Sunday, April 27, 2014

Science Poetry Pairings - Water

The first poem I remember writing was also my first published poem. Here is my contribution to the Times-Union's version of the Mini-Page, called Young World.

Clouds turn black
weather turns cool
Clouds start to cry
in the big swimming pool

At a very young age I was quite enamored of the natural world and weather, so it seemed a natural topic to write about. Today I still read and write a great deal of poetry, much of it about the natural world.

Today's book pairing is inspired by water in all its magnificent forms.

Poetry Book
Water Can Be... , written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija, is a book length poem that begins with spring and cycles through the four seasons looking at the importance of water. It begins:
Water is water—
it's puddle, pond, sea.
When springtime comes splashing,
the water flows free.

Water can be a. . .
Tadpole hatcher
Picture catcher
Otter feeder
Downhill speeder
The text may be economical, but it doesn't miss a beat in highlighting the important functions and characteristics of water. For example, otter feeder relates to the fact the water in rivers sustains many of the life forms that otters eat. Back matter in the book does a terrific job of explaining the meaning of each water "nickname." Here's what it says about otter feeder.
Otter feeder: A healthy river is full of fish. Lots of animals both in and out of the river rely on the river for their food. River otters love to eat fish. They'll also dine on turtles, frogs, salamanders, and crayfish.
Poem and Text ©Laura Purdie Salas. All rights reserved.

For any classroom undertaking the study of water, this is the book to begin with!

Nonfiction Picture Book
A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder, written and photographed by Walter Wick, is a stunning exploration of water in its many forms. Inspired by science books written for children more than 100 years ago, Wick was inspired to try the experiments listed and photograph them. The photographs show readers water in a way most have certainly not seen before. It opens with this excerpt from a book written in 1878.
We are going to spend an hour today in following a drop of water on its travels. If I dip my finger in this basin of water and lift if up again, I bring with it a small glistening drop out of the water below and hold it before you. Tell me, have you any idea where this drop has been? What changes it has undergone, and what work it has been doing during all the long ages water has lain on the face of the earth?
—Arabella B. Buckley, 1878
Wick carries out a number of these experiments and in doing so captures water in stop-motion and highly magnified. The text that accompanies these photos is clearly written and not only informs but encourages exploration. Here's how it begins.
Water's Smallest Parts 
A drop of water falls through the air. Down it splashes, breaking apart into tiny droplets. What would you see if you could break water into even smaller bits? 
No matter how closely you look, you can’t see water’s tiniest parts. Like every other substance in the world, water is made of very tiny particles called molecules. On the pin above, the smallest droplet contains more than three hundred trillion water molecules.
Text ©Walter Wick. All rights reserved.

Photos and text explore water's elastic surface, floating and sinking, soap bubbles and bubble shapes, moving molecules, ice, water vapor, condensation, evaporation, how clouds form, snowflakes, and much more. There is so much to learn here! Back matter includes ideas for readers to carry out their own observations and experiments.

Perfect Together
Both of these books can be used to introduce students to our most precious resource. Start with Salas' book to get kids thinking about all the ways water exists and is used in our world. then move on to Wick's book for the science behind the substance.

For additional resources, consider these sites.


  1. Wow, I do not know the book A DROP OF WATER, but I love the premise of it! Off to put it on order right now. Thank you for sharing WATER CAN BE... Your Science Poetry Pairings are awesome!

    1. Tricia has left a new comment on your post "Science Poetry Pairings - Water":

      Walter Wick photographed all the I SPY books, as well as a number of his own called CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE.

      His photographs in all his books are amazing. This title is probably my favorite informational book about water next to Rochelle Strauss' book ONE WELL.

    2. Oh, ONE WELL is lovely! I am particularly fond of ALL THE WATER IN THE WORLD, too, by George Ella Lyon.

    3. I love Lyon's book, but I admit I don't know where to put it. Is it poetry? I lean that way some days. (It was one that was reviewed for poetry when I served on the LBH poetry committee.)

  2. Water Can Be... is a lovely. I look forward to checking out A Drop of Water. Thanks for another great post.

  3. I've enjoyed your posts so much! Thank you for sharing these inspiring combinations that I can use in my classroom.

    1. Thanks, Karen! I'm so glad you are finding them helpful. I've had a lot of fun writing them.