Nature and Science Programs at Wonder Works


Recommended: Children’s Books about Animals with Bones
July 4, 2012, 7:53 am
Filed under: Animals with Bones

The Nature Works theme for July 6-7, 2012 was Animals with Bones.  We did lots of activities about the kinds of animals that have bones inside their bodies — vertebrates, like mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.  There were real bones to touch and pretend bones to dig out of pretend dirt.  There were real, live animals with bones to watch (and sometimes touch) and pretend animals with bones to search for in the Great Outdoors exhibit.  The live animals included snakes, rats and mice, a lizard, and an aquarium with tadpoles and frogs.  We also dissected owl pellets to see what kinds of bones are inside them (mostly mouse bones) and made tracks like those made by the feet of animals with bones.  Click here to see photos of our Animals with Bones activities.

We also had a table with books about animals with bones, including Shira Belenke’s recommendations for children’s books about bones, skeletons, and the kinds of animals that have them.  Shira is the former Director of Education at Wonder Works and is currently studying to be a librarian.  She is helping out with Nature Works this summer by making lists of recommended books about the topic of the week.

Each review, below, includes a link to that book’s entry in SWAN, a computer network that many Chicago-area libraries use to share books (including Oak Park Public Library).  If your local library is one of the 80 members of SWAN, you can follow the links below and put a hold on any of Shira’s recommended books.  Go here for more information about SWAN.

Presnall, J.J. (1995). Animal Skeletons. (K. Kest, Illus.). New York, NY: Franklin Watts.  Follow this link to SWAN.

There are a few childhood songs dedicated to bones.  In Judith Janda Presnall, readers learn about the similarities and differences between different animal’s bones. 

There are a few childhood songs dedicated to bones.  In Judith Janda Presnall, readers learn about the similarities and differences between different animal’s bones.  Divided into 8 chapters, the book starts by explaining skeletons in general.  Later chapters discuss the unique skeletons of specific groups of animals.  Kristin Kest’s true to life illustrations support Presnall’s text, giving visual examples of the textual material.  Questions and activities pertaining to the subject discussed are scattered throughout the book.  The answers to these questions along with a glossary and a list of further reading are located at the end of the book.  This book is too old for many of the museum’s patrons, but it is a great resource for parents who have very inquisitive children.  Ages 8 and up.

Davies, N. (2007). White Owl, Barn Owl. ( M. Foreman, Illus.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Nicola Davies created a clever book that combines a fictional story with actual information.  When a young girl discovers her grandfather building a wooden box, she starts on a course leading to seeing her first owl up close. 

Nicola Davies created a clever book that combines a fictional story with actual information.  When a young girl discovers her grandfather building a wooden box, she starts on a course leading to seeing her first owl up close.  The fictional story is contained to the sides of the pages.  Michael Foreman’s beautiful illustrations seamlessly incorporate owl related facts.  The back of the book contains additional information about nest boxes and an index for easy reference. This well paced story works as both a read-along for younger kids and a read alone for older children.  Ages 4 and up.

Sill, C. (2008). About Rodents: A guide for children. (J. Sill, Illus.). Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.  Follow this link to SWAN.

According to Cathryn Sill’s book, About Rodents, rodents account for roughly 40 percent of the world’s animals, from the common house mouse to the exotic capybara.

According to Cathryn Sill’s book, About Rodents, rodents account for roughly 40 percent of the world’s animals.  John Sill’s true to life illustrations complement the text and gives readers an up-close look at rodents.  Some of these are rodents one might find in a house, such as a mouse, while others readers may be less familiar with, such as the capybara.  Sill’s simple text describes various rodent characteristics.  At the back of the book are paragraphs that are more complex, expanding on the information touched upon on each page.  The book also contains a small glossary, bibliography, and list of websites for further reading.  The short simple sentences make this a great informational book for early readers.  Ages 3 and up.

Hess, N. (2004). Whose Feet?. (J. Kanzler, Illus.). New York, NY: Random House.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Before learning how to identify animal tracks, children need to learn about the different shapes and abilities of feet.  Nina Hess focuses on seven different animal feet and their specialized functions.

Before learning how to identify animal tracks, children need to learn about the different shapes and abilities of feet.  Nina Hess focuses on seven different animal feet and their specialized functions in the book, Whose Feet.  John Kanzler’s illustrations nicely complement the text by first focusing on the feet and then panning out to show the entire animal.  Kanzler’s illustrations coupled with Hess’s riddles gives readers a chance to figure out for themselves “whose feet”. This book is a great read for children interested in animals, riddles, or both.  The simple language and short sentences make it a good choice as a read-along or a beginning read-alone.  Ages 2 – 6

Barry, F. (2008). Little Green Frogs. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.  Follow this link to SWAN.

This simple little rhyme about the birth and maturation of frogs is made exciting with an exciting, non-traditional book construction.

This simple little rhyme about the birth and maturation of frogs is made exciting with non-traditional book construction.  Instead of simply turning each page, the reader folds the pages back in different directions creating anticipation of the final product, which corresponds, with the maturation of the frogs.  The actual illustrations have a collage look to them, adding to the uniqueness of the book. The text has a nice repetition and rhyme to it, which makes it a nice choice for a read-along.  This is a great book to share during one-on-one story times.  Ages 2 – 5.

Hawes, J. (2000). Why frogs are wet. (M.A. Fraser, Illus.). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Judy Hawes delves into the exciting world of the frog in her book, Why are frogs wet. Hawes supply’s readers with interesting facts and information about frogs. 

Judy Hawes delves into the exciting world of the frog in her book, Why are frogs wet.  Starting with the evolution of the frog from a purely water dwelling animal to an amphibian, Hawes goes on to supply readers with interesting facts and information about frogs.  Mary Ann Fraser’s true to life illustrations support Hawes’ text, adding visual depth to the book.  Contained at the end of the book is a simple activity with questions, as well as a short list of books for further reading. This is a good choice for children with questions.  Ages 5 and up.

Mayer, M. (1967). A Boy, A Dog and A Frog. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.  Follow this link to SWAN.

This is a purely illustrated story about the effort a little boy and his dog make to catch a frog who refuses to cooperate with their plans. 

Anyone who has ever tried to catch a frog will be able to relate to this entertaining story created by Mercer Mayer.  The humor is easy to find in this story about the effort a little boy and his dog make to catch a frog who refuses to cooperate with their plans.  The delicate illustrations and the detailed facial expressions on all the characters create a rich story without the support of text. Ages 2 and up.

Mayer M. (1969). Frog, where are you?.  New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.  Follow this link to SWAN.

The little boy and his dog are back, once again looking for the frog in this follow up to, A boy, a dog, and a frog

The little boy and his dog are back, once again looking for the frog in this follow up to, A boy, a dog, and a frog.  Mercer Mayer does not disappoint in producing a rich and deep picture only story.  With new settings and characters, the story is fresh and self-contained, despite being a continuation.  Ages 2 and up.

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Marcellino, F. (1999). I, Crocodile. New York, NY: Harper Collins.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Where lions are kings of the forest, crocodiles are kings of Egypt, at least according to Fred Marcellino’s book, I, Crocodile.  In this story, readers are privy to the internal dialog of a crocodile.

Where lions are kings of the forest, crocodiles are kings of Egypt, at least according to Fred Marcellino’s book, I, Crocodile.  In this story, readers are privy to the internal dialog of a crocodile who went from living an idyllic life in Egypt to an attraction on display for the amusement of Napoleon and all of Paris. The text is simple and easy to follow while the story is full of anticipation and excitement.  The illustrations do a wonderful job of portraying the crocodile’s facial expressions throughout his experiences.  The combination of the well-paced text and the humorous illustrations make this an enjoyable story starting as a read-along and growing into a read-alone.  Ages 3 and up.

Arlon, P. (2008). Mammal: discovery starts with a single word. New York, NY: KD Publishing.  Follow this link to SWAN.

With so many differences and similarities, readers learn what makes an animal a mammal in,  Mammal: Discovery starts with a single word.

We are part of a class of animals with bones, the class Mammalia.  With so many differences and similarities, readers learn what makes an animal a mammal in, Mammal: Discovery starts with a single word.  This book contains a table of contents along with an index for easy reference.  The illustrations are easy to recognize photos of various animals.  What makes this book fun is many of the pages are fold out in different directions, containing either additional information or answers to questions.  The simple text and short sentences makes this a good choice for a beginning reader or a young child with a short attention span.  Ages 3 – 6.

Arnosky, J. (1994). Crinkleroot’s 25 Mammals every child should know. New York, NY : Bradbury Press.  Follow this link to SWAN.

Jim Arnosky’s book helps children start on the difficult task of learning and differentiating the various animals they encounter.

Jim Arnosky’s book helps children start on the difficult task of learning and differentiating the various animals they encounter.  The book begins with a brief explanation of mammals.  After that page, the text becomes limited to the name of the animal or animals featured on the page.  The 25 animal pictures are a stylized representation of their live counterparts.  This is a great choice for adults who enjoy adding to their child’s stories, after reading the word “dog”, ask the child what a dog says.  Since there is minimal text, this is also a nice read for children learning their letters or simple words.  Ages 1 – 3

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Meet the Nature Works poster boy
May 30, 2012, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Animals with Bones, Nature Works

This is the little guy shown on the 2012 Nature Works posters. He’s my son, Ethan. The poster photos were taken almost 10 years ago. Now Ethan is 17 years old, but he is still an avid naturalist. (Here’s a PDF version of the poster that you can download: http://neighborhoodnature.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/nature-works-poster-5-10-2012.pdf )

In this photo Ethan is holding a box turtle that was crossing a road in southern Illinois. He was afraid it would get hit by a car, so he moved it to safety, deeper in the woods (in the direction it was heading as it crossed the road).

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