Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Animals and Plants: Structure and Function

Here are some of the MANY books that I use to teach first graders about the world of plants and animals.  

Humans and Animals - 
making the connection


Animals: Structure and Function
This strand of the NGSS is broken down into four components:

1. body parts that ensure survival
2. biomimicry
3. parent/offspring behavior for survival
4. similarities/differences between animal babies and parents

Here are books I use, organized by component: 

Books About Animal Body Parts and Behaviors
That Ensure Survival

All animals need to find or catch food.  Most animals need to avoid being someone else's lunch.  Many animals must make shelters or build nests.  Many animals need to find mates.  These animal body parts, or structures, enable animals to meet these needs.

The author's name is hard to read: It's David M. Schwartz.  This is part of the excellent "Look Once, Look Again" series.

Books About Biomimicry

Books About Parenting Behaviors, and How Animal Babies and Parents are Alike and Different

Animal babies and parents look and behave the same in some ways, and differently in other ways.  Many animal parents protect their young.  

(Well, this book is about a mama bird who refuses to sit on her egg... but an elephant comes along and takes over the job, so all ends well.)

And finally, some stories about the scientists who have studied animals and helped us learn about their behavior:



Plants: Structure and Function

(Bill Nye: Food Web is actually a video... well worth watching!)

This beautifully written book about Wangari Maathai describes how tree roots keep land from eroding and provide oxygen and food to keep us alive and healthy.

This is a biography of Kate Sessions, the woman who transformed San Diego from a barren land to a lush, tree-filled oasis.

Engineering Books

Each week I teach a 90-minute Engineering Lab to my first graders.  We solve design challenges based on the Next Generation Science Standards.

I've created a list of the many books I read aloud to help kids understand engineering.

First, here are the steps of the engineering process: 

Each book summary is followed by the engineering steps that are explicitly described in the book's text or pictures.

Good intro to the design process and engineering terms.

Makes connections between professional engineers and kids who create products to solve problems.  

A boy designs his dream car, adding features that solve the problems of conventional cars.  

An inventive monkey uses tools and found objects to fashion an escape from an organ grinder.

Papa uses his knowledge of fish body parts to design a submarine.

Shows the joy of expecting, accepting, and learning from first-try failures.  Delightful!  Also ties in female aviators from history. 

A goat and a duck build a vessel to cross the moat. Introduces concept of ballast.

A boy uses found objects to make a robot clean his room, but has to make adjustments after his robot gets out of hand.

These two books show how simple lines and shapes can help us begin to draw.

Mechanically gifted girl builds flying contraptions and becomes a hero by saving Boy Scouts.  Makes the point that shy or awkward kids are worth love and respect.

A sheep and wolf work together to build a flying paper machine.

A boy dreams up the perfect house, one that reflects his sense of fun and adventure.

Good, nuts-and-bolts explanation of housing construction.  Great way to help kids make connections to the structures they are building in class.

A simple, charmingly illustrated guide to the steps in building a house.

Iggy is a boy who just wants to build things.  He saves his teacher with his ingenuity!

How levers are used to make everyday tasks easier.

A family uses cardboard and found objects to create three-dimensional animals for every letter of the alphabet.

A true story about the first person to fly across the English Channel.  Mistakes are taken in stride!

Introduces the concept of balance.

A girl has the most wonderful idea for an invention, but is stymied by many failures... until she takes a step back.

A young boy in Malawi gathers cast-off wire to build a galimoto, or toy vehicle.  I love this book because the character takes something of little value (wire) and turns it into a work of art.  Many children in Africa make galimotos. 

Mr. McGreely plants a vegetable garden, but three hungry bunnies keep eating his plants!  This book is the perfect jumping-off point for multiple engineering challenges: How can Mr. McGreely save his garden?  How can the bunnies get over the garden wall, so they can keep eating?