Elementary Science Program


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Observe and describe the structures of a
variety of common animals—fish, snails,
earthworms, and sow- bugs:

  • Recognize characteristics that are similar and different between animals

  • Describe how related animals such as goldfish and guppies have similar characteristics

  • Handle animals with care, and participate in the care and feeding of classroom animals

  • Books for Kids
  • Teacher Resources
  • Web Sites
  • Tips and Hints

Books for Kids

Are You a Snail? Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. Kingfisher, 2000,31 pp, ISBN 0-7534-5242-1. Describes the life cycle, habitat, and role of a snail in the biosphere in a kid-friendly format. Colorfully drawn pictures in muted hues surround the text.  Reviewed in Science and Children Nov/Dec 2000, 49. (Grades K-4)

What's the Difference? Ten Animal Look Alikes. Judy Diehl and David Plumb. 23 pp  ISBN 0-55037-564-4. Explains the distinct physical characteristics or habitat requirements that make a n animal unique. Students can use observation skills to look at the large, rich illustrations of the animals to detect differences between similar animals (e.g. frogs and toads, crows and ravens). It is almost like a treasure hunt. When children have exhausted the pictures, reading the explanation will add to their understanding that although two animals may look similar, they have unique properties. Reviewed in Science and Children Feb 2001, 46. (Grades K-4)

Big and Little Steve Jenkins. HoughtonMifflin, 1996, ISBN 0-395-72664-6. Living things, diversity, size and scale are among the topics discussed in this highly recommended book. Ages 4+

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest Steve Jenkins. Ticknor & Fieldes, 1995, ISBN 0-395-69701-8. Another highly recommended book by Steve Jenkins, this one is about observing and comparing living things. Ages 4+

Compost Critters Bianca Lavies. Dutton Children's Books, 1993, ISBN 0-525-44763-6. Ages 6+

Wonderful Worms Linda Glaser. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1992, ISBN 1562947303. "My multiage class of first/second grade students were entranced with the illustrations in this book. The simple format was easy for them to understand and allowed them to compare/contrast earthworms with other animals we have studied. It has led to a deeper study of the ecology and the beginning of a compost pile/wormery in our classroom. Best of all, the GIRLS were the best worm farmers!" (amazon.com). For further information and a description of how one teacher used this book in a first-grade classroom, see We Need More Earthworms!.

Each Living Thing Joanne Ryder. Gulliver Books, 2000, ISBN 0-1520-1898-0. This poetic celebration of animals large and small reminds us that while some creatures are cuddly and companionable, others can be ferocious, helpless, or shy. No matter how creepy, slimy, mean, or odd an animal might seem, they all need us to be considerate of them. As a day moves gently from morning to night, a variety of children interact with-or keep a respectful distance from-creatures in their natural environments.

A Pill Bug's Life John Himmelman. Children's Press Ages 4+ On a spring morning, a young pill bug and her many siblings hatch out of their mother's underbelly pouch. Her life cycle is portrayed ably enough feeding, growing, shedding and eating her ld skin, and facing dangers from insects, spiders, humans, and so on. The pill bug is shown rolling herself into a ball for protection from the likes of harvestmen (defined in the brief glossary as "a long-legged cousin of spiders") and a curious child. Finally, she finds a dead log to sleep under during the winter. Spring comes, she finds a mate, and the process begins again. An introductory sidebar explains that pill bugs are actually crustaceans, not insects. Each page offers a large, appealing illustration, drawing the youngsters into the action. Although death and reproduction are briefly alluded to, they are not dwelt upon. (amazon.com) A highly recommended look at isopods.

An Earthworm's Life John Himmelman. Children's Press Ages 4+

Earthworms, Underground Farmers, Patricia Lauber. Henry Holt & Co, 1994. ISBN 0-8050-1910-3 A highly recommended look at earthworms.

The Snail's Spell, JoAnne Ryder. Scholastic, 1982.  ISBN 0-590-4419-0 Ages 3-6.

Some Smug Slug Pamela Duncan Edwards. 1997 Ages 4-9  Notable Children's Book in Language Arts

Teacher Resources

The Foss website may have material for students and teachers that relates to this unit. Check the website to see interactive simulations, to write questions to a scientist, to find teaching tips, and to talk with other classes using FOSS.

Organisms and Their Needs Curriculum Companions contains detailed resources tailored to modules dealing with animals. Take a look at the growing list of resources for this module. Background info, enrichment, interdisciplinary ideas, images, assessment, tips and comments, and kids web pages are all included in this useful site


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Web Sites

FINS, the Fish Information Service There's something fishy about this web site! Actually, the whole site is pretty fishy: it's packed to the gills with information about aquaria, the types of fish best suited to life in an aquarium, and ways to keep your cold-blooded pets happy, healthy, and hale. A comprehensive index of fish species covers salt and freshwater fish and is searchable by type of fish, their Latin name, and their common name. Kindergarten - 12 (ENC Digital Dozen, January, 2003)


Tips and Hints