Friday, August 31, 2007

Those Amazing Animals!

Studying animal adaptations is a part of the elementary science curriculum in VA in both second and third grade. Students study hibernation, migration, camouflage and more. One of the things that kids find most fascinating (teachers too!) are the interesting and outrageous way some animals take the art of adaptation to the extreme. The books listed below are wonderful resources for examining the many ways animals adapt to their environments.
  • What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? written by Robin Page and illustrated by Steve Jenkins - Beautifully illustrated with cut paper collage, this book explores the amazing things animals can do with their eyes, ears, noses, mouth, feet and tails.
  • What Do You Do When Someone Wants to Eat You? by Steve Jenkins - This book, also illustrated with Jenkins' signature cut paper collages, describes how various animals, including an octopus, a bombadier beetle, a puff adder, and a gliding frog, escape danger.
  • Exploding Ants: Amazing Facts About How Animals Adapt by Joanne Settle - Who can resist a book with chapter titles like fooled ya, invasion of the body snatchers, and sucking blood? Learn about frogs that use their eyeballs to help swallow their food, caterpillars that look like animal droppings, worms that live in a dog's nose mucus, and many other approaches to survival.
  • Picture Window Books has two terrific nonfiction series. The first, called Animal Wise, was awarded a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers. Written by Patricia Stockland and published in 2005, this series includes the following titles:
    • Pointy, Long, or Round: A Book About Animal Shapes
    • Red Eyes or Blue Feathers: A Book About Animal Colors
    • Sand, Leaf, or Coral Reef: A Book About Animal Habitats
    • Strange Dances and Long Flights: A Book About Animal Behaviors
    • Stripes, Spots, or Diamonds: A Book About Animal Patterns
    • Swing, Slither, or Swim: A Book About Animal Movement

    The second is called Animal Extremes. Written by Michael Dahl and published in 2006, this series includes the following titles:
    • Cold, Colder, Coldest: Animals That Adapt to Cold Weather
    • Deep, Deeper, Deepest: Animals That Go to Great Depths
    • Fast, Faster, Fastest: Animals That Move at Great Speeds
    • High, Higher, Highest: Animals That Go to Great Heights
    • Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Animals That Adapt to Great Heat
    • Old, Older, Oldest: Animals That Live Long Lives

  • Claws, Coats and Camouflage by Susan Goodman - Using photographs and questions to get kids thinking scientifically, this informative text looks at all the different adaptations animals use to adapt to their surroundings, stay safe, get food, and reproduce.
  • Fur, Feathers and Flippers: How Animals Live Where They Do by Patricia Lauber - This photo-essay explores the seas of Antarctica, the grasslands of East Africa, the forests of New England, the desert of the southwestern U.S., and the tundra of the Far North while showing how animals adapt to living in these places.
The books on this list provide a good introduction to a myriad of adaptations. Since the topics of migration, hibernation and camouflage are topics unto themselves, they will be tackled in later posts.

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