Overview on Fractals Appropriate for Kids

Today we are featuring a book from last year that is still a gem, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell and photographs by Richard P. Campbell.

This gorgeous book walks the interface between picture book and middle-grade title. It starts simply, with common shapes found in the environment, giving the impression of a picture book for youngest set. Step-by-step the shapes become more complex until we are seeing the repeating patterns called fractals, which are exciting concepts geared for older students. Then readers are taken through examples of fractals in nature that range in scale from Queen Anne’s lace flowers to mountain ranges. Amazing!

In the back is an activity to make a type of fractal called a Sierpinski triangle, which is perfect to reinforce learning. The afterword by Michael Frame summarizes the life of Benoit Mandelbrot, who named fractals, as well as proposing some practical and potential uses for fractals.

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature is a great introduction to fractals appropriate for kids. It is sure to inspire students, particularly reluctant ones, to investigate math in greater depth.

For the original review, see Wrapped in Foil blog.

Learning About Rain Forests Via Infographics

Looking for a new way to teach infographics to middle graders? 30 Million Different Insects in the Rainforest (The Big Countdown) by Paul Rockett and illustrated by Mark Ruffle is all about visualizing numbers and infographics.

Rain-forest-book

Although the title might cause you to believe this book is about insects, it is actually about rain forests. The first two-page spread is a map that shows where tropical and temperate rain forests are found throughout the world. Tucked in around the sides are infographics about the numbers of plant and animals species per 1 km² and how number of species are evaluated.

The next infographic does show the number of insect species of seven major groups found in the rain forest. This particular graphic is interesting because the numbers increase from top to bottom, instead of the more traditional bottom to top. The reverse placement emphasizes the need to pay attention to the scale when reading graphs.

Continuing on, the reader will find out more about rain forests, including the people that live there, the layered structure, and even about poison dart frogs. Why it is so important to protect the rain forests is emphasized, particularly how rain forests are important for oxygen production.

30 Million Different Insects in the Rainforest is a catchy title that will help children learn the basics of handling data and statistics, while also learning about how important rain forests are to our planet. In a world that increasing relies on infographics to present complex information visually, this book is a great way for students to get prepared.

This review was originally posted at Wrapped in Foil blog.

In Search of the Little Prince

insearchofthelittleprince

In Search of the Little Prince
by Bimba Landmann (Author, Illustrator)

Booktalk: As a child, Antoine dreamed of flying. His dream was realized when he became a pilot, first serving France during World War I, then working as an international mail courier. As he wrote letters to his family describing the foreign countries he visited, he soon discovered that writing contained its own sense of adventure. His stories showed a childlike fascination with the world, culminating with The Little Prince, one of the best-selling books ever published.

This picture book biography begins on the endpapers with photographs of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his family as a child and an adult. There is also a quote from his writings (shared below).

Snippet:
At Saint-Maurice I have a huge trunk. I’ve been filling it, ever since I was 7 years old, with my plans . . . with the letters I receive, with my photos. With all I love, think about, and want to remember. At times I spread them out haphazardly on the floor. As I look down, I am reminded of all these things once again. Nothing but that trunk is of importance to me. –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Ideas Whenever I visit a school, the first question that the students ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?” I have been asked this question so many times that I included the answer in the bio on my webpage!

What I love about the quote that begins this biography is his age. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry began writing as a child.

At Saint-Maurice I have a huge trunk. I’ve been filling it, ever since I was 7 years old

And what did he place into that trunk?

I’ve been filling it, ever since I was 7 years old, with my plans . . . with the letters I receive, with my photos. With all I love, think about, and want to remember.

All of that inspiration is saved, it is stored.. but it is not forgotten.

At times I spread them out haphazardly on the floor. As I look down, I am reminded of all these things once again.

And so the book begins with its own mini lesson on the trait of ideas. There is even a painting of the huge trunk with letters spilling out. This picture book biography is two stories in one. Readers will learn about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s life and the creative process.

Find more booktalks with writing mini lessons on the Writing Lessons blog.

Nonfiction Monday

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Turn Early Readers into Wise Owls

Let’s become as wise as owls with the new early reader Great Horned Owls by Melissa Hill and Gail Saunders-Smith, PhD (Consultant Editor).

great-horned-owls

Great Horned Owls is part of the new Owls series from Capstone that features common species. Readers explore where owls live, what they eat, and their life cycle.

The large color photographs help youngsters see what great horned owl adults and chicks look like. The variation in feather colors is surprising. No matter what color they are, however, the adults all have the large tufts of feathers on their heads which give them the name “horned.”

A map shows the range of these common, widespread owls. They are live in North America and parts of South America, from the coldest north to the hottest deserts. Throughout that area, great horned owls will eat many different kinds of animals, including skunks and scorpions.

Great Horned Owls is packed full of interesting facts about these nocturnal creatures. It is a “great” book to have on hand when budding birdwatchers want to know more about an owl they might have seen or heard. Before they know it, they will be as wise as owls themselves.

Be sure to stop by Growing with Science blog for a full review, as well as additional activity and book suggestions.

Gritty, Real-World Math Book

Sometimes children wonder if they are ever going to use the skills and concepts they are learning in school. Launch a Rocket into Space (You Do the Math) by Hilary Koll and Steve Mills goes a long way to help answer that lingering question by showing children important real-world applications for math.

launch-a-rocket-into-space

“Hi, my name is Michael and I’m an astronaut.”

So starts a journey into space that uses math at every step of the way. Michael helps the reader compete the math exercises while guiding a younger female trainee. Together they learn about everything from fractions to timelines. The first activity involves evaluating data about astronaut candidates to select those that fit the height, age and eyesight criteria. A few problems will require a protractor to measure angles.

Although the illustrations are often set up in panels with conversation bubbles like cartoons, the graphic-style illustrations are bold and serious, not lighthearted. They are likely to appeal to visual-learners and reluctant readers, as well as fans of serious nonfiction.

Launch a Rocket into Space is perfect for homeschoolers and after school math clubs because they can be entirely child-directed reading with answers to check in the back.

Read more about it and see a preview at Wrapped in Foil blog.

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy: Practical Tips for Staying Safe Online

smartgirlsguidetoprivacy

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy: Practical Tips for Staying Safe Online
by Violet Blue (Author)

Booktalk: The whirlwind of social media, online dating, and mobile apps can make life a dream—or a nightmare. For every trustworthy website, there are countless jerks, bullies, and scam artists who want to harvest your personal information for their own purposes. But you can fight back, right now.

Award-winning author and investigative journalist Violet Blue shows you how women are targeted online and how to keep yourself safe. Blue’s practical, user-friendly advice will teach you how to:

* Delete personal content from websites
* Use website and browser privacy controls effectively
* Recover from and prevent identity theft
* Figure out where the law protects you–and where it doesn’t
* Set up safe online profiles
* Remove yourself from people-finder websites

Even if your privacy has already been compromised, don’t panic. It’s not too late to take control.

Snippet:

RECOVERING FROM HARASSMENT

Telling a victim “You shouldn’t have done it,” or “What did you expect?” is pointless, unfair, stupid, and just plain wrong. Instead of blaming and shaming, how about some information you can really use to help you make the decisions that are right for you? I’ll equip you with tools to mitigate, minimize, and even possibly avoid damage if something goes wrong.

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Conventions Ever wonder how to quote a sentence inside of another sentence? This excerpt shows you how. The first quoted sentence is written just like dialogue. After the opening quotation marks, the first word of the quoted sentence begins with a capital letter.

Telling a victim “You shouldn’t have done it,” or

The last word of the quoted sentence begins has punctuation before the closing opening quotation marks. The first quoted sentence ends with a comma, just like it would if the sentence was written as a stand alone line of dialogue.

The word or lets the reader know that more is coming…

or “What did you expect?” is

Just like the first quoted sentence, the first word of the second quote begins with a capital letter. It is the ending of the sentence that is different. The first sentence was a statement, so the period at end was changed to a comma when it was converted to dialogue.

The second quoted sentence was a question, so the ending punctuation remained the same. The end punctuation for a question is always a question mark. The closing opening quotation marks come after the question mark.

The word or lets the reader know that more is coming…

or “What did you expect?” is pointless, unfair, stupid, and just plain wrong.

The complete sentence also has end punctuation. This one ends with a period because it is a statement.

When this sentence is spoken aloud the pauses shown in the punctuation are auditory. The listener can hear the silence, the pauses, indicated here by the punctuation. On the written page, however, we use punctuation to add those pauses. All of this punctuation adds meaning and helps the reader understand what the writer is trying to convey.

Find more booktalks with writing mini lessons on the Writing Lessons blog.

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Honoring Cesar Chavez on Labor Day (ages 8-11)

I want to take a moment on Labor Day to honor Cesar Chavez and share a new biography that conveys his life and work clearly for young readers. This is a must-have for school libraries, and also a good choice to have at home.

Cesar Chavez
True Books biographies series
by Josh Gregory
Children’s Press / Scholastic, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
ages 8-11

Cesar Chavez changed conditions for farm laborers across the United States, especially in California. He helped farm workers come together to demand better working conditions and fair wages, and still inspires people today to stand up for their rights.
“Cesar Chavez changed farm labor in the United States.”
Bright photographs will draw students in to this biography, but it’s the overall design that makes me recommend it so highly. This biography is written in clear, short sentences — but more than that, it is organized clearly in a way that helps students form a clear picture of his life.
Head over to Great Kid Books to read more about this book and TrueFlix, the online service we subscribe to for our students.