Why use picture books in science with upper elementary and secondary students?
- Illustrations are just as important as words. The illustrations can help them observe more about the story and make deeper inferences.
- Picture books will better hold student attention than informational text articles.
- “Colorful pictures and graphics in picture books are superior to many texts for explaining abstract ideas” (Kralina 1993).
- Improve reading skills in science. Picture books give you another opportunity to work on critical thinking skills.
- Correct science misconceptions. Picture books are more likely to have scientific inaccuracies. This is OK because it gives you an opportunity to have a conversation about it and correct student thinking.
- Reading aloud allows you to model fluency for your students. It also allows you to continue to work on comprehension strategies as you stop and question student knowledge.
How to Use Picture Books in the Science Classroom.
- Introducing the topic will allow all students to gain background knowledge before they start learning about the science concept. Having this information will prep their minds into focusing on the concept. It will also engage them on the topic and get their minds to question what they are learning about.
- Wherever you see fit! It’s your classroom, your science unit, your students. If you know you have a few minutes left and can squeeze in reading, go for it. While you can make it an activity for the class period, it doesn’t HAVE to be. Sometimes the most meaningful lessons were when my students and I were having a conversation about a book.
- At the end of the unit – once your students have gained all the knowledge to rock the science concept, you can reinforce their learning through a picture book. Your questioning will determine how much, or how little, they will get out of it.
Where do I start?
Observations and inferences:
- Seven Blind Mice: When reading, do not show students the pages that depict the elephant. Have them guess what the mice are running on.
- Dr. Xargle’s Book of Earth Hounds (Scroll to the bottom for an activity I put together to use with my students for free!)
- What is the World Made of? Reviews the basics of the states of matter and how they change.
- Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle – I will also be making pancakes with my students to question them about the physical and chemical changes while we are cooking.
- Gravity is a Mystery Another book that gives students the basics of the concept. Great for an introduction to your unit.
- Oil Spill by Melvin Berger This book would be an awesome introduction to a project on an oil spill. Students could then simulate an oil spill and how the constraints that come with protecting the environment.
- Prince William by Gloria Rand
- Save the Turtles!
- Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out by April Pulley Sayre
- Turtle Watch by Saviour Pirotta
Food Chains and Food Webs:
I am Human by Susan Verde
Read about more great books (nonfiction and fiction) for science teachers by clicking here.
Strategies to Help Motivate Reluctant Readers // The Little Ladybug Shop
How to Promote a Love of Reading In Your Classroom // The Stellar Teacher Company
Looking for more great ideas to add to your science classroom? Consider joining my science tribe. You will receive weekly tips and ideas to implement into your classroom easily. Sign up below to access the F-R-E-E resources to use with Dr. Xargle’s Book of Earth Hounds.