Category Archives: Science Inquiry Skills

This book relates to concepts covered in the science inquiry strand of the Australian National Curriculum

Review: The Little Dinosaur by Catriona Hoy and Andrew Plant

The little dinosaurChildren and adults alike love learning about dinosaurs and I hope you’ll enjoy reading my latest collaboration with Andrew Plant, The Little Dinosaur. Since this is a review site looking at how picture books can be used to introduce science themes, I’ve decided to include it here. Since I cant really review my own book however, I’d like to point you to some other worthy review sites.

Kidsbookreview

The Book Chook.

666 ABC Canberra

The Little Dinosaur sits apart from other dinosaur books, which are usually about North American or European dinosaurs. In the Cretaceous, Australia was part of a land mass called Gondwana and the climate was quite different to what we experience today. Below the Antarctic Circle, Australian dinosaurs had to search for food in ice and snow.

Dinosaurs fit into a number of places in the curriculum, both from the point of view of biological sciences and earth and space sciences. There is the opportunity to look at adaptations and environment and how the features of these little polar dinosaurs suit them to their enviroment. Over time the earth changes a great deal, Australia moves North and new types of plant and animal life emerge. The book is in two parts, the dinosaur becomes a fossil and we follow the steps that scientists take to recreate the past based on clues hidden in the rocks. It therefore fits into Science as a Human Endeavour and is a practical application of Science Inquiry skills.

There are links to teacher’s notes on my website and a crossword puzzle and wordsearch. Also some links to useful websites.

Follow up activities could include making fossil imprints of leaves or shells in dough, plaster of paris etc. I’ve used something called paper magiclay because it doesn’t leave a mess. You can download or make stencils of dinosaurs and create a Cretaceous scene.

NATIONAL CURRICULUM LINKS (as from ACARA)

Biological sciences (Year 1)

Living things have a variety of external features

  • recognising common features of animals such as head, legs and wings
  • describing the use of animal body parts for particular purposes such as moving and feeding

Living things live in different places where their needs are met

  • exploring different habitats in the local environment such as the beach, bush and backyard
  • recognising that different living things live in different places such as land and water

Biological sciences (Year 3)

Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things

  • recognising characteristics of living things such as growing, moving, sensitivity and reproducing
  • recognising the range of different living things
  • sorting living and non-living things based on characteristics
  • exploring differences between living, once living and products of living things

Biological sciences (Year 4)

Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive.

  • investigating the roles of living things in a habitat, for instance producers, consumers or decomposers
  • observing and describing predator-prey relationships
  • predicting the effects when living things in feeding relationships are removed or die out in an area
  • recognising that interactions between living things may be competitive or mutually beneficial.

Biological sciences (Year 5)

Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment. 

  • describing and listing adaptations of living things suited for the Australian environment
  • explaining how particular adaptations help survival such as nocturnal behaviour, silvery coloured leaves of dune plants
  • comparing types of adaptations such as behavioural and structural

Earth and space sciences (Year 1)

Observable changes occur in the sky and landscape

  • exploring the local environment to identify and describe natural, managed and constructed features
  • recording short and longer term patterns of events that occur on Earth and in the sky, such as the appearance of the moon and stars at night, the weather and the seasons

Earth and space sciences (Year4)

Earth’s surface changes over time as a result of natural processes and human activity

  • collecting evidence of change from local landforms, rocks or fossils
  • exploring a local area that has changed as a result of natural processes, such as an eroded gully, sand dunes or river banks

Author:     Catriona Hoy

Illusttrator:  Andrew Plant

Working Title Press, 2012

ISBN 9781921504396

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Filed under Biological Sciences Sub-strand, Earth and Space Sciences, Level 1, Level 1, Level 3, Level 3/4, Level 3/4, Level 4, Level 4, Level 5, Level 5, Level 5/6, Level 5/6, Science As Human Endeavour, Science Inquiry Skills

Review: The Glasshouse by Paul Collins and Jo Thompson

The Glasshouse is quite a dark tale, incorporating themes of mental illnes, perfection and paranoia. With pumpkin-coloured hair and freckles, Clara lives in a glasshouse, growing perfect pumpkins. Each of her pumpkins is identical and blemish free, a little like the fruits and vegetables which we find in our supermarkets. Clara has little contact with the outside world until she notices that other greenhouses,which aren’t so perfect, are encroaching on hers. Clara’s paranoia about her perfect pumpkins grows, until she speaks to a boy who shows her that pumpkins don’t need to be perfect to taste good and that the outside world isn’t as scary as it appears.  The moral of this story appears to be that people who live in glasshouses SHOULD throw stones, as Clara picks  up a stone to smash the windows of her own glasshouse. On it’s simplest level, it’s a story about making friends and taking risks but there is a complicated sub-text beneath the pumpkins.

Thompson’s beatiful illustrations of pumpkins adorn each page, from the early pages with seed germinating, to the final page with pumpkin flowers and curling tendrils. There are lots of opportunities to link to seed growing experiments the requirements of living things. Clara’s pumpkins need light, warmth and fertiliser and we can see the lifecycles of plants with flowers and fruits. I could also see discussion opportunites for what greenhouses do and why they are used, which in turn leads to discussion of the green house effect. It might also be interesting to compare the appearance/taste of fruits and vegetables purchased from supermarkets compared with those from a local farmers’ market or home grown.

There are comprehension questions on the publisher’s website here and a number of activities which touch on other KLA areas, not just science. There are facts such as pumpkins are monoecious, which means they produce both male and female flowers on the same plant.There are also references to different types of gardens/gardening such as hydroponics and vertical gardens.

National Curriculum Links

Biological sciences (Foundation)

Living things have basic needs, including food and water

  • recognising the needs of living things in a range of situations such as pets at home, plants in the garden or plants and animals in bushland

Biological sciences (Year 1)

Living things have a variety of external features

  • recognising common features of animals such as head, legs and wings
  • describing the use of animal body parts for particular purposes such as moving and feeding

Living things live in different places where their needs are met

  • exploring different habitats in the local environment such as the beach, bush and backyard
  • recognising that different living things live in different places such as land and water

Biological sciences (Year 2)

Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves

  • representing personal growth and changes from birth
  • recognising that living things have predictable characteristics at different stages of development
  • exploring different characteristics of life stages in animals such as egg, caterpillar and butterfly

Biological sciences (Year 4)

Living things have life cycles

  • making and recording observations of living things as they develop through their life cycles
  • describing the stages of life cycles of different living things such as insects, birds, frogs and flowering plants

Science Inquiry Skills (all levels)

  • Questioning and Predicting
  • Planning and Conducting
  • Pocessing and Analysing
  • Communicating

Author: Paul Collins

Illustrator: Jo Thompson

Ford Street Publishing, 20110

ISBN 9781921665042

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Filed under Biological Sciences Sub-strand, Foundation, Foundation, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Science Inquiry Skills

Review: The Box Boy by Mal Webster

The Box Boy is the whole package as a picture book…literally. Author/illustrator Mal Webster has cleverly designed his book to resemble the cardboard boxes of his subject. The back of the book  has ripped packing tape and cardboard corrugations, while the end papers contain address labels and packaging symbols. An interesting exercise for a child to work out how a book is like a box…

The Box Boy loves to collect things, especially boxes. He’s a true recycler and a model for sustainability as he builds structures out of cardboard boxes which are simply too good to throw away. He becomes famous after he conststructs a model of the Eiffel Tower but soon tires of fame and returns home to come up with new ideas.

Webster admits that the box boy is really a younger version of himself. A teacher/author/illustrator and graphic designer, Webster created The Box Collecting Boy for his Master’s degree in Visual Arts and Design at Latrobe Uni. Prior to publication, his work was on display so if you’d like to see a picture of his real Eiffel tower, you can do so here. The Box Boy is published as a Helen Chamberlin book by Windy Hollow Books. Formerly at Lothian, Chamberlin is a multi- award winning doyen of Australian childrens publishing.

I see this book as leading to all sorts of exciting activities centred around materials testing and construction. Measuring (maths) and art can also be incorporated. Cardboard is used widely for a variety of purposes because it’s lightweight, strong, cheap…Students could come up with lists of where and why cardboard is used.

You can find some information on the properties of cardboard here, or through any simple google search. The Box Boy isn’t the only one who would like to live in a cardboard box. There is a lot of research into using it as a sustainable building material and again, a simple search on the net will lead you to lots of articles and pictures. Try here as a starting point.

Cardboard is also used as a furniture material. I found some great pictures here but I’m sure children will enjoy collecting their own pictures.

Students could come up with their own experiments, to develop science inquiry skills, such as insulating properties of cardboard or biodegradability. They could look at why corrugated cardboard is stronger than plain cardboard.

Overall, I loved the simplicity of this book, with it’s cheeky little boy and his fantastic creations. There’s also a nice little message about fame not being all it’s cracked up to be and that life should be about creating things that are worthwhile.

National Curriculum applications: ( from /www.australiancurriculum.edu.au)

Chemical sciences (Foundation)

Objects are made of materials that have observable properties.

  • sorting and grouping materials on the basis of observable properties such as colour, texture and flexibility
  • thinking about how the materials used in buildings and shelters are suited to the local environment

Chemical sciences (Year 1)

Everydaymaterials can be physically changed in a variety of ways

Chemical sciences (Year 2)

Different materials can be combined, including by mixing, for a particular purpose

  • exploring the local environment to observe a variety of materials, and describing ways in which materials are usedr
  • suggesting why different parts of everyday objects such as toys and clothes are made from different materials
  • identifying materials such as paper that can be changed and remade or recycled into new products

Chemical sciences (Year 4)

Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties; These properties can influence their use

  • describing a range of common materials, such as metals or plastics, and their uses
  • investigating a particular property across a range of materials
  • selecting materials for uses based on their properties
  • considering how the properties of materials affect the management of waste or can lead to pollution

Science Inquiry Skills (all levels)

  • Questioning and Predicting
  • Planning and Conducting
  • Pocessing and Analysing
  • Communicating

Author: Mal Webster

Illustrator: Mal Webster

Windy Hollow Books, 2011

ISBN 9781921136504

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Filed under Foundation, Level 1, Level 4, Science Inquiry Skills

Review: Three Little Pigs (Traditional)

This isn’t strictly a review a such…It’s some thoughts about using a traditional text in the primary science classroom.

Earlier this year I asked a group of primary school teachers what books they used to introduce science ideas in the classroom and a couple of teachers said that they had used ‘The Three Little Pigs.’  Later, passing a charity shop in Williamstown, I spotted a lovely pop up copy of this classic tale and snapped it up for use in my workshop. I began thinking of all the fun things I could do with the three little pigs…if only I was a primary school teacher!

Three Little Pigs allows teachers to cover properties of materials and materials testing, particularly some of those early ideas in the chemistry strand.  Also, students can make a hypothesis, design, test and evaluate, so it’s perfect for developing science inquiry skills .

Dress up, act it out…link literacy and science.

At Acle St-Edmunds school in the UK, students built houses out of various materials and tested them using a big bad wolf fan. They’ve uploaded photos to show how they tested the strength of their houses.  I found a website dealing with supplementary materials such as posters and design sheets. Closer to home, some instructions for building houses with e-how family. I’m sure you’ll be able to find lots of ideas with only a few minutes trawling on the internet.

Look at different building materials, traditional and new. If you can find an old copy of  Pearson’s Comet Magazine, isuue 1, 2006 contains an article on Earth houses; looking at unusual types of building materials such as straw-bale houses or mud-brick houses.  There are teaching notes here.

National Curriculum applications: ( from /www.australiancurriculum.edu.au)

Chemical sciences (Foundation)

Objects are made of materials that have observable properties.

  • sorting and grouping materials on the basis of observable properties such as colour, texture and flexibility
  • thinking about how the materials used in buildings and shelters are suited to the local environment

Chemical sciences (Year 1)

Everydaymaterials can be physically changed in a variety of ways

Chemical sciences (Year 2)

Different materials can be combined, including by mixing, for a particular purpose

  • exploring the local environment to observe a variety of materials, and describing ways in which materials are used
  • investigating the effects of mixing materials together
  • suggesting why different parts of everyday objects such as toys and clothes are made from different materials
  • identifying materials such as paper that can be changed and remade or recycled into new products

Chemical sciences (Year 4)

Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties; These properties can influence their use

  • describing a range of common materials, such as metals or plastics, and their uses
  • investigating a particular property across a range of materials
  • selecting materials for uses based on their properties
  • considering how the properties of materials affect the management of waste or can lead to pollution

Science Inquiry Skills (all levels)

  • Questioning and Predicting
  • Planning and Conducting
  • Pocessing and Analysing
  • Communicating

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Filed under Foundation, Foundation, Foundation, Level 1, Level 1/2, Level 1/2, Level 2, Level 3/4, Level 4, Level 5/6