Science is a way of thinking. It is observing, predicting and experimenting, forming a hypothesis, testing it through experiments then comparing the results with the predictions. Typical science activities include comparing and contrasting natural materials like liquids and solids, blowing bubbles, and planting a garden. Below are books that discuss the environment and nature. Along with the books are activities that can be used to connect science to literature using a hands-on approach.
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
This book is about a young boy who plants a carrot seed and is hopeful that it will grow, even though everyone else tells him that it won’t. He continues to protect his seed by picking the weeds around it and keeping it watered, hoping that it will grow. Then one day the carrot grows, just as he thought it would.
Children can extend their learning by growing their own seed and exploring the life cycle of a plant.
Try this at home
Place a small amount of potting soil in a clear, empty CD case with a seed.
Keeping the soil moist and providing ample sun, the CD case will act as a “greenhouse” and allow the children to view the germination process.
Dinosaur Dinosaur by Byron Baxton
This book shows the many kinds of dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. Children can explore extinction and fossils.
Create your own fossil prints at home using play dough and dinosaur models. Compare the prints-size, how many toes, shape, etc.
Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley
This rhyming book explores the challenges a tree faces during the fall season.
There are many activities that children and parents can do at home to explore these challenges. A leaf rubbing is a great activity for young scientists. You can also teach about chlorophyll.
This is an adult demonstration only.
Have children tear 2-3 large leaves from the same tree type into small pieces and place in a glass jar then add enough rubbing alcohol to the jar to cover the leaves.
Use a plastic knife or spoon to carefully chop and grind the leaves in the alcohol.
Cover the jar loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place the jar carefully into a shallow tray containing 1 inch of hot tap water for at least a half-hour or until the alcohol has become colored (the darker the better).
Twirl the jar gently about every five minutes and replace the hot water if it cools off.
Remove the jar from the water and uncover.
Place a strip of filter paper into the jar with one end in the alcohol and the other over the top of the jar. The alcohol will travel up the paper, bringing the colors with it.
After 30-90 minutes the colors will travel different distances up the paper as the alcohol evaporates. Your child should be able to see different shades of green, and possibly some yellow, orange or red, depending on the type of leaf.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
This book follows the demise of the environment. The Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler, tries to educate a curious boy who is the world’s last hope.
The Lorax is a great book to read and incorporate around Earth Day. Children can explore recycling and the life cycle of a plant at home by creating a recycling program or by planting and caring for a small tree.
Kristian Cannizzo, Education Coordinator, is responsible for The Children’s Museum’s educational enrichment and outreach program – Science On The Go! She also designs and teaches STEM programs, babysitting classes and other programs for young learners at the Museum. Krissy has a Bachelor’s of Science in Child Study with a concentration in Family Studies from the University of New Hampshire and over fifteen years of experience working with children as an educator and child care director locally and nationally for the CWLA in Washington, DC. She is the mother of two active young boys.
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