Tag Archives: primary science.

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: Invisible Me by Wendy Binks

Invisible Me is the third in a series of stories about Stripey, an ’emu with attitude,’ created by Western Australian artist/author Wendy Binks. The first book in the series, ‘Where’s Stripey,’ was winner of the WA Premier’s Book Awards, Children’s Section.

Stripey lives in Fair Dinkum flats with his parents Crikey and Sheila and wonders why he has stipes but his parents don’t. His sister, Leggy, tells him it’s to make himself invisible when he’s in a special place so Crikey sets off to find that special place. In this tale about camouflage and habitat, Stripey meets other Australian animals along the way, including a red kangaroo hidden amongst the rocks, a goanna on a tree and an echidna on a back porch. In a delightful twist, Stripey thinks he’s found his special place with humans …but I won’t spoil it by telling you. In the end, however, Stripey does find his own special place out in the bush where he is safe and loved.

Binks’ illustrations are cheeky, vibrant and lots of fun. The characters have their own voices and the subject is treated in a light-hearted way. Children and adults alike will enjoy the illustrations and looking for the hidden characters. Binks has  included interesting facts at the end of the book. about the animals in her book; emus, echidnas, western ground parrots, red kangaroos, flying foxes and goannas. As support materials Binks has downloadable colouring sheets available at her Stunned Emu Designs website and she is available for author visits to schools. Linking the science themes in the book with some artwork would keep students engaged for hours.

 

NATIONAL CURRICULUM LINKS (as from ACARA)

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

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
  • exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as water conservation in deserts
  • 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

 

Author/Illustrator:     Wendy Binks

Stunned Emu Press, 2011

ISBN 9780646562155

 

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Filed under Biological Sciences Sub-strand, Foundation, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5

Review: Platypus Deep by Jill Morris and Heather Gall

Platypus Deep is the story of Orni the platypus and his search for a new place to build a den when his old home is destroyed by a savage storm.Author and conservationist Jill Morris likes to make plays on words with the names of her characters. The scientific name for a platypus is Ornithorhynchus Anatinus and upstream from Orni lives Anatina, feeding her babies; while downstream lives the old and fierce platypus, Rhyncus. A good way to introduce your students to the idea of scientific names and that they are important because there can be so many common names for the same thing.

Morris gives us a clear sense of the habitat of the platypus in her opening pages; In the ‘secret pool on a quiet creek,’ we meet sandpaper figs, fig parrots, butterflies, frogs, echidnas and yabby’s, which all share the pool with Orni. We learn what Orni eats and also the food web relationships between the other inhabitants of this little ecosystem. Later a dingo visits the pool and we get a sense that there are predators even further up the food chain.

Morris also shows us some of the adaptations and characteristics of the platypus and other animals. Anatina feeds her babies upstream, clearly mammalian, the snake soaks up the sun for warmth, and Orni and Rhyncus battle with their posion spurs as they compete for the pool downstream.

There is also a sense of changing landcape here, which fits in with the Earth and Space Sciences stream. There is the rapid change due to the storm, geological changes over long periods of time and the changes caused by the impact of humans and pollution. Morris sends a clear message here and her inner back cover states that ‘in 2005 the people of Maleny protested unsuccessfully against the building of a supermarket on the bak of Obi Obi Creek, the habitat of a large colony of platypuses. Illustrator Heather Gall lives near Maleny in Queensland.

Morris doesn’t let the science get in the way of the story-line and so it’s an enjoyable read on it’s own merits. It’s also a book that could be used on a number of different levels, even with older children as an exercise in drawing food webs.It’s particularly relevant at level 4, looking at interactions between organisms. Local and authentic content makes the exercise much more worthwhile.

Jill Morris has produced a number of books with conservation themes through her Greater Glider publishing. A review of her book ‘Green Air’ on this blog can be found here. You may also like to read a review at Aussie Reviews.

NATIONAL CURRICULUM LINKS (as from ACARA)

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
  • observing that all animals have offspring, usually with two parents

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

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
  • exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as water conservation in deserts
  • 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 (Foundation)

Daily and seasonal changes in our environment, including the weather, affect everyday life.

  • investigating how changes in the weather might affect animals such as pets, animals that hibernate, or migratory animals

Earth and Space Sciences (Year 1)

Observable changes occur in the sky and the 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 (Year 4)

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
  • considering how different human activities cause erosion of the Earth’s surface
  • considering the effect of events such as floods and extreme weather on the landscape, both in Australia and in the Asia region

Author:     Jill Morris

Illustrator: Heather Gall

Greater Glider, 2006

ISBN 9780947304744

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Filed under Biological Sciences Sub-strand, Foundation, Foundation, Level 1, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 4, Level 5, Uncategorized

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: Crocodile River by Diana Lawrenson and Danny Snell

Life’s tough for a saltwater crocodile, in the early days at least. As a hatchling, Cranky the salty has to watch out for hungry turtles and sea eagles while herself snapping up insects and tadpoles.  As she grows, her diet successively changes from little fish and prawns, to larger fish, frogs and fruit bats. Bigger still, she waits for wild piglets but has to escape from an even larger crocodile.

Lawrenson has carefully woven much information about saltwater crocodiles into her tale of Cranky’s search for a place of her own. We are shown that crocodiles are part of the natural order of things, rather than something to be feared.  As a youngster, she is just as vulnerable to human predation as we are to her when she is bigger and stronger. The end papers of the book contain fact about the crocodile’s  life cycle, habitat and adaptations. My only gripe with this book as a science teacher is the tendency to attribute words and thoughts to Cranky, who really wouldn’t be using language. I’d be interested in hearing the views of others on this.

The predator/prey relationship here is really strong and it would work well as an introduction to food webs. In terms of life cycles, we see Cranky progress from one of many eggs, through the vulnerable hatchling stage till she is finally an adult. It could be used in the early years as an introduction, or in later years as a practical exercise in food chain/web mapping. Cranky goes full cycle, from being prey to predator. It’s great to have Australian texts to work with rather than outdated or overseas texts. Crocodile River is equally applicable to any discussion on habitat or adatations.

Teacher’s notes can be accessed through either Lawrenson’s website or via the publisher, Working Title Press.

Notable Book, Children’s Book Council of Australia
Whitley Award, Royal Zoological Society of NSW

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
  • observing that all animals have offspring, usually with two parents

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

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
  • exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as water conservation in deserts
  • 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

Author: Diana Lawrenson

Illustrator: Danny Snell

Working Title Press, 209

ISBN 9781876288921

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Filed under Biological Sciences Sub-strand, Foundation, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5

Review: There Was An Old Sailor by Claire Saxby and Cassandra Allen

‘There was an old sailor

Who swallowed a krill

I don’t know why he swallowed the krill’

It’ll make him ill…?

So begins one of my favourite picture books of the past few years.  ‘There Was An Old Sailor,’ written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Cassandra Allen is a fun new look at an old children’s classic. Modelled on the rythms and patterns of ‘there was an old woman who swallowed a fly,’ it looks at an old sailor, who successively swallows larger and larger ocean creatures until…well I won’t spoil the punch-line. You’ll have to read it yourself but it certainly appeals to kids. This is a great read-aloud book and the repetition that young children will love joining in. Getting rhymes to work in stories is something that seems easy but is in fact quite difficult and Saxby has done a great job.

Allen’s illustrations are also really appealling, with a great range of exprssions on the sailor’s face as he contemplates eating a seal, a shark and a whale… of course, a sailor couldn’t really swallow a whale but these illustrating make it all seem quite feasible.

The last pages of the book contain some fishy facts about ocean creatures.

Saxby’s book won the SCBWI 2011 Crystal Kite award. This award is voted on by other authors and illustrators, so it’s a great verification of her work by her peers. The book was also short-listed for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2010, Young Children Category.

Walker books have provided a set of classroom ideas which you can access here. There are some great ideas to use in the classroom, as well as a quiz which you can print out which students can answer from  the fishy facts at the back of the book. Making puppets, making rhymes, looking at the art-work…lots of links between literacy, science and art. Walker have also provided a colouring sheet for younger children…or perhaps older ones too!

The obvious science links here are food chains/webs and this little story would be a great way to introduce it as a concept for younger children and even for older children. I’ve used picture books in secondary classes as a way to get kids engaged. You could make a food web, linking students with string or model one in 3D with artwork. It also relates to habitat and the types of creatures which inhabit an ocean environment, their adaptations and they way in which their needs are met. On a simpler level, it can be used to look at children’s needs, what they need to eat and their own requirements.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the story behind the story, you can read some of the posts on it’s blog tour at great review sites such as kid’s book review.

National Curriculum applications:

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
  • identifying the needs of humans such as warmth, food and water, using students’ own experiences

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 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.

Author: Claire Saxby

Illustrator: Cassandra Allen

Walker Books, 2010

ISBN 978192150515

4 Comments

Filed under Biological Sciences Sub-strand, Foundation, Level 1, Level 4