Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thematic Book List - Everybody Needs a Home

I spent the day today with some of my students, a few more preservice teachers from a nearby university, and some elementary teachers from the local school divisions. I led a Project WILD workshop in which we went on an outdoor scavenger hunt, played a game similar to hide-and-seek where predators searched for prey, went on a sock walk, created imaginary birds with unusual adaptations and more.

As part of the workshop, small groups select an activity from the guide and teach it to the rest of the participants. One activity presented was Everybody Needs a Home. In it, students draw a floor plan of where they live. In preparing their drawings, they must include the things they need in their homes for their survival, such as a place for food, a source of water, and a place to sleep. Once the sketches are finished, the class compares drawings and creates a gallery of homes. After discussing their homes, talk turns to animal homes, and how they are similar to and different from our homes.

As we were discussing different types of animal homes, I began thinking about all the great titles that could be used to extend this activity. Here are some of my favorites. Please note that these books are not focused on habitats, but the actual shelter/home in which animals live.

And So They Build, written and illustrated by Bert Kitchen - This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to 12 animal builders, from birds (4 species) to spiders, frogs, fish and more. (You can read my review.)

Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs, written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Lauren Stringer - In rhyming text with bold, beautiful illustrations readers are introduced to some of the unique and varied places in which animals make their homes.

My Very First Book of Animal Homes, written and illustrated by Eric Carle - This split-page board book requires readers to match each animal with the home it lives in.

Homes of Living Things
, written by Bobbie Kalman - This book examines how different kinds of animals make homes and how they are suited to the places in which they live. Photographs show animals that live high up in the trees, on the ground, and underneath the earth. Also included is a glossary and an index.

Whose House is This?: A Look at Animal Homes - Webs, Nests, and Shells, written by Elizabeth Gregoire and illustrated by Derrick Alderman and Denise Shea - This book looks at the homes of a variety of animals, including a snail red-eyed tree frog, arctic hare and more.

Animal Homes, written by Alice Jablonsky and illustrated by Jeffrey Terreson - I don't normally recommend pop-up books for the classroom, but this one is outstanding. In six elaborate spreads with one or two action devices on every page, readers will learn how the homes of animals homes provide protection and a place to raise young.

Animals Building Homes, written by Wendy Perkins - This title in the Facts First Animal Behavior series explains the ways animals build their homes. Animals detailed include bald eagles, hummingbirds, beavers and more.

Animal Homes, written by Diane James and Sara Lynn and illustrated by Sue Cony -
Readers will find a full page photograph of nine different animals along with illustrations and text describing where they live, how they eat, protect themselves, and care for their babies. Homes covered are dens, burrows, nests, lodges, hollows, and shells.

Do Turtles Sleep in Treetops?: A Book About Animal Homes, written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Jeff Yesh - In question-and-answer format this book looks at animal homes. Do you know which animals dig burrows, lodges, and towers? Read this book to find out.

Animal Homes, written by Angela Wilkes and illustrated by Steve Weston - This book in the Science Kids series examines the variety of places in which animals make their homes. In addition to providing factual information, the text provides activity ideas for readers to construct animal homes of their own, including a nest and a hamster playpen.

Who's Home?: An Animal Lift-the-Flap Book, written and illustrated by Neecy Twinem - Written in simple text with rich and detailed illustrations, each page includes a detachable flap that can be lifted to reveal the homes where hidden creatures live.

What Do You Call a Termite Home? And Other Animal Homes, written by Emma Nathan - This book explains the terms used for homes built by different animals and provides information on how such animals as beavers, termites, eagles, and rabbits build their homes.

Animals at Home, written by David Lock - This books begins, "What is your home like? Is it cozy and dry? Animal homes are all shapes and sizes. They keep animals and their babies safe and warm." What follows is a series of simply written descriptions of a variety of animal homes. This book is a Level 1 reader.

The Animal Homes series by Capstone Press contains more than 10 titles on specific animals and their homes. Illustrated with full-color photographs, these books are written using simple sentence structures, making them accessible to beginning readers. Titles in the series include:
  • Ants and Their Nests, written by Linda Tagliaferro
  • Bears and Their Dens, written by Linda Tagliaferro
  • Beavers and Their Lodges, written by Martha E.H. Rustad
  • Bees and Their Hives, written by Linda Tagliaferro
  • Birds and Their Nests, written by Linda Tagliaferro
  • Foxes and Their Dens, written by Martha E.H. Rustad
  • Prairie Dogs and Their Burrows, written by Martha E.H. Rustad
  • Rabbits and Their Burrows, written by Linda Tagliaferro
  • Spiders and Their Webs, written by Linda Tagliaferro
  • Squirrels and Their Nests, written by Martha E.H. Rustad
That's all I have for now. When I get to the office on Monday I'll peruse my poetry collection and see if I can expand on this list. In the meantime, please let me know if I have missed one of your favorites. I would love to add it here.


  1. Great book list Tricia! I remember when we did "my neighborhood" maps as well as house plans when I was in elementary school.

  2. I second the "Great List!" And here's a fun connection--I used to be a Project Wild trainer, too! Oh Dear!!

  3. Thanks for including my book (and cover!) in this terrific list, Tricia. A favorite of mine in this category is Castles, Caves & Honeycombs, by Linda Ashman (ill. by Lauren Stringer). It's so beautiful, very short, great intro to this topic for very young kids.

  4. I wonder how many of these include the names of animals in groups in their homes? When I was a kid, I loved knowing that there were murders of crows, etc.

  5. Thanks so much for listing some of my books in the Animals and Their Homes series!

    You can see a list of the rest of my books at

    Best regards,
    Linda Tagliaferro

  6. Natasha and Callista - Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Mary Lee - I love Oh Deer!, though we didn't do that activity in the workshop. I think you may be my secret sister. I'll just have to keep ticking off the similarities!

    Laura - I find it so funny now when I comb through my bookshelf and see titles with your name on them! I didn't realize I owned so many! I am thrilled that I get to tell others about how much I enjoy them.

    Tanita - I love this too! A few of these books do talk about names for animal groups. (I have been working on an acrostic poetry collection on just this subject for quite a while.)

    Linda - Thanks so much for stopping by. I have a number of your books and always find them to be useful resources.

  7. I've been doing some workshops for elementary teachers this fall on what resources our library has that tie into their curriculum, and I think they'd find some of these titles interesting. They do quite a bit with what animals need to survive; I didn't know that until I got to look at their curriculum maps. I feel I'm learning as much preparing for these workshops and talking to the teachers as the participants can possibly be learning from me. I love when presentations work out that way.