Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Science Poetry Pairings - All Things Science

Alas, it is the 30th of April and National Poetry Month is coming to a close. I've enjoyed pulling books from my shelves and sharing them with you. Originally my intent was to tackle a subject area each week, but when I realized that I had more science than I knew what to do with, I decided to stick with a theme that is near and dear to my heart.

Today I'm going to share the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science and some final ideas about authors and books every teacher should have in his/her classroom, or should at least know about. If you haven't made friends with your school or local children's librarian, please do! Librarians are invaluable resources in helping you find good books for instruction.

Poetry Book
The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, is a collection of 218 poems by 78 different poets. In the acknowledgements (p. 303) the authors have this to say about science and poetry.
... For generations, poets have been observing nature, exploring the physical world, and asking questions about the universe. 
It shouldn't be surprising that poetry has a lot to offer the sciences. In fact, astrophysicist Adam Frank revealed, "Poems and poetry are, for me, a deep form of knowing, just like science . . . each, in its way, is a way to understand the world." Poets and scientists both seek to observe, explain, and understand the world around them.
You'll find 36 weeks of poems for every grade from K-5. That's means there are 216 grade level poems, bookended by opening and closing poems for everyone. Every grade level poem is accompanied by a Take 5! box containing teaching tips and ideas. Here's an example.
Imagine Small
by Eileen Spinelli
Imagine something very small:
a rubber duck, a ping-pong ball.
Imagine something smaller yet:
a pebble or a violet.
Go smaller now: a silver bead,
a baby's tooth, a pumpkin seed.
Keep going—
freckle, flea, or gnat,
a speck of dander from the cate.
Imagine that.
And then imagine this—so cool!—
a teeny-tiny molecule.
So teeny-tiny you and I
can't see it with the naked eye.
To think of it gives me a chill.
But there is something smaller still:
the atom!
Billions fit in a fleck of foam
or on the dot at the end of this poem.
Poem ©Eileen Spinelli. All rights reserved.

The Take 5! box that accompanies this poem begins with this idea.
  1. Before sharing this poem, invite students to close their eyes and imagine the smallest thing they can think of. Then read this poem aloud, pausing before each stanza for added effect.
In addition to a wealth of poems and teaching tips, you'll also find information on reading poetry aloud, building your own poetry library, children's poetry websites and blogs, websites to support science learning, a science glossary, and much more. If you haven't used poetry in teaching science before now, this is the book to get you started.

Authors and Series You Should Know
When I began teaching science in the laste 80s, my classroom library was filled with books by Patricia Lauber, Seymour Simon and Franklyn Branley. The Magic School Bus series had just been born, Eyewitness books were popping up all over, Vicki Cobb was writing fun and engaging hands-on activity books for kids, and the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series was regularly adding new titles. 

We are fortunate today that there are MANY terrific authors and illustrators/photographers of incredible nonfiction science books for kids. I've had the pleasure of sharing many with you over the course of this month. Here are the authors I recommend to my preservice teachers, and whose books I drag with me into the elementary classrooms that are kind enough to have me. 

I wish I had time to write some words about each of these talented folks, but instead I've linked to their web sites where possible. Not wanting to show any favoritism, I've listed them alphabetically.
And here are a few series that are not to be missed. 
If I've missed a terrific author or series, please let me know so I can add them to the list.

I hope you've enjoyed exploring science and poetry with me this month. My goal is to post once a week about some other perfect pairing of poetry and nonfiction picture books. For now, however, I take my leave to grade exams and final projects as I wrap up my 20th year at the University. Thanks to everyone who's stopped by to visit this month. I've enjoyed having you.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the lovely review, Tricia. We've loved your series for NPM!