train, helicopter, etc.

    4. WHAT IS SCIENCE?, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. This is a book-length poem in picture book format that's written in rhyme. (Holt, 2006)

    5. IF I BUILT A CAR, written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. In this picture book written in verse a boy imagines a fantastical car he'd build with a pool, snack bar, robot driver, etc. I reviewed the book for Wild Rose Reader several months ago. (Penguin, 2005)

    6. HELLO, ROBOTS, written and illustrated by Bob Staake (Viking, 2004). This is a humorous book written in verse about four robots named Blink, Zinc, Blip, and Zip that get their circuits crossed after getting caught in the rain.


    1. SO YOU WANT TO BE AN INVENTOR? by Judith St. George and David Small

    2. I STINK! and I'M MIGHTY!, two books about a garbage truck and tugboat, respectively, told from the truck's and boat's perspectives about their work.

  13. I STINK! and I"M MIGHTY are by Kate & Jim McMullan.

  14. Okay...just one more book...I think!

    THE DUMPSTER DIVER, written by Janet Wong and illustrated by David Roberts (Candelwick, 2007). The dumpster diver and neighborhood kids create useful things from people's trash. The book's a lot better than it sounds.

  15. Cool Stuff and How it Works and Cool Stuff 2.0 are both along the lines of "The Way Things Work" but include more recent inventions, like iPods and hybrid cars. They also have cool holograms on the cover that kids go gaga over.

  16. Thanks, Jennie! I don't know how my iPod works, so maybe I need that book. ;)

    And thanks again, Elaine, for going above and beyond. These suggestions are fantastic.

  17. Hey, Sara. The "How Things Work" volume of the ChildCraft Encyclopedia is perfect for first and second graders; it includes a few activities/experiments. It's a favorite of my son's.

  18. Susan, thanks. Kid recommended is always good!


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