Favorite STEM Picture Books: Math Edition

I have spent the majority of my teaching career as a math and science teacher. During those years I collected many math picture books along with many other kids books. When I decided to downsize I ended up giving many of my books away to students. Most of what I kept, however, were my math books. Here are a few of my tried-and-true. By the way, I was assigned to teach Kindergarten for the upcoming year - self contained! I haven't taught K in many years other than in STEM lab, and I also have not taught ELA for almost as many years. It's going to be quite an adventure!
Today I took pictures of books I have at home - we all had to pack our classrooms up in May because our building was getting new carpet this summer.

1. Everything by Stuart J. Murphy!



I love these books! One of the best things about them is that they have the math concept listed on the front cover. For example, Earth Day, Hooray! is all about place value while Safari Park is about finding unknowns. Since I'm not picking just one book today, I linked the picture to the author for a listing of books. Enjoy!

2. Most Everything by Cindy Neuschwander



Why almost everything? Because she has a lot of books I have not used as yet! I've linked to her author page. Off-the-Charts Dessert is a great intro to different ways to display data. All the King's Tens is a great place value story that uses big numbers.

3. Pigs Stories by Amy Axelrod



I love the humor in the Pigs series. My favorite may be Pigs Will Be Pigs, which begins with a search of their house to find money to go to a restaurant for supper. When I taught third graders I gave them whiteboards so they could keep track of the money as it was found (in the cushions, the washing machine, etc). Then we would do menu math - not just for the restaurant in the book, but also as a math center with restaurant menus from local places. 

Book Talk Tuesday


Every year fifteen books are chosen as Florida's "Sunshine State Young Reader Award" books for grades 3 - 5. Having been a 3rd-grade teacher for several years I got into the habit of reading all of them during the summer, and I have kept up the tradition the last couple of summers. I found this year's selections a bit of a mixed bag - as always - and rather than share all of them I'll highlight my favorites.



1. Framed! by James Ponti

Ponti is the author of the Dead City books, which I had read and enjoyed. This book is my pick for the very best of this year's SSYRAs. Twelve-year-old Florian Bates has just moved to Washington, DC. He is using a technique he developed called T.O.A.S.T to learn about his new area. It stands for theory of all small things and helps Florian solve all sorts of mysteries. He soon makes a new friend, Margaret, and teaches it to her. Before long they are embroiled in a mystery at the National Gallery and Florian is an unofficial asset for the FBI! 
This is a great story that will make a great read-aloud for intermediate students.



2. A Dragon's Guide To The Care And Feeding Of Humans by Laurance Yep

This is the book I expected to be ho-hum and I totally loved it. It's a great reversal story in that the dragon keeps human "pets" throughout her long life. Miss Drake's previous companion/pet has passed away and her young niece Winnie is ready to fill her role. The relationship that develops between the little girl and the huge dragon is very sweet.





3. A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner

Rip and Red, fifth-grade best friends, have a new off-the-wall teacher. They are shocked to find out that he is also their new basketball coach (the boys are obsessed with basketball). This is a book about school, sports, and friendship. It's the friendship that's my favorite part of the story. Red has autism and Rip is the one who "gets him." Kids will definitely love Mr. Acevedo, the new teacher, who does not believe in homework or tests!

Monday Made It: 7-17-17

Linking up again with 4th Grade Frolics #Monday Made It after a week off 'cause nothing was finished!




This summer I have been very focused on getting healthy. I was having a couple of health issues, and in fact was not happy with the number of sick days I took last year. To address them I made a change from the doctor I had been with for many years to our employee health clinic (our care is free there). It has made a huge difference - the doctor might spend a max 5 minutes with me before. Now I get lots of attention from a fantastic nurse practitioner plus other support people (nutritionist, patient care rep). I have made lots of lifestyle changes so that I could get my glucose levels under control and it is definitely paying off. I've also gone to physical therapy twice a week for my entire vacation to address shoulder pain. I have my range of motion back, and am working on strength in these last few weeks before school starts.
All that to say, I made healthy coconut-banana bread! I love it so much I think this is my fourth loaf. You can find the recipe here if you are interested.



Last Monday I finished quilting my patriotic quilt (I showed it in my post a couple weeks ago). On Tuesdays, I go to a sewing day for my guild, and this is what I made this week. It is a "bowl-hugger" to use in the microwave. I am loving it. Here is what it looks like in use:


And no, I did not microwave with the spoon in it!! It has to be made of 100% cotton material, thread, and special batting to go in the micro. Now I'm going to make another for school since I often take leftovers to warm up. I love sunflowers, so when I saw the fabric at Hob Lob I snatched it right up.

And yesterday I made another one of these to take back to school with me. I often take leftovers to reheat so this will get used a lot.






I have been assigned to teach Kindergarten this year. It has been nine years since I taught K and seven years since I taught ELA! And all our kindergarten classes are self-contained this year (so at least I'm not the only one having to teach ELA). I have nothing for K, all the standards have changed, so I have started downloading wonderful activities from the kinder teachers I can find! This is my stack of laminated pages - now I have to find something interesting to watch while I cut, cut, cut! This is all math, so I still have to print and laminate all the great ELA activities I've downloaded.



Teacher T-Shirts!


A couple weeks ago a local friend posted on Facebook that she has started selling teacher shirts on Amazon. The one above is one of several she has available. After checking them out I commented that I need a STEM t-shirt. A couple days later she had them available!


They are available in several colors - I ordered this red one. I'm excited to wear it to school. You can click on the picture to find it on Amazon. To look at the whole line, search JMB shirts. 

Favorite STEM Picture Books: Engineering Edition

It was hard to pick just three books this week. I have a lot of favorites when it comes to engineering, so I've included some of the others on my STEM Lit Pinterest board.

1. Galimoto



I love this little book! Kondi wants to make a galimoto, a vehicle made of wire, but doesn't have enough supplies. He spends the day gathering what he needs. This past school year when I wanted to share this book I could not find my copy. Fortunately, it's a Reading Rainbow book so I was able to access the video and show it to my class that way! My school district subscribes to Safari Montage and I often use RR videos to go with lessons.

2. If I Built A Car



Third graders had a great time with this book. Jack has a vivid imagination and explains so many ways he would improve cars. His car will include a robot driver and a pool. Of course, it will fly AND travel underwater.
This book is perfect for any STEM activity involving cars - probably in your forces and motion unit.  

3. Pop's Bridge



I did a big unit with fifth graders on bridges. As I was researching different types of bridges and reading about famous bridges I came across this picture book. This story celebrates the brave workers who built bridges like the Golden Gate. Robert's father is one of the ironworkers who climbs way up to work on this bridge. He thinks his Dad has the most important job, but when a crisis happens he gets to see the importance of teamwork. Bridge-building works with all grade levels and so does this book.



Teacher Book Talk



Hi, I'm Julie and I'm a readaholic. I have loved to read since I learned how back in first grade. My addiction was fed by living right next to our town library. Soon I was reading every Walter Farley book on the shelves, then Nance Drew, then . . . pretty much anything. A couple years ago I discovered Goodreads and I love keeping track of my books because, frankly, I can't remember them otherwise - there's too many. If you are on Goodreads feel free to follow me (I'm there as Julie Sawyer). As of today I have finished 25 books in 2017, well ahead of my goal for the year. Anyway, I thought I'd pick out three that I have really liked this year and share a little about them. Click the book pictures to find them on Amazon.

1. The Keeper of Lost Things


At this stage of my reading life I find myself sticking with authors I know and like. Nothing wrong with that, but there is a special kind of joy in finding someone new to read. This book is a debut novel (great way to find someone new!) and I have Goodreads to thank for finding it. I read about it there and marked it as "want to read." Then I put it on hold at my library. I'm so glad I did, because it turned out to be a wonderful read. It's a quiet, lovely story set in England where Anthony Peardew has gathered a large collection of things people have lost. He inventories them, recording details of where and when they were found, and keeps them in his house. He also writes stories about the objects. He hires an assistant, Laura, who is struggling to put her life back together after an unpleasant divorce (she is kind of another lost thing). 
Anthony becomes concerned that he hasn't tried to reunite the lost things with the people who lost them. Nearing the end of his life, he decides to leave that as a mission for Laura, along with his home. The main part of the book is Laura's story, as well as some other characters. My favorite character is Sunshine, a neighbor child who decides to befriend Laura after Anthony's death. She explains that she has "dancing drome," and I admit it took me awhile to realize she has Down's Syndrome!
There are several stories going on inside this story, and connections are made as you get toward the end. I'm not doing it justice here!

2. The Last Lion


This is my favorite non-fiction book so far this year. Over the last couple years, I have found myself reading a number of WW II books, both fiction and non-fiction. This book is the third volume about Winston Churchill and covers the war years. (I have not read the others)
I have a 40-minute commute to work so I listen to an audiobook. This helps me get non-fiction in, because I am definitely a fiction reader first! This book took me weeks - in print it is over 1,000 pages. It's a fascinating story if you enjoy learning about that period in history. The author, William Manchester, was in poor health at the end of his life and chose Paul Reid to help finish this book. He had huge amounts of research done but died before the book was finished. 
The book does not sugar-coat Churchill's flaws, which makes his story even more remarkable. It's hard to imagine that anyone else could have stood - often alone - against the evil of Hitler's Germany. 

3. Red Knife (Cork O'Connor #8)



I enjoy reading series, so when I find a new one that I love it is so exciting. One of my Goodreads friends was reading books from this series and I had never heard of the author or the books. Once I read the first one I was hooked. This is the most recent one I have read, number 8 of 16 (currently). I'm forced to move slowly through them as several are not in my county library's collection. Right now I'm waiting for #9 to come through Inter-Library Loan which often takes weeks.
The hero of these stories is Cork O'Connor and the setting is Minnesota. Cork and his family live in his home town and he has had two stints as the county sheriff and is now doing private detective work at times. I love the characters of these books and how they grow and change as I read through the series. The mysteries are always interesting and the racial tensions - between whites and The People on the reservation (Ojibwe) are a thread that runs through the books. Cork himself is of mixed heritage - his maternal grandmother was a well-respected member of the tribe.
If you decide to check out these books I recommend you start with Iron Lake, the first novel. 

Happy Reading!

Favorite STEM Picture Books: Technology Edition


Last week I had a message from Kathy at Kidpeople Classroom suggesting that I link these posts to her Tuesday linky so I'm going to try to remember to do that!

Welcome back for another round of picture books to use as you incorporate STEM into your classroom. This week the topic is the T -- technology. Technology is not just about using computers and mobile devices in your room. Technology can also be considered all the tools people have developed to help with tasks. In my class, I like to incorporate information about inventors and inventions. I've been fortunate to be in a situation where we have two laptop carts so I have been able to introduce coding to students. Last year all but kindergarten participated in the Hour of Code and did a great job. Once again, click the picture to read a full description on Amazon. These books and others are added to my Pinterest STEM Lit board.

1. Ada's Ideas



Before last year I had never heard of Ada Lovelace. She was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. Her mother was unhappy with her husband's wild and reckless lifestyle and left him when Ada was only one month old. She never saw her father again (he died when she was about eight years old). Ada's mother was a mathematician and she raised her daughter to have nothing to do with poetry and imaginative pursuits. As you see from the cover illustration, Ada had an imagination - she wanted to build a mechanical flying horse. Definitely not mother - approved!
Ada met Charles Babbage and ended up working with him on his machines. These machines were the beginnings of computers, and Ada is credited with being an early computer programmer.

If you have hoopla digital through your public library check for this e-book. I love the read-aloud version.


2. The Girl Who Could Talk To Computers

Grace Hopper is another amazing woman in a STEM field (I like those books). If you have ever "debugged" a computer or program you may have wondered where that word originated - it was Grace who literally removed a moth from the computer. Hour of Code is held in December to coincide with Grace Hopper's birthday, so when I teach coding I like to read this short rhyming book to students.

And a bonus pick!

You can't go wrong with Rear Admiral Grace Hopper!


3. Girls Think Of Everything



When I thought about a book of inventors to include, this book popped in. I read it last year and enjoyed all the stories of female inventors. While I didn't start this post idea thinking to highlight women, it does seem to fit in very nicely!

This is not a book to necessarily use as a read-aloud but it's great for sharing a few individual stories. A few of my favorites:

Ruth Wakefield  -  chocolate chip cookies
Stephanie Kwolek  -  Kevlar
Margaret E. Knight  --  paper bags

It's filled with interesting stories (including one about Grace Hopper). The best thing is that most of my books about inventors or inventions are male dominated. It's good to see the other side sometimes.



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