Category Archives: STEM

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #6: Up in Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful weekend and enjoyed some time with people in “your bubble”.  Things seem to be “opening up” slowly,  with “in person teaching”  scheduled to start next week.  I know that the thought of being back in schools with children brings with it a range of emotion and I am sending you positive thoughts and energy as you transition to yet another version of our “new normal”.

Thank you for the positive responses to my weekly OLLI  posts “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  I’m happy that you are finding them helpful for your distance lessons.

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

Anchor Book:

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt | Flowering Minds

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

This week’s OWWI is based on the anchor book Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal – the second book in the “Over and Under” series. (See also Over and Under the Snow and Over and Under the Pond)  I love this series and have used them extensively in classrooms.  I particularly love the clever “split screen” illustrations in this series, showing life above and below the ground.   I thought this would be a great book to inspire children to get outside to enjoy the spring weather with their families and perhaps do a little gardening!  This book has SO many curriculum connections – you could spend a week or more planning activities in science, math, art, and writing, so be sure to add this title to your STEAM collection!

This book is a delightful textual and visual celebration of gardening layered with a wonderful inter-generational story of a granddaughter and her Nana.  We follow the young girl and her grandmother as they journey through the year planning, planting, and harvesting their garden—and learn about all the animal and insect life that we don’t even see or suspect going on in the world “down in the dirt”. Added bonus is the informative back notes including an author’s note, bibliography and extra facts about the animal species encountered.

There are many versions of this book as a read-aloud available online, including the author, Kate Messner, reading it herself!

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt | Flowering Minds

 

Podcast: Going Underground: Kidlit in the Labyrinth | Curious City ...

Lessons: 

After students listen to the story online, choose from any of the lessons below – or do them all!

  • Making Connections  – in the story, the girl is learning from her grandmother about many different aspects of gardening.  What connections do you make to this story?  What activities do you like to do with your grandparents?  What are some things they have taught you?                                                                                                Click HERE for the Primary Connections template.                                                            Click HERE for the Intermediate Connections template.
  • (For more lessons on Making Connections – see my book Reading Power)

 

  • KNEW-NEW” Connections – after reading (listening to) the story, invite students to record facts they already KNEW about gardening and NEW facts they learned.  There are also spaces for visual images and questions on this page.                        Click HERE for the KNEW-NEW the template.

 

  • Art – Draw (and label) a “split screen” picture (see sample below) of “above and below” the garden.

split screen garden

  • MathStudents brainstorm a list of vegetables they would like to plant in their “garden”.  Using a grid, they can plan out their garden, deciding where each vegetable should go and how much space (grid squares) it will take up.  This would be a perfect lead in to a lesson on AREA and PERIMETER.  I found this idea on Pinterest for planning a zoo, and while I would not do zoo planning with students (not a fan of them), I thought it would be a great idea for planning a garden!               Click here for the Math Garden Planning template 

Math zoo

  • Science – What does a seed need?  Students could learn about the “Fab Five” – five things a plant needs to grow:  sun, soil, space, air, and water

 

  • How To Writing “How to Plant a Seed”. Depending on whether your students have access to a garden, they could do some actual seed planting or just learn about it from one of the anchor books listed below and then write steps and tips on how to plant a seed.  (For more HOW TO writing ideas, see my book Nonfiction Writing Power or my new book, Powerful Writing Structures.)
  • Click HERE for the How To writing template for Primary (two pages)
  • Click HERE for the How To writing template for Intermediate.

Other lesson extensions:

  • Family Gardening Project – gardening with your family – students could join or  encourage their family to grow some vegetables or flowers and could participate in the planting and caring for the family garden.
  • Family Nature Activities:  Find backyard nature activities that students and families can do in their own backyard from the Project Learning Tree.
  • Inter-connectedness of nature  – students could learn and write about how plants and insects work together to support the cycle of nature.
  • Bug study – students choose one bug they learned about in the story and do a bug study.  Don’t forget the back-notes in the back of Kate Messner’s book that lists information about all the creatures included in the story.
  • Bug Identification – invite students to download the free iNaturalist app to practice taking photos of bugs and learning how to identify them (so cool!)  https://www.inaturalist.org/
  • Author studyKate Messner is an AMAZING writer who has written dozens of picture books, Nonfiction, and MG novels. Download the Kate Messner Author Study Guide for more ideas!

Below are other recommended anchor books you could use to support this lesson, featuring books about gardening and insects.  Check Epic Books or YouTube for online versions of these books.

Lola Plants a Garden – Anna McQuinn

We Are the Gardeners – Joanna Gaines and Kids

Plant the Tiny Seed Christie Matheson

Gardening For Beginners Osborne Books

Garden to Table

Garden to Table – Katherine Hengal

In My Garden – National Geographic Look and Learn

Backyard Bug Book for Kids – Lauren Davidson

Hello World! Backyard Bugs – Jill McDonald

 

If you are interested in more gardening education, here are some interesting websites I found:

https://kidsgardening.org/https://kidsgardening.org/in particular:   https://kidsgardening.org/blog-adapting-to-school-closures/

https://www.teachervision.com/search/gardening

https://growing-minds.org/

https://www.plt.org/activities-for-families/in-your-own-backyard/

Have a great week, everyone!  Hope these lessons inspire some ideas for your online or in-person learning this week.  Happy reading and happy gardening!

You are doing an amazing job!  There is a light at the end of this tunnel! You can do it!!!

 

 

 

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Filed under "How To" Writing, Connect, Ecosystems, environment, Gardening, Math, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Science, STEM, Writing Anchor book

Adrienne’s OLLI (Online Learning Lesson Idea) #3 – How to Be My Mom

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful weekend and were able to take a break from planning your online lessons and enjoyed some time with family and perhaps some outdoor fun.  I know some districts and provinces are in the process of gradually returning to modified versions of “in person teaching”, but most remain focusing on distance learning.  No matter what your teaching situation is at the moment, I am sending you positive thoughts and energy!

Many of you have been using my OLLI – “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  (You can see my first OLLI HEREand second HERE. ) This week, in preparation for Mother’s Day, my OLLI is all about MOMS!  Taking an idea from my book Nonfiction Writing Power from the chapter on Instructional/Procedural writing, why not have your students write  instructions for “How To Be My Mom”.   Now I realize that it might be challenging for some of the younger students to be working on this lesson at home without their mom seeing it, but you could encourage them to try working on it when mom is not looking!

As always, I like to start with an anchor book! I know there are many great Mother’s Day books out there, but every year, my “go to” book is always Anthony Browne’s “My Mum” (UK edition) or “My Mom” (US edition).  It’s simple, fun, has great illustrations, great similes, and is a perfect book for making connections!   And if you don’t have a copy that you can share online,  it is available as a read-aloud on YouTube!  Hurray!

My Mom: Browne, Anthony, Browne, Anthony: Amazon.com.mx: Libros

After watching the video, students can use the optional planner page to brainstorms ideas about their own Mom.  Using their ideas, I like to have them turn their statements about their moms into instructions using simple instructional phrases or words such as:

  Always….    Remember to…    Try to…    Never…   Don’t….  Be…  

Encourage your students to come up with ideas unique to their moms.  See example below:

How to Be My Mummy

Always drink coffee at Tim Hortons

Remember to answer the phones at the dentist office.

Never eat raw sushi (or else you’ll get sick!)

Wear your sparkly sari when you go to weddings.

Make delicious chocolate chip pancakes on the weekend.

Go walking with Auntie every Saturday morning.

Love your family more than anything.

Be smart and encouraging.

 

Here is the read-aloud on YouTube

Here is the optional planner for Primary.

Here is the optional planner for Intermediate.

Here is the template for Primary.

Here is the template for Intermediate.

You will find more “How To” instructional lessons in my Nonfiction Writing Power book and my new Powerful Writing Structures book.

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week, everyone!  You are doing a great job!

Come back again for more OLLI posts!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms, Grandmas and Caregivers out there!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Immagination, Lesson Ideas, Links to content, Maker Spaces, New Books, OLLI, STEM

Adrienne’s OLLI (Online Learning Lesson Idea) #2 – If I Built A School

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful weekend and were able to take a break from planning your online lessons and enjoyed some time with family and perhaps some outdoor fun.  I am trying to do something for my mind, body, and soul every day and it’s definitely helping!

Well, I got a lot of positive response to my first OLLI ( I’m an acronym queen, so had to make one for this!  It stands for “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“) so I thought I would continue with a new OLLI – complete with an anchor book, lesson idea, and activity page.

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If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen is the third book in a series which includes If I Built a Car and If I Built a House. Highly entertaining book and a perfect choice for activating that imagination pocket!  In the story, Jack takes his teacher on an imaginary tour of his dream school.  His imaginary school is filled with wild, epic experiences,  including puppies that greet you in the morning, skydiving in the gym, and three story tall slides to get you to and from classes.  Love the retro-future style artwork (reminds me of The Jetsons!) and the rhyming is catchy and fun! (reminiscent of Dr. Seuss in the best possible way)  This book is so creative and will inspire imaginative designing and writing!  Great addition to your STEAM collection!

Here is a read-aloud of the story on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQFDyHmf9Bo

Here is thelink to Amazon:

Here is a link to an activity for Intermediate students:  (I hope it works!)

Here is a link to an activity for Primary students:

 

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week, everyone!  You are doing a great job!

Stay tuned for another #OLLI later this week!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Immagination, Lesson Ideas, Links to content, Maker Spaces, New Books, OLLI, STEM

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books About Bees!

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It’s been a while since I have written a blog post so I’m excited to share a new “top ten” list this week!  Bees!  So many great new books coming out about these amazing and important insects that I thought I would feature some of my favorites new and not so new books about bees including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  BEE-lieve me – BEES would BE a great topic for an end of the year inquiry project!  Invite a local bee keeper into your class as a guest.  And share some of these amazing bee books!

Follow That Bee!  A First Book of Bees in the City – Scot Ritchie

I love Scot Ritchie’s “Exploring Our Community” series so was excited to see this new addition all about bees!  Always just the right amount of interesting information but also high on the entertainment scale! The illustrations are great and I love that he includes a “call to action” toward the end of the story on how we can help the bees. Packed with interesting bee facts – did you know bees can’t see the colour red?

Willbee the Bumblebee – Craig Smith and Maureen Thomson

By the same team who brought us “Wonky Donkey” – this one is not quite as funny as Wonky Donkey, but a cute story, just the same.  Great triple scoop words!

Bees – A Honeyed HistoryPiotr Socha

This fascinating, over-sized bee book is one you could spend several hours pouring over.  Lots of interesting, scientific facts, gorgeous illustrations.  While I may not read this aloud to a class due to the significant amount of small text, it would be a great book for looking at with a buddy.

      

Are You a Bee?  – Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries

This is one of several books in a series called the “Backyard Books”, featuring insects you might find in your backyard.  What makes this book different from your typical nonfiction text is how the narrative voice speaks to the reader directly, detailing the stages of the life cycle of a bee and all the challenges it faces.  A unique point of view that I would certainly also use as an anchor for writing.  Gorgeous pencil crayon illustrations.

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The Honeybee – Kristen Hall

Love, love, love this enchanting book that reveals the day-to-day activities of honeybees. Lyrical wordplay, rhyming text, eye-catching black and white illustrations with pops of bright colors, and cute little bees with little neck ribbons. Adorable!

Busy Buzzy Bee – Karen Wallace

Perfect for K-1, this beginning reader is filled with interesting bee facts,  eye-catching DK photographs and plenty of word repetition.

The Bee Book – Charlotte Milner

While many bee books focus on the honey bee, I enjoyed how this book introduces readers to various kinds of bees and emphasizes the importance of all bees in the world.   Beautiful and simple.

UnBEElievables – Douglas Florian

Douglas Florian is one of my favorite children’s poet.  I love the way he integrates poetry, facts, and visuals in such a seamless, interesting and entertaining way.  Each page is complete with his signature art and also contains a short informative description connected to the topic of the poem.  Poems and paintings about bees;  puns and word play; humor – you can’t ask for more.

Give Bees a Chance – Bethany Barton

The author-illustrator of the delightful I’m Trying to Love Spiders is offering readers a plea to please give bees a chance!  Written in the same engaging, interactive style, this book is not only packed full of bee facts, but makes a fabulous read-aloud for your class.

The Honeybee Man – Lela Nargi 

Every morning, Fred climbs three flights of stairs—up to his rooftop in Brooklyn, New York—and greets the members of his enormous family: “Good morning, my bees, my darlings!”  With beautiful and unique illustrations, this “Fact-ion” picture book combines Fred’s story with facts about what bees do in their hives, what they do to find honey, and how the pollen they collect affects the taste and color of the honey.  It is full of such lush, sensory details, that you can hear the bees buzzing, see them collecting nectar, and then you can taste the sweet honey.  A great writing anchor book for using sensory details!

Bee and MeAlison Jay

This is a beautiful wordless picture book – perfect for teaching and practicing inferring – with a subtle message about the importance of bees in our world.    This book has a whimsical feel to it but includes with an important closing note explaining the plight of the dwindling honeybee population and suggests plants that readers can grow to help bee populations.

Ant and Bee

Ant and Bee – Angela Banner

My last pick is not really a book about bees, but one I just had to include.  While doing my bee search, up popped a book from a far corner of my memory pocket!  And while I would not classify them as “books about bees”,  Ant and Bee books were among my favorite growing up.  I remember my sisters and I and reading and re-reading them dozens of times!  (Ant and Bee and Kind Doggie and Around the World with Ant and Bee were my two favorites!) These books have been updated and re-released.  Sadly, the original illustrations by Brian Ward have been replaced by those from the author, (who is now in her 80’s!) apparently after the two had a falling out.  While lacking some of the original charm, I was impressed at how well the story is written in simple, scaffold-ed text, with new words highlighted in red. As an adult, I see the educational value of them for emergent readers.  As a child, I just remember loving them!

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you found one or two BEE books that caught your eye!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Bee Books, New Books, Poetry, STEM, Top 10 Tuesday

IMWAYR – Gifting Books This Christmas! Top Holiday Picks for 7-12 year olds

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Well, Christmas is just 8 away but there is still time to do some last minute book shopping for the young book lovers in your life!   From fact book, to craft book, to recipe book, to novels – there is sure to be a book here for every “tween” in your life!  Here are some of my favorite 2018 “gifting” books for the holidays that will also make excellent additions to your school or class library!

For your Animal lover…

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals by DK

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals – DK Publishing

A perfect gift book for the animal lover in your house. This 224 page encyclopedia format is jam packed with gorgeous photographs, illustrations, and fascinating facts about 104 creatures from the animal kingdom.  Children will love poring over the detailed images!  Amazing index packed with reference information including the size and location of each species.  I loved the addition of the tree of life showing how the animal groups are connected.  Gorgeous binding with fancy foil on the cover, gilded edged pages, and a shiny ribbon for keeping your place.  This is a real treasure!

For your Disney Lover…

 Disney Ideas Book 

This book is perfect for anyone who loves Disney!  Packed with over 100 Disney inspired arts and crafts, party games, puzzles, papercraft and many more fun and practical activities.  Stunning photography and clear step-by-step instructions to guide you through each project.  From creating Lion King animal masks to Winnie the Pooh party hats.  This book will provide hours of fun over the holidays!

For Your Young Activist….

Start Now!  You Can Make a Difference – Chelsea Clinton

What can I do to help save endangered animals? How can I eat healthy? How can I get more involved in my community? What do I do if I or someone I know is being bullied?  This book filled with facts, stories, photographs, and tips on how to change the world is perfect for school libraries and for the special activist in your life!   It has an index at the back, so teachers or parents can refer young readers to specific topics of interest and that fit.  LOVE this book and am going to be adding it to my Powerful Understanding book list on global stewardship.  Lots of ties to the new curriculum!

For your inventor…

Calling All Minds: How To Think and Create Like an Inventor Temple Grandin 

Kids who love to tinker, invent, and create will be inspired by this practical and inspirational book filled with personal stories, inventions and fascinating facts. Part personal memoir, part historic study of inventions and biography, and part DIY instructions, this book packs in a lot!  Author Temple Grandin, renowned scientist, inventor, and autism-spokesperson, shares the amazing true stories behind the innovations and inventions.  Imagination and creativity will soar!

For your Harry Potter fan…

Harry Potter Cookbook – Dinah Bucholz

Bangers and mash with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Hogwarts dining hall.  Mix a dash of magic and a drop of creativity, you’ll conjure up the meals, desserts, snacks, and drinks you need to transform an ordinary Muggle meals into a magical culinary experience!  150 easy-to-make recipes, tips, and techniques.  Mrs. Weasley will be VERY proud!

For your Joke Teller…

Would You Rather?: Christmas Yes or No Game and Illustrated Children's Joke Book Age 5-12 (Silly Jokes and Games for Kids Series 2) by [Shaw, Donald]

Would You Rather? Christmas Yes or No Game and Illustrated Children’s Joke Book Age 5-12 (Silly Jokes and Games for Kids Series 2)  – Donald Shaw

Packed with crazy cartoons and holiday-related amusing scenarios which will make children laugh out loud in no time!  The second part of the book is a unique YES or NO Christmas game. This game can be played with friends, classmates, parents, or even grandparents!  A perfect book for Christmas day entertainment!

For your imaginative tender-hearts… (2 suggestions)

Inkling – Kenneth Oppel

Inkling is a black blob that one day slides off the page of Ethan’s dad’s sketchbook.  What follows is a touching, fantastical story about a family trying to deal with the loss of their mother.  Written by the great Kenneth Oppel, this book is sure to capture the imagination and hearts of every child who reads it.

Sweep – The Story of a Girl and Her Monster – Jonathan Auxier

This is my all-time favorite middle grade book of 2018.  I can’t say enough good things about this stunning story of courage, sacrifice, child exploitation, unconditional love, and civil disobedience mixed with just the right amount of historical elements and sprinkled with magic. Set in the late 1800’s in Victorian England, it is the story of Nan Sparrow, a young chimney sweep who is struggling to survive after her father disappears. She befriends and forms a remarkable bond with Charlie, a golem made from ash, and in the process, they save each other. I cried. Yes, I did. And you will, too. It’s heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, funny and poignant and just beautiful in every way.    

“We are saved by saving others.”   (One of my MANY favorite quotes from this book)

To inspire your reluctant risk taker…

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl – Stacy McAnulty

After being struck by lightening in a freak accident, Lucy Callahan becomes a math genius.  But after years of home schooling, she is now having to navigate through middle the perils of middle school.  A warm-hearted story celebrating friendship and stepping out of your comfort zone.

For Your Graphic Novel Lover …

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Hilo Book 4 – Waking the Monsters – Judd Winick

“Hilo” books are VERY popular in our school library so I am certain many children will be excited to know that book 4 has just been released!  In this book, the nonstop adventure continues with Space Boy Hilo, his sister Izzy, and their friends try to save the earth when giant robots threaten to take over.  Packed with humour and action! 

For Your Unicorn Lover…

The Unicorn Rescue Society – The Creature of the Pines – Adam Gidwitz

There are a LOT of unicorn-obsessed students at my school so I KNOW many will love this first book in the fully illustrated fantasy-adventure series.  Elliot and Uchenna, recruits for a secret organization to protect magical beasts, find themselves on a mission to save a Jersey Devil unicorn.  A story full of adventure, fun, and friendship, perfect for newly independent readers.  It’s fast-paced, fun, and hilarious writing.

For your Science lover…

The Third Mushroom Jennifer L. Holm

This sequel to the bestselling The Fourteenth Goldfish finds 11 yr old Ellie entering a local science fair with her Grandpa who has accidentally reverse-aged himself to a 14 year old.  They believe their new experiment just might be the secret to the fountain of youth.  This is a delightful book with lots of STEM connections!

For your athlete…

Lu – Jason Reynolds

The final book in the track series by Jason Reynolds which focuses on a different track stars (Ghost, Patina, and Sunny) and the personal challenges they are trying to overcome with the help of their Coach.  In this book, we follow Lu, a talented runner born with albinism.   Jason’s writing and “voice” for each of his complex characters is so authentic and he approaches difficult issues such as illness, injustice, bullying, gun violence, grief, addition, and death with so much honesty and heart.  I also like how each character models respect for their parents and their coach.  Love how Reynolds ties all the characters in at the end.

For your creative imaginative thinker…

The Cardboard Kingdom – Chad Sell

I love this graphic novel that follows a group of neighbourhood kids who transform ordinary boxes into costumes and castles and, in the process, discover friendships and develop strong identities.   I love the off-beat, “march to your own drum” characters and important themes included in this story celebrating imaginative play.  A perfect book to inspire MMT projects in your classroom. (you can read more about Most Magnificent Thing projects here)

For your “spooky book” lover…

Part mystery, part fairy tale and part thriller, this book will have your spine shivering and your mind guessing!   So suspenseful and gripping, (What happens next????!!!)  I could not put it down!  The story focuses on Ollie Adler, a sixth grade math whiz and fierce feminist who has withdrawn from her friends and school activities after her mother dies.   Her only solace is in books (my kind of gal!), so when she finds a woman trying to throw a book in the river one day, she steals it in order to rescue it. But when Ollie reads it, she finds that the book is a diary of horrific events that happened in the very place where her class will soon be taking a field trip…and that history may be about to repeat itself.  (Can you stand it????) You will be stealing this from your child’s room to find out what happens!!!

For your Social Justice supporter… (2 suggestions)

 

Amal Unbound – Aisha Saeed

One of my favorite “read aloud” MG novels of 2018 this book has empowering messages about the limits placed on girls and women in Pakistan and the importance of family, literacy, and culture.  For Amal, her dream of being educated and becoming a teacher is shattered when she is forced to become a servant for a wealthy family.  Amal is such a strong, inspiring, and determined character who demonstrates what it means to fight for justice.  Compelling and inspiring.

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Harbor Me – Jacqueline Woodson

WOW.  Love, family, friends, middle school transitions, immigration, racial profiling, and the difficult realities faced by many children are just a few of the issues Jacqueline Woodson explores in this powerful book.  In the story, we are given a glimpse into the lives of six tweens who are part of a classroom for “special students.”  Every Friday afternoon, the students gather in the ARTT Room (“A Room To Talk”) to spend the last hour together, unsupervised, and are encouraged to talk about anything they want.  The conversations are so natural, so emotional, so honest.  In just over 200 pages, Woodson covers a lot of issues.  An extremely important book that will stimulate LOTS of important discussions.  Beautifully written, this book made me teary, gave me goosebumps, inspired me, and filled me with gratitude.   Would make a very powerful read-aloud in an upper Middle grades.

Hoping you found at least one book for the book lover in your family!

Happy Holidays and happy reading, everyone!

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Filed under 2018, Activism, Animals, Christmas, Creating, Harry Potter, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, social justice, STEM