Here are some Big Universe Learning titles that might be of interest especially around the time of Mother’s Day:
- A Mother’s Journey Acclaimed nonfiction author Sandra Markle presents the daring story of a mother emperor penguin’s struggle to reach the sea, find food, avoid predators, and make her way back to her mate and their newborn chick before they starve. Alan Marks’ luminous illustrations highlight the harsh conditions and stunning landscapes of Antarctica.
- A Zany Zoo Day Mom is in for a surprise when a trip to the zoo brings out the animal in everyone!
- Grandma’s Feather Bed Upbeat, funny and irresistibly singable, this song was made famous by John Denver and now made doubly delightful by Christopher Canyon’s illustrations. Especially if you listen along with Denver, kids will say, play it again! It is all about the cousins, the chicken pie, four hound dogs and a piggy, but as the song says, the best darn thing about Grandmas house was her great big feather bed.
- Emma’s Question A question scritches and scratches at the back of Emma’s throat.Emma is a curious kid. She loves to ask questions,and she loves the silly answers that her grandmother always gives. But now Emma has a very important question, one that she is bursting to ask, one that scritches and scratches at the back of her throat. Her grandmother is sick and has to stay in the hospital. Emma wonders if Grandma will still be able to read to her kindergarten; if she will still make up funny stories over bagels on Wednesdays; if she will still be able to watch her after school.
- We Like the Beach A girl and her mom go for a walk on the beach. They see some of their favorite things.
- Animal Mothers and Babies This book helps children learn to read with descriptions of animal mothers and their babies.
These are just a few of the publisher books about mothers. There are also many Member Books that have been created for and about mothers.
Just as all mothers are unique, each of these titles represents an individual and interesting book to read …
Maybe you will choose to read a book or a poem about mothers …
Maybe you will choose to write and create a book or a poem about mothers …
Find a way to celebrate and share!
Earth Day is a special day celebrated each year on April 22, designed to celebrate the Earth. Founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was first organized in 1970 to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution. Every year more than 100 different countries join together in celebration of this special day. We can celebrate Earth Day by remembering to appreciate nature and protect our environment.
Earth Day is usually celebrated with outdoor performances, where individuals or groups perform acts of service to earth. Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for recycling and conservation, using recyclable containers for snacks and lunches. Teaching children to recycle can have a profound impact on our environment.
Big Universe can help you celebrate Earth Day in the classroom. We’ve selected a few titles from our online library that teach lessons about pollution, going green, and the environment!
- In The Clean Team by Anna Prokos children learn valuable lessons about keeping the Earth clean through the characters of Neat Nick and Sloppy Joe. Sloppy Joe learns the importance up picking up his trash and caring about the world around him.
- Our Footprint on Earth by Jeanne Sturm teaches students about the impact that humans have on the Earth, the environment, and also discusses ways to reduce damage. It also includes information on the dangers of pesticides and making the shift to clean energy sources.
- Rain forests are some of the most beautiful and resource-rich environments on Earth. Readers will discover the layers of the rain forest, the animals and plants of the rain forest, and how people interact with the rain forest in Rain Forests by Colleen Sexton that targets readers from six to eight.
- Eco-friendly energy is explained in Going Green by David and Patricia Armentrout. This book covers everything thing from fossil fuels and pollution, to solar, wind and hydrogen power. It also explains to kids how they can make a difference in our environment by making small changes like shutting off lights and unplugging small appliances when they are not in use.
- Did you know that the average person produces four pounds of trash each day? A Mountain of Trash by Loren I. Charles delves into how trash can be sorted, as well as ways you can help to keep the Earth a clean place.
- Plants and animals that need one another in an environment form an ecosystem. All ecosystems have energy pyramids that show the exchange of energy from one food source to another. Biomes are areas of the Earth that have their own climate and characteristics. Ecosystems all over the world are in danger due to pollution, hunting, and other factors. You can learn about conserving water, recycling, and reducing pollution, as well as how we can help protect Earth in Inside Ecosystems and Biomes by Debra J. Housel.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Suzanne Barchers the students in this book want to protect the environment. It also includes graphs to show the many ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle.
- From sea urchins in the Atlantic Ocean to bandicoots on the Australian savanna, animals recycle all over the world. Explore how different animals in different habitats use recycled material to build homes, protect themselves, and get food in Nature Recycles–How About You? by Michelle Lord.
Posted on February 19, 2013 by Suzan Woodard in Integration Ideas, Literacy, Reading Lists, Uncategorized.
Tags: Astronomy, February 19 Google Doodle, Music and Literacy, Music in the Classroom, Nicolaus Copernicus' birthday, Online Science Books for Kids, Planet Jive, Song About Planets
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Google Doodle marks a noteworthy astronomer’s birthday today. Big Universe supports the sciences 24/7 with 1000-plus online math and science books for children.
Did you see the Google Doodle today? It’s awesome and animated. I sincerely love it when the beauty of science and the accomplishments of scientists and researchers are lauded. Thank you, Google.
Although I’m a writer by trade, I’m a science enthusiast to the core of my being. Big Universe does a great job of supporting science literacy. We have more than a thousand math and science books for kids online – at all reading levels. The website’s search tools make it easy to find what you are looking for.
Today’s Google Doodle marks the 540th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, the founder of modern astronomy. Back in his day, the rest of humanity thought the Earth was the center of the universe. Copernicus, however, insisted that the Earth revolved around the sun along with the planets. His idea was not well received. Years later, Galileo and his trusty telescope confirmed Copernicus’ theory.
Big Universe’s “Rourke’s World of Science Encyclopedia, Volume 7” is an excellent place to start exploring the topic of space. The book’s whole focus is astronomy. Or click this link to the Planets page on Big Universe Learning for other leveled-reading options.
One more thing. I have a song to pass along. Please tell your students that it’s a late valentine from me to them. It’s an educational song on Youtube that’s sure to get stuck in their heads. It’ll help your kids memorize the planets in our solar system. Who can resist a catchy song, right?
Here’s the link for Planet Jive and the lyrics:
Mercury now is the one closest to the shining sun.
Venus, Earth and then comes Mars orbiting that burning star.
Jupiter is next to them, largest in the solar system.
Saturn keeps on orbiting, see how the rings keep circling.
Uranus looks blue and green. It’s cold, at minus 353 degrees.
Neptune is the bluish one, its atmosphere is hydrogen.
Pluto is the furthest out, the smallest planet there’s no doubt.
Nine planets orbiting the sun make up our solar system.
*Note: Interested in reading more about using music in the classroom? Click the following links to articles by Big Universe blogger Elizabeth Peterson: “Music in Our Schools” or “The Arts and Literacy: Part Two”.
A heartwarming book about Valentine’s Day by Big Universe’s publishing partner Starbright.
Big Universe Learning has plenty of books about different holidays, and Valentine’s Day is no different.
Author Miriam Cohen and illustrator Ronald Himler collaborated on “Bee My Valentine,” a picture book published in 2009 by Starbright Publishing.
Aimed at 5- to 8-year-olds, the storybook deals with social and emotional learning, diversity awareness, self-awareness and with emotions such as sadness and compassion – all parts of adapting to the school environment.
Although instructed to be fair and kind, some first-graders in the book overlook one of their classmates during the annual Valentine’s Day card exchange. Readers will see how classmates rallying around another student can cheer him up and turn a not-so-good-day into a terrific one.
The 32-page book has a Reading Level of Lexile 450. The ISBN is #9781595723864. A 2.9 Reading Quiz is available too. The story is part of the “We Love First Grade! ™ series.
The publisher offers a second Valentine’s Day Book, titled “A Sweetheart for Valentine” by Lorna Balian.
In this story for ages 3-8, villagers find a giant baby whom they decide to raise together. They name her Valentine. They care for her until she is grown, but then wonder if they will be able to find a sweetheart big enough to sweep her of her feet. This 32-page hardback book (ISBN 978-1-932065-14-5) can be ordered for $15.95 by clicking through to the publisher’s website.
On this Valentine’s Day, you also may like to read a popular collection of Valentine’s Day poems. Go to my blog “Kid Friendly Poems for Valentine’s Day” You will also find classroom activities in my blog “Valentine’s Day Printables for the Classroom.”
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I read the first sentence of Nirvi Shah’s list of “Books Recognized for Social-Emotional Lessons” and stopped:
“Wanda Petronski has a weird name and wears the same old faded blue dress to school every day—and her Connecticut classmates don’t let the little Polish girl forget it for a second.”
Wait a minute. I had a “weird” Polish name. Classmates asked if I were Indian (they didn’t say Native American Indian back then), and laughed before I could answer. They also butchered the pronunciation, and my second-grade teacher made a spectacle by diagramming my name, phonetically, on the chalk board. Classmates slandered my last name, followed by haughty laughs. None of them had a Polish last name. And none of them heard a litany of Polish jokes in-between lessons from Jake. My best defense was an eye roll, perfected in fourth grade. And that fourth grade crush ended pretty quick.
And what about Wanda’s faded blue dress? I cringe when I remember my blue jeans in sixth grade. My mother bought me three or four pairs of same jeans, and not a label like Jordache. Not slim and dark wash, not paired with cowboy boots. I wore Sporting Gear and sneakers. I had no defense. I heard snide comments, whispers and loud mockery – all in front of my teacher while we waited to hand in paperwork. My eye roll didn’t work so well here – I kept my head high and my back turned. I thought that these girls were my friends, and learned how girls can turn on you like a friendly-to-ferocious-dog in nanoseconds. But more importantly, I couldn’t understand why my teacher, who heard things like this and saw other things, never lifted her eyes in my direction.
This book, The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, written in 1945, not the 1980s, could have been written 2013. Although a lot more to Shah’s overview, and much more to the book, the Open Circle Program at Wellesley Centers for Women has compiled a list of the top 25 books addressing Social-Emotional learning.
So, you can see why I think Social-Emotional literacy in the classroom is a good idea. Aside from integrating Social-Emotional-themed books into the classroom, there are classroom-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs available to schools. Collaborative for Academic, Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a not-for-profit organization that works to advance the science and evidence-based practice of social and emotional learning. The organization was founded in 1994 by Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, educator/philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller Growald, Timothy Shriver, Linda Lantieri, Mark Greenberg and David Sluyter.
Here is the 2013 CASEL Guide. What do you think of Social-Emotional literacy? Have you used any recommended books or curriculum ideas? We’d love to hear from teachers who are implementing Social-Emotional literacy in their classroom.
This past week end, my husband and I finally subscribed to Netflix. (Why has it taken us so long?) One of the first movies we downloaded was The Grey with Liam Neeson. It was a great movie set in the wilderness of Alaska where a plane of oil riggers crashes and seven men are left to fend for themselves against the cold, starvation and a ferocious pack of wolves. It was a great movie that got me re-interested in wolves.
It took me back to a field trip I took with my class and the other fourth grades to Wolf Hollow in Ispwich, Massachusetts. There we learned a lot about the behaviors and personalities of wolves. It was quite interesting to learn how wolf packs are like an old-fashioned, traditional family. Every wolf knows their place and every wolf helps out the family. If not, you are on your own.
In recent days, I’ve gone online here to Big Universe to see what books are available and, as usual, I am not disappointed. There is a great collection of age levels, topics and genres. Take a look:
Family Pack - This picture book tells the story of a female wolf who wanders and finds a mate. Together they start their own family.
One Wolf Howls
- This counting book of sorts takes you through the year with beautiful pictures of wolves’ behaviors.
– This funny book discusses wolf behaviors through a little girl who goes to camp and comes back acting strangely.
Wolf Pack of the Winisk River
- This chapter book is beautifully written in poetry telling the story of a lone wolf’s search for a pack and journey of survival.
There are other options as well. The read aloud version of Boy Who Cried Wolf is a great addition to this collection as well as a rendition of Little Red Riding Hood, called Little Ruth Reddingford and the Wolf. For all the wolf titles, go to this link
Wolves are fascinating animals from the real life behaviors of tight knit families to the portrayal in fables and fantasy, we are amazed by them and it shows in literature. It’s no doubt then, that you can find this great collection right here at Big Universe.
After my last post where I explained how my students created flip books to illustrate the various text and graphic features of informational texts, I was excited to see that Rourke Educational Media is the publisher spotlight of this week! They have some amazing informational resources that I look forward to sharing with my students this week.
Here are only a few of the high interest informational texts they provide.
American Coins and Bills
Arctic Appetizers: Studying Food Webs in the Arctic
Landing at Ellis Island
The White House
And they have bilingual texts as well! This is a great resource for me as I have many bilingual and ELL students in my classroom.
¡Barcos! ¡Barcos! ¡Barcos! (Boats! Boats! Boats!) (Mis Primeros Descubrimientos)
But it’s their encyclopedias that really caught my eye. They are top notch.
There are 9 Volumes in this series of Science Encyclopedias. There’s a set in English and one in Spanish.
Rourke’s World of Science Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Human Life
Descubre el mundo de las ciencia Enciclopedia (Rourke’s World of Science Encyclopedia) Volume 1
There are 14 Volumes of Encyclopedias focusing on the History of Our Presidents.
Rourke’s Complete History of Our Presidents Encyclopedia, Volume 13
And a set focusing on Native American History and Culture. (10 Volumes)
Rourke’s Native American History and Culture Encyclopedia, Volume 1
These encyclopedias are beautifully laid out and offer great examples of everything from headings and captions to illustrations and diagrams, things we teach our students to look for and study before and during their reading of informational text.
Today, I plan to show my students some of these pages using my computer’s projector as a way to discuss yesterday’s inauguration of President Obama and as a culminating activity to the text and graphic features we have been studying. I know students will be captivated by the digital format of these encyclopedias.
If you haven’t already, please check out this wonderful collection of Rourke Encyclopedias and Informational Texts. There is surely something for every class!
This post is an excerpted and modified post I wrote for the PBS Parents blog Booklights in October 2009. I have tweaked it and also updated it with additional resources for finding great easy reader recommendations.
Do you know the story of The Cat in the Hat? Not the one about hat-wearing mischievous feline, but how he came to be the world’s most recognized cat. In 1954, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist John Hershey wrote an article for Life magazine called “Why Do Students Bog Down on First R?”
In his article, Hershey said that the primers given to kids to help them learn to read were “antiseptic.” For one thing, the children were “unnaturally clean.” He said what they needed were better illustrations … like the kind Walt Disney and Theodor “Ted” Geisel created.
As a result of the article – and Rudolf Flesch’s book Why Johnny Can’t Read and What You Can Do About It (1955) – publishers Random House and Houghton Mifflin joined forces and hired Ted Geisel, who at the time was known only for his illustrations, to create a primer using new-reader vocabulary.
The result was the 220-word story known the world over as The Cat in the Hat. This is the book that catapulted the writing career of Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.
Through repetition and rhyme, Dr. Seuss’ books not only have given us hours of pleasure reading with our kids, but they helped many of us become accomplished readers. Many of the Dr. Seuss books we love sharing with our kids are, in fact, what we now call easy readers.
Today, many of the boos designed to help kids become readers have a banner or label that says “learning to read” in some form, but others look like picture books … as many of Dr. Seuss’ books still do.
Oddly enough, 50-odd years after Hershey’s article and Dr. Seuss’ success you can still find “antiseptic” books that take the fun out of learning to read. Luckily, there are authors and illustrators who have followed in Dr. Seuss’ path, creating engaging books that help kids grow as readers and have fun learning, too. Here are few places you can go to find some of the best, recommended easy readers available.
American Library Association (ALA) Website
2012 Geisel Award Winner
Each year, the ALA sponsors the (Theodor Seuss) Geisel Awardto recognize and celebrate the legacy created by Dr. Seuss.The award, first presented in 2006,
“recognizes the “the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.”
In addition to a medal winner, the ALA commemorates honor books, too. For 2012 there are three Honor Books: I Broke My Trunk (Elephant and Piggie Series) written and illustrated by Mo Willems; I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen; and See Me Run, written and illustrated by Paul Meisel.
Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (Cybils)
Since 2008, the Cybils have had a category just for easy readers and early chapter books. The 2012 list has just been winnowed from 35 nominations to just five finalists.
One of the reasons the Cybils lists are a go-to resource for me is because each of the nominated book was loved by the readers (adult and children) … they have read-tested the book and the really like it. Yes, there is ultimately a winner, but that list of five finalists is a sure-fire group of books, too. Here are the finalist lists for 2008 to 2011. All are printer-friendly PDFs, with blurbs … and since Easy Reader is the top of the category alphabet, you’ll find them on page 1!
Social Book Sites
The social book site Goodreads is a platform for readers to share their book lists and book recommendations. Goodreads has a list of Popular Children’s Easy Readers
. Not surprisingly, you’ll find lots of Dr. Seuss, there. You can also find a similar list on LibraryThing
Although I don’t usually use “best selling” as a criterion in evaluating a book’s quality, I did find the Best Selling Books for Beginning Readers
to be an incredibly valuable list. Sorting the books into categories like animals, parent / family relationships, funny books, and values can help locate books within the interest range of their budding reader.
In closing, when you are ready to for new stories to sit side by side with The Cat in the Hat and his friends, you can’t go wrong using these resources to find recommendations. Do your young readers have a favorite Dr. Seuss book or easy reader? I would love to hear about them!
Big Universe has dozens of books to inspire math mojo.
Why are children in the United States having trouble keeping up with their global peers in regard to mathematics? Students in grades 4-8 have been scoring below their international counterparts on a consistent basis, according to studies by the American Institutes for Research. This trend is reflected even more dramatically by the time U.S. kids traipse the halls of high school.
Some children love math, while others never develop that crush. For many, the intrigue wanes quickly. Why? And, what can we do about this disheartening trend?
“For those of us who have been intoxicated by the powers and possibilities of mathematics, the mystery isn’t why that fascination developed but why it isn’t universal,” said New York Times reviewer Edward Rothstein in an article about MoMath, the exciting new $15 million Museum of Mathematics that opened Dec. 15th in Manhattan.
The math museum – the first of its kind – may be small potatoes in the big scheme of things, but its announcement on my news feed was a little ray of sunshine on a dreary day in South Carolina.
MoMath’s target audience is for grades 4-8. It’s a “proselytizing museum,” says Rothstein, designed to convince visitors that math can be jolly good fun – engaging at the very least. I imagine the museum would be a good field trip destination for elementary and middle school students; however, I suspect my husband, a Furman University math professor, would enjoy the place, too.
Dr. Jo Boaler – Stanford University math education professor and former Marie Curie Foundation chair in England – also addresses mathematics’ sullied reputation in her book “What’s Math Got to Do with It?” In her publication, the award-winning math education researcher offers parental advice, study strategies, and thoughtful classroom approaches to show how “parents and teachers can help children learn to love their least favorite subject.” Boaler is a prolific writer; her works include “The Elephant in the Classroom” and writings about gender, teaching style and learning.
While adults – yes, even teachers – often become jaded math victims, Boaler believes kids start off with a natural fascination for counting, observing patterns, and playing number games. Building blocks, dice, interlocking cubes, matching games, puzzles, and numerical patterns found in nature are just a few of the ways kids develop spatial reasoning and foster an understanding of numerical correlation.
Inspired teachers, creative picture books, well-written text books (sans “recipe math”) and relevant hands-on work can go a long way in putting a positive spin on a subject so foundational to a solid education. Big Universe offers numerous online books to supplement classroom teaching in this area. Check them out:
A Few of the Math Titles on Big Universe
If you like what you see online, consider purchasing a hard copy of your favorites for your classroom reading corner. (Think of it as a Christmas gift that will keep on giving!) Each online picture book on Big Universe has a “Buy Print Book” tab option on its main page, which will connect you with the book’s publisher.
Character education is a great topic to cover any time of the year. In light of recent events, so many people have been talking about how getting down to the basics of good human behavior is something that is ever so important. We need to look out for each other, care for one another and show love and acceptance to all. At the same time we need to have appropriate consequences for bad behavior and know when what we have done is wrong.
Now is a great time to review what it means to be a caring person, a helpful friend and a person of integrity. Stories have always been a wonderful way to illustrate these types of character traits and behaviors and you have a library of books focused on character education at your fingertips right here at Big Universe.
Here are some examples:
Helping Hands – Ocho is the best at helping others. But who will help him when he needs it? Character concept: Caring: Be kind.
Let’s Bee Friends – Why is Bear bothered by Bee when she can be a sweet friend? Character concept: Trustworthiness: Be a good friend.
Living rough – In most ways, Poe is like the other kids in his school. He thinks about girls and tries to avoid too much contact with teachers. He has a loving father who helps him with his homework. But Poe has a secret, and almost every day some small act threatens to expose him. He doesn’t have a phone number to give to friends. He doesn’t have an address. Poe and his father are living in a tent on city land. When the city clears the land to build housing, Poe worries that they might not be able to find another site near his school. Will Poe have to expose his secret to get help for himself and his father?
Snowball Effect – Dylan and his friends snowball cars for entertainment on the weekend. When they don’t get enough reaction from passing cars, they put rocks in the middle of their snowballs. Their first attack with the loaded snowballs causes a car crash. His friends flee, but Dylan goes to the scene of the accident to make sure the driver is okay. He runs off when he knows help is on the way. Dylan is sighted, and rather than being punished, he is lauded as a hero. As his lies pile up, so does the hype about his heroics, and along with it, Dylan’s guilt.
These books are great for processing situations and leading discussions with kids about what is right, how to be kind and how to always do the right thing.