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October 2014
Monday, October 06, 2014
STEM Concepts in Picture Books (Part II)
It’s week two of my challenge to spark a conversation with my girls about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) using picture books that don’t necessarily discuss these concepts in the text or illustration. My girls chose a story about a little boy, who loves painting and ends up paining his entire body.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! (by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow)
STEM concepts: Anatomy and Shapes

I started the conversation by asking my girls what they learned in math class. My 8-year-old mentioned addition, subtraction, and fractions. My 6-year-old mentioned cubes, to which I asked, “what is a cube,” hoping that this comment would spark a thought when I read.

My 8-year-old had a most unique definition: “A math material that can help you figure out equations.” (Not sure I’ve heard that definition before). I said, “A cube is a shape.” They talked about shapes, both 2D and 3D. We also talked about what they learned in science class. The first response was “experiment,” and then they listed some sample experiments and topics they had discussed in class.

Next, I asked them to keep in mind what they know about science and math while I read the book. I reminded them to pay attention to not only the words but also the illustrations. Afterward, I asked them what science or math concepts they saw or heard in I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!.

My 8-year-old said, “There is really not much science and math…there’s a lot of rhyming…doesn’t really relate.” My 6-yr-old just shook her head.

I then turned to a page that I told them had a science or math concept. My 8-year-old raised her hand and said, “I see it…there’s shapes!” On another page my 8-year-old noticed the patterns in the illustrations. The girls pointed out and named the different shapes they recognized.

I then asked them, “What are all the things he’s painting?”

My 8-yr-old said, “His body parts!”

I then explained that the study of body parts was called anatomy, to which one of my girls said, “Sounds like a sickness.” I couldn’t help but giggle a little. I asked them if they would like to see a real anatomy book, to see what was underneath the skin.

“Ewww!” was their response, but all three of my girls followed me to my office, where I pulled out Principles of Anatomy & Physiology by Gerard J. Tortora and Sara Reynolds Grabowski.

A slew of “It’s disgusting!” or “Ewww!” comments followed along with some giggles. I showed my girls sketches and pictures of various muscles, nerves, the brain, the heart and the skeleton. And like last week, after they had their fill, they ran off to play.

I was happy! We talked not only about shapes and basic anatomy but also patterns and some of the names of different bones and organs.

Another STEM conversation sparked thanks to a picture book!

Next week, in Part III, I try to find a STEM concept(s) in Shoe-la-la! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by LeUyen Pham.


Do see STEM concepts in picture books that depict everyday life? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Read STEM in Picture Books (Part I) here: michellekarene.com/default.php?content=blog&sid=3&date=2014-09-29#53
Posted by Michelle
Monday, October 13, 2014
STEM Concepts in Picture Books (Part III)
It’s the third and last week of my challenge to spark a conversation with my girls about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) using three picture books that my girls have enjoyed reading lately. The last of the three books is Shoe-la-la (by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by LeUyen Pham), a story about four girls on the hunt for the perfect pair of party shoes.

I had to think about the book for a little bit before the STEM concept hit me. Unlike the two books before, in which a part of the story had a STEM concept, this go around, the entire book was the STEM concept. Yep…you read that right. A story about shoes was really a STEM concept in and of itself. The concept I saw was experiment!

This week’s conversation started with me reminding my girls that we were looking to see if there was any math, science, engineering, or technology represented in the book via the words or the illustrations. After I read Shoe-la-la, I asked my girls if they had any thoughts. They didn’t see anything that related.

I gave them a little hint and asked them to look at the whole story and think about science or math. My 8-year-old said that the girls ran out of time and “time is a part of math.” I agreed, but not quite what I was getting at. So, I asked them what was a science or math word for what the girls were doing in the story.

My 6-year-old proudly raised her hand and said, “I know…experiment!” (YES! She saw it too!)

My 8-year-old then said, “The experiment was to find what shoes were perfect for them.”

The conversation continued as we discussed what was involved in starting an experiment. The girls mentioned thinking about what the experiment was going to be about and asking questions. When I said, “You ask a question, then you make a what?” It was my 8-year-old’s turn to raise her hand proudly and say, “prediction!” (YES, again!)

We talk about prediction and forming a hypothesis. We also talked about a null hypothesis. Afterward, I asked my girls, “Do you see how this book has a STEM concept?” I was happy when they all answered YES.

But I was even happier when my 8-year-old said that she could see how science and math could be found everywhere…again I had to agree, especially if we just stopped to look and/or think about it a little more.


Do see STEM concepts in picture books that depict everyday life? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Read Part I: michellekarene.com/default.php?content=blog&sid=3&date=2014-09-29#53
Read Part II: michellekarene.com/default.php?content=blog&sid=3&date=2014-10-06#55
Posted by Michelle
Monday, October 27, 2014
What I Read...
Lately, I have taken some time off from writing and blogging to do some reading. I love curling up with a cup of coffee, snuggling under a blanket, and reading a good book. I have a very simple classification for a good book: I want to read it AGAIN.

I am like a kid that way. My girls always want me to read and re-read the same story. My girls have heard Goodnight Moon almost nightly for the past eight years. The words of this book are so in tune in my head that I sing the book like a lullaby.

I re-read books because I love the story and want to soak up all the details again. I want to relive the journey with the protagonist and find myself in another world or another time.

My younger daughters, who can’t read yet and only recognize a few words, like the pictures in books best. My 6-year-old said, “I like all the pretty pictures…they’re so good, it makes the story good.” (Yeah for Illustrators!!!)

My eldest daughter considers a book to be good if it falls “under [her] likings,” (i.e., a book having to do with doctors and doctor related stuff).

As a fall treat to myself, I read and sometimes re-read a book or two, finally checking off several books from my must-read list. In the past month, I read about 40 picture books, 8 chapter books, and 8 middle grade/YA novels, and of those, the ones at the top of my re-read list are the following:

  • 11 Experiments That Failed (by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter)
  • Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake (by Michael Kaplan, illustrated by Stephanie Jorisch)
  • Clementine (by Sara Pennypacker)
  • The Day the Crayons Quit (by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers)
  • The Fault In Our Stars (by John Green)
  • Judy Moody Was in a Mood. Not a Good Mood. A Bad Mood. (by Megan McDonald)
  • Mind Games (by Kiersten White)
  • The Noisy Paint Box (by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpre)
  • What Do You Do With An Idea (by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom)
  • The Westing Game (by Ellen Raskin)


What books are on your re-read list? How do you classify a good book? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Posted by Michelle