When I was an early childhood educator, I was always on the lookout for curriculum materials that would help young children connect with the environment. Five books by Anthony D. Fredericks on the new materials shelf here at Mantor would have been welcome additions to my classroom.
The five books each feature a different habitat, and some of the creatures a young explorer finds there. I appreciate that the author has included both genders as the budding naturalists: kudos for recognizing that girls like bugs and beasties, too!
The series is written in cumulative rhyme (as in This is the House that Jack Built), so they are fun for group story times: by the end of the book, children will be able to chime in. The illustrations also lend themselves well to story time: large scale, colorful, and detailed without being fussy - perfect for grabbing the attention of a group of preschoolers. (Or just one, for that matter!) Recommended for ages 4-10, independent readers will also enjoy these stories.
Field notes in the end pages offer more information on the critters observed in each of the ecosystems, which is nice for older children or one-on-one reading with younger kids. An additional nice touch are "further resources", including contact information and websites for environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy and the National Wildlife Federation.
Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs, and other Ughs
What just crawled out from under this rock? This book examines earthworms, ants, spiders, beetles, crickets, millipedes, and slugs.
In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails, and Salty Tails
Here, when the tide goes out, our explorer discovers barnacles, gobies, sponges, snails, anemones, limpets, and sea stars.
Around One Cactus: Owls, Bats, and Leaping Rats
To the desert this time, to observe life in and around a Saguaro cactus: Kangaroo Rat, Elf Owl, bats, Rattlesnakes, Scorpions, Kit Foxes and Gila Monsters.
Near One Cattail: Turtles, Logs, and Leaping Frogs
Life in a pond this time, featuring dragonflies, ducks, muskrats, and snakes in addition to the title creatures.
On One Flower: Butterflies, Ticks, and few more Icks
A spray of goldenrod in a sunny meadow is the scene for this one, with some familiar (to most) friends: butterflies, ladybugs, spiders and honey bees, among others.
If you have a young scientist in your life - or a classroom full - I recommend these five as worthwhile reading, guaranteed to please creepy-crawly lovers of all ages.