Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 2. July 1996. Page 3.


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Teaching Physical Science Through Children's Literature by Susan Gertz

Most of us are trying to use literature across the curriculum these days and some areas are easier than others. It's fairly easy to find books that extend into the natural sciences, for instance, but physical science is more of a challenge. You'll want to take a look at Teaching Physical Science through Children's Literature (Learning Triangle Press/McGraw Hill, 1996 ISBN 0-07-064723-2) by Susan Gertz et al. There are twenty lessons here, each extending from a single picture book and the extensions are good, solid, exciting science activities. Furthermore, I haven't seen most of these activities described in other science activity books. These are fresh and new, at least for me.

For the book George Shrinks by William Joyce, for instance, we get a short summary of the book together with bibliographic information. Then we are told that students will, in this lesson, become familiar with objects made of various plastics and some of their properties and observe the effect of heat on shrinkable polystyrene. We are told what objects to assemble for an observation table, how to record their observations on a chart, and then the steps in creating shrinkable polystyrene objects, including self-portraits of the children. Specific directions are given, including an address of where to get the materials if the local deli fails you. The teacher's explanation of what happened or will happen and why is clear and very informative. A writing extension activity is included as are books such as Alice in Wonderland to bring it back into literature. Don't miss this one!

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