Category Archives: Books

Ada Twist, Scientist

Andrea Beaty and David Roberts have outdone themselves with their latest book, Ada Twist, Scientist.  Beaty (author) and Roberts (illustrator) made their mark in children’s literature with their two previous books, Iggy Peck, Architect, and Rosie Revere, Engineer. Demonstrating the sometimes exasperating, but always creative, personalities of inquisitive and innovative children, these books have become favorites for those who champion maker education and S.T.E.M.  They are also great examples of growth mindset and passion based learning.

Ada Twist, Scientist tells the story of an adorable young girl whose curiosity knows absolutely no bounds.  Her parents fondly support Ada’s intellectual investigations until she decides to throw the family cat into the washing machine in an attempt to find the origin of a terrible smell, at which point Ada is exiled to the “Thinking Chair.”

You will have to read the book yourself to find out how Ada handles her isolation and whether or not she solves her stinky mystery. Suffice it to say that the book has a happy ending and will inspire parents and children to see questions as exciting learning opportunities rather than as time-wasting obstacles.

For a teaching guide and links to other related activities, visit the Ada Twist website.

You can’t resist Ada Twist, Scientist!

image from Ada Twist, Scientist
image from Ada Twist, Scientist

This One’s for the Books

I decided to go with a book theme for this week’s Phun Phriday post, as I noticed this seemed to be a trend in the articles I was saving to my Flipboard magazine lately.  Here are some clever literary creations I’ve collected:

  • In Jane Mount’s Etsy shop, you will find hand-made enamel book pins of classic books like Anne of Green Gables and posters of ideal bookshelf collections, such as “Narnia.”
  • If it’s on your bucket list to read the top 100 most essential novels, then you will probably love this scratch-off poster to keep track of your progress.
  • Cassia Beck offers a multitude of “old book” patterned items on Society 6 – including leggings, a duvet cover, and a rug.

I don’t know about you, but I will definitely be curled up with a book at least once during our 3-day weekend in the States.  Happy Friday!

Bookworm Rug by Cassia Beck on Society 6
Bookworm Rug by Cassia Beck on Society 6

Making – A Book and a Movie

I am very excited about the upcoming book from John Spencer and A.J. Juliani called, Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student.  To get a preview of the deep understanding these men have about their topic, you should read Juliani’s blog post, “The Beginner’s Guide to Design Thinking in the Classroom.”  Anyone considering adding a maker space or incorporating Design Thinking into the curriculum should read this post.

Speaking of considering a maker space, Laura Fleming (author of Worlds of Making, and one of the pioneers of school maker spaces) tweeted out a link to this video today, which is an awesome overview of the maker space revolution.   Laura’s excellent suggestion is to share it with teachers and school leaders for PD.

For more ideas on “making,” check out my MakerSpace Essentials page, as well as my “Make” Pinterest Board.

Click here to learn more about Launch!
Click here to learn more about Launch!

 

Thing Explainer

Randall Munroe was first brought to my attention when a parent directed to me to his fun website, xkcd.com.  One of my favorite Randall Munroe comics is “Up Goer Five,” a diagram of the Saturn V explained in simple language.  The best part, in my opinion, is at the bottom where it says, “This end should point toward the ground if you want to go to space.  If it starts pointing toward space, you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.”  I feel like this is the perfect metaphor for some of my lessons😉

To my delight, I noticed on one of my “Lists That Can’t Be Missed,” that the author of The Kid Should See This, has recommended Munroe’s new book, Thing Explainer, as a great gift.  I’m one of those geeky teachers who asks for things for her classroom as gifts, and my husband kindly indulged me by putting it under the tree.

The book’s Table of Contents is called, “Things in this Book by Page.” Munroe is kind enough to put the more formal names of each explained thing underneath the titles, which you may find more necessary in some cases than others.  For example, “Boat that goes under the sea,” is a submarine.

Of course.  What do you think “The pieces everything is made of,” refers to?

Periodic table.  Maybe you got that one, but I have a feeling that, “Shape checker” won’t come so easily to you.

You’ll have to buy the book to find the answer to that one😉

I see a lot of uses for this book in the classroom.  Have students pick a page and do research to find the actual names for each part on the diagram, for example.  Or, don’t show them a picture at first, and have them try to guess what it is as you read the descriptions. Another idea is to, once the students see some examples, have them create their own “Thing Explainer” diagram for something that is not in the book.  (Challenge them to use only the words on Munroe’s list of the “Ten Hundred Words People Use the Most.”  They can check sentences with his simplewriter tool online.)

Included in the book is a nice poster of a “Sky Toucher” which I intend to laminate for my classroom.  If you’re interested in other xkcd merchandise, here is a link to the store (which includes a poster of the Up Goer Five).

thingexplainer
Buy Thing Explainer here!

4 More Ways to Survive 4 More Days

Just in case you didn’t properly ration your Teachers’ December Survival Kit,  and you are finding yourself desperate for ways to make it through this final week before the break, here are some more activities that I’ve found from some of my favorite bloggers:

Candy Cane S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

Ugly Sweater Challenge (I love the Ugly Sweater fractions!)

Toys Go Out (scroll to the end of this post for a great book idea and a link to lesson plans!)

Quiver and Holiday Writing – augmented reality fun for the holidays

keep-calm-because-we-have-4-more-days-left

Gifts for the Gifted – Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding

As I continue this year’s Gifts for the Gifted series, I should re-iterate a few things.  First of all, these recommendations are for all children – not just those identified as “Gifted and Talented.” Secondly, these gifts will be much more meaningful to their recipients if the gift-giver follows through by enjoying the gift along with the child.  This is particularly important to remember with today’s gift suggestion.

Hello Ruby began as a Kickstarter campaign by Linda Liukas, and is now available for purchase.  Liukas wanted to create a book that would showcase Ruby, a young girl who refuses to back away from a challenge.  Linda Liukas, as she learned to program, used the imaginary Ruby as her own inspiration to persevere in problem solving.

HelloRuby

Some of you may recognize “Ruby” as a programming language – but don’t expect this to be a textbook. As Liukas states in her “Introduction for the Parent,” this book is not intended to teach programming.  Instead, it “introduces the fundamentals of computational thinking that every future coder will need.”  Targeted toward students in primary grades (I would recommend 2nd-4th), this book includes programming vocabulary, such as “functions” and “loops,” but is not a curriculum.

There is an “Activity Book” included in Hello Ruby.  This portion of the book includes 22 short activities to reinforce the coding concepts in the story.  Each one connects back to the storyline and characters, continuing with Liukas’ delightful illustrations.

I would recommend reading this book along with your child, and doing the exercises together.  If you pair the exercises along with some introductory programming activities, such as The Foos, Box Island, or Kodable, great connections can be made to the concepts in the book.  Also, be sure to visit the Hello Ruby website for more resources, including printable pages for the activity book.

For more in the “Gifts for the Gifted” series, check out this page.  If you would like more resources for programming for kids, here is my Pinterest Board for that topic.

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Gifts for the Gifted – Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome

With all of the political shenanigans going on in the world today, it’s comforting to know that we have a completely non-partisan president who is more concerned with dancing than making newspaper headlines – Kid President.

Kid President

If you want to give a gift that will inspire and make its recipient laugh, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome is the perfect book.

KP's Guide to Being Awesome

I first wrote about this book in April, and I don’t think that I can improve on the ecstatic review I gave it back then.  So, I will direct you to that post for more details.

You could also watch this fun promo video for the book, starring Kid President as himself.

Do yourself a favor if you buy this book, and read it along with the child/ren you choose to favor with this gift.  It will be much more meaningful if it’s shared.

There are a few more pieces of KP merch available here if you are interested in pairing your gift with a shirt or poster.

Want some more gift ideas?  Check out my page of links to all of my past “Gifts for the Gifted” suggestions. 

gifts