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Professor at Texas Woman's University, editor of LIBRARIANS' CHOICES, avid reader, movie lover, and zealous traveller
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1. El día de los niños/El día de los libros 20th anniversary

Today is officially El día de los niños/El día de los libros, celebrated every April 30. And today is particularly special, since it’s the 20thanniversary of Día. This special celebration was conceived by and established by founder Pat Mora, author, poet, and literacy advocate. In March 1996, while being interviewed in Tucson, Arizona, she learned about the holiday El día de los niños celebrated in Mexico. Realizing that the United States had nothing similar, Pat proposed linking Children's Day, the celebration of childhood and children, with literacy and bilingualism, creating a new holiday: El día de los niños/El día de los libros.

Earlier this month, Pat also delivered the prestigious May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture in Santa Barbara, CA, “Bookjoy! Alegria en los Libros!” the Garvin Theatre at Santa Barbara City College. Fortunately, they recorded her talk and you can watch it in its entirety here

Meanwhile, here’s the official description of Día from the ALSC sponsor website: “El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), commonly known as Día, is a celebration every day of children, families, and reading that culminates yearly on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.”

Check out the ALA/ALSC website for
free downloadable materials, tips for starting a book club, booklists, toolkits, and more. You can find even more info, help, and celebration videos at Pat’s websitePlus lesson plans here and even more resources here.

Share Pat’s celebratory picture book all about Día, Book Fiesta! and her poem about Día in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (below) to celebrate this special anniversary of this special day.


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2. Science + Poetry = Earthworms

Here is the final installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Elizabeth Zelenak (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “earthworms” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around learning about earthworms. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
  • Wiggling Worms at Work by Wendy Pfeffer
The poem that works perfectly with this book is “Reliable, Pliable Worms” by Celia Warren from her book Don’t Poke a Worm till it Wriggles. Below is a graphic featuring this book pair and others, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Soil Inventory” by Kate Coombs from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Science of poetry graphics created by Elizabeth Zelenak
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3. Science + Poetry = Classifying rocks

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Susan Williams (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “classifying rocks” from the series of professional resource books,"Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around learning about classifying rocks. The focus picture book pair is:
  • If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian
  • Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth by Natalie M. Rosinky
Susan chose an excerpt from “If You Find a Rock” by Peggy Christian as the poem to accompany this pair of books. Below is a graphic featuring this book and others, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “My Rock” by Ken Slesarik from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Susan Williams

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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4. Science + Poetry = Motion and force

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Melissa Willardson (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “motion and force” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around learning about motion and force. The focus picture book is:
  • Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
The poem that works perfectly with this book is “Sledding (Uphill and Downhill)” by Karma Wilson from her book, Outside the Box. Below is a graphic featuring this book and others, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Push Power” by Janet Wong from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Melissa Willardson
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5. Science + Poetry = Ben Franklin and the engineering design process

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Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Meghan Hunt (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “Ben Franklin and the engineering design process”from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around learning about Ben Franklin and the engineering design process. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta 
  • Build It: Invent New Structures and Contraptions by Tammy Enz
Meghan chose an excerpt from Dream, Invent, Create: Engineer the World for her featured poem. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “My Experiment” by Julie Larios from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Science of poetry graphics created by Meghan Hunt

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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6. Science + Poetry = Solids, liquids, freezing & melting

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Marianne Vadney (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “solids, liquids, freezing & melting” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons"by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around learning about solids, liquids, freezing & melting. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Wemberly’s Ice Cream Star by Kevin Henkes
  • Why Did My Ice Pop Melt? By Susan Korman
The poem that works perfectly with this book pair is “Ice Cycle” by Mary Ann Hoberman from the book, Once Upon Ice and Other Frozen Poems selected by Jane Yolen. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Changes” by Janet Wong from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Science of poetry graphics created by Marianne Vadney
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Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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7. Science + Poetry = Observe and infer

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Victoria Tamez (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on learning to “observe and infer” drawn from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around learning to observe and infer. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Dr. Xargle's Book of Earth Hounds by Jeanne Willis
  • Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
The poem that works perfectly with this book pair is “To Look at Any Thing” by John Moffitt from the book, Spectacular Science compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “For the Science Fair” by Ann Whitford Paul from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Victoria Tamez
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Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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8. Science + Poetry = Properties of bubbles

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Susan Scholz (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on the “properties of bubbles” from the series of professional resource books,"Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around the properties of bubbles. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Bubble, Bubble by Mercer Mayer
  • Pop! A Book About Bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The poem that works perfectly with this book pair is “Water Droplets” by Celia Berrell from her book, Science Rhymes. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Prism” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Susan Scholz

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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9. Science + Poetry = Butterfly life cycle

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Christina Moncayo (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “observing seashells” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around observing seashells. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Next Time You See a Seashell by Emily Morgan  
  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Christina featured an excerpt from A House for Hermit Crab as her featured poem to accompany the book pair. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Mrs. Sepuka’s Classroom Pet” by Ken Slesarik from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Christina Moncayo

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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10. Science + Poetry = Observing seashells

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Christina Moncayo (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “observing seashells” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around observing seashells. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Next Time You See a Seashell by Emily Morgan  
  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Christina featured an excerpt from A House for Hermit Crab as her featured poem to accompany the book pair. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Mrs. Sepuka’s Classroom Pet” by Ken Slesarik from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Christina Moncayo
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Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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11. Science + Poetry = Conservation and protecting the planet

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Tarri Miller (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “conservation and protecting the planet” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons"by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around conservation and protecting the planet.The focus picture book is:
  • The Three R's: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca and Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel
The poem that works perfectly with this book is “Jack Be Nimble” by Jan Peck and David Davis from their book, The Green Mother Goose. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Recycling” by Susan Blackaby from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Science of poetry graphics created by Tarri Miller

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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12. Science + Poetry = How popcorn pops

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Charaley Macias (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “how popcorn pops” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around how popcorn pops. The focus picture book is:
  • Popcorn! by Elaine Landau
Charaley chose two poems to match with this book: “Jack Be Nimble” by Bruce Lansky from My Dog Ate My Homework and “Hot Water” by Marilyn Singer from her book, Central Heating: Poems About Fire and Warmth. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poems “Hot Water” along with a "bonus" poem, “Microwave Oven” by Janet Wong from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Science of poetry graphics created by Charaley Macias

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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13. Science + Poetry = The sun and sun safety

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Amy Kennedy (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “the sun and sun safety” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around the sun and sun safety.The focus picture book is:
  • Sunshine on My Shoulders by John Denver, ill. by Christopher Canyon
The poem that Amy has matched with this book is “The Sun” by Louise Fabrice Handcock from her book,The Su, the Moon, and the Stars. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “What I Know About the Sun” by Eileen Spinelli from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Amy Kennedy
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Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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14. Science + Poetry = Constellations and the night sky (2)

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Nicole Sportsman (in my "Poetry for Children" class) also selected the focus on “constellations and the night sky” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around constellations and the night sky. The focus picture book pair is once again:
  • When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer by Walt Whitman (ill. by Loren Long)
  • Spots of Light: A Book About Stars by Dana Meachen Rau
Nicole also focused on the classic Walt Whitman poem from the featured book, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.” Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Looking at the Sky Tonight” by Janet Wong (a different poem) from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Nicole Sportsman 

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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15. Science + Poetry = Constellations and the night sky

Here is the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Elizabeth Jackson (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “constellations and the night sky” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons"by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around constellations and the night sky. The focus picture book pair is:
  • When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer by Walt Whitman (ill. by Loren Long)
  • Spots of Light: A Book About Stars by Dana Meachen Rau
Elizabeth focused on the classic Walt Whitman poem in one of the featured books, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.”Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Orion Nebula” by Mary Lee Hahn from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!






Science of poetry graphics created by Elizabeth Jackson
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Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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16. Science + Poetry = Trees

Here is the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Amy Horn (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “trees” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons"by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around trees. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel
  • Be a Friend to Trees by Patricia Lauber
The poem that works perfectly with this book pair is “Leaves” by Douglas Florian from her book, Poetrees. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Photosynthesis” by Marilyn Singer from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Today is also Poetry Friday, so don't miss all the other wonderful poetry sharing hosted by Michelle at Today's Little Ditty. See you there! 


Science of poetry graphics created by Amy Horn
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Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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17. Science + Poetry = Seeds and seed dispersal

Here is the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Kristin Hill (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “seeds and seed dispersal” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around seeds and seed dispersal.The focus picture book pair is:
  • Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by JoAnn Early Macken
  • Who Will Plant a Tree? by Jerry Pallotta
The poem that works perfectly with this book pair is “Bye, Bye, Berries” by Carole Gerber from her book, Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Pumpkin Experiment” by Mary Lee Hahn from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Kristin Hill
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Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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18. Science + Poetry = Coral reefs and ocean animals

Here is the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Carole Hensleigh (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “coral reefs and ocean animals” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around coral reefs and ocean animals.The focus picture book pair is:
  • Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes
  • Coral Reef Animals by Francine Galko
The poem that works perfectly with this book pair is “Coral” by Kate Coombs from her book, Water Sings Blue. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem and Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Moving to Atlantis City 2112,” by Steven Withrow from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!



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Science of poetry graphics created by Carole Hensleigh 
Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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19. Science + Poetry = Birds and Beaks

Here’s the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Chazley Dotson (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “birds and differing beaks” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around birds and differing beaks.The focus picture book pair is:
  • Unbeatable Beaks by Stephen R. Swinburne
  • Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III
The poetry book that works perfectly with this book pair is “Martín Pescador” by the late Francisco X. Alarcón from his book, Animals Poems of the Iguazú / Animalario del Iguazú. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem and Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, "Discovery / Descubrimiento" by Margarita Engle, from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!



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Science of poetry graphics created by Chazley Dotson

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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20. Science Friday meets Poetry Friday

[I'm pausing in my series for a moment to feature a new venture. But don't worry, there are lots more picture books + poetry + science coming!]

When Janet (Wong) and I attended the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) conference last fall, we strolled the booths and were pleased to discover an exhibit featuring Science Friday. SCIENCE Friday? We immediately thought that we should introduce them to POETRY Friday! 


Now, we're so pleased to report that Science Friday is featuring a poetry post this week in celebration of National Poetry Month-- and our work in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science is the focus. What a thrill! 

You may already be familiar with the amazing resources available at Science Friday, but I hate to say that I was not. I have certainly enjoyed them since! They bill themselves as "brain fun for curious people" and that is exactly right. Their by-line: "Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday is the source for entertaining and educational stories about science, technology, and other cool stuff." They feature TONS of podcasts and boast 1.5 million listeners on public radio weekly. It all started as a radio show in 1991, but now they also produce awesome videos and original digital content and offer lots and lots of rich educational resources ready-to-go for classroom or family fun. 

Janet and I worked with the lovely Xochitl Garcia, Education Program Assistant, and Ariel Zych, Education Manager, to create the educational resources that are up right now here:






And be sure to subscribe to their excellent Science Friday newsletter too. 

Now for more focus on POETRY Friday, head on over to Writing the World for Kids where Laura is hosting our party!

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21. Science + Poetry = Phases of the Moon

Here’s the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Vanessa Flores (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “phases of the moon” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around phases of the moon. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Next Time You See the Moon by Emily Morgan
  • Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle


The poetry book that works perfectly with this book pair is “The Moon” by Douglas Florian from his book, Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem and Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Queen of the Night,” by Terry Webb Harshman from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Science of poetry graphics created by Vanessa Flores

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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22. Science + Poetry = Phases of the Moon

Here’s the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Tamara Hammer (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “insects and invertebrates” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around insects and invertebrates. The focus picture book trio is:
  • The Perfect Pet by Margie Palatini
  • Bugs Are Insects by Anne Rockwell
  • Ant! Ant! Ant! by April Pulley Sayre

The poem that works perfectly with this book pair is “Dragonfly Lights” by Jane Yolen from her book, Bug Off: Creepy, Crawly, Poems. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem and Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Pollination,” by Margarita Engle from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!





Science of poetry graphics created by Tamara Hammer

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com


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23. Science + Poetry = Fossils and Understanding Prehistory

Here is the next installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Corey Haynes (in my "Poetry for Children" class) selected the focus on “fossils and understanding prehistory” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around fossils and understanding prehistory. The focus picture book pair is:
  • Fossil by Claire Ewart
  • Fossils Tell of Long Ago by Aliki
Haynes focuses on an excerpt from “Fossil” by Claire Ewart for her poem selection. Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem and Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Trilobite,” by Mary Ann Hoberman from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!













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Science of poetry graphics created by Corey Haynes

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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24. Science + Poetry = Constellations and the night sky (2)

Here is another installment in my series of science poetry tied to science-themed picture books. My graduate student, Nicole Sportsman (in my "Poetry for Children" class) also selected the focus on “constellations and the night sky” from the series of professional resource books, "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan (and published by the National Science Teachers Association). Here are her three infographics centered around constellations and the night sky. The focus picture book pair is once again:
  • When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer by Walt Whitman (ill. by Loren Long)
  • Spots of Light: A Book About Stars by Dana Meachen Rau
Nicole also focused on the classic Walt Whitman poem from the featured book, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.” Below is a graphic featuring all these books, followed by the featured poem, and then the Take 5 activities to accompany the poem along with a "bonus" poem, “Looking at the Sky Tonight” by Janet Wong (a different poem) from The Poetry of Science. Enjoy!




Science of poetry graphics created by Nicole Sportsman

Image credit: dialoguealumninews.wordpress.com

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25. Book launch: THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

[I'm pausing again in my science + poetry celebration to do something a bit different.]

I'd like to toot the horn for a brand new book out today:

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan (published by Random House) and illustrated by Abigal Halpin. Check out Laura's blog here and Abigail's blog here.


This is a new novel in verse for the middle grades (gr. 3-7) and I was fortunate to read an advance copy and create an educator's guide for the book. You can find a link to the whole guide here. (The activities are even correlated with the CCSS, if that's helpful to you.)


Here's the publisher's blurb that describes the book: Is the pen mightier than a bulldozer? Fifth grade poets stand up to save their school in this delightful debut novel. This year, Ms. Hill’s fifth graders are writing poems to put into a time capsule. This year, the school board plans to tear down their school to build a supermarket. They might be the last fifth grade class of Emerson Elementary. No way! Inspired by Ms. Hill’s 1960’s political activism, the students decide to save their beloved school. As they circulate petitions, stage sit-in, and test the waters of democratic action, personal questions, triumphs, and sorrows find their way into their poems.


Here are a few nuggets from the guide to whet your appetite!

Timeframe

This novel in verse is broken into four sections using the idea of “quarters” of the school year and months and days of the calendar. Before each section, stop and talk about what usually happens during this time of the school year (e.g., seasons, holidays, special events). Then after each section, review those highlights and how they affected the fictional students and what readers anticipate might happen next. Use the poem titles to help guide the discussion about the big topics, themes, and ideas along the way.

Before sharing this book, display a copy of your class roster and invite students to consider what a book might be like that features a cast of characters as big as a class. If you have a group photo of the class, show that, too. Or show a vintage photo of a class from years gone by available at Shorpy.com. Talk about how this book offers a verbal “snapshot” of one class across a whole school year—all told through poems written as if by 18 children in one fifth grade class.

Characters
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There are 18 fifth grade students featured in Ms. Hill’s class in THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY and the story unfolds from their multiple points of view. In addition, the students are portrayed in tiny portraits on the cover of the book. Challenge students to visualize each of the student characters in the book as they read, making notes about the unique personality and situation of each character using the “class seating chart” sheet below. They can decide where each student sits on the chart and what key words they would use to describe each student and add those words to each student’s desk. They might even consider which of these fictional students they may want to be for a readers’ theater performance.
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And there's heaps more in the guide itself and in the book to explore! 

Related Books
Plus, if you'd like to link this verse novel with other related books of poetry, here you go. For further reading, here are other books of poetry told through multiple (fictional) student perspectives:
Cheng, Andrea. 2008. Where the Steps Were. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
Frost, Helen. 2014. Room 214: A Year in Poems. (10th Anniversary Reissue of Spinning Through the Universe, 2004). New York: Macmillan.
Herrick, Steven. 2008. Naked Bunyip Dancing. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
Sidman, Joyce. 2007. This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. Ill. by Pamela Zagarenski. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

And for a collection of poems that features one poem for every day of the school year, counting down from the first day of school to the last, look for:
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year. Ill. by Ethan Long. New York: Little, Brown.

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