making connections with nonfiction texts (and our new turtle friend)
Between the insane weather we’ve been experiencing over here (tornadoes! wind gusts! rain, rain, and more rain–and then the next second–sun!?), we’ve had some really cool outside learning going on lately. And it’s been the kind of really awesome natural, in-the-moment kind of discovery that couldn’t unfold the way it does even with the best planning.
And lucky for us, we’ve run into some related nonfiction reading that’s connected really nicely, thanks to our friends at Scholastic.
Seriously, I couldn’t plan this well if I tried, so I’m thanking my lucky stars and am just really appreciating that my kids get nutty over this kind of stuff–easy stuff that any parent can run with.
The latest. . .
- Our Turtle Friend: Owen, Cora, and I were rockin’ it out at the park one morning this week, when another little girl yelled, Turtle! Or something!! What IS this??!
We didn’t have a huge crowd at the park, so the several kids who were there came over and joined us. Yes! It’s a turtle, but what kind, I wonder–I said.
Owen said, It’s probably, um. . . I have no idea. How do you tell? Isn’t it something with its eyes–like if it has red eyes or something?
I really didn’t know. I know I learned it somewhere, sometime but I totally had no idea at the moment. I said, Owen, I think you may be correct–I remember learning something about the color of the turtle’s eyes having to do with whether it’s a boy or a girl, but I can’t remember now. Let me take a picture, and we can research when we get home.
So I did. And I took a picture of its underside, too, so that we could remember how many sections it had. I seemed to remember that being important, too.
And then the kids and I walked the little guy over to the woods, found a super-perfect hiding place for him, and we set him down. We were animal rescuers! We saved the day! The kids were over the moon, so proud, and so very happy to save this poor turtle friend!
When we got home later that day, Owen and Cora reminded me to put the pictures on the computer (which I did) so we could figure out what kind of turtle we had (which we also did).
our little turtle pal, safe and sound
I found some awesome sites that make it really easy to identify turtles which made our research much easier. I typed “turtle Maryland” in the search engine (and talked my way through it so Owen and Cora become familiar with how to search for information!) and came up with A Turtle Identification Guide that is fabulous. We knew for sure several things about our turtle, typed them in, and we found our man: the carolina box turtle. Woot!
We also found Turtles in My Sandbox, which is an incredible site, rich with resources for learning more about Maryland’s diamondback terrapins–not what we found today–but something certainly worth sharing and exploring.
- Learning with Nonfiction Texts: From Scholastic Bookclubs’ SeeSaw April flyer, I chose Teeny Tiny Animals, by Lexi Ryals, for the kids. Most of the books in SeeSaw are geared for kids in Kindergarten through first grade; I wanted something that would be approachable for both Maddy and Owen.
I’m always on the hunt for a high-interest nonfiction texts for Maddy, Owen, and Cora because our home–like many–is more fiction-heavy. And it seemed that my kids, who love animals and who love teeny-tiny things and all things mini, would run with Teeny Tiny Animals.
And they really did.
We read about the world’s smallest dog, cat, and horse. We read about the ‘pygmies’– the mouse lemur, marmoset, and sea horse, which lent itself to a fab discussion about what the word, ‘pygmy,’ means.
We all loved the teacup pig. And who wouldn’t?
We all learned something new, and the cool thing is that each time we read it, we picked up a little something different–a new fact to talk about, a new question, or a new favorite.
And after our meeting with the turtle at the park, we read it with a different spin–Owen and Cora made connections with the text in ways they hadn’t before. As we read the book outside, in the sunshine after dinner, with Brady boy at our feet, they compared each animal’s size to that of our turtle. Was Heaven Sent larger or smaller than the turtle? Maybe the same. Or maybe bigger but not as heavy? Hummingbird and seahorse? Definitely smaller. Armadillo? It’d be close.
The text on each page is large without being too large, and the photos are unique, engaging, and clear. The pages aren’t so filled with images that it became distracting–a very important element for emerging readers. I love the comparisons that the author includes in each description, as it makes it even more clear to readers just how ‘teeny-tiny’ these animals are.
It was cool–an awesome (and totally lucky) way of sneaking in some meaningful learning, both at the park with finding our turtle and the research that followed as well as with the natural connections we were able to make with this nonfiction text. And that’s it for today–sneaky science and literacy learning!
fyi: Many thanks to Scholastic who provided us with this text to use and review as part of their Monthly Blogger Book Review program. This is an unsponsored post, and my opinions, ideas, and activities are all my own.