Book Review: Teaching Physical Science Through Children’s Literature by Susan E. Gertz

Book Review: Teaching Physical Science Through Children’s Literature by Susan E. Gertz

Teaching Physical Science Through Children's LiteratureTeaching Physical Science Through Children’s Literature by Susan E. Gertz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have reviewed this book not having read every word on every page, but having made myself familiar with the structure of the content, the resources it provides, and those involved with its development and delivery. I feel that this could be a valuable reference title for teachers and librarians who wish incorporate STEM activities with reading and language arts.

This book has 20 lessons to teach physical science (think physics, meteorology, astronomy, etc.) to elementary age children by introducing them to a concept in a children’s book (fiction or nonfiction).

For instance, just one of the activities after reading Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema, children make cloud bottles and make it rain inside of a 2-liter bottle. Each lesson provides ideas of adapting the activities to meet the needs of the specific audience, shows how the activity meets science education standards, and lists supplies needed and ways to prep before you begin.

Additionally, lesson extensions to include writing, math, and cross-cultural integration are included. For Bringing the Rain, the writing extension was to journal about observations and experiences. There was no math extension for that activity, although you could easily suggest that they measure the amount of water at different points throughout the activity to see if there is any change. The cross-cultural activity included a recipe for chapatis, an east African snack.

This title comes from Terrific Science Press, with funding from the National Science Foundation, and has a host of contributors, reviewers, and teachers who helped develop the lesson plans and classroom test them.

These lessons are presented for a classroom setting, but librarians could adapt them to introduce scientific concepts through picture books or easy readers in a storytime or book club setting. It will also show just how easy it can be to find concepts in other books and librarians will be inspired to come up with their own activities.

For those children that struggle with science, incorporating a storytelling aspect can be beneficial in helping them grasp more difficult concepts. I work with public libraries on ways they can bring books and robotics programming together in very similar ways. Thinking in these terms can be foreign to some librarians and this book gives a good introduction into how to do that.

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