Two About Matisse








Today at Supratentorial I’m sharing  two relatively new books on Henri Matisse offer complementary accounts of his life and work and make for a great elementary artist study. Colorful Dreamerby Marjorie Blain Parker looks at Matisse’s entire life, with about half the book in the period before he really became an artist. Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter focuses briefly covers Matisse’s early years but instead focuses on the time after he is confined to bed as an old man and how he managed to find a way to continue creating art when he couldn’t paint by using his giant paper cutouts.

For the full review and some Matisse inspired artwork, visit Supratentorial.

Middle Grade Science: Plastic, Ahoy

At Wrapped in Foil today we are sharing Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman and with photographs by Annie Crawley. This middle grade book follows three graduate students who are part of team observing and sampling a giant patch of floating debris during a nearly three week ocean voyage in 2009.

Plastic, Ahoy!- Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It is a giant floating mass of plastic debris in the northern Pacific Ocean. It was discovered in 1997, and not much is known about it. One surprising finding from the book was that much of the plastic is broken down into tiny bits. It isn’t like the floating trash heap you might envision. Virtually every net sample the students took, however, had plastic in it. One has to wonder how all that debris is changing the marine ecosystem.

Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a compelling and relevant introduction to modern marine science. You will want to share it with children interested in marine biology, chemistry or conservation. It would make perfect reading for Earth Day (April 22, 2014) or World Ocean Day (June 8, 2014). It would also be a useful addition to a unit on the environment, particularly the marine ecosystem.

For the book trailer and ideas for accompanying activities, see a related post at Growing with Science blog.

The Boy Who Loved Math

boy who loved math a The Boy Who Loved Math

by Debora Heiligman; illustrated by LeUyen Pham

44 pages; ages 5 & up

Roaring Brook Press, 2013

Paul Erdos loved numbers and grew up to be one of the greatest mathematicians in the world. And it all started with a big problem …his nanny. Nanny loved rules. Paul didn’t. So he counted the days until his mama returned. And he kept on counting. He added numbers, subtracted numbers, and discovered that you could go the other way beyond zero. Negative numbers – what a cool concept for a young child!

This book describes the life of a very eccentric mathematician who couldn’t tie his shoes but could find patterns for prime numbers. If you’re not too sure about prime numbers, don’t worry –  there’s a great explanation in the story. There are wonderful illustrations of Paul and his college classmates “doing math” around Budapest; they see math in rooftops and steeples. Read the rest of the review at Archimedes Notebook.

Call of the Klondike

Jacket (10)

Call of the Klondike
by David Meissner; illus by Kim Richardson
Calkins Creek, 2013

Between my driveway turning into a steep hockey rink and the icicles growing from my roof, I can’t think of a better book to read. If your kids love Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, or Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, they’ll love this true story of Arctic tales that will make their blood run cold (as Robert Service would say).

Call of the Klondike tells the true story of two unlikely cheekachos – Yale graduates who decided to try their luck in the Alaskan gold fields. It is chock-full of photos, letters, journal entries – all tied together with David Meissner’s wonderful narrative. A fun read, but put on your wool socks and grab some hot cocoa because it’s cold up there. You can read more at Sally’s Bookshelf.

Lighting Our World: A Year of Celebrations

Lighting Our World: A Year of Celebrations
by Catherine Rondina (Author) and Jacqui Oakley (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Throughout the year and around the globe, people use light — candles, bonfires, lanterns and fireworks — to celebrate special occasions. (This Friday it will be Chinese New Year.)

Chinese New Year (China)
At the end of the celebration we have a beautiful lantern festival, which also includes a giant paper dragon. This tradition is more than two thousand years old. Red lanterns are lit and hung everywhere for good luck. Fireworks explode in the night, making loud noises that scare evil spirits away.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

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Oceans & Seas

Oceans and Seas


Oceans & Seas

by Margaret Hynes

Lexile Level: NC 1130L (Non-Conforming)


What allows animals to live in a specific water ecosystem?

Help K-5 students answer this essential question (and meet the Common Core State Standards) with the Teaching STEM lesson plans for this mentor text: Oceans & Seas by Margaret Hynes (Lexile Level: NC 1130L)

Students will examine the essential question, “What allows animals to live in a specific water ecosystem?” Students will be grouped and assigned a specific ecosystem chosen from the suggested list. They will conduct research using a variety of sources to identify important information about an animal that lives in their assigned ecosystem and identify the adaptations the animal has that allows it to successfully live there.

The Library Activity begins on page 40. The Collaborative Teacher Activity is on page 42. Extension Activities (sample)

1. Investigate James Cook and other early ocean explorers. Create a timeline of the early explorations and where they took place from journey’s start to end. Add information about the explorers.

2. Look up cultured pearls and read about the process for creating these pearls. Write a description of how it’s done and the science behind it.

3. Explore the issues facing oceans today. Name the largest issues and assign students to research and present the information in a debate-style setting.

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Whose Tools Are These?

Whose Tools Are These?
written by Amanda Doering Tourville
2012 (Capstone Press)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Community helpers are an important subject in preschool and kindergarten. We have guest speakers come to school and teach students about their occupation. In the Community Helper Mysteries series from Capstone Press, students receive several clues about a particular service job. In Whose Tools Are These?, readers are shown a large room with chairs and a worker behind a computer. I would be curious to see how many readers would know from this first photograph where it was taken. In succeeding spreads, special gloves are shown as an important part of this line of work. An otoscope, which is used to look into a patient’s ear, is the subject of another photograph. By this point, most, if not all, of your students will know whose occupation is being featured. Other clues include a needle and thread for stitches, a needle for providing medicine, and a person looking at an x-ray. In the back of the book, a glossary reviews vocabulary from the text and a FactHound code is provided for further research.

This series of books will be a fun resource for community studies in preschool and kindergarten. You can use them to teach prediction lessons and for writing about community helpers. Before reading, I would create a circle map and fill out the outer circle of the map as we read the book. At the end of the book, we would fill in the inner circle. If you teach a unit on community helpers, find this series of books.

Come on over to NC Teacher Stuff for more book reviews and other thoughts.